Andor Episode 6 Recap: “The Eye”
Andor is miraculous. I don’t know how else to say it. And I promise I’m not trying to overstate the case here, trying to pretend it’s valid, I don’t know, dead wood Where The young pope Where Too old to die young or other things done outside of a franchise context. What I mean is that in its franchise, within the Star Wars framework and, more specifically, how Star Wars stories are traditionally told, Andor feels like an impossible thing come true. I’m sitting there looking at him and I almost can’t believe my eyes and ears.
Take this episode, « The Eye, » for example. It’s mostly a heist movie, and a very good one, courtesy of director Susanna White’s expert direction and a killer script from Dan Gilroy. It is rooted in the details of the rebel group’s raid on the Imperial compound and the theft of some 80 million credits, enough to pay the employees of an entire Imperial sector. Some of these minutiae are character-based. Nemek, for example, couldn’t sleep the night before and wonders why, given that his beliefs are so strong. Vel, the point guard, at one point has a bad case of nerves and has to pull through while all of his comrades sit and wait for his word. Luthen, the mastermind, and Mon Mothma, the bankroll, only hear of the mission’s success when news spreads across Coruscant, leaving him elated and she stunned. Tamaryn, the guy tasked with turning Nemek, Skeen, and Andor disguised into convincing Imperial troops, is revealed to have once been a stormtrooper.
And we never know why, or why he quit, or how he got away, or how he feels about all of this now, because at the end of the episode, he’s dead. Just like Lieutenant Gorn, the inside man. Just like Nemek, literally crushed to death by the weight of the money they stole. The same goes for Skeen, who comes out as a traitor solely for Andor’s money, mistakenly believing Andor feels the same way; Andor summarily executes him, insisting on taking only his cut before parting ways with Vel, the sole survivor once they escape. Cinta is left behind, presumably to be rescued at some point, but having willingly volunteered to be left to her own devices on a planet soon to be teeming with Empire forces.
Then there’s all the physical stuff that goes into the capers. Jamming of transmissions. Swimming in a tank. Abseiling from an imposing dam. Pretend to be soldiers. Pass the different levels of imperial examination without being discovered. Hold non-combatants, including a child, hostage, on pain of death. Force a high-ranking Imperial to open a safe and help his captured Imperial companions load the money into the escape ship, until he has a heart attack and dies. Navigate a meteor shower thick enough to mash three pursuing TIE fighters (deployed from their hangar against a green sky in a brief scene that makes them as menacing and cool as they’ve ever been) without trading a single hit with them.
And the portrayal of Imperials as human beings rather than cartoon swifts! Commander Jayhold Beehaz (an excellent Stanley Townsend) happily spewing the nastiest, most racist and colonialist rhetoric at the local people (e.g. « They have a hard time having multiple ideas simultaneously ») and the Imperial plan to destroy their way of life as it should be you would talk about a football match. Jayhold berates his son for dressing well and cooperating while his wife fiddles with a belt that no longer fits her. Soldiers pause to make inappropriate comments about women and piss on a rock. (Piss and sexual impropriety on a Star Wars show! My god.) Soldiers bust their balls for being late, or act legitimately grateful to be allowed to relax and watch the meteor shower, which, of all parts, is a very beautiful thing. .
While we’re at it, let’s give a final shout out to Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Skeen, who won’t be joining us for the rest of his life, as they say in die hard. He’s wonderful during the raid itself – « Anyone who doesn’t want to hustle for the next ten minutes, raise your hand » he tells the captured Imperials they plan to lobby for them to move the money for them , with a gun pointed to their head – and terrifyingly convincing as an amoral asshole who wants to steal all the money for himself. He reveals that his powerful story about his brother who committed suicide due to the Empire’s depredations was bullshit, and offers to split the 80 million credits equally with Andor, which is undoubtedly bullshit as well. ; Andor wouldn’t last five minutes once they got to Skeen’s chosen destination. From a character you love to a character you hate in moments, all anchored by a steely performance that changes motivation without changing behavior. It is wonderful work.
Just like what Diego Luna does as Andor. I admit I harbored some skepticism about this whole project based on Luna’s work as a character from A thug, which I found a little flat. Not so here. You can see his fear, anxiety, determination, cynicism, and growing sense of scruples in every shot that focuses on Luna’s face. Thief, mercenary, rebel: these are the forms he has taken according to the needs of the moment, the only constants being hatred of the Empire and a desire for self-preservation. Watching his horizons expand in a desire to preserve not just himself but everyone under the Empire’s boot, slowly but surely, is reason enough to watch this show.
But there are a lot of reasons, oh man, are there ever any. Human, human and absolutely thrilling on a genre level, Andor, As Interview with the Vampire and Dragon Houseproves that making nerd franchise movies on TV can be real television, with real stakes and real characters and real motivations and real complexities that can’t be solved with a visit to the wiki. I’m so glad it exists.
Sean T. Collins (@theseantcollins) written on television for rolling stone, Vulture, The New York Timesand anywhere that will have it, really. He and his family live on Long Island.