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Andor Episode 5 Review: “The Axe Forgets”

Andor Episode 5 “The Axe Forgets” Spoilers Ahead

still from Andor Episode 5 "The Axe Forgets"
©Disney Plus | Lucasfilm Ltd.

“The Axe Forgets” is the calm before the storm, the quiet episode that takes time to analyze each person’s motivation for the ensuing fight. Instead of relying on action scenes, Andor creates suspense in the pacing and the intimacy by which we continue to peel back the layers of these characters. This is the most vulnerable place for Cassian and these characters to be in before the action presumably explodes in Episode 6. 

As the planned heist looms overhead, the tension within Vel and her crew build. From Cassian’s introduction as “Clem,” the crew, mainly Skeen, has been on edge with the last-minute addition. As we learn, Skeen has his own scars (and tattoos) he carries that makes him wary of trusting anyone. When it comes to their covert affairs, it’s safer to trust no one, but it doesn’t help when you need to work with a team in order to accomplish a goal.

Skeen and Cassian Andor talking in Andor Episode 5 "The Axe Forgets"
©Disney Plus | Lucasfilm Ltd.

When Skeen’s suspicions of Cassian reach a boiling point by holding a knife to Cassian’s neck and taking the sky kyber from him, Cassian takes the first step to gain the crew’s trust by being honest about his motivations for being there — money. For him, he is a mercenary following through on a mission for credits promised to him at the end of the road. He calls out Skeen and the crew for not being honest about their fears versus losing their nerve; what Cassian and Vel’s crew are doing is dangerous.

By sharing what’s driving Cassian, the crew has to look at themselves and recognize their motivations for going through with this plan. For Gorn, he lost the woman he loved after he was demoted from his position and, thus, lost interest in serving the Empire. For Skeen, it’s avenging his brother who died at the hands of an Imperial prefect, revealing this to Cassian as his way of apologizing for putting a knife to his neck. Cassian’s honesty allows the crew a moment of vulnerability before they face what awaits them at the Imperial base. Though he still hasn’t revealed his real name to the team, Cassian has earned enough trust from his team.

This episode’s title comes from Skeen’s phrase: “The axe forgets, but the tree remembers; now it’s our turn to do the chopping.” For too long, Cassian, Skeen, and the galaxy have faced horrors brought on by the Empire that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. The Empire barely recalls its damage in the effort to bring about order. This planned heist, and by extension the Rebellion, is the people’s way of pulling the axe out of their oppressors’ hands.

Syril in Andor 1x05
©Disney Plus | Lucasfilm Ltd.

Further, depending on your relationship with your family, living at home can be the best or the stuff of nightmares. The latter is the case for Syril Kern when he moves back in with his mother after losing his job. From the moment she opens the door to him, Syril is berated by Eedy for losing his job, doubting his abilities to secure a new position for himself without help.

Even when he was doing well for himself, she couldn’t be bothered to visit him and his spare guest room for her. It’s abundantly clear how Syril found his Imperial position as an escape from the criticisms he faced at home. Now, with Uncle Harlo mulling over what role Syril is best suited for, Syril is stewing over his failed attempt to capture Cassian. His escape from his current predicament isn’t a new job from an uncaring mother and uncle but through finishing what he started and bringing Cassian in.

Mon Mathma in Andor Episode 5 "The Axe Forgets"
©Disney Plus | Lucasfilm Ltd.

Meanwhile, on the other side of Coruscant, Mon Mothma’s home life isn’t much better than Syril’s. In “Aldhani,” we see that Perrin, her husband, is unsupportive of his wife and her wishes; in Andor Episode 5, “The Axe Forgets,” audiences see that Mon Mothma lacks the support of her daughter, Leida, as well. When she attempts to give her daughter a ride, Leida lashes out at her mother, claiming that her mom wants nothing to do with her and that it’s all about putting on a show.

Mon Mothma is visibly upset by this, and her husband does nothing to help the situation. Where Syril has a discouraging mother, Mon Mothma has a discouraging family. It’s evident that Mon Mothma is her own island, trying to support a rebellion under the guise of her enemies and the people nearest to her. 

There’s a price to be paid for doing the right thing. The stakes are high for everyone involved. For Mon Mothma, it’s her family and her freedom at stake. For Vel and her crew, their lives are on the line. In fact, Cassian tells Skeen early in the episode that he’s trying to win and walk away, to which Skeen responds, “wouldn’t that be lovely?” Rogue One didn’t pull punches when everyone died on Scarif, and what’s to stop Andor from doing the same thing? People lose and don’t live to fight another day in battles like this, especially in the Guerilla warfare tactics from various rebellion factions. There are lives on the line for the crew of seven; there’s nothing Luthen can do from his gallery in Coruscant to help them now. 

Stellan Skarsgård in Andor Season 1
©Disney Plus | Lucasfilm Ltd.

Andor Episode 5 is the last moment before everything changes. The pieces are set, and plans are in motion. At the end of “The Axe Forgets,” Kleya tries to assure Luthen that it will all be over by the following evening, but Luthen gravely responds, “Or it’ll just be starting.” Though, in context, Luthen is talking about the Rebellion really taking off, I think it could be aptly applied to Cassian Andor. 

For Cassian, the heist is just that — a heist where he’ll get paid for his services at the end of it. However, this heist could be more for him. It could be the start of his fight for the cause, for a hope that the Empire’s reign is beginning to end and peace could once again be restored to the galaxy. Because we know the end result of Cassian’s journey, we know this impactful moment is coming. Episodes like “The Axe Forgets” allow audiences to watch Cassian’s evolution unfold, making the inevitable payoff of joining the Rebel forces more meaningful and, hopefully, satisfying.

Now streaming on Disney Plus: What are your thoughts on Andor Episode 5 “The Axe Forgets?” Let us know in the comments below.

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