We Are All Cassian Andor

There is so much to unpack from #Andor that I’m not going to attempt to do it all at once. But I came across something so deeply meaningful in the first few episodes that I had to pause and write about it. Whether or not you watch the show, there is something remarkably encouraging to learn from what I’m going to share below, so read on.

I’m only five episodes in and still brewing on the incredible story that I’m watching unfold. I wouldn’t call this a “fun” show. The Mandalorian is fun and super rewatchable. The Bad Batch is fun, I’ve watched the first season three-four times already.

Andor is not “fun”, but Andor is incredibly powerful, and I am sitting here watching it as a student of storytelling and learning so much. (And yes, the cinematography and detail are breathtaking, and the action scenes are mindblowing in their choreography. Also, the score is pretty epic.)

Rogue One is where this whole story leads, so we have gotten the story backward. We know where Cassian ends up, and now we are learning how he gets there. It’s a good thing I know who Cassian Andor becomes because when I first “meet” him in Andor, he is not a likable character. In fact, almost no one is. They are all grubby (Star Wars does have showers, right?), striving, miserable people who are trying to eek a living out of a cold, wet, muddy planet. I have yet to see a bright color, a big smile, or a green plant in this place.

Cassian himself is a walking hurricane of unpleasantness (even his suave good looks can’t cover that). He’s angry, bitter, miserable, guilt-ridden, and scared all the time. He owes everyone, owns nothing, and hangs his head low. He has no sense of solid identity or dignity. You can see the guy has street smarts, but his head is down in the mud. His only ambition is to stay alive (quite reasonable but not exactly inspiring). If I hadn’t already seen who Cassian becomes, I would be tempted to give up on this guy.

Through a series of unfortunate and bleak circumstances, Cassian ends up needing to make a quick getaway from his current planet – Ferrix. The authorities are going to track him down and likely hang him. He’s been saving an item for his insurance policy, an incredibly valuable and rare Imperial part, and now he believes the sale of this part will be his salvation and give him enough money to go on the run. Through a friend, Cassian calls in a mysterious “buyer”. He hopes to make enough money to go on the run, and leave some for his adopted mother – Maarva – one of the only characters you feel a hint of warmth towards in the beginning.

We see the arrival of the mysterious buyer, and as all mysterious buyers should arrive, he arrives VERY mysteriously. He is stoic, and silent, with a wall of concrete in his face (but his trench coat is absolutely fabulous as all mysterious trench coats should be). However, you feel the power this man carries. He has come, and with his coming, he carries the weight of destiny and greatness in his every step. This is a man who brings armies to their knees, a man who causes planets to shake, a man who is willing to find diamonds in the mud and set them in their rightful places. There is a sense of purpose, identity, and confident dignity in this man’s every thought, movement, and facial expression. He appears to be the exact opposite of Cassian.

As this mysterious buyer flies on public transport into the city on Ferrix to meet with Cassian, a friendly stranger strikes up a conversation with him, complaining about the high prices and swindlers on this planet. Then, as the transport just reaches the city’s edge, the stranger says something profound, “You know what they say, if you can’t find it in Ferrix, it’s not worth having.” The buyer smiles slightly, he seems to understand the concept well.

At this moment, the soundtrack picks up to tell you to pay attention. The scene transitions and we see the same transport is now in the sky, flying right above the grimy section of town where we see a desperate Cassian Andor running through the muddy streets to prep to meet the buyer.

I paused, rewound the scene, and watched it again, letting the impact of that moment fully sink into my heart. “If you can’t find it in Ferrix, it’s not worth having.” And then we see Cassian.

Cassian Andor is worth having.

The buyer and Cassian meet in an appropriately shifty warehouse. Cassian is all business, he wants to sell his part for a high price and leave before anyone can catch up to him. The buyer, Luthen, wants to have a conversation. He wants to know HOW Cassian came across this rare Imperial part. Cassian reveals, “You just act like you belong there. They are so arrogant, they cannot imagine that someone like me could walk into their houses, their factories, spit in their food. They don’t even care.”

