By Kieran Burt.
Andor episode seven has been released, and it continues to perform at the high standard that’s now expected of it. Audiences follow the aftermath of the Aldhani heist, and the new measures that are put in place because of it. Genevieve O’Reilly shines as Mon Mothma this week, and Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor is adrift, bouncing about after the Aldhani raid.
Before all of that however, episode seven opens with a look at the show’s villains. Kyle Soller’s Syril Karn once again opens the episode, and he’s still with his overbearing mother, Kathryn Hunter’s Eedy Karn. Her oppressive, nitpicky dialogue and voice continue to make the audience hate her, this time focusing on Karn’s personalised clothes. Hunter does a great job with this passive aggressive character. It’s hard not to feel a twang of sympathy for Syril.
Karn gets a job at the Bureau of Standards, which is so overwhelmingly boring. Everyone wearing the same clothes, sifting through chunks of data, with their individuality being ground down. Alex Blake, Flob, the person giving Syril a tour, is trying to enfuse excitement in his voice, but is obviously bored. This isn’t a criticism, it’s purpose is to be all the same and boring, that’s bureaucracy. Karn is a meaningless cog in a meaningless machine, more interchangeable than ever.
News of the Aldhani raid comes on their television set, leading into the ISB, and if audiences don’t have subtitles on, they’re missing out. At the start of the scene, a new man, head of the ISB, one who has the privilege of making even Major Partagaz uncomfortable and casually name-dropping his connections with Palpatine, appears, setting out the Empire’s response to the raid. But the subtitles reveal this man is Colonel Wulff Yularen, the former Admiral in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
This is a seamless cameo, it calls little attention, and works perfectly well without knowing who it is. If audiences catch it, they will be ecstatic. Malcolm Sinclair, the actor playing the Colonel, perfectly captures the stature of Yularen, and his voice, while not as booming as Tom Kane’s, it’s enough to reverberate round the hall, and cause the audience chills.
Mon Mothma makes an unscheduled meeting with Stellan Skarsgård’s Luthen Rael, and it perfectly captures the spy talk that the audience has been hoping for. Mothma wants to chastise Rael for his part in the Aldhani raid, but can’t do it openly. In between brief whispers the two of them spar using double meanings and implications. Stellan Skarsgård dominates in this scene, essentially telling Mothma she’s too weak to stomach what’s about to happen, causing her retreat.
Mothma gets her own chance to dominate later on. She tours a Senate party, walking around with a childhood friend and banker, Ben Miles’ Tay Kolma. It’s here she’s in her element. Genevieve O’Reilly gives Mothma a huge sense of confidence, calming educating the oblivious banker and effortlessly managing her husband and daughter. Both of the Mothma scenes are beautifully written by Stephen Schiff, and were a joy to watch.
When audiences catch up to Andor, he returns to Ferrix, only to find it under the thumb of an Imperial occupation. He goes to Maarva, and tries to convince her to leave, but something is off. He goes to see Adria Arjona’s Bix, but finds her dishevelled. The costume and make-up team do a great job of making her deeply affected by Timm’s death, with the dried blood on her face being the most convincing. Bix sounds depressed and defeated, saying that Andor’s actions with the corpos made the town resent him. Andor leaves.
Seeing stormtroopers on Ferrix causes Andor to have a flashback to the time that clone troopers came to the planet. Marching in military formation through the streets, they are ambushed by protestors who throw rocks at them. Andor’s father figure, Clem, tries to stop them, but is implicated in what’s happening.
Later, Andor has a flashback to when he approached clones with a makeshift weapon. While it’s amazing to see more live-action clones, his scene is unnecessarily ambiguous. It’s not clear what era this takes place in, during the Republic or Empire. The ambiguity doesn’t add anything, and it quickly leads to confusion. Hopefully this is cleared up soon.
Andor returns to Maarva, and once again tries to convince her to leave. She denies this however, and gives an impressive speech. She will stay on Ferrix to rebel, but understands that Andor doesn’t want to stay. Fiona Shaw gives a caring speech to Andor, and waves him goodbye.
The ISB features in another sequence displaying the clever writing and tight dialogue. Dedra cleverly uses the crisis generated by Aldhani to outmanoeuvre her colleagues, and gets rewarded for her efforts. This is very fitting of Imperial and Sith ideology, instead of working together they aim to undercut and undermine one another, and that’s why they lose.
Andor runs off to Niamos, on the equivalent of space Florida. The music by Nicholas Britell here is excellent, selling the idea that this place is discount Canto Bight. Andor leaves to go to the shop, and sees a group of youths being chased by shoretroopers, which is hilarious.
He’s then implicated in their crime, simply for standing and looking suspicious. He is stopped by shoretroopers, then a KX droid ominously arrives. TIE Fighters can be seen in the sky, heralding the Empire destroying the haven. His charge results in six years in prison, for what used to be six months. His prison time has been racked up due to the sentencing overhaul the ISB introduced in response to the Aldhani raid,
Announcement is again once a talk heavy episode but manages to keep the dialogue interesting throughout. The spy-thriller aspect is slowly rising up, with the Imperials feeling like Big Brother. Andor’s actions catch up to him in fun and creative ways, but still being plausible.