“Andor,” Disney’s Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) prequel series is finally here — at least Episodes 1-3. Spoilers ahead.
Andor, as previously alluded to, follows a younger Cassian Andor, who is a main character in “Rogue One,” in which he perishes along with Jyn Erso in order to give the Death Star plans to the Rebellion. In the first three episodes of this show, we learn that he grew up in a remote, isolated world until he was eventually taken in by a scrapper named Maarva (Fiona Shaw), after a Republic cruiser crash landed on his planet, after which one of the survivors shot one of his people. Since then, he’s been living on a planet that feels like a company town, in which he trades scrap via the connections of his friend, Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona), who is dating a coworker and fellow friend named Timm Karlo (James McArdle). See my initial thoughts on the three episodes down below:
The show’s inciting incident comes when Cassian looks for his sister at a brothel in a seedy part of town, in which he is harassed by two officers who work for a company that oversees his sector for the Imperials. The two start up trouble by threatening to impound his vehicle, which prompts Cassian to fight them. Not knowing his own strength, he kills one of them, which forces him to kill the other so as to leave no witnesses.
This eventually reaches Chief Hyne (Rupert Vansittart), the men’s direct superior. Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) wants to open up a formal investigation, but Hyne insists that he instead comes up with an excuse for their deaths, given that their involvement with the brothel and the fact that they had been drinking illegal substances would reflect badly on the company. He correctly assumes that they started trouble with the wrong person, and was wary of bringing too much attention to their sector, as it would negatively affect their relationship with the Imperials. The company clearly has no real power on Cassian’s planet and are no more than independent contractors — most likely they are being used as a temporary measure until the Imperials either muster up enough forces to establish a base there or are given reason to take interest in it.
Syril disobeys Hynes and sends out a request for information for anyone from Cassian’s homeworld of Kenari, which he revealed at the brothel (his cover story is that he’s from Fest). Timm is completely in the dark about Bix and Cassian’s part dealings, and rats him out when he sees Bix and Cassian meet in secret to help set up a meeting with Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård), who wants to buy a rare part Cassian stole from the Imperials. This sets up an inevitable shootout between Luthen and Cassian and the not-Imperials (I like to call them Space Cops), in which Luthen and Cassian escape the planet. Turns out Luthen wanted to recruit Cassian most likely for the Rebel Alliance, as he recognized the skill he had to have obtaining that part from the Imperials.
This show is gorgeous — its budget really shows. It flawlessly blends CG and practical effects to create a really great lived-in world. I really liked how Cassian’s planet felt like a small town where everyone has each other’s backs and knows everybody — it gave me major “Firefly” vibes. Likewise, the grimy world we see him look for his sister felt like it’d be home in “Bladerunner.” I liked both tones, but the show has yet to find its own identity — it definitely feels different from any “Star Wars” project that came before it.
It picks up at Episode 3, but is a slow burn until then. Disney was wise to release the show’s first three episodes — I wasn’t sold until Episode 3, when everything the previous two set up finally came together and the direction of the show became clear. Still, I can’t help but feel Episodes 2 and 3 could have been condensed into one.
Haven seen Luna do an excellent lead performance in “Narcos: Mexico,” I have great confidence for what he will bring to the table in the coming weeks of this show. He’s a great leading man — he just needs the right material to knock this out of the park.
I’m excited to see where this show goes — though I am wary that it will turn out to be a very expensive cult show and of the fact that the end of Cassian’s journey is already set in stone via “Rogue One.”
“Star Wars: Andor” Season 1: Episodes 1-3 gets a 7/10