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The Axe Forgets (Andor - S01E05) - Live Action Series

Series: Andor

Title: The Axe Forgets

Season: One

Episode: 5

Original Air Date: October 5th, 2022

Runtime: 43 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Thomas; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

Discuss the latest Chapter! (Discussion)

"I didn't think you'd be interested. Why is that? It's cheritable." SPOILERS.

Syril Karn is having space cereals with blue milk with his mom - every day

Andor is a big gamble in many ways. It's as far removed from traditional Star Wars as nothing else before. The current episode "The Axe Forgets" is probably the least thing anyone would have expected from a series or movie under the Star Wars banner. Because there is no action. No fights. Not even a clear line between good and evil. What we get to see are character vignettes that reveal a lot about the inner workings of the characters, and even the traditional bad guys of Star Wars, the Imperials, are shown to be just regular people doing a job. Bureaucrats who are convinced to do the right thing or people trying to get by and make a living. If you like character pieces and contemplative episodes then "The Axe Forgets" will be another highlight for you. If not... chances are you may be bored to death and wish back for the days of Boba Fett riding a Rancor into battle.

Even in another galaxy far, far away teenage daughters are rebellious

On the surface nothing, literally nothing happens in "The Axe Forgets". What we get are glimpses into the lives of all major protagonists, with a clear focus on Andor and the rebels, but we also learn what Mon Mothma, Syril Karn, Dedra Meero and Luthen Rael have to deal with. And it's all about the calm before the storm. A storm that is certainly to come in the final episode of this arc next week. But for now it's all about moving pieces into place, about preparing, some soul searching and also inner conflicts in the rebel group.

The future Imperial headquarters on Ferrix

Let's talk about Andor first. At first it seems he's getting somewhat closer to the rebel group. The group trains one last time for the assault on the next day. A TIE Fighter on patrol flight has some fun approaching the rebels (who are of course disguised as shepherds) at very low altitude, rattling their bones a bit. Andor chats a bit with fellow rebel Arvel Skeen about his tattoos, and it's revealed none of the others know what they mean, but Andor does. He once again reveals a tidbit about his youth, but if that is true or not is unknown, we know by now that Andor loves telling tall tales. But Arvel still mistrusts Andor. Things eventually escalate when Arvel removes the kyber crystal from Andor's neck and presents it to the group. He wonders why anyone would have such a precious artifact in their posession. Andor finally reveals that he's only in it for the money and Vel confesses that Luthen gave her no choince in the matter. Eventually things calm down again and the rebels get ready for their heist the next morning.

The group is on their way to the armory at the dam

Former Deputy Inspector Syril Karn is probably at the lowest point in his life yet. He lives with his mom in a depressing Coruscant flat. Having some kind of space cereals with blue milk, while his mom, in her way, tries to help him, but which clearly aggravates Karn. She wants to call in some family favours so that Karn may get a new job. He has no prospects after this dismissal. He has nothing. And for him it's space cereals and his somewhat overbearing mother day after day.

People doing their job in the armory

We also get a short glimpse at the Imperial installation. And it turns out the people there are just regular folks doing regular jobs. They are excited about the upcoming natural phenomenon in Aldhani's atmosphere and really want to watch the spectacle. We also learn why Lieutenant Gorn, the inside man of the rebels in the base, is on the side of the rebels. He fell in love with a local woman once, but the Empire destroyed his happiness. And now he wants revenge.

Skeen has had it with "Clem" and wants to know the truth

Back on Coruscant Dedra Meero and her assistant are working overtime to find out what is really going on. Dedra recounts several incidents, including one on Kessel, which is probably an allusion to "Solo", and while it all appears to be completely random, her assistant and she agree that it's actually too random and that if Dedra was a rebel it's exactly what she would do, to never "climb the same fence once". We also learn that Dedra is probably taking performance enhancing drugs to cope with the massive workload. She's a very determined woman with only one ally really, her assistant, who for a change, is not portrayed as some backstabbing Imperial, but someone who's genuinely loyal to Dedra and really wants to help with her investigation.

Mon Mothma's personal relationships are very strained

Mon Mothma meanwhile has not only to deal with a husband who's out of the loop, but is also someone she clearly has issues with (and he with her), but her daughter Leida also has little love for her mother. Mon Mothma insists that Leida accompanies to her to some event, but Leida flat out refuses to go, since she believes Mon Mothma merely wants to show off, to show she's "involved". Later in the episode, during a speeder ride, we learn that Mon Mothma's husband has indeed no idea at all of what his wife is doing. When he inquires after a new foundation backed by her she retorts that she didn't think it would interest him, since it's cheritable. Things are cleary awkward between them.

