The air was thick with tension in the sixth episode of Andor, “The Eye.” Would the rebels succeed in their efforts to strike back against the Empire? Or would the best-laid plans of mice and men be derailed? Read on to find out.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead, so if you have not yet watched this episode perhaps you may want to pause and go watch the episode first.
After last week’s bridge episode, this week’s episode — the series’ longest to date — saw the rebels’ heist go down and the quote in the tweet above from Vel seems appropriate. The rebels were either going to be successful or they were going to die. There wasn’t much middle ground, and we’d see how that quote took on a different tenor near the end of the episode.
More than any other episode in this three-episode arc, Nemik was pushed to the forefront in this episode. He begins the episode talking to Andor of his nervousness and his inability to sleep the night before the big heist. In lieu of sleep, he was compelled to add to his manifesto, in part inspired by “Clem,” even if that wasn’t his real name. He wrote about his theory on “The Role of Mercenaries in the Galactic Struggle for Freedom.” His conclusion? “Weapons are tools, those that use them, are by extension, functional assets that we must use to our best advantage. The Empire has no moral boundaries, why should we not take hold of every chance we can?”
Andor says he’s half right — The Empire doesn’t play by the rules but they don’t care enough to learn. They don’t have to and they don’t care about them. Nemik suggests that perhaps the Empire will think differently after the heist, but Andor warns him to be careful what he wishes for. They have a back-and-forth where Nemik asks if Andor is suggesting they should just submit and be thankful, to which Andor’s face hardens and he gets real close to ask, “Do I look thankful?” In bit of foreboding foreshadowing, Andor tells Nemik he’ll be fine and that he’ll sleep when the heist is done, which we’ll see later in the episode will take on a whole new meaning.
We once again see the indifference the Empire has for the locals as we meet Commandant Jayhold and Col. Petigar, who dismissively discuss the plans for the Eye. The commandant smugly talks about how easy the Dhanis are to manipulate and how they will just give in and take what they are given without it even being something they wanted. Lt. Gorn looks on as the commandant once again insults the smell of the locals while noting this will be the last time they’re allowed into their sacred valley to watch the Eye.
After telling Gorn that this evening must be perfect, we see yet another example of an unhappy family when we meet Jayhold’s wife and son. Neither of them seems particularly enthused about attending the ceremonial trade of pelts, with the boy trying to feign illness to avoid it. The commandant forcefully tells his son that he will attend and reminds his wife that given her complaints about Aldhani this is their way toward getting a new assignment off this planet. Jayhold is the literal embodiment of Andor’s line about the Empire being fat and happy, with the commandant trying to claim that his sash is not fitting properly because it had shrunk. His wife suggests that rather than the belt shrinking perhaps he’s expanded. Once again, happy families seem to be something of a rarity in the age of the Empire.
We see the rebels test their battle radio, which will continue to work once every other comm is fried as part of the plan. We also learn that Taramyn is a former stormtrooper, which initially caused friction with Cinta as her entire family was killed by stormtroopers.
As part of the plan, the rebels, now dressed as Imperial soldiers, escort the Dhani travelers to their sacred valley. After speaking with the Dhanis in their language, we see Gorn make sure the rebels are with him and will serve as the escort for the commandant and his family.
Once again the Imperials insult and dismiss the locals, talking about their “trade” of hides in return for a “three-year lease” being almost laughable along with the commandant once again complaining about their stench before saying he wants to make quick work of this and for Gorn to do the talking. For their part, you can tell the Dhani leader is no happier to be there than the Imperials and after the Dhani leader says to tell the commandant that “our ghosts have strong hands and long memories” Gorn instead says “May the Eye find the good in all of us.”
Meanwhile, Vel and Cinta, after infiltrating the imperial outpost by going underwater, plant a device that will fry the Imperial comms. Once in place, Vel looks hesitant to continue, but after some prodding from Cinta calls in to the group on the ground and makes the mission a go. As they reach the imperial facility, Gorn sends troops down the road and instructs that no one is to come there without his permission, helping remove obstacles for the rebels.
Once inside the facility, the plan begins in earnest — the crew takes the colonel, the commandant and his family hostage. The colonel tries to tell the rebels to let the boy go, but he is killed by Cinta, arriving with Vel. Once learning what they intend to do with him, the commandant claims he doesn't control the vault, Vel says they just need his hand to control the sensor and she delivers the line seen in the tweet above. Meanwhile, the planted device activates and takes out the Imperial comms just as the Eye is beginning.
After a brief verbal battle with the commandant where she says that unlike the Imperials, if the rebels get what they want everyone will walk away, Vel has a brief moment with Cinta where she makes her promise that she’s going to be OK, laying the groundwork for their eventual separation later in the episode.
The rebels arrive at the vault and at first make it look like an inspection before quickly flipping the switch. The commandant says they’ve taken his family hostage and he urges the vault guards to cooperate. After using the commandant’s hand on the scanner, the rebels use explosives to unlock the payroll, which also triggers an alert at the Alkenzi base. The rebels use the guards — and the commandant — to help load the freighter up with their prize. Gorn arrives and the commandant realizes he’s with the rebels. The commandant tells Gorn he’ll hang for this, to which Gorn replies that after seven years serving the Empire he deserves worse than that.
The first hiccup for the rebels comes when the Imperials are able to hear the rebels speak over the radio about taking the vault, eventually leading to them making their way down there. The Imperials arrive just as the rebels are wrapping up, and after Gorn attempts to say it’s actually a classified operation, the commandant keels over and a firefight begins. Almost immediately Gorn is shot and killed, with Taramyn getting gunned down trying to help Vel after she is pinned down. Nemik saves Andor, who was getting choked out by a guard after trying to slip into the cockpit.
