The big heist moves closer in another character-driven episode of the Star Wars thriller.
Hello friends and welcome back to another episode of Andor. The time for the Big Heist is coming up fast, but it didn’t seem like Cassian was too eager to be a true team player. So let’s see how the Aldhani gang is doing this week and check in with some of our pals on Coruscant as well in episode 5, “The Axe Forgets.” Note: We are once more going storyline by storyline until they start to merge.
Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) is eating a miserable breakfast with his mother in her apartment on Coruscant, morosely picking at a bowl of space Oops! All Berries while his mother, Eedy (Kathryn Hunter), picks at him about his posture and the job he just lost. Eedy declares she’ll contact “Uncle Harlo” and call in a family favor to get Syril a new job.
The Mothma-Fertha household is having an equally lousy morning as Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) is joined at the table by her husband, Perrin (Alastair Mackenzie). It’s apparent the tension has not cleared between the spouses after his disaster of a dinner party. Their daughter Leida enters and immediately gives her mother an attitude, sneering at Mothma’s plan to drive Leida to class. Snipping that she doesn’t have an early class, her father’s smirks only encourage the sass. In response, Mothma metaphorically surrenders and heads to work. No wonder she works so much. Who’d want to be home with that?
Elsewhere on Coruscant, Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) passes by ever-present Lieutenant Supervisor Blevin, who has just returned from Ferrix, where he’s setting up a new ISB headquarters. Frustrated, Meero joins her assistant Heert as he looks at reports in search of more stolen Imperial goods. Things have gone missing from Kessel, Fondor, Jakku (Hi Jakku!), Base City, and the previously mentioned Steergard. While Blevin thinks it’s too spread out to mean anything, Heert agrees with Meero that it’s all “too random to be random.” What Meero needs is someone who appreciates an officer with an eye for patterns. Maybe someone currently bopping around the galaxy?
As night falls on Coruscant, Syril and his mother eat dinner as she crows that Uncle Harlo has agreed to help her wayward son out. Afterward, he sits in his bedroom and stares fixedly at his holo of Cassian. Uh oh, I think Space Javert is back on the case.
Character development is never filler as a negative, people!
Lastly, Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård) toys with a comm device in the backroom. His assistant Kleya (Elizabeth Dulau) tells him to turn it off as there won’t be any messages tonight. Luthen admits that plenty connects him to Vel and Cassian if the mission goes wrong. Kleya objects, asserting there’s no point in worrying now. The matter effectively put to bed, they close up shop for the night.
The Coruscant storylines this week are easy to dismiss as filler. Indeed I’ve already seen the word bandied about. However, what is to say that so-called “filler” is a negative? Did we need not one but two scenes showing the cracks in the Mothma-Fertha marriage? On paper, maybe not, but these scenes show us the trembling foundation on which all of Mothma’s political and rebellious beliefs rest. We already know this woman will be a leader of the Rebellion, a voice of calm and reason. It’s intriguing to explore if she manages that level of control over her whole life. We’ve seen Syril Karn fail, but what will he do now that we’ve seen how little he has to lose? Character development is never filler as a negative, people! This is how we learn to care!
Speaking of character development, there’s a lot to learn this week about the ragtag Rebels over on Aldhani. Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) wakes up to find his pack missing, but his hidden kyber crystal is still safe. He marches over to Skeen (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), who is going through the missing items on Vel’s behalf. Cassian notes from Skeen’s tattoos that they both spent time in an Imperial detention center. From there, he surmises Skeen is part of the Rebellion for revenge. Skeen is fine owning that. He gives us our episode title, telling Cassian, “The axe forgets, but the tree remembers.”
Later on, Nemik (Alex Lawther) shows Cassian a pre-Empire navigation device, noting that the Empire has made everyone too reliant on their tech and ways. Next, Vel (Faye Marsay) and Taramyn (Gershwyn Eustache, Jr.) go over plans and backstories with Cassian. In the review process, he realizes they don’t even know how to fly their means of escape, the freighter ship.
Over at the Imperial garrison, Lieutenant Gorn (Sule Rimi) works on prepping the base to receive a visitor: an Imperial engineering officer. Um…we know one of those. Do we think? Gorn is also preparing everyone for the upcoming cosmic event and subsequent local holiday. He’s cleverly arranging for most of the hold crew to attend the event, leaving the payroll less guarded. And he does it all while making it look like he’s gifting them the opportunity.
While the Rebel boys practice walking like soldiers, Taramyn cuts off any of “Clem’s” questions about what Vel and Cinta (Varada Sethu) will do while the guys get into the base. A TIE fighter on patrol comes a little too close, so the gang burns their base models, packs up, and heads into the mountains to make camp near the garrison. At a water break, Skeen holds Cassian at knifepoint and snatches his kyber crystal. He shows it to the others as evidence that Cassian isn’t who he claims. Well… Skeen’s not wrong.
Vel insists that they knock it off, but it isn’t until Nemik sees an Imperial shuttle heading into the base that they quit. Skeen returns the kyber, and Cassian admits to the gang that he’s being paid to be there. He ends up giving a fairly inspiring speech about how the group can’t allow his reasons for being there to bring the mission down.
They finally arrive near the base and make camp, signaling their arrival to Gorn. Skeen tells Cassian his reasons for joining: the Empire took Skeen’s brother’s farm, driving him to commit suicide. That disclosure inspires Cassian and Skeen to make up. Vel announces that Taramyn is now wholly in charge of the mission while she and Cinta attend to their mysterious tasks. The team splits up. For now.
By leading us up to the heist, we get to feel like we’ve been prepping for it just as much as the gang.
Once again helmed by director Susanna White and written by Dan Gilroy, “The Axe Forgets” brings more of a personal view of the Empire than we’ve really seen before. Oh, we know they explode planets and make everyone use one currency, but it’s seldom that we see how they’ve affected individuals. Skeen’s brother lost everything, including his will to live, because the Empire decided they needed to flood his land. Blevin is on Ferrix cleaning up the debris from the earlier battle, but he’s also taking over a hotel to become an ISB base. Nemik is right. The Empire takes it all, from basic technology you’d use at home to entire worlds. It’s not impossible to believe that these stories, these anecdotes, are what turn mercenary Cassian Andor into the Rebel we all know.
Andor remains slower than its Disney+ predecessors. We haven’t had a shootout or a speeder chase in episodes and episodes! But you know something? It doesn’t matter. Andor grows on the strength of its dialogue and world-building. By leading us up to the heist, we get to feel like we’ve been prepping for it just as much as the gang. Next time, let’s see how it goes.
- They don’t need to introduce any more villains this season. Perrin Fertha and his smug smirks and little ponytail are ENOUGH. Operation Make Mon Mothma Single is a go.
- Nemik is a sweet and earnest true believer, which probably means we’re losing him soon.
- In Luthen’s backroom: a Jedi holocron, a Sith holocron, and a nice collection of Sankara Stones.
- You know who turns in perfect inventory forms? Hosnian Prime. It’ll be something to remember them by.
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