TV Review / Recap – The Empire Faces Consequences in “Star Wars: Andor” First-Season Finale – “Rix Road”

In the first-season finale of the acclaimed live-action Disney+ series Star Wars: Andor, almost all of the main characters are converging on the planet Ferrix as they search for the elusive title character Cassian Andor (portrayed, as always, by Diego Luna).

But the first character we actually see on-screen in this episode is Wilmon Paak (Muhannad Bhaier), the son of salvage-yard operator Salman Paak, who was ordered publicly hung by the Empire.

Wilmon is carefully constructing a homemade explosive device, which becomes the Chekhov’s gun of this season finale as the action progresses. We then see other familiar faces begin to arrive on Ferrix: ISB agent Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) flanked by two Death Troopers, loose-cannon Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) and his former brother-in-arms Linus Mosk (Alex Ferns), and rebel recruiter Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgard) have all taken interest in Cassian’s current whereabouts. Meanwhile on the city-planet of Coruscant, Senator Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) is enacting her plan to launder the money she’s been taking from her family accounts and investing in the growing Rebellion– she plants the notion of her husband Perrin Fertha’s (Alastair Mackenzie) gambling habit in the mind of her driver/spy Kloris (Lee Ross) and near the end of the episode it’s revealed that she has accepted Chandrilan crime-boss Davo Sculdun’s proposal for an arranged marriage between his son and her daughter Leida (Bronte Carmichael). Of course this wouldn’t be much of an Andor finale if Cassian did not take the bait of his adoptive mother’s funeral and return home, but those seeking to track him down have a more difficult time than they anticipated.

The funeral begins peacefully enough, with a New Orleans-style band playing a haunting minor-key melody and leading the procession through the streets of Ferrix. But when the loyal droid B2EMO (Dave Chapman) plays a giant-sized holographic message from Maarva (Fiona Shaw) in the town square, a riot breaks out after she spurs an uprising against the Imperial occupiers of the planet. Naturally this leads to Wilmon tossing his explosive at the hotel-turned-Imperial-headquarters, and it takes a while for the dust to settle from that moment onward. Cinta Kaz (Varada Sethu) identifies Corv (Noof Ousellam) as ISB and murders him in an alleyway, Syril finally earns Dedra’s trust by rescuing her from the chaos, and Luthen looks on, unable to contribute much. Cassian frees Bix (Adria Arjona) from her prison cell– though she’s still in a daze thanks to her torture at the hands of Dr. Gorst– and helps other residents escape the pandemonium on a shuttlecraft. And lastly Luthen makes his way back to his own ship to leave empty-handed, only to find Cassian there waiting for him, asking to either be killed or taken in. It’s a satisfying conclusion to this batch of episodes, though we know there is more to come and there are still plenty of loose ends left to be tied up.

Maarva’s speech is the obvious highlight here, and I love the moment when the Empire attempts to cover up B2’s holoprojector, only to have it emphasize her point even more. I didn’t love the resolution to Syril and Dedra’s arc, as I felt it played a little too much into expectations (after it seemed like Syril’s path would be much more difficult to predict) but I suppose I have to admit that those two were in fact destined to unite in some way, after all. The action is well-choreographed and the revolution on Ferrix is inspiring, but the ultimate irony comes in the form of a post-credits sequence that finally reveals what exactly Cassian and company were building in the Narkina-5 factory facility: refractor elements of the still-under-construction Death Star’s laser array. To know that Cassian had a hand in crafting the instrument of his own doom is poetic enough, but showrunner Tony Gilroy has further driven the point home via his insistence on highlighting the choices the character has made along the way. We all forge our own destinies, and Cassian Andor’s is one that will shape the future of the galaxy, for better or worse. And now that Andor season 2 has begun production in the UK, we can all look forward to discovering more about where his story takes him between these events and the beginning of Rogue One.

The entire first season of Star Wars: Andor is now available to stream, exclusively via Disney+.

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