Cassian Finally Finds the Spark of Rebellion

Dec 31, 2022

The final episode of Andor Season 1 is finally upon us, and Tony Gilroy delivers one of the finest season finales in television history. Across the 12 episodes leading up to this jaw-dropping conclusion, fans of the series (yours truly, included) have hailed Andor as the best project that Star Wars has delivered since the 1980s and the best series on television this year, and Episode 12 proves that this series has lived up to every bit of the hype. With the death of his mother (Fiona Shaw) weighing on his spirit and the fires of rebellion burning in his spirit, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) makes his return to Ferrix for her funeral, and when he arrives he discovers that he is not the only resident that has been caught in the flames of slow-burning dissidence.

Episode 12 opens quietly at the Repaak Salyard on Ferrix, where Wilmon Paak (Muhannad Bhaier) is studiously building something. It only takes a few moments to realize that he isn’t repairing a busted flux converter or a faulty comm—he’s building an explosive. With a hologram of his late father Salman (Abhin Galeya) watching him work, there’s no question that he’s planning to turn Maarva’s funeral into direct action against the Empire who made an example of his father. With Wilmon, Gilroy builds an interesting parallel to Cassian’s own childhood. Earlier in the season, we learned that Clem Andor (Gary Beadle) was also hung by the Empire in a display of power over the community. But Cassian didn’t build a bomb and try to blow anything up; instead, he came unmoored and distanced himself from true, rebellious activity. Not only does this show an alternative path that Cassian could have taken himself, but it shows that there is no longer any room for complacency from anyone whom the Empire is looking to oppress. This becomes the underlying thesis of the finale, as Ferrix becomes the crossroads for rebellion.

Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) returns to Ferrix, in anticipation of Cassian Andor’s arrival, and she’s so confident that this is going to be a defining moment in her career. Shortly after her arrival, she and Corv (Nouf Ousellam) go undercover to get a feel for what’s happening on the streets of Ferrix, and they are entirely unaware of the fact that Cinta (Varada Sethu) is trailing them — or at least it appears that they’re unaware for the moment. The rebellion isn’t the only interested party that has eyes and ears lurking in the streets, looking for news or rumors about Cassian Andor. Elsewhere, Xan (Zubin Varla) relays to Brasso (Joplin Sibtain) that he’s made contact with Cassian, and from the shadows, Nurchi (Raymond Anum) plots how he’s going to get more information out of Xan. Seizing on the opportunity to relay information back to the Empire, and perhaps improve his own situation, Nurchi lures Xan into a false sense of security during post-work drinks and pries information about Cassian’s impending arrival out of him. It’s not much, but it’s enough to win the favor of the Imperial officers lurking in the streets.

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On Coruscant, Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) waits outside a social gathering for Perrin (Alastair Mackenzie) to finish shmoozing with the other guests, and from the moment the camera settles on her, it is evident that there is more to this evening out than necessarily meets the eye. They trade snipes at each other when he finally deigns to extract himself from the festivities, and Mon is quick to ask their driver to give them a little privacy. It’s already been established that her driver is a spy of the Empire, and it’s not surprising when he doesn’t yield to her request. Instead, the driver listens—with great interest—as Mon accuses Perrin of gambling again. He’s quick to defend himself, accusing the claim to be planted by one of her detractors in the Senate, but Mon remains firm in her belief that he’s been squandering their money and lying about it. After last week’s dire conversation between Mon and Vel (Faye Marsay), it’s easy to piece together the fact that Mon is laying the groundwork to pin the blame for their financial situation on her husband. Surely the Empire would rather believe that the embattled Senator, in a loveless marriage, is dealing with a gambling husband than suspect she would be foolish enough to fund the rebellion from her own coffers.

