Running Commentary 11/7/2022
5 min read

Running Commentary 11/7/2022

Andor (Episode 9), Northern Parula


Due to a somewhat busy weekend, I did not catch the latest episode of The Peripheral. In the interest of getting this newsletter out on time on a Monday morning, and in the interest of not giving hastily composed notes written in the middle of the night right after watching the episode, I’ll be leaving episode four of the show until next week, where I’ll be sure to cover it and episode five.




Episode 9 did not really conclude anything, so the 3-episode arc pattern has been broken somewhat. Still, this was a pretty good episode. Here are my notes:

Mon Mothma, back turned to camera, standing in her home under a chandelier
Still from IMDB
  • This series has done a lot to show how scary the Empire can be to the average citizen, but it’s also shown how overextended the Empire is. They’ve had one of the most wanted people in the whole Galaxy imprisoned for what seems like a few months now, without realizing it. Yes, Andor’s in prison, but he’s in a prison for low-level offenders, which he’ll probably be able to escape from. The Imperial prison system seems swamped with prisoners due to the Empire’s crackdowns on dissent. The Tarkin Doctrine (which isn’t fully Imperial policy at this point, but which is forming) of rule through fear is dependent on making people believe something bad might happen if they step out of line, but the Empire doesn’t quite have the strength to assure that something bad will happen.
  • Speaking of the Empire not realizing that they have Cassian in custody already, I wonder when this series takes place in comparison to the introduction of personal chain-codes we saw in The Bad Batch. Seems like those would help clear things up in situations like this. Maybe, once Cassian escapes, the Empire will spot him on surveillance or something, and realize they need to implement some sort of universal ID.
  • Having Vel be related to Mon Mothma surprised me, mostly because I had generally presumed she was Luthen’s daughter. Although, I suppose she still could be.
  • The power outage throughout Narkina 5 as the guards diverted systems to fry all of Level 2 at once was a great example of how this show really puts the work into detail.
  • The “screams of dying alien children” torture device was the one overly cheesy moment I can think of in this show. I get that they don’t want to show someone tied down and bloodied on-screen, but it felt very silly, especially following Meero’s interrogation, which was done quite well. Taken with the eye-rollingly on-the-nose repeat of a shot from Ep. IV at the end, I could have done without that scene.
  • I have a feeling this show will end badly for Syril Karn

Bird of the Week

This week, we have another warbler. This is one of the smallest warblers, and is arguably the main warbler. The Northern Parula (pronounced something like “parallel” without the final l) is a diminutive songbird, measuring only about 5 inches long, that nests in the eastern United States and southeastern Canada, and winters in Central American and the Caribbean. There is, annoyingly, a gap in their breeding range stretching across the southern Great Lakes region; I only get a chance to see them during their migration, and I don’t believe I’ve seen one yet.

Like other wood-warblers, northern parulas eat small insects and spiders found crawling in trees. These birds are dwellers of the upper portions of the forest canopy. The two sexes generally keep company with their own kind, males a bit higher in the trees than females, only joining to form nesting pairs in the spring. The nest of the northern parula is one of the least known among North American species. What is known is that they build nests very high in a tree, using Spanish moss or similar dangling foliage to form a sort of gourd-shaped basket with a small hole in the side. In southern states, often two broods are laid in a single nesting season, as Audubon mentioned in his account of the species, made based on observations in Louisiana.

Males and females look generally alike, although the male is generally more strongly colored (for this depiction, I have drawn the male at the species’ bluest, and the female at its grayest.) Males also have a band of black below their throats, which the females lack. The northern parula’s blue-and-yellow color scheme was the basis of the “parula” color map, which is the default color setting used by the power calculator/programming language MATLAB for coloring data plots. MATLAB is used by many scientists, including ornithologists, to compute complex data models.

The term “parula” comes from the diminutive form of the Latin “parus”, which is the name for members of the tit/chickadee/titmouse family. Linnaeus originally classified the northern parula as a tit, and Charles Lucien Bonaparte later placed it in a new genus, “Parula”, which was eventually used as the type genus of the wood-warbler family Parulidae, making the nothern parula the typical wood-warbler. Since then, Parula was merged, along with a few other genera, into the genus Setophaga; today, the northern parula is Setophaga americana. The species name “americana” made more sense back when Parula existed, as this was the only member of that genus to be found mainly in the United States rather than in countries to the south.

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