Andor E4: Sci-Fi, Drama, or Both?

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With the fourth episode of Andor the plot is finally in full swing. Cassian is joining a resistance group on a pastoral world while we are getting a glimpse of the Imperial administrative – and see the ordinary life of humans on both sides of the conflict.

Amazing Character Depth

It has already become clear that this is one of Andor‘s prerogatives. This is a show about the Rebellion, about its humble beginnings, there are hints to the Death Star project manufacture in the background, spy games on Coruscant itself.

But it is also a show about people and their daily lives. The rebel fighters Cassian joins are individuals. They have their hobbies (one likes to make elaborate miniature models for their attack plan where drawing a few lines in the dirt would have sufficed). They have their personalities, beliefs and issues. We know very little about them, but after seeing them interact with Cassian and with each other for less than five minues we already get the feel of what kind of people they are.

Rebel Leaders’ Domestic Crises, Jobless Imperials

This tells something about the quality of the writing. The authors are managing to flesh out a group of objectively minor, unimportant characters to a detail that rivals some of the films’ chief protagonists. A group of shepherds-become-partisans may seem more compelling than a team of galactic superheroes.

But the big names get their share of digging deep into their personalities as well. If we thought we knew senator and future Rebel leader Mon Mothma, we were mistaken – and in a good way. Who would have anticipated that the show would let us glimpse her in her home environment, “behind the scenes”?

And the villains? Oh the villains! Inspector Karn, in the brief time that is given to him in this episode, without essentially a single line of dialogue, manages to channel the feel and the emotion of someone who has given his everything and lost it all. ISB officer Meero, on the other hand, is portraying the struggle of a competent, yet too young and too “green” woman to be given the recognition she deserves. It matters not that the institution she is working for is “evil” – her struggle against the glass ceiling is real.

We Are All People After All

So here we are – watching a Star Wars show, yet what we get is also a domestic drama, a glimpse into the life of native people displaced by the hungry powers-that-be, and lives of people struggling to fulfil their ambitions. And everything is underscored by the theme of trust, of lies, of not being able to tell others the whole truth but still walking along with them.

And that is the real magic of Andor. The combination of deep characters, well-written scenes, and superb acting that conveys the emotions experienced by the characters. And at the same time there is all the usual that we expect from a Star Wars show: action and Rebel assaults against the Empire.

Andor is, and continues to be, one of the best Star Wars shows out there, and certainly a many-layered one.

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Rostislav Kurka
Rostislav is a Protestant theologian and a self-trained Sith, counting Jan Hus, Dorothee Sölle, Darth Revan and Darth Traya among his main influences. He hails from the hundred-towered city of Prague, where he had spent a large part of his life creating worlds and inspiring young generations to roleplay. His involvement in organising children's camps led him to accidentally writing a Lord of the Rings musical, which made him temporarily famous, and a Three Musketeer-Jedi fanfilm, which didn't. He has recently moved to the frozen waste of Finland, because that's it, the Rebels are there.