Years after the release of Rogue One, Cassian Andor returns in a thrilling prequel series with a more mature tone with “Episodes 1-3.”
In 2016, Rogue One released to much acclaim. Rebel spy Cassian Andor, portrayed by Diego Luna, was a standout in the impressive cast. Six years after Rogue One’s release, Luna returns to the role in a Disney+ prequel series. The first three episodes of Andor, “Episodes 1-3”, were simultaneously released together and provide a compelling start to the series.
What is most striking about the series is both its tone and its portrayal of the world. The tone is noticeably darker than the typical Star Wars project, as the character of Cassian and the people he interacts with are morally grey. The series shows us a more grounded representation of the world, as these are ordinary people dealing with life under the Empire. As much as I love the fantastical nature of Star Wars, getting to explore new areas of the world and having a more mature tone make this series feel like a fresh addition to the universe.
The series opens as Cassian goes into a seedy bar looking for his sister. Two agents of the corporate arm of the Empire follow him outside and harass him. In the ensuing struggle, Cassian kills both and then must attempt to cover his tracks. Cassian comes up with an alibi, asks his allies to lie for him, and tries to sell a stolen Empire artifact to be able to afford an escape. This Cassian, five years before the events of Rogue One, is different than who he will eventually become. Though Cassian is a morally grey character, his charm and vulnerability make him a compelling character.
The present-day action is interspersed with flashbacks to Cassian’s childhood. As Kassa (Antonio Viña), he grew up in a tribe on the planet of Kenari. When a ship crashes near their village, many of the kids go to investigate. After a standoff with a survivor of the crash, Kassa stays behind to investigate the ship while the other kids leave. Maarva (Fiona Shaw) finds him, drugs him, and takes him away before the rest of his village is wiped out. The lack of subtitles on these flashbacks is an interesting choice, and the flashbacks add a lot of depth to Cassian’s character.
While each of Andor’s supporting cast is interesting, droid B2EMO (Dave Chapman) is the standout. He is endearingly sweet in both his concern for Cassian and his struggle with Cassian’s request that he lie about having seen him. Present-day Maarva is also great as Cassian’s adoptive mother. Cassian’s ally Bix (Adria Arjona) is also an intriguing character, even though her interactions with Cassian spark the jealousy of boyfriend Timm (James McArdle).
At the Empire’s corporate headquarters, Syril (Kyle Soller) ignores his supervisor’s orders to not pursue the murder investigation. He is a slimy representative of the Empire that is easy to hate as he treats everyone below him poorly. Syril is eager to bring Cassian to justice, which is made easier when Timm turns Cassian in via an anonymous tip. Armed with a suspect, Syril leads a group of soldiers to arrest Cassian.
At the same time, Luthen (Stellan Skarsgard) arrives to buy Cassian’s stolen Imperial artifact. It soon becomes clear that Luthen is more interested in Cassian than the object, asking if he wants to fight the Empire for real. As Syril and his soldiers close in, an exciting action sequence ensues as Cassian and Luthen escape. The arrival of the soldiers radicalizes much of the town, defying the Empire in an exciting moment punctuated by a brilliant monologue from Maarva. Soon Cassian and Luthen are flying away in a spaceship, beginning Cassian’s journey into joining the Rebellion.
Disney was smart to release “Episodes 1-3” together. Viewing them together feels like an extended episode, with the ending of “Episode 3” feeling like the set up leading into the rest of the series. The first three episodes of Andor combines great performances, exciting worldbuilding, and a more mature tone to set up a thrilling and compelling story. With the introduction to the world and characters out of the way, I look forward to seeing how the series progresses over its two seasons.
Author: Jessica Wolff
Jessica Wolff is a graduate of Drexel University with a BS in Film/Video. She has a passion for entertainment and representation in entertainment. She currently resides outside of Washington, DC.
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