I think I’ll be saying this all the way to the finale of “Andor”: this show, created by Tony Gilroy, written by Dan Gilroy, Beau Willimon, and Stephen Schiff, and directed by Toby Haynes, Benjamin Caron, and Susanna White, is one of the all-time bests. It doesn’t just excel at being a great “Star Wars” property but a genuinely brilliant episodic show that goes toe-to-toe with some of the best sci-fi movies and shows out there. “The Last Jedi” was excellent. But due to the weird fan reaction to it, Disney and Lucasfilms just nosedived into nostalgia and pandering. And that was embarrassing to watch. Finally, they’ve let a team do their job, and it’s apparently not doing numbers. However, I’m not sad about that because those numbers don’t reflect the quality of “Andor.” It only reflects the quality of the viewers, something that they can rectify by tuning into this weekly or when all the episodes are out. Anyway, let’s talk about today’s episode.
Major Spoilers Ahead
Catching Up With Cassian, Dedra, Rael, Mon Mothma, Vel, Cinta, and Syril
After the Rebel attack on the Aldhian Garrison, the team went their separate ways while the Empire began their process of looking into the matter and nabbing the perpetrators. But, we begin episode 7 of “Andor” with Syril (Kyle Soller) preparing for the first day of his job and being berated by his mother, Eedy (Kathryn Hunter), for looking like he’s desperate for attention with his raised collar and everything. As Syril learns about the attack on the Garrison, the focus shifts to the Imperial Security Bureau headquarters, where Colonel Yularen (Malcolm Sinclair) is addressing all the supervisors. Yularen reveals his intention that they are going to levy a tribute tax which is equal to five times the amount that was stolen from Aldhani. This tax will be levied on any sector that shows any kind of partisan activity. Based on Emperor Palpatine’s orders, the ISB is going to have free access to the army and naval resources. Additionally, Palpatine is going to conduct an emergency session and grant the ISB the power to do all kinds of surveillance, search, and seizure.
Look, “Star Wars” has always been about educating the masses about the dangers of fascism and the struggle of a rebellion. But, partly due to the writing, partly due to our fascination with villains, and partly due to the franchise’s inclination towards spectacle, it’s possible that the message got lost along the way. Yes, it’s fine to wear a Kylo Ren mask or pose as a Stormtrooper because the design is cool. However, it’s also important to know what these characters represent. They are fascists. And it seems like, after a long time, “Star Wars” is going back to its roots and intricately showing how fascism works so that we can notice the same in real life. Because when you see someone like Dedra (Denise Gough) telling Heert (Jacob James Beswick) that the ISB’s methodology is wrong and they’re playing into the Rebels’ hands, you don’t just see a maniacal villain. You see a typical employee of the government who truly believes that she isn’t oppressing the galaxy and is just doing her job.
Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård) learns about the ISB’s actions. But before he can hear it in its entirety, Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) drops by to inquire about the attack on the Garrison. She appears shocked by it and the fact that Rael is behind it. This means that she wasn’t aware of the lengths Rael was ready to go to shake up the Empire. Mon Mothma says that due to this attack, Palpatine is going to overreact. Rael says that he wants him to. Then he echoes Nemik’s (Alex Lawther) philosophy by stating that since the Empire has been choking the galaxy so slowly, the people aren’t noticing anymore. An overreaction will probably awaken their need to fight back against tyranny and aid the rebellion. And that’s another relevant piece of dialogue from the show because it aptly portrays how fascism works. It doesn’t happen all of a sudden. Those in power condition you to accept a different form of oppression every day. You can’t stage a protest every time there’s a new atrocity. That’s how the people lose, and the fascists win.
We briefly see Syril starting his new job before the episode cuts to Kleya (Elizabeth Dulau) meeting Vel. Both of them seem to be in regal clothing in order to mingle with the people of Coruscant, and they go over the details of the mission and the money that the Rebels have delivered. But Vel leaves with a new mission on her hands, i.e., killing Cassian (Diego Luna) because he can be traced back to Rael. Dedra bypasses protocol to access records of all missing avionics, comm, navigation, and targeting equipment because she’s the only one out of the ISB who isn’t retaliating and is instead looking deeper into Ferrix. We also get a brief glimpse of Cinta (Varada Sethu), back in her original gear, accessing a speeder bike and heading towards somewhere in Aldhani. And finally, we see Cassian returning to Ferrix so that he can grab Maarva (Fiona Shaw) and B2EMO (Dave Chapman), repay his debts to Bix (Adria Arjona) and the rest of the residents who helped him, and get out of Dodge.
