The idea that the collective nose of the Empire is so upturned that they can’t see what’s going on right beneath it has been a central theme through the first five episodes of Andor. Key members of the fledgling Rebellion, including Cassian, understand this perception and it’s become a crack in the Imperial armor that they’ve learned to exploit. Episode 6, “The Eye”, opens with a reminder of just how much disdain the Empire has for those they see as beneath them and ends with the Empire feeling for the first time just how dangerous these people they’ve regarded as inferiors can be. However, as the season progresses into its second half, the galaxy just became a much more dangerous place for those who wish to take down the Empire.
“The Eye” was many things and chief among them was that it was the first time that Andor really leaned into being a Star Wars series while also continuing its expansion of what a Star Wars series can be. Seeing and hearing the Tie Fighters roar into action rang the Star Wars bell, but setting the familiar chase scene amidst the beauty and rarity of the natural phenomenon occurring on Aldhani continues the hot streak for this creative team. They continue to world-build in a world that’s been accused of being too small in a galaxy so large. Why does everything happen on Tattooine? Why is everyone a Skywalker or know one? Why does Luke have to be in everything? It would have been low-hanging fruit to have Palpatine cameo in the brief Senate scene. They chose to keep the focus on Mon Mothma, who will become central to the series and the growing rebellion. Andor continues to trend away from these issues and cameos, content to exist and be judged on its own merits rather than connect itself to familiar faces and places.
Episode 6 works incredibly well as a conclusion not only to the first half of Season 1 but also to the four-episode arc that introduced Stellan Skarsgård’s Luthen Rael and to the three-episode arc that saw Rael’s scheme unfold and, ultimately be successfully completed. It works so well as a conclusion that if Episode 6 had been the end of Season 1 of Andor, it would be hard to argue that it had been anything other than a triumph. The mission is complete; Cassian did Cassian things; the Empire is now aware that there’s a stick in their eye. The closing shot of Rael, who feared he may have overreached in his efforts to attack the Empire, finally releasing the tension he expressed in the closing shot of Episode 5. So many of the storylines put into play were tied up neatly by the events of Episode 6 and that’s no easy thing to ensure. The team of director Susanna White, writer Dan Gilroy and creator Tony Gilroy could be commended for putting the finishing touches on what’s arguably the best streaming series Star Wars has released on Disney Plus. But the brilliance of the series lies in the fact that Episode 6 serves both as the end of one arc and the beginning of another.
For all its brilliance so far, Andor is just getting off the ground. By tying up the intersecting storylines with the completion of the mission on Aldhani, the series activated other storylines that had been weaved into the first six episodes. Denise Gough’s Dedra Meero, who had warned her superior that a threat was growing, is now on the precipice of becoming a central part of the second half of the season. With Cassian now back on his own, it’s time for Kyle Soller’s Syril Karn to get off the bench and get into the action. The investment in introducing and developing so many characters made by Tony Gilroy is about to pay dividends. Cassian, Mon Mothma and Luten Rael have had their moment. It certainly feels like the Empire is about to strike back.