This Star Wars: Andor article contains spoilers.
It was pistols at dawn in the latest episode of Andor on Disney+. After joining a rag-tag group of Rebels on Aldhani, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) finally got around to the big Imperial heist. Although Vel (Faye Marsay) and the rest were originally unsure of Cassian’s intentions, it turns out someone else was a traitor within their ranks all along.
Some have praised Andor episode 6 as the best thing to come out of the galaxy far, far away in the Disney era, with the visuals during the Eye of Aldahni leaving jaws on the floor as one for the franchise’s history books. But speaking of iconic Star Wars moments, one particular scene has circled all the way back to a long-debated scene in 1977’s A New Hope. Shots were definitely fired in “The Eye,” but thankfully, there’s no question about who shot first.
After pulling off the Mission: Impossible-inspired heist and escaping with the Imperial payroll, Cassian and the surviving Rebels settle down on a nearby planet to seek medical aid for Karis Nemik (Alex Lawther). While Dr. Quadpaw cares for Nemik under the watchful eye of Vel, Cassian and Skeen (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) chat outside. Here, Skeen shows his true colors and proposes that he and Cassian fly away with the prize – splitting the loot at 40 million credits each. Although it would be canonically possible for Cassian to do the dirty on his friends and still be part of the Rebel Alliance in Rogue One, he doesn’t give Skeen a chance to turn on the team. Cassian blasts the traitor without hesitation, choosing instead to use the cut of the money he was originally promised to take a ship and be on his way.
Whether intentional or not, Skeen’s jump scare death is undoubtedly meant to recall the “who shot first?” conundrum from A New Hope. The controversial scene has become synonymous with Star Wars moviemaking, seems to be a sore point for George Lucas, and has changed numerous times over the years. Taking place in the Mos Eisley Cantina, the altercation has Harrison Ford’s Han Solo being cornered by the bounty hunter Greedo and being forced to sit at gunpoint. Greedo says he’s been waiting a long time to kill Han, Solo says “I’ll bet you have,” and two blaster shots are then exchanged. The original cut from 1977 has a closeup of Greedo’s face and the sound of a shot, which despite Lucas’ wishes, suggested that Han shot first.
Lucas has been outspoken on the issue of who shot first, famously comparing Han to a John Wayne-esque character and stating, “When you’re John Wayne, you don’t shoot people [first] — you let them have the first shot.” Over the years, the director yoyoed between different edits, changing the outcome of the scene, like in the divisive 1997 Special Edition that featured Greedo shooting first and missing – leading to Han’s lethal shot in self-defense. As recently as 2019, the “Maclunkey” release of A New Hope on Disney+ was made to look like Han and Greedo shot at the same time.
Andor isn’t the first time we’ve seen someone mock A New Hope’s never ending argument. When Solo: A Star Wars Story released in 2018, writers Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan told Variety that Han shooting Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) mid-sentence was “explicitly written in the description” to ensure “there can be no question that Han shoots first.”
Over the years, the who shot first debacle has overtaken the importance of the actual scene, with critics arguing the 1997 edit makes his transition from anti-hero into hero less impactful. But Cassian Andor isn’t any less of a hero because he shot first, and in fact, you could argue his eventual Rogue One sacrifice makes him more of one than Han in the end.
While he’s not quite the all-or-nothing Rebel we know him as on the big screen in Andor, Cassian isn’t just heartless killing machine either. No, he doesn’t hesitate to pull the trigger when he needs to save his own neck, but he showed remorse for accidentally killing a Preox-Morlana Corpo in the very first scene of the series. The situation forces his hand, as he quickly offs the other corpo to cover his tracks and get rid of the witness. While killing anyone isn’t great if you want to be a righteous hero, there’s no question that Luke, Leia, and Han have collected a few stormtrooper during their fight against tyranny.
Some would also argue that Skeen is even more villainous than your average Imperial infantry goon as he not only made up his tragic backstory but was ready to sell out the Rebellion at a moment’s notice. He cares about nothing and no one. Ultimately, what likely convinced Cassian to pull the trigger without is that Skeen said they were alike. The issue with that comparison is that it’s clear that Cassian does have a moral compass.
During episode 1 of Andor, Cassian might’ve jumped at the chance to have enough to keep himself in blue milk until the end of his days, buy the fanciest apartment in Coruscant, and continue his search for his sister. But just six episodes in, we’re already seeing a slightly different “Kassa.”
Star Wars: Andor is streaming now on Disney+.