As Star Wars looks beyond the familiar storyline of the Skywalker Saga, vast horizons promise fresh adventures, new characters and situations. While 2016’s Rogue One was tied closely to the Death Star storyline from the opening scroll of A New Hope, that thread – the desperate grasp for galactic liberty – is a far broader canvas to tell stories on than the throughline of the Skywalker family, and Star Wars: Andor, which debuts Wednesday, September 21st on Disney+ with three episodes – dives into that quest for freedom with Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), who we last saw waiting for his death on the beach of Scarif holding Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) as the shock wave of the Death Star’s destructive power boiled the Seas of Scarif.
Stepping back five years into the Dark Times-era gives us the chance to delve deep into an era where the Empire held near complete dominion over the galaxy, and in turn, watch the development of Andor himself from a directionless, wary inhabitant of the industrial world of Ferrix – vast starships chopped for parts and scrap in an organised mirror to the scavenged desolation of Jakku in The Force Awakens – into the lethal weapon who will do terrible things for the cause (remember the grim fate of his colleague Tivik (Daniel Mays) on the Ring of Kafrene at the start of Rogue One).
The core cast of characters will soon become familiar faces to fans of Star Wars. His adoptive mother Maarva (Fiona Shaw) worries for his safety, secrets of his past threatening to catch up with him as she strives to keep him protected. His forthright friend Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona) is equally invested, keen to figure a way to strike at the Empire while Andor is simply content to ‘walk into their house’ and steal from them. He disappears without explanation, caring little for the consequences while his friends cover for him with alibies. There are flashbacks showing a young Cassian, a strategy that mirrors and informs the present, and it’s here we see the journey into the bold Cassian that catches the attention of the complex Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård), who journeys to Ferrix to enlist Cassian.
The cast retains their own voices, from Luna’s Mexican accent to a variety of regional English and Scottish accents, but it’s clear that the breakout star of Andor will be the Andor family droid B2EMO. Part-WALL.E, part-B.O.B from The Black Hole, he is sure to steal hearts and delight kids of all ages. Fiona Shaw brings her award-winning intensity to the galaxy while Genevieve O’Reilly and Stellan Skarsgård stand out as younger iterations of Mon Mothma and rebel sympathiser Luthen Rael. Kyle Soller as Syril Karn delivers a dedicated career man desperate to evolve out of the shackles of his station, much like Cassian himself. Diego Luna’s Andor is unsettled, unsure, aimless, dissatisfied, but once given focus, determined to start down a path that will ultimately change the galaxy.
While visually this is strikingly ‘Star Wars‘, Andor is as ‘grown up’ as the saga has ever been. From the Prequel familiar cityscape of Coruscant and the stark policies of the Imperial Security Bureau to the reality of toiling on the industrial world of Ferrix, the relationships are complicated and real – this is a thriller, but firmly bedded in the day to day grit of living in the galaxy. It assumes a knowledge of the broader Star Wars story, but even for canon novices, there’s plenty to see here.
Andor streams on Disney+ weekly from September 21st.