By Ben Konuch
“As long as everyone thinks I’m an irritation, there’s a good chance they’ll miss what I’m really doing.”
With audiences still reeling from an explosive sixth episode, “Andor” demonstrates that the galaxy is reeling also. Episode seven is a masterful demonstration of how something seemingly as small as an isolated theft of Imperial funds at this point in history isn’t just a theft, but a statement. Just like the clanging alarms on Ferrix in Episode three, the Aldhani heist echoes throughout the galaxy broadcasting one message: the Empire isn’t untouchable anymore. How our characters react to that message, and how the galaxy is shaped by it, start to become the central catalysts of a rebellion.
Taking center stage in this slower-paced episode is ISB Agent Dedra Meero, and “Andor” takes care to depict her dedication to the Empire and security without painting her as a stereotypical villain, which is something that I’ve appreciated since the first episode. We as the audience know that the Empire is in the wrong, but “Andor” shows complex people that are devoted to it for different reasons and cannot see its flaws, giving us antagonists that are so steeped in the beliefs of a fascist state that they cannot even see the evils growing around them.
Dedra’s commitment to security and protection, as well as her political ambitions, are what drive her to serve the Empire. When the head of the ISB Colonel Yularen declares the Public Order Resentencing Directive (or PORD), which is a crackdown on any anti-Empire activity, a raising of all sentences and essentially a pass for the ISB to do whatever it likes in enforcement without oversight, Dedra objects. She sees this as “playing straight into the rebels’ hands”, and that this stifling fist around the galaxy won’t discourage rebellion but encourage it, which is exactly what happens.
We also see Dedra’s dedication to her mission, no matter the cost. She refuses to back down in the investigation of her theory that the Ferrix incident was part of a larger rebel effort, and even when she starts turning heads at the ISB and risking the anger of other supervisors, she refuses to rest. “Andor” shows how her dedication to her duty is admirable despite the side she’s on, and as she slowly starts tightening the Empire’s noose around Cassian’s neck, we get a broader picture of the political infighting of the ISB and who the biggest threat to Cassian’s safety really is.
This episode also shows how the Aldhani heist affects our heroes, specifically those hidden in the political opulence of Coruscant. Mon Mothma is furious at Luthen for being so rash and severe in his actions, but Luthen argues that what happened at Aldhani was exactly what the galaxy needed, already painting a picture of infighting and unaligned ideals within the rebellion movement. When it comes to a revolution, how far is too far? Mothma believes in a much clearer line of right and wrong than Luthen does, and when Luthen reveals that his plan centers on anticipating the Empire’s harsh reaction and using it to prompt a response in the people, it drives a wedge between him and Mothma.
Seeing Mothma walk this tightrope of right and wrong, grappling with the weight of what she’s doing all while trying to sustain a rebellion and staying under the radar of a hornet’s nest that’s just been kicked leads to gripping drama. Mothma must make quick judgment calls about who she can trust in Coruscant as she seeks to expand her network, but Episode seven shows how quickly she’s running out of people she can consider allies. Her own family is even starting to turn against her, and everything related to her storyline starts to embody the feeling of a ticking time bomb that she’s trying desperately to postpone the detonation of.
So how does our protagonist react to Aldhani and the fallout? He runs. Cassian heads back home to Ferrix, wanting nothing more than to escape the memory of death and the Empire. But when he arrives, he finds his homeworld changed. The Empire has tightened its hold on Ferrix, and when Cassian sees how suffocating life under the Empire is, he tries to get Maarva to leave with him using his share of the pay from the Aldhani job. But to his shock, Maarva refuses. She’s tired of running, tired of other people controlling her home – which we see through a flashback to the devastating effect the end of the Clone Wars had on Ferrix – and shows that she’s willing to stay and stand up for something better, even if Cassian doesn’t understand.
Cassian refuses Maarva’s plea to action and flees the Empire to a secluded world. He hides his identity, hides his past, but he can’t hide from the Empire. Purely for being in the wrong place at the wrong time he’s apprehended, branded a traitor and given a six-year prison sentence without reexamination due to the increased penalties of the PORD. In his attempts to run from the Empire he ends up running headlong into it, and the mandate that’s supposed to discourage rebellion might cause the very consequences that transform Cassian into a rebel. The dramatic irony here is wonderful and demonstrates that despite the Empire’s strength and power, their stubborn reliance on strength and force creates the kind of environment that only takes a spark to ignite a revolution.
I give “Andor” Episode 7 an 8.5/10.
“Andor” is now streaming on Disney+
Ben Konuch is a sophomore strategic communications student and an A&E writer for Cedars. He enjoys getting sucked into good stories, playing video games and failing horribly at volleyball with his friends.
Images courtesy of Lucasfilm