One Way Out: Andor Season 1
This video is brought to you by Nebula About three years ago I said this [Me] “Cassian’s getting his own TV show soon on the new Disney streaming service" "and it's going to be interesting to see what they do with it. But I hope the show explores more of the moral grays that Cassian’s been living in all his life." And in the intervening three years as Star Wars media swung between wildly disappointing to maybe decent with flashes of brilliance, the conversation I had over and over again with friends who were also fans of Rogue One was my friends saying they were excited for the show, but would probably be disappointed by it. And every time I would be like… …yeah but what if it's good? [Me Onscreen]: “LET’S TALK ABOUT ANDOR” [Exciting Music] Rogue One was released on December 16th 2016 to mixed, if somewhat positive reviews. It received an 84% on rotten tomatoes and overall the movie was relatively well liked, and surprisingly coherent in spite of behind the scenes troubles.
I think people's estimation of the movie grew over time in the wake of the absurdly disappointing finish to the sequel trilogy. [Poe Dameron] “Somehow Palpatine Returned” And even more so after a series of increasingly mediocre Star Wars shows on Disney Plus. [“Go Go Power RANGEERRRSSSS” song plays] But anyways…In the film Rogue One, Cassian Andor was, In my opinion, the character with the most consistent development across the film.
Especially when Compared to Felicity Jones' Jyn Erso who just flips on a dime because she’s sad about her dad, and Riz Ahmed's Bodhi Rook, Who was tragically underutilized. Again, it will always be hard to know how much the inconsistencies in character development were simply down to the writing or due to the reshooting and restructuring of the film, but in the films final iteration, the most well realized character of the cast was Cassian Andor. This was helped by a magnetic performance from Diego Luna, as well as the overall structure of the film just giving his characters arc more clarity than his co-stars And apparently during the making of Rogue One, Diego Luna had developed a backstory for Cassian as part of his personal work on the character. [Diego Luna] “My character was coming from somewhere else, you know?" "He has this accent that no one shares, and he clearly has left everything behind."
"Therefore, it was just the work you do as an actor right?" "That you have to understand why you're making the choices you're making and create yourself some background story.” So when he got a call for a potential prequel series about the character, Luna said he was excited to be able to further utilize that work he had done. On the other hand, there was Tony Gilroy. As we all know he was brought in to do reshoots on Rogue One and got a screenwriter credit for his efforts.
To this day none of us can truly say which parts of Rogue One were due to director Gareth Edwards and which parts were due to Tony Gilroy. But put a pin in that for later. As it happens Tony Gilroy was not originally slated to be the guy making this series. In 2017 when Andor was first announced, Jared Bush wrote a pilot and series bible for the show. Bush is mainly known for his work on Disney animated movies like 'Zootopia,' 'Moana,' and 'Encanto,' So God only knows what that pilot looked like.
By late 2018 Stephen Schiff was signed on to be the showrunner. You might know his work on the FX series 'The Americans'. He also wrote screenplays for movies like the 1997 'Lolita,' and the 2010 film 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.' Tony Gilroy was originally brought into simply write and direct some episodes, But eventually took over as showrunner in April 2020 and Stephen Schiff left the project. Gilroy would do a fair bit of writing on the series, he wrote 5 of the 12 episodes, but of course, he was joined by other writers and directors and also his brothers! Dan Gilroy, who you might know for films like 'Night Crawler' and 'Velvet Buzzsaw,' wrote for the Aldhani episodes, and John Gilroy edited three episodes.
John also was one of the editors on Rogue One, he also co-edited 'Pacific Rim'!! Along with the Gilroys, Steven Schiff is credited with writing episode 7 and Beau Willimon wrote the Narkhina 5 Episodes, he’s probably best known for his work on the Netflix series 'House of Cards,' he also co-wrote a neat little political thriller called 'Ides of March'. Then there were the directors. Toby Haynes directed the opening Ferrix episodes and the Narkina arc, he’s done a lot of BBC stuff like decent episodes of 'Doctor Who', one of the better episodes of 'Sherlock', and a bunch of other stuff.
Susannah White directed the Aldhani episodes and she’s another BBC alum, having done stuff like the 'Jane Eyre' miniseries starring Ruth Wilson, she also directed four episodes of the gritty HBO series 'Generation Kill.' Also I have to shout out composer Nicholas Britell, he’s worked on films like 'Moonlight' and 'If Beale Street Could Talk' and shows like 'Succession', and his work on Andor is just PHENOMENAL. He and Gilroy decided to pursue a sound that was nothing like the John Williams style of Star Wars music, the sound that Giacchino purposefully mimicked in Rogue One. So with a stacked creative team of industry veterans they put together, genuinely one of the best pieces of Star Wars media, probably ever? Definitely the most interesting thing to come out of the Disney era of Star Wars. So of course lets run down the cast. Obviously Cassian is played by Diego Luna and I cannot say enough about his performance.
His work is subtle, often showing very little. At times Cassian falls into the background of his own show, but what could be more appropriate for an up and coming spy? He’s not immediately taking over every scene he’s in, often he’s stepping back and letting other characters take the spotlight. Which is honestly kind of unusual in a show named after its lead character. But I’ll talk about Diego a bit more later. Next we have Luthen Rael played excellently by Stellan Skarsgård.
Skarsgård is one of those actors that just shows up in all sorts of projects but I feel like its been awhile since I can recall a role that allowed him to just dominate his scenes the way he does as Luthen, the mysterious leader of a Rebel cell. Fiona Shaw plays Maarva Andor, Cassian’s mother. Shaw is a character actor who just shows up in everything, I particularly liked her in 'Fleabag' and she’s really great in Andor. Apparently in her big final speech she was supposed to say ‘fuck the empire,’ but Disney said no. [Blaster sounds bleep out any F Bombs in this video]
Also apparently YouTube is cracking down on people saying f*ck so sorry, we have to do this now I guess. There’s also the family droid and my perfect son B2emo. Everybody just calls him Bee and I call him Beemo. Because saying Be too emo out loud makes me have high school flashbacks. B2emo is voiced by puppeteer Dave Chapman who operated the B2emo model. And fun fact, the intention was to cast an actor to voice him but apparently editor John Gilroy liked Dave Chapman’s performance so they just kept him as the voice of B2emo.
