Most of the titles for Andor have been on the nose, and episode seven, “Announcement,” is no different. There are many announcements in this episode in the aftermath of the Aldhani heist. And entities and people start revealing their true selves. It is the first major organized attack against the Empire from what we will come to know as a rebel cell. While a few people planned the attack, everyone in the galaxy will face the fallout.
An Inevitability and an Understanding
Syril is getting ready for his interview for a job he does not want, with his mother being her annoying self, when he sees a holo broadcast (a nice nod to the 70s TV set aesthetic). The broadcast is the news announcement in which Eedy Karn responds that the perpetrators will regret it.
True enough. The next scene is the live-action reappearance of Admiral Yularen (who I correctly predicted might make an appearance in this show) giving a thunderous speech about retribution and the Empire clenching its fist, to which the ISB will be the arm of dishing out justice. Yularen’s announcement to the ISB agents describes how they will crack down on discontent: revoking the Public Order Resentencing Directive (PORD). However, we know it will not wipe out the opposition but strengthen it by making more people sympathetic to their cause—both outside and inside the Empire.
Imperial agents in any division who are formidable end up dead or changing sides in Star Wars. Andor takes place years before the events of Star Wars Rebels, where the ISB plays a significant role throughout the series. The ISB made its first appearance in A New Hope and was later identified as the ISB in the Rebels junior novel Ezra’s Gamble. In the Rebels season one, we are introduced to Agent Kallus, who is also very capable and one of the main antagonists for the Ghost Crew. Kallus’s fate is still unknown, but at a certain point, something has to give with capable characters like Kallus and Grand Admiral Thrawn (who disappeared with Ezra Bridger via hyperspace-jumping whales) because the Rebellion wins in the end. And these characters are too smart to continue to be in their way.
And another one of these characters is Agent Dedra Meero, who is the only face of anger in the room. Anger not at the group that attacked the base on Aldhani, but anger at her agency because Dedra knows they are playing into the Rebel’s hands.
So, how much longer is Dedra going to remain an obstacle?
What Goes Around Comes Around
Dedra continues to undermine Blevin for her self-interests in the guise of doing her job. Dedra requests reports of stolen equipment in Blevin’s sector, leading to a confrontation in front of the rest of the agents and Major Partagaz. Blevin is not wrong in calling out Dedra, but this is the Empire, and the Empire rewards these tactics if they pay off.
I know people are cheering for Dedre, and good for them. But have you ever actually worked with a Dedra? Someone who sneakily tries to go around you to your boss? Not so fun in real life. What will fans do if she catches Luthen or comes face-to-face with Andor?
In the short term, she is likely going to Ferrix for a confrontation with Bix and the other friends and family of the best lead they have, Cassian Andor. And her tactics could become increasingly aggressive so she can prove herself to her superiors.
Everyone is in it for themselves, and now Dedra’s announcement that she will figure out how to get what she wants has put a target on her back. As Partagaz tells her, “Well played,” but watch out.
A Clash of Approach
With the Aldhani attack, Luthen has declared to his financial partner Mon Mothma: I am ok with people suffering if it will wake the galaxy up to what the Empire is doing to their freedoms. When Mon Mothma confronts Luthen at his store, asking if he had anything to do with the attack, he is honest:
Luthen does not care, even after learning that the Empire detained the Aldhani people at the Imperial garrison to watch The Eye. It is a cold truth that people outside of marginalized groups often need to experience a taste of oppression to act. By attacking the Empire, they guarantee that more people across the galaxy and class systems will experience Imperial oppression.
That indifference extends to his assistant, Kleya, who meets a posh Vel who is hoping to see Luthen. Klea tells her that the money is in good hands and not to get too caught up in her losses (i.e., the people who died). She also reminds her that Cassian Andor is a loose end and that he cannot be out in the galaxy as a connection to Luthen. Whether Luthen knows about her implied order to kill Cassian remains a mystery, but that does set up all sorts of possibilities going into the final five episodes of the season. Vel does not seem like a cold-blooded killer, and she has more pressing things on her mind as Cinta is still on Aldhani with an Imperial Star Destroyer arriving.
Political Parties and Party Politics
One of the best scenes in the series so far that does not involve action is at Mon Mothma’s beautiful apartment, where she is hosting politicians and other power brokers. She meets her old friend, Tay Kolma, a banker she wants to gauge as a potential alley. They sus each other out through conversation in public because it is the safest place to have a conversation about undermining the Empire. Kolma encourages the Senator by urging her not to seek political advice from him as his opinions of the Empire have soured. As they move about the room, Mon Mothma reminds Kolma to smile while telling him the Mon Mothma he sees in public is a lie. And one thing she learned from Palpatine: “I show you the stone in my hand, you miss the knife at your throat.”
