REVIEW: ‘Andor’ Episode 11

Telling a story to which the audience already knows the ending certainly isn’t an easy task. It is, however, the task Tony Gilroy took on in Andor. Gilroy, who co-wrote the screenplay for Rogue One, which introduced Cassian Andor and followed him to his death on Scarif, found the secret formula for doing so and created a series that’s becoming increasingly integral to the history of the Star Wars universe. Episode 11, “Daughter of Ferrix”, is another stunning example of how while Andor keeps Cassian at the center of the plot, it’s not really his story at all.

Episode 11 opens with Cassian and Melshi still working on their escape and ultimately sets Cassian on a course to return to Ferrix once he learns of Maarva’s death. Indeed the entire episode is, on the surface, about making sure anyone and everyone who has been involved in the key events of the series can come together on Ferrix in Episode 12. However, there’s no true tension surrounding Cassian’s actions. The audience knows he is meant to survive this series, though it’ll certainly be as a different man than the one that began it. The reason this episode, and the entire series, continue to grab the attention of the audience week after week is the investment by Gilroy and his writer’s room into other characters whose stories are less defined.

While characters such as Bix and Mon Mothma have their share of tense moments in the episode, it’s Stellan Skarsgård’s Luthen Rael who, once again, finds himself at the center of the lion’s share of the best moments. Over the course of the series, Rael has gone from an unknown to unarguably one of the Rebellion’s most important figures and Episode 11 cements that status. While the Rebellion continues to exist in a less-than-perfect way, it’s clear that Rael has enough cache to put even the most radical of Rebels in his place. As such, the episode’s most intense scene involves Rael’s escape from the Empire on Segra Milo following his meeting with Saw Gerrera. It’s worth pointing out here that the escape from the tractor beam is almost certainly of the most “Star Wars” moments of the series and among one of the best-looking space sequences in recent live-action projects; it’s also worth pointing out that everything about the scene probably looks and feels the way it does because of how important of a character Rael has become not just to the series, but to the future of the galaxy.

Ultimately, the strength of Andor (and of Rogue One) is the wealth of fascinating characters who inhabit the dark corners of the Rebellion. And so while the plot continues to revolve around Cassian and the final episode will certainly be about everyone going where he is going, Andor isn’t really Cassian’s story at all: it’s the story of the thousands of faceless, nameless people who may not have even known they were Rebels but whose otherwise insignificant lives and actions made the grand gestures of the Rebellion possible. It’s more of Rogue One in all the best ways.

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