Spies! Lies! Something else that rhymes with -ies!
BQB here with a review of the first three episodes of Andor, Disney Plus’ new Star Wars series.
I’m just going to say it up front. It’s OK. It didn’t wow me, but it didn’t zow me either. I’ll keep watching it, but like the recent Obi-Wan, it didn’t blow much wind up my proverbial skirt.
The series is a prequel to Rogue One (ironically, the best and arguably most unsung Star Wars creation amidst a slew of Disney’s SW duds the past decade.) As you may recall, in that film, Diego Luna played Cassian Andor, a rebel spy so committed to the cause that he is willing to commit almost any heartless act, up to and including straight up murder, to further the rebel cause.
How did he get that way? This series aims to tell that story.
At first, the idea of this series seems silly. Aren’t there more popular, longer running characters we’d like to know more about? Where are the Lando Chronicles? The Leia Adventures? Skywalker: A Life?
Ah, but Disney has dipped its toe into those waters. A film where a younger actor played a younger Han Solo didn’t go over well (irony is I liked it). CGI Skywalker is interesting for a brief moment until you wonder how long it will be before all movies are just CGI renderings and actors are out of a job (feel free to discuss whether that would be a good thing.)
An interesting part of Rogue One is it showed a more vicious side of the Rebel Alliance than we are used to. In any rebellion, rebels must ask themselves if the victory they seek is worth the loss of life that must occur to achieve it. So OK, I’ll buy into the story of how one rebel was so angered by the Empire that he became a badass intergalactic spy.
All that said, the whole thing seems adulty. Not as in naughty, for this is still Disney, but as in a plot only adults might be interested in. Three episodes in, there are no light sabers or space battles. It’s light on the aliens. There is a silly droid. Most of the action comes in the form of a shootout in the end of episode three.
The plot? Cassian Andor was once Kassa, a member of an indigenous tribe of the planet Kenari. When his family discovers a crashed Empire ship that was up to no good (illegal mining apparently), the Empire kills the tribe sans Kassa, who is saved in the nick of time by scavenger Maarva (Fiona Shaw), who whisks the lad away to Ferrix, where she raises him as his adoptive mother.
Years later, an adult Cassian searches for his sister, who he believes escaped Empire forces. He checks a brothel where he believes she might be, um, you know, working, but has no luck. Alas, he gets into a spat with a couple of security company goons. Said goons picked the wrong fight with the wrong guy, leading Cassian to go on the run, right into the hands of Luthen Rael (Stellan Skaarsgaard), a clandestine spy recruiter for the Rebel Alliance.
It’s all very interesting. However, I think it might suffer from the fact that the plot might be too heady for kids, yet the subject matter might be too silly for adults.
SIDENOTE: The inclusion of a brothel in the first scene raised my eyebrow. True, no sex is shown. No debauchery is shown. It was part of the script that it was an off night and few customers were there. Still, it seemed out of place for a Disney show.
When George Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney years ago, I thought maybe did so in order to keep Hollywood from doing nasty things to it, i.e. to not make an X rated flick with wookies having wookie sex or Jedis snorting space coke or what have you. Then again, I remembered that Lucas was the one who stuffed Leia into that Slave Leia outfit so he probably doesn’t have a lot of moral authority to stand on.
So, I guess my complaint is less about Disney bringing down Star Wars and more about Star Wars bringing down Disney. The deeper we get into Star Wars, the more inevitable it becomes that we see characters engaged in depraved activities. “Spice” has already been used as a code for drugs in prior Disney SW productions. Meanwhile, while characters have appeared in scantily clad outfits going back to the early films, this is the confirmation that beings in the SW universe not only do it but pay to do it.
IDK. I just think Disney needs to remember it is first and foremost a producer of entertainment for children. I know adults love SW too, but we have to think of the kids first and have plots that are suitable for the younguns. Ergo, no space brothels, even if it’s dark and deserted and the business of said space brothel is only alluded to.
We already saw Disney wrestle with a darker plot line and fail miserably in The Book of Boba Fett. Freaking Boba Fett fights a war to become the head gangster of Tatooine, only to be against all crime, which is a great example to set for the kids but doesn’t bode well for a show about a space criminal.
Maybe Disney needs to just stick with family friendly Star Wars base crimes. Smuggling, but only done to help the rebels, for example.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. I think we are at a point where we have to realize Star Wars in its infancy was more about awesome special effects, and that Vader carried most of it. The further we get from those early films, the less interesting it all becomes. Perhaps some genius will figure out a way to make it interesting again. To Disney’s credit, the Mando series was a winner.