Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Quote of the Day

You always see stories about the midterm politics, saying that Republicans are going to tie Democrats to the high crime rate. The unquestioned assumption is that there is now a high crime rate.

The fact is that crime went down last year, according to FBI statistics. We’re not in a crime wave. The crime is ebbing. And, historically, crime is at about half the rate that it was in 1991, which I don’t think people look back on as a Road Warrior-like post-apocalyptic landscape.

And, historically, we’re seeing relatively low crime rates, but because Republicans would like to “tie Democrats to high crime rate,” that is what the media are describing the crime rate as being. And once that frame has been put into place, it’s very hard to get out of it.



Related Off-site Links:
Republicans Say Crime Is On the Rise – What Is the Crime Rate and What Does It Mean? – Justin Nix (The Conversation, October 24, 2022).
U.S. Crime: Is America Seeing a Surge in Violence? – Jake Horton (BBC News, October 24, 2022).
What’s Really Going On With the Crime Rate? – Ronald Brownstein (The Atlantic, October 20, 2022).

UPDATE: Stories About Crime Are Rife With Misinformation and Racism, Critics Say – Sandhya Dirks (NPR News, November 8, 2022).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
An Essential Read Ahead of the Midterms
Historian Nancy MacLean: The Threat to American Democracy Is at “Red-Alert”
“Come for the Racism, Stay for the Autocracy”
William D. Lindsey: Quote of the Day – August 12, 2022
Heather Cox Richardson: It’s Up to Us to Prove That Democracy Is Still a Viable Form of Government
Republicans Pose an “Existential Threat” to American Democracy
The Big Switch
The Republican Party in a Nutshell
Republicans Don’t Care About American Democracy
Heather Cox Richardson on Combating the Republican Party’s “Rigging of the System”


Sunday, October 23, 2022

Deeper Understandings


I turn 57 today, and as has been the tradition at The Wild Reed, I mark the occasion of my birthday by sharing a song, prayer and/or reflection that I find particularly meaningful; that speaks to where I’m at on my journey. *

This year I’ve decided to share a song from one of my all-time favorite singer-songwriters, Kiki Dee.

It’s “The Long Ride Home,” the title track from Kiki’s fourth album of collaborations with longtime musical partner Carmelo Luggeri.

RetroPop notes that the album The Long Ride Home, released earlier this year, “once again brings together [Kiki’s] evocative storytelling with [Carmelo’s] rich soundscapes.” The website also notes:

Opening with its title track – a seven-minute sweeping Americana number that builds to a rousing climax – the record is heavy with mesmerising lyrics that lure you into a world of hope and optimism that comes as a welcome relief in ever uncertain times.

. . . Kiki’s legacy may be rooted in upbeat pop tracks like “Star” and “I’ve Got the Music in Me,” and love songs such as “Amoureuse,” “Loving and Free” and, of course, the Elton John collaboration “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” but now she makes a conscious effort to veer away from overtly loved-up lyrics, instead offering a more profound insight into her outlook on life that comes with age and maturity. . . . Six decades into her recording career, Kiki’s voice may have gone down an octave, but her vocals are impassioned and poignant, befitting the genre and evoking classics such as Emmylou Harris’ 1995 masterpiece Wrecking Ball.


So without further ado, here’s Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri with “The Long Ride Home” . . .




People say
Nothing from today will still remain
Or be the same.
But I believe
The mystery runs deeper
The road ahead is calling me again.

I walk into the garden
I will not lose my way
A bed of roses is waiting for me there
At the autumn of each day.

You’d better stop
Think of what you’re saying
Think of all the power that bitter words define
Don’t ask the preacher man
Or the sinner man
The long ride home is yours alone to find.

People say
Nothing but the truth is on their side
And they see the light.
But I still believe
In a deeper understanding
Beyond the world that’s wired in black and white.

I walk into the silence
I hear the garden call my name
A bed of roses still waiting for me there
In the paradise we’ll make.

You’d better stop
Think of what you’re doing
Think of how the power controls your mind
Don’t ask the preacher man
Or the sinner man
The long ride home is yours alone to find.



So why am I drawn to share this song by Kiki and Carmelo?

Well, I guess it’s because of the deeper understandings I perceive in it, starting with its overall theme of journeying, of coming home, which, from a metaphysical perspective, is all about coming into awareness of oneself and one’s place and purpose in life. We can definitely be open to the insights and experiences of others when it comes to cultivating this awareness, but ultimately it’s a journey each one of us discerns and finds at the deepest level of our own soul. In many ways, it’s a journey upon which we embark on our own. The lyrics of “The Long Ride Home” certainly speak to this.

I also appreciate and resonate with the song’s reference to that “deeper understanding beyond the world that’s wired in black and white,” as well as to the “mystery” that “runs deeper” and which calls us to seek, find, and live from our deepest sense of Self, that part of us already and forever one with the Divine Presence within all things.

