The excellent Star Wars series Andor reached episode 8 on Disney Plus last Wednesday, catching up with mercenary Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in the wake of his being hit with an unjust six-year prison sentence after a run-in with the wrong Imperial trooper. Turns out there's just no escaping this terrible totalitarian regime.
Over on galactic capital Coruscant, rebel true believer Vel Sartha (Faye Marsay) has been tasked with killing Cassian so he can't rat out recruiter Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård). Vel doesn't seem wild about her mission, especially since Cassian played an essential role in her mission to steal millions of credits from the Empire.
It also seems to run counter to the philosophy of Luthen's fellow rebel leader Sen. Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly), who isn't wild about his willingness to shed innocent blood in their shadowy war against the Empire.
Episode 9 will come to Disney Plus this Wednesday.
Andor occurs five years before Rogue One, which reveals the story immediately before original Star Wars movie A New Hope. Let's see how life in prison is treating Cassian, by checking out all those delicious episode 8 SPOILERS.
Shiny white hell
NARKINA 5 -- Shipped to an ocean prison complex that looks a bit like the Raft in Marvel, Cassian continues to use the alias Keef Girgo as he adjusts to life within its stark white walls.
The guards have insulated boots while prisoners are forced to walk around barefoot, getting shocked if they don't follow the rules or meet their production line goals (making ship parts, maybe?). There are three possible shock levels; we only see a level one and that looks like agony.
Cassian's prison unit manager is Kino Loy (Andy Serkis in his second Star Wars role, having played Supreme Leader Snoke in the sequel trilogy), who's pretty mean and desperate to reach the Empire's harsh quotas as he nears the end of his sentence.
You might recognize one of Cassian's table-mates as well -- Ruescott Melshi (Duncan Pow) is part of the rebel team that steals the Death Star plans in Rogue One. He's got some facial hair in that movie, and seems pretty tight with Cassian.
Cassian and Melshi will presumably escape this horrible prison together, but Melshi seems to have lost hope when they meet here -- partially due to the Empire's nasty new legislation cracking down on anything even mildly rebellious.
"Anyone who thinks they're getting out of here now is dreaming," he warns Cassian. "Those days are over."
Solid first day really.
The extremist rebel
SEGRA MILO -- As he tries to bring disparate rebel groups together, Luthen travels to this remote system to meet Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), a character previously seen in The Clone Wars, Rebels, The Bad Batch and Rogue One.
He's the awesome but dangerous leader of the brutal anti-Imperial group known as the Partisans, and his violent methods put him at odds with other rebels. Despite this, he has good rapport with Luthen and the pair accuse each other of being responsible for the Alhani heist (Luthen never admits it directly).
He offers Saw a bunch of equipment if he'll work with another rebel group, but the Partisan boss isn't interested -- he's eager to label all the other factions based on their different philosophies:
- Neo-Republican (this seems the closest to Mon Mothma's approach).
- The Ghorman front.
- The Partisan alliance.
- Human cultists (I'd watch a Disney Plus show about this intense-sounding group).
- Galaxy partitionists.
In an engaging, scenery-chewing moment, Saw slams them all as "lost" and asks Luthen where he stands.
"I'm a coward. I'm a man who's terrified the Empire's power will grow beyond the point where we can do anything to stop it," he says. "I'm the one who says, 'We'll die with nothing if we don't put aside our petty differences.'"
He wants rebels to pull together, and pretty much dismisses Saw's approach as the path to anarchy. It momentarily seems like the unstable Saw will murder Luthen right there, but he chuckles and sends the recruiter on his way. Nice try, Luthen.
Saw is also the foster father of Jyn Erso, Rogue One hero and Cassian's future ally, but she and Saw have parted ways at this point in the timeline.
In addition to Saw, we catch a glimpse of Benthic "Two Tubes," a Tognath mercenary with distinctive breathing apparatus. He's seen among Enfys Nest's Cloud-Riders in Solo (which is set five years before this show) and is among Saw's allies in Rogue One. He leads the Partisans after Saw's death in that movie, and encounters Luke Skywalker and friends in Marvel's Star Wars comic series.
CORUSCANT -- Imperial Security Bureau Supervisor Dedra Meero (Denise Gough), newly empowered to investigate coordinated rebel activity, is determined to find Cassian and use him to reach Luthen. They don't have the recruiter's identity but have figured out elements of his role and given him the awesome code name "Axis."
Pity they can't figure out that Cassian is already in Imperial custody.
She also tracks down disgraced ex-security officer Syril Karn (Kyle Soller), who continues to nurse his grudge against our hero. He's been in his new job at the super-dull-looking Bureau of Standards "less than a month" but has filed numerous false reports in his own hunt for Cassian.
Syril says he remembers Luthen's voice and suggests he can be an asset to the Empire, but Dedra isn't having any of his nonsense and sends him on his way. Nice try, Syril.
The search widens
FERRIX -- Unbeknownst to the imprisoned Cassian, his adoptive mom, Maarva (Fiona Shaw), is cold and sick, partially as a result of her empty attempts at rebellion against the occupying Imperial force.
It sparks the concern of friend/former flame Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona), who contacts Luthen to look for Cassian (the increasingly cautious rebel decides not to answer). Unfortunately, Dedra got the thumbs-up to monitor Ferrix communications and is drawn directly to Bix.
She's ultimately captured (the guy who screams "GET HER" really goes for it, well done to him) and dragged into the Imperial base for interrogation (there's a machine that sounds ominously similar to an Imperial torture droid in the room). It's a dangerous moment, since Bix can at least reveal what Luthen looks like. Between that and Syril knowing his voice, it feels like the Empire is zeroing in on him.
Cassian's former heist buddies Vel Sartha (Faye Marsay) and Cinta Kaz (Varada Sethu) are also on the planet, having been tasked with killing him to protect Luthen's identity. The locals have no clue where he's gone, and Vel ultimately leaves while Cinta sticks around alone to await him.
Rogue thoughts, unanswered questions and Easter eggs
- The prison is aesthetically similar to the dystopian future world seen in THX 1138, the 1971 directorial debut of Star Wars creator George Lucas.
- Its competitive setup is reminiscent of the 2021 Netflix series Squid Game.
- This episode was directed by Toby Haynes, who helmed episodes 1, 2 and 3, as well 8, 9 and 10. He told The Hollywood Reporter on Friday that working on the Saw/Luthen scene was a "career highlight" due to the intensity the actors brought.
- The name "Keef Girgo" is oddly similar to Greef Karga, a character you might remember from The Mandalorian.
- There's zero evidence for this beyond the actor, but Andy Serkis playing Kino and Snoke could imply a connection between the two. If Kino happened to have some Force sensitivity and the Empire took his DNA while he was in prison, it could have found its way into the genetic soup Palpatine used to create Snoke.
- I'd spend all day staring out the window of Mon Mothma's apartment, it's a pretty sweet view.
- Mon Mothma's unpleasant husband Perrin was the "academy firebrand" as a teenager, suggesting he has some rebellious tendencies. It seems a comfortable life in the Empire has dulled those.
- He and Mon were married at 15, she became a senator at 16, according to the customs of their home world, Chandrila. That's pretty intense.
- It sounds like Vel is "a rich girl running away from her family." Hopefully we learn more about her past.
- Andor isn't the only Star Wars show to hit Disney Plus on Wednesday -- CGI animated short series Tales of the Jedi landed on the streaming service as well.
Come back for more Easter eggs and observations next Wednesday, Nov. 2, when episode 9 of Andor hits Disney Plus.