Political Warfare Pushes All Sides to Mobilize on Andor

Political Warfare Pushes All Sides to Mobilize on Andor

Episode seven of Andor traces the ripples of the Rebel strike on Aldhani across the galaxy. Every side sees the lines drawn, and action begins to build in another tension-filled hour of the events that lead up to Rogue One and Star Wars.

The Stephen Schiff (The Americans)-written episode was directed by Benjamin Caron (The Crown); it finds Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) hoping to make a clean break, but things are never as simple as that — especially when all sides begin to mobilize around him.

Political Warfare Pushes All Sides to Mobilize on Andor

There’s a reason we open on Syril (Kyle Soller) and his mother Eedy (Kathryn Hunter) as he prepares to interview for a cubicle gig at the Bureau of Standards. His choice of a brown suit elicits heavily worded criticism from her, and it’s a phrase that permeates the entire episode: “Everything says something.” Here, she’s referring to his choice of fashion speaking to his desperation for approval. Hunter just relishes her scenes and we live for it

Intense political warfare is underway at the ISB, where Colonel Yularen (now played by Malcolm Sinclair) announces they’re ready to respond forcefully and Dedra Meero (in her best, played by Denise Gough) looks ready for it. They announce that measures will be put in place: a tax will be imposed (equal to five times the amount stolen from Aldhani) on any sector harbouring partisan activity, and the use of local custom festivals or tradition as a cover for rebel activity will trigger permanent revocation of Imperial tolerance. Additionally, as per Emperor Palpatine (that name drop), assurance has been made that in wake of the Aldhani “robbery,” the ISB will be convening an emergency senate session and proposing a legislation package of bills and amendments that will free them to do surveillance, search, and seizure whenever they deem necessary. They’re going full fascism here with the Public Order Resentencing Directive, which stipulates any criminal act — even one with indirect effect on the Empire — will be branded a class-one offence. All prison sentences are to be reevaluated, and all outstanding fines and levies are to be paid in full because the Empire wants to be clear they’re here to keep everyone in line. Dedra knows the Rebels want this big reaction and thinks they’re playing into their hands, but she also knows Aldhani was an announcement of their intention for a revolution. She does however see the newly gained access to anything she desires as her chance to prove herself.

Back on Coruscant, Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård) reminds Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) that she knew where it was going. “Revolutions are expensive,” he reminds her when she realises what will be set in motion. It’s a bitter pill for her to swallow that they need the Empire to overreact, to show their true face. The Rebel network is set up and Mon is left grappling with moving forward at the cost of pain to others. Luthen assures her he’s always at her service; Kleya (Elizabeth Dulau) remarks that she hopes Mon is worth it.

In a quick scene where Karn is at the interview describing the situation that left him jobless, it’s clear he’s not over the injustice he’s seen. He’s told to strike it off his record as he assimilates to the new gig he gets thanks to his uncle. Karn’s obsession begins to fester and he’s convinced his day will come — and we hope it’s in the form of new Empire mummy Dedra saving him from the office hell he’s in. I love that they’d be so good at doing bad together. Let us see it already! The more Dedra digs for missing items from Star Systems, the more we know this demented meet-cute is on the way.

Photo: Disney+
Photo: Disney+

Speaking of doing bad, we pick up on Kleya in a maroon hooded outfit, black leggings, and boots. It’s clear that she’s on a mission and one that’s not maybe entirely sanctioned by Luthen. She meets Vel (Faye Marsay), no longer looking like a Rebel but in some proper Coruscant glam as a disguise. She inquires about Cinta (Varada Sethu), if she’s heard anything, and Kleya admonishes her for putting them at risk for even receiving more messages. Uneasy, Vel asks where Luthen is and Kleya informs her he couldn’t make it. Shockingly, she asks Vel to track down Andor and kill him; there’s no need for loose ends knowing about Luthen. If you watch closely, you notice that Vel does not give Kleya the kyber Andor entrusted her with. So we hope that their reunion does not involve her turning against him. We see a moment on Aldhani where Cinta, on the run, sees the ISB arrive. We just want the rebel crew back together.

