The following is a spoiler-free review of episodes 1-4 of Endor. The three-episode premiere will begin on Disney+ on September 21.
In the film where Cassian Endor made his entry (and exit), focusing on a Jedi-free pocket of resistance we hadn’t yet seen on screen, Disney+’s Endor gave Star Wars a more developed tone. That’s thanks to established heavyweight talent. Measured performance behind and in front of the camera. set five years before the events of evil oneEndor makes a strong first impression in its opening four episodes, surprisingly setting the stage for its constantly untapped mystery.
It’s a well-worn reference point so far, but the opening seconds of the series are impossible to remind of Blade Runner. Heavy rain Neon lights are shattering the darkness. The sparkling pulse of music. The ingredients are all there – a shuffling hero in a brown coat. But as touchpoints go, the 1982 classic isn’t bad, is it? Its sordid sci-fi noir tone is what Endor attempts to replicate in the first third of its 12-episode first season, blending it with the help of the modern corporate espionage thriller Touchstone.
Showrunner Tony Gilroy is no stranger to weaving conspiratorial stories of characters working in morally gray areas to bring down a larger, undoubtedly more evil entity. The author of the original Bourne trilogy, he also brought Michael Clayton to the screen—the fastest film script of the past 20 years. When you combine these credentials with the fact that he was a co-writer on Rogue One, it all makes sense why he was chosen for the project, and importantly why it works so successfully. .
While there’s no Paul Greengrass or Doug Liman here to execute it, most of the action won’t look too far from a Jason Bourne spot. Its grounded nature is a refreshing break from the ever-frequent lightsaber duets and cheesy blaster fights we’ve become accustomed to in Star Wars’ recent output. In truth though, there is little action to speak of in the opening hours of Endor, preferring to deliberately set the table neatly rather than flip it over on a regular basis.
Endor has a heightened sense of maturity that we haven’t regularly seen from Star Wars. It is not trapped in the shade of a singular family tree or poisoned by the Skywalker fruit that grows on it. Whisper it quietly, but sometimes there’s an attempt to generate some sexual chemistry on screen—something Star Wars, and in the broadest sense, Disney has long since brushed off its blushing cheeks. That doesn’t mean Endor is a strictly adult show by any means, but one that’s definitely shooting for more depth than you’d expect. The writing is strong, which is again a cry for recent Star Wars projects. The natural dialogue is full of humor but never blinks, taking its time to create meaningful dialogue for the characters, not the next Clone Wars cameo or scenes designed to help fan-service fodder. rather than.
Nothing looks cheap, and instead it often seems like the premium burden on prestige TVs is rising. It’s no coincidence when you take a look at the veteran operators set to share cinematography duties throughout the series — Jonathan Freeman and Adriano Goldman, both Emmy Award winners for their work on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and Netflix’s The Crown, respectively. For. It’s Goldman’s eye that guides the first three episodes, with abundant tracking and Steadicam shots as well as a healthy amount of close-ups keeping us hooked to the characters. The low camera angle and often waist-high position also help to convey the message that we are with these people on the ground level of resistance, which in turn helps us feel more connected to them. It’s all carefully plotted and by no means accidental, with people working the lens as creatively as possible to tell the story as the actors are performing in front of it.
Diego Luna effortlessly takes center stage as Cassian Andor. We learn a lot about his no-nonsense attitude in Episode 1’s Goodfellas’-infused bar brawl in which he utters no words, but ultimately says all that later with a vulnerability in his eye and the pull of a trigger. is what he needs. Luna is an intuitive operator who combines a legitimate sense of paranoia with the resourcefulness of a survivor.
Each character behaves like a fully formed human, as opposed to a spoken plot device that exists only to charm a MacGuffin. Bix, portrayed by Adria Arjona, is a perfect example of this – providing warmth whenever on screen and a genuine sense of a long personal history between her and Andor within moments of meeting her. Then there are stalwarts like Stellan Skarsgard and Fiona Shaw, whose pride only elevates any scene, and adds to the spirit of Endor as a premium product.
And as far as Endor’s antagonist is concerned, being presented with a relatively new threat is welcome. There’s no doubt that Vader is one of the most iconic villains of all time, but the extreme exposure has led us to see almost everything he has to offer and, in turn, made him a less intimidating presence. On the other hand, Endor’s enemy is draped in oppressive government uniforms and is much more intimidating as a result. Acting as an avatar for that evil, Kyle Soler stars as Deputy Inspector Karn, who is accused of leading Endor’s hunt. He’s suitably ghoulish, bringing with it an air of fear whenever one of his sly smiles pops up on screen — however, it’s cold exterior masking complexity.
Episode 1 does a great job of laying the tonal basis for the series, reintroducing us to Cassian and setting up his allies as we continually learn who can be trusted. The small industrial town we spend much of the early episodes in effectively functions as a galaxy in a microcosm—one where anyone can be your enemy at the height of Imperial-inspired turmoil. . There’s a real feeling that we’re actually spending time with the people we live in this world from day to day, and not just the select few whom we often follow the stories of.
Without spoiling anything significant, Episode 2 gives us an insight into each character’s background and motivations, while not necessarily pushing the plot much more substantial than it did before 3 and 4. This is where things kick into next gear as the stakes get high, danger awaits behind every door, and alliances are formed and broken. Episode 3 is a thrilling standout, featuring a clanging, street-level metallic ode to The Lord of the Rings’ Beacon of Gondor, which begins a siege-like guerilla action.
However, the show falls a little flat in some semi-frequent flashback scenes from Endor’s childhood. These are essential to the plot and helpful in gaining a full understanding of their past and future motives, but admittedly are never too compelling when we’re with the main cast. Having said that, they eventually pay off towards the end of Episode 3, which is quiet, yet powerfully emotional thanks to some smart cross-cutting.
The overall pacing of the first four episodes might prove a bit sluggish for some, but I really enjoyed it, given the constantly refreshingly revealing plot comparisons to Disney’s recent MCU and Star Wars output. It isn’t afraid to slow down and engage in the environment it often creates successfully. Again, it felt deliberate and maturely constructed, rather than a string of fast-moving guts between fight scenes.
The quality of Disney+ Star Wars shows may well fluctuate, but the music is something they’ve consistently excelled at — whether it’s the compelling percussion of Ludwig Göransson’s Mandalorian score or the classics in Obi-Wan Kenobi. But a great twist from Natalie Holt. This time it’s Nicolas Brittel adding another slathering of class, and with harsh strings, crashing cymbals, and hostile, textured chimes, creating nothing immediately recognizable as his succession theme during the first four episodes. Makes its mark and drones — fitting in perfectly to Endor’s bubbling paranoia and only adding to Gilroy’s compelling vision.