Star Wars Explained is our ongoing series, where we delve into the latest Star Wars shows, movies, trailers, and news stories to divine the franchise’s future. This entry examines Andor Episode 12 and how Cassian takes the reigns of his own destiny.
We gotta start with the stinger. The end credits scene is usually Marvel’s thing, but Lucasfilm has been known to dabble (see The Mandalorian‘s second-season spin-off stunner). We were not expecting one in Star Wars: Andor, but its reveal speaks more to Cassian’s character and fate than the possibility of franchise expansion or some such bollocks.
The camera pulls back from several tinkering droids. They’re installing gizmos into a space-docked heptagonal array. The heptagonal array. Immediately, we recognize the construction and the puzzle pieces it’s made from. The key ingredients in the Death Star recipe are the previously meaningless machinery Cassian (Diego Luna) and his fellow Narkina 5 inmates were unwittingly and forcibly fabricating. The sensation Andor leaves its viewers with is one prequel fans have nearly become numb toward – dread.
The sci-fi weapon of mass destruction hovered over the entire season. We’ve seen Rogue One. We know Cassian’s story ends under the Death Star’s obliterating beam as much as it does with him providing the crucial information to bring it down eventually. The totally-not-a-moon’s reveal during Andor‘s last sequence is less a “dun-dun-dunnn” and more a “damn.”
Confirmation of Cassian’s unconscious role in building the Death Star solidifies his destiny. It plays into showrunner Tony Gilroy‘s prequel philosophy. The sequel never comes for us. The prequel is the path we’re all walking, and pressed to our heads is a blaster about to fire. The end is inevitable. As Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård) viciously expounded to his Imperial spy two episodes ago, we’re always fighting for a future we’ll never see.
Cassian’s death extending from his actions rhymes beautifully with Andor Episode 12’s proper climactic sequence, where he places another annihilating device in Luthen’s hand. As all parties expected, Cassian returned to Ferrix to attend Maarva (Fiona Shaw)’s funeral. While he skulks in the sewers below, Luthen’s rebels and the Imperials hunt for the Narkina 5 escapee. The Rebel leader would prefer Cassian to meet his end before the Empire gets their torturous mitts on him.
Cassian spots Luthen first. Instinctively, he knows why the Machiavellian brute has freed himself from the shadows for a bit. Cassian knows too much. He could cause trouble for the greater good. It’s best to accept him as collateral damage as quickly as possible.
While all eyes turn to the riot about to happen on Rix Road, Cassian rescues Bix (Adria Arjona) from her cell, eventually reuniting with Brass0 (Joplin Sibtain), B2EMO (Dave Chapman), and Jezzi (Pamela Nomvete). He secures them in a starcraft set to GTFO, but his little droid buddy sputters a plea for him to join them. Cassian denies him and us the pleasure. He requests B to look after Bix and reassures the best good boy that he always comes through. Cassian then puts his back to them and jets in the opposite direction.
Like everyone on Rix Road, Luthen barely made it out of the ruckus. Even more disappointing, he failed to sink his claws into Cassian. Crestfallen, the damned man returns to his ship and finds Cassian waiting for him.
“You came here to kill me, didn’t you?” asks Cassian.
“You don’t make it easy,” says Luthen.
“I will now.”
Cassian eyes his blaster left within Luthen’s reach. Earlier in the season, Luthen told Cassian that special people were hard to find. He didn’t want Cassian to waste his talents for simplistic, selfish gain. His cause could be Cassian’s cause, or he could simply accept a mercenary’s fee.
The Aldhani heist led by Cassian lit a spark in Maarva. He desperately wanted to explain his role in the endeavor and how it was not a big heroic action but a cheap grab for quick cash. At least from his perspective. In their last meeting, Cassian couldn’t bare to reveal himself to her or rob her of the righteous fire now burning within. Instead, he left her heartful and heart-strong. The action stirred her to stand in Rix Road, posthumously and holographically, at the same square where her husband met his finality at the end of an Imperial rope. Her last words stir those gathered in her procession to rise against their oppressors.
As Maarva found purpose in the wake of Aldhani, so did Cassian while imprisoned on Narkina 5. The skills he honed on Ferrix forged him into the perfect instrument to topple the brittle system. The violent injustices perpetrated upon Cassian crystalized the ricocheting echo of Maarva’s last words. Her righteousness bored the apathy from his being, allowing Nemik’s manifesto to rush in and fill the void. The dead Rebel’s words become a gospel he’s now ready to accept. Cassian’s abilities, mixed with Maarva and Nemik’s principles, transform him into Luthen’s kind of special. And it brings a smile to the madman pulling the strings.
Andor Episode 12 cuts to black in a fashion that would be deemed a cliffhanger in any other series. With Rogue One as our endpoint, we’re certain Luthen accepts Cassian into his Rebel fold. The boy has given his life to Luthen. Such willingness to accept a position as a pawn is the only way Luthen would grant anyone access to his inner circle.
Cassian’s life and death were always tied to the Death Star, which is the ultimate manifestation of the Empire. Before, he could survive merely by hating its oppression. However, throughout Andor‘s first season, he witnessed how small assaults against their seemingly impenetrable might could create cracks. Apply a little more pressure; the Empire could shatter like the prison fortress that briefly housed him.
By accidentally inspiring Maarva and the Narkina 5 inmates, Cassian accepts the possibility of inspiration happening to him. He is no longer a passive player. He’s a man of action, utterly aware of the blaster hanging above him. The mission going forward is to wrestle Palpatine’s finger from the trigger and replace it with his own digit. He’s gonna go out, but it will be on his terms.
Star Wars: Andor Episode 12 is now streaming on Disney+.