Andor gets back home to Ferrix under the cover of night. While B2EMO and Maarva (Fiona Shaw) are happy, she tells him it’s not safe for him there. Ferrix is now under Imperial authority and Cassian says it doesn’t matter: he’s there to take them away. Maarva considers it but puts it off until the morning, there’s something new behind her eyes that Andor does not immediately recognise.

The quiet intrigue continues to build at a high class gathering in Mon’s home, where she’s dressed in a stunning white gown out of her usual prim attire. Her fashion is freer and confident as she pulls an old friend from Chandrila, Tay Kolma (Ben Miles), into a conversation about their “childhood.” He’s a banker and she knows what she wants, so in between smiles they discuss their leanings. Tay says he can’t really share his stance in regards to the Empire because she’s so connected to it; Mon pushes back that even though she’s seen as a humanitarian nuisance, she’s more aware than he thinks — aware she’s being followed, that her driver is an ISB plant, and she wants it that way. It’s clear to the Empire she has a bleeding heart for the separatists when she fights for them and against Empire overreach in the senate.

Photo: Disney+
Photo: Disney+

Ultimately, they think she’s just a political irritation and she knows it. It’s her front. As she says, she learned it from Palpatine “I show you the stone in my hand, you miss the knife at your throat.” So as long as they only care to see what she does on the surface with her benevolence, they’ll miss what she’s really willing to do. Mon talking revolution is engrossing and I do believe that if she and Tay were old flames, it’s been rekindled. Her agenda is more than that, though we do want her to find happiness outside of Perrin (who’s the worst). She cuts to the chase: she’s raising money and asks Tay to help her access her family accounts for her Chandrilan charitable outreach program. While Tay doesn’t say much of a word in his stunned state, she asks him to be chairman and says it will involve visits to Coruscant.

Things on Ferrix aren’t going exactly as Andor hoped, but really what did he expect? When he goes to Bix (Adria Arjona) she tells him it’s the last place he should be and echoes the sentiment that he’s not safe there. Cassian tries to reminisce about their past together but she cuts short the romanticism. “You scam, you borrow, you lie, you disappear,” she reminds him; his last disappearance resulted in ISB putting up barracks on Ferrix and everyone blames him. He points out that had Timm (he got what he deserved) not said anything, they wouldn’t be in the situation. Bix clarifies that her dead boyfriend’s jealousy doesn’t change that; with Cassian there’s always something afoot and that he needs to go away for good. Before leaving Bix with what he owes her, he asks if she knows anything about Luthen and she says she doesn’t.

On his way back home, he sees the Stormtropper presence and it reminds him of a formative memory, one where in his youth he and his adoptive father Clem (that’s where he got that name) witness a crowd standing against the Empire. His dad, in order to protect his community, goes over to tell them to keep the peace but gets labelled a supporter. We don’t see it happen but he gets executed on the spot as part of the crowd the troopers take aim at. It’s a harrowing truth that’s lived in. In the morning Maarva reveals she doesn’t want to leave; you notice around her, there’s all sorts of thriving greenery and the glint in her eye is back. Andor tells her they have to leave and she says it doesn’t matter — the Empire is setting up everywhere so she wants to stay and fight like the heroes of Aldhani. Fiona Shaw is incredible in the heartbreaking scene where she explains that until that act of rebellion she avoided the square where Clem was hung but then felt inspired to don her best coat and smile as she finally felt free in her mind to stand up: “If there are heroes brave enough to take on a whole Imperial garrison. I’m brave enough to stick it out here.” She’s old and willing to do what’s right but understands why Andor continues to refuse the call.