Luthen agrees, and then speaks in greater depth on the great evil the Empire represents, how they control people and tell them to move, how to live, when to die, and so on and so forth. Cassian does not understand the purpose of this conversation, aren’t they just here to do a deal and move on? Then Luthen reveals his true purpose. He didn’t come here just for a part, he came here for CASSIAN.

“Special people are rare.” In moments he reveals he knows Cassian’s entire backstory (freaking the crud out of Cassian). Luthen came for something far more important than a rare part, he came for a rare person – the person he believes Cassian to be. Luthen is building a rebellion, and he wants Cassian to join it.

At this moment, the authorities show up (intent on bringing Cassian into custody). Luthen already has a plan for extraction, but Cassian is still not grasping this larger picture. In the midst of blaster fire back and forth, Cassian tries to retrieve his rare part (despite Luthen warning him not to). This foolishness causes Cassian to get shot and get hit with a piece of machinery. He still continues to go back for that dumb part, over and over again. Finally he is forced to flee the building, and even after he and Luthen have escaped the premises, Cassian says, “The box! We could still go get the box!”

We, the audience who know the details of this Rebellion that Luthen is building, cannot believe that Cassian is so hung up on that dumb box. It’s rare, yes, but it’s just a part. It’s a tiny piece. It’s an insignificant moment, but to Cassian in his current, head-down mindset, that dumb box is everything.

See, Cassian does not believe that he is worth having. He sees himself as a meaningless, useless bit of trash. For how much he hates the Imperials, he sure agrees with them in how he treats himself and his life. He does not see himself as he is, or as he can be.

Luthen, on the other hand, carries a higher perspective. Luthen sees the whole galaxy, and he sees one man. He sees how one man and the whole galaxy are connected. How one man can be the tipping point, the domino that falls to change a whole, enslaved galaxy. Luthen sees the purpose, potential, and destiny that Cassian carries. Luthen sees a diamond in the mud that he desires to pluck out of the grime and put in its proper place. Luthen sees Cassian, and Cassian is terrified of it. He either can’t, or does not desire to see himself as what he can be. So he fights against this idea that Luthen has. He cannot see that he is worth having.

In flashbacks, we see Cassian as a child, stranded on a distant planet where a mining disaster presumably killed all of the adults. A ship crashes on the planet, and Cassian is inside the ship, exploring it. His current life is very primitive, he carries a blow-dart gun and wears face paint. Upon entering the ship, Cassian finds a whole room of shiny glass displays. He looks at himself in the reflection, and he is somehow horrified to see himself. What does he see? Fear? Sorrow? Loneliness? Anger? Hopelessness? Vulnerability? In a fit of rage, child Cassian begins smashing screens as he screams as hard as he can. He doesn’t want to see himself, he doesn’t want to believe.

It is at this moment that a younger Maarva – a scavenger – comes upon young Cassian. She is instantly moved to compassion, seeing a child who is in need of warmth, love, and safety. Her scavenger partner would leave Cassian to his fate, but Maarva refuses. “I’m not leaving him here to die.”

Cassian fights her, so she injects him with a sleeping drug and then carries him to her ship, laying him gently down on the bed. She sees Cassian as he is and as what he can be, and though he may fight her, she’s going to pick him up and carry him away to a better life.

These flashbacks play back and forth in between the scenes of Luthen and Cassian making their escape from Ferrix. Cassian emotionally fights Luthen’s attempt to pull him out of the wreckage of his life and take him into his future, but circumstances force Cassian to board Luthen’s ship and take off with him. The flashbacks play back and forth, we see Maarva take child Cassian away from the brokenness of his childhood, and we see Luthen take grown Cassian away from the wreck and ruin of his current life. Both of them fly Cassian higher, to a higher perspective, a greater purpose, and both of them force Cassian to look at himself.

