Rewatching Rogue One to get ready for Andor

Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

The writer of Rogue One and showrunner for Andor, Tony Gilroy, has the potential to make the greatest live-action Star Wars series to date.

I watched Rogue One again in IMAX and not only was it outstanding, but the refresh of the 1st live-action Star Wars film outside of The Skywalker Saga made me even more excited for the upcoming Andor series on Disney Plus. Everyone from Cassian to characters such as Mon Mothma or Saw Gerrera are guaranteed to be made more interesting with their additional screen-time, and we will get to see how they come to be the way they are by the time we see them in the film.

The film opens on six Death Troopers accompanying Director Krennic to visit the home of Galen Erso, a former engineer who was instrumental in designing the Death Star for the Empire.  Galen tells his wife and his daughter Jyn Erso to hide and confronts the intruders outside.  While Jyn takes to hiding, her mother attempts to attack the Director before getting shot down in cold blood.

What Rogue One loses in pacing it makes up for with world-building, as it bounces from location to location, setting the stage for what’s to come.  On repeat viewings (especially on the IMAX screen), I become more immersed in the world and more invested in the characters being introduced.

In the present day, Cassian is skulking around the Rings of Kafrene running intelligence missions for the Rebellion; though when it comes to being honourable with somebody who is supposedly on the same side, he shows he is willing to kill one of his own to keep him quiet.  As Cassian Andor has a clear character arc which includes finding compassion and love in Jyn Erso, it will be interesting to see what sort of different portrayal we will get from Diego Luna in his own series (Andor).

Bodhi is another character whose importance cannot be understated.  He is a pilot (played by Riz Ahmed) for the Empire who is willing to risk it all to defect to the other side in the interest of doing the right thing.  He brings with him a message from Galen Erso himself that will prove critical in the fight against the Empire, but the particular band of rebels who have come to greet him are less than friendly (spot Benthic and their twin who also happen to be with Enfys Nest in Solo).

Meanwhile on Yavin IV (location of the rebel base in Star Wars), Liana Hallik among other aliases is revealed to be Jyn Erso, daughter of Galen Erso, and a key player in the scheme being hatched by the Rebellion.  Here we get a glimpse of Jimmy Smits’ Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, played by Genevieve O’Reilly, who will also be appearing in the Andor series.  It will be exciting to dive deeper into Mothma’s character as she is a member of the Rebellion in the original trilogy, but she has not had too much screen time up until this point.

Cassian & crew along with Jyn are off to Jedha (ancient Jedi city) to attempt to connect with Saw Gerrera’s forces.  Saw (played by Forest Whittaker) has been in several episodes of the animated Star Wars shows, has popped up in the video game Jedi: Fallen Order, and is confirmed to be reprising the role in Andor as well.  He is a little more extreme than the other factions of the Rebel Alliance and is not so trusting of the information being presented to him.

On Jedha we also meet two new allies, Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus (played by Donnie Yen and Wen Jiang respectfully), some of the earliest examples of a Force-sensitive character that is not Jedi or Sith.  Chirrut mentions to Jyn that “the strongest stars have hearts of Kyber” as they make their way through the crowded city.

The action pops off when Saw’s Rebels attack the Empire’s ground forces, including a massive Imperial tank.  In the mayhem, Cassian takes out a rebel who would have dropped a grenade next to Jyn, another questionable call but done for the greater good.  Jyn blows away an imperial K2 droid and K2-S0 legitimately questions whether or not she knew it wasn’t him.

Jyn reconciles with Saw as they listen to Galen’s holo-message.  Galen reveals the secret flaw he designed in the Death Star and mentions to Jyn that “not a day goes by that I don’t think of you.”  The Death Star tests a single emission charge and blows up Jedha city.

The Rebel Alliance targets Eadu once they discover that Cassian’s crew has located Galen Erso, with one mission: to kill Galen.  Mission is accomplished once the X-Wings attack, though Jyn Erso accuses Cassian Andor of trying to do the same.  It is here where Cassian states that he has been in this fight since he was 6 years old.

Krennic pleads his case (as Moff Tarkin has pledged to take credit for the Death Star’s success) to Lord Vader himself, and is told not to choke on his aspirations.  The Rebellion does not endorse Jyn’s plight to use the secret plans to fight the Empire.  Bail is urged by Mon Mothma to seek out an old friend (Obi-Wan Kenobi), to which he replies “he served me well during the clone wars, but he’s been in hiding since the Emperor’s purge.”

The resulting battle on Scarif is one of the most impressive in all of Star Wars.  The ground forces are fighting on the beach (against AT-AT walkers from The Empire Strikes Back!) while the A-Team is infiltrating the Imperial base, just like the classic trope from the original film.  There’s even mention of Red 5 (who consequently doesn’t survive the battle), which is actually the callsign that Luke Skywalker takes on when he joins the Battle of Yavin in A New Hope.

Jyn is able to locate the secret plans by recalling the project name is the same as the nickname that her Father had given her: Stardust.  There is an emotional farewell to K2-S0, who is another character many hope to see in the Andor series at some point.  Once the rebels are able to get the signal out to the fleet, those on Scarif fall victim to yet another Death Star blast.

Baze and Chirrut fall while fighting some Death Troopers and chanting “I’m one with the Force the Force is with me.”  Cassian and Jyn share their final moments staring into the blast radius against the sunset.  The sequence plays out to where the plans are handed off to Princess Leia and the Blockade Runner, so that once the credits roll you could fire up the original Star Wars (1977) and it would be a seamless transition.

The ending features a strong showing of Darth Vader arriving just too late to be able to stop the rebels from escaping with the plans, which explains why he is aggressively trying to board the Blockade Runner at the start of the original film.  The brief sight of Vader brutally dispatching the rebel troopers is a stark reminder that less is more with showing moments of the Dark Lord’s prowess.  Basically, when these impressive sequences are spread out they feel special and can be properly appreciated.

Aside from the titular Cassian Andor or some ancillary scenes with Vader or Krennic (one can only hope), there’s certainly more coming to the new series from other major characters such as Mon Mothma or Saw Gerrera.  The final words from the Rebel Alliance to Cassian and Jyn carry a hopeful energy into the 12/24-episode 1st season of Andor.  A rewatch/refresh of the 1st live-action ‘Star Wars Story’ outside the The Skywalker Saga is highly recommended ahead of the much-anticipated Andor series (of which 3 episodes are dropping on September 21st, 2022).