Episode six of Andor provided one hell of a payoff to the heist that’s been brewing over the course of the last couple episodes of the Disney+ series. “The Eye,” directed by Susanna White with a script from Dan Gilroy, is likely to go down as one of the greatest hours of Star Wars committed to screen.
The Diego Luna-led, rebellion-era tale from Tony Gilroy has really set itself apart and we’re only halfway through!
The episode opens on the morning of the Aldhani cell’s heist, in a brief exchange of ideologies as Nemik (Alex Lawther) chooses to believe in Andor (Luna) even when Cassian can’t bring himself to. In a quiet moment before the tension of the rest of the episode, the purity of Nemik sees right thought Andor’s armour. He asks Cassian how does an insurgency adapt by using the means of mercenary? Cassian’s an unpredictable variable, yes but he can’t believe he wouldn’t be there if at least some part of him wasn’t in for the fight — even if reluctantly. A mercenary unique for being there and with the uncaring Empire that doesn’t have to learn outside of anything they can’t control. Cleverly for a young mind, Nemik posits how “Clem” could think it’s hopeless, but a sense of assurance washes over young Nemik as he confides in Cassian that he wonders when he’ll get to sleep. “You’ll sleep when it’s done,” Andor responds, recognising in Nemik the young man he used to be. It’s such a tender moment, we just knew was going to set us up for some sort of heartbreak, hoping the kid really got through to Andor.
Up in his tower Commander Jayhold (Stanley Townsen) is discussing with Colonel Petigar (Richard Katz) how he’s squashed the spirits of the Dhani’s to forego trips en masse to the sacred valley to see the titular eye, the dazzling meteor shower that will cover our rebels’ escape path. Of course, it’s by introducing a bit of a swindle and taking advantage of their refusal to accept free things out of pride and cut their losses. The options are accommodations or good old capitalism — both not ideal options, but the only ones on the table to lure the Dhani’s away from their land and make the trek less feasible. Put up stops with drink and rest stops, and the numbers dwindle eventually, making the trip not worthwhile. Petigar asks if they know it’d be their last year at the sacred temple and Jayhold tells his superior that their expansion will go as planned, eventually sanctioning a festival as far away as possible so the Empire can pillage the highlands. Putting a price on faith, a folly that Jayhold sets himself up for.
The rebels break up into teams, team Echo One, which are the fellas, and team Valley One, Vel (Faye Marsay) and Cinta (Varada Sethu), who set up devices to scramble comms. In the taut transition of team Echo into infiltration mode, Andor finds out that leading comes naturally to Tameryn (Gershwyn Eustache Jnr), because he was once a stormtrooper who has since defected — a shock to his sytem, but also something that gives them good cover alongside Gorn, their mole on the inside. The tension builds as you see more information disseminated by Skeen at just the right moment to potentially undo the trust Nemik built with Cassian, but there’s no times for doubt yet. Not stepping out of line team Echo escorts Jayhold and his family to a traditional trading of furs, an Aldhani custom to mark the start of celebration. Gorn acts as a translator between the Dhani pilgrims and Jayhold, who doesn’t get the true message from the Dhani’s — basically, that their ghosts remember. Once Jayhold walks away, they throw the fur he carelessly gave them into the fire… kindle to start the spark of revolution as they chant their ritual.
Once they’re back on the base team Echo (now joined by Vel) reveals themselves to Jayhold and take his family hostage. Jayhold refuses to help figuring they’re dead anyway,s but Vel points out only the Empire does things that way. A clear delineation that they are not the same, and if Jayhold helps them secure the payroll and get his men to cooperate in the vault, he and his family will walk free — the stress of this moment, where we and our rebels alike just have to assume Jayhold will cooperate is gutwrenchingly tense, a feeling that barely leaves the episode from this moment on — there’s not a frame wasted here, and the episode charges into action.
Almost as if invoking divine retribution, the Dhani chany are intercut with the moments the meteors begin to strike across the sky in cinematic splendor, and with the rebels as they infiltrate the Imperial depot. There’s a stunning, heady mix of tension and hope as the plan seemingly starts to look like it’ll go off… until, eventually, Corporal Kimzi (Nick Blood), intercepts the interfered comms between the rebels, making out that they’re in the vaults. And now, the cuts between the Dhani, the Eye’s splendor, and the rebels is given another layer: cutting to Kimzi and a squad of troopers as they race to the vault, the power of the base flickering out, and more, as TIE pilots at the local airbase scramble to aid them. Everything is building, the rush as the team screams at their Imperial captors to load the payroll data quicker, Jayhold’s realisation of the scope of betrayal he faces when Gorn arrives not to stop them, but to join in…
And it’s only released when Kimzi and his men arrive. Jayhold keels over on the spot, the tension too much, and hell breaks out. There’s blasterfire everywhere, and every shot another spike in our anxiety. Gorn goes down almost immediately as the rebels scramble to make it to the ship, Cassian finds himself saved from near death by a shot from Nemik, and alas, poor Tameryn is gunned down making a run for the ship, leaving the rebel contingent down to 3 (Cinta, meanwhile, is standing guard over Jayhold’s family, ready to be left planetside).