Cassian And Maarva Have The Most Heartbreaking Conversation In ‘Star Wars’ History
Back in Coruscant, Mon Mothma reunites with her childhood friend Tay Kolma (Ben Miles), who is also an employee of the Empire, which leads to one of the most graceful and tense scenes in “Star Wars” history. Here’s what’s happening. Mon Mothma is trying to explain her allegiances to Tay while keeping up the charade that they are only talking about the old days so that Perrin (Alastair Mackenzie) doesn’t suspect that anything is wrong. She tries to do it a little directly, but Tay pushes back by saying that it’s quite possible that his political affiliations will disallow him from siding with Mon. So, instead of being more indirect, she doubles down on her tone and tells him how the diplomatic and irritating version of herself that people see is a front. She says that she has learned from Palpatine that if you threaten someone with a stone, they’re going to miss the dagger at their throat. She tells Tay to become a donor to the Chandrilan charitable outreach program because her funds are running dry. Tay tries to know the purpose of that charity, and she tells him to be in the dark and smile so that Perrin (who’s monitoring Mon) can remain in the dark as well.
Cassian goes to Bix, who tells him that he’s going to be turned in by the people of Ferrix because they blame him for the debacle that then caused the Imperial takeover. He accepts his fate and tells Bix to tell Rael that he held his part of the deal and that he should stop looking for him. He repays what he owes to Bix and leaves a little extra for everyone who helped him get out of Ferrix with Rael. While heading back to the house, we get a flashback of how Clem (Gary Beadle) was killed. The man tried to stop protestors from chucking stones at a group of Clone troopers, and they killed him by intentionally assuming that he was the perpetrator. And a young Cassian (Lucan Bond), as his father told him to, stood there silently because what else could he have done? In the present, Cassian confronts Maarva and tells her to finish packing all her essentials and prepare to leave. However, Maarva says that she doesn’t want to. Her reasoning is complex and, hence, realistic.
Maarva knows about the act of rebelling. She has done it all her life. But she’s too old to go on the run with Cassian. She understands that Cassian means well, but she’s too tired to care if she is going to be captured and tortured by the Empire. According to her, staying put in Ferrix instead of running away from there is an act of rebellion in of itself. Because by taking over Ferrix, the Empire practically wants people to run so that they can blame them wrongfully and oppress them. So, there’s no point in doing exactly what they want. Maarva even says that the operation at Aldhani is the thing that has inspired her to do this because if rebels can rob a garrison, standing her ground is the least she can do. We also get glimpses of a young Cassian charging at the Clone troopers who killed Clem, while Maarva says how proud she’s of the man Cassian has become. However, Cassian says that the Empire is too powerful to be worn down by these acts of rebellion.
Maarva states that fascism can’t be banished in one day. It’s a slow and steady process. But it’s going to happen one day. She says that she understands that Cassian is on a different path, and she isn’t judging him. She knows that Cassian is still equating freedom with money and the access that can come with it. But she believes that he’ll understand what real freedom means one day or the other. Cassian says that he’ll be worried for her if she stays in Ferrix, and Maarva says that that simply means he loves her, and he can’t do anything about that. She is certain that she can’t go, and Cassian can’t stay. On a parting note, she tells him to stop looking for his sister because there weren’t any survivors in Kenari. As Cassian left Maarva (without even giving her a hug or anything), I realized that I had been crying after a long time while watching “Star Wars.” Benjamin Caron and Stephen Schiff captured the dilemma one feels when their very home is taken over by fascism. And how that dilemma increases tenfold when your family is involved. Sublime stuff.
‘Andor’ Episode 7: Ending Explained: How Does Dedra Claim Control Over Ferrix? What Does Cassian’s Arrest Mean?
Back at the ISB, Lt. Supervisor Blevin (Ben Bailey Smith) tries to frame Dedra for insubordination because she illegally accessed files that she wasn’t supposed to go through. But when Dedra proves that she went out of her way in order to establish the connection between the theft of their most secret equipment and its distribution to rebel groups across the galaxy, Major Partagaz (Anton Lesser) appears impressed. When he asks if she has this information in a presentable fashion, Dedra says that she has. And she thinks that since Blevin is aware of that, his accusations are for mud-slinging purposes only and not because he’s serious about finding out what happened in Ferrix. So, Partagaz assigns the Ferrix case to Dedra because she’s genuinely interested in it and tells everyone in the ISB to follow her example. All that said, Partagaz also cautions Dedra to be careful because being exemplary means everyone will target her and bring her down.
In Niamos (which seems like the “Star Wars” version of Hawaii), we see that Cassian is going around as Keef Girgo. When he steps out for a grocery run, he’s captured by a Stormtrooper (for being at the scene of a crime), almost killed by a KX unit (it’s probably not the same one that Cassian will later befriend in “Rogue One,” but just a reference to it), and sent to jail for six years. This level of oppression is in stark contrast with the otherwise chill vibes of the planet, and it goes to show that being “chill” doesn’t mean that you’ll be ignored by those looking to oppress. Even if you are minding your business, they’ll slap you with false charges or worse, kill you on the spot. It also shows that Cassian’s whole “solo act” isn’t very helpful because now he needs a lot of assistance to get out of this tough spot. Talking about being in a tough spot, during the concluding moments of this amazing episode, we see how Syril has become just another cog in the proverbial wheel.