Andor Episodes One, Two, and Three Thoughts

Andor was announced four years ago with sparse information peppered through the years. And now the series that perhaps had the most lukewarm reception is finally on Disney Plus. Rogue One is arguably the most loved Disney-era Star Wars film, and Andor could potentially match that for the shows. But it still has a long way to go and a story to tell.

Cassian Andor visits a brothel looking for his sister, who he has not seen since he was a child, taken from his home planet, Kenari. When two officers, Corpos Verlo Skiff and Kravas Drezzer of Preox-Morlana (Pre-Mor), an authoritative affiliate of the Galactic Empire, try to shake him down, he kills them. He is forced to try and cover his tracks as a Pre-Mor Deputy Inspector is on his tail. 

Because the three episodes (“Kassa,” “That Would Be Me,” and “Reckoning”) were released together and don’t work as individual episodes, I am combining all three in my thoughts.

Have No Feat, BBY is Here…and other Firsts

While other Star Wars series establish the locations, none have put the time | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

Other firsts show up in Andor, but starting from the beginning, we are given the location followed by the time, BBY 5 (BBY is Before the Battle of Yavin). Most people watching might not know what BBY means but to Star Wars fans who have read any additional canon material or have glanced at Wookieepedia, it is the north star for Star Wars: the attack on the Death Star from A New Hope. And it makes sense that Andor would be the first series to place that time on screen as Cassian’s path will ultimately lead to the Rebellion getting the plans for the Death Star. It is a great way to connect not only the series to Rogue One but to the Original Trilogy.

The other firsts we see are a brothel where Cassian makes his first big mistake (more on that later), curse words, and a text overlay for a holo message. It is new and familiar at the same time but sets the show’s tone of what we will likely see for the rest of the first season.

The Reality within the Fantasy

Timm gets himself killed by the very police organization he brings to Ferrix | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

If you have read some of my posts before, you might notice that I rarely refer to Star Wars as fantasy because I do not consider franchise fantasy. Fantastical elements are present in Star Wars, which usually manifest in the Jedi and the Sith storylines. However, this series will not revolve around the Force (save for a possible Palpatine cameo) but around the people left in the aftermath of a new galactic order. Everyone is not in agreement with the brutality the Empire is starting to impose on planets, but some willing participants believe the Empire is the greater good. 

The novels have always excelled at showing both perspectives with a clear message that the Empire is a fascist entity not to be admired. They have also not shied away from the failings and messiness of the Rebellion.

Andor and the different character POVs have the potential to finally toggle between these views. These are ground-level characters dealing with everything from establishing alibis for murders and navigating corporate bureaucracy and environmental coverups. Andor seems like the series if you want to see more real-world reflection in a fantastical franchise.

Piecing Together the Past

We spend some time with young Kassa on Kenari in flashbacks | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

Andor is dealing with a lot of guilt from his past on Kenari, a Mid-Rim planet abandoned after an Imperial Mining Disaster. That is mysterious enough, but we also learn that Kenari survivors are few in numbers, which makes Cassian a rarity and his past crucial to his motivation moving forward. 

We also learn that “Cassian” is really “Kassa,” and he was stolen from his home by Maarva Andor and her husband, Clem. The fascinating conversation surrounding Maarva as a white savior has developed over social media that are valid but also speaks to Cassian’s life. Maarva decided against her husband’s wishes to take Cassian as a kid without trying to get more information about him (his family) and ultimately separating him and his sister. Yes, she thought she was saving him from certain death, but Maarva essentially treated Cassian like a stray pet. And now that we know that his sister made it off-world, it is possible that Cassian would have been ok and with his sister had she left him. Andor has multiple seasons to explore that decision and hopefully give more development to his adopted father, Clem, who is dead in the present-day of this series. 

No Room for Doubt on the Path to Justice

Syril might believe he is on a righteous path but he is not smiling looking at the road ahead | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

This is not a joke. So far, the most interesting character in the series is an uptight, by-the-book Pre-Mor Deputy Inspector, Syril Karn. His personality reeks of entitlement and a sense of righteousness from a person who has no idea that he is the butt of a joke. Characters like Syril could become a parody bordering a caricature, but Andor has avoided that by putting Syril in real danger and with significant consequences. Syril is in arguably two of the best scenes in the series so far: A tense showdown with his commanding officer, who tells him to bury the murders of two officers by Cassian, and a blaster fight in the Ferrix town where they locate Cassian.  

