Everything is moving into place as Andor edges closer to the heist on Aldhani. On this week’s episode “The Ax Forgets”, directed by Susanna White, delivers another tension filled slow burn of a Star Wars story. The Dan Gilroy written preamble to the heist really digs into the inner workings of strangers being brought together for something they have their reasons to be a part of but need to trust each other to pull off…at least somewhat.
In an appropriately truly pathetic fashion, we open up on Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) looking mightily dejected for getting Morlana under permanent Imperial Authority. Really, he’s just bitter he’s had to move back in with his mother Eedy (Kathryn Hunter), who fusses over his abject failure in a cosy career, one he’d kept her out of when things were good. And now he’s back with “no future prospect,” she repeats, while he pokes at orbs of cereal in his blue milk. She offers to call his Uncle Harlo so they could find someone to take him on. Ah yes, privilege at its finest: protecting mediocrity as we see how easy it is for a call to give Karn more chances can simply be arranged, because of who he knows or is related to. Believers in the Empire all want to think they have earned their dues, but Eedy makes it explicit: this new era is still all about who you know.
Back on Aldhani, Andor (Diego Luna) wakes to Skeen (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) having looked through his stuff, much to the chagrin of “Clem.” Feeling sized up, Cassionreturns the favour by identifying Skeen’s tattoos, revealing he recognises one from an encampment he was also sent to as a youth, extending an olive branch between the untrusting men. Skeen remarks there’s cages everywhere, “The ax forgets but the tree remembers,” he says giving us an all timer line delivery, before adding “our turn to do the chopping.” Andor asks if Skeen is, out for revenge and he cops to it, while laying out that other crew members have their motivations for banding together — like Nemik being a true beliver writing a manifesto, and Cinta being tougher than she looks (and also already sharing a blanket with Vel, giving Star Wars, in its most tiny of manners, its second textually queer couple on-screen). You can tell the closer they get to the mission, to more second thoughts, everyone is beginning to get nervous about the people they’re fighting besides — except for Nemik, he’s too pure.
Keeping up with the Coruscantians, we pick up on Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) getting ready for an engagement she wants to bring her daughter Leida along to. Her kid pretty much scoffs at the prospect, while her husband Perrin (Alastair Mackenzie) acts indifferent and reticent. Mon commands her daughter to get ready and Leida calls her out for just wanting to keep up appearances that she’s involved in Coruscant’s political world. Tough to be a guardian of the rebellion over your kid, and have them not understand, it’s a gripping, cutting moment, one that shows how truly isolated Mon feels.
On the matter of kids, we juxtapose Leida with Nemik back with the rebels, who’s eagerly telling Cassion his idealistic musings about the world they’ve been living in. Relevant is his observation that the “Pace of oppression outstrips our ability to understand it,” as the real trick is to hide behind many things over one. It’s a deft moment, one that underpins both not just how condensed the timeline of Star Wars is — the Empire has been around for just fifteen years by this point — but in how it offers a mirror to our own world, one democractic crisis after the next happening all on us. To survive, Nemik believes, earnestly, we have to rely on each other, if there’s to be any chance against fascism. And Cassian needs to learn he doesn’t have to act alone through his enlightening convos with a rebel kid. L
ater, Vel and Taramyn, go over how to he plans to get the roller freighter filled with crates of payroll data and he quickly figures out they have no idea. Thankfully Andor had previous mechanical awareness of custom jobs on cargo track launches so he describes the custom job on it that’s not in the manual Vel and Taramyn studied. They called him out in that sort of textbook educated superior way that only goes so far without experience, if you’re from an unconventional learning background, you’ll recognise the micro-aggression. Here Cassian has the upper hand thanks to on the ground knowhow, and insists to fly it because he knows the machinery, they don’t. With newfound respect, Taramyn catches on to his skill in picking up things quick, perhaps recognising Andor has photographic memory and walks him through the layout of the plan and trains him in the ways of passing for a solider.
