Diego Luna in ANDOR season 1 finale

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Although executive producer Tony Gilroy often describes Andor as a simple adventure story, it is filled with incredibly weighty implications as Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) runs from the worst day of his life into the service of the Rebellion. And, as Gilroy promised back in August, the series is thrilling despite knowing exactly where the title character will end up on his final day; in fact, season 1 finale “Rix Road” underscores how tense an hour of television can be even if you know the main character is safe from any lethal jeopardy.


Spoiler alert: The following reveals details about the season 1 finale of Andor. Stop reading here if you wish to avoid spoilers.


Fiona Shaw in ANDOR season 1 finale

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

In between those thrills, though, is a program rooted in the human cost of a Rebellion and the toll of tyranny. While Gilroy may avoid making any real world comparisons, the notions espoused throughout the first season certainly resonate — if even just in the context of Star Wars and its Imperial Era. And in the season 1 finale, these ideas ring out as loudly as a hammer into anvil as they join up with the thrills in a one last creative burst before the series disappears for a time to make its second and final season.

So let’s take a look at the finale to examine some of those deeper implications for the Rebellion, Cassian, and the galaxy.


“Try”

ANDOR

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Setting the tone for the finale was a voiceover from the dearly departed Karis Nemik (Alex Lawther, pictured above in episode 6, “The Eye”). Cassian finally listened to the younger man’s manifesto and heard some important thoughts from the deceased rebel. None of it may strike a chord in the minds of Star Wars fans quite like Karis’ final thought: “Try.”

In the binary thinking of the Jedi and the Sith, “try” is an improper concept. “Do or do not” are the only options and, for many, this duality is the best way to approach Star Wars and life itself. But Andor is a series about those without the certainty of the Force; those trying to deal as best they can within an oppressive system and those gleefully empowered to dole out the cruelty required to preserve the Empire. Yoda’s (Frank Oz) credo is an unhelpful statement in those circumstances because, as presented, it only offers complete failure against the odds and the sleep Maarva Andor (Fiona Shaw) refers to in her last testament.


Faye Marsay in ANDOR season 1 finale

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

But trying to push against the boot of the Empire, trying to find the leaks (as Karis put it), and trying to upset the balance do not require binary concepts of success or failure. Trying simply is and, in its small way, Karis’ parting thought introduces a nuance that will be essential for Cassian going forward. And, thanks to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, we know he will continue to try until his last moment.

Beyond Cassian, though, the episode is rife with people trying to accomplish things. Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) is trying to prove he was right. Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) is trying to bring Cassian in alive, while Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård), Vel (Faye Marsay, pictured above), and Cinta (Varada Sethu) are trying to kill him. Even on Coruscant, Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) is trying to find the best way out of her predicament. Although, we imagine the choice she makes here starts her path to Yavin IV more than any other decision she’s made thus far.

It is then fitting that so little is actually resolved in the finale. Ferrix is still under Imperial rule. Cassian’s sister is still missing. Mon Mothma’s troubles are still her troubles, and Dedra is still without her big win. Nevertheless, seeing Cassian’s friends escape offers some satisfaction.


“It’s Her”

Noof Ousellam, Nick Moss, Denise Gough and Wilf Scolding in ANDOR season 1 finale

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Despite both Soller and Gilroy suggesting Syril may yet switch loyalties, his trajectory in the final set of season 1 episodes form, in a perverse way, a fascist fantasy in which a devoted but unremarkable loyalist gets to be the hero.

Sure, his chief aim of capturing Cassian and recapturing his former stature fail, but a secondary objective becomes reality as he rescues Dedra (pictured above, second from right) from the mob on Rix Road — something even she has to admit to and offer thanks. Granted, it remains to be seen how far that gratitude will extend, but we would not be surprised to see Syril in an crisp and self-tailored ISB uniform next season. Then again, Syril could become Dedra’s secret shame and her man on the ground for investigations outside the purview of the Bureau.


Alex Ferns and Kyle Soller in ANDOR season 1 finale

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Either way, Syril (above right with Alex Ferns as Sergeant Mosk) gets something he wanted: to stand by her side. It remains to be seen if this a romantic, interpersonal notion or a boyish fantasy about being a good soldier. Our conversation with Soller earlier this month suggests the latter is more likely, but Dedra’s response to Syril outside the ISB headquarter suggests she sees other layers to his stated devotions; in fact, we doubt she is pleased to be tied to him in any capacity. And considering the failure of the Ferrix operation, she may literally end up shackled to him next season.


