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Kassa / That Would Be Me / Reckoning (Andor - S01E01, E02, E03) - Live Action Series

Series: Andor

Title: Kassa / That Would Be Me / Reckoning

Season: One

Episode: 1 - 3

Original Air Date: September 21st, 2022

Runtime: 115 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Thomas; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

Discuss the latest Chapter! (Discussion)

"I'm looking for my sister!" SPOILERS.

Andor visits a brothel to find info on his sister

Rogue One is one of the best received Disney Star Wars movies. So in the eyes of the executives it probably made sense to create a series based on Cassian Andor, the rebel spy who gave his life to fight the Empire. Thus the brand new Star Wars Series Andor is, of course, a prequel. Prequels can be tricky since you already know the ultimate fate of several characters. Here it's Cassian Andor, the titular character of the show. Another thing is that Star Wars has already given us plenty of shows about the early rebellion. So what else could there be left to tell? And so the showrunner of Andor, Tony Gilroy, who also fixed Rogue One in post and with reshoots, chose to tell a personal story and not to bother us with yet another take on how the early rebellion was formed. Does Andor succeed? To make things short: yes, I think it does. And it does so brilliantly.

Andor is ruthless and kills without much remorse

In many ways Andor is a gamble and a risk. It's much more somber and mature than any of the previous live action shows. There is no fun factor, no flashy battles really, at least not yet. Instead it examines the gritty lower strata of society and focuses on characters and worldbuilding. Early on you can already see that Andor will be different as Cassian lands on some rain soaked planet and enters a brothel. How many times have you seen an actual brothel in Star Wars? He's not here for fun though, instead he inquires after his sister who apparently worked at the brothel months ago and one of the ladies can't give him any more info.

In flashbacks we learn a few things about Andor's childhood

Instead Cassian annoyed two corporate employees who follow him out of the brothel and try to shake him down. But Cassian kills them both and makes his escape back to the planet he's currently living on: A desolate place called Ferrix where he works at a scrapyard. And people barely seem to make a living there. They more or less live in poverty, doing hard manual labor. Ferrix is a place you wouldn't want to be. Cassian lives here with his adoptive/foster mother and while looking for his sister he also does shady things on the side. He's already no friend of the Empire. He stole a valuable item from them previously and wants to sell it.

Deputy Inspector Syril Karn is not a fan of bending rules

The murder of the the corpo employees does have consequences for Andor though. While the boss of the local corporate security headquarters on Morlana One wants to sweep the incident under the rug so he can keep the Imperials off his back, Deputy Inspector Syril Karn doesn't want to let it slide and instead starts his own investigation.

Andor approaches Bix who has a contact in the Rebellion

Meanwhile on Ferrix Andor approaches one of his friends, a mechanic named Bix. She has a contact in the Rebellion and Andor urges her to send off a communication. Andor wants to sell the item he stole from the Imperials to Bix' contact, hoping the money he will earn will be his way off planet.

Luthen Rael arrives on Ferrix, getting ready to meet Andor

Bix communicates with her Rebel contact and Luthen Rael arrives a short time later. Meanwhile, the investigation led by Deputy Inspector Syril Karn is getting fast results. They found logs of Andor's ship leaving the planet and trace it all the way back to Ferrix. And they have one vital piece of info which Andor revealed to the lady in the brothel: that he's from Kenari, a small mid-rim system on which something really bad happened years ago leading to it being off limits.

Syril Karn and his men are on their way to capture Andor

Throughout the three episodes we get short flashbacks to Kenari, where Andor and his sister more or less live like primitive natives. Kanari is a mining colony and one day the tribe sees how a transport ship comes crashing down through the atmosphere. This is apparently set before the fall of the Republic. They make their way to the ship to investigate, the young female leader gets seriously wounded when she is shot and the natives kill the man who shot her. Andor then explores the transport, finding the bridge. He goes on a bit of a rampage and destroys the consoles when he sees his mirror image.

Young Cassian, then still known as Kassa, finds the bridge of the freighter

Back in the present timeline things slowly unravel when Bix' boyfriend gets jealous when he sees Andor touching Bix' hand. He knows that Cassian is from Kenari and so he reaches out to corporate security and gives them the whereabouts of Cassian. Syril Karn assembles a team and they fly off to Ferrix.

