Article by Kieran Burt.
Andor episode five gives a more meditative episode, focused on the preparation the small Rebel cell faces and the mistrust that permeates their group. Mon Mothma and Syril Karn receive less attention, instead getting showcases into their strained family dynamic. The Imperials set up a base of operations on Ferrix. The theme of trust and mistrust comes up throughout, providing a consistent theme throughout.
This week starts by Karn’s mum chastising him for losing his job, and for everything else generally. She disapproves of his lack of future prospects, how he sits, and for not inviting her to see him. His mum even disapproves of his decision to go into the corporate security force. Audiences see that they live on the lower levels of Coruscant, helping create the view that his mum is desperate to use her son as a way to climb the social ladder. She’s disappointed in her son’s job to move away from the Core, and not play the political game for her betterment.
Karn comes off as completely charmless in previous episodes, and has replaced any connection with people to connection with his job. This episode makes it clear why – his mum doesn’t care about him. It’s clear that in part Karns decision to leave Coruscant was because his mother drove him away, adding to the bit of sympathy to him. Karn’s evil is taught. Near the end of the episode, Karn once again demonstrates his determination and refusal to let things go. He hasn’t given up his hunt for Andor, and it’s clear he won’t stop until either one is dead. This is excellent writing, and it makes Karn seem more nuanced and like an actual person.
Mon Mothma too faces a family problem. Her daughter is introduced, and it’s immediately clear she despises Mothma. Perrin doesn’t help either his wife or daughter, staying out of the boring politics he hates. While the accusation of selfishness to Mothma cuts deep, it’s likely to have some truth. Writer Dan Gilroy is drawing everyone into the grey, taking the heroes, stripping their reverence away, and replacing it with nuance. Perrin gets a small moment of character growth, asking for the name of the family driver before he addresses him, instead of seeing himself above him. Hopefully this starts a longer period of growth for the character, supporting his wife more. These scenes though feel without purpose, without direction. Show the Senate!
This episode’s strength lies with the scenes the audiences get with Cassian, which make up the bulk of the episode. Mistrust permeates through the group, with Skeen relentlessly demanding information, Andor constantly being questioned and his improvements being initially rejected. For Andor’s part, he doesn’t trust the group to execute their escape properly, nor does he trust Lieutenant Gorn. Throughout the episode, they have to learn to trust. This mistrust is inherent in insurgencies, with such a dire need for secrecy, and the writing captures it well.
Nemik gives an amazing breakdown of how Imperial repression works, in his newly introduced manifesto. These are revolutionary ideals so often forgotten in Star Wars, yet so vital. For what is the Rebellion’s ideology? Nemik further shows off his radical ideals later in the episode, claiming that “Surprise from above is never as shocking as one from below.” This further solidifies his ideological commitment to revolution, instead of reform from the Senate. All Nemik’s politics match real world jargon, with the writing making them feel authentic.
Vel has an excellent line that captures the point of the series. When talking about Gorn and why he betrayed the Empire, she explains that “everyone has their own rebellion.” This series is Cassian having his own rebellion, coming from the apathetic and selfish guy audiences saw in episode one, and ending with him giving his life for the Rebellion. The arc that he will go on is him having his own rebellion, him finding the one thing that will make him break.
The Empire also gets time to shine, with plenty of time spent establishing the geography of the dam, where its walkway is positioned, where gallantries are and where the Rono is compared to the loot. But it doesn’t feel like a guided tour or a departure of the narrative because Gilroy weaves it into Gorn’s scenes, giving them purpose. Sule Rimi, who plays Gorn, slips into the role of an Imperial well, not only with his language but also his actions, uptight and wearing perfect uniform.
Ferrix returns, and for now, the Empire is simply setting up. No large amounts of troops, but that is likely to change within coming episodes. There isn’t a lot to say, apart from an Imperial that simply demands a higher title. Not because he’s earned it, but because he is power hungry and desperate to squash others down, as is standard with the Empire. Dedra too gets a quick return, with her and her aide still going through files, despite their orders not to. They have a quick moment of trust between them, agreeing to sort through more files. Again this theme of trust appears, and because of the pair working together they will likely get the evidence they want.
Andor episode five delivers another character focused piece, highlighting the importance of trust as a constant theme throughout, applied to all of the characters in a clever fashion. It again is more meditative in its approach, highlighting the everyday acts of rebellion and oppression. Next week, the dam will break and Andor will light the spark to bring down the Empire.