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The ‘Andor’ season finale brings the rebellion to the people - with one last ‘Star Wars’ surprise
“Oppression is the mask of fear. Remember that.”
Yoda famously said, “Do, or do not. There is no try.” Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger tried to make sense of these words on Star Wars Rebels, with Kanan realizing that yes, they may fail, but there is no try. There’s success, or there is failure. This doesn’t mean that the “try” isn’t important. It doesn’t mean that someone in a galaxy lost in fascism shouldn’t make an attempt to stand up to it. The odds are bad, but the attempt matters. The “try” matters, even if it ends in failure. We've written about how this applies to Andor, and we're writing about it again. The season finale made the notion more important than ever.
The people of Ferrix are outnumbered and outgunned when the Empire crashes the funeral procession of Maarva Andor (Fiona Shaw). Almost every character on Andor, the latest Disney+ Star Wars series, is there for varying reasons, and most of them have to do with Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) himself. Two messages left from rebels who have passed on inspire everyone to action, and attempts to rise are made all around. Some of them end in failure and death, but their “try” doesn’t make any less of an impact.
***WARNING: From this point forward, there will be spoilers for Episode 12 of Andor. If you have not watched yet, speed away from here at once.***
Cassian has returned to Ferrix, walking right into the trap that Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) has set for him. She’s on watch, ISB agent Corv is on watch, and rebels Cinta Kaz (Varada Sethu) and Vel Sartha (Faye Marsay) are on watch too. Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård) has also come, hoping that the ISB helps him weed Cassian out so they can kill this dangling thread.
To the delight of no one, perpetual loser Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) has made the trip too. "Awesome!" said nobody, absolutely nobody.
Directed by Benjamin Caron and written by Tony Gilroy, the episode truly showed Cassian as a changed man. He is no longer the selfish schemer that we met in the premiere, and Luna plays the end of this transition with precision. He may have become something of a believer, because he reads Nemik’s manifesto that was left with him several episodes ago.
“Oppression is the mask of fear,” we hear in Nemik’s voice. “Remember that. And know this, the day will come when all these skirmishes and battles, these moments of defiance, will have flooded the banks of the Empire’s authority and then there will be one too many. One single thing will break the siege. Remember this. Try.”
There’s that word again. There proves to be “one too many” for the Empire in this episode, as a full battalion of stormtroopers cannot contain the people of Ferrix once they get royally pissed. All of then “try” and some succeed. Some perish. You get the feeling that the Empire is going to have to pack a bigger punch to deal with a threat like this. The mask of fear they wear will have to get bigger, and it will have to inspire fear in others.
What could manage that, we wonder?
The words of Maarva are heard in a holo that B2-EMO plays once the procession has assembled on Rix Road. “There is a wound that won’t heal at the center of the galaxy,” she says. “There is a darkness reaching like rust into everything around us. We let it grow and now it’s here. It’s here, and it’s not visiting anymore. It wants to stay. The Empire is a disease that thrives in darkness, it is never more alive when when we sleep.”
She wakes everyone up with the words, “Fight the Empire!” Once Imperial Officer Keysax kicks B2 over (the nerve) it’s on, and the people of Ferrix heed Maarva’s words.
Brasso (Joplin Sibtain) fights with the brick that was made with the ashes of Maarva. The Time Wrangler smashes his anvil again and again. Bombs go off, and Dedra herself is almost lost in a mob. Syril helps her out of it, continuing to stalk her even in the middle of a battle.
They’d all hoped to find Cassian in all of this, but he’s only concerned with rescuing Bix (Adria Arjona) which he succeeds in doing. He gets her to a ship, and she takes off with B2, Brasso, and a few others. He’ll find them, he says. Bix believes him. Luthen, possibly inspired himself by what happened here, returns to his ship to find Cassian waiting for him. Cassian tells him to shoot him, or take him in. Luthen gives him a smile; he’s obviously not going to shoot him.
We’re left with some hope, but the Empire has a plan for that. In the post-credits, we see droids installing the devices that the prisoners on Narkina 5 were furiously making. They are part of the main weapon of… the Death Star. This is the biggest mask that the oppression of the Empire can conjure. “Tyranny requires constant effort,” Nemik wrote, and we see that effort fail on Ferrix. Here’s a weapon that can just blow Ferrix away in one blast. There won’t be prisoners.
Cassian inadvertently assisted in the construction of the weapon that he will eventually prove pivotal to destroying. He may die in Rogue One, but his “try” lives on. So does Nemik’s, and so does Maarva’s. The “try” can be a spark, and in the face of the big ball of doom, you need as many sparks as possible.
Galactic Points of Interest
-Mon Mothma (Genevive O’Reilly) has her daughter make a formal introduction to the son of Davo Sculden. The ISB is watching her and her driver is a spy. Agent Blevin is on it, and he’s very curious about Worthless Perrin’s gambling debts. O'Reilly has been brilliant all season, and we're both excited and scared to see what happens to Mon Mothma next.
-The Spellhaus plan went forward, and Anto Kreegyr is gone. Partagaz (Anton Lesser) doesn’t care that there aren’t any prisoners, even though Dedra wishes that there were. “Today was about wiping the taste of Aldhani from the Emperor’s mouth,” Partagaz chides her.
-Death Troopers make their first Andor appearance in this episode. They didn’t turn the tide.
-The Time Wrangler (the guy who keeps time in ritual fashion by banging on the anvil in the tower) might be our favorite character on the entire show? We already loved him, but we loved him even more when a stormtrooper scaled the tower and tried to stop the banging. The Time Wrangler kicked the trooper to his death. What time is it? Time to die.
-We may not return to Ferrix in Season 2, but we’re very glad that Bix, Brasso, and B2 are headed to the “Gangi Moon” where Cassian will hopefully see them again. We definitely want to see them again. We’ve loved Bix and B2 from the start, and Brasso has become another king.
-We know that Cassian doesn’t die, so what does Luthen do with him? Where does he take him? Tony Gilroy has said that Season 2 will go to Yavin 4, so that could be their next stop. Cassian has proved to be an asset that can be trusted, it’s time to let him join the official rebellion.
-One of our favorite lines of the episode came from Maarva’s holo: “The dead lifted me with their truth. And now I’m dead, and I yearn to lift you.”
-Another favorite line was a personal message from Maarva, delivered to Cassian from Brasso. The entire message is heartbreaking (she is definitely proud of him) but the last line is the kicker: “I love him more than anything he could ever do wrong.”
-Though every word from both Nemik and Maarva is a treasure, our favorite line (in an episode and season packed with nothing but favorite lines) goes to Cassian himself. Bix shows that she’s not defeated completely when she mouths “stone and sky” along with the crowd outside. When Cassian rescues her, they speak of Maarva. Cassian only has one thing to say about his mother, and Luna plays the simple line perfectly: “Wasn’t she great?”
-So ends Season 1 of the biggest Star Wars surprise of the year. We expected to love The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi (and we did) but nothing prepared us for how head-smashingly perfect this series is. It is as big and as powerful as the Death Star itself, and it makes us want to wake up. It makes us want to try. We might end up fighting a planet destroyer with a sharp stick, but so what. We’re all just bricks in the end.
Andor Season 1 is now streaming on Disney+. “Eyes open, possibilities everywhere.”