According to Gilroy, Chapman, who was accustomed to having his voice removed from movies and shows, was “overwhelmed.” Then we have Bix played by Adria Arjona, who I of course remember from 'Pacific Rim Uprising' because I’m trashy, but she was also in 'Good Omens'. She’s an old friend of Cassian’s who really goes through it this season. And Cassian’s other good friend is Brasso, who is truly the most friend-shaped man you will ever see, played by Joplin Sibtain. There’s Faye Marsay as Vel Sartha and Varada Sethu as Cinta Kaz, two members of the rebellion who we meet on Aldhani. Also they’re lesbians! [Billy On The Street] “Lets go lesbians LETS GO!” “Here we go lesbians. Come on!”
Disney still isn’t letting people kiss but they talk about being in love and hold hands on screen and for Disney and gay representation that is pretty good honestly. I mean the bar is in hell but still. And then we have returning cast members from Rogue One like Forrest Whittakers Saw Garrera, and Genevieve O'Reilly as Mon Mothma. We also have Kyle Soller and Denise Gough playing shitty little fascists Syril Karn and Dedra Meero. I hate them so much, they’re very well written.
Good job to Soller and Gough for creating such nuanced trash fires. [Kyle Soller] “You knoooow” [Denise Gough] “Fascist Fashion.” “Fast Fascist Fashion.” [Soller] “Okay we need to get like an Etsy store” [Gough] “Fast Fashion.” [Soller] “We need a side hustle.” [Gough] “Fast fascist…[mumbles]” [Both] “FAST FASCIST FASHION” There’s frankly a lot of other characters on this show but if I listed them all this video would be really long.
Or…longer anyway. So now let's talk about the opening arc. [Weird pastor from that vine?] “Why? Why?? Whyyy?????” Okay but seriously.
The opening three episodes do so much to introduce us to the world and the people that Cassian lives with. There is so much learning we do about Ferrix that the show will pay off in the final episodes. Also this man? This absolute king? He is called the Time Grappler and I love him.
I love how much he seems to enjoy his job of hitting this anvil to tell the people of Ferrix what time it is. The planet of Ferrix has the feel of an odds and ends society. Most people here go to work to take apart old scrap. The town communicates with each other through little bits and bobs they have hanging in front of their homes.
And any droids we see here are scrappy little things like B2emo. Who by the way, spends 90% of his days in his charging station and apparently he requires more battery power to lie! [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.”
Also Ferrix is under the control of the corporate security company Preox Morlana, who work for the empire. The meat of this opening arc is split between Cassian’s past and present. In flashbacks we meet a young Cassian on the planet Kenari, where his parents along with all the other adults seem to have died in some sort of mining accident. Here he's called Kassa, And he has a sister named Kerri.
One day him and the other children investigate a crashed separatist ship and one of the children gets shot. Afterwards Kassa is found by Maarva and Clem Andor who pick up a Republic frigate on their scanners and know its coming to investigate the crash. [Maarva] “They’ll kill him.” [Clem] “They’ll kill us!” So Maarva ends up knocking this boy out and taking him with her. I'm going to come back to this point later but The other half of the opening arc shows us Cassian, in the present day, and he’s still looking for his sister Kerri. [Hostess] “Well whoever she is, she's not here. She disappeared.”
After an unsuccessful attempt to find his sister, Cassian gets in trouble with some preox-morelana security guards who decide to hassle him for no reason and ends up accidentally killing one of them and shooting the other in a fit of panic. There's a great scene where the morning after it all breaks bad he goes to Brasso and basically asks for him to be his alibi. He just looks him dead in the eye and starts to tell him a bullshit story about how they went drinking last night and without batting an eye, Brasso says [Brasso] “You insulted my choice of beverage. As host and provider I was offended by this." "You were gone when I woke up. You’ve come to apologize.” But in spite of his best efforts two pre-mor employees are found dead and this leads to pathetic fascist fanboy and Ben Shapiro lookalike, Syril Karn trying to investigate the matter.
His supervisors tell him to just let it go but he decides to make it everybody's problem, which ends up blowing up in his face and leading to him having a season long fixation on this dude who he met for 5 seconds who absolutely 100% DOES NOT REMEMBER HIM. It’s very funny when you think about it actually. But the whole thing turns into a manhunt for Cassian.
He turns to Bix for some help with her offworld connection because he has a part to sell and needs some money to run and disappear for awhile. Unfortunately for both of them, Bix has a boyfriend named TiMMMMMM By the way, I will be exclusively referring to him as TiMMMMMM because his name is Timm with two Ms and I'm a child. But TIMMMMM is suspicious of Bix and Cassian’s relationship so he rats out Cassian and makes everything harder for literally everyone.
When this wannabe fascist stringbean shows up with Mr. Colm-Meaney-wasn’t-available-that-week, and everything goes to shit, TiMMMMM is shot and Bix gets beaten up by the guards and listen…. I did not care about TiMMMMM at all, sorry to any TiMMMM stans, he is nothing to me, but the way Bix reaches for him here even after he’s been long dead is so upsetting I will never recover. [That lady from a vine] “Honey you’ve got a big storm coming” But she did successfully introduce Cassian to Luthen Rael, the baddest bitch in the galaxy. Cassian thinks he’s just there to hawk some piece of Imperial tech but Luthen is there to recruit him. [Cassian] “They’re so fat and satisfied they can’t imagine it.
[Luthen] “Can't imagine what?” [Cassian] “That someone like me could get inside their house.” Luthen knows way too much about Cassian, like how his adopted father was murdered and is just generally very intense during this whole conversation [Luthen] “Don’t you want to fight these bastards for real.” But Cassian really only agrees to go with him for the promise of way more credits than what he would have gotten for that Imperial doodad And they blow their way out of this warehouse in an incredible sequence [Luthen] “Rule #2, build your exit on the way in."
"And brace yourself” [Explosion] And then bust out of Ferrix through a mixture of luck and a decent plan. My favorite bit here is that, entirely unrelated to their escape plan, Brasso in a fit of either pettiness or simply good instincts that this might help out his friend, does a thing to mess up their shuttle and when this poor asshole tried to fly it and crashes the pre-mor folks assume its all part of some master plan [Sgt. Mosk] “We’re under siege. They’re everywhere” (lol) But the fates or maybe forces align and so Luthen and Cassian get away.
