Andor Episode 4 “Aldhani” Review
Following up Andor’s premiere on Disney+, Diego Luna’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hero returns this week to the streaming platform with a lot less action and a lot more world-building–but don’t take that as automatically being bad! As Andor enters its second three-part story arc, episode four, “Aldhani,” keeps the audience invested with the political disruptions happening in the Imperial capital of Coruscant and the action plans brewing on a new planet. In “Aldhani,” Cassian is surprisingly overshadowed by Mon Mothma (played by Genevieve O’Reilly), yet both Star Wars veterans bring even more potential to Andor’s future.
Taking place directly after the events of episode three “Reckoning,” Andor’s fourth chapter follows Cassian Andor as he gives into Luthen Rael’s dangerous work offer with barely any hesitation. Left with no options after leaving his home in a state of sudden danger, Cassian willingly prepares to help infiltrate an Imperial garrison on the quiet planet of Aldhani with a group of Rebels who need more hands. Meanwhile, Luthen heads to Courscant to meet with Mon Mothma, a character long-time Star Wars fans will instantly recognize for her role throughout the original saga and Legends canon before Disney’s ownership.
Mon Mothma is arguably one of the most important Star Wars characters viewers have never gotten the time to know. First introduced in 1983’s Return of the Jedi, the Rebel Alliance leader has been featured in a ridiculous amount of Star Wars media but has never received her own true spotlight. Mothma is supposed to be the spearheading figure of the rebellion leadership that opposes the Galactic Empire, yet she is never portrayed in the movies as anyone of significance—her importance in the original Star Wars trilogy boiled down to a single moment where she explains the Rebel Alliance’s plan to destroy the second Death Star and eliminate the Emperor in the process. Mothma briefly appears in the prequel trilogy and Rogue One, but this is the first notable instance where the character’s role feels purposeful.
As significant as the Rebel Alliance is, many of the intricacies behind the group have never actually been explained on-screen in a Star Wars film or television show. Since A New Hope, it was clear from the opening scene that the small group of fighters looking to overthrow the Empire had some political standing in their universe. The Rebel Alliance evidently needed volunteers to aid their cause, and the organization was secretly backed by many allies in the shadows, whether that be soldiers, scoundrels, or Jedi. Andor’s fourth episode dips its toes into how the Rebel Alliance continually evades the Empire’s notion as Mothma engages in plenty of politics and eventually meets up with her old acquaintance Luthen to discuss secret funding exchanges and their current standings within the public.
To the surprise of many viewers, Genevieve O’Reilly instantly becomes one of Andor’s greatest highlights so far as she turns her short Rogue One appearance into a fleshed-out character. Like the show’s premiere, Andor’s fourth episode is able to give Mon Mothma a staggering amount of characterization and depth as the high-ranking official challenges the Empire amidst being under a sharp watch. Some of the politics surrounding Mothma range from engaging to slightly boring as the more time-consuming world-building conversations can become overdrawn or a tad over-explained, but with every moment O’Reilly is giving a captivating performance. Even when political Star Wars jargon is being thrown around, Mothma’s conversations answer long-asked storytelling questions regarding the original trilogy. Between her visits to the offices of other Imperial officials to her interactions with her husband, the episode constantly feels as if viewers are getting a substantial look into the current state of Coruscant and the life of Mothma before she was able to lead the Rebels to victory.
In comparison to the conversations Mothma has with her fellow Imperial officials though, her interactions with Luthen Rael outshine every prior on-screen discussion the character partakes in. The second the two are placed together in the same room, Genevieve O’Reilly and Stellan Skarsgård flaunt a great chemistry. For the short time they have together, the two are able to add significant stakes to the story of Andor that is happening far from the title character’s current endeavors. From the placement of the security guards to their approach of trying to sell a secret conversation as nothing but business chatter, Andor’s fourth episode does an excellent job putting Mothma and Luthen under pressure as they lay the groundwork for the future of the Rebel Alliance. Even though they are not under blaster fire and we know Mothma’s fate, you can’t help but feel as if these two are in far greater danger than they are aware. For a prequel, Andor needs large stakes, and episode four delivers on starting to give that to viewers.
Of course, this is a show about Cassian Andor–he is the character the audience is supposed to care about most. While Cassian’s journey to the new planet Aldhani with Luthen has been sidelined in favor of Mothma’s introduction, the beginning of the guerrilla fighter’s tale still holds its ground as Diego Luna comes into contact with his first big group of desperate allies. For a series that is 12 episodes long and with Lucasfilm already working on a second season, the spotlight being pulled from Diego Luna feels justified as the show has to eventually place the character in a compelling standpoint that will push him to give his life to the Rebel Alliance’s cause. The introduction of the small Rebellion group works even if episode four feels as if it should have a better balance between its politics and war plans.
On a side note, does anyone else find it ironic that the episode title is called “Aldhani,” yet the vast majority of the episode’s runtime is spent on the planet Coruscant? That’s just a nitpick, but it is an odd choice, nonetheless.
Andor’s fourth episode, “Aldhani,” does a great job in terms of getting a head start on building a foundation for the inevitable conflict between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire to erupt on. Episode four may take its time laying the groundwork for Mon Mothma’s role in the Rebellion and her relationship with Luthen and the Empire, but it never fails to leave the audience with captivating ideas that will hopefully all be utilized in Andor’s upcoming episodes. There is nothing wrong with a focus on world-building as long as the narrative allows viewers to explore areas of the Star Wars galaxy that they are yet to explore and want to explore. Andor’s placement in an intermission period between Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One has allowed the series to enter a gateway of some unexplored Star Wars ideas. Andor should be using them, and so far the show appears to recognize that.