Once the remaining rebels are inside, Cassian takes off, jetting the ship into action… tragically not realising the force of the shuttle’s engines sends the rest of the team and the payroll stacks flying. Nemik is crushed between two of them and the sound is horrifying: it’s clear it’s bad, and it’s only worse when Vel and Skeen drag him out as he sheepishly repeats that he can’t feel his legs. Even in seeming success, “The Eye” never ratchets down its tension. Cassian screams for flight data to make it through the Eye in one piece, Vel and Skeen shoot Nemik up with an adrenaline shot so he can stay conscious long enough to yell guidemarks and co-ordinates back — and if that wasn’t enough sound a fury, three TIEs shriek into action to give chase. Miraculously, or by the grace of the Dhani’s ceremony, every TIE Fighter on the tail gets stricken down in a moment of cathartic grace. It’s unclear if the Dhanians had any awareness that Gorn was mobilizing to help, or if they were in on it, but they felt it in the air. There’s something spiritual, almost of the Force, of their hushed awe looking up at the spectacle — as we know our rebels have succeeded.
Back on board the shuttle, victory is short-lived. Nemik has slipped into unconsciousness, and Skeen tells Andor that Vel wants to avoid going to a back-up Doctor to save his life, choosing to sacrifice the boy for the good of the mission. But it seems that Nemik did indeed get through to Cassian, who chooses to side with Skeen, and together they out vote her, taking him to the Doctor’s safehouse. While Vel waits with Nemik as he goes into surgery, Skeen and Cassian wait outside, and Andor’s messy, complicated world continues to unfold. Skeen decides to share in Cassian that he can be just as mercenary as his fellow supposed rebel. He wants to cut the payroll data’s value — 80 million credits, far more than Luthen offered Cassian — 50/50, and ditch Vel and Nemik. Skeen, he thinks, has found in Cassian someone like himself: a man who came where he came from, someone who knows you only get out of that place by climbing over others.
And just as you think things could take a turn for the worse, there’s a moment of brief catharsis: without a second thought, Cassian blasts Skeen away. But crucially, he’s not a hero here — just because he was willing to stop Skeen screwing Vel and Nemik over doesn’t mean he’s not just done with all this. Blaster still drawn, Cassian goes to Vel to bargain for his cut and a way off-world, only to walk in on the realisation that Nemik didn’t make it through surgery. Distraught that he let others in and overcome with grief at another young life lost around him, he tells Vel he’s leaving with his cut and instructs her to give Luthen back his jewel. He’s out. It all happens to quickly, the emotional act of protecting the cause despite letting another loss get to him. Vel, at least, gives Cassian Nemik’s manifesto, his final request apparently that he take it. The last act of twists and reveals are so breakneck that you don’t get a moment to breathe, or ingest the random cruelty of Nemik’s passing. It’s so much to take in, and powerfully executed. and yet there’s something hopeful even in the despair. Some of them lived — and Nemik’s words are destined to resonate, no matter how scared Cassian is of them.
Back on Coruscant, however, things keep moving. At the ISB, Dedra (Denise Gough) and her fellow officers are collected for an emergency meeting held by Major Partagaz (Richard Katz), who demands every star sector and planetary emergency retaliation plan in the building ready for presentation: they’re finally taking the rebels seriously. The Aldhani strike was even heard at the senate as Mon Mothma pleads for a proposal to aid the Ghormans, only to realise something has happend as her fellow senators turn away as the news breaks. Even in Luthen’s den of antiquities, a rich couple ask if he has any Aldhani pieces jokingly, referring to the news, and letting him know that it worked, as we end, at last the tension over, on his sheer joy, laughing in the back room as he realises his plan worked. At last, so can we breathe — the rebellion has only just begun.
– Nemik was a real one, we gotta pour out some milk for him. His last lines to Andor mirror K-2SO’s they both tell him to climb (Excuse me, I have something in my eye)!
– Vel and Cinta live! A relief and we hope to see them again. Maybe they get their own spin-off series?
– The Eye was Star Wars spectacle at it’s finest, I couldn’t look away and the beauty and the brutality that could have struck them down.
– Skeen LIED, curse his sad backstory and awesome lines! Geez I hope no one got that tat’d on themselves. Oof.
– The costuming was on point, seeing a real culture through the pilgrims in contrast to the stark Imperial uniforms and regalia.
– Dedra is ready to start her mess, really what’s she going to do?
Andor drops every Wednesday on Disney+.
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