Cassian makes his reckless return to Ferrix and it isn’t clear what his plan is, at least not at first. Aboard the ship that he scored on Narkina 5, he listens to Nemik’s (Alex Lawther) manifesto and reflects on his childhood. It’s a short, dreamlike recollection of a moment he shared with Clem wherein his adoptive father is talking about rust and making repairs to equipment, rather than replacing them with something new. Despite the circumstances of how Clem and Maarva came into Cassian’s life, it’s clear that he was loved and well-cared for by them. Every moment and memory that Andor has shown between the three has showcased a rare dynamic within the Star Wars universe, where families are often shown as messy, broken, and complex. If Cassian arrived on his homeworld with a plan in mind, it all changes the moment he runs into Pegla (Kieran O’Brien) at his mother’s home and learns about what the Empire has done to Bix (Adria Arjona) during his absence. Maarva might be dead, but Bix is still alive, and he quickly devises a plan to rescue her before he loses another person he cares about.

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Cassian isn’t the only person to return to Ferrix; Vel and Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård) have also arrived in hopes of taking out the final loose thread from the Aldhani mission. Vel’s arrival is a little more fraught with emotion than Luthen’s, considering Cinta didn’t pick her up at the shipyard because she was too busy trailing Dedra and Corv. Of course, Vel recognizes that getting information for the rebellion is more critical, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s clearly upset about being left to find her own way to their hideout.

As expected, Mon Mothma’s driver takes the information he learned about her financial situation directly to the ISB, and Blevin (Ben Bailey Smith) is easily convinced that Perrin is responsible for her questionable banking decisions. While Dedra is listening to the plans that the Daughter of Ferrix have requested for Maarva’s funeral, Blevin and the rest of the ISB are buzzing with excitement that they get to execute Anto Kreegyr. Dedra is livid that her superiors dispatched Kreegyr for show rather than using him to get more information about the rebellion, and she quickly reminds her officers on Ferrix that she wants Cassian Andor taken into custody alive. And while the Empire is keeping their eyes out for any sign of the galaxy’s most wanted man, Pegla has successfully hidden him away somewhere safe so he can devise a plan to get Bix out of the hotel that the Imperial officers have turned into their headquarters.

When Brasso and Cassian finally reunite, Cassian unleashes all of his regrets about how his last interaction with Maarva went. He regrets fighting with her, and he regrets not making her come with him to Niamos, but like the good friend that he is, Brasso steadies Cassian and tries to help him see past the grief. He even shares, that in her final hours, Maarva spoke about Cassian and her love for him, and her belief that “he’s just the first spark of the fire.” While Maarva had no idea that Cassian was responsible for the heist on Aldhani, which reignited her desire to push back against the Empire, she knew what Cassian was made of. Even in her death, she believed that he was capable of accomplishing great things, and that serves as the final push for him.

Cassian has a lot stacked against him on Ferrix. Not only does he have to avoid being caught by Dedra and her lackeys, discovered by friends-turned-narks, or taken out by Luthen and Vel’s deadly plans, but he also has Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) arriving to find him. As last week’s episode indicated, Syril took his mother’s credits and stole into the night with his Pre-Mor buddy Sergeant Linus Mosk (Alex Ferns) to redeem their names after the blunder that transpired the last time they were on Ferrix. It’s laughable, really, that Syril is so hellbent on tracking down a man that likely doesn’t even remember what he looks like. But Luthen definitely remembers that Syril Karn is the man that Cassian foolishly spared when they were trying to fight their way off of Ferrix.

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As the marching band starts tuning their instruments and the Time Grappler (Neil Bell) takes his place atop the bell tower on Rix Road, tensions begin to mount throughout the city. Rather than staying amidst the growing crowds on the street, Cassian Andor takes to the upper levels of Ferrix. Rescuing Bix isn’t something that Dedra has factored into her plans for the funeral—she seems to be anticipating that he’ll be in the crowds, or that he’ll make a dramatic appearance to place his mother’s brick in the wall. It seems she’s underestimated that she’s made Cassian out to be someone that he isn’t—at least not yet. He isn’t a dangerous revolutionary or a selfless martyr; there are still people he cares about.