The introduction of Syril shows the Deputy reporting the murder of Skiff and Drezzer to his superior, Chief Inspector Hyne. Hyne remarks on Syril’s self-tailored uniform, orders him to lie on the report, then brushes off the time he is already spent before threatening his employment if he does not drop it. It’s funny and probably not a mistake that Hynes correctly guesses what really happened to the two officers, but that does not deter Syril from continuing his investigation.

Still, Syril’s path is taking shape, setting up one of the more compelling arcs in a Star Wars series. Perhaps that is because we ultimately know where Cassian’s path will lead, and Syril is an unknown. His sense of justice and willingness to go against his superior is a problem for Cassian because he will not give up. But he also has the type of righteousness that could potentially endure him to the Rebellion. He encounters (and survives) running into Cassian, and, despite orders from Luthen to kill Syril, Cassian lets him live. 

Corporate politics immediately comes to play for one of the main characters, Syril Karn | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

Syril also works with Sergeant Linus Mosk (who now holds the first “shit” uttered in Star Wars in the English language). Mosk is played brilliantly by Scottish actor Alex Ferns who is unrecognizable from his turn as the Police Commissioner in The Batman. Mosk either truly respects Syril or sees the awkward Deputy as a tool to further his ambitions within Preox-Morlana. Both men’s egos result in Cassian escaping with Luthen and a bunch of dead Pre-Mor soldiers, and I am sure we will see Hynes again as Syril is bound to get reprimanded or even fired.

But Kyle Soller’s Syril could potentially steal this show from Diego Luna’s Andor.

Cassian the Reckless

Cassian gets himself into trouble right away with two Pre-Mor enforcers | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

Watching Andor, one has to remember that this is a prequel to Rogue One, and Cassian is not the savvy spy we first meet. Here, he is reckless. The catalyst for his problems starts when he tells one of the madams that he is looking for a woman from Kenari. Then, in desperation, Cassian lets slip that the woman is his sister. Whoops! An unfortunate distinction of Cassian as a Kenari male leads the Pre-Mor team right to him thanks to resident snitch Timm (more on him later).

He then calls the droid, B2EMO, when Pre-Mor officers are raiding Maarva’s home, allowing them to track Cassian’s comms. When trying to flee the officers, he leaves the valuable NS-9 starpath unit behind and puts himself in a line of fire to retrieve it. 

But that is why Luthen is there. He is clearly a mentor figure that will build Cassian into the man we see in Rogue One. And Cassian faces a new beginning as he is, once again, taken from his home by a mysterious white stranger.

Timm only Knows Why

Timm sees his opportunity to get Andor out of Bix’s life for good | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

Speaking of recklessness, Timm is what happens when recklessness meets jealousy. When Cassian approaches his friend (and potentially a former flame), Bix Caleen, played by Adria Arjona, to help sell his NS-9 unit, Timm is in the background, waiting to mark his territory. He then proceeds to read Bix’s messages and follow her at night as she tries to contact her buyer, Luthen, to connect him with Cassian. 

When Timm finds out that Pre-Mor is looking for a Kenari male, he sees it as an opportunity to get rid of Cassian for good because that will make Bix stop lying to him. He tips off Pre-Mor, bringing them to Ferrix, and gets shot and killed by a Pre-Mor officer for his troubles. It’s a foolish death for a foolish character; however, what happened to Timm does raise the question of whether telling him what was going on would have made a difference. Bix didn’t trust him enough, and Cassian certainly didn’t trust him. But Timm also never spoke up and asked for the truth. Communication works both ways, but that no longer matters for this couple. Bye Timm.

The use of sound to convey the culture and everyday life of Ferrix is highly effective. The work days in the town are bookended by a Time Grappler striking a beskar anvil in a ritual that is taken as seriously as Syril takes his job (with more finesse). When the townies start ringing various bells as the Pre-Mor soldiers make their way through the town, it is unnerving for both the assault team and the audience. 

We are introduced to more characters in the first three episodes of Andor than most series have in the entirety of their run. And everyone has a part to play. From the Pre-Mor tech team to the child leader of Cassian’s old tribe on Kenari, almost every character introduced uses their screen time well. One misfire is Ron Cook’s Willi, who tries to talk to Luthen on a transport to Ferrix. He is nothing more than an exposition dump and slowly chews up screen time for a scene I am not sure needed to be there (there were already enough that showed the Empire’s grip on planets like Ferrix). But I want to highlight Antonio Viña, who plays young Cassian (Kassan), for doing so much without saying a word. The scene where he sees his face for the first time likely in years is powerful, and the anger and frustration so clear. 

A good start to the newest Star Wars series, and we do not even see Mon Mothma or Saw Gerrera. They will appear soon enough as Cassian begins the next phase in his journey to Rogue One.