Lucasfilm’s first major Star Wars series of the year only recently finished airing in the form of Obi-Wan Kenobi, but what could be one of the studio’s most ambitious Disney+ series is just around the corner. Andor is (another) prequel story set during the age of the Galactic Empire and the Rebellion, this time focusing on Diego Luna’s spy character Cassian Andor from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
It will detail his life as well as a fresh supporting cast in the years leading up to the events of Rogue One, but its season structure is what might be so ambitious about it. On top of seemingly boasting stronger VFX than what Disney+ rushed out recently, Andor has essentially been mapped out as a 24-episode series spread evenly across two seasons. It’s somewhat refreshing to see a big-budget franchise show have a clear vision in mind from behind the scenes, and these are the things worth in-universe before going into its premiere.
Setting the stage and the timeline
The studio is no stranger to milking the post-Revenge of the Sith and pre-A New Hope timeframe for everything it’s worth, but Andor will hopefully use its genre approach to make the most of this era. Just as The Mandalorian succeeded in mixing sci-fi with the western genre, Andor is touted as a Star Wars-themed spy thriller taking place five years before Rogue One and — by extension — Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.
It looks to be grittier than what we might be used to seeing, or at least around the similarly grounded tone of The Mandalorian. That grounded atmosphere could make for some more intimate character-driven storytelling, with Andor opening during the early days of the Rebellion as they try to build the momentum for what the original Star Wars trilogy expanded into.
But while season one will start five years before Rogue One and A New Hope, it will specifically cover just one year’s worth of canon. That leaves the last 12 episodes of the series in the upcoming season 2 to span the remaining four years. Per showrunner Tony Gilroy in an interview with Total Film, season 2 will be broken up into four blocks of three episodes, each block moving the timeline up by one year until it feeds into Rogue One.
Star Wars is one of the several mainstream media franchises with daunting layers of lore to it, but Andor‘s series structure seems like an interesting way to ease audiences into what’s essentially a prequel within a prequel.
Who is Cassian Andor?
Honing in on the leading man, Cassian Andor is a much newer addition to the greater Star Wars canon considering the franchise’s 45-year history. And while the state of the franchise post-acquisition has been rocky quality-wise due to the disjointed sequel trilogy, Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has been retroactively seen as the strongest of the Disney-era bunch, and it was largely defined by original characters.
Diego Luna’s Rebel spy was one of several members of the crew complementing Felicity Jones’ born-again freedom fighter Jyn Erso, and he was noted as a standout performer despite the movie itself shedding little light on his backstory. Cassian lost his father to the Empire and, with one of the few things learned about his origins in Rogue One, enlisted with Rebellion at just six years old as a thief-turned spy and assassin.
Since Andor is a prequel to a prequel, simply keeping up with the movies will let audiences know that Cassian’s fate ends in tragedy and grand sacrifice alongside his comrades at the end of Rogue One. The ending of that movie takes place mere minutes before the start of A New Hope, where Princess Leia Organa is kidnapped for obtaining the Death Star schematics — which Cassian Andor and Jyn Erso died to steal for the Rebellion on the Imperial-occupied planet of Scarif.
How Andor connects to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One did well to raise the stakes of a result most of us already know feel painstakingly genuine. Part of that was achieved thanks to the more serious and grounded tone as a Star Wars-themed war epic and heist, with the final act raising the tension and sense of loss, and the feeling of dread reaching a fever pitch.
However, one of the criticisms of the movie was how having such a big cast of characters for a single movie prevented any one of them from being explored too much outside of Jyn Erso. Andor will feature a similarly grown Cassian since the series begins only half a decade before his sacrifice, but fans can probably expect to be fed pieces of the battle-hardened Rebel spy’s origins through flashback sequences.
And though Rogue One was more of a war epic whereas Andor will be leaning into the espionage side of the Galactic Civil War, fans are likely safe in expecting a similar level of grit to the storytelling — as those who saw the special series preview at the end of Rogue One‘s recent theatrical re-release should know. Just as well, audiences should see a welcome dose of political intrigue as Senator Mon Mothma returns to deal with the dark machinations of Imperial politics while secretly helping the Rebellion.
Andor will certainly be playing in a familiar sandbox in terms of timeline and setting, but all these creative elements going into the series should allow it to carve out something refreshing within that familiarity.
Lucasfilm’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is available to stream now on Disney+, and Andor will have a three-episode series premiere on September 21, with the season’s remaining nine episodes streaming on a weekly basis.