Andor episodes 1-3 review: Enticing espionage and working class vibes

The first three episodes of new Star Wars series Andor are all arriving in one big bundle, and we've got the lowdown on what to expect

Andor episode 1-3 review: Diego Luna as Cassian Andor

There’s a new story in the world of Star Wars, and with the Andor release date just around the corner we’ve got the lowdown on the first three episodes which will all drop on the streaming service Disney Plus in one big bundle. While the three-part opener to the Star Wars series is perhaps a little bit too mysterious for its own good, it does offer an enticing prospect for what’s to come.

Andor follows its titular Star Wars character, Cassian Andor, who you may remember from the spin-off Star Wars movie Rogue One. The TV series takes us back to a time before Andor meets Jyn Erso, in his earlier days of rebellion, but the first three episodes of the show still deliver plenty of espionage and galactic conflict, albeit on a smaller scale.

The sci-fi series is far removed from your usual Star Wars fodder, with flying spaceships and laser swords making way for a greater focus on boots-on-the-ground action and working class life in an industrial city. Andor is different, but different is good sometimes.

The opening ten minutes of Andor episode 1 make for fantastic viewing, with neon-soaked, Blade Runner-esque visuals and a tense sequence of events which should really set the tone for what’s to come. Sadly, nothing in the following 90 minutes across the three episodes quite lives up to this scene.

One of the greatest elements of Star Wars throughout the ages has always been the science fiction movie franchise’s ability to transport us to other worlds with impeccable set design. This is something that has been lost somewhat with the introduction of The Volume technology for the small screen outings from a galaxy far, far away.

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Just like the excessive use of CGI in the prequel movies of the 2000s, it seems the creatives behind Star Wars were too excited to use their new toy for the various Disney Plus series. While The Volume is no doubt an impressive filmmaking tool, the decision to abandon this in favour of more authentic sets for Andor is definitely the right one.

On the technical front, a very special mention has to go to Nicholas Britell, whose music for Andor goes way harder than it has any right to. The man behind the music for Succession and a slew of drama movies brings his compositional genius to the world of science fiction, and it works a charm.

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Whether it be intense, bombastic action sequences, or softer, more melodic music, Britell hits the right note every time and his score stands out as one of the most impressive facets of each episode so far.

As for the actual story at the heart of the show, there’s very little to chew on even after three episodes. There’s hints at the various threads that will surely converge and explode as the series progresses, but in the early stages of this first season the narrative simply trickles along.

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Andor leans into classic spy movie elements, with themes of conspiracy and cover-ups at the core of the narrative. By the end of episode 3, you really start to feel that rebellious side of the story and the promise of an uprising against the empire begins to rear its head.

There’s an epic siege scene in that third episode which is hopefully the spark that lights up the rest of the series to follow. While it’s nice to see Star Wars play things more subtle at times, we all want to see some explosions and gunfights, and that particular moment certainly delivers.

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Throughout the episodes, there are fascinating hints of the concept of radicalism, the sense of duty, and how class division can quickly develop into all-out war. You can really feel the friction between those getting their hands dirty on the construction sites, and those watching on from their positions of power.

The character of Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) plays into this perfectly, as the latest in a long line of Star Wars villains who appears far more comfortable ruling from the safety of an office than actually fighting the battles on the front line. It’s certainly going to be intriguing to see where this character goes, but we’re sure he will double down and become the kind of bad guy you love to hate.

Stellan Skarsgård and Diego Luna in Andor

Speaking of the working class vibes, this latest Star Wars cast is full of excellent British talent who imbue the show with a gritty, grounded feel. Fiona Shaw offers a strong performance in one of the more emotional moments of the series so far, while Eastenders alum Alex Ferns, who recently appeared in the latest Batman movie, is a ferocious presence as an Imperial Officer.

Oddly, there’s very little to say about the main character at this stage. With a great deal of worldbuilding and slow-burn storytelling, Diego Luna hasn’t really had a chance to impose himself on the series, but there’s plenty of time for that as the plot thickens.

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Ultimately, it’s clear to see why Disney decided to drop three episodes in one swoop. Perhaps it’s a curse of the streaming age, but we would prefer to have some idea of where the show is heading after three episodes.

That’s not to say that what we’ve been given so far isn’t adequately entertaining, and Andor has certainly piqued our curiosity, but here’s hoping things begin to move a little quicker from here on out.

If you want more intergalactic action, here’s all the ways to watch Star Wars in order. Or for small-screen fun, check out our guide to The Mandalorian season 3 release date.

Star Wars: Andor episodes 1-3 review

A slow-burning espionage story and brutalist visuals combine to make the first three episodes of Andor a mysterious diversion from the usual Star Wars journey

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