‘Star Wars: Andor’ Episode 8 Review: Filler, Fan Service, or Stirring Reality?

Episode 8 of ‘Star Wars: Andor’ is here! Some find the easter eggs distasteful, while some applaud the renditions. Which side do you lean towards?

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Star Wars: Andor Episode 8

Andor has continuously earned high praise weekly, yet this episode gained harsh reviews from critics. Reviewers comment on the repetitive messages, slow plot, and how time is wasted showing how evil the Empire is, something Star Wars fans already know. While this is true, the evil isn’t for us to take in. This evil is necessary for Cassian Andor to see, and here’s why.

Dark Night of the Soul

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The episode picks up with Cassian’s time in prison. After being arrested while merely being at the wrong place at the wrong time, his sentence is unreasonably raised from six months to six years. We follow him from the transfer to the prison in Narkina Five, a labor prison with rigid rules and electrified floors that control the prisoners. This episode spends a lot of time with Cassian as he makes sense of his new life, though he has little dialogue. It’s obvious on his face that he doesn’t know how to interpret this new, cruel lifestyle.

In the previous episodes, Cassian helped the rebels against the Empire, but he was evidently in it for the money, not the cause. He had no interest in the rebellion. While long, this episode is necessary to shove the cruelties of the Empire directly into Cassian’s face. It’s easy to form an opinion on something, to feel anger about injustice, but it takes a lot to turn that anger into agency. What pushes someone from internal rage to physical action? What is needed for someone to go from sitting comfortably on the sidelines to risking everything to turn the tide?

Prisoners are turned into forced laborers. Those in last place get electrocuted, and those in first place earn the privilege of tasting flavor. Prisoner’s sentences are tripled for no reason. Inmates succumb to hopelessness and often willingly end their lives, with no one to mourn them but complaints about losing a working hand. And all of this is shoved directly in Cassian’s face for him to see.

This is the dark night of the soul. There are only four episodes left of Andor. The pieces are slowly coming together. The prison sequences are compelling depictions of the cruel class division that takes presence even within the Empire’s prison system, with Cassian at the core of it all.

Familiar Faces

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Andor has been praised by many for specifically straying away from previous Star Wars characters and cameos. The episodes feel so removed from other Star Wars content. It’s refreshing. It focuses on Cassian Andor as an individual within the interworkings of the early rebellion and the Empire. Because of this, it came as a surprise to see Ruescott Melshi make an appearance.

Melshi’s first appearance was in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016). He’s a close friend of Cassian’s by that point. He’s a sergeant, leads troops, and is one of the rebels that successfully uncover plans of the Death Star.

His appearance feels meaningful. This isn’t just a simple cameo for fans to point at the television. He’s not the brave sergeant we know in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Instead, he warns Cassian to give up hope of ever escaping the prison. As one user so thoughtfully wrote: “seeing Melshi with such a hopeless mindset, telling Cassian that they’ll never get out of prison with so much conviction but then seeing the place that he eventually ends up in Rogue One… going from an imprisoned man to a liberator, gaining that sense of hope.” Much like Cassian, we can expect him to undergo transformation soon.

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Andy Serkis also returns to Star Wars, though there is no sign of Snoke, his role from Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). This time, Serkis plays an inmate shift leader named Kino Loy, who instructs Cassian to keep his head down and work. It’s a bit disorienting feature, but it’s interesting to see where it will go.

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Finally, the infamous Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) makes an appearance. Making his start in Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2013) and then in live-action in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), Saw listens as Luthen asks him to work with a different force in the rebellion. They discuss alternate sects of politics, resulting in rebel extremist Saw questioning Luthen’s reliability with a powerful performance from Whitaker.

Kreegyr’s a separatist. Maya Pei’s a neo-Republican. The Ghorman front… The Partisan alliance? Sectorists! Human cultists? Galaxy partitionists… they’re lost! All of them, lost! Lost! What are you, Luthen? I’ve never really known. What are you?”

As shown in Saw Gerrera’s monologue, the politics of Andor are far-reaching and interlacing. There are many opinions on the Empire, but little action is fulfilled, as seen through Mon Mothma’s ongoing struggle to fund the rebellion.

An Obligation to Duty

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Ferrix isn’t doing well. Maarva (Fiona Shaw) seems to be slipping mentally in Cassian’s absence while Bix (Adria Arjona) and Brasso (Joplin Sibtain) tend to her. The Empire treads heavily over Ferrix in an attempt to locate Cassian, and Bix pays the price for his absence.

It is unsure whether or not Bix will stay loyal to Cassian or succumb to the Empire’s hold, which is a similar dilemma Vel (Faye Marsay) and Cinta (Varada Sethu) face.

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As the couple finally reunite and stake out on Ferrix in hopes of finding Cassian, only one can stay and wait as the two would draw too much attention. Vel expresses her sadness about being apart from Cinta for so long, but Cinta reminds Vel of the cause and the duty they’ve inherited.

I’m a mirror, Vel. You love me because I show you what you need to see.”

Cinta to Vel

While there was no huge confrontation yet, episode 8 of Andor shows the uncomfortable depictions of hopelessness, prison labor, and bystanders scrutinized. It’s not clear what direction Andor is leading it or which bubble will burst first, but the pacing is evident.

Andor airs every Wednesday at 12:00 AM PST on Disney+. Don’t miss our previous article on episode seven, and be sure to look out for future recaps and reviews.

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