Star Wars seriescame to on , with the first three episodes landing at once to give us a binge-worthy opening. The series is set five years before spinoff movie , which took place directly before the events of original Star Wars film .
It dives into the backstory of the darkly heroic Cassian Andor (), who'll go on to become a hero of the Rebel Alliance as it faces down the totalitarian Empire. This is a particularly bleak era in the Star Wars universe, with rebel forces scattered around the galaxy as Emperor Palpatine's forces steadily crush ordinary people in their grip.
Let's get to know Cassian and company by recapping the major events of this opening trio of episodes -- a threecap, if you will. Prepare to enter the Rebel Alliance of SPOILERS.
Tears in the Rain
MORLANA ONE -- On this cool-looking sci-fi dystopia of a planet, the series' extremely Blade Runner opening sets up the emotional stakes, as Cassian tries to find his lost sister in a brothel. This reveals that he's from the planet Kenari, which we see in flashbacks through these first three episodes.
He doesn't have any luck finding his sibling, but catches the attention of two corporate security force goons (Corpos) who might as well have "BULLY" labels stuck on their foreheads. They try to shake down the wrong guy in Cassian, and he accidentally kills one and shoots the other as he begs for his life.
It mirrors our first encounter with Cassian in Rogue One, where he guns down a rebel informant instead of letting him fall into the hands of the Empire. Our hero isn't part of the Rebel Alliance in Andor, so he kills these dudes to save his own skin rather than for the cause.
This proves to be the show's inciting incident, since it catches the attention of the one zealous Corpo officer and a rebel recruiter.
CORPORATE SECURITY HEADQUARTERS -- That Corpo officer turns out to be Syril Karn (Kyle Soller), who's looking extremely well put together as he presents his report on the killings to his supervisor, Chief Hyne (Rupert Vansittart, whom you might recognize as Game of Thrones' Lord Yohn Royce).
Hyne immediately recognizes that the two dead Corpo boys were dirtbags who got themselves killed. He reckons the incident should be swept neatly under the rug for all eternity, and offers a lovely cover story.
"I suspect they died rushing to aid someone in distress. Nothing too heroic, we don't need a parade," he says. "They died being helpful. Something sad but inspiring in a mundane sort of way."
I'm mundanely inspired just hearing it. Hyne knows that highlighting Corpo corruption will give the Empire an opening to step in and seize control of the Morlani system. Classic colonialism, in an era when Palpatine's totalitarian regime is expanding.
The naive Syril doesn't consider the bigger picture and is quietly disgusted at the chief's willingness to look the other way. On the face of it, it's hard to argue with him -- two of his colleagues were murdered. Soon empowered by Hyne's absence, he gathers an enthusiastic but incompetent security team to hunt Cassian down.
Welcome to Ferrix
FERRIX, MORLANI SYSTEM -- The bulk of these first three episodes focus on the drudgery of life on this tough industrial world, and the deliberate pacing shows that Andor is refreshingly patient with its universe building. Characters work ordinary jobs, and the more enterprising ones have side hustles (or multiple side hustles, in our hero's case).
We're also introduced to a bunch of characters in Cassian's orbit, and it isn't always direct about who they are. Let's run through them so we can keep track:
- Maarva Andor ( ) is Cassian's adoptive mom. She and her late husband, Clem, saved him from Republic forces on Kenari a few decades ago, during the Clone Wars (as seen in the flashbacks). Maarva isn't in the best of health, but her defiant reaction to the Corpo raid suggests some of that old fire is still burning.
- B2EMO -- AKA Bee-Two or Bee (Dave Chapman) -- is Maarva and Cassian's extremely good droid. He's a bit like a lovable old dog; still charming, but maybe not as reliable as he used to be. His boxy design is visually delightful, his color reminds me of the space suits in and that hound is just plain rude for peeing on him.
