Following a less-trodden path, though, doesn’t excuse moving at the pace of a wounded Bantha, bogged down by flashbacks to the protagonist’s childhood. Nor do these early episodes do enough to distinguish the shifting cast of supporting characters, a group that doesn’t provoke much more than indifference.
Andor’s eventual fate is already known, so the thrust of the show involves fleshing out how he made the leap from hating the Empire, and its arrogance, to engaging in the fight against it.
Stellan Skarsgård plays a central part in that regard, at least in the early going, and Genevieve O’Reilly makes an appearance as Mon Mothma, reprising the role she played in “Rogue One,” although don’t expect to see her right away.
As for the Empire, the organization is less about the Sith in this incarnation than frontline soldiers, a group characterized by bureaucratic infighting and more than a little middle-managerial incompetence. While that conveys an inherent message about totalitarian states, like the good guys, few of the bad guys make much of an impression.
The problem is there’s little initially to foster much enthusiasm about “Andor,” which mostly feels like an intriguing test of how and where Lucasfilm can push those parameters and bend the mold — in this case, by producing what amounts to an anti-“Star Wars” “Star Wars” series. Unlike the rousing action in “Rogue One,” the series doesn’t deliver the level of thrills required to sustain such an extended detour as it methodically sets up the story.
Charitably, the experiment represents an act of creative independence that merits praise just for trying it. Less charitably, “Andor” feels like a series afflicted by a touch of its own imperial arrogance.
“Andor” premieres with its first three episodes September 21 on Disney+.
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