The three-part Aldhani garrison infiltration arc comes to a stressful end in Andor Season 1 Episode 6. The story opens with scene-setting while the involved parties ready for everything that will happen during the Eye of Aldhani, the celestial event that happens only once every three years. Nemik (Alex Lawther) shares with Cassian (Diego Luna) that he wasn’t able to sleep the night before, but Cassian assures him he’ll sleep once the mission is over. Cassian’s reassurance is all too prophetic.
Episode 6 then introduces two high-ranking Imperials – Commandant Jayhold Beehaz (Stanley Townsend) and Colonel Petigar (Richard Katz) – who talk disparagingly of the local Dhani people traveling to the garrison to view the Eye of Aldhani. Their conversation is a good example of the ways in which Imperials colonize planets but dismiss the local people as beneath them.
In their preparations, we learn a little more about Taramyn (Gershwyn Eustache Jnr) and Cinta (Varada Sethu). From Skeen (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), we hear that Taramyn, who “likes giving orders,” was formerly a stormtrooper. “You should have been here when Cinta found out,” Skeen says. “They slaughtered her whole family.”
The mission finally begins. The four men of the rebel outfit get in formation and walk behind the Dhani people as their “escort.” Meanwhile, Commandant Beehaz prepares for the Eye with his wife and son.
The Dhani arrive at the garrison. Vel (Faye Marsay) and Cinta approach it from the water while the men await further instruction. The Dhani leader speaks to the Commandant in the Dhani language and insults him, but Lieutenant Gorn (Sule Rimi) translates incorrectly to avoid confrontation. Later, the Dhani leader sets fire to the Imperials’ goat-hide offering. There will be no respect between them.
Vel, afraid of heights but needing to ascend, hesitates, but finally gives the team a go ahead to transition to the next stage. Taramyn, Cassian, Skeen, and Nemik all escort the Commandant and his family inside the garrison, then pull guns on them and the guards. Things get dicey, but Cinta and Vel show up, and Cinta shoots Petigar before he can kill Nemik. They demand the Commandant take them to the vault for the payroll. Vel makes it clear that if he doesn’t help, his family dies. The rebels are in it now – there’s no going back, literally or morally.
After holding more Imperials at gunpoint, they manage to open the vault and begin unloading the literal tons of credit units they came to steal. Unfortunately for them, the Imperial in the comms tower intercepts their transmissions. A group of soldiers rushes down to the vault while a different military base nearby sends out TIE fighters.
The Eye of Aldhani commences. It makes for some truly some beautiful visuals, with colorful waves of light streaming up through the sky.
A shoot-out ensues in the vault once the soldiers reach it. Cassian rushes to repair the ship before getting stuck in a headlock. Nemik shoots the soldier off Cassian, but Taramyn is killed. Onboard and seemingly safe, Skeen, Vel, and Nemik get thrown backward by the force of lift-off, and, tragically, Nemik gets crushed under the shifting weight of a large pile of credits. Vel and Skeen manage to free Nemik, but he can’t feel his legs. Vel injects him with a med pack while Cassian struggles to find a path for the ship as the TIE fighters converge.
In dialogue that mirrors K2-SO’s (Alan Tudyk) from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Nemik finds a flight path and tells Cassian to “Climb! Climb now!” by steering the ship up. They evade the TIE fighters and bolt for open space.
Vel wants to write Nemik off as a loss, but Skeen and Cassian insist on taking him to a doctor whom they built into the contingency. The doctor, a multi-armed alien named Quadpaw (Aidan Cook, looking not unlike Lupita Nyong’o‘s Maz Kanata), does his best to save Nemik.
Outside, waiting, Skeen and Cassian talk. Skeen reveals that they stole about 80 million, and proposes the two of them split it and run. Cassian, surprised, asks about Skeen’s commitment to the rebellion and his lost brother. Skeen admits his story about his brother was a lie. He adds that he and Cassian are the same, “born in the hole” where all they know “is climbing over somebody else to get out.” Skeen further proposes they make for a nearby moon. Cassian’s face is pained. He draws his gun and fires, killing Skeen.
Inside, Cassian learns Nemik didn’t make it. He tells Vel what happened with Skeen and that he’s leaving. He gives her the sky kyber to give to Luthen; in return, Vel gives him Nemik’s anti-Imperial manifesto, the one he loved talking about. Cassian rejects it, but Vel says Nemik insisted Cassian have it.
On Coruscant, Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) sits in on an Imperial meeting. Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) gives a speech, but no one is paying attention (the implication is that they’ve learned about the rebel raid). At the antiquities shop, an Imperial mentions Aldhani to Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård), who hurries to the back of the store to let out a relieved laugh.
The writers managed to work a lot into roughly 45 minutes this week. Still, there wasn’t any room for characters like Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) and his mother Eedy (Kathryn Hunter) – which is unfortunate for fans of theirs (i.e., me).
To this point in Season 1, Andor is very cool-toned and plot-focused. It’s a turn away from the normal warm, relationship-heavy stories we’re used to from most Star Wars movies and shows. Although Andor does have character development, it’s quite thin, with only a few facts thrown in to give us a sense of who these people are. Despite Vel being the leader of the outfit, we learn virtually nothing about her, which seems like a missed opportunity to explore a new, unique rebel background. Andor does do very well with what it seems to be invested in, which is intellectual intrigue and a mature sense of tension. This approach seems to be satisfying fans of espionage and cerebral thrillers, but it’s maybe not working as well for viewers looking for something in the vein of a traditional drama or big-hearted blockbuster.