Andor: “Kassa”

Welcome to my weekly review of Andor, where I will be walking us through each episode and giving my thoughts on the show. My reviews will follow my usual format: an overview of the plot (so be aware, there will be spoilers!), my review of the show, then a few “Moments in canon” – references that link to other media and the galaxy as a whole. Today, we’ll be looking at the first part of the 3-episode premiere, Episode 1: “Kassa”.

star wars series andor poster

Plot Summary

In 5 BBY, Cassian Andor arrives on the planet Morlana One and makes his way to a brothel. One of the workers takes an interest in him—which annoys 2 Pre-Mor security Corpos who have been waiting longer—and Cassian tells her that he has been told that there is a girl from Kenari working there. The worker goes to check but comes back saying that the Kenari girl left several months ago. Cassian pushes for more information on the girl, revealing that he believes her to be his sister, but has no success.

Leaving with no more information, Cassian is followed by the 2 corpos, who use their authority to try and rob him in an alley, however Cassian fights back, disarming them, though he realises that he has inadvertently killed one of them in self-defence. The survivor pleads for mercy and promises to lie about what happened, but Cassian kills him to cover his tracks before rushing back to his ship and leaving the planet, returning home to the planet Ferrix.

On Ferrix, the droid B2EMO sneaks its way out of town to a ship in the scrapyard, where it finds Cassian asleep. Cassian is dreaming of his past as a child on Kenari, as he (called Kassa), his sister and their group of kids and teens watched a spaceship crash land on the planet. Cassian checks with B2EMO who went to his home last night andis told that Jezzi and Femmi both visited with supper and Maarva’s medicine, and that Brasso was looking for him. Cassian asks Bee to not tell anybody that the droid has seen him or where he is. Cassian goes into town and catches Brasso on his way to work, where he convinces Brasso to cover his absence the night before with a false alibi. 

“Minimizing the time the Empire spends thinking about Preox-Morlana benefits our superiors and, by extension, everyone here at the Pre-Mor Security Inspection team, which at the moment includes you.

At Corporate Security Headquarters on Morlana One, Deputy Inspector Syril Karn is reporting to his superior on the death of the 2 corpos. Karn has already one some investigating and though there were no witnesses to the attack, he does have a description of “a human with dark features who had been asking about a Kenari girl”. His superior tells him to stop investigating and tells Karn to make up a suitable accident to explain their killing, as they were somewhere they should not have been at the time so it is easier to explain with a lie. Karn is not happy with this.

Cassian goes to visit Bix at her work, asking how quickly she can contact her “secret friend” who buys goods off her. Bix was planning to reach out at the end of the month as she bundles items, but Cassian can’t wait that long. Already knowing the contact wants to meet Cassian, he reveals that he has an untraceable NS-9 Starpath unit with Imperial seal still attached. Bix is not happy that he has held this item back, but Cassian notes that she has been skimming off the top of their deals and explains that he needs to relocate for a while to lay low. Realising that Bix and her colleague Timm Karlo have entered a relationship, he asks Bix if Timm knows their secrets, which she says he doesn’t, before agreeing to contact her friend.

Karn looks at the tracking of ships in Morlana One space on the night of the killing and notices one ship that lacks identification yet manages to enter and exit the borders without being stopped. Karn has the worker filter through the whole night’s data to find out where it went. 

Bix leaves work to “run some errands”. Timm is suspicious and tries to follow her but loses track of her in the busy streets. Bix makes her way to a junk shop, and clearly uses a prearranged code, they let her out the back into a secret area, where she sends a message to her contact.

“There’s not a lot about Kenari, sir. It’s fairly obscure.”

Karn goes to his team wanting info on Kenari males on Ferrix, however the last survey is out of date, and while the planet is in their jurisdiction, they do not have a presence there. Karn has them put out a bulletin to Ferrix that Kenari males are wanted for questioning.

In a spaceship yard on Ferrix, Cassian is found by Pegla modifying the ship that he had borrowed. Cassian intends to use the ship again, but Pegla tells him no, as he is afraid of his boss finding out.

In a flashback to Kassa’s childhood, many of the older members of the group prepare to leave the camp. Kassa is allowed to go with them despite appearing to be younger than the rest, but his younger sister remains at the camp.

star wars series andor s1e1 bix caleen cassian andor

Review

OK, so one episode in and I’m cautiously optimistic. Aside from the quick fight in the alley, there wasn’t much action in this first episode, but instead it does a good job of starting to really build on Cassian as a person, his past life and also introduce our antagonist in Syril Karn and make us understand his motivation (more on that later).

