Andor

Andor s1

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Cast

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Reviewer

Paul Asay

TV Series Review

The Galactic Empire’s doing just dandy, thanks.

The Emperor is firmly in control. Darth Vader’s super comfy in his shiny black suit. The galactic bureaucracy is churning out rules in triplicate, squashing freedom and slowly instilling sleek, merciless order in every galactic quadrant. The Jedi are dead. Well, most of ‘em. And if a couple are unaccounted for—well, how much trouble could they be?

Still, the galaxy’s a big place. A few neglected systems need to be brought to heel. They need to be shown who’s boss these days. And why not begin by making an example of an on-the-lam guy running away from a murder charge? Cassian Andor, they call him. Bring him in, and the rest of the system will know that the Empire’s grim sense of justice can’t be evaded. Nail him down, and the rest will fall in line.

He’s no rebel, but he’ll do.

Catch as Cass Can

If we could cast our eyes, say, five years into Cassian’s Star Wars future, we would know that he does become a rebel—and a major player in Star Wars: Rogue OneAndor tells us how he becomes one (over several seasons, we’re told), as well as how the rebellion really fanned itself into existence.

History tells us that most rebellions need a spark—something to set alight the fuel of oppression and resentment. The Boston Massacre (where overly enthusiastic British Soldiers fired into a group of protesters, killing five) did the trick in 1770 for the American Revolution.

And in a galaxy filled with burning balls of gas, there are plenty of sparks to be found. Already, pockets of resistance are growing—fragmented, yes, but perhaps beginning to be more than just a fly in the Empire’s soup. A mysterious man named Luthen wants Cassian to sign up, inviting him to “put a real stick in the eye of the Empire—and get paid for it.” 

It sounds appealing, to be sure. To join something bigger than himself? Something worthwhile? It’d be quite the change for him. And given the arrogance and petty bureaucratic squabbles the Empire is prone to, seems that now is the right moment to move.

But this fledgling resistance has its own flaws. Will Cassian overcome them? Or contribute to them?

Along the way, Andor will introduce us to a few characters familiar to Star Wars diehards (Mon Mothma, a politician sympathetic to the rebellion; Saw Gerrera, a Clone War vet, to name a couple), along with a bevy of new faces.

What we won’t see here? Jedi.

“If you think about it, most of the beings in the galaxy are not aware of Jedi, and have never even seen a lightsaber,” Showrunner Tony Gilroy told Rolling Stone.

Adds series star Diego Luna, “We are stressing that change and revolution happen when regular people decide to do something. It’s just regular people trying to survive in the darkest time in this galaxy, and finding out they can’t take it anymore. It’s about a system that is choking society.”

But this grittier, grim Star Wars series may have some families choking on its content.

Rebel Rebel, Your Face Is a Mess

Andor has been called the first Star Wars entry for adults. And indeed, the show’s early feel seems to share as much with Blade Runner as it does with the colorful world that George Lucas introduced us to long, long ago.

And for adult viewers, that’s not all bad—and perhaps a relief for those who weren’t that charmed by The Book of Boba Fett’s sometimes toylike qualities. The worlds in Andor feel harsh and bleak and desperate. And the show digs deeper into more complex characters: Pencil-pushing bureaucrats wanting to move up the ladder; jealous lovers who lash out; heroes and villains with mixed motives and all-too-human reactions. Andor takes its time, with few sprawling space battles or saber duels to relieve the tension.

But clearly, all that comes with plenty of caveats.

The very first scene in Andor takes place in a brothel, where Cass looks for his sister. Two straight-up murders (well, murder and manslaughter) take place. B2EMO, Cass’s requisite adorable droid, is treated like a fire hydrant by a wandering mongrel. And that’s in the first 10 minutes of the series.

Star Wars has been dipping its toes into this sort of territory for a bit now. The Mandalorian has had its own grim forays into hard-to-justify violence.

But Star Wars has always been refreshingly demure when it came to sexual content, and that’s not the case with Andor. While nothing critical is ever seen, sex is a part of this galaxy—and far more common than marriage, it seems. Language can be harsh.

Some are calling Andor the best Star Wars show ever. It’s undeniably a strong entrant. And when one measures this against your average prestige drama, the content we find here is still relatively tame.

But for families who come to the Star Wars galaxy for problem-free thrills, you might not want to check your ticket to Andor.

Episode Reviews

Sept. 28, 2022 – S1, Ep4: “Aldhani”

Cassian and Luthen successfully escape Ferrix, and Luthen encourages the fugitive to join the fledgling rebellion against the Empire. He’s already got a mission lined up for Cassian, if he’s interested: joining a team on the planet Aldhani to steal the quarterly payroll for a full Imperial sector. The catch: The rest of the team doesn’t know he’s coming, and the operation itself will take place in just a few days. Meanwhile on the Imperial capital planet of Coruscant, the Imperial’s version of the CIA dissects the disaster on Ferrix; one ambitious officer wonders if it might be a bigger problem than it appears.

