Andor season 1, episode 5 review: The Axe Forgets

(L-R): Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and Vel Sartha (Faye Marsay) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
(L-R): Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and Vel Sartha (Faye Marsay) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

Substituting action with intense character development, Episode 5 of Andor is a gripping tale of calm before the storm.

Meanwhile, on Coruscant, Syril Karn (played by Kyle Soller) is getting scolded by his mother for having made such a mistake to warrant him losing his job.  It has been some time since they have seen each other but their snarky banter is still intact.  His Mom claims she will call in ‘the family favor’ and contact his uncle Harlo.

Cassian Andor awakes at their camp on Aldhani to find that his stuff is missing, save for his Kyber pendant which is still on his person.  When Skeen asks him who he received a ‘corporate-issue’ blaster pistol from, he claims he never got a name.  Skeen alludes to this episode’s title, stating that “The axe (Empire) forgets but the tree (oppressed people) remembers.  Now it’s our turn to do the chopping.”

Mon Mothma enters her dining room to find her husband eating breakfast and calls her daughter Leida to the table (telling her to grab food to go as the space-cab will be waiting outside).  Mothma is incredulous at the idea that her daughter would rather go with her father as she tells her mother she is ‘off the hook.’  It would appear Mon’s family life is not the greatest (as she pours herself into her secret work), and she leaves them with the sarcastic remark of “I so appreciate the support.”

As Vel’s group gets ready for their mission, Nemik tells Clem (with Skeen chiming in) that he fights for freedom from the Empire.  Andor accuses Vel and Taramyn of not having a strong enough plan for getting the getaway ship off of the track launch and insists on flying the ship during the mission.  This is a testament to the fact that though Cassian may not have been fighting with the Rebellion for long, he has more combat experience than the rest of the team.

Taramyn walks Clem through phase one of the operation, describing how he should walk like a soldier.  Despite not wanting to be touched, Andor adds to the conversation that they should switch sides based on each other’s shooting hand.  The crew must quickly cover their guns as a TIE fighter does a brief flyby (showboating their arrogance as they fly very low to the ground past the camp).

At the Empire’s Security Bureau, Lieutenant Dedra Meero is working overtime to uncover the meaning behind various reports of uprising across the galaxy.  Her faithful assistant agrees that incidents on “Kessel, Fondor, targeting consoles from Jakku, proton warheads from Base Cay and the Steergard Starpath” are too random to be random.  Dedra shows her cunning in admitting that if she were to start a Rebellion, this is how she would do it as well.

Clem and Vel are going over the mission specs when he questions the motivation of other crew members such as Lieutenant Gorn.  While it is made clear throughout the episode why each member would have such disdain for the Empire, Andor’s involvement still remains a mystery to the crew.  Though teased in the first three episodes via flashbacks, we don’t yet know precisely what makes Kassa hate the Empire so much (as he mentions later on that he is only doing this for the money).

Things come to a breaking point between Cassian and Skeen when he is threatened to have his ‘Sky Kyber’ crystal taken away from him.  Vel tells Skeen to give it back as they will have opportunities to kill each other later.  In a surprise move, Clem tells the crew that he has been paid to go on this mission, and that they will need to reconcile with this fact or else he will walk away from it.

The crew is unsettled, questioning with “You think we’re scared?”
Andor responds in kind: “Of course I’m afraid! But there’s a difference between fear & losing your nerve.”

This sentiment hammers home the idea that just because Andor is new to the rebellion doesn’t mean he hasn’t been in the fight against oppression longer and that he clearly has more combat experience than the rest of the crew.

As Vel lights a fire signal for Gorn signifying their operational readiness, Skeen is urged to tell Cassian about his brother losing his life as a result of the oppression of the Empire.  He tells Clem “That’s as close to an apology as you’re gonna get.”  Vel says from here on out Taramyn is in charge of the mission, and claims nobody will say farewells tonight for there is much work to be done tomorrow.

The episode closes out on the other players getting ready for their part in what is now the powder keg of the Rebellion against the Empire.  Mon Mothma is questioned by her husband about a new charitable foundation she has established, while Syril Karn stares at a hologram of Andor – a signal that no matter how successful Cassian is on this next mission, he has made a mortal enemy through his actions on Ferrix (where Blevin has also made it clear that the Empire has now set up shop).  Luthen spends time combing the airwaves for possible transmissions, while starting to wonder if he’s made a mistake hiring the thief Cassian Andor.

Through five episodes, and certainly the fourth and fifth, there has been a consistent ramping up of tension which will no doubt result in a pressure cooker (blown sky high) of an episode six.  Just as Nemik (played by Alex Lawther) put it: “A surprise from above is never as shocking as one from below.”  This series has cleverly focused on building up its characters over doling out action and spectacle, and as Luthen all but promised; either it all ends in the next 24 hours, or the Rebellion will have just gotten started.