He’s been in this fight since he was six years old! If you’re a fan of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, then get ready to fall in love with Andor, the latest Disney+ streaming series set in the Star Wars galaxy. George Lucas always maintained that his movies were for kids, but the galaxy far, far away has shown us some decidedly dark moments over the years. Obi-Wan Kenobi was recently force-pushed into a fire, and that was only this year. Rogue One definitely put a gray morality front and center, and it gave that movie something of its own identity.
Andor takes that up a level and runs with it. This is very likely the first Star Wars story that puts an older audience first. Star Wars is for everyone, whether it is Star Wars: The Clone Wars or Obi-Wan Kenobi— but with Andor, kids may get bored. Unless they're big fans of Michael Clayton, that is, in which case let ‘em at it.
***WARNING: From this point forward, there will be spoilers for the first three episodes of Andor. If you have not watched yet, hop that transport and fly on out of here.***
Though it has plenty of action, Andor is a much slower burn than the live-action shows that have come before it. We can see why Lucasfilm chose to land the first three episodes together, as the three of them united build to a pinnacle that sets up the rest of the series. Each singular episode works on its own, but they work even better together.
Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), well before he atones for his morally dubious career in Rogue One, begins the series by walking into a brothel. Unless they cut the brothel scenes out of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, this is a live-action first. A couple of minutes after that, Cassian has a corporate stooge on his knees in full surrender. Cassian shoots him in the face.
His real name isn’t even Cassian Andor. He’s from a planet called Kenari, and we get glimpses of how he came to end up in the stars as these three episodes progress. “Kassa” became Cassian, and Cassian takes many other names. As one of the brothel workers says, “nobody here gives their real name.” Cassian is always playing a part who is playing a part within a part, never sharing his real story with anyone. Almost.
He may feel that he has lost his true identity, that there’s nothing of “Kassa” left at all within the man with a million secrets who will do anything to trick the Empire. His motives unclear at present, but becomes clear as glass is how necessary all of his safeguards are. He operates against the Empire, so there is no margin for error. The second that the “corpo” morons discover that he’s from Kenari (Cassian was looking for a girl from Kenari in the brothel), they’re onto him. Cassian admits that this the result of his own mistake. He messed up. He’s good, but he’s not that good. Not yet.
The planet Ferrix is his home base, and he lives with Maarva Andor (Fiona Shaw) who took him away from Kenari when he was young. The loyal droid B2EMO is on hand, and he shocks a dog-creature in the street when it pees on him. Kids will like that bit.
Helping Cassian is Bix (Adria Arjona), who is playing a game of her own and lying to Timm, who she’s sleeping with. In another live-action Star Wars first, Bix visits Timm late at night for a booty call. She strips in front of him before leading him off to the bed. The books of the saga have contained such scenes for quite a while; recent sex-capades have taken place in Star Wars: The High Republic: The Rising Storm (Elzar Mann is one randy Jedi) as well as Star Wars: Master & Apprentice (rogue-ish Jedi Rael Aveross is also randy). Those are only two of many examples, but this is the first time that Star Wars is fully acknowledging sex on a series or film. Take that, General Hux! We imagine that he’s anti-sex.
The Empire is not a physical presence on the show yet, because everything here is too small time. We deal with corporate officers who report to the Empire, and they’re tracking Cassian because he killed two of them. There’s no talk of a greater rebellion at all.
What we do see are smaller acts of resistance; representation of what will soon happen all across the galaxy. The people of Ferrix do not like the corpos invading their town. They like them even less when they gun down Timm. He had it coming, but whatever. The people of the town begin a ritualistic musical banging, and the sound grows to the point where it truly unnerves the corpos.
The purpose of the guy who bangs on the anvil-gong with hammers (seen in the first trailer) seems to be to announce both the start and the end of the business day, or something like that. This is banging of a different sort, a rousing of the people to take action. “Do You Hear the People Sing?” type of stuff.
“That’s what a reckoning sounds like,” Maarva says to the corpos. “You want it to stop, but it just keeps coming.”
Every character thinks that they’re doing the right thing. They are taking action because they can’t just stand there and watch. This is true of Cassian as well as the corpo officer, Syril Karn (Kyle Soller).
This is what Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård) plays on when he comes to Ferrix. He hasn’t just come for a special part that Cassian is selling; he’s come for Cassian himself. He is impressed with Cassian’s work, especially how he is able to just walk into Imperial bases and take what he wants.
“Their arrogance is remarkable isn’t it,” he says. “They don’t even think about us.”
This arrogance is what will ultimately doom the Empire, something that we know Cassian is going to play a big part in. He’s still an amateur, though— Luthen is going to show him how to go pro. Luthen, we’re guessing, has ties to larger rebel cells. They will have a use for Cassian’s talents.
Cassian Andor begins a new life at the end of Episode 3, mirroring how little Kassa once started a new life when he left Kenari.
All of that said, whether Rael (or anyone else on the series) is who they actually claim to be is completely up in the air. Mon Mothma will be Mon Mothma, but she hasn’t appeared yet. Aside from her, the old man on the transport says it best: “Who knows who you’re talking to these days?”
It is fascinating, but all of it is part of a gray morality that is more Battlestar Galactica than The Mandalorian. This is where the show will shine. Who knows, kids may love it. Adults will love it more.
Galactic points of interest
-The series takes place in BBY 5 (5 years before the Battle of Yavin in Star Wars). Mon Mothma has not yet made her declaration of rebellion, which happens in BBY 2 on Star Wars Rebels. The events of the game Jedi: Fallen Order (BBY 14) have already happened, and so have the events of Obi-Wan Kenobi (BBY 9). K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) from Rogue One is not yet on the series; the canonical comic one-shot, Cassian & K-2SO, has them meeting between 2 BBY and 0 BBY.
-The flashbacks are set at some point during The Clone Wars, because the Republic gets mentioned several times. We thought that the people on the crashed ship were Separatists because of the insignias on their uniforms, but Maarva says they are with the Republic. We’re not going to argue with Fiona Shaw.
-It’s a different kind of Star Wars, but it is still Star Wars. No, Ahsoka Tano doesn’t show up every six seconds, but you do see a heavy blaster pistol, a Y-Wing, and a speeder bike that looks and sounds like it is right out of Return of the Jedi. Blaster and droid sounds remain consistent. It is all firmly grounded in the Star Wars galaxy.
-The planet Wobani gets a mention. An Imperial Labor Camp is located there, and we see Jyn Erso get rescued from it towards the beginning of Rogue One.
-Cassian asks B2 to lie for him, and B2 says it will take considerable power to make the lie possible. Droids need extra power to lie? That is a fascinating detail.
-We hope that we return to Ferrix, because we love Bix, Maarva, and B2. We also hope to learn more details about Clem Andor, Cassian’s father figure.
-Is the “girl from Kenari” that Cassian is looking for his potential sister that we see in the flashbacks?
-Our favorite line of the episode (and the most loaded) came from Maarva Andor, but not just because every word spoken by Fiona Shaw is glorious. When trying to figure out how Cassian’s Kenari secret came out, she says: “Everyone I’ve told is dead.”
-Saving the best for last! Bix mentions a beverage that is notorious in Star Wars, and is always relegated to books and comics only. “Caf” is the Star Wars version of coffee in the novels, and is referred to often in both Legends stories and the stories of the new canon. Bix has the honor of bringing it to live-action when she wakes up in Timm’s bed: “Tell me you have caf.” Some of us (not naming names) have been waiting a long time for that.
Andor streams new episodes on Disney+ every Wednesday. Just walk in like you belong.