Warning: This article contains major spoilers from Episode 6 of Andor, titled ‘The Eye’.
This week’s episode of Star Wars spin-off show Andor saw the ragtag squad of rebel insurgents carry out the heist at the Aldhani Garrison.
Things were going well, till it didn’t, as an unexpected troop of Imperial troopers posed hindrance to the team’s escape plan. The shootout that followed severely injured Karis Nemik, and Cassian Andor voted that he was to be taken to the doctor rather than left to die.
As Vel Sartha held up bags of fluids to help Doctor Quadpaw operate on Nemik, Andor and Arvel Skeen sat outside waiting. Measuring up Andor carefully, Skeen began to propose what sounded like a massive betrayal to the team and the rebellion at large.
Skeen suggested that they escape with the loot, split the money, and go their separate ways.
He said to Andor:
"“You’re not here to save anybody but yourself. I saw it the first minute you came into camp. You’re just like me, we’re born in the hole and all we know is climbing over somebody else to get out.”"
Watch the scene below:
Skeen proceeded to mention a moon eight parsecs away where they could take refuge and divide up their share. But before he could finish the thought, Andor’s blaster silenced him forever.
The episode ended with Nemik dying on the operating table and Vel handing over his manifesto to Andor as he prepared to run away with the share promised to him.
Before that, fans got treated to a visual spectacle in the form of the Eye of Aldhani.
Was Skeen lying to Andor?
Skeen possibly still saw Andor as the man desperate for money and freedom, acting as a mercenary for a cause he didn’t believe in. Perhaps Skeen saw an opportunity at a comfortable life and took a shot at it without expecting such extreme reactions from Andor.
But what if that wasn’t the case?
Skeen had always been suspicious of Andor’s true intentions during their days at the camp. From removing Andor’s blaster from his bed while he was sleeping to holding a knife to his throat, Skeen never really presented himself as a friendly face to Andor.
He shared the story of his dead brother as his way of apologizing. But while trying to convince Andor to escape, Skeen said “I have no brother”, which possibly landed the last blow on Andor’s trust.
However, there’s a possibility that the plan of betrayal Skeen hatched was simply to test Andor’s loyalty.
Earlier, on the way to the Aldhani base, a heated confrontation led to Andor revealing that he was being paid to be here and the sky-kyber necklace was part of the payment. Vel diffused the situation for the moment, but there is a possibility Skeen was still not convinced where Andor’s priorities lay.
It could be that everything he said outside the doctor’s chamber was a lie concocted to put his doubts about Andor to rest. He wanted to see if Andor would agree to betray the rebellion at the slightest temptation. If Andor had simply said no instead of shooting him, Skeen might have revealed that he was merely testing his comrade and all would have been well.
One might also argue that Skeen could have pulled his weapon on Andor and fly away with the loot, if that was his plan all along. He wouldn’t even have to split the treasure.
With Skeen dead, we’ll never know what his intentions were – betrayal or ensuring safety of the rebellion. Therefore, there is no straightforward answer to whether Andor was right or wrong in pulling the trigger.
It’s true that he could have waited for an explanation. It’s also true that growing up with the Empire nipping at his heels, Andor knows the consequences of being late in judgement by a moment.
The argument, like many other aspects of the series, falls in an ethically grey area. However, it is one of the first acts of violence we see Andor commit for the ’cause’ and paves the way for the ruthless Rebel Captain we see in Rogue One.