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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

‘Andor’ Episode 2 Recap: Wanted Man

The Disney Star Wars Universe is a fictional world in which plot is privileged over all, in which fanservice and Easter eggs are held up as superior artistic achievements to virtually any other aesthetic consideration. With that in mind, it’s worth saluting this fellow, who did nothing else but bang a metallic drum that signals the end of the work day for the working stiffs who populate Andor.

ANDOR 102 -BANGING THE DRUM

Why is he there? Why does the show repeatedly take time out of its already truncated running time to show us his routine? Because it adds something, dammit. Because little details that are unnecessary for plot movement are, outside the auspices of major franchise properties anyway, the stuff that good drama is made from. They’re like the huge, very un-Star Wars drums that hit on the soundtrack just prior to the end of the episode: They stick out, and insist that you experience them. I don’t want to make too much of the guy myself — it’s just a couple of little moments, that’s all — but those little moments linger.

At any rate, there’s not a ton to talk about in terms of the plot of this episode, which like its predecessor is quite short by normal-TV standards. (Though there have certainly been dramas, or at least drama-adjacent shows, that have experimented with shorter installments; Cobra-Kai and Ash vs. Evil Dead come to mind.) Cassian Andor, wanted for murder, is still trying to dodge the authorities, which he now realizes means leaving the planet he’s on.

This will entail leaving behind both that cute stuttering droid B2EMO (voiced by Dave Chapman) and several human acquaintances, including Bix, whom we’ve met before; Timm (James McArdle, whom you may recognize as the sketchy deacon from Mare of Easttown), her suspicious boyfriend); and Maarva (character actor Fiona Shaw), who appears to know the details of Andor’s background. 

Maarva, who’s in possession of some kind of important-seeming weapon, is particularly disappointed that Andor has somehow managed to divulge his native planet, Kenari, making it easier for the cops to track him down. In another set of flashbacks, we witness young Andor on that planet, as he and a gaggle of other kids explore a shipwreck and get into a lethal firefight with the vessel’s surviving occupants; the story is that an Imperial mining disaster had wiped out everyone planetside.

ANDOR 102 FIREFIGHT

Still on Andor’s tail is Syril Karn, the ambitious young functionary determined to catch the killer of those two security guards from the premiere; joining him is one Sgt. Kostek (Alex Ferns), a hilariously blustery bootlicker who repeatedly tries and fails to sound impressive to Karn. (Sample quote: “There’s no room for doubt on the path to.. [painfully long pause] success, and, uh… [another pause] justice.”)

Rounding out the cast is Stellan Skarsgård as an as-yet unnamed traveler who arrives looking for spaceship parts, which puts him in the market a valuable item Andor possesses. What will it do? Your guess is as good as mine.

ANDOR 102 GUY TAKING A VIEW OF THE PLANET

So it’s a slip of a thing, as far as TV episodes go, but that just makes its un-Star Warsiness stand out, somehow. It opens with some gorgeous shots of kids skirting a massive ruin that’s more Westeros than Tattooine…

ANDOR 102 KID IN FRONT OF THE GIANT RUINS

…and includes shots of a post-coital Bix getting dressed, some of the most unapologetically sexual stuff I’ve seen in any Star Wars property. (A low bar to clear, but still!)

ANDOR 102 BIX GETTING DRESSED

The point I’m trying to make, I think, is that Andor seems designed to hold your imagination and attention as a viewer, rather than holding your action figures and making them fight like, say, the lamentable Obi-Wan Kenobi did. That’s worth banging the drums for.

Sean T. Collins (@theseantcollins) writes about TV for Rolling Stone, Vulture, The New York Times, and anyplace that will have him, really. He and his family live on Long Island.



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