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Andor: Kassa

Slow, plodding and dull, this first hour of Andor was not a great start.

(Note: This review reflects what I thought when I first saw this episode. My opinion changed after watching the whole thing. This series is phenomenal, and highly recommended.)

I will give the show credit for the opening scene. It was incredibly tense and far more bleak and brutal than Star Wars has been in the past. Sure, there is an undercurrent of darkness in every Star Wars installment, but this one feels darker somehow. Maybe it is the implied shift from child-friendly fare to something more adult oriented. But starting with our main character killing two people is a statement. Sure, they were scum, but did they deserve to die?

Unfortunately, once Cassian got to Ferrix, things slowed down rather significantly. What unfolded over the rest of the episode felt like sloppy character introductions and convoluted plot set-up. Mostly it was all about Cassian frantically trying to find an escape from his actions. I'm not sure I even like Cassian, and that's not a good thing. To be honest, I didn't like him in Rogue One either (more on that later).

However, I did immediately like Bix and B2EMO, who both had somewhat significant roles as two of Cassian's friends. Sure, one is a droid, but this little red turtle is one of the most endearing robots in the Star Wars franchise I've seen, and that's from just one appearance so far. Maybe this series should be renamed B2EMO and his boring human counterpart, Cassian Andor. Bix, on the other hand, was tough without seeming like a stereotype, and I liked her rapport with Cassian. I also kind of liked Brasso, and how he immediately played along with Cassian. Jury is still out on him though since he had one small scene.


My biggest issue with this episode was the absolutely perplexing flashback sequence. I mean, I think it is a flashback sequence because it is implied the little boy is Cassian, although he is called Kassa. There is no translated dialogue so there is no way to be sure. While the context clues are fairly easy to follow, I have no idea why we are being shown this part of his past, and I'm left wondering what relevance do any of these scenes have with the rest of the story?

There are several threads opened up in this entry. First is Cassian's sister, and whether he will be able to find her. It is clear at some point in the past they were separated, but it wasn't detailed how or when; maybe flashbacks will show us how that happened. Secondly is the mysterious buyer of stolen goods coming to Ferrix for Andor's stolen Starpath unit. Lastly, there is Syril (the red-headed corporate guy) and his single-minded need to capture Cassian for the death of those two corrupt cops. I think his boss said it best: they were in the wrong place and messed with the wrong guy.

When I first heard about Andor, I had a fairly typical reaction. Why are they doing this? Cassian Andor was one of the main protagonists from the movie Rogue One. He was never particularly likable, and to be honest I kind of didn't even care about the ending of that movie when it should have been heart-wrenching. This show was in development for a long time, with several other Star Wars related shows that were announced at the same time being released first. Even the long awaited and mildly disappointing Obi-Wan Kenobi came out before this, so I was left wondering why are they bothering.

The other somewhat strange thing about this series is its length. It is nearly double the runtime and episode length of other Star Wars shows. Even The Mandalorian is only around eight episodes a season, and most of those episodes are around thirty minutes. How could a show about an unlikeable main character possibly keep my attention over twelve episodes running nearly an hour long each? After this episode, I was not optimistic.

Bits:

There was a location tag at the beginning which mentioned BBY 5, which indicates this takes place five years before the battle of Yavin. This was a common shorthand in Star Wars Legacy books and other materials, and is a lovely nod to the fans.

The set design and effects work are stunning. From the formed brick buildings of Ferrix to the octagon shapes of the Preox-Morlana Corporate complex, each felt distinct and very Star Wars while also feeling original.

I thought the scene where Syril is checking over space traffic for the sector was a great taste of how Star Wars technology works. The display was shown as simple data points instead of fully rendered 3-D, and the toggle switches seemed functional with a 70's era Star Wars feel.

Bix sent out a signal using a series of beeps, perhaps a bit like Morse code?

The guy eating blue noodles out of a take-out box was fun, although the shape of the box was a bit too similar to real life. I did like how it was folded, and the brown labeling made it seem different.

The Empire isn't shown in this episode, but it is felt. I think this was actually a good move, as it keeps the main threat more oppressive, the unspoken overlords that are watching every move.

Quotes:

Syril: "I don't understand."
Chief: "I want you to conjure a suitable accident."
Syril: "But..."
Chief: "And let's make sure it's on the far side of the plaza. Let's get it outside the Leisure Zone."
Syril: "But they were murdered."
Chief: "No. They were killed in a fight. They were in the 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. They clearly harassed a human with dark features and chose the wrong person to annoy."

Cassian: "I know it takes a lot of energy, but can you make a lie for me?"
B2EMO: "I can lie. I have adequate power reserves."
Cassian: "Don't tell anybody you saw me. Don't tell anybody you know where I am."
B2EMO: "That's two lies."

I didn't really know what to think of this first episode. There was a lot of strong world building, but it felt very small, banal and poorly paced.

2 out of 4 Pig dogs

Picture Credit: Star Wars Episode Guide
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Samantha M. Quinn spends most of her time in front of a computer typing away at one thing or another; when she has free time, she enjoys pretty much anything science fiction or fantasy-related.

4 comments:

  1. I agree that these episode is rather slow, which is why it was a smart move by Disney+ to drop the first three episodes all at once. Once you hit the third episode your invest in this show really starts to pay off.

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  2. When I first saw this episode, I was so turned off that I stopped watching. When this season ended and there was so much buzz about it, I gave it another shot and I really, REALLY wish I'd stuck with it the first time.

    Thank you so much for reviewing this series for us, Samantha. Excellent review. I found Cassian completely unlikeable and I agree that the flashback seemed pointless -- why include it when it told us so little?

    It all seems different in retrospect and I won't say anymore because we don't spoil future episodes here on Doux.

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  3. Mark, I'd completely forgotten that they dropped three episodes at once to start because that strategy didn't work on me. I agree that the third episode is where it takes off.

    And thanks again for recommending this show. Your recommendation gave me that final push to try it again. :)

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  4. What Andor did well was having multiple mini-arcs in the season with each arc ending in an episode that on other shows would be a season finale.

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