Over the final moments of episode 3 we get a phenomenal track called Past/Present Suite by Nicholas Britell. As we listen to its soaring strings we get a beautiful sequence intercutting between a young Kassa leaving Kenari and Cassian leaving Ferrix. It's exciting, it's gutting, it's overwhelming, and we’re only on episode 3. So Andor as a creation is a curious thing. A prequel to a midquel with a troubled production.
And in response to Andor being…well…rad as hell. I've seen some people start to perhaps overstate Tony Gilroy's influence on Rogue One, to try and explain the good parts of it as being exclusively due to Gilroy's contributions. [Me] “I didn’t want to become a Gareth Edwards truther but here we are.” So let's run down the stuff we actually know.
From what's been said in interviews, In Gareth Edwards version of Rogue One, I think it was just more of the third act? Probably some events happened in a different way or a different order but in general It just seems like there was more of it. According to actor Ben Mendelsson who played Orson Krennic said there were somewhere around 20-30 different scenes in the earlier version of the film And then Gilroy came in and restructured it into the version we all know. What Gilroy said about the reshoots was that “When things pass through many hands and there's a great deal of confusion ... and there's all kinds of accessories and jewelries and bootstraps and zippers, and all the rest of the stuff. The purity for the characters, if it's not there to begin with, it just deteriorates and just turns into an absolute mush.”
Now some stuff that we know were Gilroy editions include the Rings of Kefrene sequence, where we are first introduced to Cassian shooting a man in the back, The scene provided some fascinating character building in a few minutes, and, I’m fairly confident that the entire change of Jyns character from rebel to criminal was a Tony Gilroy addition. Let me explain. So first off, Duncan Pow, who played Melshi both in Rogue One and in Andor, said he was brought on for the reshoots and hired by Gilroy. Given he’s a pretty major presence in the scene of Jyn being broken out of prison, that makes me think this entire sequence was a reshoot. Moreover the first teaser trailer for Rogue One dropped on April 7th 2016.
The teaser trailer with the now infamous line [Jyn] “This is a rebellion isn't it? I rebel.” implying her rebellion status. Then the reshoots were announced in late May, 2016. So I’m pretty confident Jyn the Criminal was a Gilroy addition. Honestly at this point looking for Melshi is a good way to spot a reshoot moment.
Which does lead me to believe Cassian’s big speech here [Cassian] “Everything I did, I did for the rebellion.” was a reshoot, because Melshi is behind him THE WHOLE TIME. Not like insert shots to add him into a scene, He's right there in the wide shot.
Based on some behind the scenes footage, It's very likely this scene is simply a reshot version of a scene that existed in the original cut, much like the Jyn being briefed on the mission scene which was reshot so many times as the story was tweaked that they had a running joke on set that they were making a movie called Star Wars Scene 16, according to actor Alistair Petrie who played General Draven. That being said there’s still so much about the behind the scenes and who did what that we will never know. Like there’s this puzzling factoid, According to actor Freddie Prince Jr who worked as a voice actor on rebels, Dave Filoni directed the final sequence with Darth Vader in the hallway? This was contested by screenwriter Gary Whitta a few days later and I don’t know what to make of this… But I do think overstating Gilroy’s influence is a mistake. Because people are now attributing the ending of Rogue One to him. People are now saying Gilroy was the one who suggested they all die at the end.
Hell even The Guardian just put that factoid in an article WITH NO CITATION Early on Edwards and the creative team thought Disney and Lucasfilm wouldn't allow them to go to such a dark place, so early treatments of the script had some characters surviving but according Gary Whitta “We told them, we feel they all need to die, and [Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy] and everyone else said to go for it. We got the ending that we wanted.” Edwards has stated multiple times the intention was always for everybody to die, and when Gilroy has spoken about the film, he also speaks like that was always the intent, in one 2018 interview he said: “‘Everyone is going to die.’ So it’s a movie about sacrifice.” And Diego Luna said when he was hired he knew Cassian was going to die. [Luna] “I remember people saying like, we shot different endings?" "And uh…just to be clear, the day I was offered this role, I knew this was…this was it." "It was one film, and I knew what the end was gonna be.”
Although it might have played out differently in Edwards version of the film. In fact there’s a little clip from some ABC featurette in 2017 that looks like it's showing a very different death for K2SO and Cassian????? The particulars may have been tweaked but the end result was always the same, they were always going to die. I just find this minor rewriting of history so odd. Like let's be clear, I think a lot of it is just coming from Disney themselves. Gilroy's total absence from all behind the scenes and press surrounding Rogue One was wild.
He gets a screenwriting credit but you won't see him once in the blu ray special features. Disney seemingly went out of their way to suppress his involvement and just pretended that Gareth Edwards made a cool movie and nothing weird ever happened behind the scenes don't you worry about it. And in a true stroke of irony Gareth Edward's name has not been mentioned once, In any of the press or interviews surrounding the prequel series Andor. I don't think this is malicious or anything I just think it's fascinating how Disney seems to have decided to handle this. And I am assuming that was a Disney decision, I doubt that was something Tony Gilroy would have been quibbling about. And to be clear I don't think Disney knows how to promote the people they are trying to promote in any given moment.
Y’all remember the Andor trailer advertising, From the Director of 'The Bourne Legacy'???? THE BOURNE LEGACY?????? [Bourne Legacy Jeremy Renner Man yelling about CHEMS] Why not from the writer of 'The Bourne Identity'? Or the director of 'Michael Clayton'? Just as a better representative of like… good movies Gilroy worked on????? Whatever let's talk about Aldhani In the 2nd arc of the show Cassian goes to the quiet mid rim planet Aldhani, and the show begins to expand its horizons. We meet Space Karen AKA Dedra at her place of work on Coruscant where she is capable and girlbossing and popping pills to her hearts content. She’s tracking stolen items and believes there may be an underlying plot to uncover. And don’t get sucked in watching her triumph over her male peers, because when she succeeds it means people die.
As actress Denise Gough put it “She is not just a woman in a man’s world, but a fascist in a world of fascists." "It was important to see that power corrodes women as much as men” We also get to catch up with the man who would invent a new slur just for you, as he gets fired from his job and goes home to his equally awful mom. There is something very funny about their scenes because you can see how this woman made this horrible fascist fanboy but he’s way too deep in his bullshit for pity. By the way his mom Eedy is portrayed by the incredible Shakespearean actress Kathryn Hunter [Kathryn Hunter as Puck] “And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl In very likeness of a roasted crab” [Kids giggling] So that's cool, I love to see her. She is truly wild here. [Eedy] “Shame I couldn’t have seen more of you when you were flourishing."
