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Oh welp, a Disney Plus show that takes itself seriously? What witchery is this? AndorS1E1,2&3 Review

So the three episode premier of Andor just dropped yesterday, and I was very pleasantly surprised by what it had to offer, in a very good way I might add.

From the very beginning, the show sets the mood by its blade runner aesthetic and hyper realistic gritty look, and also, for long term star wars fans, there is something that many will miss, it says that this takes place in 5 BBY, Before Battle of Yavin, now battle of Yavin was a momentous occasion in the star wars universe, it was the Rebel Alliance's first big victory against the Empire, when a nineteen year old young boy of a moisture farmer from a small desert planet named Tatooine, performed the decisive trench run, blowing up the first Death star, and causing a huge set back for the Empire.

So obviously all of Star wars lore decided to time star wars around that incident, with the terms BBY and ABY, for example 5 BBY meaning, 5 years Before Battle of Yavin, and 1 ABY meaning 1 year After Battle of Yavin. Okay so what? In 2019, Disney changed this system to BSI and ASI, centering around the Destruction of the Star Killer Base Rather than the first Death Star.

P.s. I just love how this same article suggests the biggest plot holes in the epitome of Disney Star Wars i.e. The Rise of Skywalker

According to myself, and many others, this was a really dick move, because on not only are they saying that a movie that they made as almost a beat to beat copy of another persons work to replicate its success is more important than the original, there are also the undertones of the fact that BBY/ABY was just something that kind of happened as the fandom and creative team just collectively happened to start timing their Star Wars with the Battle of Yavin as a yardstick, whereas this was something shoe horned into star wars by the Disney Empire that bought this thing that many people loved and in the eyes of many treated it as a soul less cash cow at least in the Beginning.

Although with Shows like the Mandalorian and dare I say Andor, they are gaining back the goodwill of me and many other fans.

And them using 5 BBY instead of 39 BSI is a good start.

Now, after spending an ungodly amount of time on the onscreen text appearing within the first 1 and a half minute of the episode including the initial Disney Plus Logo, let's get on with the episode.

I mentioned that the show gave me a blade Runner Aesthetic, at least in the Beginning, but there is one more thing I would like to compare Andor too, another Franchise that is known for its futuristic neon environment and anti establishment undertones, one that many might not be aware of but Disney has recently decided to Revive with a visual novel game. Tron

Specifically Tron: Legacy, the Bar scene where Sam Flynn meets Zuse.

I took it upon myself to edit those two scenes back to back, look at the initial walk through the narrow hallway, with the upwards camera angle, plus the way the bar is set up with the white lights beneath the table, the presence of the oppressive police force, and the implication of corruption on them being in a brothel/bar while on duty, and then the over the top dressed and zany person that greets the main guy while dismissing other customers, providing a distraction, and how the main character is looking for a personal favor.

Am I looking into it too much? Maybe I am, but it can't be a coincidence that just a few days after they revealed their new Tron project, there is suddenly this parallel, can it? Maybe it can.

That's not the only parallel though, there is also the fact that the host betrays the protagonists later in the story both times.

Anyways, this review has to be extensive, so I guess it's time to create sub topics.

Motivation, Characterization and World building.

This show gets right to it with the story. Even though the main inciting incident for the greater plot happens at the six minute to nine minute mark, the first scene does a lot of world building in a subtle manner, via environmental and audio cues.

And then they immediately get into the motivation for Andor being there, his sister, and here it starts putting place the pieces for the inciting incident, the police officers getting blown off by the prostitutes and getting annoyed at Andor for... looking at them weird.

The inciting incident is essentially the officers abusing their power to get back at him, and in the ensuing fight, one officer dies and even though the other officer is ready for a peaceful resolution that appears to be the best for both parties, Andor shots him.

This is the main inciting incident. This leads to the three main story lines, Cassian (Andor) in present day trying to get rid of all trails leading back to him, him in flashbacks which tell the story of why him and his sister got separated

Throughout these we meet ten characters namely Andor, his sister, the main leader person of the group of children back on Kenari, his adoptive mother Maarva, Bix, and the townsfolk who in general play together as one character, Karn, a high ranking pre mor officer and another commander who is of a similar mindset to him. And then there is the mysterious buyer, who we are lead to believe is one of the Rebel alliance but there is a lot of mystique surrounding this character, so he could literally be anyone and I wouldn't be surprised if he was an imperial spy

I mainly want to talk about the characterization of Karn here, we know this guy, he is the overly serious by the books officer who we know is a fascistic ass and yet we can relate and understand his need and motivation to pursue Cassian as he killed two of his coworkers, and we get his willingness to uphold the law of the govt. he serves, if the script is flipped, this guy would be the Hero, even though we have the knowledge that the govt he works for is an oppressive empire, and the people he is getting upset over, absolutely deserved it. It is very important that this is the villain here but I will talk of that later.

And secondly I want to talk about Timm, Bix's boyfriend, it's clear Bix and Andor are close, as even though Bix hates the things she has to do for Andor, she does them anyway.

Tim on the other hand is an on looker from the outside, something he isn't too chuffed about being Bix's boyfriend and all, and so we understand his frustration at this other man who acts close to his girl and leaves her with a worse mood than before and yet she holds his friendship close, it makes him wonder if there is something else.

