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This ain’t a trap: “Andor” puts Disney back on the map.

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

“Star Wars: Andor” is an intriguing experiment by Disney to see how well an original TV series not connected to “The Mandalorian” can perform. I was excited by its announcement and reveal trailer, especially with the recent cancellation of “Rogue Squadron,” and the show has seemingly surpassed my expectations. 

“Andor” acts as a prequel series to “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and prominently features Diego Luna playing Cassian Andor, the secondary protagonist of “Rogue One.” Despite working with similar writing constraints to the prequel series of “Star Wars,” as it’s inevitable the title character will live through the series, the characterization of both Andor himself and the supporting cast has been excellent. Seemingly intentionally, thus far the series has only referenced three previously introduced characters from the “Star Wars” canon, all of which in relatively minor roles.

Although the budget per episode for “Andor” matches up with both the recent “Kenobi” series and the second season of “The Mandalorian,” the quality of visuals and special effects feels like a step-up. Most of the natural landscapes for “Andor” were filmed on location, saving the CGI for modeling TIE fighters and excellent outer space sequences. 

Each episode of the show feels like 40-50 minutes of a “Star Wars” movie rather than six to eight episodes stretching out an entire movie’s budget. The pacing is also more akin to that of a real television series, ending episodes on emotional cliffhangers and little filler content. Both “Kenobi” and “The Book of Boba Fett” felt like they were originally intended as movies and changed their scripts halfway through to fit the Disney release schedule. I think part of this is a result of “Andor” being cleared for two seasons immediately, a rare treatment for Disney+ originals, and a trend I would prefer in the future to the recent limited mini-series.

“Andor” explores a relatively untouched era of the “Star Wars” universe, the beginnings of the rebellion against the Galactic Empire. The only other projects to explore the time between the films “Revenge of the Sith” and “A New Hope” have either delved into examples of the Rebellion at its peak (“Rogue One,”Star Wars: Rebels”) or had almost no bearing on the Rebellion at all (“Kenobi”). 

The fan-favorite character Mon Mothma features as a minor character throughout “Andor,” and she’s far from the fearless leader who appears in the original trilogy. Her scenes acting as a part of the Imperial Senate also reintroduce the importance of politics to the world of “Star Wars,” which has been seldom touched on since the prequels. The use of older themes to bring about new content helps “Andor” slide right into the established universe.

Disney’s ability to create series like “Andor” gives me hope for the future of the franchise. Rather than a lazy cash grab to capitalize on fan favorites of older movies, “Andor” gets the proper resources to stand on its own as an excellent show, rather than just being more “Star Wars.” At the time of writing, three episodes have yet to be aired and I look forward to both the final episodes and a second season on the horizon. 

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