"I'd have had the memory to sustain me.” But the meat of the arc takes place on Aldhani, on the way to the planet Luthen and Cassian have another incredible conversation about getting back at the empire. [Luthen] “I’m offering you everything you want all at once.” [Cassian] “What is ‘Everything’ I want?” [Luthen] “To put a real stick in the eye of the Empire. And get paid for it.” But Cassian isn’t sold. The ISB, The Rebels, The Partisans.
They’re all the same to him. But Cassian's options at this point are EITHER get dropped off in the middle of nowhere or do a job for Luthen for 200,000 credits. So he agrees to do the job, and Luthen tells him to pick a new name since Cassian is a wanted man. He chooses Clem. His adopted fathers name.
And Luthen gives him a blue kyber crystal as a bit of insurance. Apparently its worth a lot. And all the rebelcaptain shipers went OMG THEY BOTH GOT A SPECIAL SPACE NECKLACE AAAAAAAAA But ANYWAYS when they land on Aldhani, Cassian’s not particularly happy to be there and and his new cohorts are even less pleased to have him but nonetheless he quickly learns they are planning to infiltrate an Imperial base on the planet and steal the payroll for the entire sector. They’re going to use a planetary event called The Eye, which is of great significance to the indigenous population as their cover.
Now, The leader of this team of freedom fighters is one, very frustrated Vel Sartha, along with her terse second in command Taramyn Barcona played by Gershwyn Eustache Jr. There’s the highly capable Cinta, and the jaded Arvaal Skeen played by Ebon Moss Bachrach, and there's the true believer, and very good bean, Karis Nemik played by Alex Lawther.v There’s also their inside man on the base Lieutenant Gorn played spectacularly by Sule Rimi. He gets several moments where he quietly expresses such disgust and disdain for the people he works for and it's just incredible.
So basically much of the opening episode is Cassian learning the ropes, learning what he needs to know for the mission. And Nemik takes a shine to him quickly, thinking he’s a fellow believer in the cause. He tells Cassian all about his socialist theories [Nemik] “The pace of our repression outstrips our ability to understand it and that is the real trick of the Imperial thought machine." "It’s easier to hide behind 40 atrocities than a single incident.” and well.. It's very ‘seize the means of production’ if you know what I mean, but my friends Jessie Gender and Aranock are working on a series of videos that will talk about THAT way better than I could.
Anyway, he’s writing a manifesto which he wants Cassian to read. Also at one point Skeen says this about Cinta [Skeen] “She’s already sharing a blanket if that’s what you’re wondering.” Is THAT what they’re calling it now? This isn’t made explicit until later but Vel and Cinta are in a relationship.
Meanwhile Skeen is consistently suspicious of Cassian and his intentions. to the point that, as their making their way to the base, he holds Cassian at knifepoint, finds the kyber necklace and makes a big fuss forcing Cassian to admit, yes he was paid to be on this mission, but he’s still planning to go through with it in spite of all the risks. [Taramyn] “You’re the one that’s afraid.” [Cassian] “But there's a difference between fear and losing your nerve." "Make a choice."
"Don't use me as an excuse.” Later Skeen apologizes to him and tells him he had a brother, a farmer, who was killed by the Empire. [Cassian] “What kind of farm?” [Skeen] “Pepper trees. Centuries of ‘em.” There's also a great scene later where Nemik is kind of disappointed to realize Cassian is not a true believer in the cause and he’s being paid and so on. A jaded Cassian tells him the empire doesn't play by the rules because they don’t care enough to learn them and a frustrated Nemik says [Nemik] “So you think it's hopeless, do you? We should just submit and be thankful?” [Cassian] “Do I look thankful to you?” Chills. I get chills every time. Back on Coruscant we get a peek into one of what I can only imagine is Luthens' many alter egos, the slightly oily and overly cheerful seller of antiques and artifacts.
There he covertly meets Senator Mon Mothma, who speaks in code, purchasing a ‘gift’ for her husband while whispering that she’s having difficulty moving money around for the rebellion and she fears she is being watched. Back at the Mothma household we get to know her awful husband Perrin and her daughter Leida who seems to hate her. Then on Aldhani we watch the heist play out largely according to plan. Cassian, Skeen, Nemik, and Barcona infiltrate the base as security guards helping to ‘round up the locals’ and Cinta and Val have to like scale a wall and stuff to jam the bases radios. The plan goes ok initially, they take this guy as their hostage and get him along with a few security guards to load the credits on their getaway minivan aka the rono trawler. But one guy is too good at his job and investigates the comms being jammed meanwhile Lt. Gorn gets to look the boss man in the face
[Commandant] “You'll hang for this.” and say this [Lt. Gorn] “Seven years serving you? I deserve worse than that.” and it's AMAZING. But that guy shows up with some security and it all goes to shit. In the ensuing firefight Gorn, and Barcona get shot.
Nemik saves Cassian from being strangled and then as they’re escaping, the giant cases of money which weren’t locked down for the flight, roll back and crush Nemik. Still he manages to give Cassian the coordinates to pilot their escape [Nemik] “CLIMB” and it's one of the most visually stunning sequences of the series. Cinta, meanwhile, is able to slip out the backdoor as cool as a cucumber. But Vel, Skeen, and Cassian have to decide if they’re going to divert and try to get Nemik medical attention. After a moment's hesitation Cassian agrees. When they arrive on this backwater planet, and this doctor tries to save Nemik, Cassian and Skeen wait outside and have a little conversation.
It starts out relatively chill but then Skeen starts suggesting, hey what if we just ran away with all the money. And we could split it too, this is totally fine and normal. What do you mean? [Cassian] “So, no rebellion for you?” [Skeen] “Oh, I'm a rebel. It's just, uh... me against everybody else.”