Before anything else, I need to comment on just how fantastic everything looks. From the dirty Ferrix, to the super-clean environment of Pre-Mor security, to the lush forest of Kenari, all of them look completely different, but 100% lived in and believable. This is the first series to rely more on sets than the Volume, and it gives such a great aesthetic to the show in a way that was sadly often missing with Obi-Wan Kenobi in particular.

“He’s not breathing!”

“No!”

So let’s start on the main man, Cassian Andor, and I loved how immediately we see that he is currently not willing to kill in cold blood, with the first corpo’s death being a complete accident and the other something necessary to cover his tracks. When you think back to Cassian’s introduction in Rogue One where he doesn’t hesitate to shoot Tivik in the back (though he does admittedly seem to regret the need to do so afterwards), it’s a great contrast that shows us just what is to come from him, while also making him a more likeable and sympathetic character.

And as for our antagonist, Syril Karn’s introductory scene immediately does a great job of helping us understand his character He is not necessarily a bad man, he is simply trying to do his job and get justice for the 2 murdered men while his superiors cannot be bothered, especially given the questionable nature of where they were and what they were doing. I also really enjoyed how the acceptance of the status quo from many of his fellow officers over things like the lack of a recent census or the lack of security on their own borders was clearly frustrating him, and how he had also slightly modified his uniform including some tailoring as he clearly took pride in it. Don’t we all know someone like this (assuming it’s not us!).

“I can lie, I have adequate power reserves.”

Moving away from the characters and to the episode as a whole, one thing that is immediately noticeable is the feel of this show. Compared to other series, this is a slow build, but it is also a darker, grittier and more mature show. Right from the opening minutes we find ourselves in a brothel, quickly followed by Cassian killing someone in cold blood. There are less jokes and quips than we are maybe used to from recent stories and certainly no cute Grogu/young Leia to make our hearts burst and give us smiles between the grittiness. While it feels like Star Wars, it doesn’t go out of it’s way to bash you over the head with the Star Wars-ness, and yet it is still all there, just not being thrown in our face.

Is this the best premiere episode of all the Star Wars shows? No, as it is very much an introduction and a slow burn, but that is clearly why the decision was made to release 3 episodes at once, which in theory is the whole first story arc, and this first episode has me feeling that the show is going the right way about making Star Wars and excited for what’s next.

star wars series andor s1e1 cassian andor

A few final thoughts from the show:

  • I’m interested to find out more about Cassian’s past on Kenari. The group he was with (then called Kassa) appeared to be solely made up of children and teens, so where are all the adults? I also think it was an interesting decision not to have subtitles for the dialogue in these flashbacks, as it is not always 100% clear what is being discussed, so wonder if this is to hide a later reveal about what they are doing
  • The score felt very different to me, and while it has not immediately won me over in the way of The Mandalorian, I feel that I am liking it more than the early episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi
  • Rogue One is the only Star Wars property to have labelled the planets as we are introduced to them, so I appreciate how, as a spin-off and prequel to that movie, the labels returned here
  • It looks like we have another amazing little droid in B2EMO, and I loved how much emotion they managed to get just from tilting the layers of its body

Moments in Canon

  • The year is noted as being BBY 5. BBY stands for Before Battle of Yavin, with the alternative being After Battle of Yavin (ABY). While this nomenclature is used in the timelines at the start of mos books and in reference material like Wookieepedia, this is the first time that I am aware of it actually being canonically stated within a story. I must admit this feels a little odd to me to be a true canonical time measurement as the Battle of Yavin makes sense as an out-of-universe reference (being the climax of the first movie released), but in-universe I would have thought calendars to more likely go by the change of the Republic to the Empire, and then the replacement of the Empire by the New Republic

star wars series andor s1e1 bix caleen cassian andor kassa

What did you think of the episode?

Thanks for reading. Rebellions are built on hope….

3 thoughts on “Andor: “Kassa”

  1. I’m liking it so far, and I think it’s only going to get better. It’s definitely different than your usual Star Wars show, and that’s a good thing. I love pulpy Star Wars, but this grittiness is something I didn’t know I needed in SW. In regards to Kenari, I think the adults were probably killed in a mining accident, which was mentioned by the Corporate Security people, leaving the young people alone on the planet. That’s my guess, anyway. I was surprised by the BBY dating system as well. You see it in reference to events in books all the time, but never in live-action. Interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, it’s definitely challenging how a Star Wars should feel, and I love that. While I think you’re right about the adults, it’s interesting they said that was an Imperial mining disaster, which made me think that came later. Thanks for reading

      Liked by 1 person

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