“Andor” Season 1 Episode 4: Rise of a Rebel (RECAP)

In a change of pace from the last episode, Andor Season 1 Episode 4 pumps the brakes on some established characters like Bix (Adria Arjona) and Maarva (Fiona Shaw) so it can introduce new ones and get the wheels turning for future conflicts and action pieces.

On board his ship, Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård) gives Cassian (Diego Luna) two options: he can drop him off somewhere and he can stay on the run, or Cassian can join up to accomplish something important. Cassian is reluctant, but Luthen is convinced he wants to take aim at the Empire. They have a long talk about the purpose of it all, and Luthen reveals he didn’t show up for the part Cassian was selling. He came for Cassian himself. Luthen will pay him 200,000 credits to steal the quarterly payroll for an Imperial sector. Cassian agrees to it.

Luthen lets Cassian down on the planet Aldhani. He meets with Vel Sartha (Faye Marsay), a leader of a small band of rebels. Luthen all but forces her to take Cassian into her group despite heavy protests from her and later her comrades. They’re set to take on an Imperial garrison with only seven people, including Skeen (Ebon Moss-Bachrach, who made a mark this summer in FX’s The Bear as “Cousin” Richie). They go over their “suicide run” of a plan to break into the garrison and steal the payroll. They’ll take advantage of the Eye of Aldhani, a once-in-three-years celestial occurrence, to provide cover for their mission.

Diego Luna as Cassian in Andor. (COURTESY: Disney+)

Elsewhere on Coruscant, the capital world of the galaxy, some Imperial officials meet at the security bureau where the topic of Preox-Morlana’s presence on Ferrix comes up. We meet Dedra Meero (Denise Gough), an ambitious Imperial quick to answer questions and, like Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) from Pre-Mor, desirous to take initiative. Later, she tries to involve herself in the Ferrix case, but a superior rejects her request.

Syril finds out that the Morlana system will no longer be under the jurisdiction of Pre-Mor as, in effect, they messed up so badly on Ferrix that the Empire is taking over Morlana permanently. Afterward, Syril carries his bags to his mother’s house where she greets him with a slap across the face and then an emotional hug. As pathetic a person as Syril is, he’s a compelling antagonist, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the series takes him.

Back aboard his ship, Luthen sets course for Coruscant. He dons a wig and fine clothing before having a light-hearted moment of rehearsing a much different personality. On the planet, he appears to run a high-end antique store. But it’s a cover. He meets with Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly), currently a senator but eventually the Chancellor of the Rebel Alliance, and she pretends to be simply shopping for a gift for her husband, but she’s really there on rebellion business. She’s helping to fund Luthen’s work, but she’s run into problems moving money around with spies everywhere.

Genevieve O’Reilly as Mon Mothma in Andor. (COURTESY: Disney+)

Senator Mothma returns home to remember that her husband Perrin has invited some politicians over to dinner. Even worse, he’s added a few new people without her permission who she claims hate her. Perrin is dismissive of her, saying he’s seated her in the “boring end of the table” whereas the people who dislike her are fun. Star Wars fans on Twitter are already demanding their divorce.

Compared to the previous three episodes, this one has lower stakes and feels like it’s lacking in shape, but still promises new conflicts down the road. The band of rebels that Cassian joins feels thin on characterization and are all around unlikeable save for Karis (Alex Lawther), the friendly, soft-spoken one of the group. Even Cassian feels opaque and inaccessible here. Not that likeability is the be-all-end-all, but I don’t yet feel invested in these characters as a team.

Some of the issues with this episode could emerge from this being a 12-episode season with more time to fill than the 6-8 episode count we’ve gotten used to from Disney+. Don’t get me wrong: there is nothing inherently problematic with episodes that primarily build up future events. With that said, every episode should be compelling in its own right, with its own stakes, and not solely serve the episodes that follow. Rewatching this episode, I do feel anticipation for the rebels’ infiltration of the garrison, and I’m hoping that episode will rise to the potential of that narrative material.

Rating: 6.5/10

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