Another aspect of “The Long Ride Home” I appreciate is its beautiful invitation to trust: I walk into the garden / I will not lose my way / A bed of roses is waiting for me there / At the autumn of each day. These lyrics remind me of something author Marianne Williamson recently said: “The path unfolds when we are willing to walk it.” I love that pearl of wisdom, in part because it too conveys a measure of trust. And trust, I’m discovering with each passing year, is something I’m increasingly choosing to be part of my spiritual life.

And finally, I just really love Kiki’s voice and Carmelo’s playing! . . . I hope you enjoyed and found meaning in their beautiful music as well.

And speaking of enjoyment and meaning, I’ve long sought to cultivate a balanced life through which I experience these life-giving qualities in times of solitude and in times of connecting with others. It’s a connecting which, as you’ll see, is already happening in relation to celebrating my 57th birthday.

_____________________



Above: My birthday celebrations got off to an early start with a wonderful breakfast with my friend Abdulrahman at Heal Mpls (Minneapolis) on October 12.

Notes Heal Mpls’ website:

Heal Mpls is more than just a community cafe; it’s a place of exploration of self through intentional eating, comm(unity) healing experiences and personalized health goal support. Our goal is to create affordable options for our community to transition out of a diet that causes illnesses and food addictions while bringing awareness to God’s gift of natural medicine. Our intuitive healing cafe is 100% soy-free, msg-free, meat-free and dairy-free.


Above: With my friend and work colleague Amy.

I had an early birthday celebration with Amy and my other wonderful colleagues on the interdisciplinary Palliative Care team at Mercy Hospital on Friday, October 21, 2022. I serve as the interfaith spiritual health provider (or chaplain) on this team.

Amy made the delicious pumpkin cake at left for me, along with an amazing ginger and apple cake. Thanks, Amy!



Above: Friends and work colleagues (from left) Maddie, Kate, Steph, and Jenna. This photo was actually taken on October 4 when we celebrated Steph’s birthday. . . . And, yes, we do like to party!



On the morning of my actual birthday – Sunday, October 23, 2022 – I attended the worship service of the faith community of which I’ve long been a member – Spirit of St. Stephen’s Catholic Community (“Spirit” for short), an “independent Catholc community rooted in social justice.”

Above: With my dear friend Jane McDonald, CSJ. Jane is one of the inspirational McDonald Sisters, also known as the Sisters of Peace.

Right: Friends Rita and John – October 23, 2022.

My birthday this year coincided with Spirit’s celebration of Solidarity Sunday, a faith-based anti-LGBTQ+ violence initiative. Initiated by DignityUSA in 1995, Solidarity Sunday continues to be a powerfulway of making opposition to anti-LGBTQ+ violence visible.

The Solidarity Sunday 2022 homily at Spirit was delivered by community member Allison Connelly-Vetter and was entitled “Turning Towards Change.”

Following is an excerpt from Allison's homily.

This is what queer and trans people teach us – what queer and trans people know – every day: We are all capable of the change needed to be our fullest, deepest, and most authentic selves.

Today, on Solidarity Sunday . . . we hear a clear call throughout all our readings: our God of justice, our God who hears the cry of the poor, our God who accompanies us through all of our be-comings, considers worthy not the boastful and the dismissive, but rather the repentant, the one who is turning, turning, turning, towards God.

I hope, and I pray, that we are open, always, to making the changes needed to be our most authentic selves, to turning always towards who we are and who we are called to be. On this Solidarity Sunday, that is my prayer for all of us: that we may not be so confident and boastful that we miss our call to change, to turn, and to be-come all over again.


Back in 2009 I gave the Solidarity Sunday homily at Spirit. To read this homily, one entitled “Liberated to Be Together,” click here.



Above and below: A visit to the Prayer Tree on my 57th birthday – Sunday, October 23, 2022.


Above: The Prayer Tree, next to the totally dried-up Minnehaha Creek in south Minneapolis.

I was aware that much of Minnesota has for some time now been experiencing drought conditions, but I must admit I was shocked to see the dry bed of Minnehaha Creek. The last time I saw the creek in such a distressed state was in 2012.

As Christian Ærickson recently noted on Twitter:

Those who don’t live here maybe can’t appreciate how surreal this is, but . . . there is no Minnehaha Creek. There is no water. It’s like a dirt road. In case you wondered how serious the drought is in Minnesota this year.



Above: Autumn beauty – Sunday, October 23, 2022.

The following is from Marianne Williamson’s book, A Year of Miracles: Daily Devotions and Reflections.


May I see the beauty around me today.

Often I'm so lost in my illusions that I do not see the beauty of the world, or hear the music of the world, or feel the love in the world. Today I choose to be aware of them all.

How often I hide away from the gorgeous manifestations around me. From the beauties of nature to the tenderness of friendship, the miracles of the world often fade from my view without my really having seen them. Today may this not be so.

Today I see all the evidence that the world is a wonderful place. May I not fall asleep to the miracles around me. I embrace what the world has to give me, and I give thanks it is so.



Above: With Eddie, the “Wonder Dog” – Sunday, October 23, 2022.