Turns out he lied about his brother and Cassian starts to back away as Skeen talks about how alike they are And Cassian shoots him. Because it's not like he could just walk away from this conversation, I doubt Skeen would have let him live after telling him all that. What Diego Luna had to say on the subject in an interview with Collider was [Luna] “I mean, that's how the season starts, basically with him finding out he has to kill this person." "This is the second time that it happens, and he tells you that he's not afraid or scared" "of making a complicated choice like that, and he's taking care of the whole team."
"He doesn't know Nemik is gone, and he's protecting them." "He's feeling part of a team for the first time." And then he has to go inside and tell Vel. Nemik is already dead and now so is Skeen. Basically he says he’ll take the money he was promised and leaves them the shuttle.
He gives the kyber necklace back to her and as he turns to go Vel tells him Nemik wanted Cassian to have his manifesto. [Cassian] “I don’t want it.” [Vel] “He insisted.” I do not know how to describe the emotion on Cassian’s face here but it is gutwrenching. Finally Cassian takes it and runs.
Back at Luthens shop he hears the news of the Aldhani heist and takes a moment to step into the back where he just laughs in open, naked relief. So now let's talk about politics in a Star War Now for reasons I can’t fully parse, people seem really frustrated by ANY discussion of politics in Star Wars. Like…I don’t know why other than an unwillingness to engage with the material they purport to enjoy. Also lets not forget the immortal words of Lana Wachowski & J Michael Straczynski, as said by my beloved Hernando in 'Sense8' [Hernando] “All art is political. Never more so than when pretending it’s not.”
Because any writer takes their thoughts and beliefs into what they write. It's impossible not to. And While it's true that Star Wars is murky when treated as a political text. There are still, very definite politics within Star Wars. But they are not necessarily always consistent or coherently expressed. In part due to the many creators behind Star Wars as we know it today.
We celebrate the victory of our rebel heroes in 'Return of the Jedi' and somehow in the time between this and 'Force Awakens', The system of fascist oppression is recreated almost beat for beat in The First Order. Somehow Palpatine returned! Like I’m sure if I read the novelizations maybe they would explain but the movies sure don't. Still, Star Wars has always had politics embedded within it from its inception.
George Lucas himself imagined The Empire as a deliberate allegory for Nazis in World War II down to their uniforms, Triumph of the will inspired visuals, and naming Vader's soldiers Stormtroopers, aka Sturmtruppen, specialist soldiers in the German army. But also according to George Lucas the rebels are the Viet Cong and America is the empire. [James Cameron] “Their using asymmetric warfare against a highly organized empire. I think we call those guys terrorists.”
[George Lucas] “When I did it they were Viet Cong” [Cameron] “America is so proud of being the biggest economy, the most powerful military force on the planet." "It’s become the Empire from the perspective of a lot of people around the world.” [Lucas] “well it was the Empire during the Vietnam War.” If you're someone who thinks the prequels are good and somehow not political let me remind you of these lines [Padme] “This is how Liberty dies with thunderous applause.” [Obi Wan] “Anakin, my allegiance is to the Republic! To democracy!” If you're somebody who likes the Star Wars cartoons, remember that time the jedi were described like this in Tales of the Jedi?? [Semage] “Jedi claim peace but mostly keep law and order for the rich and powerful.”
And Count Dooku agreed with him by the way! or that time a bunch of rebels pushed against a police blockade in 'Clone Wars'? Star Wars has always been full of political ideas [Anakin] “They could attack soft targets while the Republic continues to engage them on the battlefield.” [Obi-Wan] “That sounds like terrorism, Anakin.” [Anakin] “Well I think of it as an insurgency.” There’s been a lot of speculation about how the hell Disney allowed Gilroy and co. to make a genuinely radical show. Supposedly they allowed the lesbian romance between Vel and Cinta, which is largely just dialogue and longing looks but still. It seems they largely put their foot down about depicting sex, violence, and swearing, at least in what's been publicly stated.
Considering the milquetoast politics of other Disney properties, I was under the impression Disney just wouldn't allow media with interesting ideas to get made. Egg on my face I guess. By the way, go watch Princess Weeke’s video on 'The Falcon and The Winter Soldier' called 'The Revolution was not Televised.' But I think Andor might be the most political and the most politically relevant piece of Star Wars media we’ve ever seen.
And I’m not the only one who thinks so. [Luna] “Probably, that's one of the reasons why I love the world of Star Wars, because it’s been always like that." "You know it’s always been very political, and this one it’s relevant also" "because it’s been made by people who live in this time.” And there’s plenty of genuinely radical politics in the show, from prison abolition, to depicting revolts against a police state, to the struggles that come when trying to unite people of varying ideologies to fight for one cause [Saw Garrera] “I am the only one with clarity of purpose.” There’s also some pretty incredible Latine representation with Cassian Andor played by Mexican Actor Diego Luna and there's also Bix Caleen played by Adria Arjona who is Puerto Rican.
Unfortunately, outside of Diego Luna’s role in Andor and Rogue One, Latine representation has been a bit touch and go in Star Wars. [Me] “Boy, it sucks they made you a drug dealer huh?” [My roommate laughing behind the camera.” Oscar Isaac is Guatemalan and Cuban and in the bad movie that sucks they decided that he used to run spice?? [Zorii Bliss] “Your friend's old job was running Spice.” Which is Star Wars for drugs. Spice = drugs in Star Wars.
[Finn] “You were a Spice Runner?” [Poe] “You were a Stormtrooper?” [Rey] “Were you a Spice Runner?” [Poe] “Were you a scavenger? We can do this all night!” In Clone Wars we get the Martez Sisters, Rafa and Trace, voiced by Elizabeth Rodriguez and Brigitte Kali who are both Latina and in season 7 they get an arc about drug running?? And Ahsoka has to teach them that smuggling drugs is bad. They come back in a Bad batch episode as members of the rebellion which is cool I guess. And for those who don't understand why depicting Latine people as drug dealers is bad? Well… [John Leguizamo] “We’ve been shortchanged for the most part you know, obviously," "we’ve always had to play, you know…either drug dealers, killers, murders, or we’re maids" "and illegal aliens, and always at the bottom of the food chain.” It's a pretty big trope at this point and a genuine limitation for a lot of Latine actors who would like to do literally anything else. Oscar Isaac even chose his stage name in the hopes of avoiding being typecast as a gangster. Instead of Oscar Hernandez he used his middle name Isaac, which apparently led casting directors to think he was Jewish? So mazel tov I guess.
