“Andor” is, both by design and circumstance, immediately different from its “Star Wars” television predecessors. Where “The Mandalorian,” “Boba Fett,” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi” wove their biggest reveals into the larger fabric of the Lucasfilm universe, “Andor” doesn’t rush toward those moments that might make fans gasp out of pure recognition. Instead, it does something more surprising still: it tells the story of people who have nothing to do with Solos, Skywalkers or Palpatines, but whose lives matter nonetheless.
Of course, at least part of the reason the series can take its time this way is because haunted hustler Cassian Andor (Diego Luna, also an executive producer) isn’t a brand-new character at all. As the reluctant hero of 2016’s “Rogue One,” which portrayed the rebel pilot mission to steal the Death Star plans which drive “A New Hope,” Cassian’s “Star Wars” legacy is already written. We already know Cassian’s life will eventually intersect with someone like rebel leader Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly, returning for more in-depth work in “Andor”). We already know his fate — dramatic and hopeful and unforgettable in those final minutes of “Rogue One” — and that it’s well and truly sealed.
So, sure: on the surface of it, it’s exhausting to realize that “Andor” — created by “Rogue One” co-writer Tony Gilroy — is a prequel to a prequel. But being able to step more outside the one “Star Wars” path every other series has had to at least visit gives “Andor” some unexpected freedom to create a world all its own. This approach might also be why Disney+ isn’t just debuting three episodes at once (on Sept. 21), but also took the unprecedented move of providing four screeners to press well ahead of the show’s premiere. “Andor” is not, it seems, all that interested in pandering to the kind of fan service that would otherwise guarantee viewers — and how much more interesting is that?…