An Andor, “Episode 1” Review

SERIES: Star Wars: Andor
EPISODE:
S1:E1. “Episode 1”
STARRING:
Diego Luna, Kyle Soller, Adria Arjona, James McArdle, Antonio Viña
WRITERS:
Tony Gilroy
DIRECTOR:
Toby Haynes
PREMIERE DATE:
September 21, 2022
SYNOPSIS:
Cassian Andor becomes a wanted man.

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By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Let me say this straight away: I did not like Rogue One, the movie to which Andor acts as a prequel. I didn’t think any of the characters were sufficiently developed. The only one with any charm or heart was the robot, K-2SO. It’s always seemed to me like people were fooled into thinking they liked the movie because of all the classic Star Wars stuff in it, along with its darker tone, which I admit does appeal to a large group of fans. But for me, a dark tone by itself doesn’t cut it. I need something underneath the dark packaging to sink my teeth into.

I don’t expect to change people’s minds about Rogue One. At this point, people believe what they believe. Furthermore, I don’t expect Andor to change my mind about Rogue One. But the good news is, changing my mind about Rogue One isn’t what Andor needs to do. This show’s job is to be good in and of itself. What I hope for Andor more than anything is that it does something Rogue One didn’t do: Make me like and care about Cassian Andor.

Disney+ premiered Andor with its first three episodes. It did something similar with Obi-Wan Kenobi, dropping the show’s first two episodes on its premiere date. Apparently, releasing multiple episodes out of the gate helps the show make a bigger splash in terms of viewership. Me? I’d be happy with a single episode premiere. It draws things out, makes the experience of the show last longer, etc. (Plus, it makes it easier to review.)

In our opening scene, we get the time stamp “BBY 5.” Star Wars geeks know this means five years before the Battle of Yavin, i.e. five years before the original Star Wars film. But more casual viewers? They won’t have a clue what that means.

Was that an intergalactic strip club Cassian went into in the opening scene? This being Star Wars, somehow I expected more Carrie Fisher style slave girl bikinis.

We knew we were likely going to get some scenes with child-aged Cassian. He had that line in Rogue One about being in the fight since he was six. It looks like he comes from a world that’s not overly industrialized. The group he and his sister are in looks vaguely tribal.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say I was bored by this episode. But it did feel like there wasn’t much happening. I’ll chalk it up to first episode exposition and character introduction. But I won’t be inclined to be quite as nice next time…

Okay, I get it. Cassian has lots of friends and connections. Did we need to establish that four times? First there was the Brasso character. Then we had Bix Caleen and Timm Karlo. Then there was the encounter with Nurchi and Vetch. Finally, we had the little exchange with Pegla. Am I supposed to care about these people? The only one that really accomplishes that goal is the Bix character, played by Adria Arjona.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi, “Part I” Review

SERIES: Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi
EPISODE:
“Part I”
STARRING:
Ewan McGregor, Rupert Friend, Moses Ingram, Joel Edgerton, Jimmy Smits
WRITERS:
Stuart Beattie, Hossein Amini, Joby Harold 
DIRECTOR:
Deborah Chow
PREMIERE DATE:
May 26, 2022
SYNOPSIS: 
Inquisitors arrive on Tatooine looking for Jedi. Meanwhile, Princess Leia is kidnapped.

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By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Let’s kick this off on the right note: With gratitude. Ewan McGregor didn’t have to come back to play Obi-Wan Kenobi again. I’m sure his experience making the prequels was a mixed bag. And that’s to say nothing of how audiences reacted to the movies. (Much of the criticism was justified. But much wasn’t.) I actually spotted an recent interview he did with Rotten Tomatoes where he references the difficulties of making the prequels. So to have him come back nearly two decades after the fact is a major blessing for Star Wars fans.

And of course, that also goes for Hayden Christensen, Jimmy Smits, Joel Edgerton, and Bonnie Piesse returning as Darth Vader, Bail Organa, Owen Lars, and Beru Lars respectively. This may all be more than we deserve, quite frankly.

