With Aldhani’s arc officially wrapped up, it’s time for this show to start a new one. And what better way than breaking Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) out of prison? Well, we’ll have to wait until next episode for that, because Cassian is in prison for the entirety of this one.
See my initial thoughts below. This written review will go more in depth.
As alluded to last episode, the Aldhani mission has raised the Rebel Alliance’s profile, for better and worse. More people now know of the rebellion and it has proven itself as a capable foe to the Empire, but it’s also caused the Empire to tighten its grip on those it rules, which causes more pain to innocent people. However, the likes of Luthen (Stellan Skarsgard) knows that long-term this will turn more people to their side. In fact, he hopes the Empire clamps down hard enough to grow the rebellion.
Cassian sees firsthand at the prison complex of Narkina 5 what that clampdown looks like. He himself is there because of a bullshit sentence (he was near a crime), and no doubt many of his peers are, too. The Empire has also doubled everyone’s sentences since Aldhani.
We do see more of Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) as she tries to piece together Luthen’s plan and she finally interviews Syril Karn (Kyle Soller), though she doesn’t fully bring him on yet as an Imperial officer or validate his feelings of betrayal. This show is really one of weak initial rejections — first Cassian turns down the rebellion, only to give in when it’s apparent helping them is his only prospect, then Meero is rejected by her superiors at the Imperial Security Beareau, only to be validated a few episodes later. Next up is Syril and Luthen (he gets turned down by Saw Gererra for a mission, who will inevitably change his mind later).
But the real star of the episode is Narkina 5. We see in detail the prisoners’ daily lives, where they sleep and eat, and where they work. The whole place has no weapons — instead prisoners go barefoot which makes them susceptible to the complex’s floors that can be electrified at any time. It’s a cruel concept, one that’s used to keep them in line and productive as they make factory parts for something, but also one that will no doubt make escaping the complex easy — all officers have special boots that make them immune to the shocks. Get some of those and the whole no-weapons thing will backfire greatly.
As a whole, there isn’t a lot of plot progression this episode, but its world building is excellant. The same can be said of the show as a whole — it does have pacing issues, but it flashes out the “Star Wars” galaxy far better than any other project in the franchise since Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm. Locations feel like characters themselves as they burst with personality and original traits — we get more than just sand, lava and ice worlds.
“Star Wars: Andor” Season 1: Episode 8 gets a 7/10