Andor - Season One Spoiler Review of the Best Thing in Star Wars

After watching the finale of Andor I can confidently say that Andor is my favourite piece of Star Wars ever including the movies. I am blown away with the quality of the series on a total level; the acting, writing and directing is all top notch. I think what makes Andor the best is that Tony Gilroy (the showrunner) had the creative freedom to tell the story he wanted. One of the complaints about the Disney era of Star Wars has been a lack of a cohesive plan for all of the projects. The films have been plagued by controversy since The Last Jedi came out, and we still do not know when we will see the next Star Wars film. Gilroy was able to tell the story he wanted, and it was a very mature story that did not pander to the younger fans of Star Wars in the slightest. It feels good to watch something Star Wars and not have to be bombarded by jokes and cute things; I am not saying that is bad, but I really appreciated the intensity of Andor. The series is the best thing that has launched on Disney Plus, as good as The Mandalorian has been it never had the same dramatic and intense moments like Andor has. I am finding it difficult to put into words just how amazing Andor truly is, I was not expecting the show to be anywhere near as good as it has been. The character of Andor I found more interesting than I did with Jyn Erso in Rogue One; Andor was willing to do some bad stuff for the rebellion, but it took a toll on him. In the Andor series we see him go from self-interested punk to someone willing to join the rebellion. The end of season one featured some powerful moments, but it was Andor giving himself to Luthen felt like a big turn for him.

In a season containing 12 episodes there were three specific 3-episode arcs in season one, and each one was riveting for a different reason. The season started with the first episodes being an arc that spends a lot of time on Ferrix where we see how Andor initially gets recruited to help the rebellion. Those first three episodes told the Ferrix arc which introduced us to Andor's life before the rebellion. We also see that Andor is from Kenari but he was taken from his home planet by a couple of scavengers who became his adoptive parents. The opening scene from Andor has our main character searching for his birth sister, the search for his sister never got paid off in season one, but I think it will have an affect on season two. It now feels very unsurprising that Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor ended up working together so well as they both had similar journeys to their heroic end. Rogue One is one of the Star Wars films that gets better every time I watch it; and Andor felt perfectly in tone with Rogue One. I went back and rewatched Rogue One after I finished watching season one of Andor and the film plays even better. Rogue One had three main characters in Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor and Orson Krennic, but Jyn Erso was a character who I never liked, but Andor was the main character I gravitated towards. In Andor we learn that Cassian did not willingly sign up to join the rebellion, but like Jyn he was conscripted into it against his will. Cassian like Jyn was fine to live their life just looking out for themselves. Seeing Cassian's journey from conscripted hero to volunteer was very moving and well done. 

The first arc focusing on Ferrix and on Cassian's origin was a good start that had an action-packed ending. The decision to release the first three episodes right away was a smart move; the first two episodes had a slow pace that was paid off by the action in episode three. I am still a little confused as to why Syril was taking Andor's killing of the security guards so seriously, but maybe it is as simple as Syril is just an Imperial at heart. Syril was a good villain, because he was so intense in his attempts at capturing Andor. I would say that all of those resources used by Syril to bring one man who murdered a couple of bad security employees seems like a waste. The introduction of Luthen Rael (played by Stellan Skarsgard) was perfect as we had no idea who he was really was. I thought Luthen was a spy for the rebellion, and he was recruiting help for the rebellion. The scene where Luthen and Cassian meet is great as both characters are on edge, but Luthen is a lot more comfortable in that scene than Andor was. Luthen was prepared for everything while Andor was caught totally off guard by Luthen's real reason for coming to Ferrix was to recruit Cassian. Cassian's description of how he stole the Imperial starpath unit was perfect, it was why Luthen wanted to meet Cassian and his instincts were right. Luthen might not look dangerous, but as Syril learned, Luthen is a very dangerous man who thinks ahead and is willing to do anything to achieve his mission. Cassian and Luthen were able to escape from Ferrix because Luthen planned ahead and the people of Ferrix don't like authority. Cassian did not contribute much to the escape, but he was probably overwhelmed with all that was happening.