Someone says of Cass (who calls himself Clem on Aldhani), “He can pilot, he can shoot, he can lie.” Speaking of which, we see several characters deceive others, all in the service of various missions. Someone bemoans how many people will starve to death because of an Imperial action. Bureaucratic infighting is thick. But we don’t see any real fighting—just a blaster wound on Cassian’s arm (suffered in the previous episode).

We hear “b–tard” and “a–” once each, and there’s talk of both temples and sacred rivers. Cass drinks some “med nog” to deal with his injury.

Sept. 21, 2022—S1, Ep3: “Reckoning”

Cass meets with Luthen Rael, hoping to sell a piece of valuable tech to so he can leave Ferrix and lay low. But Syril and his security team is on Cass’s trail as well. They aim to bring the killer in—either warm or cold.

In a flashback, we see Cass as a young boy, kidnapped/rescued from the planet by a woman named Marva. (Marva, gathering scrap from a crash site, tranquilizes the struggling teen—taking him to her ship against his will. But she does so for his own good: Marva knows that the planet’s few inhabitants will likely be massacred by the Republic soldiers about to land.)

Episode 3 marks Andor’s first real firefight, and several people die. We see them shot by blasters, thrown into walls by heaving chains or caught in fiery explosions. Cass smashes machinery as a boy and struggles against his rescuers. A woman bleeds from an injury to her head and is roughed up by guards. Dead bodies lie scattered about a ship, their skin tinted yellowish-green. (Whether the coloring is natural or the result of the ship’s crash, we can’t say for sure.) Another ship smashes into a massive tower of mining machinery, presumably killing its pilot. People are threatened. Luthen talks about being executed by hanging—reminding Cass (much to his surprise) that Cass’s own father died like that.

Cass tells Luthen how he came to be in possession of that valuable tech: the Empire’s own arrogance. They’d never imagine that “someone like me would ever get inside their house, walk their floors, spit in their food, take their gear.” A man drinks at a bar. We hear the s-word once and some other profanities as well (“b–tard,” “h—” and a misuse of God’s name).

Sept. 21, 2022—S1, Ep2: “That Would Be Me”

While Cass tries to finagle his way off Ferrix to lay low for a while—hoping to sell a bit of much-sought equipment to do so—Syril discovers that he’s the murderer he’s been looking for. And he organizes a crew to hunt him down and bring him in.

In flashback, we see Cass as a boy scavenge with other children on, it would seem, the largely deserted planet of Kenari. The kids’ leader prods a couple of seemingly dead bodies. One revives, though, and shoots her before he in turn is peppered with darts fired by the children.

Bix, a female friend of Cass’s, spends the night with her boyfriend, Timm. (She kisses him, and she begins to take off her clothes as she prepares to climb into bed, though nothing critical is shown.) She lies to him repeatedly, though—trying to protect Cass’s movements. Someone utters the word “b–tard.”

Sept. 21, 2022—S1, Ep1: “Kassa”

While searching for his sister on the planet Morlana One, Cassian Andor runs afoul of a couple of rank-and-file security guards. They try to shake him down, but he shakes them up—accidentally killing one in the process (with a blow to the man’s throat). He shoots the other to cover up the crime. On his home planet of Ferrix, quickly tries to weave a web of concocted alibis. But back on Morlana One, Syril Karn means to avenge the murders—and perhaps earn a promotion in the process.

Syril’s superior isn’t as keen on pursuing the culprit (still unknown to them at this juncture) as zealously. “They were killed in a fight,” he tells Syril, correctly. “They were in a brothel, which we’re not supposed to have, the expensive one, which they shouldn’t be able to afford, drinking Revnog, which we’re not supposed to allow. Both of them supposedly on the job, which is a dismissible offense.” He orders Syril to simply make up a story for how they died. “Something sad but inspiring in a mundane sort of way.”

Cassian and the guards do indeed cross paths in a brothel, where Cassian is hunting for his sister. We see him pass apparently other houses of ill-repute, with various aliens showing their physical wares in bubble windows (much like the prostitution windows popular in Amsterdam). Inside, a holographic dancer (clothed) writhes nearby. Cassian talks with a prostitute—asking after she’s seen his sis. “Nobody here gives their real names,” the woman says.

She bares quite a bit of cleavage, by the way. We hear insinuations that Cass is a ladies’ man, and he’s been known to cavort with married women. The security guards are drinking at the bar when Cass enters. When Cass asks a friend to lie for him, he asks him to say that he had “half a bottle of nog stashed at home, so we went there and we drank ourselves to sleep.”

Cass asks others to lie for him, too. An animal urinates on a droid. A spaceship crashes over a planet.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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