After the remaining rebels close up the freighter, the force from take-off knocks them over and sends a crate into Nemik, seriously injuring him. He is vital to the plan since only he can operate the old-school navigational tool introduced in the prior episode, so Vel gives him a med spike and they bring him to the cockpit so he can give Andor the flight path as Tie fighters arrive from Alkenzi to pursue the freighter. Andor is forced to trust Nemik’s flight path, but in the end, the rebels are able to make it through the Eye as the Tie fighters are destroyed in pursuit. Meanwhile, Cinta is left behind.
Skeen wants to take the mortally wounded Nemik to the doctor they have in their contingency plan, despite Vel not wanting to risk the operation. Andor ultimately chooses to take Nemik to the doctor. While the doctor is working on Nemik with Vel looking on, Skeen reveals his true colors and tries to convince Andor to abandon them and split the approximately 80 million credits between the two of them. Skeen reveals his story before about his brother was a lie, he didn’t even have a brother and says he’s a rebel alright, but it’s him against everybody else and 40 million credits is enough to make him forget all about Andor. Skeen says Andor is not there to save anybody but himself and says he is just like him — they were born in the hole and all they know is climbing over somebody else to get out.
As Skeen is continuing to make his pitch, Andor kills him and he then goes and holds up the doctor and Vel at gunpoint as Nemik has died. Andor reveals Skeen’s duplicity to Vel and says he is taking his cut, the number he was promised, and leaving the freighter and what’s inside to her. He also gives the sky kyber back to Vel to give to Luthen. This, combined with the fact he’s only taking his cut, may be enough to earn her respect, if not her trust. Vel stops him and says Nemik wanted Andor to have his manifesto and while he tries to say he doesn’t want it he eventually takes it when she says he insisted.
We close the episode with news of the rebels’ attack on Aldhani reaching Coruscant, from the ISB getting ready with responses to the attack, to Mon Mothma having her speech interrupted by murmuring, to Luthen enjoying a victorious laugh and letting out a sigh of relief.
It will be interesting to see what aftershocks we’ll see following the rebel attack. How will its success affect Mothma and her efforts for diplomacy? Will it embolden Luthen? Where does Andor go from here? Vel? Was the attack, and its use of a child as a hostage, a sign that Luthen’s rebels are more in line with the extremist philosophies of Saw Gerrera rather than the more measured diplomatic form of rebellion practiced by Mothma? And could this in the end lead to a splintering of the alliance between Mothma and Luthen?
For me, the most interesting potential aftershock will be how Andor reacts. Is Nemik’s death and manifesto the first step on his journey toward joining the Rebellion and becoming the man we meet in Rogue One? After seeing the Empire tighten its grip on Ferrix last week, it seems likely that Andor could return there and find himself appalled and angry at their methods and more sympathetic to Nemik’s line of thinking. Perhaps he’ll be driven to look upon Nemik’s manifesto and see how he could incorporate it into his own worldview and ethos. Either way, Andor has plenty of fertile ground to cover mid-way through its first season.
- Kudos to the VFX team on Andor, the visuals of the Eye were spectacular. This was perhaps the most beautiful VFX of any Star Wars media, and it shows that even when doing “TV shows” instead of movies they can still bring it.
- It seems likely we haven’t seen the last of either Vel or Cinta. It feels deliberate that Cinta remains out in the galaxy as someone we could return to at some point, and I’m fairly certain that Vel is likely to return to Luthen and continue to be a thorn in the side of the Empire.
- I think it was the right choice to largely not break up the action of the heist by having a B-plot. I appreciated being able to contrast the ongoing heist with the Dhanis’ celebration of the Eye, but think it would have broken the tension a bit to go to Coruscant to see where Syril or Meero or Mothma or Luthen were up to. I imagine they will all get their moment shine in the weeks ahead.
- While the firefight was well thought out and I figured some of our “heroes” were not going to make it out of the heist alive, I was somewhat disappointed to see Gorn and Taramyn both disposed of as they were. We never really got to learn much about either, and it feels as though they deserved a bit more than to just be quickly killed off with little fanfare other than the brief shot of Taramyn on the ground before the freighter doors close.
- I also figured there was a good likelihood that someone would turn on the rebel side, although I did not see it coming AFTER a successful heist. Kudos to the Andor team for making it difficult to predict that Skeen — despite being untrusting of Andor from the beginning and actually holding a knife to him last week – would use Nemik’s injuries as a pretense to find a way for him to potentially convince Andor to join him in escaping with the money. Skeen seemed to me to have an almost father-son relationship with Nemik, so I never questioned if he had genuine concern for him. Part of me still wonders if perhaps some part of him really did want to get Nemik medical attention, even if he still planned on leaving him and Vel high and dry in the end.
- Let’s also not sugarcoat it — I’m sure if Andor had taken Skeen up on his offer, Skeen would have doublecrossed him once they arrived on the moon Skeen talked about. It seemed likely that Skeen would use anyone and everyone as a means to his ends. I think perhaps the contrast of Skeen — revealed as the ultimate opportunist and me-first mercenary — with the ideal optimist Nemik could shape Andor somewhat moving forward. As I said above, I would bet the memory of Nemik and the manifesto Andor now carries with him will lead him at last partially on the path to Rogue One.
Are you excited for the second half of the first season of Andor? Are you excited to see where the series goes from here? Let me know on Twitter, my handle is @a_silva32. May the Force be with you!