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Rix Road (Andor - S01E12) - Live Action Series

Series: Andor

Title: Rix Road

Season: One

Episode: 12

Original Air Date: November 23rd, 2022

Runtime: 52 minutes

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

Discuss the latest Chapter! (Discussion)

"The Empire is a disease that thrives in darkness, it is never more alive than when we sleep!" SPOILERS.

Things will get quite explosive

"Rix Road" is the culmination of all the eleven previous Andor episodes. A series that is loved by many, and met with utter disinterest by others, since it deviates from the typical Star Wars formula. Gone are the space battles, the lightsaber duels, the Force or witty/silly one-liners. Instead Andor examines the people fighting on both sides of the war and it's also a political commentary, but here Andor is very much in the best Star Wars tradition. "Rix Road" is a commentary on living in a dictatorship, a tyranny, and how civil unrest is met with brutal force. Now the episode was written and filmed quite a while ago and while it was maybe intended as a general commentary on things like the civil unrest on the Tiananmen Square in Beijing that was brutally shut down by the Chinese government, it can now also be understood as a commentary on current events in countries like Iran, where the people have been "asleep" for long enough now it seems and they've had enough. But what can you do when a brutal regime has all the military power? The people on Ferrix are shaken from their sleep by a rousing recorded speech by the late Maarva who left a message for her fellow citizens on Ferrix, who reminds them that not doing anything will only make things worse.

Cinta is still all business

Before I go into more detail a few words about the general plot. All the major players converge on Ferrix. Cassian has arrived. Dedra flies in in a shuttle. Syril and his ex sergeant took a public flight and then the tram to Ferrix. Luthen is also there and Vel rejoins Cinta. Meanwhile the citizens of Ferrix prepare for Maarva's funeral procedure in which a brick with her ashes is added to a wall.

Plans usually don't survive contact with reality

The entire first half of the episode has a foreboding atmosphere, similar to classic western movies like "High Noon", now Andor is not a western, but the entire time you know things will escalate, yet we witness the calm before the storm, it only needs a single spark to let things explode. And explode they will. The son of the executed worker who had the radio in his backyard Bix used to contact Luthen is building a bomb. He has a special gift for the Empire.

Bliven is still with the ISB after all

In the finale there are only a few short glimpses we get from Coruscant. Most interesting here is that Mon Mothma believes Perrin has a gambling problem, again... something he promised not to do on Coruscant. The driver, who is an ISB plant, overhears it all, despite being asked to raise the privacy screen and he later reports his findings to ISB supervisor Bliven, who was absent from the series for quite a while. Perrin however doesn't admit to anything and tells Mon Mothma that those are rumours meant to target her, by destroying him. We don't actually know if Perrin does have a gambling problem on Coruscant, so maybe it is a campaign after all. Either way Mon Mothma is less than pleased and quite angry with Perrin. While the ISB would be all too happy if Perrin gets in trouble. Blevin also knows about the suspicious financial transactions. However, knowing what we know it's not impossible that the entire scene between Mon Mothma and Perrin was just a ruse by Mon Mothma (and maybe Perrin) to give the ISB the impression that any shady transactions were made to cover Perrin's gambling debts. As an altenative to the other plan... marrying away Leida to the son of a thug.

Bix watches the funeral procession from her cell

Cassian soon learns that Bix is in Imperial custody. He doesn't really understand why but assumes she must know something. He should know that she's bait and he should also know that she knows a high ranking rebel, more than enough reason to keep her under arrest. Anyway, Cassian immediately decides that Bix needs to be rescued.

The funeral procession for Maarva is quite impressive

The citizens of Ferrix meanwhile perform their elaborate funeral procession for Maarva. The Empire only agreed to this because they hope to catch Andor. Dedra insists that Cassian must be caught alive. She was unhappy before when she learned that the Empire took no prisoners when Kreegyr's rebel cell was entirely wiped out in their ill-fated attack. But she needs and wants Cassian alive. The undercover ISB agent we first saw at the coffee shop with Cinta meets an informant, and it's the same person Cassian owes money to, we met him in the first arc when Cassian had a short dispute with him. He knows Cassian is on Ferrix and wants to get back at him. Later in the episode the agent confronts Cinta, but she immediately stabs him several times, with no mercy, killing him outright. That woman is all business indeed.

Still powerful, even from beyond the grave

We then see the lengthy funeral procession, two slow marching bands eventually join and meet at the wall where Maarva's brick is meant to be added. Cassian uses this distraction to infiltrate the old hotel, since most soldiers and Stormtroopers are guarding the procession. B2EMO eventually plays a holo message Maarva recorded before her death and she gives a rousing speech about the need to wake up and to fight the Empire. The Imperial officer eventually has enough of it and tries to interrupt the funeral.