But many actors from Anthony Quinn to Martin Sheen have changed their names to try and avoid being typecast. Diego Luna said in an interview on his role in Narcos Mexico “We’re asking so many people to be patient when we shouldn’t — they’ve been patient for decades. But stories are getting more specific, which is great news. More and more, we’re caring about where the story comes from and about the reality we’re trying to portray.” Actor Tenoch Huerta, another exhausted Narcos: Mexico alum said "They need thieves, they need kidnappers, they need whores. So they call the Brown-skinned people to make them.
And we fit under that stereotype, [...] They are always calling me to make the same character. It's the bad guy—always" Not to mention the actual harm that has been done by the drug trade in places like Mexico. Which, Luna addressed saying “For this very complex machinery to work, yes, you have the drug traffickers, but you also have the government on both sides of the border allowing this to happen,” “For this to happen, there’s someone allowing it to happen on the other side.
And there is a market to feed. The biggest market is up north from where we live, so we are here. “It’s not that Mexicans are worse than any others. It’s just that we happen to be the door between the developing world and the first world, and we are the longest border between these two very different realities.
That’s reality for us.” So basically yeah it sucks that 90% of what Star Wars can imagine for Latine people is just…drug dealers. But now there is also Pedro Pascal as the Mandalorian, and in Andor we get not just Cassian but also Bix who is her own fully realized character so…hopefully Latine representation is improving.
But there is also the issue of colorism in Latine casting. Both in Star Wars and in media at large. UCLA's Hollywood diversity report of 2022 found that only 7% of lead roles went to Latine actors in 2021, based on the top 200 English-language releases. Meanwhile Latine people currently make up 18% of the US population. And most of the actors finding mainstream success are light-skinned.
Tenoch Huerta is of indigenous descent with a Nahua maternal great-grandmother and a Purépecha paternal great-great-grandmother, and he's recently seen a lot of mainstream success after his scene stealing role as Namor in 'Wakanda Forever'. And it seems he's been calling out this colorism for years, criticizing those he calls "Whitexicans" In a Vice interview he said, “Because most of the Mexican actors who are in the US are white, they are upper-class, they are fresas. [Mexican slang for posh or bougie].” [Tenoch Huerta speaking in Spanish] Diego Luna himself has a lighter mestizo complexion. Mestizo being a term for people of mixed European and Indigenous Latin American descent, with his mother being British, and his father being Mexican.
His position in Hollywood is a complicated one to be sure, and even still, just by proudly displaying his Mexican accent he did something that was unheard of in Star Wars back in 2016 [Interviewer] “Was there ever a conversation about what accent you should use?" [Sorta mumbles a bit]” [Luna] “Uh yeah, I think the conversation was, ‘this is my accent.’” [Laughter] I know Diego Luna has said a lot about how much it meant to him to be a Mexican in Star Wars [Luna] “A Mexican in Star Wars, c’mon!” [Applause] [Luna] “You wouldn’t find a Mexican in Star Wars.” “He goes like ‘I want you to play the guy!’ And I was like…aaw…really?" "No no there has to be something wrong!" "I…I’m Mexican, I just like crossed the border from Mexico City, I have This Accent!" "You know this accent, I cannot get rid of This Accent!” So he simply got to just be a Mexican dude in Star Wars. And there’s this really lovely tumblr post from this girl who goes by the handle River Always Knew who took her Mexican father to see Rogue One in theaters. She wrote: “When Diego Luna’s character came on screen and started speaking, my dad nudged me and said, “he has a heavy accent.”
I was like, “Yup.” When the film was over and we were walking to the car, he turns to me and says, “did you notice that he had an accent?” And I said, “Yeah dad, just like yours.” Then my dad asked me if the film had made a lot of money. I told him it was the second highest grossing film of 2016 despite it only being out for 18 days in 2016 [...]. He then asked me if people liked the film, I told him that it
had a huge following online and great reviews. He then asked me why Diego Luna hadn’t changed his accent and I told him that Diego has openly talked about keeping his accent and how proud he is of it. And my dad was silent for a while and then he said, “And he was a main character.”
And I said, “He was.” And my dad was so happy. As we drove home he started telling me about other Mexican actors that he thinks should be in movies in America. Representation matters.” And it does.
[Huerta and this reporter being emotional in Spanish? Is this a useful caption???] It really really does. There are some minor issues I have with Andor that may be addressed in season 2, my friend Steven who is the one reading Diego’s lines for this video is convinced they will be addressed because he is, in his own words, fully Andor pilled, and the consulting latino on this video. Again his words not mine.
But I do think it is a little suss the way all of Cassian’s flashback sequences were in some unsubtitled mystery language? Like I guess they’re speaking Kenari but it seemed unnecessarily alienating and othering for some very indigenous coded characters, to simply be incomprehensible to audiences. That definitely wasn't the intention, but it was a result. According to my friend LegalKimchi, who is Puerto Rican by the way: [Legal Kimchi] "In Star Wars it is difficult because there is no "Latin America" in universe." "So I understand the wanting to include indigenous coded background for Andor."
"I liked that actually." "A nod to our latine mixed indigenous background." "But the lack of subtitles and "mystery" of his background leads to a certain othering." Also I remember reading some quote from Gilroy, I can't find it now but where he said this scene, was the first time Cassian had ever seen his own reflection and that's why he gets upset which is ridiculous, this boy never saw his reflection in water ever???? But the big thing is that Maarva steals this very indigenous coded child from his home based on a LOT of assumptions. Like yes she thinks she is helping, but she literally drugs and kidnaps a child and then later tells him he should stop looking for the sister who he was separated from against his will? [Maarva] “Stop searching for your sister…It’s a fantasy.”
That sucked. I’m all for complicated characters and maybe season 2 will actually address that in some way but I waited all of season 1 for somebody to say something about it and nobody did and just…look up Australia’s stolen generation, look up residential schools and the number of times in history when white colonizers stole indigenous children from their families, supposedly for their own good. I’m all for Maarva being a complicated mother, as long as the show acknowledges she was far from perfect and assumed she was saving a child while kidnapping him. Anyway let's talk about The Volume. A common sort of…frustration, I’ve seen online, from people who I think didn’t particularly want this show to exist is that they don’t understand why it looks so much better than most of the other Disney Star Wars shows we’ve gotten. 'Book of Boba Fett,' 'Obi Wan' and even later seasons of 'The Mandalorian' looked like trash sometimes.
