Andor Recap: The Old Ways Hold Us
Season 1 Episode 11 Editor’s Rating3 stars ***
Photo: Lucasfilm Ltd./Lucasfilm Ltd. It’s fitting that this week’s Andor dispenses with a literal cliffhanger in its opening scene, where Cassian and Melshi are dangling from a precipice on Narkinia waiting for an Empire ship to pass. Unlike the tense last few episodes setting up and executing the prison break, this one is a check-in extravaganza, with appearances from just about every major character we know is still alive (and one who isn’t), all packed into an episode that runs (without the opening and closing credits) just about 36 minutes or so.
Only a few characters get more than one scene — and that elite list includes a grieving B2EMO, reeling from the offscreen death of Maarva Andor, introduced via the episode’s weirdest and boldest transition: a dissolve from that cliffside shot of Cassian and fellow prisoner Melshi, dangling off a cold and steep ledge, to an extreme close-up of a view through a mostly empty glass, sitting on the top of B2, as estate-settling chatter hums in the background. Living up to his name, B2EMO is asked if he’d like to be alone with Maarva for a final goodbye — before, we later learn, she is “bricked,” a variation on cremation where her body becomes another literal brick in the wall on Ferrix — and has a heartbreaking response locked and loaded: “I don’t want to be alone. I want Maarva.”
The droid is not the only one who has taken notice of Maarva’s death. In fact, it feels as if just about everyone finds out about it before Cassian does. Cinta, working undercover at, essentially, a nearby coffee (caf) bar, observes the procession of her body; Vel also knows, and has a testy conversation with Kleya as she seeks to inform an absent Rael; Dedra, watching Ferrix carefully, orders the Imperial presence on the planet to approve the permit request that would allow the “Daughters of Ferrix” to throw a funeral celebration, hoping Andor will come back for it. Even Syril and his damn mom find out before poor Cass; Syril’s former colleague Sergeant Mosk gives him a call to fill him in despite the horrible reception. Is this setting up a finale where almost everyone converges on Ferrix, back where the season started?
The other half of the story, splintered into its own factions, has to do with the upcoming raid on Spellhaus Power Station and the fate of one Anto Kreegyr, appearing via holo-photo when Bix is dragged in to answer questions about him. Rael, as established, knows the Empire is sniffing around Kreegyr; he shows up at Saw Gerrara’s base to warn him off Saw’s late-breaking interest in joining the Spellhaus raid. The raid is going ahead as planned, even though the ISB knows about it; Kreegyr and his men are getting burned to protect Rael’s man on the inside and, with him, his entire operation. How much of that, though, amounts to Rael actually just protecting himself? Does he view himself as too important to the movement to lose?
We certainly see what happens when he’s backed against a wall after he leaves Saw. His ship is stopped by the Imperial Patrol, and though he’s able to obtain an Alderaan ID code in time to avoid trouble, trouble presses on anyway; the Imperials are going to board and inspect his ship anyway, for practice. Rael pulls off some sweet defensive maneuvers, firing on and disabling the ship’s tractor beam, blowing up some TIE fighters, and unleashing what look like gigantic lightsabers before activating his hyperdrive and getting the hell out of there. (No idea if those red beams are legitimately the product of kyber crystals or just garden-variety space lasers, but it looked incredibly cool.)
Mon Mothma is hardly less panicked, even though she’s not in a position to blow up any starships just yet. She summarizes her precarious financial situation to Cousin Vel as her daughter Leida enthusiastically participates in what seems like kind of a Chandrilan CCD, where an elder leads a bunch of teens in a series of chants: “Yielding in acceptance, safe in the braid of the old ways.” It’s not completely clear whether this means that Leida might welcome the not-quite-betrothal that Mon has signed her up for (though either way, it feels like there should have been an inkling of Leida’s Chandrilan traditionalism before now). But that would provide a bitter irony — that Leida might actually be fine with the compromise that brings her mother such anguish.
Anguish is how this busy episode ends, too: Cassian finally learns about his mother’s passing. It’s unclear whether he has resolved to return to Ferrix; his message for her was going to be that he’d find a way to see her soon. But it sure seems likely, even if the trip will go against his better judgment. It may be the last vestige of Cassian’s old ways before he formally joins up with his future.
• Fitting for a piece-moving episode, one of the best bits of this episode is particularly and blatantly piece-moving, but imbued with a perfect bit of Star Wars color: To get Andor off of Narkinia 5 and back to at least nominal stability (that is, his stash of money and weapons on Niamos), he and Melshi hope to grab a quadjumper. They’re briefly intercepted by a couple of native Narkinians, Dewi Pamular (Matt Lydons) and his brother (?) Freedi (Liam Cook), who snag them in sticky-looking nets before letting them go to spite the Empire; the local prison, it seems, has spoiled their local water and therefore their fishing. This isn’t the first instance we’ve seen of locals forced to live in the margins of their own environment because of the Empire, nor does the dialogue between Andor and Dewi add up to much. But the important thing is the language-blending mixture of English and Narkinian, and Dewi’s Dexter Jettster-like voice and physicality, bring to mind the prequels. Add in a quadjumper (a vehicle first introduced in The Force Awakens) and there’s an offhand cross-trilogy pollination that’s irresistible (even if Andor’s rep is “the Star Wars show that’s too cool to do that kind of thing”).
• Vulture’s own Roxana Hadadi astutely zeroed in on how sometimes Andor feels like Michael Clayton in space, and that’s never been more clear than in those scenes between Luthen Rael and Saw Gerrara. “I’m doing this so you’ll listen. So listen,” feels like a very Tony Gilroy construction (and indeed, he’s back writing these last two episodes of the season). So does the repetition of Saw saying “30 men” and Luthen adding “plus Kreegyr.”
• This poor bastard Kreegyr! It feels like for half the season we’ve basically been hearing about how this guy’s goose is cooked. At this point, talking endlessly about Kreegyr as he plans his mission offscreen, only to have him get killed exactly as predicted, seems like it would be too easy. It is imperative, to me, that Anto Kreegyr becomes a major fixture of Andor season two. The unkillable, unsinkable Kreegyr!
• It’s also somewhat disappointing that Kreegyr is just a normal-looking human and not, like, a surprise Gungan or something.
• I’m sorry, maybe I’m being dense, but I’m having trouble parsing both the grammar and the meaning of this pithy remark from Syril’s mom after overhearing the call from Sergeant Mosk: “The mystery of your former triumphs have been vanquished.” I think I understand what it means in theory: This explains why you briefly experienced success, because your actual personal qualities certainly couldn’t. But … why does hearing from Mosk inspire this derision from her, beyond the fact that nearly everything Syril does inspires her derision? And why is “have” conjugated with the plural of “triumphs” rather than “mystery”? Isn’t the mystery that’s been vanquished, not the triumphs? Help me out here.
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