Andor is back, and this week’s the long-awaited resolution to the three-episode arc about the heist on Aldhani.
And safe to say things get quite intense during it.
Let’s dive in to our review of the sixth episode of the show – meaning we’re already halfway through the first season! – and as always, spoilers are ahead!
While the Empire prepares to see the Eye on Aldhani, they welcome the locals for the ceremony. Unbeknownst to them, the team of rebels also puts their plan into motion. They sneak into the base and take the commandant captive, along with his family. With Cinta staying behind to hold his family hostage, the others force the commandant to open the vault, and force some Imperial soldiers to load the credits into the shuttle.
By that point, a group of troopers have caught on to the infiltration and arrive at the vault. A firefight ensues, during which Gorn and Taramyn are killed. The others make their escape aboard the shuttle, but Nemik is accidentally crushed by the credits. As Cassian flies the shuttle into the Eye, and as TIE Fighters pursue, Nemik is able to give him directions to escape. Skeen demands that they take him to a doctor, which might endanger the plan, but Cassian (“Clem”) agrees.
While Nemik is in surgery, Skeen approaches Clem about a proposal for each of them to take half of the cut and leave. Cassian kills Skeen, and Nemik dies in surgery. Cassian tells Vel that he’s taking his cut but leaving the rest with her, and she gives him Nemik’s manifesto. On Coruscant, the Empire is finding out about the robbery – distracting the Senate from Mon Mothma’s speech, but eliciting happy relief from Luthen.
Two weeks of build up have led us to this episode, and it certainly delivered. The entire thing was packed with tension and drama, with plenty of action and lots of intrigue. The entire episode was basically the infiltration of the base, but as we’ve already seen this season, where Andor shines is in being willing to slow things down when needed. This episode moved quickly, but there were also quieter moments, like with the Imperial commandant’s family or with the Aldhani citizens, that gave depth.
But nonetheless the heist was the main theme, and it was great. I expected the rebels to approach it with more stealth than they did, and actually their actions right from the start of the incursion are questionable: they take the commandant’s family hostage and use them as leverage. The rebels are holding a gun to an innocent child’s head, while an Imperial tries to get them to let the kid go free – but gets killed for it. The roles are totally reversed here, and I think that’s significant. That’s not to say that the Empire are the good guys here – Vel mentions that what they’d do is kill all the hostages, while she’s willing to let them go free if the commandant cooperates – but the “good guys” aren’t really acting like it here. This is a mission for credits, after all. That’s important, but it’s not one directly related to preserving life or anything. Where are the lines? How do you keep from becoming the very thing that you swore to destroy?
Years later, in Rogue One, Cassian acknowledges that, “We’ve all done terrible things for the Rebellion.” It’s more of a gray morality than Star Wars is used to, but it’s been Cassian’s story all along. And I’m guessing that’s something the show will continue to explore, because we have so many rebels before there’s any organized alliance. There’s Mon Mothma, Luthen, Cassian, and Vel – and we know from the trailers that Saw Gerrera shows up too. There are different ideas about how to rebel, and more importantly, how to do so without losing a part of yourself along the way.
One of those “terrible things” Cassian mentioned shows up at the end of the episode, where he kills Skeen, and there too I think the episode taps into a larger theme. Last week, Cassian confessed to the others that he was nothing more than a paid mercenary, and this week’s episode begins with Cassian and Nemik discussing that. Nemik seems to have come to an understanding that even mercenaries can be helpful in the fight, but Skeen has always seemed skeptical of Cassian. Yet it is Skeen who wants to run away with the money, and Cassian stops him. The guy who made up a story to gain sympathy for the cause is the one who wants to take the money and leave; the hired mercenary is the one who stops him from doing so. Did Cassian need to kill him? Probably not, though again, that’s one of those issues where things are (I think) intentionally left a bit gray.
Cassian isn’t yet fully committed to this fight, but he’s also not tempted to take the money and leave with it himself. But he’s given Nemik’s manifesto at the end (which was not a surprise), and I’m guessing that it will play a key role in his continued journey. On the topic of Nemik, it wasn’t a surprise that he died in this one (the foreshadowing was strong with that one), nor was it a surprise that most of the team didn’t make it out alive. But the way that Nemik was killed? That was especially tragic. They’re making their escape, with the credits safe on board, when some of the credits slide and crush him. The money they were stealing wound up – literally – killing the most devoted and hopeful among them. But he doesn’t die right away, and he’s able to give Cassian the directions on how to escape, telling him to “Climb,” in a way reminiscent of when K-2SO urges Cassian to do the same years later on Scarif.
Nemik is able to direct Cassian through the Eye because he’s cared to learn the tech that people on Aldhani use to do that, while the Imperial TIE Fighters are unable to navigate it. Again, this is tying in to what this show has been telling us about the Empire: they are so arrogant and self-centered that they don’t even bother to know the people, customs, or planets they inhabit. It’s clear that the Empire has no regard for the natives on Aldhani (and the way that they treat the locals does seem to evoke some of the ways Native Americans were treated in the past in America), assuming that they’re unintelligent and insignificant. The Empire literally doesn’t care about them. And despite having been on the planet for years, they’ve never even bothered to learn their tech. Perhaps there’s a lesson there about how the rebels understand the people of the galaxy in a way the Empire never does, in large part because the Empire never cares too.
But speaking of learning the local ways and customs, I’ve yet to even mention what was, in my opinion, the best part of the episode: the visuals were absolutely stunning. Even by Star Wars standards – which has been on the cutting edge of so much – this was incredible, and it’s about as good as the franchise has ever looked visually on-screen. The sequence with the Eye was absolutely breathtaking, and this show deserves all the praise for pulling that off like they did.
From the visuals to the action to the plot to the themes, this was a great episode that left me on the edge of my seat throughout. I did feel like it ended rather abruptly, and without some resolution that I was hoping for, but it does leave it as anybody’s guess for where we go from here. I wish we got a bit more of Luthen’s reaction, but I loved Mon Mothma’s scene in the Senate. She’s making a speech against the Empire’s actions on Ghorman, but the Senate is mostly empty, and what Senators are there are distracted by news of what happened on Aldhani. It’s a short scene, but it speaks volumes about the state of the Senate and Mothma’s uphill battle to any sort of progress in the rebellion there.
So like I said, I have no idea where they’ll go from here, but seeds of rebellion continue to be sown, and this episode was the well-earned payoff to weeks of build-up. It certainly didn’t disappoint.