This Star Wars: Andor review contains spoilers.
Andor Episode 11
People are on the move on Andor. After several episodes of Cassian being stuck in prison, and Luthen hanging out at his antique shop, the name of the game in episode 11 is movement. Cassian and Melshi finally escape Narkina 5, while Luthen zips all around the galaxy. But at the same time, it’s clear Andor isn’t going to make any last-minute status quo-shattering plot changes. The lineup for the final seconds of the game has been called, and everything you need to know about the season 1 finale has already been set up here.
One of the things that Andor may be remembered for, at least in retrospect, is that the series doesn’t really lean on mystery boxes or massive plot twists to keep folks engaged. Yes, “One Way Out” gave us the identity of an ISB agent who is really a Rebel spy. But in “Daughter of Ferrix,” whatever Lonni (Robert Emms) is doing isn’t that concerning. Luthen preserved the status quo by keeping his informant in place. What this episode does instead is delve deeper into Luthen’s decision, taking it to a very real and painful place: is letting Anto Kreegyr’s men die the right thing to do for the larger Rebellion? Even Saw Gerrera, a freedom fighter who is labeled as an “extremist” by the other Rebels, seems uneasy with Luthen’s cold-blooded methods.
It’s an interesting morality play, and the Luthen we see in this episode isn’t as sure of his cold spy master decisions as the guy we saw last week yelling at poor Lonni to shut up and take it. With all of his Rebel spy underlings, he is aloof and angry, but with Saw, Luthen is honest and conflicted. It’s a convincing portrait of an isolated leader, especially when he genuinely asks Saw, “Do we let Kreegyr go down and play the long game?” Stellan Skarsgård acts the hell out of all of these scenes, layering on even more complexity to an already very complicated character. Needless to say, watching this master of the craft do his thing has been one of the show’s major highlights.
But just because all of these performances and chess moves are interesting, that doesn’t mean the audience will feel good about Saw and Luthen ultimately agreeing to let Kreegyr take one for the team. And we’re not meant to feel good about it. With this gripping conversation between Luthen and Saw, Andor has once again made one of its favorite points: The “good guys” in the Rebellion aren’t always good.
It’s kind of weird how pivotal Kreegyr is, considering we’ve never met the character at all. The idea that Luthen and his people are planning to kill Cassian for essentially the same reason that Luthen is letting Kreegyr die is philosophical math you have to do in your head. But there’s incongruity there because we don’t know anything about Kreegyr, other than he’s another freedom fighter that Saw doesn’t like but that everyone agrees is basically on the side of the Rebels. The ethical dilemma that Luthen presents to Saw feels similar to something from a John Le Carre novel like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. The difference is, in those books, when harsh decisions are made, the reader tends to have an idea of the fictional biographies of the people involved. Andor stans will likely defend the choice of not allowing the audience to meet Kreegyr (a hologram doesn’t count) as one more reason the show is “brilliant” and proof that writer Tony Gilroy is a revolutionary “disruptor” who doesn’t play by the rules. But the truth is, everything about this scene with Saw and Luthen would have been better and more impactful if we’d already met Kreegyr, even once.
Meanwhile, Cassian and Melshi’s trip back to the “paradise” planet of Niamos isn’t nearly as tricky as you might think. Friendly aliens conveniently agree to take them on their ship. And then, suddenly Cassian is back in that (hotel?) room he was in four episodes ago, conveniently finding a box of stuff he stashed there, which allows the plot to resume basically where it was before he was imprisoned. Why was it so easy for Melshi and Cassian to walk around Niamos, a place that’s supposed to be crawling with Imperials who love arresting people? How come nobody cleaned out that stash of stuff in Cassian’s room? And more importantly, if the show was always going to bring Cassian right back to this point, it really makes you wonder — did we need to have him in the prison for three full episodes? To be clear, that mini-arc with Kino was thrilling and effectively horrifying, but at the point at which Cassian and Melshi separate almost instantly in this episode, it really makes you wonder if that storyline was designed to be self-contained. Yes, the experiences on Narkina 5 have changed Cassian, but it doesn’t feel like he’s really made any decisions other than to react to whatever each episode throws at him. What happened to the guy searching for his sister?
Maarva’s off-screen death (a questionable sendoff for the brilliant Fiona Shaw) will undoubtedly pull Cassian back to Ferrix, where all the other parties will also converge for the season’s final showdown. It feels a bit predictable, and like the show took the long way around to getting back to character moments that were set up weeks ago, but it should still all add up to an explosive finale. It would just have been nice to allow Shaw a proper goodbye before then. B2’s lament — “I want Maarva” — is a tearjerker, though.
Whatever issues “Daughter of Ferrix” may have, the episode’s climax is worth the entire price of admission. Because of the show’s overall restraint regarding the typical pew-pew Star Wars starfighter action this franchise is best known for, when Luthen gets into a scrape with a very-retro-looking Imperial ship, he suddenly turns into the James Bond of Star Wars, and it’s exhilarating. Turns out the Fondor is tricked out with all kinds of cool laser weapons, and that Luthen is better at evading tractor beams than anyone else in Star Wars — ever. As Luthen bullshits with the Imperial officers, he gets ready to totally own them, and the seat-of-the-pants adventure aspect of the classic Star Wars films finally kicks in. It’s great to see an old-school battle sequence finally make it into the show, and even though it’s much smaller-scale than anything in recent movies, it may rank as one of the better dogfights of the Disney era. And this sequence definitely looks better than any of the ones featured in other Star Wars Disney+ series.
In the years to come, we’ll remember Andor as a show defined more by its conversations and quieter character moments than any other Star Wars thing ever. But, for once, it was nice to see this series evoke the classic spirit of Star Wars.