Andor Fights the Inexorable Wave of Fascism in “Rix Road”

The season finale of Andor might make you cry, if my own swollen eyes are any indication…

 

Recap

Wilmon (Muhannad Bhaier) is building a bomb, looking at an image of his murdered father. Dedra Meero arrives on Ferrix and insists on walking the streets incognito, while Xanwan (Zubin Varla) tells Brasso that he heard from Cassian and told him about Maarva’s funeral. Nurchi (Raymond Anum) overhears them talking and buys Xanwan several drinks at the local bar to get more information on Cassian. Cinta is following Corv (Noof Ousellam) to keep tabs on the Empire. Mon waits for Perrin in their car and asks Kloris (Lee Ross) to give them privacy; she berates Perrin for gambling on Coruscant instead of Canto Bight as they previously agreed. Perrin insists that she’s being lied to, but she refuses to believe him. Kloris is actually listening in on their conversation as Mon suspected. Vel arrives on Ferrix and tries to talk to Cinta, who only wants to update her on the Dedra Meero’s arrival.

Cassian is back on Ferrix and has a flashback to Clem teaching him how to clean up parts to sell. He heads into the yard and runs into Pegla (Kieran O’Brien), who tells him that he’s keeping an eye on the place until it’s sold. Cassian asks where Bix is and Pegla tells him what’s happened. Cassian reads from Nemik’s manifesto about how fascism and brutality are brittle things that cannot hold because they are unnatural states. Rael arrives on Ferrix as Meero asks about the set up for the funeral, reminding the men that when they find Cassian, he must be taken alive. Kloris reports to Blevin about what he heard in Mon Mothma’s car at the same time as Anto Kreegyr’s operation gets taken down. Meero calls in to express her upset for the fact that the group was murdered when they could have taken Kreegyr alive, but Partagaz insists that this was intended to ease the Emperor’s mind about Aldhani and that her job is to find Axis.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm/Disney+

Brasso is brought to meet Cassian and he tells the man that he asked Maarva to come away with him, that he was going to come back for her, that he shouldn’t have left, but Brasso asks him to stop. He assures Cassian that Maarva already knew he was going to beat himself up over this, and that she told Brasso to tell Cassian that this wasn’t his fault, that he already has all the tools he needs to become an unstoppable force for good, and that “I love him more than anything he could ever do wrong.” Cassian tells Brasso that they’ve got to help Bix; Brasso insists that he’ll care for Maarva during the funeral and asks Cassian to take care of himself. Karn and Mosk arrive on Ferrix. Everyone gets in place the following morning, and Rael meets with Vel to find out how Cinta is getting along. He’s there to kill Cassian when he shows up. Maarva’s funeral procession begins, with far more people than the Empire gave permission for. The band leads the way with Brasso carrying Maarva’s brick at the front. Cassian is hiding at the top of a building in the central square, which Nurchi tells Corv in exchange for money and passage off Ferrix. They hold him and go check on his intel, but Cassian has already gone.

At the funeral, B2EMO projects Maarva Andor’s final message, a Ferrix funerary tradition. She tells the crowd that when she was young, these messages lifted her with truth, and that she wants to offer them the same so that Ferrix can continue. She tells them that they’ve all been sleeping, and let the Empire too far into their lives. She tells them that it’s unfair for the dead to tell the living to fight, but that’s what she would do if she were still there. The prefect knocks over Bee in response, which starts a fight in the streets—the Ferrix locals charge the Imperial garrison members, Brasso hits an officer with Maarva’s funerary stone, Wilmon throws his bomb to stop a tank. The ensuing explosion kills Nurchi. Cassian breaks into the Imperial building to rescue Bix, who is terrified to leave. The group in the square disperses, gathering their own up to flee. Corv notices Cinta running around and asks what she’s doing: she’s stabs him and leaves him to die. Dedra Meero is almost trampled and dragged by the crowd, but Karn takes up a blaster and pulls her away, saving her life.

Pegla and Brasso are fueling up a ship with Bix, Wilmon, and Jezzi (Pamela Nomvete) aboard. Cassian tells Jezzi how to get off-world safely and tells them to hide, promising that he will come to find them. On Coruscant, Mon and Perrin present their daughter to Davo Sculdun’s son. Back on Ferrix, Rael is on his ship, readying to leave—Cassian is there. He asks if Luthen came to kill him, and Rael admits that was the plan, though it proved difficult. Cassian tells him that he’ll make it easy now: kill him or take him in. Rael smiles.

A post-credits scene reveals what machinery the prisoners were assembling on Narkina 5… which are pieces of the deflector dish for the Death Star.

 

Commentary

Screenshot: Lucasfilm/Disney+

It’s easy to sit back and say “well, that’s how it’s done,” but that sounds trite, really. And there’s nothing trite about this season finale.

Okay, nothing aside from the tag scene, which was pretty obvious and kinda silly to just tack on there.

