There is not much joy in Andor. There are no cute Baby Yodas to coo at or little Leias to poke at the heartstrings. It is just dreary, palette, and content-wise. That’s where we are with “The Axe Forgets.” In the middle of the dreary before the season’s main event (and the halfway point).
Some of these conversations work, and some are repetitive to exhaustion.
The Progression of Aggression
This episode presented Cassian with an antagonist in Skeen, who has been strangely quiet the past two episodes. Yes, there was a question and concern posed to Vel in episode four by Skeen, but we heard the most protest from Taramyn and Lieutenant Gorn.
However, there was a bit of foreshadowing in how Skeen approached Cassian’s arrival. At first, he asked Taramyn and Cinta if they knew who he was before Vel arrived with Cassian. Then, when Lieutenant Gorn arrived at the camp, Skeen was the first to tell him about Cassian, knowing that the Imperial Officer would demand answers. It is a workaround for trying to get answers without being the point of confrontation to no avail. Vel dodged their questions and insisted that she trusted Cassian; ultimately, Taramyn and Gorn let it go.
It turns out Skeen did not. And the passive aggressiveness from episode four evolved into increasingly aggressive behavior in this episode.
It starts with Cassian waking up to find that Skeen has gone through all of his belongings (and lying that Vel asked him to because she was having second thoughts). He asks Cassian about his items, making conversation, and it is suggested that they both were in prison for some time. Skeen makes sure Cassian can see his prison tattoos. Skeen finally asks why he’s here, and Cassian responds, “I was told I could help,” but says it is never easy working with a team, and they break at the weakest points (possibly referring to Skeen). Skeen thinks Cassian is talking about Nemik and Cinta and lists why each one won’t break, then casually accuses Cassian of being a spy. Ok, a little more aggression.
After Skeen grabs his pack under the guise that he is trying to move it out of the way, Vel chastises him, and Cassian warns him. Finally, Skeen breaks the day before the heist and surprises Cassian with a knife to his throat, cutting the kyber crystal Luthen gave him as a down payment for the job. Sheen proudly claims he knew Cassian was lying and pours his anxieties out on the entire group, forcing Cassian’s hand.
Cassian wisely tells them a part of the truth: he is being paid to be here. He leaves out Luthen, his motives for wanting to strike against the Empire, and that Clem is not his real name. The day before is always the hardest, and he is scared, but he hasn’t lost his nerve. Then Cassian throws that anxiety back on the group, telling them they won’t use him as an excuse if they do not want to go through with the mission.
Cassian and Skeen are two sides of the same coin. Both men have lost something because of the Empire and have built up hatred that needs to go somewhere. However, Cassian has more information in the group and understands that if he keeps withholding information, the mission cannot succeed due to that lack of trust. Under the order of Vel, Skeen tells Cassian about his brother and how the Empire took his land. Unable to fight back, his brother committed suicide by drowning himself. Of course, Cassian doesn’t tell them his real name or the meaning behind his pseudonym, but the tension between himself and Skeen squashed. And right in time for the next episode.
And More Family Tensions
Meanwhile, on Coruscant, there is familial tension between Mon Mothma, her husband, and her daughter. We get one of many dining scenes when we meet Mothma’s daughter, Leida (one letter away from Leia). The teen girl favors her father and does not care much for her mother, refusing her mother’s attempt to drop her off at class. Leida that she wants to show off and pretend she’s “involved, somehow.” I will not join in many trying to put Leida and her husband, Perrin, in the same category. Because Mon Mothma probably has neglected her daughter as a lifelong politician. There is real hurt and anger in Leida’s words toward her mother. It is not as simple as labeling her a “brat.”
When we see Mon Mothma, we only get her perspective, but it is only half of that relationship. While I do not care about Perrin, her relationship with Leida does interest me because this is the first mention of her existence. Mon Mothma has a whole history in canon that has never mentioned her husband or daughter. And Tony Gilroy and his team will have to provide answers to why they do not appear to be in her life after the Empire’s fall.
The Eyes of the Empire Are Upon You
The Empire taking from others is referenced a lot in this episode. We continue to see how their occupation of Ferrix has affected the population and could impact the land. An Imperial WatchGuard mentions that the Empire is considering tearing down a whole mountain range on Aldhani for a military base. ISB Lieutenant Blevin gifts Captain Tigo a hotel for his headquarters after removing the guests. They also paint over shop doors and remove any graffiti or evidence of individuality.
And we find out why Lieutenant Gorn is helping the fledgling group of insurgents. He fell in love with an Aldani woman, lost a promotion, then lost the woman. And now Gorn has nothing left to lose—the same for Skeen, who lost his brother when the Empire took his land. Meanwhile, Dedra and her gaunt assistant dig deeper into the “random” acts of rebellion, which will undoubtedly lead to a tightened grip on these planets.
The Longest Table Conversation Ever
This was a little much. One table scene of Syril’s mother berating him for losing a job is one thing, but two? Syril and Eedy Karn start the day at their dining table and end the day at the dining table talking about the same thing. It doesn’t help that the great stage and screen actress Kathryn Hunter is unfortunately miscast as his mother. They do not even remotely look like they could be related, and while I know that there are plenty of instances of this in real life, her having her British accent with Soller’s American accent is distracting. At the very least, I’m sure Hunter can pull an American accent in her sleep.
But all this berating by Eedy leads to further Syril’s obsession with blaming Cassian for his problems. The best thing that came from these scenes is my curiosity about Syril’s Uncle Harlo and his profession.
I was wrong in thinking that the heist would be this episode. I should have known we would have to wait given the structure of the first three episodes. And, in the end, it served the characters in Cassian’s crew the most. I also am waffling on my Nemik dying prediction for reasons I do not want to say quite yet, as they might be spoilers. But we will find out soon enough.