By Josh Reilly B.
The end is nigh for Andor season one.
What can only be described as a critically acclaimed twelve episode run of television had its penultimate outing this week, seemingly setting the stage for what’s to come in the finale.
Cassian Andor himself doesn’t feature too much and only appears in two scenes, the first and the last of the episode. The episode largely focuses on bringing all of the major players to Ferrix for the finale. The death of Cassian’s mother, Maarva Andor, sends shockwaves through all corners of the galaxy as the Empire want the future Rebel hero for his knowledge on their illusive Axis figure and the Rebellion wants to kill him to stop that from happening. Meanwhile, Syril still has Andor on his mind and wants to get revenge on Cassian for ruining his career and future aspirations.
That all seems like a lot of systematic planting of these core threads to lead them into the finale, but it works because it’s all centered around the incredibly emotional death of Maarva. This is a larger strength of Andor as a show, as it’s much more complex and emotionally resonant than expected. Cassian’s death in Rogue One was tragic and heartfelt, but showrunner Tony Gilroy and the rest of the creative team managed to make the rest of the characters in this prequel story equally as compelling. The reaction of B2-EMO to Maarva’s death is particularly tear jerking, as is the genuinely sweet reaction of the Ferrix locals to the droid’s mourning.
More broadly, Maarva’s death occurring off screen without a proper sendoff does feel a little jarring here. Still, there’s a purpose and artistry to this decision as it the audience is placed in a similar position to Cassian himself, hearing the shocking and unexpected news but not being able to be there to say their goodbyes.
The grey morals of the Rebellion are further explored in this episode as well, and done so incredibly well. Luthen Rael’s decision to let Anton Kreeger and his soldiers die to prevent the Empire from learning that they have a spy in their ranks is cold to say the least, and it’s the kind of choice that some of the original trilogy heroes like Luke Skywalker or Han Solo or Leia Organa would never have made. Plainly put, Luthen is not those characters and his allegiance to the Rebellion is more extremist and in line with the likes of Saw Gerrera, who also appears in this episode.
The most interesting aspect of this theme is the question of whether these sort of incredibly difficult and heartless decisions were necessary in order to achieve victory against the Empire. Audiences know that the Empire is eventually taken down, but the real cost of that victory is only just beginning to be explored. Andor handles these sorts of themes with great nuance and makes this one of the deepest Star Wars stories to date.
Andor’s penultimate episode doesn’t have too much going on in terms of story, but it does a good job of setting everything up for the finale next week. This episode does have the death of Maarva, though, in what is an incredibly moving mourning sequence that is handled with great subtly. The writing is the standout here, as it has been all season long.