In a display that harkens back to Cassian’s assertion that power doesn’t fear, the Imperial troops are terrified of the size of the crowd that has turned out for Maarva’s funeral. They’re practically shaking in their boots at the mere sight of a mediocre marching band, and ready to don riot gear as the Daughters of Ferrix begin flooding the streets. But it’s Maarva’s self-eulogy that gives flight to real fear. Maarva knew that she was dying, and she knew that, while she wasn’t able to lend physical strength to the rebellion, she could lend her spirit and sense of duty in death. As Brasso and B2EMO make their way to the head of the funeral procession, Cassian mounts his rescue attempt while the Empire is otherwise occupied with their fears.

When the Empire took over the hotel as their headquarters in Ferrix, they didn’t remove everyone who was working for the establishment, which inadvertently helps Cassian’s rescue mission. Once he makes his way inside, he runs into a cook in the kitchen who he knows, and who is more than willing to tell him where Bix is being held. Ferrix has a strong sense of community, something that Gilroy has showcased throughout Andor, but it’s small moments like this that really underscore just how much these people care for one another. The cook had the opportunity to be a turncoat like Nurchi, but instead, he gives Cassian the information he needs to save one of their own. No matter how small-world Star Wars has been in the past, we’ve never really seen a sense of community as strong as the one on display in Ferrix.

When Cassian finally makes his way into the room where they’ve been holding Bix, he isn’t at all prepared for what he’s greeted with. Weary and broken, Bix is clinging to the bars at the window, trying her best to be part of Maarva’s funeral. She’s not entirely surprised to see Cassian standing there because she claims he’s visited her in her dreams. Cassian is horrified—he’s seen the horrors of life in prison on Narkina 5, but Bix’s transformation is a heart-wrenching example of what the Empire is willing to do to people who resist them. In the first handful of episodes, Bix was shown as a vibrant, confident, and resilient woman, but now she’s been broken and Cassian must recognize that it’s his fault. His actions led to repercussions that hurt others, not just himself.

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From its first introduction, Ferrix has felt like a very lived-in, realistic corner of the galaxy. These are working people, who we’ve watched clock in and out of their jobs, congregate for drinks after work, and slowly maneuver under the watchful eye of the Empire. With the finale, everything coalesces in the way that real-world revolutions have historically started: at a funeral. In the crowd of mourners who have gathered to hear Maarva’s final words, there are two groups of people looking to take advantage of the situation: the rebels who want to kill Cassian and the Imperial officers that want to take him into custody. Gilroy has positioned a fascinating conversation, that shows the “good guys” are willing to kill their own to protect themselves, while the “bad guys” are willing to keep people alive if it furthers their own causes. But it’s neither of these two parties that spark the ensuing violence—it’s Maarva.

As Bee plays Maarva’s eulogy, the larger-than-life hologram looms over the crowd and delivers an ominous call to action. She tells her former neighbors and friends that they’ve been sleeping and turning away from a truth that they don’t want to face. There is a wound at the center of the universe that won’t heal because the Empire is a disease that thrives in the darkness. Her words echo real-world warnings, like The Washington Post’s dire warning years ago—when Rogue One was still fresh in our minds—that “democracy dies in darkness.” It’s this somber and stirring message that sets the residents of Ferrix against the riot-shield-wielding officers closing in on them.

The conflict breeds chaos compounded by Wilmon’s bomb exploding into the crowd of officers. Brasso is quick to sweep in and rescue Wilmon from the fray, though Xan is not as lucky as the Imperials start attacking anyone and everyone who was in the crowd of mourners. Dedra gets swept up into the crowd, overpowered by the townspeople who are posed to tear her apart, limb-by-limb, but her unexpected hero (who has had his eyes on her since the moment she stepped into the crowd) is quick to pull her free from the mob. The scene that follows is wholly uncomfortable on a number of levels.

Syril has been a wild card since his introduction and the first comments about his altering his Preox-Morlana uniform set the stage for how eaten up he is about being seen as important and useful. Once Dedra made the mistake of seeing him as useful—even when she shot down his attempts at leveraging his information for a real job—it set him on a path of an unhealthy obsession with her. This obsession manifested in him stalking her at work, learning her commute to the ISB, and accosting her. It was a startling moment and the throughline between her horror from that episode to her less-than-disgusted expression when he saves her life introduces a potentially even more disturbing dynamic between them when the show returns for Season 2.

