Andor is already one of Star Wars’ very best

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‘The Eye’ confirms it: Andor is one of the greats

It’s understandable to be skeptical about a new Star Wars program. They’re revealed at press conferences as a collection of titles and dates, sometimes with a few of actors and a logline if the executives on stage are feeling kind. Art may emerge from this, but this is not how it is formed.

This is the cause of my early skepticism about Andor, and, to be honest, any new Star Wars effort. Even with the scant information we have (The Acolyte certainly sounds interesting! ), none of it counts until it’s here, in front of us. The program must air, and each episode must persuade the audience to watch the next. Andor has done it with remarkable ease halfway through its debut season.

With this week’s “The Eye,” Andor clinches it: Andor is arguably the finest live-action Star Wars program ever, and is well on its way to building a case for itself as one of the best Star Wars storylines this side of The Last Jedi. And it mostly achieves it by simply being very terrific television, delving into the universe of Star Wars the way only a TV program with a defined goal and aim can.

“The Eye” is what occurs when rigorous planning is complemented by laborious character development. The series has been building up to this robbery episode, but its success is due to restraint as much as anticipation. Much has been made of Andor’s cautious avoidance of typical fan service — thankfully, no one gets a terrible feeling about the droids they’re seeking for while trusting the Force, and hey, that’s no moon — but the show has also succeeded at straightforward drama. People are chatting to their harsh, controlling moms, to their extreme political allies, and to their colleagues in drab government offices. It’s not glamorous, but it’s television, and that’s why we watch — to make the spectacle of episodes like “The Eye” all the more powerful.

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And what a stunning display that was. The title “Eye” – a celestial phenomena that looks like a meteor shower and an aurora borealis occurring at the same time — casts a delicate green light over any area with an outside view that is both seductive and foreboding. It’s the type of effect that recasts mundane Star Wars moments, such as pilots stepping into their TIE Fighters, with fascinating elegance, providing an excellent contrast to the stressful scenes deep within an Imperial vault where Andor’s heroes risk their lives.

[Editor’s note: This article contains spoilers for Andor episode 6, “The Eye.”]

Despite being the longest episode of Andor so far, it’s also the most straightforward: Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and the tiny gang of rebels (not yet Rebels) he’s recruited to finally carry out their huge theft of an Imperial vault. It succeeds but goes wrong, increasing the suspense until a dramatic escape from which not everyone escapes.

Finish the episode on that note would have likely sufficed, but “The Eye” takes a step further, foregoing the simple ending in favor of a more complex plot devoted to the nuanced characters Andor has spent half the season fleshing out. The squad of rebels is not pulled closer together at the conclusion of the theft; there is no togetherness. Taramyn Barcona (Gershwyn Eustache Jnr) dies before they leave, while Karis Nemik (Alex Lawther), the young radical, receives a fatal injury in their heroic escape.

Only Cassian, Skeen (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), and Vel Sartha (Faye Marsay) make it to safety, and even then, there is no stronger force binding them together than the work they just performed. Skeen gently recommends to Andor that they take all of the money and go, to which Andor responds by murdering him. He then informs Vel about Skeen’s scheme and his own resolve to take his cut and depart, as he always promised. A lesser novel might revel in these people’ triumph; Andor, on the other hand, provides nothing but raw nerves.

  The legacy of Glup Shitto lives on in Andor’s Keef Girgo

However, doing anything other would be a disservice. Cassian Andor is a man willing to die for the cause by the time he appears in Rogue One. Learning what you would die for is no small feat. So far, Andor has been successful because it has taken that trip seriously and has not avoided a key reality about organizing: It is difficult to put one’s self-interest aside and devote oneself to a cause. They must discover their own rationale, and they must be reached in a manner that they can comprehend. Maybe Nemik’s last act is to leave Cassian his political manifesto, the thing he decided to die for. Perhaps it’s a combination of factors. No other Star Wars program has ever piqued my interest as much as this one.

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