Brasso's face says it all.

But this intervention is the spark that lights the fire. Brasso is the first to take action and it's not without irony that he uses Maarva's brick to brutally hit an Imperial soldier on the head. And then all hell breaks loose.

Seconds before all hell breaks loose, tense Imperials watch what is happening

The citizens of Ferrix rise up and attack the Imperial soldiers. And Wilmon, the son of the executed Ferrix worker, throws his bomb. The detonation is already quite devastating, but when a crate with thermal detonators goes off the devastation is only worse. This is when the Empire starts shooting back and the killing begins.

Bix is finally saved

Shortly before that Cassian managed to find Bix in an mostly empty hotel. Poor Bix is so traumatized she doesn't even want to leave at first, fearing "they" will be angry, but then the blast goes off and maybe that helps Bix wake up from her stupor. She and Cassian make their escape.

Love at second sight

And funny enough yet another person also needs saving. Dedra, who was watching the funeral for signs of Cassian, is completely out of her depth when all hell breaks loose, the citizens attack the soldiers, the bomb goes off and the Imperials start shooting. She tries to fight, but almost immediately goes to the ground and loses her blaster. Syril, who was also in the crowd, immediately jumps into the fray, grabs Dedra and pulls her to safety. A visibly shaken Dedra is lost for words and merely mutters that she should probably thank Syril. Syril, who has kept his cool throughout the chaos says no thanks are needed. And it seems Dedra and Syril have now entered a new phase in their very weird and strange relationship.

Cassian escorts Bix to a ship that will take her off planet

Bix is escorted to safety by Cassian who leads her to a ship, ready to depart. Brasso also made it, as well as Wilmon, who threw the bomb. Cassian won't go with them, but he promises to find them. And in the first time for weeks we see Bix managing a faint smile, saying that yes, Cassian will always find them. Too bad there can't be any real future for the two of them.

Leida meets her potential husband

We get yet another very short scene on Coruscant in which Perrin and Mon Mothma introduce Leida to her potential husband, a 14-year-old boy. Leida doesn't seem too distressed, but then again, she is a firm supporter of ancient Chandrilan traditions. Let's see where this will go in season 2.

Luthen gets all the heroes he needs in the end

And the final scene is on board of the Fondor, Luthen's ship. Cassian managed to get aboard before Luthen returns and confronts him. Cassian knows Luthen is on Ferrix to kill him, but Cassian then makes Luthen an offer he cannot refuse. He wants to join. His times of drifting aimlessly through the galaxy are over. And after the first season of Andor Cassian is now officially a rebel. Something his mother would be very proud of.

As expected Andor manufactured Death Star components on Narkina 5, as revealed in a post credits scene

And that was the first season of Andor. The finale was as impressive as the entire series. And even amid all the explosions, blaster shots and rescue missions the episode took its time to highlight the characters and to give us yet another great monologue, this time by Maarva who rallies the citizens of Ferrix from beyond the grave with her rousing speech and a reminder that the time to be asleep is over. The sense of foreboding was palpable throughout the episode, the tension was increasing by the minute.

As I said earlier the entire funeral scene is clearly a comment on real world protests all around the world that escalate and are brutally shut down by a police state. And the citizens do not win, many are killed, some manage to escape. But the war is not over yet, this is just yet another shot by the starting gun after the heist on Aldhani.

Syril's "heroic" moment felt earned for him, after a long season of being humiliated by Cassian, his mother and even Dedra, stranded in an office with no bright future, he scraped together some money on the off chance to catch Cassian on Ferrix. Instead he manages to rescue Dedra from the raging Ferrix citizens. No one can say yet what it will mean for season 2, but chances are high that the dynamic between Dedra and Syril will have changed after that. And maybe Syril will get his ISB dream job after all, at the side of the person he's clearly infatuated with. And we saw Dedra being vulnerable for the first time here, in what is symptomatic for many fascists who sit behind desks, debating life and death issues over a coffee break... they crack under pressure and panic when things escalate, many turn out to be cowards even. It's also a perfect bookend to the season, since in the first arc Syril went through the very same thing. Inexperienced, mostly sitting at a desk, he was out of his depth when things went south and was left entirely shell-shocked when Luthen triggered the explosion and Cassian sneaked up on him and pressed him for information. He clearly learned from this. He does keep his cool when things go south this time and rescues Dedra. She will certainly learn from this too.