Above: On the evening of my birthday, friends John and Noelle took me out to dinner at Everest on Grand, a restaurant that specializes in Nepalese, Tibetan, and North Indian cuisine. And, yes, it was delicious!



POSTSCRIPT: The celebrations continue! . . .


Above: A post-birthday breakfast with friends (from left) Calvin, Joseph, and Kathleen – Monday, October 24, 2022.

Oh, and that’s Frodo under the table.



Above: With Joseph and Calvin – October 24, 2022.




Above: A post-birthday lunch at La Casita Mexican Restaurant in Coon Rapids with my friends and work colleagues – Wednesday, October 25, 2022.

From left: Kari, Amy, Jenna, Steph, me, Nikki, Maddie, and Kate. . . . Yes, we’re a great team!



One of my final birthday celebrations took place on Wednesday, November 2, when my friend Kathleen and I spent time with a number of our Sisters of St. Joseph friends at Carondelet Village in St. Paul, including three of the four inspiring McDonald Sisters – Rita, Kate, and Brigid.

Above: With (from left) Rita, Mary Ellen, and Kate.


Right: Friends Brigid, Liz, and Kathleen. Both Kathleen and I are consociates of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.





Left: With my CSJ friend Carolyn – November 2, 2022.





Above: My dear friend Rita McDonald, CSJ, who turned 100 on October 8, 2022.

For more about Rita and her sisters, click here.



Above: With friends Brent and Lisa – Sunday, November 6, 2022.



Above: What I consider my last 57th birthday celebration took place on Sunday, November 6, 2022 when my friends Rick and Brian took me out for lunch at Pizza Lucé in the Uptown area of Minneapolis. I tried the vegetarian butternut squash pizza. It was delicious! Thanks, guys!

_____________________


* As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it’s somewhat of a tradition to mark my birthday here at The Wild Reed by sharing a song or prayer or reflection that I find particularly meaningful. On my 44th birthday, for instance, I shared Stephan Gately’s performance of “No Matter What,” and when I turned 45 I shared “Where the Truth Lies” by the band Exchange.

In 2012, when I turned 47, I shared a prayer for balance at a very trying time, not only for myself, but for many of us here in Minnesota.

Seven years ago, on the first day of my fiftieth year, I shared a “guidepost on the journey,” and then one year later on the day of my 50th birthday, I shared Buffy Sainte-Marie’s rousing “It’s My Way.”

In 2017, when I turned 52, I shared a poem by John O’Donohue; while on my 53rd birthday I shared “Love Is,” a beautiful meditation on the mystery of love by my favorite male vocalist Carl Anderson.

The year I turned 54 I shared “This Is the Time,” a beautiful song by Senegalese singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Daby Touré, and when I turned 55 it was Black’s “Wonderful Life” that encapsulated much of what I found myself experiencing at that time.

When I turned 56 last year I shared Dusty Springfield’s reflective recording “Home to Myself.”


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Home to Myself
Moments of Wonder
This Is the Time
With Love Inside
On This “Echoing-Day” of My Birth
Turning 50
A Guidepost on the Journey
In the Eye of the Storm, a Tree of Living Flame
Journeying Into the Truth . . . Valiantly, of Course
No Matter What

Saturday, October 22, 2022

An Essential Read Ahead of the Midterms

Our downward trajectory is obvious and at this point needs neither further description nor endless analysis. What is needed now is the urgent work of intervention. While it’s important to recognize how we drove so recklessly to the edge of a cliff, it’s even more important that we immediately put the car in reverse. Our ability to do that – or not – will ring for ages. One way or the other, historians will be referring to this chapter of our history for decades or even more. It will be remembered either as a time of the greatest threat to our nation since the Civil War but one in which a generation of Americans pulled back from the brink of national self-destruction; or it will be remembered as the tragic end to what was once a great experiment in democratic self-governance.

. . . We are standing at a precipice now, with only one of two options going forward. Our present disquiet is unsustainable. We will either descend into the abyss of an authoritarian dystopia, or we will ascend into the genuine trajectory of a new birth of freedom. We cannot and will not remain where we are. If we do not wage a peaceful revolution against the forces of neoliberalism, there will be a violent revolution born of blind and unknowing rage against its consequences.

The neofascist threat in our midst did not come out of nowhere, nor did it emerge full blown from the malignant ravings of one narcissistic man. It came just a surely from the timidity and indifference of those who came before him. It was the inevitable result of a soulless economic order that has sent an unfettered American capitalism flying off its rails. The neoliberal agenda of obsessive deregulation, privatization, tax cuts for the wealthy and austerity for everyone else, was sprung upon us full bore by a Republican president, yes, but no Democratic president stopped it. For over forty years our government – which according to the Declaration of Independence was created to secure for every American “the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” – has in its whoredom to corporate donors withheld from the American people what FDR referred to as “the blessings of democracy.” And just as he warned, in the absence of those blessings the demon of fascism has appeared in our midst.

Absolutely no one should be surprised.

It is time now not simply to bemoan this, but to stop it.

