I won’t rehash those points – other than to say succinctly that the spirit never moved me – but, mind you, they may come up again superficially in this review of that program’s fourth installment, “Aldhani.” This can be the curse of considering serialized drama across its serialized airings: both weaknesses and strengths tend to repeat themselves in curious ways over the life of the show. Thus far, I haven’t been all that impressed with this specific chapter exploring that galaxy far, far away, but I’ve not been entirely disappointed, either.
The unencumbered growth of the Information Superhighway has – in most cases – been of tremendous benefit to Science Fiction and Fantasy fandom. It’s definitely brought folks together, giving license to a whole new generation of media wherein folks who like to think and write about franchises and film can do so even with the most meager readership (yours truly, included, but you are all loved, I assure you). Still, one of the biggest downsides is that citizen journalism has sadly given rise to a number of critics who do little more than spend the bulk of their wordcounts rehashing plots and subplots. Because I do try to dispense with that – I mean, you’re already watching the show as it is so you know what's going on – and this does tend to earn me my own fair share of detractors.
While I’ll never apologize for both seeing a work of art differently from the next reviewer, I will concede that I struggle more than most in analyzing serial formats because viewing a piece of an unfinished whole story is frustrating. Long-form storytelling has its merits, yes, but it can be a bit of a slog as it tends to “take its own sweet time” getting to the point … and that was the source of most of my nitpickings with Andor’s set-up. It isn’t as if this character was new – he had his introduction into canon with Rogue One (2016) – and yet creator Tony Gilroy felt it necessary to flesh out a backstory. I’ll just say I found an awful lot of it unnecessary – ultimately, it’s what is taking place in the here and now that requires emphasis – and it is what it is.
I realize this may be a bit controversial (snicker snicker), but can I just say unequivocally that I find Cassian Andor an unrelentingly boring character?
As I said above, that can change as the serial adds more events and flavor to them. I am hoping that it does change. None of us feels excited to tune into something we lack a measure of ‘addiction’ for, and – since this is Star Wars – I’ll stick with it for the time being. Consider that my load to carry.
In the meantime, I am enjoying – as are so many – the layers of complexity added to the wider Empire.
As any galactic government would have, Gilroy’s show has introduced to a growing series of Imperial departments, committees, and (gasp!) private contractors. This is largely a fresh perspective on the task of oppressive governing that we haven’t quite seen before, at least not with the level of detail. Tarkin had some agency aboard the Death Star (in A New Hope) and the Prequel Trilogy introduced audiences to the expansive Senate, but Andor has opened the door to day-to-day wheelings and dealings the like of which looks a bit more like what is a sad staple of our own existence.
That’s an interesting if not risky proposition, no?
Viewers have mostly been drawn to the world of Star Wars for its pure escapism. The films and shows have captivated with tales of Jedi Knights, of planets with races never before seen, of starship captains and laser swords … and now – behold! Here is the Imperial Department Of Investigation (or whatever they’re calling it)! Tremble in fear of … the Imperial bureaucracy!
Yes, yes, yes: I’m making light of it, mostly because I do think it’s a bit funny. For those of us who were there back in this fantasy’s infancy circa 1977, I would’ve said that you were out of your mind if you ever suggested that one day we’d be looking at the inner workings of Palpatine’s Empire. I would’ve told you that no one would ever want to watch how government tackles the challenges of the day inside or outside the Outer Rim territories, and yet here we are. It is more than a bit humorous.
Still, I think this is probably what Gilroy, Kathleen Kennedy, and others involved in the show were hinting at when they so openly suggested that Andor was going to be more of an adult show in the Star Wars universe. Kids aren’t drawn to this kind of thing naturally – I’m not aware of any youngsters looking up into their parents’ eyes and saying, “When I grow up, I want to be a Third Level Administrator on some adjunct Intelligence committee” but maybe they’re out there. A mature mind can appreciate the complexities of this kind of yarn-spinning, so here’s hoping Andor can keep that up and keep it from getting b-o-r-i-n-g.
So … the Force may not anywhere in sight at this point … but I’ve got not such a bad feeling about this.