The second arc was centred around the heist on Aldhani, which had it not been for the final episode it might have been my favourite arc. The heist was a brilliant arc as it allowed Cassian to show his early spy training while also being tense even before the action started. Episode four also showed Luthen returning to Coruscant, and we see his transformation from rebellion spy to rich merchant and it was fabulous. One of the understated things in the episode is that spies often lead to very different lives at the same time and moving from one to the other is often never explored. Luthen did not just changes his clothes, but his demeanor changed too and watching him practice his merchant act was so cool. In that episode we meet Dedra Meero who works for the Imperial Security Bureau (ISB), and she is the female Syril. Dedra is blunt, obsessed  and seems justified in whatever she does in pursuit of her goals, I can see a second season where Dedra and Syril are working together to hunt Andor. The heist crew was very interesting as they were made up of some very interesting members. Nemik was a good kid who was very was only interested in helping the rebellion. While Skeen pretended to be like Nemik, but the reveal that he was a mercenary like Cassian, except he was one who did not possess the heart and morals of Cassian. Cinta was a very interesting character as it appeared she was loyal to the cause to the point of pusher her lover away. Cinta was also a lot more capable than I would have guessed based on her initial meeting with Cassian. The heist more or less goes off as planned, there were risks and some paid a steep price like Taramyn who died and Nemik who had life-altering injuries. Taramyn was a character who I wish we got to know better, but he seemed like a good man trying to make up for what he did when he was a storm trooper. The heist was intense, and filmed really well, and the score of the episode really worked for what was happening. The meteor show was beautiful, and the flight through it was incredibly tense and visually impressive. The dialogue between Skeen and Cassian was great, as we saw Skeen for what he really was and we saw Andor do the right thing, but also look out for himself while doing it. Luthen's laugh and then sigh to end the episode was in a way how the audience felt after watching the episode. 

I found episode seven to possibly be the weakest episode of the whole series, but it was still so well made that I enjoyed it. There was an obvious fall after the greatness of episode six, but Andor manages to make each episode appealing in its own way. The opening of the episode featuring Syril was what took me out of the episode, but I came roaring back in when Mon Mothma went to see Luthen at his store. Their conversation was tense, but fantastic as we see Mon is challenged by Luthen to accept that things will get worse in order for things to get better. Luthen's plan is to build the rebellion he needs recruits and what better way to recruit than for an angry Empire to treat everyone worse because of Aldhani. Luthen believes that the Empire will counter Aldhani by being crueler, and that in turn will turn more people against the Empire. Mon then meets with an old friend in hopes that he can help her move some money to help fund the rebellion, and this exchange between two old friends is fantastic. We also see that Cinta and Vel are tasked with killing Cassian since he saw Luthen, I wonder Cassian was always meant to be killed or if him running led to his death warrant. Cassian returns to Ferrix to collect his mother and B2EMO, but Maarva (played by Fiona Shaw) heard about Aldhani, and she wants to stay in Ferrix. Maarva says the Aldhani attack is proof that the rebellion is real and getting braver. We learn that Andor's adopted father Clem was killed by the Empire, and that is something Maarva never got over. Cassian never admits to Maarva that he was a part of the attack on Aldhani, which is kind of sad since Cassian never sees Maarva again. The other storyline of the episode involves Dedra gaining power in the ISB by making a link between stolen imperial equipment and rebel activities. Dedra is a fascinating character because like Syril she truly believes in what the Empire is doing, and the ISB is an interesting branch of the Empire that has not been explored before in great detail. Cassian leaves Ferrix on his own, and we see he goes to a planet that is beautiful, but the Empire crackdown causes him to be arrested (for no reason) and sentenced to a six-year prison term.

The last three-episode arc is the Narkina 5 episodes based around Cassian's time at the prison on Narkina 5. The prison is a work camp where the prisoners are barefoot on metal floors so that if things go bad they can be electrocuted into obedience. The prisoners are building components (for the Death Star), and Cassian's team leader is Kino (played by Andy Serkis) who is almost done his prison term. Episode eight features the first meeting between Dedra and Syril, and it is spooky how similar they are to one another. Syril tries to convince Dedra that he can be of service in bringing Andor to justice, but Dedra blows him off. The prison scenes are great as we see Cassian accept his role in the team while also already keeping an eye on things in the prison in order to escape. The prisoners are kept in line with a system that rewards productivity and punishes those who are not productive. Cassian makes note of the guards boots which protect them from the electricity, and he also notes that their might not be enough guards to properly man the prison. Cassian also notices one of the men in his group communicates via sign language, and that allows them to learn what is happening in other groups. On Ferrix, Brasso and Bix worry over Maarva whose health is declining, while Bix tries to contact Luthen to find Cassian he shuts down communications with Ferrix. Bix's attempts to contact Luthen alert the ISB to take into custody the owner of the shop where the communication device was located. The officers are also looking for Bix who is forced to run away when the officers sees her in the crowd. Bix is caught and brought to Dedra who plans to torture her for information on Cassian. Luthen goes to meet Saw Gerrera (played by Forest Whitaker), they talk about Luthen's interest in bringing Saw's rebel group into the rebellion. Saw is not interested as he fears working with others will lead to putting his group into danger.  

