By Josh Reilly B.
When Rogue One: A Star Wars Story debuted in December of 2016, the tragic and heartbreaking deaths of the lead ensemble made it seem that this would, unfortunately, the last appearances of Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor and the rest of the core group.
Six years later, Cassian Andor is back, with Mon Mothma and Saw Gerrera to join him. Andor is a prequel to Rogue One, telling the story of Cassian joining the ranks of the Rebellion. It’s vastly different in style from the spin-off film, with the series less action heavy and taking a more slow burn approach. This character driven story has made for a critically acclaimed first season which is now concluded with today’s episode, titled Rix Road.
Andor’s season one finale is a culmination of the main storyline thus far. Cassian returns to Ferrix for his mother’s funeral as the Rebellion closes in on his whereabouts, hoping to kill him in order to protect their cause. Meanwhile, the Empire is also present on the planet and are determined to capture Andor in order to find out his role in the Aldhani attack and his connection to the illusive Axis. It feels as if virtually every important character descends on Ferrix in this episode, from Cassian to Dedra to Syril and more.
By episode’s end, the Rebellion is sparked. Previously a cause that is hidden in the shadows, it seems that the events on Ferrix, where the Empire’s presence is toppled by the local population inspired by Maarva’s message, is set to push the Rebellion into the stratosphere. This leads to immense payoff from the beginning of the season, with the audience watching the Rebellion grow in size and influence. Many of these themes of the Rebellion being sparked into life are reminiscent of The Last Jedi, where the galaxy was inspired by the events on Crait and leading to a reborn Resistance.
Cassian is in this episode much more than the last outing, and his arc comes full circle as well. Again, the payoff of his development from a selfish scoundrel to someone dedicating himself to the larger cause is excellent. The final scene, in which Cassian offers himself to Luthen and gives him the option to either kill him or bring him into the Rebellion’s inner circle, shows that Diego Luna’s character is willing to die for the cause. It makes his arc for this season as satisfying as any character’s in the franchise since Luke in The Last Jedi and perfectly sets up the second season.
A particular shout out must again go to Diego Luna, who has brought an immense amount of depth to his character this season. Cassian was a relatively vague and unknown hero even at the end of Rogue One, and it seemed likely at that time that his story was largely set and done. However, Andor has given the title character so much added development, telling an incredibly compelling Star Wars story while also retroactively improving Rogue One in the process.
Cassian’s turn to the light is teased earlier in the episode as he selflessly rescues Bix. Their relationship hasn’t developed all that much this season and much of their interactions seem to have come when they were growing up, yet the writers have done a great job of informing viewers of their history.
Interestingly, there’s no mention of Cassian’s sister in this finale. His family member from Kenari has remained illusive all season but hasn’t been brought up as much as one might think after Cassian put everything on the line in the first episode, including killing two men with Empire links, on his quest to find her. It seems likely that there will be a resolution to this arc in season two and that Cassian’s family will continue to play a role, even after the death of Maarva.
This finale sets up season two in more ways than one, though. The post credits scene, placed right at the very end (rather than the mid-credits that many Marvel movies and shows favor), shows that the Narkina-5 prisoners were making parts for the Death Star. This isn’t done just to reference broader Star Wars canon, but is placed to show that Andor is getting closer and closer to the events of Rogue One. There’s also something even more tragic about Cassian being killed by the Death Star that he, in some way, was forced to help create.
More broadly, one of the most interesting aspects of Andor is its relative approachability compared to other big franchise titles in recent years. Star Wars, Marvel, and DC all appeal to the majority of audiences, hence their immense financial success, but Andor seems to appeal to that group of hardcore group as well as those who aren’t necessarily as passionate or well versed in a galaxy far, far away. Tony Gilroy’s writing of prestige television adds a new group of audience members, particularly those who are fans of critically acclaimed HBO dramas.
Andor season one goes out with a high in its final episode in a virtually perfect hour of television. Episode twelve is emotional, cathartic, and brings a deep sense of hope that extends beyond a galaxy far, far away. For Diego Luna, Tony Gilroy and co., Andor is a profound filmmaking achievement. Easily the best show of the year, Andor is Star Wars at its peak.
Andor’s finale is a virtually perfect hour of television. It’s emotional, cathartic, and brings a deep sense of hope that extends beyond a galaxy far, far away. Season 1 is a profound filmmaking achievement and easily the best show of the year. This is Star Wars at its peak.