After the COVID-19 pandemic kneecapped the entertainment industry, big franchises like Star Wars decided that they needed to make themselves accessible to their fans as they couldn’t go to the theaters. At the same time, they understood that, in order to keep their viewers glued to the screen, they needed to scrap the feature film format and take an episodic route. And the results have been disastrous. What was once known for its operatic, campy, and action-packed stories has been reduced to a home for watery, dull, and soulless TV shows, with the exception of maybe “The Mandalorian” Season 1 and “Visions.” Personally speaking, after watching “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” I decided to stay away from Star Wars until they returned to the big screen. But as a fan of “Rogue One,” I thought about giving “Andor” (a show that takes place five years before the events of the Gareth Edwards directorial) a try and, well, at least the first three episodes aren’t infuriatingly boring.
‘Andor’ Episode 1: Recap
Episode 1 of “Andor” opens with Cassian (Diego Luna) arriving on Morlana One to look for her sister at a bar. He irks a couple of sentry guards, who then follow him into the alleyways to harass him. Under the pretext of bribing them, Cassian draws the guards in and then beats the hell out of them. He accidentally ends up killing one of the guards, and when the other guy starts pleading with him, he kills him too. This will be a surprise to anyone who hasn’t watched “Rogue One.” But those who’ve seen it, they’ll remember that this is almost exactly how Cassian is introduced in that film. Anyway, he boards his ship and flies off to his home on the planet Ferrix, which is in the Morlani system, i.e., a free trade sector. There we are introduced to Cassian’s droid, B2EMO (Dave Chapman). And as it starts calling Cassian’s name to wake him up, we flash back to his past as a Kenari.
As a young kid, Cassian goes by the name Kassa (Antonio Viña) and is shown to be looking at a ship falling from the sky, along with all his villagers. In the present, Cassian learns from B2EMO that two of his friends, Jezzi and Femmi, paid him a visit to deliver supper and Maarva’s (Fiona Shaw) medicine, while he was off on his mission. Additionally, another friend of his called Brasso (Joplin Sibtain) came looking for him, and apparently, Maarva expressed her concerns about Cassian to Brasso. After telling B2EMO (lovingly known as Bee) to lie about having information on Cassian, he goes to the town to meet Brasso and update him on the alibi. What do they need an alibi for? Because Syril Karn (Kyle Soller), the Deputy Inspector of the Pre-Mor authority, a security organization that works for the Empire, is hell-bent on capturing Cassian for killing two officers, even though Syril’s boss doesn’t want him to because it’ll reflect badly on their records.
Cassian meets Bix (Adria Arjona) and urges her to bring her “secret friend,” who buys things from her, to come to Ferrix because he has something to sell. And what does Cassian want to sell? An untraceable NS-9 Starpath unit that has its Vector crystals and Imperial seal still intact. Although Bix doesn’t want to take the risk, Cassian pesters her until she agrees to call her buyer. Cassian (James McArdle), who seems to be Bix’s boyfriend, is clearly irked by it because he thinks Cassian is a bad influence on her. In the flashback, Kassa and his friends prepare to go out and check out the fallen ship, while in the present, Syril locates a ship that belongs to Cassian and begins setting up a team to find out where it is. Bix secretly makes a call to her buyer. Meanwhile, by the looks of it, Cassian seems to be running out of people willing to side with him because he has a habit of not repaying his debts.
‘Andor’ Episode 2: Recap
The second episode opens with Kassa and his friends heading in the direction of the fallen ship. On their way, Kassa stops near a mining field, which means that the otherwise green planet is being turned upside down by the Empire. Ferrix wakes up to the sounds of the town bell (which is manually rung by the most dedicated dude in the galaxy far, far away), and Bix learns about the APB on Cassian. When Timm asks her why she looks so distraught, she downplays the seriousness of the situation and bails out of there. But Timm peeks into her monitor and sees that the Pre-Mor Authority is seeking a Kenari male resident of Ferrix, and they want to bring him in for questioning. Although Bix told Cassian that she hadn’t revealed the fact that he was a Kenari to Timm, the look on Timm’s face essentially proves that he knows that the Pre-Mor is hunting for Cassian.
Cassian meets Maarva, who is apparently his stepmother, and he tries to avoid talking about everything that he has been doing in and around Ferrix. After Maarva reveals that she has read the APB, she questions him about the number of people he has told that he is from Kenari. Cassian initially denies that he hasn’t done anything like that, but as soon as Bee blurts out that Bix was trying to get in touch with him, it becomes clear that she’s privy to Cassian’s origins. He rushes to Bix and tells her everything that went down on Morlana One. Bix says that the buyer is arriving the following morning, and it’s too late to call him off. This means that Cassian has to do the exchange before the Pre-Mor arrives to get him. Timm notices this exchange and drunkenly dials the emergency number to inform Syril’s team about Cassian’s whereabouts. As soon as Syril receives the details, his face lights up with a sense of determination.
