This small ‘Character Trips’ segment proposes to take a look at and venture into each one of the Rogue One team members and see what they’re all about…at a first glance anyway.
So far we have covered Jyn, and now we will look at her comrade in arms: Cassian Andor.
Cassian’s struggles are a bit more developed, albeit still suffering from the same lacks presented in Jyn’s character. Upon our introduction, Cassian is depicted killing his informant under necessity once his position gets compromised and needs to escape. Through Cassian we are introduced to the higher machinations and problems of the Rebellion. We are faced with bitter truths as the fight, even if for good reasons, needs to be fought through dirty means.
Getting back to the first scene, it is impactful enough to suggest that he’s done horrible things, something that he himself later confirms, but it also adds so much more weight to his decision not to kill Galen. It is clear that Cassian is scarred, conflicted and isolated by the conflict inside of him (“There are many types of cages, captain. I sense that you carry your wherever you go.”) Cassian is by no means ruthless, if anything “he has the face of a friend,” but until his decision not to kill Galen, we can only assume he’s been turned into something terrible. It is an intriguing juxtaposition to some of the other heroes we’ve had in Star Wars unto this film.
Cassian is important because he gives a dynamic reimagined “I’ve been in this fight since I was six years old.” Cassian was merely a child when he joined the fight, similarly to the Jedi younglings who were thrust into a massive scale war, and then when the war ended, such as it’s Kanan’s case, many were left alone to fend for themselves when they knew nothing of the world around them. The problem with the Jedi younglings spans even wider than that, because what happens when those younglings are abandoned, exiled or simply leave? This is what always gets me when I think about Ahsoka, because basically, Jedi youngling are trained to be warriors, to kill, to fight. Send one of those into the world and what can they do? Work as assassins or bounty hunters? Ahsoka was lucky enough that Anakin also turned her into a mechanic, something which helped her scrape an existence until finally being recruited into the Rebellion. But still, the problems of child warriors are profound, and Cassian is another reminder of that.
Diego Luna offers a brilliant performance, as after killing his informant Cassian looks visibly disgusted and lost until he finally makes a move towards escaping. Later into the movie, upon arriving on Jedha, Cassian tells Jyn they have to look for a woman whose brother was killed; a woman whose brother HE killed – “His sister will be looking for him.” – this line may not be particularly worrisome, but we could assume Cassian was going in for the kill in this scenario, he may have had to kill the sister too, which is just as unsettling.
The bad blood between the Rebellion and Saw is also slightly hinted at when Cassian searches for Jyn, finding her in Saw’s office; the two men instantly reach for their weapons ready to shoot if need be. It’s tragic to see people fighting the same side ready to destroy each other, really, but such are the casualties of war. It only works to show the disorganization of the Rebellion; from accepting child soldiers, killing people for “a greater good,” to the becoming of a form of evil to fight a bigger evil, and lack of decisiveness to act in the Council meeting where senators and opinions enter conflict; it all works to show the corrosion.
Cassian confronting Jyn is a powerful moment, because his speech is so wrong and so right, it speaks volumes about the muddled state of both his mind and, again, the Rebellion. Jyn argues that if you mindlessly accept orders that are wrong in the name of a good cause you risk losing your humanity itself, “no better than a stormtrooper” who is trained and brought into service for one sole purpose: execute orders without questioning and support the Empire, the ‘cause’. The juxtaposition between the Alliance and the Empire suddenly strikes through the turmoils of Cassian.
All that, however, but we still don’t know much about the character and his overall arc. The only moments that humanize him are in relation to K-2SO to whom he forms a wonderful fraternity and Jyn which pushes against his resolve forcing him to exercise his mental prison. We see his heroics in the battle of Scarif, heroics that end in death with maybe a thousand words unspoken – because honestly, you cannot witness the looks between him and Jyn, two people that have been brought together to die, without thinking how they will never get to really know one another.