After deciding she can trust her old friend, she tells him he can lead her charitable foundation as a front (implying to move money to the Rebel cells secretly). Mon Mothma wisely does not tell him what she is up to, as getting him involved this much is already a risk to both parties. It is a delicate balance that is expertly written by Stephen Schiff (The Americans) and executed by Genevieve O’Reilly and Ben Miles.
With the gift of hindsight, we know Senator Mothma is safe while she is still in the Senate, but we do not know what happens to Kolma or her husband and daughter, so there are still stakes here. Mothma has taken a chance, revealing her true self to her friend and ingratiating herself further into the beginnings of a Rebellion.
Inspirations from Unlikely Sources
The other great scene from this episode comes when Cassian returns to Ferrix after his heist. He visits Maarva first, telling her to pack her things and get ready to leave. While chastising him for returning, Maarva does not put up a fight when he tells her they are leaving Ferrix. Cassian then visits Bix, who is still understandably shaken by what happened to her in “The Reckoning.” Bix is honest with Cassian, telling him that someone will turn him in as the town blames him for what happened and the current situation. Cassian throws the problem on her now-dead boyfriend, Timm, as he is intent on remaining blameless. But the truth is somewhere in the middle: no, Pre-Mor would not have come to Ferrix if it wasn’t for Timm, but Cassian would have led them to Ferrix eventually. The inciting events of the first episode foreshadow that trouble follows him. Bix tells him he should leave sooner than later and closes the door on their relationship.
After paying off his debts, he returns home to find Maarva has not packed. More importantly, she is not going with him. Frustrated, Cassian tells her that it is not safe for her here with the Empire. Maarva responds that it is not safe anywhere and that she is too old to run. She wants to stay and fight, inspired by the Aldhani attack (and unknowingly, by her son). Maarva laments that she purposely avoids walking through the square where Clem was hung. We see what led to his death, which mirrors the real-world tragedies of an unfortunate marginalized person being caught in the middle of a protest and suffering the ultimate consequence.
Cassian, realizing he has to let his mother go, says he will worry about her the whole time; Maarva responds, “that is just love. And there is nothing you can do about that.” We will see if she lasts the season with a steadfast ISB Agent heading to Ferrix soon.
One of my few criticisms of this episode was the decision to kill Clem by hanging. And it is not just the connotation of Clem being a black man (hanging has been dealt out as punishment and torment in countries other than the US throughout history). The act of hanging people in Star Wars has never worked for me. It didn’t work for me with Nari in Obi-Wan Kenobi, either.
And no rules are established in Star Wars on why this specific punishment is executed over others (a Jedi survivor of Order 66 and a man accused of throwing stones at Stormtroopers are two vastly different offenses). But, most importantly, Star Wars/Disney can never show how violent the act of hanging someone truly is, so they should leave it to franchises with more freedom to do so.
And Back Around
And so Cassian finds himself on a pleasure planet with the necessary ingredients: a beach. After a night with a lady, Cassian (calling himself Keef) is on his way to the store and unfortunately gets in the middle of a group of guys running from Shoretroopers. When he tries to scurry away from the scene, a Shoretrooper stops him and passively aggressively questions his involvement in the scuffle. Cassian’s insistence that he is a tourist just trying to get to the store falls on indignant ears as the trooper calls a K2 unit over to detain Cassian until he returns. The droid almost chokes a terrified Cassian, similar to a cover of the one-shot comic Cassian and K-2SO.
Cassian heads to an Imperial district judge in a room full of new offenders, part of the clenched fist Yularen referenced earlier. A whirl of offenses Cassian did not commit (at least on Namios) are thrown his way, and a former six-month sentence becomes six years. It is full circle for Cassian, and the Empire has caught someone involved in the Aldhani heist just for drawn-up offenses. Although Cassian is not likely to stay in prison for long, the injustice he faces here is being committed on innocent citizens across the galaxy, just as Luthen had predicted. And just as he had hoped.
Syril remains sidelined in this episode, but his individuality is evident as he tailors his uniform like his old Pre-Mor. Individuality is not a trait attributed to the Empire, but ambition undoubtedly is, so Syril’s path is still unclear. I hope Dedra at least rescues him from the dead-end job and overbearing mother trope soon.