Andor Episode 3 review: Star Wars TV at its best

Diego Luna as Cassian AndorDisney+

Andor Episode 3 is the strongest episode of the show so far, with exhilarating, edge-of-your-seat action and emotional storytelling, bolstered by a winning performance from Fiona Shaw.

In Episode 1 of Andor, Cassian (Diego Luna) got himself into a spot of bother. After murdering two Corpos, he pleaded with Bix (Adria Arjona) in Ferrix to bring her buyer so he could sell a valuable piece of stolen Empire kit, while Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) prepares a “pincer movement” to track him down.

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In Episode 2, we learned more about the titular hero’s scattered past, once running with a young tribe in Kenari who happened to occupy the same woods as a mysterious wreckage, while Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård) arrived to meet Cassian.

For those watching the three-episode premiere today, it’s not hard to see why Disney decided to release them together. This feels like a mini-conclusion to some of the threads introduced at the beginning of the show, while bringing in the next big player in the Rebellion.

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Andor Episode 3: Cassian and Maarva’s origin story

At the end of Episode 2, young Cassion looked poised to enter the crash site alone. Episode 3 picks up there, with him climbing inside an octagonal chamber – another nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey, though far eerier in its framing – and finding a world far beyond anything in his imagination.

a still from AndorDisney+
The cinematography in Episode 3 is particularly striking.

The blinking equipment and panels are par for the course in Star Wars, but it’s not just the technology that blows his mind – he sees his face in the mirror for the first time.

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We flash backwards and forwards a little too much during the episode, but it eventually reveals how Maarva (Fiona Shaw) met Cassian: she was scavenging in the ship when she found him smashing the ship’s components, and she decided to help him. In the end, she took him aboard her ship after he tried to attack her.

Andor Episode 3: Cassian faces off with Luthen as the Corpos arrive

In Ferrix, Cassian begins sorting out all of his affairs before leaving with the money earned from the star path sale. He even leaves a few credits for Maarva, and asks a local friend to look after her.

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He then meets Luthen in an abandoned warehouse, with old engines hanging from rusty chains – the overhead clinking would make a Cenobite wink – and Corpos closing in with every minute, made worse by him communicating with B2EMO in Maarva’s home, where Syril (Kyle Soller) is questioning her.

Cassian quickly realises there’s something off about Luthen; he isn’t disingenuous about wanting the star path, but he keeps asking him about how to steal from the Empire, and joining him for something greater.

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Stellan Skarsgard as Luthen in AndorDisney+
Stellan Skarsgard steals his scenes as Luthen.

To the former, Cassian says: “To steal from the Empire, you just act like you belong… what do you need? A uniform, some dirty hands, and an Imperial toolkit. They’re so proud of themselves they don’t even care. They’re so fat and satisfied they can’t imagine it. That someone like me would ever get inside their house.”

On the latter, Luthen asks Cassian: “Don’t you want to fight these bastards for real?”

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Here, they realize they’re completely surrounded, with just one available escape route. Luthen blasts the doors, which causes the hanging engines to plummet like a One-Eyed Willie trap, and Cassian is forced to abandon his prized star path to survive.

Andor Episode 3: Cassian’s escape mirrors his stolen childhood

While the Corpos run around the town hunting for Cassian, Bix finds herself surrendering to officers, who beat her and put her in handcuffs. Timm (James McArdle) sees her and tries to help, only to get blasted to death in front of her. In fairness, that’s what he gets for being a grass.

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Cassian and Luthen stumble on Syril, and leave him terrified and tied up while they flee on a speeder. Syril is left with his rage stewing over the wreckage in Ferrix, with Kostek (Alex Ferns) shouting in his face for them to leave, and met with vengeful silence.

As Cassion looks out the window of Luthen’s ship, the scene cuts back to his first adventure with Maarva, as she sheds a tear at home, knowing her adopted son may be lost, and perhaps remembering all she may have stolen from him when she helped him so long ago. All he can do is stare at the clouds, and hope they’ll guide him home – or somewhere with more hope.

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Shaw is the easy standout in the first three episodes. She brings the frustrated, loving depth of someone real, while others’ motivations and personalities hew closer to archetypes we’ve long seen and understood.

Andor Episodes 1-3 are available to stream on Disney+ now. Episode 4 will be available on September 28. You can sign up to Disney+ here.

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