Marianne Williamson
Excerpted from “America Done, Or America 2.0
Transform
October 22, 2022


NEXT: Progressive Perspectives on
the U.S. Midterm Election Results


Related Off-site Links:
We Need to Talk About What's at Stake in the Midterms – Ryan Cooper (MSNBC, October 20, 2022).
“Democracy Demands We Participate”: Black Voters Mobilize for Midterms Amid GOP-Led Voter SuppressionDemocracy Now! (October 21, 2022).
Progressives Warn of Federal “Don’t Say Gay” Law If GOP Wins Midterms – Julia Conley (Common Dreams, October 21, 2022).
Is the 2022 Midterm Lost to Dems? – Robert Kuttner (The American Prospect, October 21, 2022).
The Problem With Polling Ahead of the 2022 Midterm Elections – Philip Elliott (TIME, October 21, 2022).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Historian Nancy MacLean: The Threat to American Democracy Is at “Red-Alert”
“Come for the Racism, Stay for the Autocracy”
Jelani Cobb: Quote of the Day – September 4, 2022
William D. Lindsey: Quote of the Day – August 12, 2022
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – July 22, 2022
Heather Cox Richardson: It’s Up to Us to Prove That Democracy Is Still a Viable Form of Government
“How Can One Overreact to a Mortal Threat to American Democracy?”
A Deeper Perspective on What’s Really Attacking Democracy
“The Coup Attempt on Jan. 6th Was a Warning for What’s to Come If We Don’t Act”
“My Biggest Worry Is for My Country”
Republicans Pose an “Existential Threat” to American Democracy
The Big Switch
The Republican Party in a Nutshell
Republicans Don’t Care About American Democracy
Heather Cox Richardson on Combating the Republican Party’s “Rigging of the System”
David Remnick: Quote of the Day – February 13, 2021
Dan Rather on America’s “Moment of Reckoning”
Michael Harriot: Quote of the Day – January 6, 2021
Insurrection at the United States Capitol
“We Have an Emergency On Our Hands”: Marianne Williamson On the “Freefall” of American Democracy
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – June 2, 2020Fascism Is Upon Us


Friday, October 21, 2022

A Great Honor

As a chaplain working in the North Region of the Minnesota-based Allina Health healthcare system, I was honored to be recently nominated, along with my fellow chaplains, for an Allina Health Annual Award, the organization’s “most prestigious employee recognition award” which “honors passionate employees and teams who go above and beyond their normal job responsibilities, demonstrate service and caring to others and represent the best of the best at Allina Health.”

We were nominated for the following contributions:

The chaplains of the Spiritual Care department of the North Region comprise one of the most hardworking, caring, supportive, and intentional teams in very trying times. The team has supported patients and families during the worst of the pandemic and continues to be a source of counsel, resiliency, and reconnection for staff. The team not only worked together, often being flexible in their own schedules to make sure that nurses, doctors, other care team members were being supported, but also so that their commitment to patients, families, and the care that exemplifies Allina was continuously met. Each of the chaplains mentioned provided fantastic and compassionate care to their patients, families, and staff in the most difficult and tragic of cases. Team members also mutually supported one another and oversaw students when their manager became ill, and expanded the healing presence of spiritual care in each of their hospitals, as well as the system overall. Each of these chaplains has personally supported countless people and exemplify the spirit of Allina’s core values. The work that the chaplains did to support staff meant that they were tending to burnout on the units during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Is doing so they helped Allina retain staff who would have left, and became a force multiplier on the units they worked. In closing, the chaplains of the Spiritual Care department of the North Region exemplify in their daily practice what it means to care for the community and their colleagues. They also show what such care and support can look like and achieve.


Now, strictly speaking, I’m not a chaplain in the Spiritual Care department; I’m a chaplain in Allina’s Palliative Care department. But because I work in a hospital in the system’s North Region, the person who wrote the above included me as one worthy of recognition, which was very thoughtful of them. Although my fellow chaplains and I did not ultimately receive the Allina Health Annual Award, all of us remain greatly honored to have been nominated in the first place. It’s heartening to know that we’re making a difference each day.


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Spirituality and the Health Care Setting
Interfaith Chaplaincy: Meeting People Where They’re At
Difficult Choices
From the Palliative/Spiritual Care Bookshelf
The State of the COVID Pandemic: “We’re Collectively Walking An Immunity Tightrope”
On the Second Anniversary of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Words of Gratitude and Hope
A COVID Start to 2022
Out and About – Autumn 2021
Renae Gage: Quote of the Day – November 28, 2021
COVID Observations From a General Surgeon
Richard LaFortune: Quote of the Day – August 20, 2021
Something to Lament
A Pandemic Year
Out and About – Spring 2020
Memes of the Times
The Lancet Weighs-in on the Trump Administration’s “Incoherent” Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic
Examining the Link Between Destruction of Biodiversity and Emerging Infectious Diseases
Sonya Renee Taylor: Quote of the Day – April 18, 2020
Marianne Williamson: In the Midst of This “Heartbreaking” Pandemic, It’s Okay to Be Heartbroken
Hope and Beauty in the Midst of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
A Prayer in Times of a Pandemic

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

The Revolution Will Be Televised


Thoughts on the Star Wars TV series Andor


Okay, so let me just say from the get-go that I’m not – and never have been – much of a Star Wars fan.

