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‘Andor’: A brave new world in that faraway galaxy

In 2016, Lucasfilm released the first of the “Star Wars” spin-off films, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” The film was a massive success and provided a new perspective on the Rebel Alliance. It took until this September to continue the journey “Rogue One” began into the underbelly of the famous rebellion in “Star Wars” when Disney+ aired the first three episodes of the newest “Star Wars” show, “Andor.”

This foray into the faraway galaxy stars Diego Luna as the titular Cassian Andor. In these first episodes, we meet him as an ostensibly undistinguished thief who, while searching for his missing sister, kills two officers who work for a megacorporation which essentially runs its own government upholding the Empire. This forces Andor to go on the run before company officer Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) arrests him. While trying to find a way off the planet Ferrix (which is under the jurisdiction of the company), Andor enlists the help of Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona), a mechanic and black market dealer.  She tries to help Andor get enough money to get off of Ferrix by reaching out to her mysterious contact Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård). Interspersed with this thriller are flashbacks to Andor’s childhood that explore his home planet Kenari, which has become the host of an Imperial mining project.

I have very mixed feelings about this show. One of its positives is that its cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. It looked very cinematic with a film noir feel, a genre influence the showrunner (and “Jason Bourne” scribe) Tony Gilroy has publicly celebrated. This doesn’t feel like a “Star Wars” product, even though it has the name attached to it; it feels very much like a spy thriller. I also like the subtlety of the flashbacks involving Andor and his sister. It didn’t detract too much from the main plot, but it serves the purpose of looking into Andor’s childhood and why he is the way he is. 

The show, however, has a major problem with pacing. The first two episodes of the show were very slow, which made them a bit painful for me to watch. As a massive “Star Wars” fan, I was expecting them to be very flashy and action-packed, so the first two episodes just didn’t do it for me. But when I watched the third episode, I was very satisfied, as it set up the next episode well and felt much like a “Star Wars” entry. 

In conclusion, “Andor” is a decent addition to the “Star Wars” franchise and offers a look into a compelling character whom fans have been waiting to know. The show will be releasing episodes weekly all the way up to Nov. 23, 2022 on Disney+.

Title: “Andor”

Starring: Diego Luna, Stellan Skarsgård

If you liked: “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

Where to watch: Disney+

Shamrocks: 4 out of 5

Contact Nicole Bilyak at nbilyak01@saintmarys.edu.

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‘Tell Me Lies’: A train wreck

On Wednesday, Sept. 7, the first three episodes of the new Hulu series “Tell Me Lies” was released. While the first episode begins in the present, the director takes us back to Lucy’s first year of college.

The director’s choice for bridging the past and present naturally presented spoilers. Even though these foreshadowing details somewhat piqued my interest, the decision to intentionally show the future unfolding didn’t fare well. Instead, it simply felt unnecessary. For instance, the tragic death of Lucy’s roommate Macy (Lily McInerny) lacked the shock value it deserved.

Episode one should’ve been stronger, but the following two episodes managed to create complex characters that were not only interesting to watch but you also found yourself despising them. Stephen (Jackson White) was a misleading image; he found himself in a dramatic love triangle with his ex-girlfriend Diana and Lucy. As the episodes proceed, we learn that Lucy wants more than a casual relationship while Diana is hesitant to take him back. In the end, Stephen effectively convinces them to stay with him. 

It is difficult to know how much what he says is true, and his friends fail to provide insight into his true intentions. Even though he may be a fascinating character, he is a toxic individual.

For example, one of the most difficult scenes to watch was when Stephen’s friend Wrigley (Spencer House) asks for help when studying for his economics exam. Evan (Branden Cook) apologizes profusely for not being able to help him while Stephen says he doesn’t have enough time. In many ways, I wish Wrigley’s storyline was highlighted. 

In the scene where Lucy writes a nonfiction piece for her fiction class, she feels personally attacked by their harsh criticisms of the main character. I found this scene to be funny because it made me question whether or not I should’ve sympathized, and it opened my eyes to the portrayal of Lucy as an emotionless character. She breaks up with her boyfriend the morning before leaving for college and all of her actions were not explained. There is no backstory, instead the director alludes to the difficulties with her mother. Her struggles should have been explored in a deeper way in order to enhance Lucy’s character arc. Her character is very unlikable.

Even as the series continues to progress I still couldn’t help but think that there should’ve been a different focus. However, despite being a train wreck, it is hard to stop watching.

“Tell Me Lies,” first three episodes

Starring: Grace Van Patten, Jackson White 

Favorite episode: Episode 3

If you like: “A Teacher”

Where To Watch: Hulu

Shamrocks: 3 out of 5