“He Always Finds Us”

Adria Arjona in ANDOR season 1 finale

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

On a more emotional level, few things in the series so far are as devastating as Cassian saying goodbye to his friends. Despite Bix’s (Adria Arjona) statement that he will always find them, there is a certain finality to the moment. Everyone may just be devoted to sparing B2EMO’s (Dave Chapman) feelings as he already lost so much, but we are inclined to believe this is the last time Cassian sees any of them.

Why? He immediately leaves the airfield to confront Luthen and present him with a choice: kill him or take him in. Presumably, this was the outcome Luthen always wanted. As Luna mentioned to us when we spoke with him two weeks ago, Luthen always saw Cassian as a key asset and the success of the Aldhani mission largely depended on his presence — and that’s despite the qualities Vel and Cinta already brought to the team. Getting Cassian to commit to the cause was always going to be preferable to liquidating him.

But what finally pushed Cassian to offer himself entirely to the Rebellion? His experience in the Narkina 5 prison complex definitely helped as it made the mindless cruelty of the Empire as palpable to him as its more focused and direct malice. Nemik’s manifesto definitely contributed. Maarva’s final speech also pushed the needle as her words incited everyone on Rix Road. And Bix’s condition may have also been a factor, but we suspect Cassian would’ve sought out Luthen even if he had not spotted him on Ferrix.


Stellan Skarsgard in ANDOR season 1 finale

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Cassian’s turn to the Rebellion being the cumulative effect of events since he killed the Morlana security officers is a more rounded and compelling thing than had it been one singular moment like, say, seeing Bix executed or the garrison killing everyone in town. It may be less dramatic in terms of Star Wars storytelling, but it is nonetheless satisfying and realistic for the character to go on a journey and determine his course in a less reactionary way. And, let’s face, Cassian has done little else but react since he first encountered Luthen (pictured).

Joining up with Luthen presents its own challenges as he was willing to give up the unseen Rebel Anto Kreegyr to maintain his contact in the ISB — to say nothing of his willingness to eliminate Cassian had things worked out differently. But that sort of ruthlessness is something we saw in Cassian when he first showed up in Rogue One, so perhaps it is a trait Luthen refines in his newest recruit.

The connection between Luthen and Cassian is one of the show huge thematic ideas, expressed most sharply in Luthen’s episode 10 speech, during which he mentioned being condemned to use the Empire’s weapons and burn his life for a sunrise he will never see. The latter feels like a forward echo of Cassian’s own final moments as he watched a sunrise, of sorts, and burns for the sake of future without Imperial oppression.

It will be interesting to see how this tie plays out in Andor‘s second and final season.


“The Tools of My Enemy” 

Genevieve O'Reilly, Bronte Carmichael and Alastair Mackenziein ANDOR season 1 finale

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Loss may be a central part of Andor‘s second season as events will only become more perilous for the emerging Rebellion. Mon Mothma (pictured above left), despite all her efforts, will have to abandon her life on Coruscant, and we suspect Perrin (Alastair Mackenzie, pictured above right) and Leida (Bronte Carmichael, pictured above center) will be lost as a result. The tension between Vel and Cintra throughout the season 1 finale suggests their bond is already fractured and may crack entirely in the months ahead. Luthen is unlikely to make it to the Battle of Scarif and, more likely than not, Cassian will only find more loss if he ever tries looking for his sister again.

Although, isn’t it interesting the way that quest — the program’s inciting incident — fell by the wayside? As a matter of Star Wars storytelling, a missing sister is always found. But Andor plays familiar chords in different ways and with unusual instruments, so his sister may prove to only be another source of emptiness as he commits himself to the cause. That said, we would still love to know why the Kenari are so rare and suspicious in the Imperial Era.


Diego Luna in ANDOR season 1 finale

(Photo by Lucasfilm Ltd.)

But not all will be loss as Cassian will inevitably encounter K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) and the Rebellion itself grows in strength. The droid may be the most direct version of Luthen’s tendency to use the enemy’s tools — and an inverse of Cassian contributing to the construction of the Death Star — but he is also a source of humor and, strangely enough, good spirits even as the darkest days lay ahead for the still-forming Rebellion.

In the meantime, we can look back at the first season of Andor for all the depth it adds to the conflict, the way it depicts those devoted to the Empire, and how one man can find the will to fight tyranny thanks to those who are more outwardly courageous. Whether or not this means Cassian himself will prove to be that courageous prior to the Scarif mission is anyone’s guess.

96% Andor: Season 1 (2022) is now streaming in its entirety on Disney+.

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