Photo: Disney+
Photo: Disney+

“Everything that was taken away from you before you even started? Take all the money you’ve found and go and find some peace.” This hit really hard as a child of diaspora, revealing how the disenfranchised often move from place to place to escape the same fate until it gets to the point that it’s unescapable. To know peace in a world run by fascism is a dream deferred. So as Andor realises he’s going to be separated from his family again, he can’t stay and she can’t leave, he tells her he’ll be worried about her and she says that’s love. Truly, one of the most emotional scenes in Star Wars, I can’t even fully process that. The act of leaving behind loved ones who can’t leave hits too close to home for many. Maarva affirms she can’t beat them if she runs away. Her last request to her son is for him to stop looking for his sister; she tells him there were no survivors and to stop carrying guilt for things out of his control that happened when he was only a child. Peace is hard to find when you have the burden of displaced trauma stemming from atrocities the marginalised experience that’s out of their control, a Star Wars lesson I didn’t expect to see myself in as a first-generation Mexican American.

The Empire begins to formulate more action as Major Partagaz (Aton Lesser) assembles his supervisors. Blevin (Ben Bailey Smith) is bent on gatekeeping Dedra Meero and lodges a charge against her. Meero is overstepping by fixating on the overreach she was reprimanded for, compromising Imperial safety regarding Ferrix. Dedra is in full girlboss mode and admits she used the imperial emergency act in the wake of Aldhani to get data — she was allowed, after all. Meero puts Partagaz’s organising principles on the spot, saying the Rebels have been planning their actions around their sector’s “artificially constructed boundaries.” Partagaz counters by asking if she thinks his work has been supplanted.

Photo: Disney+
Photo: Disney+

“Systems change or die,” Meero retorts with her teeth out, and she’s got the proof thanks to her newly granted access. She says there’s a focused Rebel effort to acquire highly-restricted Imperial military components. Her evidence is that by accessing unfiltered sector crime reports, she can prove the links between the theft of their most secret equipment and its distribution to rebel groups across the galaxy. She calls out Blevin’s knowledge that she has a documented file ready to go. She says he’s out for self-preservation and he spits back, what’s more urgent than a renegade intelligence officer? The result of this middle management backstabing session is that Partagaz is impressed by Meero and she gets to oversee the Morlana sector — taking it away from Blevin. After the meeting they take a while and Partagaz warns her to watch her back.

The moment that we see the Miami-esque beach of Niamos and listen to that seaside vaporwave needle drop like a commercial for a new Starcruiser destination, we know the idyllic scene is too good to be true. A girl wakes up in bed while Andor (blessedly) is in the shower collecting some credits for the day’s luxuries. She asks him to not forget peezoz for Green Revnog, while he shirtlessly fumbles about to hide his loot. He goes out in coastal Coachella fashion and almost immediately runs into Rebels on the run who he gets lumped in with, like his father Clem. The fun gets cut short and the tension whiplashes you as he’s apprehended by a KX unit (sadly not K2SO) who chokes him in a scene that’s almost too hard to watch. Even in space the brown profiling is real.

In the end Andor, under a new name, pleads he’s just a tourist but still gets six years for a fine that used to be six months. He got away with Aldhani and still got time for just existing, proving that even if you run they’re going to look for reasons to find you.

Until everyone is free, no one is.

Photo: Disney+
Photo: Disney+

Additional Transmissions

  • Green Revnog sounds like revitalizing space Liquid IV (hey, it’s what I can connect it to as it’s what keeps me hydrated through fun times and convention season). I assume they need it to hang with new Arkies flavours, which we guess are recreational substances for fun. Too bad we don’t get to see what these things look like
  • Kathryn Hunter as Eedy will always get a shout out for just dominating in her scenes with Syril.
  • Vel and Cinta need to reunite!
  • Colonel Yularen in live action again with a new actor.
  • Luke Hull’s production design is mint, each place speaks to the intent of the characters residing in every location.
  • We peeped Jedi Master Plo Koon’s mask on display in Luthen’s shop.
  • Kleya: is she good or evil? Does the red and black give her away?
  • More Andor shirtless, please.
  • Let Mon find happiness with Tay!
  • The K2SO fake out had me hooting and hollering before traumatising me.
  • Who’s going to find Andor first? Tell me your guesses in the comments.

Andor drops on Disney+ Wednesdays.

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