With the seventh episode, Star Wars Andor is back to the conversation drama style. But the stakes are now higher than ever.
If the previous episodes mostly focused on Cassian himself, the seventh episode shows the behind-the-scenes dealings of both the nascent Rebellion and the Empire. We see much more of the background characters than of Cassian himself. Everyone is present: Mon Mothma (and her husband), Luthen Rael (and his assistant), and the Imperial duo of Dedra Meero and Syril Karn. The superb acting and well-written dialogue continued to provide yet another great episode.
The episode portrays especially the Rebellion far from the innocent ideal we mostly associate with it. Luthen Rael straightaway admits to Mon Mothma that his intention is to provoke the Empire to overreact and that he knows that people will suffer because of it. While Mon is shocked by these words, she herself admits to an old friend that she “learned from Palpatine” the tactics of deception. And meanwhile Luthen’s associate orders the former insurgent leader to assassinate Cassian as a loose end, while at the same time coldly informing her that her lover is left behind on Aldhani.
The Empire-focussed part of the episode on the other hand offers some insight into the Imperial administration. Syril Karn’s innocent situation of job-searching portrays him as a sympathetic unfortunate soul, while at the same time reminding us that this, too, is the Empire, and that its oppressive regime stands on common people like him. And at the same time that he does not really have that much of a choice, or that he may not imagine himself ever anywhere else than inside the system.
I believe that this is, to-date, the most nuanced portrayal of the Empire as a totalitarian regime. Syril’s position is very realistic – it very much reminded me of the descriptions of daily reality by many people in the history of the Soviet bloc countries. (But one need not go even that far. Imagining any fundamentally different reality from the one a person is living in is difficult, and in that sense, it is easy to imagine Syril’s position.)
Rooting For The Baddies
Meanwhile officer Meero has her own battles to fight. As the Empire is forced to take the Rebel challenge seriously, we finally see Meero succeeding in making her own voice heard. The scene where she shines makes us cheer for her – despite the fact that she is, in the global scale, “evil”.
But this is what Andor does best. Its characters are flesh-and-blood, even while they may be the participants of the epic battle of good versus evil on respective sides.
While the final scene of Cassian in the beach resort was groovy (and its start perhaps a welcome break in the serious reality – once again, the authors’ eye for good pacing and balance) and his previous reunion with Maarva was heartbreaking, the winning part of this episode was just this realistic portrayal of the flesh-and-blood Rebels and Imperials.