Endor review: The Star Wars Rogue One prequel is a welcome departure

,internal management andis immediately distinct from “its”, both by design and circumstancestar wars“Television predecessor. Where ‘The Mandalorian,’ ‘Boba Fett,’ and ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ make their biggest reveal in the larger fabric of the Lucasfilm universe, ‘Endor’ doesn’t rush to moments that fans out of pure identity.. Instead, it still does something more surprising: it tells the story of people who have nothing to do with Solos, Skywalker, or Palpatine, but whose lives are nonetheless importance.

Of course, the least reason the series can take its time like this is because of haunted hustler Cassian Andor (Diego Moon, also an executive producer) isn’t a brand new character. As the reluctant protagonist of 2016’s “Rogue One,” which featured the Rebel pilot mission to steal the Death Star plans that drive “A New Hope,” Cassian’s “Star Wars” legacy is already written. We already know that Cassian’s life will eventually intersect with someone like rebel leader Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly, returning for more intense work in “Endor”). We already know his fate — dramatic and hopeful and unforgettable in those final minutes of “Rogue One” — and it is well and truly sealed.

So, of course: On its surface, it’s exhausting to realize that “Endor” — produced by “Rogue One” co-writer Tony Gilroy — is a prequel to a prequel. But being able to step outside of a “Star Wars” path every other series has at least had to travel, gives “Endor” some unexpected freedom to create his own world. This approach could also be why Disney+ is not only debuting three episodes at once (on September 21), but took the unprecedented step of providing four screeners to press well before the show’s premiere. “Endor” isn’t, it seems, all he’s interested in pandering to the kind of fan service that would otherwise warrant an audience — and how interesting is that?

The show announces its intentions to be a capital “D” aside from its opening minutes, which sees Cassian looking for his long-lost sister in an exotic brothel. (The ghost of “Slave Leia” has been haunting “Star Wars” for decades, a galaxy so far away that it often clings to the subtext when it comes to sex.) As in “Rogue One,” Luna’s Cassian Makes for a suitably charismatic and handsome leading “Star Wars” man, but quickly proves willing to risk everything in the most literal way possible. This particular trait of hers upsets her mechanic ex, Bix (Adria Arjona), worries her adoptive mother, Marva (the always welcome Fiona Shaw), and directly upsets Cyril Karn (Kyle Soler), a furious Empire cop. One who values ​​order above all else. And yes: this being “Star Wars,” there’s definitely a mysterious newcomer (the ever enigmatic Stellan Skarsgard) and a lovable droid whose loyalty and stutter won me over within seconds (especially veteran droid voice actor Dave Chapman). voiced by).

Sure, there’s every chance that “Endor” will become as much a part of the “Star Wars” movies as its other Disney+ TV counterpart deep into its 12-episode season. Still, hopefully, Gilroy’s clever script and Toby Haynes’ assured direction come together to make sense of location, characters, and social order like few other recent (live-action) “Star Wars” iterations. The show isn’t in too much of a hurry (the first three episodes falling together are really of one piece), and that could lead to some short attention spans. However, those who live nearby will be rewarded for their patience. Through flashbacks to Cassian’s childhood on the far-flung planet of Canari, we learn about one of a thousand civilizations of “dark-eyed” people that fighter pilots fast on their way to glory. Between Luke Hull’s intricate production design, Nicolas Brittel’s swollen score, Michael Wilkinson’s costume design, and Emma Scott’s hair and makeup, every world Cassian tours feels far more tangible and lived-in than most “Star Wars” sets. , which otherwise evokes the Disneyworld of the future rides.

Before the rebellion in this part of life bursts into flames, “Endor” lays the groundwork for the impending rebellion. Following Cassian, Bix, Cyril, and all the lackluster middle management who keep the Empire running and citizens encouraged enough to stand up for them, the show follows ordinary people at their most daring hours. in favor of.

So if we were to get dozens of spinoffs and prequels and remakes and re-imaginations, they could do worse than follow this “endor” model, which may not be as risky as it sounds. Millions of people have fallen in love for the infinite possibilities within this galaxy; Why not explore them in more detail than playing “Star Wars” bingo usually allows to discover something new in that?

The first three episodes of “Andor” premiere on Disney+ on Wednesday, September 21.

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