If you’ve already survived Andor Episode 8, your internal clock did not deceive you. It is the longest episode yet thanks to writer Beau Willimon taking the show through a Dickensian journey under the Empire’s boot on top of delivering the level of complex narrative that Andor has been churning out week after week. I almost want to say the episode was too long, but that’s only because my lizard brain had to remember everything that happened and not burn out after piecing together one of the best visual metaphors put to screen.
On that note, I’m going to tackle this behemoth in chunks instead of going for a straightforward recap. I’m telling myself that will help me not forget anything, but I guarantee I’ll remember at least 85 details after I file it. It’s already happening right now. I’m sorry, that Yeti thing from Rogue One whose name I’m too tired to Google. (Just kidding. It’s Moroff.)
Imperial Security Bureau
After slowly simmering on the backburner for several episodes — and getting constantly brow-beat by his mom in the middle of his space cereal — Syril (Kyle Soller) finally gets to bring his story to a boil as the ISB hauls his ass out of work at the top of the episode. Turns out, Syril’s been filing report after report about Cassian in an effort to get somebody, anybody, to track him down for murdering two Pre-Mor security guards in the first episode.
In a way, Syril’s plan worked because he’s now face-to-face with Dedra Meero (Denise Gough), who wants to know what the hell he’s playing at. After some back and forth, Dedra learns that Syril was forced to sign his report on what went down when he tried to arrest Cassion on Ferrix, but instead, got wrecked by the entire town. Dedra lets Syril see the report that was written without his knowledge as she heads off to another ISB security meeting that has been a compelling little treat throughout this whole series.
Some of you mentioned this in the comments last week, and I fully agree: It is kind of weird to enjoy Dedra’s level of competency considering she works for an intergalactic authoritarian regime that are basically supposed to be Space Nazis. That said, as I’ve gushed since Episode 4, it’s refreshing to see an Empire that isn’t a complete clown show. There’s a higher level of dramatic stakes when your antagonist isn’t a bunch of shiny dorks getting knocked over by teddy bears or Jedi mind tricked into bonking their heads together.
Back to Dedra being 100% on her shit. While practically being ignored by Colonel Yularen (Malcolm Sinclair), Dedra lays out what her investigation has uncovered now that she has full access to what happened on Ferrix and the widespread theft of Imperial parts. As always, she’s got the goods in a huge way, which makes it all the more grating that Yularen is barely paying attention. Not only has Dedra connected the dots on the thefts, but she’s now aware of the existence of Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård). Granted, she doesn’t know his identity, but she’s gathered enough intel to give him the codename “Axis.” She also knows he was with Cassian on Ferrix, which is exactly the reason why Luthen has Vel (Faye Marsay) on a mission to put a blaster hole in our boy’s head.
After almost getting blown off by Yularen, Dedra scores another assist from Major Partagaz (Anton Lesser) who gets the ball rolling for her to drill down on Ferrix to find Cassian and get a bead on Axis/Luthen. With her mission a go, Dedra returns to Syril, who she hopes will have some intel on Luthen. He does not. In fact, the most he has is maybe the color of Luthen’s cloak? Realizing he’s worthless, Dedra dismisses Syril, but not before he makes a desperate plea to join her team. He points out that he was a damn good security officer who solved a murder and tracked down the culprit in just two days. Dedra, however, warns him to stop filing reports about Cassian or he will not enjoy the next ISB encounter. Seemingly brushed off, Syril doesn’t look like he’s about to let this go, and he’s now well aware that whoever was with Cassian is valuable to the Empire. Also, he’s got that whole over-entitled incel thing going on, which I’m assuming is purposeful? If not, my bad, Kyle Soller!
Luthen and Mon Mothma
As the ISB gets to work tracking down Luthen, he and Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) continue to slowly build out their network because this show is also giving us a fascinating look at the creation of the Rebel Alliance. Unlike last week’s episode, Mon isn’t given a whole lot to know, but she does host another dinner party where we get a deeper look at her marriage. As her douchebag of a husband reveals, the two of them had an arranged marriage at age 15 per Chandrila custom, so no wonder they hate each other. However, only one of them is trying to stop an oppressive galactic ruled by an evil space wizard while the other is content with being a rich, drunk fartwaffle. Anyway, Mon and her banker buddy, Tay Kolma (Ben Miles) discretely talk about moving more money around and nodding along while everyone’s all like, “Yeah, maybe the Emperor’s overreacting, but it won’t matter if you’re not doing anything wrong.” Subtle, Andor. Real subtle.
Meanwhile, Luthen seems stressed as f*ck. He’s got Vel and Cinta (Varada Sethu) out hunting Cassian, and now Bix (Adriana Arjona) is trying to reach him from Ferrix, which he really doesn’t need right now. More notably, Kleya (Elizabeth Dulau) is showing she’s equally as cold as Luthen and urges him to cut off Bix because “vulnerability is inevitable” at this stage in their plans. He does, but not before setting Kleya straight that he’s not slipping. Luthen is spinning several plates, and he’s about to let a bull loose.
