Andor season 1, episode 5 recap – “The Axe Forgets”

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: October 5, 2022 (Last updated: January 26, 2024)
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Andor season 1, episode 5 recap - "The Axe Forgets"


“The Axe Forgets” continues to build tension by lingering over the details of the forthcoming mission, while we see fomenting rebellion and the grip of imperialism from multiple angles.

This recap of Andor season 1, episode 5, “The Axe Forgets”, contains spoilers.

Even in a galaxy far, far away, you can always rely on your mother for a reality check. Syril‘s moping in the opening scenes of “The Axe Forgets” doesn’t get him anywhere. He stares damp-eyed out of a window, sits on his bed like a child, and slouches over his cereal. His mother, Eedy, tells him to sit up straight, but that isn’t even half of it. His sulking can only mean one thing — he is suddenly devoid of future prospects. Eedy, seemingly unsurprised by this, offers to call in a family favor from Uncle Harlo, whoever that is. It’s a comically no-nonsense conversation that cracks a window into Syril’s psyche. No wonder this guy is so obsessed with order and leadership and being in charge — he just can’t catch a break.

Andor season 1, episode 5 recap

Some psychological tells aren’t as obvious. In the remote rebel camp where Cassian wakes up to find his bag having been rifled through, a leading conversation with Skeen about the meaning of certain tattoos is intended to be meaningful but works more as an Easter egg hunt for fans. “Krayt head” refers to a Tusken relic, according to Wookiepedia, and “by the hand” might refer to the “Emperor’s Hands“, secret Imperial special operatives. The references seem to mean something to Cassian, if not us. But the saying from which the episode takes its title — “The axe forgets but the tree remembers” — is easily comprehensible to all. Those who inflict hurt might forget, but those who it was inflicted upon never do.

Hurt comes in various forms, but the idea is pretty obvious — the Empire has hurt many, displaced and/or killed the Aldhani locals, and set up shop in their backyards. Not everyone has written an actual manifesto as Nemik has, but everyone feels the sting of oppression, the crack of the authoritarian whip. Responses vary, but the end goal remains the same: Freedom.

The pressing question is really whether this rabble has the means to achieve freedom. Despite all their blatant mistrust of Cassian and resentment of his presence, it quickly becomes apparent here that nobody really knows what they’re doing. The escape plan hinges on piloting knowledge and expertise they wouldn’t have without Cassian, their marching in formation hasn’t considered that the right and left-handed shooters should switch sides, and Lieutenant Gorn‘s work behind enemy lines is integral to their success, even though they don’t actually know what he’s up to. “The Axe Forgets” does a good job of juxtaposing the rehearsals with officialdom, black boots marching in lockstep contrasted with the rebels awkwardly feeling their way through an imitative drill. It’s a nice reminder that this kind of guerrilla action doesn’t just spring into existence fully formed, and can’t just be invented on the fly (although, to be honest, it probably will be at the end of the day.) If nothing else, Andor does an extremely good job of highlighting the totality of Imperial control, and the complexity of trying to wrest even a single garrison from its grip.

Perhaps most importantly, this isn’t how Star Wars storytelling typically works. By letting the whole endeavor breathe, we’re also allowing the stakes to heighten, letting us feel the anxiety of the rebels going over and over each step of the plan, and encouraging us to obsess over the details with them. Andor is turning the logistics of what would ordinarily be a single episode set piece in something like The Mandalorian or The Book of Boba Fett into the core of the whole show.

It works on a character level, too. We get a sense of Nemik’s bright-eyed idealism, Skeen’s baked-in paranoia and cynicism, Taramyn and Vel’s alternating attempts at leadership even though neither seems to have a clue what they’re doing. This mob might have passion to spare, but they’re lacking a lot of specific qualities and expertise. And the one person who could provide those things, namely Cassian, is finally open about only being there for the money. The gang looks so crestfallen about that revelation it’s hard not to feel bad for them.

Progress is slow elsewhere. Along with Syril’s employment woes, we also get snippets from Meero, who is doubling down on her efforts to prove that a string of seemingly disconnected thefts of Imperial tech are all connected, and Mon Mothma, whose marriage seems as deeply miserable – and potentially threatening? – as ever. Even Luthen is anxiously waiting with the rest of us to see how the payroll raid shakes out. Maybe next week we’ll all have an answer.

Further reading

Our spoiler-free review of Andor.

Our recap of Andor season 1, episode 4.

Our recap of Andor season 1, episode 6.

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