- Bix Caleen ( is Cassian's loyal friend and former flame. She's running a busy garage, and acts as a fence to connect stolen goods with buyers. One such buyer happens to be a recruiter for the rebellion.
- Timm Karlo (James McArdle) is Bix's employee and current boyfriend, whose jealousy leads him to rat Cassian out to the security forces and ultimately gets him killed.
Big shoutout to the unnamed guy who strikes the gong/hammers the anvil to get everyone in town moving. He's credited as the Time Grappler (Neil Bell), and makes everything 100% more atmospheric.
Kassa from Kenari
KENARI, THE PAST -- "Suddenly the Rebellion is real for you. Some of us live it. I've been in this fight since I was 6 years old," Cassian tells Jyn in Rogue One. "You're not the only one who lost everything. Some of us just decided to do something about it."
We learn a huge amount about Cassian in these episodes, including the childhood he alluded in Rogue One. Flashbacks reveal his childhood on Kenari in the time when the Galactic Republic ran things rather than the Empire.
Here, our hero goes by Kassa (played by Antonio Viña) and is living as part of a tribe along with his sister, Kerri (Belle Swarc).
I love that the Kenari flashbacks don't have subtitles, since it forces you to pay attention to characters' body language. It's clear that Cassian was a bit of a sneaky chancer even as a kid, getting into situations where he doesn't necessarily belong -- like joining the group of older kids to check out the ship that crashes.
After one of the children is killed by a trigger-happy officer, Kassa checks out the vessel alone and finds everyone on board was killed by gas (presumably released when the ship sustained the damage that made it crash). It's likely these people were part of a mining effort, probably strip-mining Kenari's resources.
He runs into a young Maarva and Clem Andor, along with Bee (back when the droid was shiny and new), who've seemingly boarded the downed ship in search of salvage. Knowing the Republic is on the way and will kill Kassa if they find him on board, Maarva decides to take him with them. This is kinda kidnapping; I wonder if it was ever a source of tension between Maarva and Cassian?
The people on the ship have the logo of the Confederacy of Independent Systems (aka the Separatists, led by Count Dooku) on their uniforms, suggesting that they were transporting material for the war against the Republic. In the present, we learn that Kenari was "abandoned after an Imperial mining disaster. Abandoned and considered toxic -- Imperial prohibition." The Empire may have tried to mine the planet after the Clone Wars.
FERRIX -- "Insurrection, destruction of Imperial property, assault on Imperial soldier." Cassian's rap sheet hints at his anti-Imperial leanings, and his attempt to sell a stolen starpath unit (which looks a lot like Darth Vader's chest piece and contains Imperial coordinates) puts him on the radar of rebel recruiter Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård).
The show turns extremely intense and awesome when their paths cross. Luthen is impressed with Cassian's ability to use the Imperials' arrogance to slip right through their defenses, and pushes the younger man to join the rebels.
"These days will end, Cassian Andor. The way they laugh, the way they push through a crowd. The sound of that voice telling you to stop, to go, to move. Telling you to die," he growls, oozing charisma with every syllable. "Don't you want to fight these bastards for real?"
They flee the Corpo security goons' effort to track Cassian down, which goes completely off the rails when the people of Ferrix push back against their bullying -- the banging on metal is intimidating as heck.
The third episode's final moments see Cassian fleeing Ferrix with Luthen, while Syril looks shell-shocked that his zeal has ruined his career, Bix mourn's Timm's death and Maarva sits with Bee in her cold apartment.
Rogue thoughts, unanswered questions and Easter eggs
- Composer Nicholas Britell (known for his work on and ) gives this show an awesome synth sci-fi opening theme, especially as it bleeds into the Blade Runner aesthetics of the first scene. It changes slightly in each episode too.
- Britell's Succession intro music works beautifully over Andor and Star Wars imagery as well.
- Where is Cassian's sister? How and when did she get off Kenari?
- Clem, Cassian's adoptive father (Gary Beadle), was hanged by the Imperials, but why?