If you couldn’t tell by the image above, Saw Gerrara (Forest Whitaker) makes his Andor debut, and like everything else this show has done, Saw is vastly improved from his appearance in Rogue One. As the two pretend they don’t know who pulled off the Rebel heist on Aldhani, but very clearly do, Luthen tries to entice Saw into meeting with an Anto Kreegyr for an attack on an Imperial power station. Luthen even offers Saw valuable supplies at no charge, but Saw won’t budge because Kreegyr is a “separatist.” Luthen tries to emphasize the importance of setting aside “petty differences” before the Empire grows too powerful to be stopped, but Saw’s still holding on to bitter resentments from the Clone Wars. Much like how Dedra left things with Syril, the scene ends with a seeming rejection. Saw’s big on ideological purity and thinks anarchy is the solution. No real world parallels there!
After Cassian jetted off for his short-lived sex-cation last week, I honestly thought we’d seen the last of Ferrix. As I should know by now, Andor is one of the few shows that beautifully zigs whenever you think it’s going to zag. Not only is the ISB now laser-focused on smoking him out, but it’s putting Bix in the crosshairs. Compounding matters is Maarva (Fiona Shaw). Her spirit is willing when it comes to rebellion, but her body is not. While looking for underground tunnels to help the Rebellion sneak into the new ISB headquarters, she fell and is not recovering well.
On top of the Imperial presence, Vel and Cinta are in town looking for Cassian. Their relationship is also straining under the ramped up rebellion, which causes Cinta to take a noticeable jab at Vel coming from a wealthy family. It’s yet another hint that she’s Luthen’s daughter, but I also came up with a new theory even though the show seems to be more interested in straight-forward story-telling than hidden character connections. Regardless, I’m starting to think that Vel’s father is Mon Mothma’s banker buddy, Tay. It would explain how Luthen knew about their meeting before it happened, and Tay made a remark that he knows what it’s like to raise a teenage daughter.
Could be something, could be nothing, but Andor seems to want to hint that there’s more to Vel’s backstory. In the meantime, Cinta is the real deal. She handled shit during the Aldhani heist, and she’s doing the work tracking down Cassian. Although that’s going to become much harder now that the ISB increased its presence and locked onto Bix.
In another sign of Dedra’s competency, Bix is now wanted thanks to her attempt to contact Luthen earlier in the episode. The owner of the shop where Bix made the transmission gave her up after being tortured by Dedra. A fact we know because she now has Bix in the ISB headquarters on Ferrix. Again, Dedra is hell-bent on finding Cassian, but there’s just one small problem: The Empire already has him.
Welcome to the bleak, soul-crushing heart of Episode 8. After being snatched up by the Empire for merely looking like he might be a rebel, Cassian (under the alias: Keef Girgo) is rapidly sentenced to six years and shipped off to the Imperial prison on the titular Narkina 5. Except prison isn’t exactly the right word for where Cassian is now trapped.
Under the gruff supervision of Kino Loy (Andy Serkis, actually getting to act in a Star Wars) Cassian finds himself buried under the ocean in an Imperial prison factory where inmates walk around barefoot on metal floors that can electrocute them so hard they literally turn into distortionists. It’s visually jarring, and yet, it’s not the real horror that awaits Cassian.
Throughout the episode Diego Luna speaks very little, but the look on his face does more than enough. As he slowly absorbs his eerily sterile surroundings, it becomes overwhelmingly clear that he’s now a slave. Yes, he’s fed and given sleeping quarters, but for 12 hours a day he’s on a workroom floor churning out Imperial parts. Like a dunderhead, I spent the entire episode trying to figure out what the hell the inmates are making, and only hours later did I figure out that what they’re building is not important. It’s the how.
You see, each inmate in the station is diligently working on what looks like a giant six-pronged gear, with each man positioned between the spokes. They are literal grist for the mill. A never-ending supply of slave labor funneled into the prison factory thanks to the Empire crackdown in response to the Aldhani heist. Many of the men confide in Cassian that their sentence inexplicably went up for no reason, and one even tells him to not even bother looking at the counter for how many days he has left. It means nothing. Cassian is watching first-hand as the Empire grounds people into dust and escape is virtually impossible.
— “Oppression breeds rebellion.” Luthen drops this line on Saw to justify provoking the Empire with the Aldhani heist and whatever he’s cooking up next. It is working as planned, but it will be interesting to see how Cassian reacts to getting a first-hand look at being tossed into the Imperial gears. Plus the whole trying to have him killed thing.
— I have no idea how the hell the show is going to get Cassian out of Gears of Poor prison. He’s down there under an alias because apparently the Empire isn’t big on thorough identification. More importantly, I have to mention that I dug the heavy THX 1138 vibes or else I have to turn in my Star Wars figures. The nerd tribunal was very clear about that.
— Despite being much closer to the Original Trilogy, I really like how Andor is doing some poking around with the prequels and The Clone Wars. Mon Mothma mentioned advocating for the Separatists in a previous episode, and now, Saw brought them up again. Because George Lucas muddled a whole bunch of metaphors, it’s hard not to view the Separatists as the secessionists of the Star Wars universe. Space Confederates if you will. But that’s not a fair or accurate parallel because the Separatists were unknowingly played by Palpatine to force the Republic to create a Clone Army, which wiped out the Jedi and facilitated his coup. (I mean, if you have to name a side with heavy slavery vibes, look at the one that microwaved a bunch of test tube babies and used them as expendable meat bullets.) At the end of the day, the Separatists were just trying to… operate their planets independently? — Yes, I see it after I wrote it. — So it only tracks that they’d be heavily involved in the Rebellion after unwittingly causing the Republic to grow into an even darker threat that swallows everything in sight. And the whole human grist mill thing. Can’t forget that shit.