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Andor reinvented the Star Wars tractor beam scene in the coolest possible way

And it might be the most ‘Star Wars!!!’ moment yet

Stellan Skarsgard as Luthen Rael looks forward while standing next to another man in Andor. Rocks are in the background, and the other man holds out an object Luthen is reaching for. Image: Disney/Lucasfilm Ltd.
Pete Volk (he/they) is Polygon’s curation editor for movies and TV, with a particular love for action and martial arts movies.

As Andor’s excellent first season nears its finale after the amazing prison trilogy of episodes, there’s still a lot for the show to tackle. The situation on Ferrix continues to escalate. Cassian and Melshi are trying to find their way to some semblance of safety. And as the Rebel Alliance inches closer to formation, the Empire tightens its grip on the galaxy and the people who live in it.

But in episode 11, “Daughter of Ferrix,” one thing in particular stood out: a new twist on a classic Star Wars move.

[Ed. note: Spoilers follow for Andor episode 11.]

Let’s cut to the chase: Luthen’s ship fucking wrecked an Imperial Cruiser!!!

To set the scene: On his way back from a secret meeting with fellow Rebel leader Saw Gerrera, Luthen is pulled over by space highway patrol — a Cantwell-class Arrestor Cruiser. (Fun fact: this ship design was originally pitched for A New Hope but was first seen in Solo.) The Imperial ship challenges Luthen on his identity and why he’s out here, warning him that there has been “partisan activity” in this sector.

After Luthen’s hastily thrown together Alderaanian ID is accepted (in a lovely little bit of on-the-fly Star Wars problem solving, as he continually stalls while fiddling with parts of his ship), he is still asked to accept their boarding. And that’s when things really pop off.

Imperial officers and Stormtroopers stand on a Cantwell-class Arrestor Cruiser while looking out the front window in Andor. Image: Disney/Lucasfilm Ltd.

In Star Wars and other sci-fi media, you’ve seen plenty of spaceships stuck in tractor beams before — maybe you’ve seen some warp their way out. But I bet you haven’t seen a little Fondor Haulcraft just unload a bunch of projectiles that look like space needles at it, destroying the tractor beam completely and jetting away. The scene reminded us of the infamous Itano Circus from Macross Plus. Whenever we’re reminded of that, it can only be a good thing.

It was an awesome moment for a show that has found most of its thrills in the more grounded moments, giving us a brief taste of the space battles the franchise is known for. And it’s made all the better by the shocked expressions on the faces of the Imperial officers and soldiers on the Arrestor Cruiser, as this tiny ship bested their much bigger one.

An imperial tractor beam disintegrates as it is being destroyed in Andor. Image: Disney/Lucasfilm Ltd.
An Imperial officer in uniform looks shocked and disgusted in Andor. Image: Disney/Lucasfilm Ltd.

It’s a tense scene, and one of the first times Luthen has been in any danger on Andor. It’s also representative of what makes Skarsgard’s portrayal of the character so compelling — how he can flip the switch from charmer to threat in an instant. He starts by trying to convince them he’s a trader from Alderaan, all the while preparing for an escape if he needs it. Even though he successfully convinces them, he still needs the escape route, and catches the Arrestor Cruiser completely by surprise in a moment of pure sci-fi genius. “Small ship caught by a bigger ship” is a well-worn situation in the genre (and in Star Wars), but Andor still managed to surprise us anyway by pulling out a novel and exciting solution for the underdog. And it looked cool as hell while doing it — after he destroys the tractor beam, Luthen shoots down a few TIE fighters and then destroys a few more with red lasers that shoot out of the side of his shape (much like if Darth Maul’s light saber was a haulcraft).

Luthen’s haulcraft has red lasers coming out of the side in Andor. Image: Disney/Lucasfilm Ltd.

Luthen’s role in Andor as a resistance figure has largely been as a delegator and manipulator. In this scene, his shrewdness is applied directly at the Empire itself, giving us a whole new dimension to his character and how he got to where he is, both as a figure in the Rebellion and on Coruscant. It’s typical to what’s made Andor so special: meaningful character beats that work effectively to build the mythos of the Star Wars universe and the formation of the Rebellion while also just being a blast to watch.

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