That being said, I was impressed by the 2016 film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which serves as an immediate prequel to Star Wars: A New Hope (1977). As such, Rogue One even goes so far as to include digital recreations of Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin and Carrie Fisher as a young Princess Leia Organa (left). The new TV series Andor is a prequel to Rogue One – a prequel to a prequel, in other words!

The series stars Diego Luna, reprising his role as Cassian Andor in Rogue One (right). Like Rogue One, Andor has a much more grittier look and feel – and far more complex characters – than any other movie or series in the Star Wars franchise. This definitely goes a long way in accounting for my interest in, and appreciation of, both Rogue One and Andor.

I also appreciate the show’s contemporary political resonance. In a recent interview, Andor actress Fiona Shaw highlights this when she notes that the show’s writer Tony Gilroy has written “a great, scurrilous [take] on the Trumpian world.”

Shaw goes on to say: “Our world is exploding in different places right now, people’s rights are disappearing, and Andor reflects that. [In the show] the Empire is taking over, and it feels like the same thing is happening in reality, too. . . . I was impressed by Tony’s social-realist intentions. He’s created a whole new morality. It’s very deep and humane – there is grief, mourning, hope, fear. It’s not just primary colours here.”

Following are excerpts from a number of recent reviews of Andor.

________________________


Andor might be the best Star Wars show on Disney Plus to date. It’s a pulsating, morally complex entry that carves out its own place in the iconic sci-fi franchise; one that reacquaints audiences with the gripping espionage thriller tonality of Rogue One. It’s a bit light in the action and humor departments early on, but there’s so much more to enjoy from this terrifically captivating show that those problems become easy to overlook once it gets going.

Tom Power
Excerpted from “A Blood-Pumping Spy Thriller That Might Be
the Best Star Wars Show Yet: Andor Review

TechRadar.com
September 20, 2022







As with Rogue One, the new Andor series chooses to wallow in the ground-level existence of freedom fighters pushing back against the grotesque excess of the Empire. We witness outmatched citizens staring up at skies that are completely clogged with Star Destroyers, and the beginnings of the effort of a child thief to infiltrate the Empire and possibly take them down from within.

The “Trojan Horse” aspect to Andor is a new one to explore, as [in the trailer] we see shots of Diego Luna [as Cassian Andor] in military garb, knowing full well that he is siding with the rebellion, and plans to take the Empire down through its own systems. But as with the recent Obi-Wan Kenobi series, and even The Mandalorian, the joy of Andor appears to be the new characters that we are meeting in the Star Wars universe, including a mysterious figure named Luthen, who is played by the always magnificent Stellan Skarsgård.

Sean O’Connell
Excerpted from “Full Andor Trailer Expands On the
Star Wars: Rogue One Universe . . . and Looks Incredible

Cinema Blend
August 1, 2022




Andor is, both by design and circumstance, immediately different from its Star Wars television predecessors. Where The Mandalorian, Boba Fett, and Obi-Wan Kenobi wove their biggest reveals into the larger fabric of the Lucasfilm universe, Andor doesn’t rush toward those moments that might make fans gasp out of pure recognition. Instead, it does something more surprising still: it tells the story of people who have nothing to do with Solos, Skywalkers or Palpatines, but whose lives matter nonetheless.

Of course, at least part of the reason the series can take its time this way is because haunted hustler Cassian Andor (Diego Luna, also an executive producer) isn’t a brand-new character at all. As the reluctant hero of 2016’s Rogue One, which portrayed the rebel pilot mission to steal the Death Star plans which drive A New Hope, Cassian’s Star Wars legacy is already written.

We already know Cassian’s life will eventually intersect with someone like rebel leader Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly [left], returning for more in-depth work in Andor). We already know his fate – dramatic and hopeful and unforgettable in those final minutes of Rogue One – and that it’s well and truly sealed.

So, sure: on the surface of it, it’s exhausting to realize that Andor – created by Rogue One co-writer Tony Gilroy – is a prequel to a prequel. But being able to step more outside the one Star Wars path every other series has had to at least visit gives Andor some unexpected freedom to create a world all its own.

Caroline Framke
Excerpted from “Andor Marks a Huge, and Hugely Welcome, Departure
From Disney+’s Typical Star Wars Model

Variety
September 20, 2022



From the outset, it’s clear Andor isn’t your traditional Star Wars TV show. Paralleling Rogue One, Andor is tonally different from what viewers have seen from Lucasfilm. It’s more grounded and rugged; a street-level-style series that feels suitably apt for the emergence of an underground resistance, but one that quickly bears the hallmarks of an operatic cosmic adventure.

