Aldhani’s robbery forced everyone to choose a side of the rebellion

In the fourth episode of Andor“Aldhani”, Cassian (Diego Luna) mentioned his desire not to have to look over his shoulder forever as a reason for not joining Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgard) in the Rebellion. Three episodes later, “Announcements” shows us how well things are going for him. In the aftermath of the attack on the Imperial garrison at Aldhani, Cassian took the money owed to him and set about paying the debts he incurred when he fled from Ferrix. He insists on trying to keep a low profile and keep his head down, but it proves difficult to maintain.

What Cassian obviously didn’t see was the context in which he lives. As the Empire clenches its fist around the galaxy, people are gradually losing more freedom and basic rights, and Aldhani has only made matters worse. People everywhere are being arrested for simply looking sideways at stormtroopers or just looking suspicious. Cassian, of course, had many reasons to look over his shoulder, such as the Morlana One murders, the Ferrix incident, and now the Aldhani attack as well. What he still doesn’t understand is that, in times like these, it’s simply impossible to stay neutral, no matter how hard you try.


There’s nowhere to hide in the Empire galaxy

What happened on Aldhani in the last episode had repercussions across the galaxy. The plan made by Vel Sartha (Faye Marsay) and his band of ragtag rebels encountered many problems, but were always considered a success by Luthen because his goal was not just to steal a quarterly payroll for an entire Imperial sector. It was to make an announcement. It was the first time the Empire had seen its power challenged in such a public way, visible to all. For them, it was embarrassing and showed vulnerability, which simply cannot happen in a regime that perpetuates itself on the basis of fear.

One of the opening scenes in the last episode shows the head of the Imperial Security Bureau (ISB), Colonel Wullf Yularen (Malcolm Sinclair), telling his agents and supervisors that they now all have carte blanche to operate as they see fit in order to prevent new threats against Imperial authority from ever arising. To do this, a new set of policies and guidelines have been implemented by Emperor Palpatine himself, a set that looks a lot like the Patriot Act in space. So it’s not just opposition politicians like Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) who find themselves under surveillance, it is every citizen, everywhere.

At first Cassian may think it won’t make much of a difference to him when it really is the other way around. The first arc of Andor showed us precisely the importance of taking sides and protecting one’s community against an overwhelming foreign force. We saw that in Kenari as much as in Ferrix, in fact. Sometimes you can even know that you will lose the fight, but there are always alternatives to the fight, because Alec Guinness‘Obi-Wan Kenobi put it so well in A new hope.

For the people of Ferrix, that alternative is resistance. A silent and weary resistance, but nevertheless active. When Cassian sees Maarva explicitly taking sides and refusing to run off with him, he doesn’t really understand how she can do that, or even why it matters. We still have a lot to learn about Maarva’s past, but we do know that she was one of the key elements in Cassian’s upbringing and spy experience. She taught him the basics of hiding in plain sight and protecting his identity.

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By not making a choice, you side with the oppressors

Unfortunately, choosing the side of the oppressor is extremely easy, as it only requires inaction. You don’t have to wrap yourself in banners, carry signs or protest defiantly. You just don’t do anything. While this is happening, the oppressor takes its time to further establish itself as the dominant system and eliminate the opposition. You could even say that “if you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about”, but that’s not really how it works when it comes to pushing. “Doing nothing wrong” is simply keeping their heads down as injustice is perpetrated around them. That’s an extremely selfish thing to say, especially if you’ve ever lived through an authoritarian regime.

Cassian is slowly learning this lesson. In Aldhani, his exchanges with Nemik (Alex Lawther) was a good first step, but he still needs to find the impetus for the big leap towards becoming a freedom fighter that we all know he will eventually take. His arrest should be another step in that direction, as he was detained for the only crime he did not commit. Even if he looks extremely suspicious, that should never be a reason to arrest anyone.

Rebellion will force Cassian to take sides

Although he was raised by two people with strong political opinions, Cassian still hesitates in the face of situations of injustice. An important scene in “Ads” was the flashback of his father Clem (Gary Beadle) execution. As the two of them watch a military parade in Ferrix, someone shouts, “Vive la République”, which means that despite the Phase 2 clone white armor, it was actually the beginning of the Republic. ‘Empire. Someone was rising up against this newly instituted oppression and was soon to pay the ultimate price. Clem attempted to intervene, only to be mistaken for the person who threw the stone and ended up being executed.

We are wired to instantly see two equal parts when a conflict situation arises, so the most common reflex is to put the rock-throwing protester on the same level as the armored and armed stormtrooper. Aggression is never the way to go, and it goes without saying that no stone should have been thrown in the first place. But once that was the case, it is clear that the civilian on the street is no match for a military force.

Cassian still doesn’t fully understand what happened. What Clem was doing wasn’t trying to find common ground or apologizing to anyone, he was trying to prevent the bloodshed. He took sides. He was trying to save that person, and if the oppressor has guns and is willing to use them, preventing death is a powerful act of resistance. This happened as the Empire was establishing its structure and oppression, now that it has a firm grip on the galaxy, Cassian better learn his lesson sooner rather than later and choose a side.

About Dianne Stinson

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