This Star Wars: Andor review contains spoilers.
Andor Episode 9
At the start of Andor episode 9, Dedra threatens Bix by saying, “The very worst thing you can do right now is bore me.” This is just before an interrogation scene, in which the stakes are high, but also muddled. As the first Star Wars TV series or film to really push into gritty and adult territory, the threat Dedra hurls at Bix is also on the mind of this viewer. We like Andor, we like what it’s trying to do and say. But, with only four episodes left in season 1, the worst thing the show can do is bore us.
If there’s one central truth to Andor it’s that much like in real life, nobody knows anything for sure, ever. Dedra doesn’t actually know whether Bix has the information she seeks, so torturing Bix by making her listen to the dying screams of alien children is ultimately just an act of cruelty. The ISB wants to track down Cassian, but by the end of this episode, he’s still in that prison on Narkina 5 under a false name. Mon Mothma needs a loan, but she doesn’t really know how she’s going to get it, nor does she really know what the people working for her in the Rebellion — including her own cousin Vel — are actually doing. This means, that in theory, Andor’s plot fuel is dramatic irony. We know the connecting threads between all of this, but none of the characters know. Watching all of these characters creep closer together is, probably, why we’re watching.
But will all these threads connect? This late in the game, Andor seems to suggest that this season will not end with all points converging together. In Kurt Vonnegut’s classic novel Breakfast of Champions, two characters go on different journeys. The novel ends when these two tragically meet, along with a bunch of easter eggs from other Vonnegut novels. Because Cassian is so far away from Mon Mothma, but they end up in a room together in Rogue One, it’s really tempting to assume Andor season 1 is headed toward its own Breakfast of Champions moment; somehow, everybody is going to end up on the same planet, at the same time, and all hell will break loose.
Here’s the paradox: if all characters understood what all the other characters were doing or even knew about all the other characters in Andor, the show would cease to be what it is. And episode 9 proves this paradox to be true. It’s a small reveal when we learn that Vel is chilling on Coruscant and that she is actually related to Mon Mothma, but it’s also in keeping with the style of the show that Vel doesn’t tell Mon Mothma any of the specifics of what she’s up to. This isn’t a criticism of the show at all, but it still feels odd to crave moments in which characters could give exposition to each other, but don’t.
So, as much as Andor keeps suggesting connections between characters who are all separated, it’s also possible that this season may end with several characters still being siloed in their own little worlds. We’re seeing Cassian and Melshi become closer allies in the prison, which is fodder for their backstory in Rogue One. There’s a good chance that they’ll continue to hang out all the way through the season finale, and perhaps even reconnect with Luthen. But, on the flip side, it also seems like Syril Karn is permanently stuck on his own, except of course, when he decides to stalk Dedra in this episode.
This is a strange metaphor for all the ships passing in the night in Andor. After the first three-episode arc, Syril was literally put into a box, away from all the other characters, until suddenly, he got pulled in for questioning by Dedra. Now he’s desperate to be in the main part of the show again! Vel is similar. She was instrumental to the biggest arc in the series so far, and now, here she is hanging out with Mon Mothma, poised to join a different aspect of the series, already in progress.
But Mon Mothma sends Vel away, instructing her to lay low, possibly for the rest of the season. Meanwhile, Dedra tells Syril to stop stalking her or he’s dead meat. Even when one character from one section of the show crosses over to another, that crossover doesn’t stick. Luthen is possibly the only exception to all of this, of course, but it’s also impossible to imagine Cassian showing up on Coruscant in the next few episodes. Sure, now that he and Kino know that the prison is bogus, it seems obvious that next week will be a prison break episode. But where will Cassian go next? Will his knowledge of that prison matter to Luthen? To Mon Mothma? Will Dedra ever figure out she had Cassian in her grasp all along? Does it actually matter?
Andor is a show about many people, in many different places, doing things that link them all together. The puzzle has already been put together by the audience. The only thing that’s unclear is if any of these characters will get to see the big picture by the end. And if nobody does, maybe that’s the point.