Andor came to a satisfying and action-packed finale with the episode Rix Road. It’s been quite the journey for Cassian in season one of his show, but that journey undoubtedly brings him back home to Ferrix. The powered keg is primed to blow, but the question on everyone’s mind is, does Andor stick the landing?
Rix Road is an interesting episode, in that at surface level, not much happens, but upon further examination, so much happens. Cassian returns home to Ferrix for the funeral of his mother Maarva and the Empire are assuming that he’s going to make an appearance. They’ve sprung a trap for him and have severely limited the attendance limit for the funeral.
The people of Ferrix do not abide by these rules though and the whole town seemingly shows up to honour Maarva. Music is played by a marching band as they slowly walk towards the Empire, defiant of the violation of their rules. B2EMO then plays a prerecorded message from Maarva, which allows Fiona Shaw to deliver the final monologue of the season. She inspires the people to rise up, as they’ve been idle too long and as the message wraps up, the people rise up, giving Luthen exactly what he’s been looking for this entire time. Open rebellion. The battle is tense, scary, dirty and chaotic. There’s nothing glorious about it. Civilians are gunned down, and troopers beaten to death. But anvil guy gets the last laugh, kicking a stormtrooper off his tower. Fun fact: the anvil is made of beskar, the same metal featured in The Mandalorian.
Meanwhile, Andor is on a mission to recover Bix from the hotel. Numerous obstacles get in his way, from Dedra Meero’s presence on Ferrix flanked by Death Troopers, an Imperial snitch, a spy, Luthen and Bix herself, whose a husk of her former self and reluctant to leave the sanctuary of her hotel room (read: holding cell). Luthen is on Ferrix as well, seeking to assassinate Andor once and for all, his one loose end. By the end of the episode, Cassian has learned that Luthen is on-planet and races to his ship, which is parked in the same spot he used at the front of the season, perhaps showing a hint of laziness on Luthen’s part. Cassian tells Luthen to either kill him or fully recruit him, highlighting Andor’s transition from selfish pessimist to motivated rebel.
Elsewhere in the episode, Mon Mothma accuses her husband of gambling, all while their driver, an ISB agent, eavesdrops on the conversation. I’m guessing Mon likely knew the driver would eavesdrop so she threw her husband, whom she dislikes, under the bus to get the ISB off her trail. If the ISB thinks Mon’s in dire straits due to her husband, it’ll explain the sudden arranged marriage of her daughter. Mon Mothma’s bank account is something that’s going to be front and center in season two and now that she’s essentially pawned her daughter off to save her finances, and thus the fledgling Rebelling, the question now will be was it worth it. Mon herself was in an arranged marriage and hates her husband, so to put her daughter through the same contract, knowing the outcome, must be brutal on her but her desperation outweighs her disapproval of the arrangement.
So how was Andor overall? Well, that’s an easy one. Andor is exceptional tv, not just a stellar Star Wars show, but a series that’s some of the best prestige television around. The show began with the odds stacked against it, a jaded fanbase burned numerous misfires and perhaps an overabundance of content saturating the brand. As such, there wasn’t too much hype for Andor, a prequel to Rogue One, a film that wasn’t too heavy on character development and more focused on plot.
But Andor has proved the naysayers wrong. Maybe you disagree with this assessment, but Andor is one of Lucasfilm’s finest productions in general, let alone in the Disney-era. George Lucas has always maintained that Star Wars is something for kids, but the kids of 1977 and beyond are adults now, as are their kids, so those audience members were a whole different target audience. As such, kids and newcomers to Star Wars will likely be put off by Andor, with its subtle nuance and complex and morally dubious characters. But those who were looking to find something a bit more mature and complex in a galaxy far, far away would be surprised and hopefully engrossed at how good the show is.
Showrunner Tony Gilroy has made it no secret he’s actually not a fan of Star Wars and has made sure that his writing team has put their story first before fan service. His writing team includes fans, but the story at large is the focus here, it just so happens to take place in the Star Wars universe. Easter eggs weren’t in your face but rather elegantly hidden in plain sight in Luthen’s shop. Even the post-credit scene at the end of the finale didn’t overstay its welcome or do some big reveal. The shot of the Death Star being assembled just reinforced the connection to Rogue One, which I imagine will act as the season finale of sorts.
Unlike The Mandalorian, which is an action-heavy show, Andor only has a few action sequences across its twelve episodes, but each scene stands out more to me than the numerous ones in Mando’s series. The scenes feel earned and justified and they aren’t shot in a way that feels “cool”. People die in these sequences, from Nemik in The Eye to (probably) Kino and numerous inmates in One Way Out. Speaking of Kino, Andy Serkis is just one of many actors giving exceptional performances, from Genevieve O’Reilly as Mon Mothma to StellanSkarsgård. I’d say the only real criticism I can lay against the show is that I found ANdor the least interesting of all the major characters. Not that Diego Luna is bad, he’s great and has a subtle but important arc. Often his silence speaks volumes and he can be frustratingly stubborn at times. But I also wanted just a bit more from Andor in terms of inner conflict.
There’s more to gush about in Andor, from the VFX to on-location cinematography to Nicholas Britell’s amazing score, but this review is getting lengthy. So we’ll wrap up by saying Andor was a surprise. Before the show debuted, I wrote this piece on why we should be excited for it, but I didn’t expect Andor to be this good. The best writing I’ve seen all year with some stellar performances, Andor is nothing short of a masterful and arguably the best show of the year. I know it won’t be for everyone, this is more of a niche show compared to say Mandalorian and it could be seen as slow to some, but I’m of the mind that Andor is an exceptional spy thriller. Bring on season two.
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