Kleya tries to calm down Luthen

Back in Luthen's antiquity shop we see him listening to the radio. Which is futile of course, because the heist will happen on the next day. But Luthen is clearly nervous, this is the first time we see the calm and calculated rebel being somewhat distraught and funny enough it's his pretend assistant Kleya who tries to talk some sense into Luthen and to calm him down. She tries to reassure him by saying that only Vel could be traced back to him, but Luthen admits that he wasn't careful with Cassian and that Andor may also eventually lead any investigation to him. So things are really tense at the moment for Luthen and his nerves are showing.

And now we have to wait one week for things to finally escalate. As I said in the opening paragraph nothing really happens in "The Axe Forgets", well nothing on the action or plot front, however we learn how the characters feel, what moves them, maybe bothers them. Andor is still the reluctant mercenary who says he's in it for the money, but also in many ways one of the more professional rebels who doesn't burst out into emotions and anger.

Mon Mothma meanwhile is portrayed as a woman with a very troubled family life, people she can't or won't confide in, with a husband who apparently considers Mon Mothma something of a trophy wife with perks and a daughter who believes her mother is selfish and only thinks about her public image. This must tear her apart on the inside, since she's doing everything she can to help rid the galaxy of evil, but no one can or must know that. And she has to play the role of the Imperial senator. 

The regular Imperials are shown to be people like you and me. One Imperial hopes he'll get a title on Ferrix, not for the money, but the prestige, while the Imperials on Aldhani are concerned about missing out on the pseudo meteor shower on the next day, trying to get by as best as they can otherwise. An Imperial installation has never felt as real before. This is what ordinary military life is often about. Just getting by, hoping the superior is not a complete idiot on a power trip who tries to make life miserable.

And Syril Karn has his own personal groundhog day loop with his mom. We don't spend too much time with him, but the few moments are quite powerful. You can tell how much he hates it to be back home, he has lost everything. And now he had to crawl back to his mother, eating cereals and drinking blue milk in some nondescript flat on the medium levels of Coruscant. With nothing on the horizon for him. Down and out.

Luthen's vignette was maybe the most surprising, because for the first time we see that Luthen is not just that cool and collected rebel who is in clear command of everything. He's nervous, fidgety, concerned, he has nerves and it's actually his "assistant" Kleya who keeps a cool head here.

If you found all or most of that utterly boring, I could easily understand why. However, in my opinion we have almost never gotten to know Star Wars characters as well as in Andor, down to the somewhat more minor characters. I still feel that it would have been a lot better if Lucasfilm had dropped all three episodes of each arc at once, so we would have had four movies instead of twelve episodes. On its own "The Axe Forgets" may make for somewhat unfulfilling entertainment, since it's the middle act of a movie. Now everyone is in their place though, all the pieces have been moved across the board and next week we will see how the rebels infiltrate the armory and if their plan will actually work. And in hindsight, with all three episodes released that make up the second arc of season 1, everything will flow beautifully, but as of now "The Axe Forgets" can at times feel too contemplative maybe, if you expect your usual Star Wars with light sabers, duels, space battles and action in general.

However, without really caring about the characters any action would always feel empty. And if/when one of the rebels should not make it next week you will know who he or she was. And I can only repeat what I said before, making the Imperials relatable human beings is the best thing the series has done. Cartoon Stormtroopers who can't hit anything are a mere meme now, it's high time for a change of tone. Not everywhere, but Andor certainly needs those more realistic Imperials.

So, if you appreciate contemplative character pieces then "The Axe Forgets" more than delivers. I also want to point out the camerawork one more time, I believe it's a stroke of genius to have all these somewhat clinical, cool, detached, super symmetrical camera angles on Coruscant, be it Syril Karn's breakfast table, Mon Mothma's lavish suite or even the ride in the speeder... everything feels somewhat wrong and detached. This is in stark contrast to the nature scenes and much more natural camera angles we get with the rebels. Here things are more visceral. My hope is that the risks Lucasfilm are taking with Andor will pay off and that Star Wars for adults, a Star Wars that is different, will have a place going forward. There will be another season of The Mandalorian with more traditional entertainment soon. But Disney+ is also the perfect place for pieces like Andor. We need more of that.

Added: October 5, 2022
Category: Andor
Reviewer: Thomas
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