Like so many who write about it, Star Wars means an awful lot to me personally. Yes, I was there – as a youngling the age of eleven – to see the very first motion picture when it launched theatrically back in 1977. As you can imagine, nostalgia practically beckons that I continue to stoke the flame lit over four and one-half decades ago; while it may not burn as brightly with some of these installments, I still felt impelled to sound off on “The Eye,” the fateful sixth part of its inaugural season. There were some highs and lows – some of which relate to what I perceive as character weaknesses – but I’ll dispense with the preamble and get down to the business at hand.
Without doing any comprehensive plot review (which all too many writers these days think is a requirement of talking about any show), let me say simply that “The Eye” functions as a bit of a bank caper: Andor and this (ahem) merry band of rebels have finally arrived to carry out their mission of absconding with what we’ve been told is an entire Imperial payroll. Though we’ve never been given any specific reason that the money is needed, it’s safe (I think) to suggest that we’re looking at the very funds that might be used to put the Rebel Alliance into high gear. After all, funds are required for any adventure, and this impressive haul might be good enough to set up the galaxy’s opposition forces in their fledgling days.
Andor himself continues to prove (as I’ve suggested) he’s quite possibly one of the weakest creations in all of the Star Wars pantheon of characters. While the show has offered up a loose kinda/sorta origin, the only thing these writers are clearly toying with is that he’s an immeasurably angry person. In fact, he’ll occasional stop at nothing – even killing in cold blood – if that means he can advance himself personally in the galaxy far, far away; and the hour even ends with him displaying yet again that he owes allegiance to no man, no woman, and no cause. It would seem he joined this action because he had no other choice; no that it’s done, he’s taking what’s his and getting out.
I don’t think that should necessarily come as any surprise. I have read some commentary and reviews about him – critics still seem to be very smitten with Diego Luna’s work in this somewhat politically-charged escapade – and I’m at a loss to understand why. All he’s shown me are some piloting skills, an affinity with a blaster, and an endless supply of anger. Everything – it would seem – makes him angry. Though we have seen incidents of his early life that may’ve given such resentment just cause, I don’t personally believe I’ve seen enough to justify his constant rage. Constant distrust? Sure. But never-ending fury? Sorry, folks, but I’m at a loss.
Early episodes hinted that there was something involving his “sister.” That thread, at this point, seems to have disappeared; and perhaps – when it rears its head again – that plotline might present the context I feel the show is currently lacking. While I probably enjoy a bit of mystery like anyone else, I do appreciate knowing just where personal motivations come from … and Andor – the man and the show – I’m just finding a mixed bag.
Visually, yes, “The Eye” was pretty arresting.
Also, the episode gave us a return to action, coupled against the backdrop of a celestial event that lit up the sky “with all the colors of the rainbow” (to borrow a phrase from another Disney property). Andor piloted the getaway ship right up into this galactic storm, and somehow he managed to escape while considerably smaller ships were pulverized in the process. Yes, yes, yes: I realize that there was the suggestion that Nemik was using some old school technology that apparently the Empire no longer understands. It still felt a bit too convenient – perhaps a bit too clever – and more likely a scriptwriter’s invention than anything authentic.
However, the hour also offered one of the show’s most uneven character moments to date.
One of the fallen rebels, Karis Nemik, is in dire need to medical assistance after nearly being crushed by a pushcart weighed down in Imperial credits. After their “fearless leader” Vel Sartha insists that they let him die, it’s Skeen – someone who has previously been played as about as untrustworthy as a henchman can be – who practically demands they do everything possible to save the young man. While it’s ultimately a decision Andor makes, this was still Skeen’s moment, I think, when he was finally given a bit of depth.
Lo and behold, the very next scene served up in the story had Skeen advocating for he and Andor to abscond with the stolen loot, leaving everyone behind to be caught, killed, or incarcerated.
Erm … hello?
Wasn’t this the guy who was just willing to risk it all to save Nemik?
And now he couldn’t care less?
Am I even watching the same show right now?
It’s these narrative moments that kinda/sorta belie logic that have me struggling with all of Andor. A throwaway line here or there could’ve easily been inserted – it could’ve been something as simple as Skeen suggesting privately to the paid mercenary that he wanted to use this medical emergency as a distraction so that they could now break away – but no such indication came. Before you know it – hell, before you knew for certain that maybe this Skeen just testing the pilot (something he’s done repeatedly throughout their uneasy partnership – Andor blasts him dead. Just like that. Boom. Here one moment. Gone the next. I guess that’s what you get for being inconsistent.
There were a few other similar narrative hiccups, and yet I don’t feel the point in belaboring them. (Well, except I did think the point of this mission was to rob the entire vault, so why did they spend so much time only stealing a fraction of it? And maybe why was it that no one at the Imperial base questioned the arrival of an all-new unexpected squadron of troopers? And what was up with the on-again, off-again jamming of the radios?) Like it or not, these minor failings do affect how some viewers see the show; and the fact that its pacing has been pretty dreadful doesn’t bode well, either. Splash, action, accents, antics, and visuals can only take one so far … but that’s about all Andor has left in its tank at this point.