. . . Andor doesn’t wait to establish every character and story thread before it ramps up the tension and delivers absorbing action. . . . The show’s first 10 minutes are proof of this – Cassian Andor verbally sparring, and physically engaging, with two Empire goons in what winds up being a pretty dark entry point to a grown up-positioned Star Wars story. If that makes Andor sound aggressively un-family friendly, it isn’t. It’s just that this series feels more mature than previous live-action and animated Star Wars projects, such as The Bad Batch or all three film trilogies.

Episode one’s opening sequence aside, Andor is a bit light in the action department. That’s a pity because, when things really kick off in episode 3, Andor’s combat sequences are explosive, nerve-jangling, and will have you on the edge of their seats. It’s a lengthy shootout that turns into a vehicular-laced set-piece filled with suspense and thrills, and gives an enthralling insight into how frenetic and fraught Andor’s action set-pieces may be in future episodes.

. . . Andor offsets its lack of action sequences with fascinating verbal conflicts between its morally gray characters. There’s the occasional interaction between Empire employees and the masses it tyrannically rules over that make for riveting viewing. However, it’s the disputes among individuals on the same side of the fight that are truly captivating – incidents that wonderfully exhibit the level of mistrust that exists between characters and communities, particularly those with a common cause.

From the strained relationship that exists between Luthen and key Rebellion member Mon Mothma to the charged atmospheres on display in different divisions of the Empire, Andor is packed with drama. The show juggles its various character associations with aplomb, giving its major players plenty of screen time so audiences can invest in their respective arcs and character development. Thanks to the murky area that many operate in, and the vulnerabilities they display, Andor makes it easy for viewers to sympathize with and relate to its colorful cast.

Tom Power
Excerpted from “A Blood-pumping Spy Thriller That Might Be
the Best Star Wars Show Yet: Andor Review

TechRadar.com
September 20, 2022



The show announces its intentions to be capital “d” Different from its opening minutes, which see Cassian looking for his long-lost sister in an alien brothel. . . . As in Rogue One, Luna’s Cassian makes for a suitably charismatic and handsome leading Star Wars man, but quickly proves willing to risk everything in a much more literal way than most.

This particular trait of his irritates his mechanic ex, Bix (Adria Arjona), worries his adoptive mother, Maarva (the always welcome Fiona Shaw [right]), and straight up infuriates Syril Karn (Kyle Soller), an uptight Empire cop who values order above all. And yes: this being Star Wars, there is of course a mysterious newcomer (the ever enigmatic Stellan Skarsgaard) and an adorable droid whose loyalty and stutter won me over within seconds (especially as voiced by veteran droid voice actor Dave Chapman).

There is, of course, every chance that Andor will become as much a part of the Star Wars movies as its other Disney+ TV counterparts deeper into its 12-episode season. What should still set it apart even then, hopefully, are how Tony Gilroy’s clever scripts and Toby Haynes’ assured directing come together to build senses of place, character, and social order like few other recent (live action) Star Wars iterations. The show’s not in much of a hurry (the first three episodes dropping together really are of a piece), and that might lose it some shorter attention spans. Those who stick around, though, will be rewarded for their patience. Through flashbacks to Cassian’s childhood on the far-flung planet of Kenari, we learn about one of the thousands of civilizations of “dark-eyed” people that fighter pilots speed over on their way to glory. Between Luke Hull’s intricate production design, Nicholas Britell’s swelling score, Michael Wilkinson’s costume design and Emma Scott’s hair and makeup, every world Cassian visits feels far more tangible and lived-in than most Star Wars sets, which otherwise tend to evoke future Disneyworld rides.

In this slice of life before the Rebellion burst from spark to flame, Andor lays the groundwork for the uprising to come. In following the likes of Cassian, Bix, Syril and all the middle management lackeys who keep the Empire running and the citizens emboldened enough to stand up to them, the show ditches lore in favor of following seemingly ordinary people in their boldest hours.

Caroline Framke
Excerpted from “Andor Marks a Huge, and Hugely Welcome, Departure
From Disney+’s Typical Star Wars Model

Variety
September 20, 2022



It’s great to see Diego Luna reprise his role as Cassian Andor, albeit as a younger, instinctive, and more brooding version of who we see in Rogue One. The series’ early episodes humanize him in a way that Rogue One couldn’t due to time constraints, showcasing him as a damaged but dangerous individual who’s drifting through life. That said, he’s also a devilish charmer in a manner reminiscent of Han Solo, Star Wars’ most famous scoundrel, which adds an entertaining dimension to Cassian’s persona.

Of equal intrigue are the parallels between Cassian and Syril Karn [above]. Despite the juxtaposition between them – they’re fighting for different sides – the two are strikingly similar. Both are out of their depth at the series’ beginning; naive individuals who think they know how the universe works but soon find themselves catapulted into the eye of the storm. It’s a shared affinity that makes for intriguing viewing, even if they don’t share much screen time in early episodes. It’ll be engrossing to see whether their respective arcs make them more analogous or not as the series progresses.