Age/timeline check: Obi-Wan Kenobi takes place 10 years after Revenge of the Sith. Which is to say, nine years before the events of A New Hope. So naturally, the young Luke and Leia we see in this episode are about 10. And, as I’ve always read Obi-Wan was 25 in The Phantom Menace, that would make him about 47 here.

Our director for this episode, and the series at large, is Deborah Chow. She’s widely known for The High Cost of Living and The Possibilities of Fireflies. But Star Wars fans will know her as the director of two episodes of The Mandalorian: “Chapter 3: The Sin” and “Chapter 7: The Reckoning.” This is the first time one of these live action Star Wars shows has had one universal director. It’s a tall task. But Chow also has a lot to work with here in terms of story, the talent involved (not to mention her own talent), and the experience she now has working in the Star Wars universe. I’ve got high hopes.

One of the downsides of having Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book of Boba Fett come out back to back? That’s a lot of desert stuff. I can’t say I’m looking forward to Andor as much as some people are (mostly because I hated Rogue One). But one of the upsides, at least judging by the trailer that just came out, is that we don’t see any desert scenes.

The episode, and the series at large, kick off with a quick five-minute recap of the prequels. To some, that’s probably the best way to watch the prequels. They might be right, actually. The contrast between the all the CGI backgrounds in the prequels and the actual places and sets in Kenobi is a stark one.

I must confess, having not seen all of Star Wars: Rebels, my familiarity with the Inquisitors is limited. But as I understand it, most or all of them are former Jedi Knights who’ve turned to the dark side and joined the Empire to hunt for Jedi in hiding.

At face value I don’t like that. Never have.

Much like having a planet full of Mandalorians devalues Boba and Jango Fett, having a big group of Sith inquisitors decreases the novelty of Darth Vader and his turn to the dark side. It also devalues Order 66. How effective could the big Jedi purge have been if enough survived that they needed to bring in Inquisitors to hunt them down?

Of course, that’s to take nothing away from the performances of Rupert Friend as the Grand Inquisitors or Moses Ingram as Reva.

Having Leia play such a pivotal role in the series is a big surprise. Coming in, I think we knew Jimmy Smits was going to be involved as Bail Organa. So a Leia cameo wouldn’t have been out of the blue. But this? This is beyond what I think anyone would have expected.

Vivien Lyra Blair, who plays Leia, does a fine job by child actor standards. The character is, thus far, written fairly well. I like that she’s characterized as, no pun intended, rebellious. Blair and Smits were able to create a father/daughter chemistry that felt very natural.

I appreciate that Obi-Wan has a job while in seclusion on Tatooine. That might be an odd thing to appreciate. But it’s one of those things that you (or at least I) never thought about when it came to the original movie. The guy had to make ends meet somehow, right? It makes me wonder if he had a job at the beginning of A New Hope.

I liked cynical Obi-Wan, i.e. the guy who refused to help his fellow Jedi in need. It speaks to him having spent a decade being beaten down by the desert. It’s a different character than we’re used to seeing.

Owen Lars refusing to give up Obi-Wan’s location was a wonderful character moment for him. For so long he’s been seen strictly as an antagonist for Luke. And maybe he is. But it’s always been in the spirit of wanting to do what’s best for his nephew and surrogate son.

It must be said that the chase scene between Leia and the bounty hunters did not come off very well. I’m not sure whether it was the actors, or the direction, or the editing, something else, or a combination of all of it. I understand and accept the notion that Leia knew the terrain better than they did, and was also smaller and harder to catch. But the impression I got was that Leia was moving very slowly, and that the hunters could have caught her quite easily if they’d simply picked up their pace a little bit.

We see that Obi-Wan buried he and Anakin’s lightsabers in the desert, presumably years ago when he first arrived. This is a nitpick, but how is he able to find that box again so quickly? Especially after 10 years. Did he pick that specific a spot? It just looked like a bunch of sand to me…

Overall, a good first episode. I can’t say I was blown away, but I definitely enjoyed it. Judging by premiere episodes alone, I’d say Obi-Wan Kenobi isn’t quite as strong as The Mandalorian, but better than The Book of Boba Fett.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.