The big mission descends into predictable chaos in another well-constructed, deeply human episode of Andor.
This recap of Andor season 1, episode 6, “The Eye”, contains spoilers.
Andor has a lot of positive qualities, but its most significant is that it’s patient. Some might misinterpret this as being slow, but I’d argue against the criticism. “Slow” implies a lack of urgency, but you can feel the urgency in Andor. You can feel the boot of the Empire digging its heel into remote places like Aldhani; you get the sense that this one, tiny opportunity, this brief moment, represents the only realistic hope to fight back. So, there’s plenty of urgency. But there’s a carefulness about this show that has basically never been seen before in any Star Wars media, certainly not in the current, approved canon. It has devoted entire episodes to the planning of and preparation for this do-or-die mission, emphasizing its complexity, how predicated it is on chance, and how vital it is to get it right.
Of course, it goes terribly wrong.
Andor season 1, episode 6 recap
That was expected, though. No rebel activity in all of Star Wars history has ever gone swimmingly, so the series of calamities in “The Eye” is really upholding an old tradition. But because we spent so much time drilling in camp and learning the – sometimes naïve – ideologies of the rebels, their failures sting all the more. The episode even opens with Nemik displaying the kind of hopeful idealism that always gets supporting characters in this franchise killed.
But it’s the big day. The heist that we’ve been building to for weeks takes place on Aldhani’s big solstice event, the titular Eye of Aldhani, a kind of Star Wars Northern Lights display that the locals all gather for and are moved to tears by. You can tell Andor is smartly written because it uses the Empire’s logistical managing of this event to introduce the villain of the week, Commandant Jayhold Beehaz (Stanley Townsend), a deplorable functionary who’s the equivalent of an area manager, just in a totalitarian regime. He’s awful and if you’re anything like me you’ll actively wish to be rid of him.
But actually getting rid of him walks a fine moral line. The plan goes like this. Cassian, Nemik, Skeen, and Taramyn, the latter of whom we learn is a defected Imperial Stormtrooper, infiltrate the garrison in disguise, while Vel and Cinta swim under the loch. Meeting in the middle, they take Beehaz hostage, along with his family, and explain quite clearly that if the job doesn’t go to plan everyone, including his loved ones, will die.
Have Beehaz’s wife and kid strictly done anything wrong? Perhaps not. One could argue his wife is certainly complicit to some extent, but these are the high prices that must be paid for freedom – or that’s how it’s rationalized, anyway. Of course, I never thought for a moment that a Disney show would have its heroes executing this guy’s wife and kid like Benicio del Toro in Sicario, but they do a good job of pretending they might, and that’ll certainly do.
Another smart thing is that the Eye of Aldhani is very lovely, and stands in such a stark contrast to everything we’ve seen thus far in terms of its color and beauty that we understand immediately why it’s so culturally vital to these people. It also makes for an amazing backdrop to the dogfight that ensues when the mission goes topsy-turvy and Cassian is forced to fly half of the squad out of there, with the other half either dead or dying.
So, condolences to Gorn, who gets shot, but none to Beehaz, who has a heart attack. The big tragedy is Nemik, who gets crushed, and despite Cassian diverting to a nearby doctor on the rebel payroll at Skeen’s insistence, the kid doesn’t make it. It’s a sad if predictable development, but his youthful idealism lives on his manifesto, which Vel gives to Cassian at the end of the episode, apparently at Nemik’s insistence.
But wait! There’s another big development to note. While Cassian and Skeen are waiting to see if the doctor can fix Nemik up, the latter proposes that they split the loot 50/50 and just do a runner. A disgusted Cassian whips out his blaster mid-convo and shoots him dead. He definitely shot first.
Subsequent to that, though, he’s had enough, and at gunpoint forces Vel to give him the cut he was promised. He’s done with the Rebellion for now. But with Nemik’s words literally held in his hand, there’s no way he won’t find a reason to pick another fight with the Empire.
You can stream Andor season 1, episode 6, “The Eye”, exclusively on Disney+.