Tom Power
Excerpted from “A Blood-pumping Spy Thriller That Might Be
the Best Star Wars Show Yet: Andor Review

TechRadar.com
September 20, 2022






“Wouldn’t you rather give it all at once, for something real?” Luthen asked Cassian Andor in a conversation that feels like it happened a lifetime ago. Once desperate to cut and run, Cassian’s time embedded with the rebel cell on [the planet] Aldhani has changed him – and the show – for the better. Halfway through Andor season one, Cassian has finally found a purpose that fits him; a cause to believe in. But no good deed goes unpunished, and Andor’s shining moment of its hero’s self-realization comes at a heavy, heartbreaking price that reminds us war has very few winners.

As promised, “The Eye” [episode six of Andor] gives us a spectacle on a level heretofore unseen in this particular corner of the galaxy. First and foremost: does it count as a Star Wars bottle episode if the whole thing takes place on one planet? Everything, up until the final two minutes of the episode, goes down on Aldhani, starting with another spirited sparring session between Cassian and the “true” rebels. He’s had enough of being dismissed as a mercenary waiting to put his feet up and forget the world when the mission’s done. His rage against the Empire, which has lingered at the margins of his character for so long, has finally found its center.

Tom Philip
Excerpted from “A Tense, Stunning Andor
Takes Us to the Fireworks Factory

AV Club
October 12, 2022



[Andor’s sixth episode] “The Eye” is a spectacular piece of television and an amazing piece of Star Wars.

The culmination of writer Dan Gilroy and director Susanna White’s three-episode arc, “The Eye” is a masterclass in escalating tension. It is a tightly constructed suspense machine, one that delivers payoffs both nerve-shredding and effortless. It is a reminder of what Star Wars can do and the product of a creative team working at the peak of their creative power. There is tremendous craft on display, particularly Luke Hull’s production design, John Gilroy’s editing, and Frank Lamm’s cinematography.

In particular, it is worth singling out the score from Nicholas Britell. Britell seems an unusual fit for Star Wars. He is best known on television for his Emmy award-winning work on Succession and in film for his Oscar-nominated collaborations with Barry Jenkins on Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk. Britell seems as unconventional a choice for a Star Wars streaming series as showrunner Tony Gilroy himself. This is probably part of why his work on Andor feels so revelatory.

Britell finds a way to score Star Wars that fits the material without feeling completely beholden to the work of John Williams. Britell’s work on Andor is striking, particularly in “The Eye.” As the daring raid progresses, Britell’s score keeps pace. It continues to heighten, becoming the beating heart of this high-stakes mission. Much like the show around it, Britell’s score manages to sound convincingly like Star Wars while still feeling like a fresh and dynamic approach.

“The Eye” is packed with memorable beats and lines, images and choices that linger after the closing credits. It’s so tense that Jayhold Beehaz (Commandant Stanley Townsend) has a heart attack in the middle of a standoff. There are countless pump-the-fist moments, from the shot of pilots climbing into their fighters to Lieutenant Gorn (Sule Rimi) [left] acknowledging to Beehaz that he [Gorn] may be hanged for his crimes. “Seven years serving you?” he replies without missing a beat. “I deserve worse than that.” Gorn goes hard.

“The Eye” is pure spectacle. It is also an episode about spectacle. In particular, the episode’s big recurring motif is about the importance of making people pay attention – of forcing them to watch. After all, the clue is in the title. In some ways, “The Eye” feels like part of a broader cultural conversation about the power of spectacle, dovetailing neatly into Jordan Peele’s work on Nope. “The Eye” is about creating something so powerful that people cannot look away.

. . . This is established as early as the opening conversation between Karis Nemik (Alex Lawther) [right] and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna). “The empire has no moral boundaries. Why should we not take hold of every chance we can?” Nemik asks. “Let them see how an insurgency adapts.” When Andor replies that the Empire will never learn, Nemik replies, “Perhaps they’ll think differently tomorrow.”

Andor consistently argues that the Empire succeeds by fragmenting its adversaries, constructing individual traps that prevent their subjects from seeing the big picture. Commandant Beehaz boasts as much to Colonel Petigar (Richard Katz), talking about overwhelming the subjugated Aldhani with “alternatives.” He explains, “You put a number of options on the table and they’re so wrapped up in choosing, they fail to notice you’ve given them nothing they thought they wanted at the start.”

Beehaz talks about the pilgrimage that the Aldhani take up to the valley, to observe their religious festival. The Empire has placed “Comfort Units” along the route to break up the march. What began as 500 people marching is efficiently reduced to a group of about 60. This limits the possibility of rebellion. If only a handful of people are able to make that ascent and to look up at the stars, then only that handful of people can realize what is truly possible.

In both a literal and figurative sense, “The Eye” is built around the idea of ascent, of rising above the chaos and the noise. The Aldhani Chieftain (David Hayman) leads his followers on a trip up into the highlands. Beehaz boasts about how the Empire sits “above the stench” of the indigenous population. Nemik’s command to Andor during their escape is a simple leap of faith: “Climb.” The Aldhani need to look up to witness the miracle. It’s a cohesive thread that runs through the episode.

