Wednesday, September 28, 2022

REVIEW: 'Andor' - Cassian Is Brought Onto a Resistance Mission Where the Odds Are Against a Small Crew in 'Aldhani'

Disney+'s Andor - Episode 1.04 "Aldhani"

Out of options, Cassian is recruited for a dangerous mission to infiltrate an Imperial garrison.

"Aldhani" was written by Dan Gilroy and directed by Susanna White

No one can be trusted. It's foolish to inherently believe anyone. Under the Empire's rule, no one is expected to look out for anyone but themselves. It's all a battle for control. The powerful and well-connected rise to the top while those they subjugate are meant to suffer. The political games play out on Coruscant and within the Imperial Senate. No one can be completely accepted as loyal to the cause. Cassian doesn't even think a unified resistance can be organized against the Empire. Throughout the last decade, it's been nothing more than disparate groups who eventually are pitted against each other. None of it has left a dent in the malicious ambitions of the Empire. Those officers lead with such arrogance. They demand respect and control. It's with that callous approach to life that they ignore the true extent of suffering. Cassian has manipulated that arrogance to his benefit in the past. But again, he was driven by whatever he needed to do in order to survive. He's not enlisted in the resistance because of his values. He wants to find his long-lost sister. That aspect of his identity was taken away a long time ago. He may never get it back because there is always some new conflict that must take priority. Right now, it's all in the name of survival. Cassian escaped Ferrix. Luthen presents only a few paths Cassian can pursue. He can continue trying to make it on his own. He could also find structure and meaning within a mission that will pay extremely well. Luthen is the one orchestrating all of these moves. He has the intelligence and skills to do so. He knows exactly what has happened in Cassian's life leading up to this moment. He knows how to convince people to do exactly what he wants. He wields a great deal of power. On Coruscant though, he is nothing more than a dealer of antiques. He trades in information. He relies on Mon Mothma for as much as she can offer. And yet, the resources are continually dwindling. People are fighting for less and less with each shipment. That acknowledgement of human suffering matters less than ever before. The number of people signing up to fight back isn't impressive. Cassian joins a small team. They aspire to attack an Imperial garrison. Cassian sees it as a suicide mission. They will never be able to pull off this heist. The armed forces would be alerted to their presence right away. It's still worth trying. This is how the seeds of the rebellion are planted. It's all about pulling off increasingly impressive feats that inspire hope. The citizens of Aldhani will travel to the lands they were displaced from simply for the majestic beauty of an event that only occurs every three years. That history matters to them. That can't be silenced no matter how much the Empire has come to value this planet in close enough proximity to the entire galaxy.

Everyone is taken aback by Cassian's sudden presence. Luthen crafts the argument that can easily be believed. He also expects Cassian to live under an alias. He can't be trusted as his true self. He has to prove himself as worthy. Luthen reaches out with compassion and understanding. He hopes the ideals hold true at the end of the day. It's not until Vel asks if Cassian is committed to the mission upon knowing all that it entails. That's the point in which he becomes a fighter in the resistance. He sees the odds stacked against this crew. He could easily run away with a decent payday for his venture. That wouldn't dramatically change his life. This mission can only do so much to subvert the fabric of this political environment. The galaxy is living under an oppressive regime. The Imperial Security Bureau is tasked with maintaining the health of the Empire. They must stomp out any threats from rising and getting out of control. They can't allow this system to reach its breaking point. It's still a rather segmented ruling organization. The Empire empowers certain groups to maintain order within their sectors because the galaxy is so vast and far-reaching. Syril's mistakes on Ferrix bring the Imperial security forces to his front door. The Pre-Mor Authority can no longer be trusted as a partner of the Empire. They have proven to be ineffective. They were either incompetent in the field or oblivious to the threats within their sector. And yet, the ISB at large is seemingly doomed from the same lack of imagination. Dedra Meero sees a pattern emerging of high-value targets being attacked through similar tactics. She wants the freedom to investigate the latest crime in order to get better intelligence on where these threats are organized. She is dismissed as chasing power in an organization that doesn't hand it out freely. She has to prove herself beyond her gut instincts. She is behind in too many bureaucratic ways to be trusted with even more responsibilities. She has to stick to her corner and let others analyze the threats. That could test her resolve within the organization. And yet, people are brought in to uproot the trusted programs that have allowed the world to evolve to this point. It's not stable on either side of the conflict. People always have to be careful with their actions. They must inherently doubt any newcomer to their lives. At the moment, that's Cassian. He is the person who can provide skilled redundancies. The team on Aldhani needs him, while Mothma must endure a dinner her husband prepared because he likes socializing with her rivals in the Senate. It all must be carefully balanced. Any wrong step can lead to death. That peril and anxiety is present in every action even as this episode is mostly preparing for the climactic action to come at some point. That setup is still necessary and will allow the storytelling to earn everything that happens during those events.