Luthen makes a statement to Cassian that seals this whole message together.

“I said I know you, I know the outside, I know what people tell me when I ask, but the rest I imagine. I imagine your hate (for the Empire), I imagine that no matter what you tell me or tell yourself, you’ll ultimately die fighting these b*[insert non-family-friendly word]*s. And what I’m asking you is this, wouldn’t you rather give it all at once, for something real, rather than carving off useless pieces until there’s nothing left? I didn’t risk my *** for the Starpath unit, I came for you.”

The weight, enormity, and power of this statement hit so hard when you know who Cassian Andor is going to become. Cassian Andor is going to become one of the integral few that manage to retrieve the Death Star plans, and thus be the tipping domino that begins the chain reaction that will bring the Empire down. Cassian Andor is destined to help destroy the Empire, and yes, he will die doing so. But he will die sitting peacefully on a beach with a woman he’s learned to love, and he will finally be at peace with himself and what he has given his life to. Cassian Andor is supposed to change the galaxy. Cassian Andor is worth having, he is worth fighting for, and Cassian Andor was made for more than scrounging in the mud. He cannot see it, but someone else did, someone else who was willing to go down and get him, and lift him to a higher perspective to launch him into his destiny. They both desired to bring Cassian into something that mattered, something real! This has happened twice for Cassian, both as a child and as an adult.

Luthen and Maarva are very imperfect characters, I make no claims that they accurately represent all of Who God is, but they represent an aspect of His heart and how He does things that are so incredibly powerful.

You see, we are all like Cassian Andor. We are tired, vulnerable, lost, angry, bitter, broken people who (if left to our own devices), would spend our entire lives running around on the ground in the mud, just trying to get ahead. We use people and things to try to fill up our empty places. We dive into the middle of firefights and get shot up for useless parts and pieces that in the grand scheme of life are meaningless. And often when God, or someone God has sent, comes into our lives to pull us out of that place, we fight them. We are terrified to see ourselves not only as what we are but also as what we could become. We do not see ourselves as having a purpose, meaning, and potential. We do not see ourselves as rare, valuable, special, and “worth having.” We do not see the future where we are an integral part of something important, meaningful, and galaxy-shaking happening. We have such small, mean, broken perspectives, and we could literally waste our entire lives and die in them.

Maarva – “I’m not leaving him to die.”
Luthen – “I didn’t risk my *** for a Starpath unit, I came for you.”

You are a Cassian Andor. It doesn’t matter what mud-hole you came from, it doesn’t matter what you have done, it doesn’t matter how broken you are, you are worth having. Your life matters. You have an integral part to play in this world. You are special. You are rare. You mean more than useless parts. And God did not leave us to die, and He came FOR us! Like Luthen and Maarva see Cassian, God sees you. He knows who you are and what you are made for, and He desires to help you walk into your identity with confidence and purpose. You are a diamond He made, and He desires to set you in your rightful place.

Lift your head up, friend. Look at yourself the way He does.

I’ve only begun this show, and while I don’t pretend to like, agree with, or condone every action taken by every character or show creator. However, I can already see how many threads of powerful truth are woven into the fabric of the story, and I am deeply touched by it.

Disney: Why Disney+ is a Good Thing

There have been mixed reactions since Disney announced their intention to create an exclusively Disney streaming service that will be available in 2019.

As more and more news has come out regarding the service, the conversation has heated up.

I’ve spent months thinking about the pros and cons of this service, how it is going to affect media in general. I have come to one conclusion…

…this Disney streaming service is a good good thing.

Here’s why.

Why Disney’s Streaming Service is Good for the Consumer

During a discussion on this very topic, someone brought up a very real point regarding the multitude of streaming options available. Yeah, I know I’ve felt like I am straddling so many different services it’s becoming obnoxious. The desire to find everything in one location (like shopping at Wal-Mart once rather than 5 different specialty grocery stores) is deeply appealing.

