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Andor episode 9 review: the net closes in

We're nearing the end of the road for the latest Star Wars series, and Andor episode 9 sees Cassian suffering more than ever before

Andor episode 9 review: Denise Gough as Dedra Meero

Our Verdict

A more tightly focused story and tantalising foreshadowing leaves us desperate for more

It’s starting to hit home that Andor is ending soon, and it will be sad to see the Star Wars series come to its conclusion, but one thing’s for sure, it’s going to be a hell of a ride. Andor episode 8 kick-started a new three-part arc to build to the big finale, and episode 9 is the perfect bridge for what’s to come, with a tantalising cliffhanger hinting at all-out chaos on Narkina 5.

This episode is largely split between the situation on the floating Imperial prison as Cassian searches for chinks in the armour of the Narkina 5 facility, and the relentless investigative work of Dedra Meero in her attempts to crush the Rebellion. While last week’s instalment of the sci-fi series threatened to overspill, this episode is far more focused and compact.

We already know the TV series is not concerned with shoe-horning in links with the wider universe of Star Wars movies, and episode 9 is perhaps the least connected of the show’s run so far. What that offers, though, is essentially a riveting prison drama series.

It’s incredible just how malleable Andor has become as a project. Throughout the course of the show, we’ve seen similarities to classic war movies and spy movies, the excitement on Aldhani in Andor episode 6 was more akin to an epic thriller movie than an episodic streaming service product, and now, we are firmly rooted in a world of political power plays and incarceration.

What Andor as a series is doing, and episode 9 proves most comprehensively, is simply telling a really enthralling story. It doesn’t even matter anymore that Andor looks so good and that every technical aspect is so acutely accomplished. It helps, of course, but story is king, and everyone involved in this show knows that.

If Andor intends to impact the overarching science fiction movie franchise in any way, it’s certainly succeeding in making the Empire more terrifying than ever before. Each week, the show finds new ways of showcasing the evils of the Imperial regime and it’s doing so without the need for the Sith or a cameo from Emperor Palpatine in Andor. We are witnessing very ordinary, very cruel, people simply following orders and believing in the cause.

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This week, we meet Doctor Gorst and his unique methods of interrogation, which leads to an intense scene of torture for Bix Caleen back on Ferrix. Once again, it’s clear that Andor is not pulling any punches in catering to a more mature audience, and the vivid descriptions of the pain Bix will experience are enough to send a shot of dread through the viewer.

It’s a situation that Dedra Meero relishes, though. In Denise Gough, the Star Wars cast may just have found one of its most impressive performers to date, with Meero providing the kind of menace that you just can’t take your eyes off. Used sparingly in the first half of the series, this is undeniably Gough’s episode, and her Star Wars character is now gradually becoming the crux of the whole show.

Andor episode 9 review: Denise Gough as Dedra Meero

Things are hotting up on Narkina 5 too, as we further explore the conditions the inmates find themselves in. It’s bleak, and by the sounds of it, things are only going to get worse. The introduction of Andy Serkis has already paid dividends, and the dynamic between Cassian and Kino Loy is a fascinating one to watch unfold, as we try to figure out where this new character sits on the spectrum of Rebellion.

Just like the anticipation for the Aldhani heist, we can be almost certain that a prison break is looming for Cassian, but not knowing how that will play out is incredibly exciting. Will the Rebels find him before the Empire? Or, can Cassian slip through the net all by himself? Either way, it’s bound to be a heart-stopping adventure in episode 10.

Andor episode 9 review: Andy Serkis as Kino Loy

It’s already been decided that Andor is the best Star Wars series ever made, and it wholeheartedly deserves that accolade. It would have been so easy to rely on nostalgia and provide a nice, neat prologue to Rogue One, but Andor is anything but nice and neat, and it definitely doesn’t exist to merely fill a gap.

It’s organised chaos, it’s provocative and invigorating, and it’s as real as any story from a galaxy far, far away is likely to get. Andor doesn’t feel like a Star Wars story, but we don’t care, and neither does the show itself. Andor is its own beast, and it’s sitting at the top of the food chain right now.

If you want to know more about Andor, check out our guide to the Andor season 2 release date, or Mon Mothma explained. Or travel the galaxy with our guide to the planets in Andor.