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'Star Wars': The build-up to the mission is harder than the mission itself in Episode 5 of 'Andor'
“It’s too random to be random.”
The buildup to a dangerous mission is usually worse than the mission itself. That is the certainly the case in the fifth episode of Andor, the latest Star Wars series currently streaming on Disney+. Fear is okay, as long as it doesn’t cause you to make a mistake.
Cassian and the rebels that he has joined plan for their mission as best they can, but trust runs thin. It’s not just running thin with the rebels; no one else on the series knows who to trust either. Everyone is on edge and they deal with their anxiety in a variety of different ways.
***WARNING: From this point forward, there will be spoilers for Episode 5 of Andor. If you have not watched yet, speed away from here.***
Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) is playing the part of “Clem” fairly well in the little rebel cell on Aldhani. The only personal connection he maintains is that he has started to get comfort from the necklace of Blue Kyber that was given to him in the previous episode by Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård). The rebel Arvel Skeen (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) doesn’t trust him, but his need for revenge goes above everything else.
“The axe forgets, but the tree remembers,” Skeen says. “Now it’s our turn to do the chopping.”
As with most members of the rebellion, this fight is personal to him. We find out later that this tree symbolism is personal to him as well, as his brother lost “centuries” of trees as well as everything else to the Empire. He died of suicide, and this is Skeen’s reason to be in the fight.
Cassian is being paid, but other than Vel (Faye Marsay), no one is aware of that yet. He’s here to win and walk away. It’s good that he’s there, because a lot of this mission to the nearby Imperial base has not been planned very well. Cassian is able to point out the flaws and where he can help. As usual is in Star Wars, there's a “big ugly handle” that will prove to be vital.
He learns to march as an Imperial, something that he’ll have no problem doing when we see him in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The bubbling rebellion is so small and scattered right now that the Empire doesn’t consider any of it a threat; when a TIE Fighter buzzes them from overhead, Nemik (Alex Lawther) tells Cassian, “A surprise from above is never as shocking as one from below.”
That’s the Rebel Alliance in this period summed up, and almost no one in the Empire sees it. ISB Agent Meero (Denise Gough) is one of the few who sees a pattern, and as she says, “it’s too random to be random.”
There’s a very small chance that anyone will listen to her. She’s already popping pills.
Lieutenant Gorn (Sule Rimi) is going to be a huge help, as we find out that he is an Imperial defector who is helping the rebel cell from the inside by rearranging paint schedules. He’s doing more than that, though, and this is personal for him, too. He fell in love and lost a promotion, and then he lost the woman he fell in love with. Full of peaches is the Empire.
The tension within the rebels comes to a head when Skeen cuts the Kyber necklace off of Cassian and shows it to everyone else. It’s worth 30,000 credits, and he asks, “Who brings a treasure to a robbery?”
Cassian's truth of being a mercenary comes out, but these rebels need him. They can’t turn him away. The real question isn’t whether Skeen can trust him; it’s whether he is using this as a reason not to undertake a mission that scares him. Cassian understands.
“The day before is always hard,” he says.
The mission doesn’t start in this episode, it’s all buildup. You can’t take your eyes off of it. All we can do is wait to see if the mission is a success of not, knowing full well that there’s no way that everyone in this little rebel cell makes it out alive.
We’re in the same position that Luthen is in. He’s repeatedly checking comms in the back of his gallery, waiting for some kind of message about the mission that he helped to set up. Only Vel could be traced back to him, but now Cassian can be traced back too. “The thief, Andor,” could be a problem, but he was a necessary risk.
“I wasn’t careful,” Luthen says, but it is clear that this mission was destined for failure without Cassian. There’s careful, and then there’s letting caution stop you from taking action. Luthen has taken a leap of faith.
“It’ll be over tomorrow,” he is told. He responds, “Or it’ll just be starting.”
Galactic Points of Interest
-Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) continues to play her thankless role on Coruscant, with her idiot husband Perrin becoming more questionable with every second of screen time. We find out that she has a daughter, Leida, who doesn’t have a lot of respect for her mother. She thinks that Mon Mothma is only pretending to care, having no idea what she is really putting on the line.
-Is Perrin a moron, an Imperial true believer, or a rebellion sympathizer?
-Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) settles in with his mother, Eedy (Kathryn Hunter). She has reached out to their Uncle Harlo to help Syril with some new prospects. He eats space cereal, has some action figures in his room, and obsessively looks at a holo of Cassian.
-Skeen’s tattoos tells entire stories on their own. A bar code marks Skeen as formerly being a part of something called the “Krayt Head.” If that is an organization of some kind, we’ve yet to hear of it. We do know that the head of a Krayt Dragon is precious to the Tusken Raiders of Tatooine; we saw this in Season 2 of The Mandalorian.
-Skeen’s other tattoo means “By the Hand” which could be a reference to an Imperial branch called the “Empire of the Hand.” Overseen by Grand Admiral Thrawn, this group explored and colonized unexplored areas of space.
-Planets that get mentioned in this episode: Hosnian Prime (blown away by the First Order in Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Kessel (Solo: A Star Wars Story), Jakku (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), and Fondor. The latter planet features in both the stories of Old Republic and is mentioned in many books and comics.
-Luthen’s ship is named the “Fondor” so he may have a personal connection to that planet.
-In the back of his gallery, we see that Luthen has two large items of note: a Jedi holocron, and a large Sith holocron. They are much bigger than most holocrons we’ve previously seen.
-He also has two of the Sankara Stones from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Fortune and glory, kid.
-Favorite line of the episode, which applies to almost every character, on both sides: “Everyone has their own rebellion.”
Andor streams on Disney+ every Wednesday. The tree remembers.