The fifth episode of Andor definitely pumped the breaks a bit and focused more on setup for the heist to come, but it also pulled back heavily on the secondary characters to instead focus on Andor’s plight. It’s both a smart move, as it gave us much-needed time with our series lead, but in their absence, also showed just how strong the supporting cast is in this show.
Most of the episode is spent with Andor and his ragtag crew of rebels out to steal the Empire’s payroll. They practice drill walking, the specific details of the job and local languages. Andor proves himself to be quite the asset, revealing his familiarity with Imperial tech to the point where he was able to share a crucial piece of information that wasn’t included in the manual for the machine concerning the input of weight. This knowledge proves critical and Andor chastises the group for not knowing it on their own so close to the heist. Uncomfortable with the group’s own lack of information, he claims his right to drive the machinery himself during the heist. At first, he’s met with resistance, but eventually, Vel agrees to it, as it does make the most sense. I like that this scene not only showcases Andor’s quick learning but also reinforces that he has a shady past, as he brushes off the reasoning behind him knowing this information as trivial. But there’s more to it than that.
Andor also showcases superior attention to detail, calling out where members of the group should be marching based on if they’re left or right-handed. It also shows that Andor is a quick study and able to pick up on minute details with ease, but that it shows that this group isn’t as prepared as they think they are and that can lead to some distrust been them and Andor. One member, in particular, Skeen, doesn’t trust Andor at all and rummages through his personal effects looking for clues. After a brief confrontation, the duo share their stories about the Imperial youth system, but that isn’t enough to win Skeen over. He pulls a knife on Andor later and reveals the kyber crystal, questioning why anyone would bring such a treasure to a heist. Andor reveals that he’s being paid to help them, but keeps Luthen’s name out of it. It’s a bit of a blow to the group, especially young Nemik, who is writing his own Rebellion manifesto. Meanwhile, Skeen shares that his brother died due to the Empire. I don’t think either would turn on Andor, but I think we should keep an eye out for Taramyn Barcona next week. Something about his cold dislike for Andor’s superiority and sudden inclusion on the team is raising some flags for me. He’s also one of the members of the crew, along with the healer Kaz, who hasn’t divulged too much information to Andor. But I liked the quiet moments of philosophy and metaphor within these scenes.
I mentioned it last week but I’ll mention it again. TIE fighters are scary in this show. Another ship is shown doing reconnaissance as Andor and company practice drills while armed. They rush to cover up the weapons to keep up the facade that they’re simply goat farmers. The TIE flies right overhead, the sound screaming through the valley and the sense of speed shocking considering we usually see these ships in space without a point of reference. I simply love how this show is making the Empire, who are space Nazis, scary again.
The rest of the story threads kind of take a back seat to Andor’s reluctance to work with a team. We get two scenes with Mon Mothma, who continues to wear many masks, even when at home with her family. In another twist in developing this character from the original trilogy, Mothma also has a daughter now and finds herself at odds not only with her husband but with her teenage child as well. we also catch up with Mothma and her husband in their car after what I’m guessing is the party mentioned from last week’s episode. If so, it’s a shame that we didn’t get to see it. Having Mothma, the future leader of the Alliance rubbing shoulders with Palpatine’s inner circle sounds too good to miss out on.
We get a couple of scenes with Karn as well, who gets chewed out by his mother about his prospects now that he’s not a company man. She continuously berates him and puts him down and most importantly, mothers him. She feeds him cereal and makes comments that a clingy mother would to her child, despite the fact that Karn is now a grown man. I see two outcomes here. Karn loathes Andor, as evidenced by him staring into his holo-wanted face and likely blaming him for losing his job, even tho it though Karn is the one who disobeyed orders. With an effort to locate the “too random to be random” rebel cells, he may join and help the ISB track Andor down and by association, the Rebellion. I could also see Karn hating the Empire for demoting him for pursuing justice by tracking Andor down and joining him; he could find a way to take on the Empire using the mindset of the enemy of my enemy. Unlikely, but still throwing it out there. Or maybe Karn just becomes a bounty hunter. Who knows and I like that it isn’t obvious.
Luthen and the ISB each get a quick scene a piece, showcasing his nerves about the job to come and that the ISB sees a pattern in the scattered rebel cells. Despite not getting paid overtime, ISB agent Meero is willing to stay up to solve the riddle. I really like these side characters so their reduced screen time this week was a bit of a bummer. The political side of the show and behind the scenes on machinations of the Empire are really solid material. But I do recognize that Andor himself hadn’t been too involved with the show thus far, so it was a good idea to put him back into focus and showcase that despite a degree of willingness to work with others, he’s still just a mercenary, not the true believer who would die for the cause that we saw in Rogue One. Next week will be the heist and I’m sure everything with go exactly to plan, meaning I’m sure there will be one betrayal (looking at you, ) and at least one death (sorry Nemik). How this will affect Andor, well I guess you’ll just have to watch next week’s episode and come back here to find out.