Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Cassian Andor: Good, Bad, or Ugly?

(Guest post by Ben)

Cassian Andor was part of the fight against the Empire since he was six years old. At least, that’s what he told Jyn Erso, daughter of Galen Erso who also happened to be the brains behind the Empire’s planet-killing Death Star. Fighting the good fight for such a long time and from such a young age would make Cassian a true hero, would it not?

Or would it instead have desensitized him to the point that war is all he knows? That compassion, kindness, and caring are simply relics of a bygone era?

When we first meet Cassian in Rogue One, he’s getting intel from a fellow member of the Rebellion (well, technically the informant was part of Saw Gerrera’s band of extremist insurgents, a disparate group than that of the acclaimed Rebel Alliance). Tivik—the aforementioned informant—had hurt his arm, making it impossible for him to climb to safety, which is what Cassian ended up doing…after shooting Tivik to keep him from getting captured. (Thoughtful, I know.)

So that’s how we’re first introduced to Cassian Andor. He murders an informant in order to keep his secrets from being not-secret. Is that the kind of action we associate with our heroes? Generally not. Look at it this way: Han shot Greedo (first, might I add). Killed him cold. Of course, Greedo was about to do the same to Han, so in retrospect, Han was simply saving his own life. We don’t blame him for killing some sleemo that worked for another—albeit much larger—sleemo. Gotta protect yourself, right?

OK, bad example. But if Han had shot and killed Luke to protect himself? Or if he’d thrown Chewie under the space-bus in order to survive? We would have hated the guy! Some hero, right? Fortunately, Han Solo was a team player and took care of his friends before they were even his friends.

But on the Ring of Kafrene, Cassian Andor showed his true colors. He shot one of his compatriots in cold blood. Ruthless.

However, when Cassian goes to take out Galen Erso further on in the film, both Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus seem surprised that he would do that. “Does he look like a killer?” Chirrut asked. Baze didn’t seem to think so. In fact, Baze seemed to think he had “the face of a friend.” So what’s up with this Andor guy, anyway? Is he good, or is bad? (Or maybe he and Baze simply go way back.)

And then there’s the whole end-of-the-movie thing where Cassian redeems himself by sacrificing himself to get the Death Star plans to the Alliance. Oh, you haven’t seen Rogue One yet? Um, spoilers, I guess… But anyway, did this act of valor actually redeem Andor from all his past atrocities? Does exercising for five minutes undo the pound of decadent chocolate fudge cake you just ate? Who’s to say? (Although I like to believe that’s all the exercising I need.)

So what is Cassian? Is he a good guy? Is he a bad person? Is he downright ugly? Is he all of the above? These are the questions I’m hoping—nay, expecting—the Star Wars: Andor show to answer. He is obviously a flawed character, but he’s also deeply complex. There’s more to Cassian Andor than just the wholesomeness of Princess Leia’s goodness and the overtness of Sheev Palpatine’s evilness. I’m excited to see where they take Cassian’s character (obviously from a prequel standpoint since anything after Rogue One is, well…this is awkward…) and if they will make him more of a sympathetic character, or make him as evil as the Dark Side itself. (My money’s on making him more sympathetic, but hey, anything’s possible.) They’re bound to show the “terrible things” he’s done on behalf of the Alliance, but by so doing, will we come to like him more as a hero, or come to see him more as a villain?

Your turn! Do you think Cassian Andor is a hero, a villain, or a little bit of both? Share your thoughts in the comments! 

Andor premieres August 31 on Disney Plus

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