Andor Season 1 Ending Explained: The Rebellion Rises

It was all leading to this. Throughout season 1 of "Andor," creator Tony Gilroy and his team of writers and directors have intricately weaved a tale of rebellion and revolution right alongside an origin story for Diego Luna's Cassian Andor — one that few fans ever thought would feel necessary, despite being introduced as one of the most fascinating (and mystifying) characters in 2016's "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." But rather than deliver yet another formless lump of "content" that hit all the familiar narrative beats without ever giving us anything new, this prequel series took the radical approach of having something meaningful on its mind at all times. In effect, "Andor" pushed the boundaries of what "Star Wars" can truly be ... when placed in the hands of committed filmmakers with the right priorities, that is.

The season 1 finale, titled "Rix Road," ultimately proved to be a microcosm of the show's season-long reliance on true-blue storytelling. Like the last act of a blockbuster film that ties together all the main thematic concerns of the story, the final episode of "Andor" season 1 (along with those leading up to it) succinctly paid off on the arcs of several supporting characters, wrapped up various plot threads that had grown more and more complex, and even found room to unleash the first significant, collective act of rebellion that the Empire has ever seen — all while three separate factions painted a target on the back of Cassian.

At the start of the hour, Andor is still as he ever was: a man on the run. By the end, the haunting words of three ghosts from his past, the brutal oppression of the Empire on his (adopted) homeworld, and a much-needed spark thrown into a powder keg just waiting to blow all add up to a rebel ready to take his biggest step yet into leading a revolution.

'Eyes open, possibilities everywhere'

The early portions of episode 12 lay out reason after reason for why it'd be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad decision for Cassian to make his way back to Ferrix on account of Maarva's (Fiona Shaw) death. The Imperial occupiers are baiting the trap, Andor's closest friends worry about what he'll do next, and one even forms a plan to betray him for a bounty.

So, of course, Cassian ignores all of this and returns to his home planet anyway — though not before paying a visit to one of the most influential figures in his life. His late father Clem (Gary Beadle) hasn't played nearly as large a role as Maarva, but his impact on Cassian has certainly been felt, if not seen. While visiting the commemorative brick that serves as Clem's tombstone, Cassian thinks back to an old childhood memory where his adoptive dad taught him about the importance of keeping his eyes open, finding value where others would ignore it, and staying open to the possibilities around him.

Meanwhile, as Cassian receives a much-needed dose of emotional grounding, Ferrix sleeps ... or appears to be, at least. Unbeknownst to most, tension continues to simmer beneath the surface. Young Wilmon Paak (Muhannad Bhaier), the teenager whose father Salman (Abhin Galeya) was hung by Stormtroopers as an example of what happens to Rebel sympathizers, works feverishly to craft what turns out to be a powerful homemade explosive. Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) and her Imperial officers hurriedly lay their trap to capture Andor should he dare show up to Maarva's funeral procession. And all the while, Andor's former Rebel allies led by Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård) lie in wait, ready to tie off a loose end by killing Cassian.

Something has to give.

'The smallest act of insurrection'

Like any effective finale, "Rix Road" operates as a pressure cooker that heightens the tension to almost unbearable levels before something finally snaps. Having discovered that Bix (Adria Arjona) is now under Imperial custody and that the situation on Ferrix is direr than he ever thought, Cassian seeks solace — or further inspiration — in the manifesto left behind by the late Nemik (Alex Lawther), the idealistic soldier killed during the Aldhani heist. At this low point, with the Empire at the height of their power and freedom seeming like a distant fantasy, Nemik's passionate screed lights a fire under Andor in a way that nothing else could.

"Remember that the frontier of the Rebellion is everywhere. And even the smallest act of insurrection pushes our lines forward."

For Andor, answering this call to arms is as simple as resolving to break Bix out from under Imperial torture. For Andor's friend Brasso (Joplin Sibtain), that means organizing and leading the funeral procession for Maarva through Empire-controlled streets. And for Wilmon Paak, it means unknowingly channeling all of Nemik's words and putting them into fiery action at a pivotal moment in the clash between Ferrix rioters and their Imperial oppressors.

For all the enemy's well-laid plans, squeezing the life out of ordinary people until they have no fight left in them (as we saw on Aldhani in previous episodes), it takes the collective action of one small town on a backwater planet, united by grief over a beloved local leader and her final blistering monologue, to put a crack in the Empire's previously impenetrable armor.

'Fight the Empire'

There are many ways to gauge the success of "Andor," but perhaps none quite captures the creative reset of the show quite like this: The driving force of the finale doesn't rely on last-minute cameos of legacy characters, crossovers with other ongoing shows, or any other trick in the arsenal of recent "Star Wars" shows. Instead, one of the most impressive "Star Wars" productions in years boils down to a funeral for a character we didn't even know about a few short weeks ago. And what's more, it makes perfect emotional and narrative sense.

Once Maarva's procession begins in earnest little more than halfway through the episode, accompanied by the mournful melody of Ferrix's instrument band and directly opposed by a battalion of Stormtroopers who mostly resemble heavily-armored riot cops, it becomes only a matter of time before the show's consistent exploration of rebellion comes to a head. Though we briefly check in on other ongoing subplots, like Mon Mothma's (Genevieve O'Reilly) ongoing money crisis, the focus remains squarely on Ferrix and the conflict that becomes the first shot fired in the Galactic Civil War. And the lion's share of credit goes to the late Maarva, who lived the twilight years of her life itching to strike back against the Empire and make a difference.

Buoyed by her holographic speech recorded before her passing, we watch in real-time as the citizens of Ferrix take her words to heart and fan the flames of a violent insurrection. When the dam finally breaks, the finale unleashes one of the most cathartic and thrilling action sequences in all of franchise history as we struggle to keep up with all the main characters caught up in the chaos.

Live to fight another day

As the prequel trilogy showed us, the Empire wasn't built in a day ... and as we see in "Andor," it won't be overthrown in a day, either. When violence breaks out on Ferrix between masses of civilians and the Imperial garrison, it's with the understanding that this is only the first step towards a full-fledged Rebellion. At this point, Andor's chief concern isn't freeing the galaxy or righting wrongs, but surviving long enough to see his friends shuttled off to safety while he deals with some loose ends of his own. While Dedra Meero and the irritatingly persistent Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) make it through the fight (mostly) unscathed, implicitly promising more sinister appearances to come in season 2, Cassian confronts the relentless Luthen and puts his own fate in his hands.

We know from "Rogue One" that Andor has to survive this encounter, but it speaks to the writing of the show in the moment that it feels as if Cassian is in genuine danger when he offers up his blaster to Luthen. Thanks to his prison experiences, the future Rebel officer finally seems to tire of always running away and hiding in the shadows anonymously. Making his final stand pays off when his mentor-turned-enemy offers up a lighthearted scoff and a rueful smile at Andor's moxie. If anyone knows how valuable that someone with Andor's fearlessness could be to the Rebellion, it's Luthen. With season 2 set to take any number of fascinating directions, the path to Andor's commitment to the revolutionary cause seems clearer and closer than ever before.

By intertwining one character's emotional arc from a self-centered nobody to a leader in his own right with the beginnings of the Rebellion, "Andor" has exceeded expectations and set a whole new bar for "Star Wars" storytelling.

Season 1 of "Andor" is now available to stream in its entirety on Disney+.