We too question whether he is right to feel this way, as not feeling trusted by your significant other can be a crippling fear, and with next to no lines from this man, we understand why he rats Andor out as being not from Fest but from Kenari, but in doing so, he also reveals that Bix trusted him most of all, as she told no one about Andor being from Kenari other than him.

I really like the subtle characterization in this story. So much told through just looks and expressions, through subtext rather than text, it's very refreshing see todays self aware, spoon feeding wave as studios seem to think more and more that audiences are idiots.

This is not limited to these two people, but I talked of them because good characterization and relatability on the villain side is much less common compared to the same on the Hero side, and it can really be an indicator of how good a story is, as often, villains become nothing more than an obstacle or plot device for the Heros to overcome.

But here in the case of Karn, by the end of episode three I almost felt sorry for him, as he is the one, who went against orders and brought a team to capture Andor, and yet you can tell he is the least experienced in this Arena while being the most motivated, he is, in a way, almost innocent, seeing the world in stark black and white, and naïve as he is unable to give an even mildly inspiring speech to his team, as clearly, this isn't something he thought of before hand, he must have thought it would be much simpler to handle a team.

And then? He has a gun pointed to his head and is forced to rat his team out as he gambles for his life, and when he has the chance to redeem himself by blowing up the transport he supposes the rebels are in, it turns out to be a trap, he cause the death of many of his comrades this time around, all in the pursuit of revenge for two he knew to be unpleasant and somewhat deserving of the punishment of death.

This ending scene with him looking at the wreckage of the speeder, is equal parts hauntingly beautiful and ominous as he realizes what this one man is capable of, and even though he must blame himself for all of this, he Blames Andor even more as facing the truth would be too much for him, and we as the Audience realize what thorn in the side of Andor this man is going to become moving forward, as we in equal parts hate him and feel sorry for him.

Cassian's friendship with Brasso is also very apparent as even though he owes the latter money, he choses to help Cassian out forming a cover story for him, ties a weight to the Preox ship preventing it's escape and tells Cassian to promise him that he will be back to work after whatever he is into is over.

In terms of world building, even though we are limited to only three planets at most, we learn so much about the greater world of star wars, when the prostitute at the brothel says, "no one uses their real name here" we ask ourselves, what does that mean? How many of these women are willingly here?

And when we see her helping the pre mor corporation, who we are made aware, considers the brothel to be illegal, we realize that this corporation who is outsourced by the empire to control an entire system of planets is equal parts hypocritical and pompous like the Empire, as they are sidelining one law break to fix another, as if the police brutality part wasn't enough.

And going over to Kenari, which is mostly seen in flashbacks during the clone wars, and mention a few times in present day, we can immediately see that everyone here is a kid, making us wonder, where they might have gone?

And then we see the abandoned mine, which is once again hauntingly beautiful to look at and ominous in its suggestion of what happened to the adults which is confirmed by a present day info dump that this planet was abandoned post a mining accident.

I think people forget that while the prequels paint the Confederacy of Independent Star Systems or CIS as the villains and the Galactic Republic as the hero of the clone wars, the Republic wasn't over thrown by the empire, it was turned into the empire.

And when we see incidents like this we start to see the Darker side of the Republic, and we also are Reminded that the CIS consisted mostly of the outer rim and mid rim worlds for a reason.

There is some debate on plot holes surrounding this aspect as later when Maarva mentions the Republic coming and killing the children, people are left confused, and also who exactly shot down the ship, and whether the people there were CIS or the Republic dressed as the CIS? Who knows. I mean the CIS logo is visible so...

This flashback part of the story is also my favorite as it chose to have the character speak voice lines only in their native tongue and give us no subtitles, so we are left to interpret things based on only tone and expressions and boy does this show do a good job with that.

we understand who the leader is, we get why Cassian copies her face paint as he is clearly into her, we get Cassian and his sisters relationship even though the only word we understand here is Cassian's name.

The fact that we don't understand a word and yet we get all these intricate details is important as I will talk about in the social commentary part of my review but first...

Music, Sound design and Editing.

The extremely subtle socio political commentary

The philosophy of Droids.

For me Andor is a Return to form of sorts for Star Wars, often times Star Wars get stuck in conversations of which is the good side and which is the evil side, but people don't get that, in the Prequel Era, the CIS were actually in the right, they consisted of Outer Rim systems that were neglected by the Elite mid rim and center Star Systems, so much so that a Trade Federation could blockade them, and the Jedi were very much responsible for their own downfall, they were stifled by tradition, pompous with their position in the Senate, and too deep into politics, not to mention when you think about how they trained child soldiers and put them in binding contracts which forbade them from showing emotions.... yeah.... Remember, the Republic Became the Empire, it wasn't overthrown by it.

And in the OG trilogy Era, yes, the good and Evil is more clear, but then, do we forget that the Death Star had millions of employees who were probably just doing their Jobs and didn't know any better? Did it need to go absolutely, but while a lot of lives were saved, a lot of families sobbed that day. Don't get me wrong the casualties and intentional destruction pile up way more for the empire, and there is the little fact that its a... dictatorship... but no ones hands are clean in a conflict, and Andor lays out the Darker side of the Rebellion out bare in a way that it has never been before, and we like the Rebellion and Andor as a character all the better for it.

Life isn't about Good and Evil, sometimes hard decisions need to be made, people get hurt, sometimes both sides are Justified in a conflict... that's what this show brings to Star Wars, at least so far, and I hope it continues to do so... because I love it.


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