What’s funny is from what I can tell, Andor might cost a little more per episode to produce but ‘The Mandalorian’ overall seems to have cost the most out of any live action Disney Star Wars series, and yet even seasons 2 and 3 look a little dead at times. A little airless. This is in large part due to how these shows are spending their money. All the shows aside from Andor are highly reliant on either CGI or a new technology they pioneered on ‘The Mandalorian’ called The Volume. Basically an immersive LED soundstage, with almost seamless LED screens, that can display backgrounds for scenes.
According to Comingsoon.net: These backgrounds are largely produced using technology like the Unreal Engine or Helios, “to change the background in real-time as it’s being filmed. The process of using the stage and integrating these technologies and special effects with the filmmaking process is known as StageCraft.” Basically, the Volume is using video game tech to have a lively background, augmented by some bits of set. When it works, it's pretty seamless. Mando riding a speeder through a desert looks great.
The problem is it seems sometimes these shows are becoming over reliant on The Volume or just over reliant on CGI in general because, Man, parts of 'Obi Wan' looked awful. Same goes for 'Book of Boba Fett.' In an interview with some of the production team for Andor, production designer Luke Hull said [Hull] “the Volume is an interesting piece of kit, it’s a very expensive piece of kit" "…And I don’t want to get into the details about it but like…If you’re not using it enough on your project for the right reasons?" "Then it’s just a very expensive in camera V effect.” So compared to other Star Wars shows, Andor was largely shot on location and on built sets.
Green screens were mainly used for set extension and the only real CG heavy bits were The Eye sequence in episode 6 and Luthens ship fight in episode 11. Much of the sets were built at Pinewood studios, some Coruscant scenes were filmed at Canary Wharf, Aldhani was I think largely filmed in Scotland, I’m pretty sure this quarry in derbyshire was where they shot some Narkina stuff and Clevely’s was where they filmed Niamos. Tony Gilroy said of this decision: “We want reality. We want to make the galaxy real. We’re just saying that everything that’s happening is happening to people. We’re going to see people that are just absolutely thrashed by the Empire [...] We
see a variety of planetary cultures that are destroyed in what will be reminiscent of Colonialism in many ways,” And…shocker, sets and practical locations just look better and more tactile, because they are. While I get that with a show like 'The Mandalorian' maybe they don't want to put another man in a tin can in the desert considering it was hell on Anthony Daniels back in the day. There are times when the Volume can be very practical. But using it all the time leads to a world that feels flatter. And while we’re on the subject of behind the scenes stuff allow me to yell about Nicholas Britell some more.
I know I mentioned him already, talked about a favorite track, Past and Present Suite. But what Britell is doing on this show is so good and so layered. I mean first off Star Wars has never really grappled with the idea of pop culture in universe, but now there’s the track Niamos! There’s the Morlana Mix, which is featured in the club on Morlana in episode one, the Coruscant Lounge Mix which plays at Mon Mothma’s party in episode 8 and then the Galaxy mix when we arrive on Niamos in episode 7. And so there’s just this song thats popular enough that they have different mixes of it playing in night clubs and fancy parties. Isn’t that neat?? Now is it…Jizz Music? The CANONICAL NAME of a genre of music in Star Wars that Max Rebo and his band played at Jabba’s palace? I don’t know but boy is that funny to think about. But there’s also the skill and complexity on display with the main theme of the show.
Now I'm not an expert in music theory. But I've always been a fan of soundtracks and instrumentals. There's a term I sort of use personally for a particular genre of music I find within movie and TV scores, I call them building songs. Basically songs that have sort of one theme and slowly build and iterate on them until it's very grand and majestic sounding.
Think the credits song from ‘Cloud Atlas’, or Hans Zimmer's Time from ‘Inception.’ What I find neat about the score of Andor, Is that while there are a few tracks that I would categorize as building songs. Like the Past/Present Suite from the end of episode 3, My Name is Kino Loy, from episode 10, and Eulogy from episode 12. But the score as a whole kind of functions as a slow but steady build. Many people have already pointed this out, and it's very cool by the way, if you overlay all 12 versions of the opening title track onto each other You get a pretty grand sounding piece of music.
[All the openings are being slowly layered together to play at once, it sounds rad as hell] The whole score is slowly coming together piece by piece. Like the rebellion itself it is slowly building into something. We moved from genre to genre, instrumentation to instrumentation.
From jangling percussion to cello's and strings, to uneasy synths, to a brave but unsteady brass band. But it isn't fully there yet. Britell said the opening was asking a question We didn't yet have an answer to. "By tailoring it to each episode, you get a different lens: Here’s where we’re going, here’s where we’ve been." He later went on to say "Hopefully, those things add up over time so you’ve created a sense of sonic memories.
It has a potency." So with that, let's talk about episode 7. Episode 7, titled 'Announcement,' is an interesting transitional episode. While most of the episodes were grouped into multi episode arcs, episode 7 is a standalone piece that moves everything into place for the next arc. The Announcement of the title is, according to Dedra Meero, what the Aldhani Heist was. She claims it was an announcement of intent.
The Empire responds swiftly to the Aldhani heist because, shocker, hitting the money was an effective tactic against them. So the Empire is introducing a new more stringent sentencing and resentencing initiative for anybody who so much as blinks at a stormtrooper the wrong way and Dedra manages to win control over Ferrix from a co-worker after effectively convincing her bosses of her theory that there was a pattern to the stolen imperial tech. At the same time, the wearer of the world's worst necktie starts working at the world's most pathetic office job. JUST…Look at him in his shitty little future cubicle. [‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ music lol] Meanwhile Mon Mothma has heard the news about the heist and she is freaking out. Because Mon Mothma is having some banking troubles.
By the way, since I’ve now watched all the Star Wars cartoons I would like to personally thank Tony Gilroy on my hands and knees for NOT bringing the BANKING CLAN into Mon Mothma’s banking issues. The Munes, as depicted in the cartoon specifically, are some of the most antisemitic character designs I think I’ve EVER SEEN. Add in how they talk [I’m not even going to write it out just imagine a bunch of dudes who sound like Porky Pig with a sinus infection] And shit like this [Clone Wars Announcer] “Corruption discovered at the core of the banking clan!” Just, thank you Mr. Gilroy for never once bringing up these horrible little caricatures.
