After the disappointment of The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi, we’re back with an all-new Disney Star Wars show titled Andor. Yes, despite my overall disappointment with Star Wars TV in general (The Mandalorian notwithstanding), I’m intrigued at the possibilities presented by Andor, mostly due to Tony Gilroy’s involvement. Early reactions say it’s a welcome departure for the brand — read as: grittier, more human, and grounded — and a nice step in the right direction.
I’m skeptical, but hopefully. Hopefully skeptical … or skeptically hopeful. I dunno. Star Wars has spurned me enough over the years to where I think the franchise should burrow underground for a decade or so and re-emerge once studios have mastered the whole streaming platform thing. But that’s just me. Maybe Andor will buck the trend and deliver a satisfying 12 episodes on par with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, or maybe it’ll be the final nail in the coffin for fans longing for the days of competent storytelling and groundbreaking action. Time will tell.
Until then, let’s dive into the first episode of Andor … and hope for the best!
What Happens in Andor Season 1 Episode 1
Right off the bat, we follow Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) across a rain-soaked bridge. A title card tells us we’re on Morgana One, Preox – Morgana Corporate Zone in the year BBY 5. Is this the first time Star Wars has alerted us to its year? Cassian wonders down some nasty streets and heads into a bar — a sequence that looks like it was ripped straight out Blade Runner. In said bar, our boy is approached by an escort. “What’ll you have tonight?” He’s in no mood to play games, as evidenced by the way he shuts down a pair of bar dwellers in quick order, but is looking for a girl from Kenari — his sister, who we’re told left several months ago. “You should go,” the escort suggests.
Cassian flees the locale, heads back up the murky streets and is predictably approached by the two bar dwellers — planet guards who attempt to rob him of 300 credits. Cassian puts his hands up and waits for the nearest guard to frisk him before unleashing a series of moves that leaves one of the guards dead and the other begging for his life. Guard 2 offers to go in with Cassian and explain the misunderstanding, but our hero decides to shoot him in the head instead. Bad ass.
We cut to another planet where a red droid called B2EMO slides past some terror dogs from Willow (albeit bald) and approaches a sleeping Cassian. “Kassa” dreams about his sister and his former society, who the subtitles tell us speak Kenari. He is just a young boy in this memory, staring up at the sky with his people — who are thrilled at the sight of a crashing ship.
Back in the present, B2EMO relays some news: someone named Brasso was looking for Cassian, who orders the droid to lie.
“I have enough energy to lie,” B2EMO says.
Cassian tells him, “Don’t tell anybody you saw me. Don’t tell anybody you know where I am.”
“That’s two lies,” the droid retorts. That line actually made me laugh.
Cassian heads outside and bumps into Brasso (Joplin Sibtain) just outside of his work and likewise asks him to lie for him — basically: “Tell whoever might stop by that we went to a couple of bars for a drink or two, passed out and went home.” The man agrees and Cassian heads to his next objective.
We leap over to Corporate Security Headquarters on Morgana One where Chief Hyne (Game of Thrones vet Rupert Vansittart) receives the news about the two dead guards from a brash young deputy called Syril Karn (Kyle Soller). “Bad timing,” Hyne says before ordering Syril to stage an accident. “They died saving someone — nothing too heroic, we don’t need a parade,” he says whilst noting the two guards were in a brothel that shouldn’t exist drinking a beverage they shouldn’t have been able to afford during patrol hours — an offense in and of itself. “They picked a fight with a man they shouldn’t have and ended up dead.” Simple.
Now, it’s bad timing because Hyne has a meeting with the Imperial Regional Command where he must discuss the planet’s crime rates. “Minimizing the time the Empire spends thinking about Preox-Morlana benefits our superiors and, by extension, everyone here at the Pre-Mor Security Inspection team, which at the moment includes you, he says.” Wow, a well-written, well-blocked, well-directed Star Wars scene? When’s the last time we saw that?
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Cassian goes to a shipyard to meet with Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona). He has an untraceable NS-9 Starpath unit (vector crystals and Imperial seal still intact) and urgently needs to speak with Bix’s “friend’ about it. He needs to move it. “You’ve been holding out on me,” she says angrily. He needs the credits to vacate and lie low until things cool off. It’s nice to see consequences doled out for reckless decisions.
