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Andor Episodes 1-3 Review: A Personal Yet Poignant ‘Star Wars’ Story

Andor Episodes 1-3 Spoilers Ahead

Cassian Andor in Andor Episodes 1-3
©Lucasfilm Ltd. via Empire

When Lucasfilm announced that audiences would return to the Rogue One era of Star Wars with a Cassian Andor-centered series, fans were very excited. With Rogue One writer Tony Gilroy at the helm and Diego Luna returning as star and an executive producer, it signaled to fans that this series had the potential to be something special. It would bring layers to this fallen fighter that helped bring down the Empire’s super-weapon. With three episodes under its belt, Andor has exceeded expectations of what the Disney era of Star Wars could bring to the table as far as character, story, and world-building (or should I say galaxy-building). 

From his introduction in Rogue One, Cassian Andor has always been an interesting character. Though he becomes known as a fierce member of the Rebel Alliance, his moral ambiguity for the sake of the cause has given him a unique layer as a spy. His fight began long before he joined the war. Within the first three episodes, audiences learn about his upbringing on Kenari — a planet mined for its natural resources to the Empire. After an Imperial ship crash lands, he and other teens go to investigate it, leading to an attack. Without blasters, this group of native Kenari teens defend themselves against a couple of Imperial officers. However, from this excursion, Cassian is separated from his sister, Kerri (Belle Swarc), after Maarva (Fiona Shaw) takes him off Kenari with her. 

Andor is very much a political spy thriller, but with Kenari, Star Wars is able to explore the Empire’s imperialism and its consequences through the lens of Cassian, a character directly impacted by it. The Star Wars galaxy is diverse — the people, species, dialects, and cultures vary from planet to planet. This is as good of a time as any to say that it’s refreshing to hear Cassian, Kerri, and the native people of Kenari speaking exclusively in their native tongue. 

When we meet the adult Cassian in the first episode of Andor, he’s trying to find his lost sister and tracks her down to a brothel. After his search comes to a dead end, Cassian is attacked by two men from the brothel, and both end up dead — one accidental, the other a blaster shot to the head. From Kenari to Scarif, Cassian Andor is a man of survival, on the run and trying to evade capture undetected. 

Part of Cassian’s plan to disappear without a trace relies on the connections of his friend Bix, played by Adria Arjona. Though Bix is involved with Timm, played by James McArdle, there’s definitely some lingering chemistry there between her and Cassian, which Arjona and Luna seem to radiate when they share scenes together. Side note: Cassian Andor has chemistry with just about every female he’s around — Bix, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), and the woman at the brothel. Cassian Andor is a certified ladies’ man.

Diego Luna as Cassian Andor in Andor Episodes 1-3
©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

While Andor doesn’t shy away from sensuality in Star Wars, Bix and Timm’s relationship faces its own kind of tragedy from the lack of trust between them. Bix doesn’t disclose to Timm the nature of her relationship with Cassian or her secret contact with Stellan Skarsgård’s Luthen Rael; meanwhile, Timm is secretly a spy for the Empire, ratting out Cassian’s identity and location. Bix discovers Timm’s betrayal, but the damage is too late. Imperial officers come knocking, and tragically, Bix has to watch Timm die in front of her after an officer shoots him with a blaster. Their brief yet fateful relationship is a microcosm of how you can be unsure of a character’s motives or who to trust.

It’s not just the heroes that have more going on beneath the surface, but the villains as well. Take the Imperial officer Syril, played by Kyle Soller. This man is obsessed with going by the book and following rules to a tee, so much so he investigates the murders of one of his fellow officers against orders. The Empire values order and protocol, which is exemplified in Syril, yet, his drive to follow protocol leads him to break command to pursue Cassian, recruiting his own group of officers to bring Cassian in for questioning.

Syril doesn’t have an imposing aura; in fact, he attempts to give an inspiring speech, but it’s left boring his team. When he does have his moment to confront Cassian, it’s Cassian that has the upper hand, holding a blaster to his head; he complies with him as he escapes in fear of being shot. As mayhem erupts in Episode 3 with Cassian and Luthen escaping, you see his shock to the point of being paralyzed that his personal mission to bring Cassian in for questioning has failed. Though the consequence of his actions remains to be seen, what we’ve witnessed of Syril so far goes to pick at the familiar layers from our heroes and villains alike in a galaxy far, far away.

After watching the Andor Episodes 1-3, it’s clear why the series decided to release these episodes together. Andor is deliberately paced to build up the big action set piece in Episode 3. In order to make Cassian and Luthen’s escape matter, as well as Timm’s death to have an impact, Episodes 1 and 2 build up the tension while taking their time to peel back Cassian’s backstory. In the quiet of Cassian reaching out to Bix and Brasso (Joplin Sibtain), we see more of what makes the man and future member of the Rebel Alliance. At the moment, he doesn’t necessarily think too far ahead, as showcased by the traps Luthen sets up to evade the Imperial officers. The first season of Andor is set five years before the events of Rogue One, so audiences are getting to see him refine his skills into the spy we know him to be. (This is the benefit of a series paced with an end in mind.)

Cassian Andor and B2EMO in Andor Episodes 1-3
©Lucasfilm Ltd. via. Empire

Before I wrap this up, I have to indulge my undying love for the latest droid to be introduced in Star Wars — B2EMO. Voiced by Dave Chapman, B2EMO belongs to Maarva and honestly belongs to the hearts of audiences everywhere. This droid’s devotion to Cassian is adorable and endearing, being one of the first things Cassian meets before Maarva takes him off his homeworld. We know that it’s only a matter of time before we see Cassian meet K-2SO (Alan Tudyk returning to voice him), but I hope we get to see more of B2EMO soon since Cassian left his droid behind in his escape.

For the latest in a line of prequel series in pop culture making waves, like House of the Dragon on HBO or Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Prime Video, Andor feels fresh among the rest. From its grounded, character-driven storytelling to its exceptional score from Nicholas Britell, Andor uses these strengths to make new ground in an era of Star Wars that we’ve visited before. The current lack of fan service in its first three episodes allows Cassian and these new characters to really stand tall on their own, empathizing with their turmoil and angst.

There’s a moment in Andor Episodes 1-3 when Scarif is mentioned; of course, this is the ill-fated planet that would be destroyed by the newly operational Death Star at the end of Rogue One. The mention of Scarif is a painful reminder of where all of this is leading. No matter what happens, Cassian Andor’s journey will end on a beach in the embrace of Jyn as life ceases around them. Though his future may not have a happy ending, the Andor series is giving Cassian’s story a legacy that will make waves across the Star Wars galaxy. He is part of the spark that will light the fire that will bring the Empire to its knees. 

Andor Episodes 1-3 are now streaming on Disney Plus.

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