Very interesting is the scene between Perrin and Mon Mothma. Did Mon Mothma confide a few things to Perrin offscreen? Mon at least knows the driver is a spy and not to be trusted, yet she discusses the gambling problem in the car nonetheless. My feeling is that she wanted the driver to overhear the conversation, maybe in an attempt to explain away certain transactions by Perrin needing the money for gambling debts. It would be a clever ruse and offer an alternative plan to marrying away Leida, even if she's rather keen on getting married at age 15. Now it's possible Perrin knows about the ruse and Mon Mothma opened up to him offscreen... a more sinister possibility is that Mon throws her own husband under the proverbial bus to protect herself. It does shine a new light on Mon Mothma, who turns out to be more like Luthen than many at first may have thought, it seems she's not above sacrificing even her own family for the greater good. Which seems quite cold. Mon is visibly conflicted about all that, she's not a bad person, and given the alternative, certain death and / or complete destruction of the rebellion, since she knows virtually everyone involved in it at least by name, desperate measures may be required. It adds yet another layer to Mon Mothma. Who would have thought that background heroic leader type we saw for a short moment in the Original Trilogy would become such a deep and complex character decades later.

Trouble is also brewing on the Vel/Cinta front, Vel is visibly unhappy about Cinta's all business attitude. My feeling is their tale will not have a happy ending in season 2.

And even Carillion Man got his moment to shine, when he kicked a Stormtrooper off his tower. A well deserved moment for him, we don't know anything about him really, only that he loves his job and no one and nothing will keep him from hammering that anvil, even when it's a signal to rise up.

I am more positive about Bix' future than ever before. Seeing her faintly smile, expressing her confidence and belief in Cassian was quite touching after the ordeal the Empire put her through. Adria Arjona had let it slip before that Bix will be in season 2. Now the question is where her path will lead her. I would not be surprised if she, Brasso and Wilmon join the rebels. Maybe even the lady from the Daughters of Ferrix social club, who is also on the ship. I also feel that Bix may be one of those who survive the series. But we'll see. So far all the main players are still with us, which only makes sense since none of their arcs are even near closure. The question is how that will change next season as we approach the Rogue One timeline.

And while we don't know what exactly it is Luthen thought when he was at the funeral and listened to Maarva's speech, something certainly happened inside of him, the man who abandoned it all. And yet here he listens to a speech by someone who found it all shortly before her death and decided that certain things are worth fighting for, maybe it reminded him of a young(er) Luthen, the Luthen who still had dreams and had not abandoned all of his moral principles in order to fight evil. Or maybe it lit a tiny spark within him, a tiny little sun.

And to further emphasize that many of the best moments in Andor didn't require any words all we get in the final shots are Luthen's satisfied smile and Cassian's subtle sigh of relief when he realizes Luthen won't shoot him after all and wants him on the team as a proper rebel.

Andor was in many ways the best Star Wars on streaming / tv yet. I would even go so far and say that the writing and acting also outshines the movies. The movies are grander, more epic, they are more like fairytales with knights and villains clad in black, larger than life. Andor however is on the ground level, examining the lives of ordinary people who do less than ordinary things because of the circumstances they are thrown into. This grounded version of Star Wars was not met with general enthusiasm, many like or even love the novel (for Star Wars) approach, but many complained about a lack of aliens, lightsabers, space battles and other things you usually see in the movies. 

What I wonder though... what is Star Wars? Is it really just about aliens and Jedi? Space battles? Or is it a political commentary about the rise and fall of dictatorships and the little people who rise up from ordinary circumstances? Luke was the son a moisture farmer. Cassian is a drifter who is stealing to get by . People like Brasso are ordinary workers, trying to get along. Maarva tried to live undercover and in peace. Bix has a workshop and is secretly in contact with the rebels, trying to help her friend Cassian make some money. And then she gets punished for it and experiences what Leia never had to, because the Force shielded her mind, actual torture. They all are on the same hero's journey as Luke or Leia . But I argue that they are maybe more courageous, since they don't have special powers or voices in their heads telling them what to do. Where A New Hope is about the rebellion from the larger than life hero's point of view, Andor is the very same story, only about the ordinary everyday heroes who made Luke's destruction of the Death Star possible to begin with. And in that way Andor is as much Star Wars as any of the movies. Because Star Wars is not just aliens, blasters and lightsabers, those things are window dressing. The core of Star Wars always has been the hero's journey, rise, downfall and eventual redemption of flawed characters, the fight for democracy and against tyranny. Something that is as relevant today as it was 45 years ago. Andor is Star Wars. Star Wars for the 21st century.

I give the finale 5 holocrons. The entire season is 4.5 holocrons.

Added: November 23, 2022
Category: Andor
Reviewer: Thomas
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