By Ben Konuch
“And know this, the day will come when all these skirmishes and battles, these moments of defiance will have flooded the banks of the Empire’s authority and then there will be one too many. One single thing will break the siege. Remember this: try.”
“Andor’s” last episode pieces the entire season together to create a masterpiece of a finale for what has probably been the best live-action Star Wars series to date. The questions and themes of the entire series, the concepts of sacrifice in order to build a better future and the question of how far is too far are asked one final time with a violent, tense question mark.
The stellar performances of its cast once again shine through in this last episode, and sharp writing from showrunner Tony Gilroy ties most of its plotlines together in a dramatic culmination of threads and twists, and those plotlines that are left dangling have very obvious pathways forward for the season two which has already begun filming.
The finale opens with a dark cloud hanging over it. Maarva’s death has left a void on Ferrix, and tension is high between the people of Ferrix who have lost their figurehead and the Imperial occupiers who are bracing for a possible eruption. It’s this environment that Cassian comes home to, all while Dedra Meero and Luthen both tighten their respective snares around Cassian.
One of the greatest aspects of this episode, however, is the emotions that we see Cassian struggle with. Upon his arrival, we see him find out what has happened to Bix, and see him grapple with the guilt and anger of her captivity. We see him listening to Nemik’s manifesto that he was given in episode six, the words and inspiration for rebellion no longer falling on deaf ears as Cassian struggles to come to terms with the regret and responsibility of his past actions and what they’ve brought. In this episode, we don’t see Cassian the rebel or Cassian the leader, but instead have a glimpse of Cassian the son. He carries the weight and guilt of Maarva’s death and suffers under the burden of how he was never able to come back to her as he promised.
For all of their disagreements and conflict, Maarva and Cassian loved each other more than anything in the galaxy, and “Andor” slows the episode down enough for us to feel what Cassian feels in order to show his humanity, a stark contrast to the harsh and unfeeling cogs in the Empire’s war machine like Meero or Karn. In a touching scene, grieving Cassian is comforted by longtime friend Brasso, who gives him one last message from Maarva. She knew he would hurt, knew he would blame himself and wanted to tell him one last time that what happened to Ferrix with the Empire wasn’t his fault. He was just one last spark to a powderkeg, and Maarva believed that one day when he puts together his skills and his emotions and feelings, he could be an unstoppable force for good, and her message ends with the words, “I love him more than anything he could ever do wrong.”
This message is the final transformation for Cassian, the last push to take the leap of faith against the Empire. As Maarva’s funeral procession starts, Cassian springs his plan to rescue Bix from prison. This funeral quickly turns into a protest, as hundreds of Ferrix citizens attend to pay their respects to Maarva in violation of the Empire’s attendance restrictions. As the crowd marches towards the Imperial riot lines, “Andor” gives one of the best and most triumphant pieces of Star Wars music in a long, long time. This one, small act of rebellion is both a beautiful testament to Ferrix’s devotion to a woman who had always been devoted to them, and a tense, ticking time bomb until the Empire responds.
The climactic turning point is when a pre-recorded speech from Maarva is played for the crowd, in which Maarva is finally able to say all the things she was afraid to before. She expresses her love for her people and her home, but also calls out the Empire’s strangling of Ferrix, the way they’ve been asleep to the evils, the way “the Empire is a disease that thrives in darkness” and how they must rise together to fight or sleep forever. This whole speech is a beautiful, fantastically written depiction of Maarva’s strength and wisdom, and when an Imperial officer tries to silence the broadcast, Ferrix rises.
A riot breaks out. Men and women rush towards the line. Riot soldiers push back. Brawls begin and alarms ring out as Cassian brings Bix out of her captivity. Luthen watches in stunned silence as a planet, as a people, rise up and strike out despite knowing they can’t truly win. When the riot escalates and a homemade bomb is thrown, chaos ensues. The Empire opens fire and innocent civilians are butchered. The riot becomes a bloodbath in a triumphant, heartbreaking, horrifying scene, and while Cassian escapes with Bix and some of those closest to him, Luthen watches on and witnesses the painful, brutal reality of what a revolution truly costs.
At the end of the riot, as Luthen attempts to leave Ferrix, Cassian seeks him out. Both of them know the true cost of what rebellion looks like now, with Cassian having to suffer personal sacrifices and Luthen finally having to get his hands dirty and bloodied himself. But now, Cassian is done running, both from himself and the Empire. He tells Luthen that he’s ready to fight for him if he’ll take him back.
After twelve episodes, he’s finally ready to rise up.
I give “Andor” episode 12 a 10/10, and “Andor” a season score of 9.5/10.
“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 hanging out with crazy MuKappa friends.
Images courtesy of Lucasfilm