Andor: Episode 8 Review Episode 8 is more concerned with repeatedly showing how bad the Empire is than moving the plot along to any great extent
This review contains full spoilers for episode eight of Andor, now available to view on Disney+. To remind yourself of where we left off, check out our Andor episode 7 review.
Episode 8 of Andor is as close as we’ve come to a filler episode yet. Cassian’s capture brings the plot grinding to a halt as we’re repeatedly shown the miserable reality of being under the Empire’s thumb. The portrayal of that tyranny is very well realised, and performances are all still spot on, but the slowdown takes away all of the tension built up over the course of the previous episode. It’s just a shame that we don’t really learn anything new over the course of the 45 minutes that we didn’t know already. But hey, at least we’re one step closer to the ultimate prize - the reemergence of Bor Gullet.
With Cassian’s fun in the sun firmly cut short, he spends almost all of episode 8 in captivity – seemingly not able to escape the clutches of the Empire or his rebel destiny whichever way he turns. Narkina 5 isn’t a place full of hope. A thoroughly oppressive prison planet laced with signature Imperial white hallways, the only dash of colour comes from the black Imperial uniforms that dominate each room while their prisoners are left to blend into nothingness. It’s a subtle but clever way of representing how little the Empire thinks of the general population, and how, if they had it their way, the whole of the galaxy would silently and invisibly just obey. It’s a fairly bleak location at the heart of an episode more interested in further driving home the cruelty of the Empire than moving the plot along significantly.
Andy Serkis is a fantastic surprise addition to the cast this time around and convinces as the shift leader of Cassian’s work group. His attempts to turn the prison’s hard labour into a game of sorts is yet another reflection of people in power pitting the masses against one another in an effort to make them ignore the people actually putting them in a bad place. It’s got shades of Squid Game to it, as regular people are made to compete in order to avoid a punishment that far outweighs the reward. It’s a brilliant depiction of both the failings of the industrial prison system and class division, all in one impressively concise scene.
Andor himself doesn’t necessarily have a lot to do on the surface level here, but the way in which he eventually joins forces with his workmates may well turn out to be a key character development as he learns that working together is the key to defeating the Empire. You can feel his disdain for the Imperials growing after his wrongful imprisonment – maybe a signifier that he still feels resentment towards them on a personal level rather than a galaxy-wide one at this point. It’s a trend that may well continue as more and more people fall foul to Imperial tyranny. But, at this stage of his story, it doesn’t feel like we’re getting the development of his character yet that I’d hoped for.
It’s a brilliant depiction of both the failings of the industrial prison system and class division, all in one impressively concise scene.“
Due to Cassian being locked down for the duration, we’re given more time than ever with the Empire and the inner workings of its bureaucracy. Denis Gough is once again in sparkling form as Dedra Meero, who is now firmly on the warpath toward Andor. In yet another stark display of arrogance from her superiors, the top brass doesn’t consider Andor to hold the same level of threat as Meero believes he does. This example reflects the Empire as a whole, as it’s this kind of arrogance that will ultimately be their downfall five years down the line. It’s a fantastic commentary on how governments and other large organisations could so often nip issues in the bud by listening to the smartest people in the room, but instead often follow the lead of stubborn old men who let problems grow to the point of breaking.
Kyle Soller is on particularly good form this week as the equal parts committed and snivelling Syril Karn. His borderline obsession with Cassian drives him as much as his desire to serve the Empire. He’s obviously smart but displays an almost child-like mentality at times, whether that be wanting to not disappoint his mother, or being a little mischievous by continuing to poke the Imperial hornet’s nest. Karn was a standout character in the series’ early episodes but has sadly been sidelined ever since, so it was good to see him get some of the spotlight again this week. He’s still got plenty more to offer, though, and I hope we get to see him more again soon.
Unfortunately, the scenes at yet another one of Mon Mothma’s many, many parties do fall flat a little this time around. We don’t really learn much that we didn’t know already and it just feels like an extension of last week's conversations. The only real thing we glean from them is that Mothma’s associations with other diplomats are raising slightly higher suspicions from her own daughter. It does add a little texture to proceedings, but this isn’t a party that warrants being cut back to repeatedly, especially when there isn’t exactly a breakneck speed in need of offsetting this time around.
After nearly 45 minutes of doom and gloom, however, we are rewarded near the end with the reintroduction to Forest Whitaker’s Saw Gerrera. It’s always a treat to see two great actors face off against one another, and Whitaker and Stellan Skarsgaard do not disappoint as motives are put into question. Crucially though, it may mean that Rogue One’s Bor Gullet may not be far away. Fingers crossed we get to see those big, gloopy mind-reading tentacles again soon.
This story originally appeared on: IGN - Author:Simon Cardy