If you want to learn a little about these anti-Semitic stereotypes that are older than dirt, watch my Much Ado About Nothing video and my tangent about Shylock. But basically Mon Mothma is STRESSED, and at one of her many fancy events full of people who say things like this [Shitty Person #1] “The Emperor’s primary charge is to protect us is it not?” [Shitty Person #2] “If you’re doing nothing wrong, what is there to fear?” [Mon Mothma] “I’m fearing your definition of wrong.” She meets up with her old friend from Chandrila, Tay Kolma. He’s apparently more outspoken against the empire than she is, at least publicly.
Under the guise of childhood reminiscing she tells him she wants his help funding a Chandrilan charity organization [Mon Mothma] “I’ll ask you to be chairman. it will appear to be another of my benevolent and useless irritations.” When he asks what they’re really doing she simply tells him they’re raising money and he’s best not knowing the rest. [Mon Mothma] “Perhaps you find my politics a bit strong for your taste.” She tells him that she’s being watched, and that they can’t trust her husband.
And Tay agrees to help. We also catch up with a cleaned up Vel and Luthen’s assistant Kleya Marki played by Elizabeth Dulau. I haven’t mentioned her because she hadn’t been featured much up to this point but in this episode we start to see just how many plates she’s got spinning. Vel wanted to see Luthen, she wanted him to be angry about the people they lost, and she wants to know where Cinta is. Kleya tells her the deaths are sad, although Luthen never really trusted Skeen and Cinta is busy. Then she tells Vel her next assignment is to track down the man she knew as Clem AKA Cassian.
He’s a loose end and he knows Luthen so [Vel] “You mean kill him.” [Kleya] “This is what revolution looks like…Vel…” And then there’s Cassian who just doesn’t fully grasp how bad it is in Ferrix as he returns in the dead of night to grab Maarva, pay his debts and go. Maarva tries to tell him how dangerous Ferrix is now, but Cassian’s just excited they have the money to be able to run. He says they can go somewhere warm, where the empire isn’t lurking but Maarva is hesitant.
She puts him off until the morning and he goes to see Bix. Bix is tired and beaten, still visibly bruised from her encounter with those ISB agents. She’s the one who finally drives the point home that Ferrix is fucked and Cassian can’t be here. People blame him for the Imperial Occupation.
Because he killed those two corpos and came to Ferrix to hide. Realistically it was only a matter of time before they came, Cassian was only the excuse they needed but Bix says some might turn him in for a buck. She also tells him she doesn’t know how Luthen knew all that stuff about Cassian, but he didn’t learn it from her. And this scene is just so sad, because while these two clearly care for each other the situation is too messed up for either of them to say much more than good luck as Cassian hands her the money he owes her, Brasso, and a few others, and then leaves. [Cassian] “He needs to forget about me. And that goes for everybody.” [Bix] “I’ve done it before.”
On his way back home, as he hides from storm troopers we get a brief flash of a day when people were protesting the Imperial presence on Ferrix, probably not long after Order 66 [Ferrixian #1] “Long live the republic!” [Ferrixian #2] “Free Ferrix!” Cassian’s father Clem told him they would just plant their silly little flag and leave, but he tried to calm the angry crowd screaming at the soldiers [Clem] “You’re only making it worse!” [Soldier] “HALT!” [Everyone goes quiet] [Soldier] "TURN!" And he was murdered for it. A Young Cassian tried to get revenge on some troopers and was arrested. After prison, he was sent to the front lines. [Cassian] “I fought in Mimban when I was 16." "Straight out of prison, into the mud." "I'm one of 50 that survived."
"And who did it turn out we were fighting? Ourselves.” But he goes back to Maarva who tells him she isn’t leaving. The Aldhani heist has given her hope. People are standing up against the empire and she wants to do her part, here on Ferrix.
[Cassian] “You can't beat them Maarva.” [Maarva] “Not if I run away.” She tells Cassian he has to go and try and find some peace. He says he’ll have no peace because he’ll just be worried about her all the time. [Maarva] "Thats just love. Nothing you can do about that."
She has to stay and she has to go. So she tells him she loves him, asks him to try and understand. He says he doesn’t and he leaves. Some time later, in what the internet has collectively named space Miami, Cassian’s going by the name Keef Girgo, which… thats a Glub Shitto name if I ever heard one but hilariously it also sounds like somebody just swapped some letters on Greef Karga’s name to come up with it? Remember this guy from The Mandalorian. Greef Karga and Keef Girgo, wow.
Anyways, Cassian’s got all his money and supplies hidden in this little hotel room, and he still has Nemik’s manifesto. But while he’s out walking on the beach some people go running past him, running from some soldiers. And he gets grabbed simply for looking suspicious. A KX droid nearly chokes him and he’s sentenced to six years for nothing at all. The other bit of behind the scenes that can’t be talked about enough is Diego Luna.
Like I don’t want to downplay Tony Gilroy here, he made a great show, he made 'Michael Clayton', but he also did 'The Bourne Legacy' [‘Bourne Legacy’ Man yelling CHEMS] A show like this is surely down to every creative mind that broke the story down, wrote it, and directed it with such finesse that you might think it looks easy. But Diego’s performance as Cassian Andor is just stunning. Often he’s doing such subtle work, and you just see it all happening in his eyes. I’ve followed Diego Luna’s career pretty much since 2004 when I saw him in 'The Terminal'. He’s just a sweet minor character in that but he’s constantly popped up in interesting roles over the years in films like 'Frida', 'Milk', 'The Book of Life', or as a minor character in the 2016 film 'The Bad Batch'…no relation to the cartoon. I still need to watch more of his spanish language films but obviously classics like 'Y Tu Mama Tambien' and 'Rudo Y Cursi' are a must watch.
A lot of his work I arrived to late, mostly because I was a little young for films like 'Frida' and 'Y Tu Mama Tambien' when they were released. And Also He was in the Masterpiece, The PINNACLE OF CINEMA 'Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.' Which to be clear is a terrible movie that I have great affection for. And Diego Luna hates every time somebody brings it up in an interview [James Corden] “You were in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights!” [Diego Luna] “SHHH” [Audience applause and Diego swears but its bleeped] [Diego] “Oh no I c