However…streaming services are not like grocery stores, they are more like the fast food of the visual storytelling world. They are fast and immediate.

I could spend fifteen minutes just listing the number of fast food options we have available in this country. Some are nationwide, like McDonalds, and some are more localized. Dear Folks, do give Braums a try if you are ever in the Lower Midwest.

That many options can be overwhelming, wouldn’t it be simpler to just have one?

Maybe. Would it be better? NOPE!

Ask any person in a one-stoplight town that has ONE McDonalds. They will give you a resounding NO.

nope kermit

 

One restaurant means the same food all the time. Occasionally there may be a new menu item added, but that’s rare. No guarantees on the quality of food or service, after all, there is no competition for our One Restaurant to force it to be its best in order to stay in business. Food, service, prices, bathroom cleanliness, our One Restaurant dictates these things because due to the law of scarcity, they can! They know we have nowhere else to go, they are our One Option if we want to eat out.

However, suppose we added five other restaurants to the mix? What happens?

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Now our One Restaurant is one of Many restaurants, we have other options, now they have to step up their game and compete, or go out of business.

Think about the deals we have available right now in fast food. Wendy’s 4 for 4. A McDonald’s $1, $2, and $3 menu. Taco Bell has a pretty dang tasty $1 menu. And on, and on, and on.

So much variety and constant change that is to our (the consumer)’s benefit.

Competition.

You may not have realized it, but I just described capitalism to you. Capitalism gets spread around the media like it’s a dirty word, and socialism is the “cool” thing that makes life better for everyone!

Wrong. Most people don’t actually understand capitalism or socialism. You love getting a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks, fresh flowers from the farmer’s market, a toothbrush from Wal-Mart,  and a hand-knit wool hat from Etsy? Cool! Thank Capitalism!

Capitalism is not all about trampling everyone underfoot in a mad scramble for the top spot. Capitalism that is done right can create freedom, opportunity, options, and competing in a way that holds each business accountable. The ultimate judge and jury for said businesses? Us, the consumers.

I don’t know about you, but I really like options. Sure, if I decide to eat at Fazolis, I can’t eat at Taco Bell. We do eventually have to choose one thing or another. But that’s okay, I make the choices I want for my life. And I appreciate the ability to choose.

What does this have to do with Disney’s streaming service? Lemme tell ya…

…Disney just majorly upped the ante…and we as consumers are going to benefit.

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Netflix is gonna have to up their game. I know they are trying. Lost in Spacis a work of beautiful storytelling and art that I applaud from the highest mountain. They just signed a deal to create a Narnia series, another decision that I am incredibly excited about. Netflix has its claims to fame with Stranger Things, but that’s not gonna be enough anymore, and I am interested to see how Netflix decides to combat this new challenge.

Amazon is a fierce competitor. This online giant has more than just a streaming service in its empire, Amazon has a little bit of everything, and they are getting bigger by the day.

*Sidenote, just so that you can become aware, I am starting to suspect that Disney and Amazon are secretly working towards world domination, and one day this battle will come to a head. Choose wisely, Citizens, will you be a Prime Member or belong to the Micky Mouse Clubhouse? Sides must be chosen. Choose wisely.

We all know Disney is giving their streaming service the red-carpet treatment. They are intent upon taking every wish we have made upon a star and making it come true. And while I have a love/hate relationship with Disney, I have to honestly say, they usually deliver.

Yes, some of these streaming services/shows that exist are going to die. We are going to take some hits. Daredevil and it’s fellow Marvel shows are early casualties. I can understand why those shows will no longer be continuing from a business perspective, but I can also understand the grief from fans. I’m sorry you feel disappointed, folks. I know how that feels. *coughs, AGENT CARTER! 

In the end, however, we as consumers will reap the benefits. Every streaming service with its own content is going to have to do their absolute best to compete with Disney, which means better content with higher quality.

Now, onto the really fun part.

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Why Disney’s Streaming Service Is Good for the Fan

Loki.

