Andor was back with another episode this week, with the pace slowing down a bit again after picking up the past two episodes. What does that mean for the story? 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.
The day before is hard. Cassian Andor said this amid a moment of turmoil for Vel’s rebels on Aldhani and this felt like an apt metaphor for this episode. After picking up the pace a bit in episodes 3 and 4, this week’s entry feels like the calm before the storm of the forthcoming heist. And throughout the episode, we got glimpses of psychological warfare between characters.
On Aldhani, throughout this week’s episode, we saw Skeen’s efforts to determine what Cassian’s story really was. Right from the go, Skeen’s skepticism is brought to the forefront, with him taking all of Andor’s gear while he slept and searching through it. Skeen notes that Andor knows what his tattoos mean and during the course of still expressing his skepticism of Cassian, Skeen delivers a quote that includes the episode’s title: “The axe forgets, but the tree remembers. Now it’s our turn to do the chopping.”
This also brings up another unifying theme of the episode, as verbalized later in the episode by Vel — everyone has their own rebellion. Throughout this episode, we’ll see what this means for many of our characters.
As such, Skeen admits he’s out for revenge while Cassian tells the half-truth that he’s there because he was told he could help. They also discuss “the kids” — Nemik and Cinta. Skeen notes that Nemik is green but all about the cause, while Cinta is stone cold and fearless and probably the toughest one there.
Andor expresses his doubts about Lt. Gorn, saying he could be walking them into a trap, but Skeen notes that if that were the case they would’ve already been taken down by now. Skeen says maybe that’s what Andor is here for, and he retorts that he is here to win and walk away, toeing right up to the line of showing his true mercenary intent.
Later, Andor is taken by Nemik’s old-school navigational tech which opens a window into Nemik’s worldview. Nemik notes that, “We’ve grown reliant on Imperial tech, and we’ve made ourselves vulnerable.” He also says, “There’s a growing list of things we’ve known and forgotten, things they’ve pushed us to forget. Things like freedom.” Like a true revolutionary we learn Nemik is writing a manifesto, while Skeen says Nemik sees oppression everywhere. They seem to act as two ends of the spectrum — the somewhat, naive impressionable youth who still believes he can change the world and the world-weary man who’s seen too much and is just out for revenge.
Nemik immediately and enthusiastically goes into his philosophy including that the pace of the Empire’s repression outstrips our ability to understand it, which is the real trick of the imperial thought machine. On the other side, Skeen immediately tries to put Andor on the spot by saying he’d like to know what he believes and Andor says he knows what he’s against and everything else will have to wait, which Nemik says makes him his ideal reader.
Andor is only saved from Nemik’s philosophical and political musings by Taramyn calling upon him. Taramyn and Vel start asking some unusual questions and Andor realizes they don’t know how to execute a key aspect of the plan. Andor has knowledge of what they’ll need to do and asks what would they have done if he hadn’t come along. His competency here shows what he brings to the team. He doubles down on this later on by suggesting key changes, like swapping people’s places based on which had they favor — and being able to peg which hand everyone in the group favors — so that their weapon is on the outside.
On their trek, and after the Rebels have a brief scare when a tie fighter does a fly-by, Vel reveals to Andor that Gorn is involved because he fell in love with a local woman, lost a promotion and then lost the woman (implying the Empire killed her) and then he lost his taste for the Empire. Later in the episode, we’ll see how Gorn is unlike the other imperials, who dismiss the beauty of the environment around them and show open disgust for the locals, playing into Gorn’s motivations for taking part in this mission.
The tension is ramped up when Skeen comes up to Andor with a knife to his neck and discovers the sky kyber Andor was given by Luthen. Skeen lays bare all of his skepticism about Andor, says he needs to know who he is riding with, which leads to a standoff among all the members of the team, which Vel diffuses. Andor finally admits he is a mercenary and that he’s there for the money, saying he doesn't want to walk in looking over his shoulder on the job.
