The death of one of the series’ most standout characters was a fitting end that leaves a lasting legacy for the rest of the show to come.
Following the show patiently building up to what proved to be its best episode yet, we got to see the small group of rebels at the heart of Andor finally pull off their meticulously planned heist in the fittingly titled “The Eye.” While it proved to be a visually stunning episode that revealed much about the vulnerability of the Empire, not all went off without a hitch and the cost was high with the operation ending with multiple deaths. Even as Star Wars has always had significant characters die, a fate that also awaits Cassian (Diego Luna) in the future, there was one particular figure whose life and demise felt more impactful than any of them.
Karis Nemik (Alex Lawther) was the youngest of the group, yet also he was the most committed member. We first met him just a couple of episodes ago when he had fallen asleep on his watch and was awoken by the now tragically fortuitous line “everyone’s dead.” Jokingly described by viewers as being a “cute philosophy boy,” he had been writing a manifesto about the importance of the rebellion that he will now never see the end result of. It was in these brief yet incisive reflections on the way the world has fallen into the darkness to his last-minute nervousness about the mission that we discovered a dynamic character even as we had only just been getting to know him. He spoke more clearly than any other person has in the series to date and, perhaps inevitably, was not long for this world. A couple of particular monologues he gave about how the Empire sought to overwhelm those under its control with atrocity after atrocity and how they could still then strike from below where they were overlooked proved to be standouts. It didn’t feel like we were watching typical Star Wars Pillow and instead became something far more reflective. His death now carries that much more meaning because of what he represented to this movement that he ultimately gave everything for.
Alex Lawther Added Depth to Nemik’s Character
Much of this is a credit to Lawther who brought the character to life with a more understated and almost innocent disposition even as he was part of a rather dire operation. Nemik was multifaceted in a way that became increasingly melancholic as we saw how the harsh world was one he understood enough to break down yet this was not enough to protect him from dying as he sought to change it. The panic we hear in his voice as he knows death is coming is then crossed with the determination in his final words as he gets Cassian to trust him in listening to his navigation with the bright kaleidoscope of The Eye spiraling around them. It was a great sequence of final scenes for Lawther as he threw himself completely into taking us through the last rush of emotions before his character would perish. The pain of this loss was tempered with the vibrancy of what Nemik managed to achieve in the last moments of his life. He saved the remainder of his fellow rebels even as he was never going to make it and capped off a tense heist of an episode in a truthfully triumphant yet tragic fashion.
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While much of this comes from a great performance, there also is much that is worth praising in how subtle and somber the writing of the story itself is. While we could feel that the mission would go wrong and losses would occur, the execution of how it all played out was as refreshing as it was riveting. The scene of Nemik’s death was devastating precisely because of how he didn’t go out in some blaze of glory. After all the preparation and thought that got put into the operation, he just got unlucky by standing in the wrong place on takeoff. That he was so close to escaping with the rest of the rebels only makes it all the more painful as he gets pinned underneath their spoils. He was able to fight through this just enough to assist, but he could not outrun his impending death. All of his deeply held beliefs and aspirations were then dashed in the blink of an eye as he was beyond saving. That is the risk of undertaking something like this and Nemik could not have gone out any other way. A more conventional “hero’s death” would have not only felt wrong for this story, it just wouldn’t be true to what could actually happen on a mission like this. Fighting against an oppressive force can certainly be liberating, but that doesn’t mean it is any less difficult to do. There is no thrill to be found in it that isn’t crossed with absolute terror. However sad it is to say this, it is unlikely that many will remember what happened to Nemik. Not only are many of those that were with him now dead as well, but the survivors are also living on borrowed time.
Foremost of these is Cassian who, after a bleak scene where he kills another character who attempts to get him to join him in betraying the cause, decides to flee away from all of this. However, before he can completely sever any ties, he is given the manifesto that Nemik had been writing. He tries to dismiss the offering and decline it before reluctantly taking it with him. This will be what drives him to continue with the rebellion and, like his now departed friend before him, give his life in fighting for it. It is this moment and many others like it that has separated Andor from all that has preceded it as it provided more rich character work that grapples with grim realities. It is Nemik who, while no longer alive to see his legacy, created and will continue to create the most impactful storytelling moments that Star Wars has seen in a long time. He wasn’t a destined member of a family or some chosen one. Instead, he was just someone who was willing to risk everything and understood the value in doing so. Even as there is still more ahead, it was Nemik and his death that show the most radical changes in this vast galaxy can come from the smallest of places when we least expect them to.
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