The Narkina 5 arc does not feature a lot of action, but the tension in the story mounts as the Empire takes control on Ferrix while Luthen attempts to build the rebellion. Luthen proves that he might be the best spy ever in the Star Wars universe as he makes tough choices seem easy. Mon Mothma has long been considered the face of the rebellion, but Andor has positioned Luthen as the most important person in setting up the resistance. Luthen was pushing buttons everywhere he could to make the rebellion into what it is. Luthen we learn is willing to let one of his cells get taken out because it would make the ISB feel confident that there is no mole inside their organization. At this point Luthen appears to only care about protecting the rebellion; his choices are about protecting the rebellion over people. Learning that Luthen has a mole in the ISB was interesting reveal, and seeing what Luthen sacrifices to keep his mole a secret even more so. The surprise I did not see coming was that Vel is actually Mon Mothma's cousin, and Vel does not share that she works with Luthen despite Mothma's suspicions. Something goes wrong on Narkina 5 and the prisoners are held in a holding pattern, there is an issue on level 2. Cassian tries to get Kino to share what he knows about the facility, but Kino refuses because he only has 217 shifts left before he will be released. The ISB is discussing what information Dedra got from Bix, and this leads to a suspicion that Cassian was one of the men from Aldhani. Before going in for their duty one of Kino's men (an older man) has a stroke and the doctor (a fellow prisoner) tells Kino and Cassian that the issue on level 2 was that all the workers were killed. The doctor says that the workers were killed because a mistake was made and a prisoner who was supposed to be released got put on another floor. Kino and Cassian realize then that you never get out of the prison you just get moved around; Kino then begins helping Cassian with the plan to escape. 

The escape from Narkina 5 was one of the most exciting parts of the series as it was so tense, and the ending was a little bit heartbreaking as Kino says he can't swim right before Cassian is pushed into the water. The plan was aggressive, and that meant sacrifices, but Cassian managed to free all of the prisoners though we don't know how many made it to freedom. Andy Serkis was fantastic in the three episodes he appeared in, and he became one of my favourite Star Wars characters, the speech his gives during the breakout was powerful. The score used during the breakout was fantastic, and I wished the episode ended there rather than cut to the reveal of who Luthen's ISB mole is. The scene with the mole looked amazing, and it was a fantastic scene I just wish it was before the breakout started rather than at the end. Luthen is so slick with how he talks to his assets, I hope season two explores Luthen's background because he must have been a spy before the Empire. Luthen is perfectly comfortable in the spy world, he excels at strategy, misinformation, and inspiration. Luthen's revelation of what he has become and how he embraces the darkness. It was a chilling speech that Luthen gives, and it gives us insight into what he has become. Luthen has realized that to beat the Empire he will need to do bad things like the Empire does, but he is doing it for the right reason. Luthen is fine committing sins that will haunt him until his death if it means the Empire will fall because of it. The closing part of the arc is so simple; seeing Cassian running to freedom, but it feels powerful with everything he has gone through. 

The final two episodes of the season are great too, and opening with the reveal of Maarva's passing was heartbreaking made it even tougher by B2EMO reaction. Cassian and Melshi make it to land, and they find a ship that they plan to steal from two aliens. The aliens outsmart Cassian and Melshi using nets to trap them, but they let them take the ship because they don't like the Empire too. Vel visits the shop unexpectedly, but Luthen is still away so Vel tells Luthen's partner Kleya that Cassian's mother has died. Brasso is looking after B2EMO after Maarva dies, but B2EMO does not want to leave Maarva's home in case she comes back. There is a collision course being setup in Ferrix with all parties interested in Andor learning about Maarva's death. It is a logical reason for the climax to happen as Andor will return home when he learns of his mother, and the rebellion, Syril and the ISB will all be hoping he does so they can capture/kill him. I wish we got more of Maarva, but her message at the end of the season is so powerful it almost makes up for her lack of screen time. I do think we will see Maarva again as I think there will be more flashbacks in season two (at least I hope there is); I thought the flashbacks were used sparingly, but with great purpose and to great effect. Saw Gerrera is a similar version of the character we saw in Rogue One, he is volatile and paranoid. I think the reason Luthen and Saw can work together is that they are very similar in how they approach the fight, they are both willing to sacrifice anyone. Luthen using the Fondor to escape an Imperial starcruiser was one of the coolest Star Wars moment ever, it not only made the ship even cooler, but Luthen too. The episode ends with Cassian learning of his mother's death, and we can see how hurt he is, but the conversation between him and Melshi was also very emotional. 