Corv isn’t as lucky as Dedra, as no obsessed guardian angel is looking out for him. In his haste to escape the fray and keep an eye out for Cassian Andor, he catches Cinta trailing him and attempts to bring an end to that. But Cinta hasn’t stayed alive for as long as she has by coming to a potential fight without a weapon. She quickly dispatches him with a blade and without a single glimpse of regret—which begs the question of what happened to the woman and child she was “watching” on Aldhani. Later, as Cinta and Vel gather their belongings to leave Ferrix without a trace, Cinta assures Vel that the blood on her hands isn’t her own and Vel doesn’t even bat an eye.

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Cinta and Vel aren’t the only people preparing to leave Ferrix. In the shipyard, Jezzi (Pamela Nomvete), Brasso, Wilmon, and B2EMO have boarded Cassian’s ship, and Pegla is hastily working to prepare it for a quick getaway once Cassian arrives with Bix. Once Cassian ensures that they’re all safely tucked away on the ship, he informs them that he isn’t going to be leaving with them. Bix, still very lost within her own mind, speaks of Cassian as if he isn’t even there—mumbling about how he always manages to find his way back to them. Before he leaves, he promises that he will find them. But will he? Is Gilroy setting us up for heartbreak with Season 2?

Before the episode draws to its final moments, far away from the violence on Ferrix, Mon Mothma is facing a personal crisis. Even with setting Perrin up to take the fall for her suspicious financial movements, she isn’t able to avoid the deal she made with Davo Sculdun (Richard Dillane). Mon and Perrin stand at either side of their daughter Leida (Bronte Carmichael) as they present her to Davo’s son. Even without a single word of dialogue between the two families, Mon’s expression shows the weight of her reality. These are the sacrifices that Luthen has alluded to all along. The cost of rebellion comes at a high, unfathomable cost.

Andor’s season finale doesn’t leave us hanging about where Cassian is headed, instead of safely escaping with his friends. As Luthen retreats to his haulcraft, there’s an instant sense that he isn’t alone—and he’s not. Cassian emerges from the shadows with his blaster and a desperate request to either kill him or take him in. Across the span of twelve episodes, we have watched Cassian fight for a life that wasn’t worth anything. He was borrowing money from friends he never planned to pay back, aimlessly floating through life, carelessly hurting people he cared about, and overstaying his welcome at every door he arrived at. Even when he got his first taste of fighting for the rebellion, he was more interested in the payout, than he was inspired by what the cause meant. But as he stands before Luthen, it’s clear that he’s finally realized that his life isn’t worth anything unless he’s willing to pay the cost of freedom. Narkina 5 radicalized him and forced him to realize that even if he kept his head down and aimed for complacency, the Empire would still come for his life—so why not pay the ultimate price? Whether he lives or dies, the outcome is still the same: he’s already a dead man because of what he’s endured. These last moments finally set Cassian fully onto the path he’s destined to lead; one that will devastate and inspire all the same.

Andor is a perfect example of what Star Wars is able to do with the right team of creatives, and it stands as a testament to the kinds of stories that television as a whole is capable of doing. The world is not as black-and-white as people might wish to see it, and it’s not shades of gray that I’m alluding to. There’s the glimmering gold of war-mongered credits, the violent splashes of innocent blood, and the blue skies that mask the bleak realities beneath them. Tony Gilroy and his incomparable team of writers, directors, and cast were able to cut deep into a galaxy far, far away and explore deep, meaningful themes that call back to the foundations on which George Lucas first built this franchise. Sure, Star Wars is for children, but it’s never too early to remind them that even in a fantastical world set among the stars, there are tyrannical powers at play that call for everyday people to rise up. Star Wars has always been political, and it’s always called for anthropological exploration, and it has always been at its best when it uses the real world to tell its stories of rebellion.

Rating: A+

The first season of Andor is streaming now on Disney+.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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