Vel has to admit that she knew, but Andor always notes that there’s always something that comes up the day before a big job. Andor notes they’re afraid and he admits he is as well, but says there’s a difference between fear and losing your nerve and tells them not to use him as an excuse.
After reaching their destination, Skeen, at Vel’s insistence, tells Andor that the reason he is on this job is that the Empire basically killed his farmer brother by taking his land and flooding it, which led to his suicide. In a moment that could be a moment of growing bonds, Skeen says that is the closest Andor will get to an apology and Andor says that is close enough.
Meanwhile, all along there is plenty of psychological warfare on Coruscant. We get more of a glimpse into the icy Cold War that is the marriage between Mon Mothma and her husband, Perrin. Perrin seems like something of a cookie-cutter bad guy, someone we’re supposed to hate and almost pity Mothma for having wound up with. Right off the bat, she has to remind him of her driver’s name (which she will do again later), showing how disparate their views are of those who are beneath their station. We also see some of the intra-family warfare being waged, as Perrin has seemingly sowed the seeds of discord between Mothma and her daughter, Leida, with Leida insinuating that Mothma only uses her for appearances’ sake and that it’s all about Mon (earning a sly smile of approval from Perrin).
Later, when Perrin asks why he doesn’t know more about her new foundation, Mothma replies that she didn’t think he’d be interested in her new foundation because it is charitable. We’re getting clear signs that Mothma clearly does not trust her husband with what she’s really doing and that she is keeping him in the dark about her work behind the scenes to bring down the Empire. All of this also serves to make the audience doubt what his reaction would be if he did learn of her true actions and sets him as someone who could eventually sabotage her and stab her in the back.
Meanwhile, Syril Karn is still reeling from his career setbacks at his mom’s place on Coruscant. We see that she uses biting sarcasm to cut him down over his failures that have led to his return to her, implying that she wasn’t the easiest woman to live with growing up nor the most nurturing mother. After dismissively saying she wishes she could have seen more of her son when he was thriving, she immediately gets on him about having no future prospects. They engage in a verbal back and forth which leads her to say she’s calling Uncle Harlo and calling in the family favor, which Karn is not thrilled about.
Later, she tells Syril that Uncle Harlo said he never thought police work was his chosen path, but wants to think about what it really is. Karn’s mother also seemingly relishes in taking another dig at his failings.
And finally, Lt. Meero continues her fascination with her belief in the burgeoning rebellion. She expresses some self-doubt, but she and her assistant agree that it’s too random to be random. Meero also says if she were them this is how she would do it. Never climb the same fence twice.
With the impending Aldhani heist, I imagine the pace will pick up again next week. It will be interesting to see where the plot will go from there and whether how well the team does or doesn’t perform affects the trajectory of the rest of the season.
- Karn’s mother tells him, “Being a leader isn’t something one just turns on and off.” Later in the episode, we see Karn staring at a security holo of Andor, leading the audience to believe he is not done with our hero. One wonders if perhaps this is leading to a team-up of Karn and Meero given their shared career ambitions and potential shared enemy.
- Speaking of Meero, she pops some kind of pill subtly while working late with her subordinate, which leads one to wonder how/if that might come into play as a larger plot point down the line.
- We don’t see much Luthen in this episode. He’s not seen until the very end when he’s trying to get a signal — perhaps looking to get in contact with the rebel crew on Aldhani. His assistant reminds him nothing will go down tonight and after he asks her if she’s checked her walk-away packs, she says she doesn’t like seeing him nervous. She says Vel is the only one who traces back to him, but he admits that he was not careful enough with Andor. She says it will all be over this time tomorrow, and he presciently replies or it will just be starting.
- We see Lt. Blevin on Ferrix, but really this is just a sign of the Imperials increasing their presence on the planet and a sign that while we have not seen the characters from this planet in several episodes they have not been forgotten about.
Are you excited for the impending vault heist? Are you excited to see where the series goes from there? Let me know on Twitter, my handle is @a_silva32. May the Force be with you!