Scarlet Witch and The Vision.

The Mandalorian.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.

Live Action Lady and the Tramp.

CASSIAN ANDOR!

 

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I am looking at a whole new world right now, ladies and gentlemen. A world made possible by streaming services.

I am never going to stop going to the movie theater to enjoy movies on the big screen. I do not go to the theater because it is convenient, no, I go because I value the experience so highly. Millions of other movie fans do as well, therefore I have no fear that we will lose our movie theaters into the black hole of streaming services.

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Putting a movie into the theaters is more complicated than you may realize, however. It costs tons of money, and you have to not just make that money back, you have to make a large profit for that movie to be considered a success. Next, you have Blu-ray and digital sales, and then your film ends up on streaming services.

It’s a tough world, which means that film studios really have to be choosy about what they put their time and money into for the theaters and television. Despite the number of amazing characters and stories that we as fans love and want to see told, we are only given a few at a time because they HAVE to be picky. Which means that large groups of minority fans are left disappointed.

Enter, the Disney Streaming Service.

loki looking bad

Loki Odinson has delighted viewers since 2011. He’s a complex character, one moment the villain, the next, an antihero? He’s fast, his motives blurry, his emotions unpredictable. But what is predictable is the love of his fans for this character. A large minority of Marvel fans have been begging for a Loki film for years, but in the grand scheme of the Marvel storyline and budget, it just hasn’t made sense. Until now…

Loki is getting his own miniseries. Given how complex his character is, a miniseries is a far better format for his story than a film would be. Miniseries have the option of telling a story more slowly and going into greater personal depth than movies do. It’s just the type of storytelling the god of mischief deserves.

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Scarlet Witch and The Vision are all about exploring what it means to be human. They are complex enough characters on their own, and together? Even more so. They have not been given the amount of time required to really dig deeply into the wealth their characters’ have to offer. Not to mention these characters are not big enough mainstream favorites for a full theater release to be profitable. But a miniseries? Perfect!

captain cassian andor

The moment I saw Captian Cassian Andor my brain was on fire (yes, the man is gorgeous). But what truly got me electrified was the story he represents. It’s the untold story of the darker side of the Rebellion. A dark, painful, morally complicated side. A whole realm of questions and potential we have never seen before. We had no time for side trips in Rogue One, it was such a beautiful and focused movie that was precisely what it should have been. But at the end, my heart didn’t just ache for what we had lost, my heart ached over the stories that had been briefly introduced that I felt we had lost. Stories that I was desperate to discover. And now, I can.

the mandalorian

The Mandalorian. I’ve watched 6 Seasons of Clone Wars and 4 Seasons of Star Wars Rebels. Mandalorians are the kinds of characters that take up all the oxygen in a room. They need to be explored. I love how Star Wars films/series have recently started exploring more characters beyond just the high profile heroes and villains. It’s a fascinating world, let us explore it more!

Falcon

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I am constantly saying that Sam Wilson never gets the credit or time he deserves. He’s just the greatest guy ever and I am so thrilled to finally get to see more of him. And we can all agree that there is a big question mark hanging over Bucky Barnes’ life. It’s about time.

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My other big hope for this streaming service is that we will have resurrected series/films. Star Wars fans fell off of their tauntauns when we discovered that our beloved Clone Wars series (which ended horribly) was being renewed for a proper send off. Dreams really do come true!

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My personal request is that shows like Agent Carter and Girl Meets World who ended FAR TOO SOON would be next up on the renewal docket. These shows had strong enough fanbases and quality storytelling to make said endeavors worthwhile. But we shall see.

Don’t you all understand? The possibilities available to us? The potential? We may actually get a National Treasure 3 out of this service! It would flop in theaters but on the service?

And the best part yet, the monthly cost for this magical service is supposed to be less than Netflix.

take my money

In conclusion, Disney is moving into the 21st Century with style. And we, the consumers and fans are going to reap the benefits.

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I can’t wait. How about you?

 

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