Near the beginning of the episode, Commandant Jayhold Beehaz (Stanley Townsend) remarks to the visiting Imperial engineer of the Aldhani,
“The best way to steer them as we’d like is to offer alternatives. You put a number of options on the table and they’re so wrapped up in choosing, they fail to notice you’ve given them nothing they thought they wanted at the start.”
But this sentiment may serve as the underlying theme for Cassian and his slow descent into the Rebellion under Luthen Rael’s care. This constant idea of a number of options being presented to characters where they have to pick but not get what they want is prevalent for all of the characters here. This is the choice that mars Skeen (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) at the end. He’s made it through and he’s left with two options: to stay the course or to climb a little further out of his own personal hell. Whether he’s telling the truth or not, whether he’s testing Cassian or on the level, it costs him his life, and he’s given nothing he wanted.
Watching every single character make decisions about what they want out of the bad options in front of them is fascinating, and it’s a stark contrast to the life of the Imperial fatcats who struggle with the choice between beating their kid for not wearing an Imperial shirt or not. The differences between the people fighting against oppression and the oppressors is striking.
This is what makes Mon Mothma so interesting, ultimately. She had the life of the fatcat and is forced to pretend to choose among the banal, but still chooses to fight against the oppression on behalf of others. At the end of this episode, Cassian is left with a choice and he tries to play both sides. He frees Vel Sartha (Fay Marsay) from Skeen’s double-cross but does not double-cross her himself. He takes what’s owed to him and escapes. With him, he carries the manifesto Nemik (Alex Lawther) wrote, who insisted that it be given to Cassian upon his death.
What will he choose next with that option before him?