Andor Episode 2 review: Stop-start plot in weaker installment

Diego Luna as Cassian AndorDisney+

Andor Episode 2 is a storytelling dip; while the verve of its filmmaking remains strong, the momentum of the first installment is lost to bogged-down – albeit, necessary – set-up for the rest of the show.

Episode 1 reintroduced us to Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), the Rebel spy who helped Jyn Erso steal the plans for the Empire’s Death Star, only to stand in the fateful wave on Scarif.

The new series, developed by Tony Gilroy, isn’t like other Star Wars shows so far. While it’s hard to imagine Darth Vader not turning up at one point, this isn’t an Easter egg hunt – Andor has other priorities.

Episode 2 picks up immediately where we left off: Andor is on the run for killing two Corpos; Bix (Adria Arjona) is weighing up contacting her secret buyers; and zealous deputy inspector Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) wants to catch him.

Spoilers for Andor Episode 2 to follow. You can read our spoiler-free review of Episodes 1-4 here.

Andor Episode 2: The Last of the Canaries

After a slight change to the opening, we return to the forests of Kenari, with young Cassian running through the trees in search of the mystery wreckage that fell from the sky. Once again, the music stands apart from everything else in Andor; Nicholas Britell has composed something truly unique here, especially evoking James Horner, Trevor Jones, and Randy Edelman.

They eventually arrive at a huge quarry, although its purpose is unclear – an Empire settlement or base in the works, or perhaps it’s a space fit for crafting huge segments of the Death Star?

Fiona Shaw as Maarva in AndorDisney+
Fiona Shaw plays Maarva in Andor.

We forward-wind to present-day Ferrix, with Timm (James Cardle) asking Bix if they can spend some time together. However, he’s still in a huff about Cassian, and it’s regrettable they’re setting up one of the main Scottish characters to be a grass.

Meanwhile, Cassian meets with his mum, Maarva (Fiona Shaw), after the Morlana One corporate authority issued an APB for someone with his description – including him coming from Kenari, something nobody knew. Shaw only appears briefly in Episode 2, but she makes the biggest impression.

Andor Episode 2: The Corpos sniff a rebellion

Back at the Corporate Security Headquarters, Syril tries to rally his colleagues to hunt Cassian down. Only one seems to agree with so much effort being placed on the investigation: Sgt. Kostek (Alex Ferns), who believes others’ laziness shows a “dereliction of duty” and “plague in discipline.”

His angle seems too cozy to be genuine, but he warns there’s something brewing among the people. “There’s fermenting, sir… pockets are fermenting,” he says. Before he knows it, he’s Syril’s right-hand brute, applauding and supporting him at every turn.

Later, as they prepare to launch a raid on Ferrix to locate Cassian – or as they call it, a “pincer movement”, which will be an instant dopamine rush to the Tenet lovers out there – Kostek also says: “There comes a time when doing nothing becomes the greatest risk of all.”

Andor Episode 2: Luthen arrives and Cassian goes it alone

There are two crucial takeaways from the closing 10 minutes of Episode 2: firstly, we discover that the leader of Cassian’s young tribe was killed by one of the survivors at the crash site, and while they all took her body away and left the area, he decided to climb into the ship alone and see what he could find.

Secondly, we meet Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård) for the first time, sitting aboard an airbus heading towards Ferrix, as he’s clearly the secret buyer whom Cassian is hoping to meet to sell his star path.

Just as the episode draws to a close, Britell’s music booms again with bombastic percussion, unlike anything you’ve heard in the aural world of Star Wars to date. If the plot leaves much to be desired this time, the craft remains wonderfully polished and bold.

Andor Episode 2 is available to watch now, as well as Episodes 1 and 3. Episode 4 will be available to watch on September 28. You can sign up to Disney+ here.