What follows is the most tense moment of the episode when a TIE Fighter flies over the Aldhani plain where the group is plotting their run. The sound design shakes you to your core as it’s whoosh gets too close and the rebels scramble to hide their weapons — the fear of the Empire, not on a grand scale, but in the single shriek of a lone starfighter, emphasising just what our heroes are really up against. Meanwhile, at the station, Lietuenant Gorn looks over the horizon and reminisces about how many Aldhani people used to gather for the celestial shower, and he remarks that since their presence the numbers have dwindled to less than a hundred in the past year. It’s truly tense world building here, as the Empire moves to erase whole places and people in their galactic manifest destiny.
And destiny is a big thing for Dedra (Denise Gough), who, back on Coruscant is still snooping around while Lieutenant supervisor Blevin rakes in credit for setting up on Ferrix, which he wants weekly reports on. Dedra feels something else is at work here and begins to conspiracy theory map together suspicious hits on Kessel, Fondor, Jakku, where pieces of tech and weapons have gone missing. To her superiors it’s too spread out to be organised, but she thinks it’s too random to be random. We just know she’s gonna swoop in on Syril soon and he needs it to be saved from his domineering mother, who most definitely is exaggerating at the sacrifices she’s made for Uncle Harlo can come through. And just like everyone else this episode, even Karn is given a reason for his rage, as we see him glaring at a holo of Cassian: vengeance for his fragile ego.
That idea comes to the for back on Aldhan,i as the Rebels make their way, not knowing entirely what they’re doing is going to work, or why they’re truly there — but that it’s worth doing no matter what the outcome is. Their lives are on the line so there may be more of them freed to fight. “Everyone is fighting their own rebellion” Vel sums up to Cassian, revealing that Gorn is helping the team because he’d fallen for a local woman and she was taken away. It’s compounded even further when, while taking a break, Skeen threatens Cassian and reveals the kyber necklace he’d been given by Luthen, and Cassian reveals his own reason to fight: money and nothing more, but he takes the opportunity to show a glimpse of the man we know he’ll become in Rogue One. Turning the situation on its head, Cassian glowers at his fellow would-be rebels, telling them them he knows they’re afraid and ready to tear each other apart, because he’s afraid, too. But, he argues, there’s a difference between steeling your nerve to act or getting cold feet at the wrong moment — they can either stay the course or leave, but he’ll be damned if they blame that choice on him.
Later that night, we learn that Skeen has been very pressed by Clem, as he admits his own reason to fight: his brother died over losing his land after it was taken by the Empire. It’s a very real reminder that trauma can divide but it can also bond. Again, the wooded environment — trees yet to be cut down — can say so much without a word. This is Star Wars at its core, on the ground with the disenfranchised as they are united, no matter the reason, in rising up. And just in time, too, as somewhere on Coruscant Luthen waits for a com out of nerves.. but, as Kleya (Elizabeth Dulau) gently reminds him, it will soon be over or just get started tomorrow. In the Rebellion, burgeoning or otherwise, that’s all the hope you need.
- Eedy is a piece of work, does the most, but is also kind of everything?
- Trix are for Karn!
- “The ax forgets but the tree remembers.” going down as an all time great Star Wars line.
- Vel and Cinta being an item (hooray!) and also not knowing what their role in the heist is greatly worries me. Let’s not bury our gays here, please.
- Why is Mon Mothma married to Perrin? Why does she have such an ungrateful child? Hopefully her Leida’s rebellious streak can lead to an arc to be on her mother’s side.
- I would like to read Nemik’s manifesto, darn-nit. I am too invested in these rebels and the vibes are that not everyone is going to survive.
- The TIE Fighter noise will now forever give me PTSD to the scene in this episode.
- When Dedra can no longer complain to a manager, she will become the manager. There’s something incredible in just how Andor turns the Imperials into both an oppressive, menacing force, and yet also a bitchy, incompetent bureaucracy in equal measure.
Andor episodes stream every Wednesday on Disney+
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