The season one finale was fantastic in that it delivered an incredibly strong episode that was as close to a perfect season finale as you could expect. The Mandalorian finale was great, but Andor's was powerful and very moving. After watching Andor for a second time I am more aware now of how emotional the show makes me, this is easily the best shows of the year and one of the best ones I have ever seen. The build up to the climax in the episode was amazing, as we saw the various elements setting themselves into place for the big moment. The Mon Mothma scenes almost would have been better had it been inserted into episode 11, the tension in those scenes were a lot less powerful. The Mon Mothma story arc is interesting as it is more political than conspiratorial, but it shows how much pressure she was under. Mon Mothma is desperate as she wants to help build up the rebellion, but being a political figure who is at odds with the Empire means she has spies everywhere. I am not sure what we are meant to make of her husband, but he seems bored, and I have no idea if he is an Imperial loyalist or just against Mothma out of spite. I felt that scene where she and her husband argue on the way home was staged by her to give the driver (a spy) something to report about. 

Cassian's first appearance back on Ferrix is to visit the brick that was once his father (Clem) and we see a flashback of Clem teaching Andor to look down and past the rust to find value in things. It is one of those flashbacks that had a powerful effect on me when I watched it, and then we a voiceover by Nemik reading from his manifesto. We see that Andor is listening to it while hiding out in Ferrix, it is a powerful piece and that is why this is the best thing in Star Wars to this point (including the movies). We see that Cinta has identified an ISB spy on Ferrix so she follows the spy around while also keeping watch on Maarva's house. Vel and Luthen has joined Cintra on Ferrix in the hopes that they can kill Andor before the ISB captures him. When Brasso and Cassian meet up we see Cassian blames himself for not being there for Maarva, but Brasso passes on a message from Maarva that she believes he will do great things. Brasso tells Cassian that Bix is being held by the ISB so Cassian plans to save her while Brasso will make the sure funeral happens to make sure Maarva is honored like she deserves. Luthen and Vel meet up, and they become worried when the funeral starts earlier than expected; they plan on killing Cassian after the ISB capture him. The funeral procession feature a band playing a moving piece of music as they march down the street. Cassian is doing surveillance on the hotel where Bix is being held and sees Luthen there. One of Cassian's old acquaintances senses something is up so he goes to the ISB spy and offers up intel for a reward. As Brasso and B2EMO bring out the brick containing the ashes of Maarva's things come to a head as the funeral procession comes face to face with the ISB officers. 

As all of the attention is on the centre of town, Cassian sneaks inside the hotel to free Bix while he has the chance. B2EMO plays a holo recording from Maarva, who urges Ferrix to wake up and fight against the Empire whom she calls a wound festering at the centre of the galaxy. An Empire soldier attempts to stop Maarva's message by overturning B2EMO but his actions cause a riot to start. A boy whose father was hung by the Empire throws a bomb into the middle of the Empire's forces causing the riot to escalate further. The Empire opens fire on the crowd, and during the melee Syril saves Dedra from the mob; Cinta kills the spy she was following and Cassian escape with Bix. Cassian brings Bix, Brasso and B2EMO to a ship for them to leave Ferrix while he stays behind to take care of one more thing. When Luthen returns to the Fondor he finds Cassian waiting for him, and then Cassian does something unexpected he tells Luthen to kill him or take him in. Luthen debates about what to do, but his smile tells the audience his answer as the episode ends. There is a surprise post-credits scene where we see what the prisoners were making was components used to make the Death Star which we see is almost finished. An incredible end to one of the best seasons of a show I have ever witnessed; I will watch this season again and again. 

The score for the season is easy for as it is perfect, so it deserves a 10/10 as it is a masterpiece of filmmaking. Andor is to me the best thing that exists in Star Wars; I never thought that anything could compete with the movies, but Andor manages to be better than the films. Andor not only had better writing, story, and acting than the movies, but it also managed to tell a grown up story at a time when Star Wars needed that the most. Andor was a powerful show that got me emotional multiple times,  from the musical score, the dialogue and acting I found the show riveting. I really liked the musical score for Andor as it was very different from the films and the series; it had elements of Michael Giacchino's score for Rogue One mixed with a synthy style. It kind of sucks that season two will the final part of the story that leads right up to Rogue One. I am not sure if the second season will feature, some of the cast from Rogue One besides Cassian and K-2SO. There is a way for the story to involve Jyn Erso and Krennic; but I will be happy to see Cassian and K-2SO work together. The showrunner (Tony Gilroy) confirmed that there will be a time jump between the seasons but I don't think he specified how much of one. I think it is safe to assume that Luthen, Mon Mothma and Saw Gerrera will be back, but I'm not sure if we will see the Ferrix gang again. I would almost prefer to believe that B2EMO gets fixed and spends a peaceful life with Brasso and Bix away from the brewing war. Tony Gilroy has created a series that makes Star Wars better, and makes Rogue One better than it already was. No matter what happens in season two I am looking forward to what will happen, and I hope anybody who sees Andor realizes just how good it is. 

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