For some reason, Bix and Timm engage in a little sexy time, while Syril appoints Sgt. Kostek (Alex Ferns) to assemble a strike team that can head out to Ferrix and nab Cassian. While Cassian takes a look at the NS-9 Starpath, Kassa and his friends approach the fallen ship. Bix’s buyer, Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård), lands in Ferrix and starts to make his way to the town. Cassian prepares for the exchange with Rael, and he tells Bee that if things go successfully, he’s going to deliver the credits to Maarva himself. If not, he’s going to inform Bee via the comms, and it will deliver the credits to Maarva on his behalf. One of Kassa’s friends tries to get a closer look at the survivors, but she’s shot down. This provokes everyone to start hitting the shooter with tranquilizers until he passes out. While his friends carry out the wounded, Kassa stays back to inspect the ship. “Andor” Episode 2 ends with Cassian, Rael, and Syril heading towards the rendezvous point.
‘Andor’ Episode 3: Ending Explained: Why Does Syril’s Plan To Capture Cassian Fail?
While inspecting the fallen ship, Kassa’s reflection triggers him to trash the panels. A comparatively younger Maarva, Clem (Gary Beadle), i.e., Maarva’s partner, and a less-damaged Bee come across him while scavenging the ship. After learning that a Republic frigate is arriving, Maarva knocks out Kassa so that she can rescue him from the upcoming attack. In the present, Cassian (who has already made arrangements to leave Ferrix) tells Brasso to look after Maarva once he’s gone. Bix meets Rael, and they proceed to the place where the exchange is scheduled to happen. Syril and his team finally land in Ferrix and begin their search. The first person they interrogate is Maarva. Even though she doesn’t say a word, Bee accidentally reveals Cassian’s location by playing his call on its loudspeaker. As Syril starts marching towards Cassian, Rael enters the warehouse where Cassian is waiting for him.
Since Rael doesn’t know Cassian, they’ve a long-drawn conversation about the authenticity of the NS-9 Starpath. But it becomes evident that the real reason Rael is pushing Cassian to give some insight about himself (and not the Starpath) is because he is interested in him and his skills. So, Rael tells Cassian to come away with him, and actually fight the Empire instead of running away. Salman Paak (Abhin Galeya) and Bix learn that Timm is the one who called in the Pre-Mor. Bix apparently heads towards Cassian and Rael to warn them, and Salman goes to the town to alert everyone. Bix is nabbed by one of the Pre-Mor teams. However, that doesn’t really hamper Rael’s escape plan because it doesn’t involve getting a warning sign from Bix. After getting out of the warehouse, though, Rael realizes that they need yet another escape plan to reach his ship that’s parked in the Wastelands. That’s where Cassian’s intelligence comes into play.
Timm makes a weird attempt to save Bix from the Pre-Mor guards, and they shoot him down. When Syril’s team splits up, Cassian corners him and threatens him with death until he reveals the number of guards in all the teams. Brasso wrecks the vessel that’s supposed to take the Pre-Mor back to their ship. Cassian sends out a decoy car laden with explosives. When the Pre-Mor guards focus their fire on it, he and Rael escape on a speeder. As Cassian leaves with Rael on his ship in the present, Kassa ships out of Kenari with Maarva and Clem in the past. And while Maarva looks at Kassa with an expression of positivity, in the present, Maarva tearfully looks up at the sky because she doesn’t know if she’s ever going to see Cassian again. In addition to that, Bix, Brasso, and Syril seem to be reeling from the devastation and action they’ve just witnessed.
To be honest, I didn’t have any expectations for “Andor” after watching “Obi-Wan Kenobi.” So, my overall positive experience after watching the show could be a result of that. The biggest upgrade (and it’s surprising that this is what qualifies as an upgrade) is that it doesn’t use The Volume (which is a modern version of rear projection) all the time. Scenes take place in actual locations instead of a set that’s extended via The Volume. The production design by Luke Hull, the cinematography by Adriano Goldman, the editing by John Gilroy, the overall art direction, costume design, hair and make-up, the sound design, the SFX, the VFX, and the CGI, all work in tandem to give the show a grounded and realistic feeling. And then Nicholas Britell swoops in to inject the orchestral sonic environment that Star Wars is synonymous with, thereby balancing everything. But most importantly, director Toby Haynes and writer Tony Gilroy treat this like a real TV show that wants to focus on its characters (who are being played by such amazing actors) instead of worrying about cameos and Easter Eggs. Will they be able to continue doing so all the way to the end? Only time (and the rest of the episodes) will tell.