‘Andor’ Episode 6 Review: The Eye Illuminates a Somber Victory for the Rebels

 

As the Dhanis make their annual pilgrimage to celebrate The Eye, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and the rest of the Aldhani rebels infiltrate the ranks of the Imperial garrison to make their attack, but not without great loss. The sixth episode of Andor sees Susanna White return to direct Dan Gilroy’s script for what appears to be the final act on Aldhani before the series heads in a new direction.

“The Eye” opens with an early morning conversation between Cassian and Nemik (Alex Lawther) who is nervous about the plan getting ready to unfold. Instead of sleeping, he has added to his manifesto, writing about mercenaries like “Clem” and how they fit into the larger scope of the Rebellion. Cassian assures him that he’ll sleep once they’ve escaped with the credits from the garrison, which should have been a clue that Nemik would not live to see his manifesto put into action. On the surface, Nemik’s death might seem anti-climatic, but it is deeply symbolic. He didn’t die in battle or go down in a blaze of glory, he was crushed to death by credits. Ultimately, money is what fuels wars—the desire to possess it or the desire to seize it.

The episode also introduces audiences to a small Imperial family unit living on Aldhani: Commandant Jayhold (Stanley Townsend) and his wife Raboda (Michelle Duncan) and son Leonart (Alfie Todd), who are hoping that he’ll get a promotion to transfer off Aldhani. Their interactions, while small, give a glimpse into family dynamics and how Imperial officers regard those closest to them. Of course, Gilroy’s script also uses this moment to set up their eventual abduction as the rebels lay claim to the garrison, which helps to instill the audience with some sympathy for the wife and son who are swept up in the intrigue.

Most of “The Eye” is spent laying the remaining groundwork for Vel’s (Faye Marsay) plan, maneuvering everyone into their positions with the help of Lieutenant Gorn (Sule Rimi) who has carefully orchestrated his Imperial troops into positions that will facilitate the rebels. Tensions are high and palpable as the heist gets underway and their plans start to unravel at both ends once they start losing time, partially because Vel stalled at the onset of the attack. As they make their way down into the vault, the scenes are intercut with the Dhanis as they sing and dance, seemingly welcoming the arrival of The Eye. The contrast between an emotional cultural moment and a fraught heist underscores what the rebels are fighting for—small victories will help the rebels win and prevent the Empire from continuing to blot out peoples like the Dhanis.

George Lucas may be remembered for creating an epic space fantasy, but from the franchise’s inception, it has been infused with the elements from Lucas’ studies of anthropology and sociology—which is something that Star Wars has carefully steered away from after the Prequel Trilogy to its detriment. Andor has gone back to the basics with unfiltered storytelling that delivers not just entertainment but educated and well-informed allusions that mirror modern society. In the first act of Andor, the series showcased Cassian’s childhood as one of children being ripped from their families and forced to assimilate, and now, the series has made a point to showcase the way the Empire revels in colonization and slowly wiping out an entire culture simply because they can.

Early in the episode, the Imperials establish that over the twelve years that they have had a base on Aldhani, the Dhanis have dwindled to a group of 500 and then down to the meager 60 pilgrims making their journey to see The Eye. Not only do they seem pleased with this culturally devastating revelation, they celebrate that the Empire will be forcefully taking the sacred cultural site from the Dhanis so they can expand their Imperial facility. This is how the Empire seizes control, stripping people of their cultural resources and turning them into strangers in their own homelands. The dialogue is explicit in showing how the Empire regards the Dhanis: they’re simple, gullible, and not worthy of respect. Even the act of trading goat hides for three-year leases isn’t done out of respect, it’s done as a mockery of their customs.

The heist has a lot of moving parts to it, and it never slows down as it charges onwards. As most viewers anticipated, only a small number of the rebels on Aldhani make it out of the heist alive. Cassian narrowly escapes with his life, and even though it’s known that he will live to die another day, the anxiety of the scene never wavers. Skeen (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) fails to cover Taramyn (Gershwyn Eustache Jnr) as he makes his way to escape, leaving him open to Imperial fire. Vel, Cassian, Nemik, and Skeen make it aboard the freighter, though Nemik is crushed by the credits as they navigate through The Eye. As planned, Cinta (Varada Sethu) is left behind to blend in with the Imperial officers and hopefully make her own escape once the celebration is over.

With Nemik near death, Cassian and Skeen (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) make the executive decision to take him to a doctor, much to Vel’s chagrin. But as the doctor tends to Nemik, Cassian quickly learns that Skeen’s insistence on making the pit stop to see the doctor was not born out of altruism. Skeen’s heartfelt confession last week about his brother was a lie; he didn’t join the Rebellion to fight back, he joined it to line his own pockets. Despite Cassian’s own participation as a mercenary being fueled by the payout he was promised by Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård), hearing that Skeen means to cut and run with the credits they stole from the Empire leads Cassian to kill him without much hesitation. While Vel doesn’t believe Cassian when he tells her why he killed Skeen, she gives him Nemik’s manifesto and lets him leave.

Elsewhere in the galaxy, Dedra (Denise Gough) and the Imperial Security Bureau make their preparations to counter this minor victory by the rebels while Luthen celebrates the Rebellion’s success in the back room of his shop, and Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) faces a disinterested Senate. These final moments seem to indicate the direction Andor will head in as the second half of the series begins next week.

Andor is unlike any other Star Wars project in the last decade, and maybe even longer than that. Tony Gilroy’s creation is unbothered with placating its audience, drawing clear comparisons to real-world travesties and making it apparent who is bad and who is good. Even when the lines blur, Andor holds a mirror up to its viewers and forces them to examine their own relationship, not only with Star Wars, but with the socio-political landscape that is inescapable in reality. Andor is not just here to entertain, it’s here to educate, in small ways, and make it clear what kind of person aligns themselves with the Empire. Even within the Rebellion—in the midst of the “good guys”—there are thoughts that co-opt the trauma of others to facilitate their own plans, fueled only by greed and self-satisfaction. “The Eye” underscores why the world needs more Nemiks, not just to be the young revolutionaries leading the charge, but to pen the words that might spark a rebellion in the hearts of others.