It’s also a clever way of tying Andor back into Rogue One. After all, the last command that K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) would give to Andor was also “climb.” The climax of Rogue One is about Andor ascending a tower to send out a signal that will help the Rebellion deal a crippling blow to the Empire, a moment that galvanizes the Rebellion and bloodies the Empire’s nose. It’s clever to see that imagery mirrored in Andor’s first true mission as a rebel, prefiguring his last.

Darren Mooney
Excerpted from “Andor Turns Its ‘Eye’ to the Sky,
in a Spectacular Piece of Television

Escapist Magazine
October 12, 2022



NEXT: Andor: The Star Wars Franchise’s
“First Piece of Universally Excellent Television”


Related Off-site Links:
Andor Is Star Wars’ “Scurrilous Take On The Trumpian World,” Says Fiona Shaw – Ben Travis (Empire, August 2, 2022).
How Andor Became the First Star Wars TV Series for Grown-Ups: “I Wanted to Do It About Real People” – Adam B. Vary (Variety, September 8, 2022).
Andor: The Best Star Wars Show Since The Mandalorian – Jack Seale (The Guardian, September 21, 2022).
Hell Yeah, Andor’s Cool, Casually Queer Women – James Whitbrook (Gizmodo, October 6, 2022).
This Is Why Andor Keeps Proving It’s the Best Star Wars Show Yet – Rachel Leishman (The Mary Sue, October 19, 2022).
Andor Archive at Screen Rant


UPDATES: Andor Continues to Evolve in Another Excellent Episode – Tom Philip (AV Club, October 20, 2022).
Andor Reckons With All Kinds of Evil As the Empire Tightens Its Grip – Tom Philip (AV Club, October 26, 2022).
An Architect Reviews the Architecture of Star Wars: AndorMorphologis (October 29, 2022).
Andor Is a Star Wars Story Where the Emperor Does Not Matter – Joshua Rivera (Polygon, November 2, 2022).
A Grim, Brutal Andor Ponders the Value of an Innocent Life – Tom Plilip (AV Club, November 2, 2022).
Wow, Star Wars: Andor Really Threw Its Characters Through the Ringer This Week – Rachel Leishman (The Mary Sue, November 2, 2022).
Someone We Barely Knew Just Had One of the Most Tragic Deaths in Star Wars History – Jeremy Mathai (Slash Film, November 3, 2022).
The Significance of Anto Kreegyr and the Separatists in Star Wars: Andor – Chris Streetman (Culture Slate, November 6, 2022).
In Eedy Karn, Andor Delivers the Worst Mom Star Wars Has Ever Seen – Robert Vaux (CBR.com, November 7, 2022).
Andor: What Are They Building in the Prison? – Blake Hawkins (CBR.com, November 7, 2022).
A Captivating Andor Focuses on Sacrifice – Tom Philip (AV Club, November 9, 2022).
Andor Finds Power Beyond the Jedi – Pete Volk (Polygon, November 9, 2022).
Andor Episode 10 Reveals Luthen Rael Is Sacrificing More Than He Seems by Sparking a Rebellion – Drew Tinnin (Slash Film, November 9, 2022).
Star Wars Fans Are Calling Andor Episode 10 a Major Triumph – Kofi Outlaw (ComicBook.com, November 9, 2022).
Andor Just Fixed a Star Wars Narrative Flaw That’s Plagued It Since the Beginning – Dais Johnston (Inverse, November 10, 2022).
How Andor Drew from . . . Joseph Stalin? Plus: Inside Season 2 of the Revolutionary Star Wars Show – Brian Hiatt (Rolling Stone, November 10, 2022).
Dream a Little Dream, Andor (Andor: Episodes 8, 9, and 10) – Josh (Medium, November 10, 2022).
Tony Gilroy Dives Deep Into Andor, Including Its Biggest Challenges, Kino Loy’s Fate, and Why It Was Delayed Three Weeks – Miguel Fernandez (StarWarsNewsNet.com, November 11, 2022).
Andor: Luthen Rael Confirms Rogue One’s Biggest Message – Robert Vaux (CBR.com, November 11, 2022).
Andor Ratings Rebound: The New Nielsen Streaming Charts – Thomas (Jedi Temple Archives, November 11, 2022).
Is Andor Better Than the Original Star Wars Trilogy? – Thomas Bacon (Screen Rant, November 12, 2022).
Where Is Andor’s Massive Audience? Blame Disney for Too Many Bad Star Wars Stories – Ben Travers (IndieWire, November 15, 2022).
Andor Episode 11 “Shows the Human Cost of Being a Hero” – Jack Shepherd (Total Film, November 16, 2022).
This Week’s Andor Is a Masterclass in Character Arcs but Also Ripped My Heart in Two – Rachel Leishman (The Mary Sue, November 16, 2022).
Andor: How a Star Wars Deep Cut Became One of the Best TV Shows of the Year – Walter Marsh (The Guardian, November 21, 2022).
Why Andor Is One of the Best Shows of 2022 – Mark Serrels (CNET, November 22, 2022).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Resisting the Hand of the Empire
Musings on the Possibility of “FinnPoe”
Finn and Poe Revisited