Move aside Mando, there’s a new Star Wars series in town, and Andor has well and truly stolen the crown as the best TV series to come from the galaxy far, far away. We’ll be honest, when it was announced that a supporting character from the Star Wars movie Rogue One was getting his own show, we were sceptical, but Andor has knocked it out of the park.
The sci-fi series may not have reached its conclusion just yet, but we’ve seen enough already to know that this is not simply the best Star Wars show to date, but also one of the best things to hit any streaming service in 2022.
So, what makes this story about a peripheral Star Wars character so special? How about we give you five reasons why Andor is the best Star Wars series and see if that is enough to convince you?
Andor is visually stunning
You may have noticed that recent Star Wars shows, perhaps most notably Obi-Wan Kenobi, have looked a little off when it comes to the visual side of things. Well, that’s because of something called the Volume, a technology used by filmmakers to project whatever background they want behind their actors when shooting.
The technology is groundbreaking and is pretty effective too, most of the time. However, when it’s used excessively, it becomes a little jarring for audiences and loses its appeal. What worked for The Mandalorian, hasn’t quite had the desired effect since for Disney.
For Andor, showrunner and creator Tony Gilroy decided not to use the Volume, and instead opted for real places when selecting the Andor filming locations. The results are truly amazing, and made us remember just how good it is to see actors interacting with actual buildings and physical sets. The lighting is more natural, and every scene just feels more tangible.
The top and bottom of it is, Andor looks so good compared to other Star Wars series because the production hasn’t spent all of its budget on an oversized projector, meaning it can put its resources into making any CGI moments extra special. Andor episode 6 is a prime example of this, where we witnessed Cassian and his crew fly through the Eye of Aldhani and it was genuinely the most beautiful Star Wars has ever looked.
Slow and steady wins the race
How often do we see TV shows become disjointed as they rush towards their big finale and completely ruin the whole thing? Game of Thrones suffered that fate in its final season, and more recently, there’s been a few Marvel series guilty of the same thing.
Ultimately, when this happens it just makes a show look like it had no idea where it was going in the first place. It’s a lack of care and attention to detail that is sadly more and more prevalent in storytelling in the modern era, but Andor is not suffering from that problem at all.
Of course, Andor does have 12 episodes in which to tell its story for season 1, and a season 2 is in the bag too. That’s not a luxury afforded to many of the big franchise Disney Plus series, but it’s an opportunity that Tony Gilroy has grabbed with both hands.
From the very first episode of Andor, it was clear that the series was in no rush to tell its story, instead more concerned with carefully laying foundations upon which the story could unfold more naturally. Andor episode 5 embodies this approach more than any other, as it patiently builds to the highly-anticipated heist.
It sounds obvious, but when you take your time and make sure every element of the story truly means something and leads somewhere, the end result is always going to be more rewarding for the viewer.
Andor is for adults
Okay, I know that science fiction movies about space wizards and magic light swords sound more like the kind of thing you’d make for a younger audience, and it’s important that the children of today have their own Star Wars stories that resonate with them. However, it sure is refreshing to see a Star Wars product that isn’t afraid to drill down into more mature themes.
Andor is doing just that, tackling concepts of politics, slavery, poverty, and corruption like never before. Indeed, Andor doesn’t feel like a Star Wars story at all, because we’re so used to the franchise relying on mythical tales of super-powered heroes and big explosions that we forgot how great it could be to just focus on the humanity at the heart of it all.
Though Star Wars has always had roots in the political landscape of human history, it’s rarely been explored to such great lengths as it is in Andor. Consider Nemik’s manifesto, which details the horrors of the Empire and the ideals of the Rebel cause. Even in just a short time, we glean so much from this young man and his ideologies, with much of his dialogue reflecting the issues of the real world.
In Andor episode 7, we see Cassian arrested for no good reason and sentenced to six years in prison. Then, in Andor episode 8, he is transported to a high-security facility where he and his fellow inmates are put to work on highly dangerous production lines and treated like slaves. The parallels between these scenarios and real world police brutality and the labour market are too glaring not to notice.
