We are now heading into the latter stages of the latest Star Wars production, and if Andor can stick the landing, it will reign supreme as not just the best Star Wars series to date but will challenge for the title as the very best thing to ever come from the franchise. And it’s doing it all without a lightsaber in sight.
While Andor episode 7 was something of a stand-alone instalment in the sci-fi series, episode 8 sparks a new three-part arc. In the aftermath of the thrilling Aldhani heist, it’s hard to imagine this TV series could possibly steer us towards even more exciting adventures, but the foundations have been laid exquisitely.
This episode, titled Narkina 5, may not be the most action-packed but it excels in establishing the journey ahead and generating just enough morbid curiosity about what lies in front of Andor. This episode is a platform from which we are about to leap off into chaos, and it’s a chance to catch up with every single Star Wars character we’ve met so far and see what part they have to play in the forthcoming conflict.
There are lots of moving parts this week. After Andor was arrested in the previous episode, he is deported from Niamos and sent to Narkina 5, an Imperial factory facility where prisoners become slaves. There, he joins the Empire’s production line, building what we can only assume are weapons of mass destruction.
Meanwhile, Mon Mothma is talking the talk and trying to raise money for her ‘charitable’ cause. Genevieve O’Reilly is doing fantastic work in the role too, proving to be incredibly effective at putting on the act needed to achieve her rebellious goals. It’s an understated performance and may not have the same glamour as Stellan Skarsgård’s turn as Luthen Rael, for example, but commendable nonetheless.
Perhaps two of the more intriguing characters in the show though, are Syril Karn and Dedra Meero, who find themselves at very different ends of the food chain when it comes to the Empire. This week, we see Syril pulled out of the bullpen to cross paths with Dedra, and there’s potential for a dangerous combination further down the line there.
Denise Gough is finally given more to do now, and she is well and truly eating up the screen. She is a menacing presence and promises to challenge the hierarchy of great villains from the Star Wars movies. The reason she is so formidable is because her motives are so tangible, and she is very much a real person, far removed from the aliens and masked monsters we’ve seen in the past.
With so much going on, it would be easy for this episode to lack focus and become messy, but as always, the writer (Beau Willimon), director (Toby Haynes), and mastermind behind the show (Tony Gilroy) have a great handle on pacing and the bigger picture. Perhaps more so than in previous weeks, this episode did feel as though it was spreading itself a little thinly, but not necessarily to its detriment.
Andor also continues to excel on a technical front and is certainly the best-looking show on television right now, maybe even all year. The standards in production design from Luke Hull and costume design by Michael Wilkinson get better each week, and director of photography Adriano Goldman uses impeccable shot composition to capture it all.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, the level of maturity and real-world commentary in Andor is so refreshing and really does set this show apart from what we’ve seen in the science fiction movie franchise to date. The concepts of poverty, oppression, and justice are all things that have been touched on previously, but you feel the franchise is finally cutting to the core of George Lucas’ founding principles.
On Narkina 5, there are murmurs of the Public Order Decree and what repercussions this will have on the inmates when it comes to resentencing procedures. On Ferrix, the grip of the Empire tightens and the Orwellian atmosphere is palpable. People across the galaxy are fearful, and the blame is increasingly directed towards the rebels in a fascinating exploration of the moral compass in the political fight at hand.
Ultimately, this episode of Andor is another prime example of the show doing what it has done so well so far. Breadcrumbs are laid, the story of each player is methodically developed, and the promise of all out war beckons.
Andor episode 8 review
Solid storytelling, exquisite technical elements, and the promise of big things to come