Eagle-eyed “Star Wars” fans will have noticed “Andor’s” Easter eggs, particularly in the antique shop that serves as a front for secret rebel meetings. And while “Andor” does not require the audience to have any real “Star Wars” knowledge outside of the series, those who have watched “Rogue One” will catch moments that foreshadow Andor’s future or add additional context to the events of the film. The series also features familiar “Rogue One” faces besides Andor in Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly), a senator waging a secret fight against the Empire, and the insurgent Saw Gererra (Forest Whitaker).
By layering sharp, thrilling political drama atop the franchise’s well-known iconography and backstory, “Andor” has achieved what remains a rarity for Marvel and Star Wars television, “WandaVision” and baby Yoda excepted: crossover success. I’m the first to admit I love lightsaber duels and stories about Jedi. In fact, I’m sitting next to a lightsaber and holocron as I write this (and don’t call them toys). But I’ve also been waiting for more “Star Wars” stories about the ordinary people who are driven to do extraordinary things, because we can’t all be chosen ones. What “Andor” has proved is that “Star Wars” is malleable. It deserves room to grow into genres tailored to television and themes tailored to adult audiences, not just translate the conventions of the central film saga into hourlong episodes.
Prior to “Andor,” the live-action “Star Wars” shows have tended to dip into the well of nostalgia for their stories. And standouts like “The Mandalorian” have shown that this reverence for “Star Wars” can be harnessed to craft a new, compelling story and welcome new fans. But as potent as such sentiments can be, they’re also limited and volatile. Nostalgia relies on people’s personal “Star Wars” memories for success. Reframing aspects of existing lore may be meaningful to some while alienating others. Even worse, it could lead to dull repetition. Just look at the response to the sequel trilogy.
“Andor” is as much a challenge to that nostalgia as it is to the belief that “Star Wars” is, or ever was, apolitical. It makes a familiar world dangerous again and returns the franchise, to quote the old adage about journalism, to one of its original themes: Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Which may explain not only why newcomers and skeptics have joined the bandwagon, but why longtime fans love it too: “Andor” shows that “Star Wars” can still surprise us, nearly half a century on.
‘STAR WARS: ANDOR’
Rating: 14+ (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14)
How to watch: Disney+
ABOUT THE WRITER
Tracy Brown is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times covering television, film and other pop culture.
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