- This show takes place "5 BBY," which stands for "Before Battle of Yavin." This is the climactic skirmish of A New Hope, where Luke Skywalker blew up the Empire's first Death Star battle station, and a pivotal moment in the Star Wars universe. It's when everyone realized that the Rebel Alliance wasn't just foolin' around.
- For prequel context, Andor happens 14 years after the Empire seized control of the galaxy in Revenge of the Sith and four years after in the Disney Plus series.
- It's unclear when the flashbacks take place -- reference books say Cassian was 26 in Rogue One, so he'd be 21 in the present day part of the show. If he's been fighting since he was 6, that'd place the flashbacks 15 years before that -- the period when the Clone Wars were raging throughout the galaxy. Both Kassa and Cassian look older than those ages, I guess he's lived a hard life.
- If so, the intense mining operation on Kenari might be linked to the Republic desperately gathering raw materials to sustain the war effort. Thanks to William Devereux, host of the Star Wars-centric Ion Cannon podcast, for helping me organize my timeline thoughts.
- Cassian's jacket is extremely cool. Would it be too sci-fi to wear in real life? Maybe Columbia Sportswear or some other fashion brand will release one.
- "No weapons. No comms. No credit. No nonsense." The bouncer's words are ones to live by.
- Syril is the kind of a character we regularly see in Star Wars novels -- a middle manager with an inflated sense of importance and low self-esteem who steadily goes off the deep end, making life hell for the heroes. Kyle Soller performs this role magnificently.
- Add Timm to the list of boring Star Wars names along with Luke and Ben. At least the extra m gives it a bit of sci-fi flair.
- This show alludes strongly to sexuality in Bix and Timm's relationship, as well as the brothel in episode 1. The latter is a familiar sci-fi image, but Star Wars has traditionally been pretty sexless.
- It's really cool that Bee is showing his age through a data lag and acknowledging that lying requires more processing power. Classic Star Wars droids R2-D2 and C-3PO are in service for decades, but they're clearly well cared for. Cassian and Maarva don't have the money to do so with Bee.
- Cassian's papers say he's from Fest, a snowy world you visit in the Dark Forces. In the current continuity, it's only previously been mentioned in By Whatever Sun, a story written by EK Johnston and Ashley Eckstein in 2017 anthology From a Certain Point of View, and some reference books. 1995 video game
- The one Corpo's slow clap after Syril's limp speech is glorious. Ouch.
- You might be wondering why Cassian's fellow Rogue One hero Jyn Erso doesn't have a show. Between that movie and its prequel novels and , her life story has been pretty comprehensively told. Catalyst in particular will make you way more invested in Rogue One's Erso family and Director Krennic.
- The shipyard at the start makes me think of the start of 2019 video game .
- The dropships used by the Corpos look like converted Republic Gunships, as first seen in Attack of the Clones.
- "Rule No. 1: Never carry anything you don't control." Luckily, we don't all carry devices controlled by giant megacorporations in real life. That'd be ridiculous.
- Sergeant Linus Mosk (Alex Ferns) says the word "shit" when the Corpo operation starts to go sideways. It's the first time we've heard that word in Star Wars, which normally uses its own selection of sci-fi swears (like "bantha poodoo"). This ain't your daddy's galaxy far, far away.
- Cassian gazes into the sunlight as he leaves Kenari and Ferrix, in beautifully juxtaposed moments. In Rogue One, he opens his eyes as he and Jyn are engulfed in blinding light as their lives end.
- I got the idea to use the datelines to set the scene from my CNET colleague Erin Carson's . Imitation is the sincerest form of thievery, Erin, mwahaha.
- This show will run for two seasons, with 12 episodes planned for both, and run directly into the events of Rogue One. Season 2 is reportedly scheduled to shoot in November.
- I hope Maarva puts the heat on.
Come back for more Easter eggs and observations, when episode 4 of Andor hits Disney Plus.