When Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) appears in Rogue One, it immediately clears our doubts that he could be a “new Han Solo“. Starting that in minutes we see him killing a person without self-defense, like Han in Star Wars – New Hope. Cassian really is the tragic antihero, with no time for jokes or adventures. Dense, complicated, and unpredictable.
The genius point of Rogue One is to give the unnamed heroes the credit they deserved.
Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans for the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR.
As described, it was a suicidal group that managed to give Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and yes Han Solo, means to achieve a major victory over the Empire and Darth Vader, becoming legends for fans of different generations and cultures ever since. One of the major reasons why I find the movie, Rogue One, the most relevant of the entire franchise is because it reveals the real sacrifice made by smaller, poor, foreign, and forgotten people.
Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) was not sympathetic and suffered like Cassian and in the film, it was her trajectory that led the plot. The decision to switch sides and help her, made silently by Cassian, was essential to the conclusion of the story, one of the saddest of all that went on to emerge in Star Wars. And yes, we were left wondering how Cassian got there.
The Andor series answers our questions. Starring once again the mighty Diego Luna (who back in 2016 won the role of other tested names such as Aaron Paul, Edgar Ramirez, and Sam Cafflin) it also has the same team that created this tale, including screenwriter Tony Gilroy.
To place the timeline, we go back five years before the events of Rogue One, at a time when the Rebel Alliance is still organizing. We meet Cassian the same way we know him in the movie, looking for information and committing a crime to erase his steps. However, at the same time, we are finally getting the explanation of how the young rebel got to where he is, why he seems to distrust all sides equally, and how destroying the oppressive system is so important to him personally.
By making the first three episodes of Andor available on the same day, Disney allows us to have context around the hero’s personality and triple the thrill of the story. Coming from a planet considered garbage in the galaxy, Kenari, Cassian has resentment for the Republic because it was from the crash of a Republican ship that his life changed. The natives of Kenari are persecuted for having killed an officer and with that, the planet suffers reprisals and he ends up separated from his sister, whom he has been searching for ever since. He was saved by Maarva (Fiona Shaw, ALWAYS impacting whatever scene she appears in), who holds the position of mentor and mother to the boy.
I won’t give more details and spoilers because the series deserves to be tasted. What matters is that when showing that in political regimes – let us remember that the Empire is not yet in charge, it is the Republic – there are gray fields and wrong choices. Upon being exposed and persecuted, Cassian is forced to join forces with Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård), apparently his new mentor and father figure.
Cassian’s direct antagonist is the hardworking (and weak-willed) Syril Karn, played by Kyle Soller. Syril is the opposite of the rebel in everything and because of his ambitions (and mistakes), his main mission will be to capture him.
With rhythm, good photography and a beautiful soundtrack, Andor‘s main quality lies in its complex and plausible human (and android) relationships. There’s no humor or lightness, but that’s what really makes us identify with the character’s motivation. If it continues like this, it will be one of the best of the year.