Andor Episode 5 continues to build anticipation for Cassian (Diego Luna) and the rebels’ attack on the Imperial garrison. A melancholic episode, it tracks across its supporting characters’ anxiety and grief as they struggle with their responsibilities as either rebel- or imperial-aligned.
After waking up, Cassian gets questioned by Skeen (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), shirtless and showing tattoos. Cassian is able to identify them as the Krayt’s Head and By the Hand, but it’s unclear for now what these group affiliations are. (Prisons?) It’s apparent from even Andor Episode 5’s opening scenes that Skeen deeply distrusts Cassian – a sentiment that will only worsen as the episode continues.
The team continues to plan out its infiltration. Cassian has to learn how to look like a soldier so he can pass as an Imperial. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Gorn (Sule Rimi), an Imperial-turned-rebel helping to get the team on the inside, monitors the garrison. We learn from a scene with him that because of the Eye of Aldhani – the rare celestial occurrence introduced last week – there will be a limited crew in the garrison on the day they plan to break in.
Cassian is minding his own business when Skeen puts a knife to his throat and cuts off the sky kyber crystal that Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård) loaned him. It’s too suspicious for Skeen, and he demands answers from Cassian. Vel (Faye Marsay) breaks up the fight, but can’t quash the tensions between the two. Cassian finally admits he’s being paid, but doesn’t give up Luthen’s name. Later, Skeen shares his backstory with Cassian: the Imperials attacked his brother and flooded his centuries-old tree farm. When he couldn’t fight back, he committed suicide. Skeen doesn’t apologize outright, but Cassian clearly understands now why the other man has been so antagonistic.
On Coruscant, Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) tears up watching the sunrise and spends his morning picking away at a bowl of cereal while his mother Eedy Karn (Kathryn Hunter) chastises him. She’s a delightfully snarky lady who insists on asking for assistance from Syril’s uncle to get him work. This is a low point for Syril, out of work and stuck looking for favors from relatives he doesn’t admire. Despite his seeming resignation, late in the episode, he stares in determination at the hologram of Cassian he still possesses.
Senator Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) starts her day with husband Perrin (Alastair Mackenzie) and their daughter Leida (Bronte Carmichael). When Mon offers to take Leida to school, she rebuffs, showing her preference for her father over her mother. Mon’s family dynamics are falling apart around her as she’s simultaneously struggling to be both a senator and rebellion coordinator. Later, Perrin once again forgets their chauffeur’s name, and Mon suggests that her husband wouldn’t be interested in hearing about the new charitable foundation she’s working on. There’s a wide divide between the two of them, and the show isn’t shy about its rebuke of Coruscant’s ruling class through its depiction of Perrin.
Dedra (Denise Gough), the Imperial officer working to uncover a possible rebel conspiracy, continues to work through the data to find a pattern. Although we only get a brief scene of her this week, it does well in illustrating her committed resolve to making sense of her findings. It also continues to draw parallels between her and Syril’s own desire to find Cassian – but, unlike Syril’s dejected present state, Dedra is getting stronger.
In the closing scene, Luthen shares his anxieties with Kleya Marki (Elizabeth Dulau), his assistant at the antiquities shop. He worries about how the rebel outfit is doing, but Kleya assures him that by the following night of the garrison attack, it’ll all be over. “Or it’ll just be starting,” Luthen counters.
Although this episode, like last week’s, worked mostly to build up the garrison plot point, the stakes feel much more real now. We also get a bigger helping of characterization. In fact, Andor Season 1 Episode 5 is the best episode yet for getting into the gritty details of the people at the heart of the rebellion and the Imperials holding them back. The microcosm of the rebel group feels more lived-in; we see them move across the rugged landscapes in their woven ponchos and feel the thick tension and stress that passes between them. It’s just a matter of time before we reach the garrison operation, and from what we’ve seen of the lack of cohesion with these characters, it feels like there’s a 50/50 chance of them succeeding.