Just as Tony Gilroy and his team are trusting their audience to be patient when it comes to the pacing of the show, they are also trusting viewers to engage with real world issues being represented in this fictional setting. It’s a breath of fresh air, and long may it continue.
The cast is amazing
You’re always likely to find great talent among any Star Wars cast, from high profile actors like Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman, to stars in the making like John Boyega and Daisy Ridley. For Andor, not only do we have great British talent like Fiona Shaw and Anton Lesser showing their face on a weekly basis, but seasoned performers such as Stellan Skarsgård light up our screens too.
The one thing they all have in common though, is that each of the actors involved in Andor is thoroughly convincing as a real, three-dimensional person. There’s no masked assassins or green-skinned aliens here, just normal people existing within what are mostly rather normal circumstances. Andor essentially plays out like a gritty, working-class drama series, exploring workplace tensions and societal unease, and every single member of the cast, from the stars to the extras, understands this tone.
Denise Gough and Kyle Soller play Dedra Meero and Syril Karn respectively, both highly ambitious Imperial officers looking to climb the career ladder. They both also bring a new perspective to the notion of a Star Wars villain. Without lightsabers or the Force to help them, they manage to unsettle audiences simply because they remind us of the kind of people we have all encountered in the working world; ruthless, selfish, and ready to throw you under the bus without hesitation.
Then you have someone like Genevieve O’Reilly, who has been playing Mon Mothma since the 2000s movie Revenge of the Sith, but is only now being given the chance to really dissect her legendary character, and you can tell she is relishing the opportunity. Both O’Reilly and Skarsgård have the privilege of playing characters higher up the food chain in the galactic order of things, and their theatrical performances tie wonderfully with their decadent settings.
And of course, there’s Diego Luna in the leading role: a man who is so passionate about his character and being able to expand his story. In an interview with The Digital Fix, Luna spoke at length about his approach to reprising this role, and that level of dedication and detail is evident on screen.
Andor doesn’t rely on nostalgia
One of the biggest problems with Star Wars in the Disney era has been its over-reliance on nostalgia in attempts to appease the fanbase and paper over any cracks by throwing a familiar face into the story. You only have to look at the manner in which The Book of Boba Fett was cheapened by the appearance of Mando and Grogu to realise this is not a winning formula.
Sure, we all love spotting little connections between the thing we are watching and the wider world of the franchise. It’s fun, in moderation, but nostalgia should never be the crutch upon which you build your whole project. With Andor, it’s clear that Tony Gilroy wanted to distance this story from the burdens of Star Wars lore.
The planets Andor is set on are, by and large, new worlds for us to explore. Cameos are few and far between, and there’s not been one mention of the Jedi and the Sith thus far. In a way, you could almost watch Andor without any prior knowledge of the franchise at all, and still have a really good time.
Yes, there’s a few Easter eggs in Luthen Rael’s collection that hark back to Star Wars movies and characters of days gone by, and there’s mentions of Emperor Palpatine in Andor that threaten the possibility of his arrival perhaps. But crucially, the viewing experience is not at all impacted if any of the subtle references are missed.
In the current cinematic landscape of shared universes, post-credit teasers, and shoe-horned crossovers that the MCU has popularised, it’s nice to just enjoy a show on its own merits.
Cameos have a tendency of making the world of Star Wars feel very small, but thanks to Andor, for all its small-scale, human-centric storylines, the Galaxy has never felt bigger. Andor doesn’t need any bells and whistles or gimmicks, it’s an enthralling story told by talented people and brought to life with impeccable technical poise. Quite honestly, you couldn’t ask for more, and that’s why Andor is the best Star Wars series.
If you want more from Andor, check out our guide to Luthen Rael’s plan along with our guide to the Andor season 2 release date. Or, dive into something a little different with our list of the best adventure movies.