Ferrix, no place you want to be

Luthen Rael eventually arrives in town and Cassian and he meet in some abandoned factory. Cassian wants an outrageous amount of money for the gadget he stole, but as it turns out Luthen is ultimately more interested in Cassian. He wants to recruit him. Any decision about that however is taken away from Cassian when Karn and his team make their move. They have found Cassian's home and when Andor tries to contact a droid living with his foster mother Maarva Andor, corporate security traces the signal. So they move on the factory in an attempt to apprehend him.

Maarva Andor takes young Kassa with her

Bix learns about this and wants to do something, but corporate security apprehends her when she runs. Her boyfriend wants to rescue her and is killed by the officers. In the factory Luthen Rael sets off some charges he had prepared and Luthen and Cassian manage to escape the ambush in the factory after a short firefight.

Andor's wish comes true, he leaves Ferrix

Luthen and Cassian distract coporate security with a remote controlled speeder rigged with explosives and make their escape with another speeder. Syril Karn is left behind visibly shell-shocked. He will have some explaining to do. Bix is also rescued and when Cassian finally makes his way off planet it is juxtaposed with him getting taken away from Kenari by his new adoptive mother. Kassa was scared of Marvaa when she arrives on the ship to salvage valuable parts, so she uses a tranquilizer. She fears the Republic forces who are en route to the wreck will kill Kassa and decides to take him with her and her husband. In the final shots we see a young Kassa and adult Cassian watch the sun shining into the cockpit of the ship that is taking him away from the planet.

It was certainly the right decision to release three episodes at once, since the first three episodes feel like one movie, they would have made for terrible stand alone episodes. Not because the episodes are bad, but because everything is slow, there is very little action, and everything is about the characters and the gradual worldbuilding. In my opinion Andor is in many ways the best Disney+ Star Wars series yet - but your own verdict will hinge on one thing: are you ok with slow character pieces? Where things like The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and Obi-Wan Kenobi are fun, with lots of action and not shy to be a bit silly and goofy, Andor is dead serious and gloomy. If you can appreciate that you will probably greatly enjoy Andor.

Another thing Andor does differently is that the villains here are not cartoon villains, not faceless henchmen. We have yet to meet Imperials, but Corporate Security is certainly a good stand-in. Average people work there, making a living like anyone else. You get the manager who just wants to be left in peace and would rather sweep a murder of two employees under the rug than having to report this to the Imperials. Then we have the young Deputy Inspector who doesn't want to let the person who killed two of his co-workers get away with it. A motive that is certainly understandable. In many ways Syril Karn does nothing "bad" or "evil" at all here, he wants to investigate a crime and get the one who's responsible for it. So things are more nuanced here than usual in Star Wars.

Andor excels in worldbuilding. We rarely got to see the underbelly of society before. Here and there a few episodes in other series attempted it, we got glimpses of it in the movies, but it was never really the focus. Here you see how it must be to live as a primitive quasi native on a mining colony (in the flashbacks) and how hard life is living on some industrial planet with a giant scrapyard. Also, Andor's sister working (probably) as a prostitute? You don't usually get these things in Star Wars. Everything is very gritty and dark. Production design is flawless here, everything looks and feels old and used, and it helps a lot that Andor mostly shot on actual sets and on location, not using the Volume. While the Volume is in many ways revolutionary and a blessing, it has its downsides. Things can look a bit artificial and the small size of the Volume further restricts what you can do. Here on Andor everything is more tangible, more real.

The performances are also on point, no hammy acting, no overacting, the people feel authentic and believable, including the corporate security members.

Yet despite all the praise Andor is, as I said, certainly a risk since it's a departure from the formula used in the other live-action shows. Will people accept it? On the surface the story is nothing to write home about yet, Andor is looking for his sister, kills two people, corpo security tracks him down and Andor escapes at the last second with the help of a rebel. So it's neither epic nor bombastic, Andor is all about the small moments, the character moments and the worldbuilding. It will be interesting to see how Andor performs and how fans will react to it. On IMDB Andor is currently only somewhat lower rated than The Mandalorian, with 8.4 and thus much better rated than The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Maybe the gamble will pay off and Star Wars fans want a somber, gritty and mature story about real people.

I rate the first three episodes a very good four holocrons, with potential for more.

Added: September 21, 2022
Category: Andor
Reviewer: Thomas
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