After coming off the masterful heist episode last week, Andor naturally had to dial things back and reset. The show has so far been like a series of films stretched into three episode arcs, so episode 7, titled Announcement, begins the latest one. But just because it wasn’t action-packed doesn’t mean it wasn’t compelling, as this episode really cranked up the political discourse and danger to the fledgling Rebellion.
Andor himself takes a bit of a back seat this week in favour of character moments with Mon Mothma, Luthen and Meedro, while getting updates with Karn, Vel and a new mystery character. I think this is for the best narratively, as these characters were largely absent last week.
In the wake of the robbery on Aldani, the Empire begins to tighten its grip on its various sectors by imposing new security acts. Leading the meeting is a character diehard Star Wars fans will certainly recognize. He was a background character in A New Hope but served as the narrator in The Clone Wars and showed up in Star Wars Rebels. Yes, I’m talking about Admiral Wullf Yularen, played here by Casino Royale’s and V for Vendetta’s Malcolm Sinclair. It was our first real cameo inside this show and its one that worked well. If you knew who he was, you knew the Empire meant business, but if you didn’t, the gravity of the acts being put into place carried that weight for the audience who may not be familiar with this character. Either way, the scene works. The Empire is going to make life a lot harder for citizens now as a result of the heist.
Meero still believes that there’s a wider Rebel network in place and that the robbery wasn’t simply a robbery, it was a declaration. She requests, without permission, information on stolen Imperial equipment across the galaxy, in search of a pattern or any clues. Despite asking for confidentiality, she’s ratted out and her insubordination is challenged by Lieutenant Supervisor Blevin but her initiative is actually rewarded by Major Partagaz for demonstrating strong initiative when others are producing no results (just multiple reasons for their failures). This showcases the encouraged in-fighting within the Empire in the pursuit of both knowledge and power. Neat detail but I like how Meero constantly looks exhausted, as she’s been working extra hours trying to build her case.
Mon Mothma made a bigger impact this week, confronting Luthen about the robbery. She confronts him, saying this plan was too bold and too risky, and the consequences will be too severe (as seen from the ISB and likely setting up the Ghorman massacre). Luther states that while Mothma’s funds are being monitored by the Empire, she’s of no help to him and found an alternate solution, one that needed to happen to get the general population angry at the Empire when they go too far.
Later, Mon Mothma is once again entertaining guests at her swanky apartment and comes across an old friend from her homeworld, Tay Kolma (Ben Miles, also from V for Vendetta, and The Crown), who is a vocal critic of the Empire. Mothma reveals to him, while reminding him to smile and act normally, that the Mon Mothma the public sees in the Senate is all a charade to throw the Empire off her trail. She reveals she needs an ally to form a charity fund and he’d be on the board. This fund, appearing charitable, will, of course, be the money that will fund the rebellion, buying the ships, weapons, etc in the conflict to come. Her husband is once again oblivious to the situation, opting to bask in the delights of the party, not contributing anything but happily freeloading off his wife’s station.
Cassian returns home with the intent of getting Maarva off-world to live in blissful ignorance elsewhere with his cut from the heist. But it’s revealed that she doesn’t want to go anywhere, that after her partner was strung up by the Empire (who in the flashback were wearing Phase II Clone Trooper armour), she lived in fear, taking detours to get home to avoid the square where they hung him. But with news of the heist, people are feeling hope once more and she opts to help the Rebellion in any way she can. I loved the anecdote about living in fear and how it makes you change your habits. It was frankly a powerful yet simple way of expressing how the Empire uses fear to control its subjects.
After a quick catch-up with Bix from the first three episodes, Andor takes off to a resort planet, complete with sandy beaches and hotels that brought to mind Ocean Drive in Miami. The score once again was great, with a pulsing synth track that showcased that this planet is more of a party town. One that is occupied by the Empire though. Despite keeping his head down, Andor is arrested for looking over his shoulder one too many times and is sentenced to six years in jail for an offense that used to be just six months. We did see some K-2 droids this week, but none were the beloved K-2SO from Rogue One. But one has to wonder how Andor will get out of this and can we assume the ninth episode will be a jailbreak?
Elsewhere in the episode, Karn is once again eating cereal like a boy and enduring the belittlement from his mother. He secured employment at a mundane job within the Empire, one that I’m sure will bring him to Andor eventually. Vel also meets with a mysterious agent of Luthen, who tells her that Andor is a loose end and must be dealt with accordingly. The show Andor has done a great job at showcasing that the “heroes” of this show are morally bankrupt (save Mothma) and are willing to go to any extreme to achieve their goals. The Empire, at this point in the show, hasn’t done nearly anything as bad as Luthen’s crew has, which includes holding a child hostage at gunpoint and murder. We know the Empire is terrible, but the show is keeping their atrocities in the shadows, unseen and unmentioned for now.
In the end, action was absent in Andor this week, but that certainly wasn’t a bad thing. Sharp writing, worthy of the label of prestige TV, continues to be the defining feature of this show and it sucks us into the political landscape. Shady deals, double talk and the iron fist of fascist law were all presented this week and it was once again, utterly compelling. This is smart TV.