This week’s Andor picks up on Cassian (Diego Luna) and Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård) getting out of dodge and leaving Ferrix behind for now. The Tony Gilroy showrun Star Wars Universe series picks up speed in “Aldhani”, which continues to set up the brewing rebellion in a thrilling episode directed by Susanna White.
The hero’s call becomes harder to ignore for Cassian this week, as he barely got out alive from being on the run from Syril. Try as he might, his motivation to live and find his sister becomes more and more apparent as entirely the reason to join up with Luthen. Everyone has a personal reason to stand against the Empire due to collateral that feeds into the systemic, supremacist ways they maintain power—and the complete disregard for the lives they pit against one another that they tear apart. As the two speed away from Ferrix in Luthen’s ship, the older man tells Cassian that he knows that for what they took away, Andor would fight till his last breath. And so he offers him a chance to fight: a heist Luthen needs Andor’s skillset for, five days to steal payroll for an entire Imperial sector. In exchange, 200,000 credits—more than Cassian has ever imagined in his life—and the chance to continue his search. That’s the rub of radicalization that Andor gets so well, it’s not about getting the resources to strike it rich by chipping away at the system, but to gather the necessities to overcome bigger obstacles in order to burn it all down.
Meanwhile over at the Coruscant Imperial Security Bureau, we meet Dedra Meero (Denise Gough), a supervisor with a score to settle with Cassian, it turns out. Thanks to Syril’s aspirations to be more than a deputy inspector, she finds out it was indeed Cassian who took her Starpath Unit. We sense an impending Imperial demented meet cute is on the way between Syril and Dedra (they’re about to give Team Rocket a run for their money), and Syril needs a strong capable woman to swoop and save him from the petulant shame of his loss (his mom is a scary piece of work, it turns out, as the now shuffled-out rent-a-cop heads home after being ousted from Morlana by the ISB). Meero, like Karn, has grown impatient with the ways of the older guard who would rather sweep small indiscretions under the rug, she wants to take their mandate of “treat the sickness of disorder” by doing the absolute most—and that means find Cassian Andor. She may just be Karn’s saving grace by taking over jurisdiction on the Ferrix incident, and one of the nastiest pieces of work in the Empire we’ve seen so far—which is saying something, even this early into Andor.
On Aldhani, where Luthen’s secret squad is hiding out, Cassian journeys to a remote part of the planet. For personal assurance Luthen gives Cassian a Kuati Signet made of blue kyber as a down payment, that means more to Luthen than it’s worth. He wants to get it back at the end, which makes us nervous when any characters give people heartfelt mementos, it’s like a space Suicide Squad pact. Luthen introduces Cassian as Clem after having a discussion with the team leader Vel (Faye Marsay) taking on a mercenary—which as much as it can be a valuable resource, it can also bring problems. They stay to get ready to steal the payroll data from an Imperial armory staffed by a whole garrison, while Luthen disappears. Andor asks about their mysterious benefactor and the team tell him they are not to mention him at all.
Back on Coruscant, we finally get to see Genevieve O’Reilly as Mon Mothma as she visits an art and artifact gallery... run by Luthen. Except, it’s not the Luthen we know. In an incredible little scene as he arrives on Coruscant himself, we see Skarsgård absolutely transform himself, aesthetically and physically, as he becomes this jovial speaking and fancy purple robed gentleman who sells expensive things. He and Mon exchange a few coded words, and head to the back gallery (away from Mon’s guard) to speak openly. And just as quickly as he transformed on the way in, here Luthen is just as much a chameleon: he reverts back to the gruff and to the point man we know, pressuring Mon to use her links to get more money for their burgeoning rebellion. While opening her Senatorial purse isn’t an issue for Mothma, she reveals that she feels like she’s being watched closely now and would prefer to bring someone else into their inner circle to help—spies have become commonplace at the Senate, all the staff at her bank are suddenly new, even her driver is a new face, every day a different paranoia. Luthen presses for the funds and rejects the idea of adding more people in their group of allies in high places because everyone is being watched. But Mon assures Luthen that who she has in mind is worth risking her position for, and that if she was wrong, she’d be the one to pay. I have a little trouble being worried about them as they’re still recruiting marginalized folks to fight a war to ultimately shift power back to the Republic for the betterment of everyone. I need to care about their stakes a bit more, and we do get to see Mon not quite fit in with others in her class—people like even her husband, who, back at their lavish apartment preparing for a dinner, we learn doesn’t like the way she speaks out against those in power cutting off shipping lanes that have been leading to starvation. But we’re just getting started on backstory on others outside of Andor—so I’ll give it some more time.
Before the episode wraps up we catch up on Dedra, who’s overreaching to overachieve. She thinks Ferrix is the latest in a string of events that have taken place as a pattern for rebellion. Dedra wants jurisdictional power and is told to be competent and “tucked away”. Clearly, she’s not going to listen—because the whole point of the fascism presented to us in Andor is that it’s anything but competent, it’s messy and selfish and brutish in its foolhardy cruelty—setting the stage for her almost-inevitable team-up with Karn.
Back on Aldhani, Vel explains to “Clem”—the identity Cassian was told to take up by Luthen, adding even more layers of distrust between them—there used to be settlements of generations of people the Empire cleared out to make the planet a distribution hub. The seven assembled to take on the armory are pretending to be space nature enthusiasts or sheep herders. Cassian—er, Clem— meets Skeen, (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), Taramyn (Gershwyn Eustache Jnr), Nemik (Alex Lawther) and Cinta (Varada Sethu), and their contact at the Garrision Lieutenant Gorn (Sule Rimi). The team take a beat to hash out their apprehension at adding a new player late in the game but ultimately they need all the help they can get. Even as they make it very clear that they hate Cassian being there as much as Vel does.
The heist involves supplies stored in cabins in dammed up sacred rivers, which now hold weapons and the payroll of entire Imperial sector. “Clem” is to drive a stolen roller freighter to take crates of payroll data and outrun TIE Fighters—which is usually impossible. Lucky for them, there’s a temple along the stretch of the run that will buy the cell the time they need to escape. It’s the hub for a celestial event Aldhanis used to gather for, to watch massive meteor shower which occurs every three years—covering the sky as the planet passes the belt and forms an beautiful eye, “a window to the galaxy” over the horizon, that just so happens to be the perfect cover for their run—a symbolic aspect of local beauty, ignored and stamped out by the Empire’s presence, offering the chance for resistance. The pressure is on: Cassian has just three days before the meteor shower, and not a lot of time to learn how to be a fighter in the burgeoning rebellion he’s been thrust into.
- I wish Med Nog was real, Liquid IV is the closest thing.
- The Old Republic shout-out with the Rakata! We’ll have more on this later, but it’s wild that Andor, a show very much not about Star Wars easter eggs, has one of the randomest, wildest ones out the gat.
- The cinematography that captured a real feel for the essence of each location. Aldhani looks incredible.
- Seven in the squad on Aldhani reminds us of the future where Andor says “make 10 men feel like a hundred”
- Susanna White’s directing expertly propels the action in the pacing. You don’t want the episode to end.
- Luna, despite being the lead, leans into his power as an observer and you see him absorb all the information thrown at him. There’s so much his eyes say.
- The dialogue moves and feels so true to each character, the scene with Mon and Luthen is a masterclass. The way Skarsgård says “aficionado?” Good stuff, right there.
- Starkiller’s helmet in Luthen’s treasure gallery! Another gaming deep-cut.
- Luthen’s complete personality and wardrobe change is incredible. That purple cape robe!
Andor streams Wednesdays on Disney+.
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