Andor S1E02: That Would Be Me

Every time I watch “That Would Be Me” I’m caught a little offguard by the ending. This was the episode where I was really dying to know what happened next when it first aired. The episode is very much laying the table for what will happen in the next episode, and everything is about to happen. After retrieving the Imperial Starpath unit from its hiding place, Cassian sets up an expensive ride off-world that needs to be ready for in an hour. Meanwhile, Stellan Skarsgard’s Luthen Rael lands on Ferrix for the meeting with Cassian that Bix has set up. And, thanks to a tipline call from Bix’s boyfriend Timm, Syril Karn and a dozen Pre-Mor Enforcement personnel headed by the bombastic Sergeant Mosk are hurtling through hyperspace towards them.

But though this confrontation is coming, nothing is happening yet.

In an ironic twist, Cassian tries to get out of what’s about to happen—when Bix summons him to tell him about the bulletin Syril has put on him, he offers to sell her the starpath unit and just take the money to leave. It’s too late, though, Rael is on his way and will be there in the morning. Whether Cassian likes it or not, he’s stuck in the story as it’s written.

This also allows Timm, in a trope I absolutely hate, to observe Cassian’s seemingly intimate touch of Bix’s hand in gratitude, then depart immediately in a rage (and go and tip off Pre-Mor security) rather than stay long enough to watch Bix reject Cassian in the very next breath. Like most things in Andor, however, we’re not smashed over the head with this. Timm doesn’t respond coldly to Bix from then on, nor does he bitterly complain to friends that Bix is with Cassian when she’s not. Instead, he realizes his mistake immediately upon Bix showing up at his door asking to spend the night, and gets very broody about it. Again, I generally despise it when two characters who ought to talk to each other about the things going on their mutual relationship refuse to do so, but here I’m very comfortable with Timm as Bix’s developing boyfriend (they agreed they’d only spend one night a week together), and thus too guilty to reveal he ratted her ex out to Pre-Mor, though not too guilty to—it’s implied—sleep with her.

We also get the first introduction of Fiona Shaw’s Maarva Andor, one of my absolute favorite characters in the show. It’s a testament to this show that it gives its two older actors, Skarsgard and Shaw, a lot to work with, and while we get only a small hint of Skarsgard this episode, Shaw steals each scene she’s in—when Cassian shows up, she lets his deliver his lie about where he’s been before dropping that Pre-Mor has put out a bulletin looking for a Kenari male and demanding to know if he told his girlfriends. “Everyone I told is dead,” she blithely observes, before Cassian eventually fesses up that he dropped that he was from Kenari in the brothel on Morlana One. She even has a delightful report with B2EMO, who gives her a bit of cheek when she gives him two contradictory commands and warning, during a search for him, that if he’s powered down in a back room, she’ll be very upset.

This episode also makes a number of comments about the change occurring in the galaxy. Rael is upset to learn he’ll have to walk two klicks (Star Wars uses the metric system) to the shuttle pad, because there’s “nowhere safe” that closer, according to his Fondor Haulcraft. Once aboard, he encounters a propulsion salesman who complains about the cost to park, the cost to take the ferry to Ferrix, the changes in the environment—used to be able to go in via the ground—and notes, when Rael is less than forthcoming about his profession, that these days you can never be sure who you’re talking to. At this point, we haven’t seen a single Imperial to speak of, only references to them by the Pre-Mor staff, but it’s clear that, even on Ferrix, changes are occurring.

A number of commentators on the internet have drawn parallels between Andor’s viewpoint and left-wing perspectives in America, and there’s plenty of fodder for ACAB sentiment in this episode. Sergeant Mosk is without a doubt one of the most dogmatic “cop” characters there is (made worse by the fact he’s not actually anything other than, really, a corporate security guard) in modern fiction. He and Syril seem to pysch each other up, observing that anything other than a heavy-handed response to murder is a dereliction of duty (indicting the absent Chief Inspector) and that they’re the Empire’s first line of defense, and the way to “keep the knife sharp” is to use it. He also, in giving his speech to the other members of his detail, lets them know they can be aggressive, and the people of Ferrix can complain about it at the next official monthly sector forum, which draws a knowing cynical laugh from the other Pre-Mor officers.

Mosk’s actor is sort of hamming it up, but the true comic relief of the scene is really Syril’s speech, which engages in a wild cringe humor where he’s somehow both overly familiar with a group of strangers and somehow too removed, using sweeping language about how they’ve come to a point where choices must be made and action taken that goes right over his audience’s heads.

He’s quite right, but he doesn’t really know how right he is. And we won’t know it until the next episode when all these different pieces arrive in the same place.

Stray Observations

  • A little behind the scenes here—Maarva says on every form, she’s always said Cassian was born on Fest. That’s because in the visual guide for Rogue One, Cassian’s birthplace is listed as Fest. He’s been retconned to Kenari for this series, and the falsified birthplace is a nod for how that came to be.
  • The Imperial starpath unit (termed an N-S9 Starpath unit) will be mentioned quite a lot throughout this season, although it’s only present in three episodes. It’s sort of the platonic ideal of a MacGuffin. Nothing about it is essential to the story, except that it’s valuable enough that Luthen Rael will come for it himself. It’s also prized enough that Cassian’s possession of it is notable. But, as far as doing anything itself related to narrative, it’s not put to any notable use by anyone.
    • I haven’t mentioned the musical cues in Andor yet. There’s the slight variations on the theme over the opening title sequence from episode to episode, or the deployment of the EDM theme in the brothel in different versions throughout the show. But in this episode, right when Cassian chooses to put the Starpath unit in his bag, we’re hit with just a hint of a musical theme that carries the climax of the season. In retrospect, it seems to be indicating that, here, Cassian is making a choice in favor of rebellion, even if he’s not quite aware that’s what he’s doing. He even hesitates for a moment before choosing to take the starpath unit.
  • “There’s fomenting out there, sir. Pockets of fomenting” is a line that will stick with me.
  • B2EMO apparently started his conceptual life as a dog, which explains why his charging station reminds me very much of my dog’s walled bed.
  • On Kenari, the leader of Kassa’s tribe is killed investigating a downed Republic ship by one of the surviving crew, who is blowdarted to death by the kids before they carry away their dead leader. But Kassa stays behind, staring at the ship before his fist clenches. It’s maybe a little obvious, but I think it’s a good way of conveying something about Andor in this moment, which is his righteous sense of vengeance, that, as of now, is highly reactive.
  • This episode is the first to feature the Time Grappler, which is basically the guy who rings the town bell by rhythmically smashing a giant anvil/bell with two big hammers. It’s a great little cultural thing for Ferrix, and a fantastic name for a position, maybe made better by the fact you have to wait for the credits to see that that’s what he’s called.