Cassian’s flashback to cleaning parts for resale with Clem is the second time that we’ve seen the show make a point of how environmentalist concerns around technology dovetail with the desire for freedom from both corporate oversight and fascism. I wish they could’ve brought the moment in sooner because that theme paired with Cassian reading Nemik’s manifesto would have been an extremely effective midpoint in the season—I feel like it gets a little overshadowed in the midst of all the building action, and it’s another place that feels a little neat for me, scripting-wise. It would have been great to see Cassian try to read the manifesto before he was entirely ready for it, then come back to it with a different perspective after escaping Narkina 5.

It’s a minor quibble, when all is said and done, because this finale solid as they come. There are so many moving parts, and most of them do exactly what they’re supposed to do: Rael observing from afar, the emotional stakes for everyone on Ferrix, Dedra Meero’s continual anger over being one of the only competent Imperial agents, Cassian quickly and silently absorbing that he has family and support, and making the choice to fight for that instead of only fighting in anger. The anger is not a problem (people make a habit of insisting that it is, and they’re wrong when you’re dealing with injustice), but it was clearly one of the few emotions Cassian was allowing himself to feel when the show began. We’re watching him choose to feel more now, and the audience in turn is meant to feel it with him.

We can see it in his face when he tells Rael to kill him or take him in, and that look is all Luthen needs to see. He knows instantly that something has changed. Give Diego Luna several awards, please.

The show is committed to pointing out that aiding fascism does nothing but get you killed. After Timm’s debacle at the opening, we have the exact same scenario with Nurchi, this time trying to sell Cassian out because the guy owes him money. He dies for it. There is no reward in aiding oppressors against your neighbors in this story—while real life doesn’t guarantee the same terms, it’s useful to have a narrative so relentless in pointing out that fascism only ever serves itself.

The details of Ferrix culture in this episode are so specific and well-conceived, and from a production standpoint I am furious (complimentary) that this show found a way to make its own soundtrack live with the use of the funeral procession. It’s so good. The details here are stunning, from the colors of everyone’s clothing to the rites involving a final message from the dead to Brasso hitting an Imperial officer with Maarva’s funerary stone. Brilliant choices, all the way down.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm/Disney+

Maarva’s speech is an intended slap in the face at our own complacency when fascism rears its head, and so beautifully written. Fiona Shaw delivers it with urgency, but also with a gentleness that made my own stomach clench. She wants to be heard in the hopes that she can remind these people how dangerous the Empire is, but also to “lift” them with a reminder of their own ability and competence, something we’ve seen from the first episodes of this show. It doesn’t make everything okay—people die in this fight, and many have to flee for their lives, but they’re doing their part to be another little wave that makes the Empire’s brittleness unmanageable. In that way, Andor is a series that manages to have lessons within it while still being a complex story in its own right. The fact that this comes off without feeling too talk-to-the-audience is a credit to the show.

And look, as I’ve said, Maarva Andor is complicated character, but… “I love you more than anything you could ever do wrong” is a thing we could all stand to hear in our lives.

I have a sneaking very unhappy suspicion that something is more wrong with Bix that we’ve been shown—her fear over leaving, and the way she had to clarify that Cassian was the person she believed would find them suggests that her level of brainwashing is potentially much more severe than we know. Hopefully this is something they’ll catch before she puts the entire group of escapees in danger next season, but that’s the first thing on my list of thing to watch out for going forward.

So now we find out that Mon Mothma is, in fact, going to sell out her entire family for this cause. While I still feel bad for the kid, I don’t feel even slightly sorry for her husband, and I love Mon using their spying driver to her advantage. This is clearly meant to be the “you don’t really know her” angle that Gilroy and company were intending, but it’s hard not to feel respect for her after Lonni tried to escape his duties over the birth of his own child. It’s also hardly surprising given what we see from so many in the Rebellion who fall into this subtype—the ones who hope for others and keep none for themselves. Leia is like this, Cinta is clearly like this, Luthen is like this. Cassian is like this by the end, certainly.

And we’ll see what that means for Cassian’s first steps into the Rebellion next season.

 

Bits and Asides:

Screenshot: Lucasfilm/Disney+

  • Brasso and Cassian hug like people who care about one another instead of that two-second no-homo back thump that we normally get between male characters. *sobs*
  • I will admit to being fully panicked over Bee until I saw Pegla dragging him away to safety. Poor lil guy doesn’t have the best mobility, which I have a lot of feelings about being a droid who aided a human who had her own mobility issues. Also, when he said he hadn’t seen Cassian… I’m fine. My heart’s not completely broken.
  • Not feeling great about the fact that Karn managed to worm his way into Meero’s circle with this, but I do appreciate the story being sharp enough to have him use this moment solely to gain her confidence, instead of going after Cassian or doing something equally messy.

I cannot wait for season two, y’all. In the meantime, The Mandalorian will be back shortly, and hopefully Ahsoka will show up too.

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