Anyways, Bix agrees to set up the meeting with her guy. Cassian also playfully notes the way a man named Timm Karlo (James McArdle) acts towards Bix. “Has this turned into more than just work,” he asks. Bix tells him to mind his business, but we get the gist. At any rate, Timm doesn’t like Cassian popping in to make trouble for his girl. Cassian tells him to find a less complicated woman.
There’s another quick flashback to Kassa’s clan preparing for … something. He eyeballs the group leader as he coats his face with paint …
Elsewhere, Syril refuses to let the case about the two dead guards go and investigates the manner himself. He tracks an unusual ship — an Orlean Star Cab or a Dayvan — appearing on the radar the night of the incident and orders the operator to figure out what it was. But that will take all night, the operator moans. “Well, if it’s too much for you, let me know,” Syril says. “I’m sure somebody wants the chair.” Mic drop.
Back with Cassian, our boy runs into a man named Nurchi (Raymond Anum) and his alien mate Vetch (Game of Thrones vet Ian Whyte). Nurchi wants his deposit back, but Cassian tells him to rest easy: “It’s in play.” (So far, Cassian has murdered two men, asked his friends to cover his ass, forced Bix to set up what is likely an illegal meeting, and finagled two dudes out of their money — it’s clear Cassian isn’t the best guy, even if his intentions to find his sister are noble. Or are they?) Cassian then turns the tables on Nurchi by asking Vetch, the more formidable of the two, if he needs work bad enough to take orders from his mate.
“He just told me to stand here,” Vetch replies.
“I’m gonna do us a favor and not mention any of this happened,” Cassian says before sliding away like a boss. He’s basically a less goofy Fletch, able to smooth talk his way out of any situation. I like him already.
Nearby, Bix sneaks off to set up the meeting with her guy. Timm follows, curious to see what she’s up to.
We cut to Syril who’s taking his investigation really seriously. He orders more operators to scan the channels for Kenari people and is shocked at everyone’s half-assed approach to the murder of two Pre-Mor employees. Something else is at play here. Either Syril really wants a raise or those employees had the information he needs. “Let’s go,” he shouts, not unlike my former boss at Best Buy after our Tuesday meetings. Bastard.
Cassian continues his efforts to get off the planet and comes across Pegla (Kieran O’Brien). There’s a lot of characters on this show and they all appear hopelessly loyal to Cassian. Maybe Fletch isn’t the right comparison. Cassian is more like Ferris Bueller mixed with Howard Ratner. “Why are you swapping chip logs,” Pegla asks. To cover up my actions last night, Cassian doesn’t say, preferring the lie instead: “I didn’t like the way it was running last night. I’ll leave it better than you found it.”
Cassian asks if he can borrow the ship again and Pegla shoots back: “No more favors, no more deals … get out and don’t come back.”
We cut back to young Kassa on Kenari. The group of Lost Boys heads off presumably to investigate the wrecked ship. Kassa’s sister tries to follow and he says something in Kenari, probably: “Don’t worry, I’ll be back.”
Final Thoughts on Andor Season 1 Episode 1
As others have stated, this episode doesn’t end on a massive cliffhanger that compels you to watch the next episode … who cares when the episode entire is this good? Man, I loved all 40 minutes of this briskly paced, gritty adventure — and we haven’t even gotten into the plot yet. The characters are interesting, the dialogue sharp. Director Toby Haynes does a magnificent job pacing the conversations and blocking the characters’ movements. It helps to have real sets, practical props and natural lighting as opposed to The Volume and/or green screen, which often renders scenes flat (at least when deployed by the wrong creative artists). The world of Andor, so far, looks real, lived in and dangerous. I’m excited to see where this goes next.
Most importantly, Cassian is presented as a scoundrel undertaking a noble cause — to find his sister. We know that he’s likable by the way everyone treats him. Hell, even the people he scams like him enough to forget about the money he swindled them out of. Or maybe he only cons nice people. That remains to be seen.
Anyway, there’s not enough here to formulate any lasting impressions. Suffice to say, this was a great start. Maybe Andor will finally buck the trend of disappointing Star Wars spin-offs!