Andor Episode 8 review: Somber Star Wars with a huge surprise role

Cameron Frew
A still from Andor Episode 8

Andor Episode 8 emphasizes the sombre grip of the Empire across the galaxy far, far away; even in its most sprawling episode, there’s an intimate, restless mood among our Rebels.

Shortly after the release of Andor’s first episodes, its showrunner Tony Gilroy said: “This is a chance to do a show about the ordinary people of this galaxy and these tectonic, revolutionary pressures that are being put on them from all sides.”

The theatrical flair of our favorite Star Wars heroes and villains is nowhere to be found. Everyone in Andor is sketched as a real, believable person with hypocritical, sometimes cowardly inhibitions behind their own goals, be they noble or in service of themselves – it’s all relative.

Episode 8 sees to kick off a new arc as Season 1 nears its endgame, following everyone caught in the fallout of the Aldhani heist as the Empire’s grip tightens even more. Spoilers for Andor Episode 8 to follow…

Andor Episode 8 review: Syril is questioned by the Empire

Episode 8 picks up on Niamos (that banger of an EDM track is nowhere to be heard, unfortunately), with Cassian (Diego Luna), using the name Keef Girgo, being shipped off to Narkina Five. “But I’m a tourist,” he pleads, but nobody listens.

Meanwhile, Syril is offered a brief reprieve from his Severance-esque job to be questioned by Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) over his constant filing of false reports in an effort to find Cassian. Syril believes he should be apprehended for public safety and wishes to clear his name, but Dedra sees through him: it’s clearly about ego and putting his own sense of law and order above the Empire’s – in other words, he’s a vigilante, just the lame kind.

“Can one ever be too aggressive in preserving order?” he asks, which seems to make Dedra smile – but don’t mistaken by her civility. “Raise the alarm one more time and it won’t be me you’re speaking to,” she stresses to him.

Dedra isn’t looking for Cassian – she’s trying to find a man known as “Axis”, an unknown operative spotted in Ferrix with Cassian when he escaped. All they have are useless recollections, like the vague darkness of his boots on the day. However, when taken to Major Partagaz (Anton Lesser) and Colonel Wulff Yularen (Malcolm Sinclair), they agree the correlation between missing Imperial equipment and Rebel efforts is “troubling.”

Andor Episode 8: Huge surprise role is a highlight

Cassian, barefoot and haggard, arrives at Narkina Five, a factory facility out in the middle of the sea – picture the secret prison in Captain America: Civil War. There, he’s greeted with the customary hostility of prison guards, with one particularly brutal caveat: they’re armed with a button that inflicts instant, inhumane pain, like a portable Cruciatus spell.

Cassian is shown to his station, where he’ll spend his days working 12-hour shifts and building Imperial equipment until the end of his extended sentence. Then comes a bombshell surprise appearance: his line manager Kino Loy is played by Andy Serkis. He’s a gruff, unforgiving mini-boss who’s delectably unlikable, telling Cassian with genuine venom in his voice: “Never slow up on my line.”

Andy Serkis in Andor

The chatter among the prisoners is well-measured; contemptuous, frightened, and bolstered by boredom. They ask Cassian if he’s aware of the public order resentencing directive – the very decree that landed him behind bars – but he feigns ignorance. There’s also a little bit of Shawshank in some of the dialogue. “What did you do?” one asks. “Nothing,” Cassian says. “Lot of that lately,” they reply.

Narkina Five again illustrates the power of the show’s practical production design: the factory line is claustrophobic and immersive, with clinical white lighting and the sound of cranking, clicking, and drilling filling the air. That’s before we get to their cells: they don’t have mattresses, only platforms, and outside is a strip of floor that “fries” anyone who steps on it when they’re not allowed to. We even see one prisoner kill himself on it, which prompts cellblock-wide moans about “smelling him all night.”

Andor Episode 8: Mon Mothma lobbies and Saw Gerrera returns

Back at Coruscant, Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) meets with Tay Kolma (Ben Miles) while raking together some votes against the Emperor’s public order decree. If there’s one major criticism to be had of the show, it could be its failure to recognize Mothma as the most fascinating character in it – or perhaps it does, and knows her power would usurp its lead. Regardless, it’s a scene that’s over far too quickly, but it demonstrates just how strained her “irritating” political gregariousness is becoming as the days of Imperial tedium march on. Also, they drink something horrific called a “squig.”

We shoot over to Ferrix, where Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona) is looking after Maarva (Fiona Shaw), delivering her well-established charisma with ease. Bix insists she should be looking after herself. “My mother was a whiner and that’ll cure you,” she quips, but Maarva is unwell, made worse by her attempts to help any Rebels by digging up floodgates for them to use as tunnels.

Bix uses the radio to contact Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård), but Kleya (Elizabeth Dulau) says it’s too dangerous. Meanwhile, Vel (Fey Marsay) and Cinta (Varada Sethu) have also arrived in Ferrix, but Vel is growing tired of their time away from each other. “Haven’t we been apart long enough?” she asks, but Cinta replies: “It’s not about us.”

Vel and Cinta’s relationship is an interesting component of the show. It’s clear they’re romantically involved, but Gilroy’s writing never tries to define the specifics of their dynamic. “I’m a mirror, you love me because I show you what you need to see,” Cinta tells Vel as they hold hands. People may be craving more from them after eight episodes, but it’s touching to see their love so understated when it could be easily used for point-scoring.

Saw Gerrera in Andor

Luthen travels to Segra Milo, where he meets with Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), the Rebel veteran introduced in Rogue One. It’s clear they’re dynamic is built on moral sparring; Saw believes himself to have true clarity of purpose, which is why he’s happy to work alone, while Luthen wants him to work with the others and “put aside his petty differences” for the fight. “Anarchy is a seductive concept,” Luthen tells him, but Saw sends him on his way.

Andor Episode 8 is rather bleak, really. It shows how every character operates within their own prison, whether they’re incarcerated, ticking down their life clock in a monotonous job, or a slave to their own ambitions, no matter the forces “railing” against them. It’s grown-up Star Wars, yes, but the subtext isn’t so potent that the show isn’t entertaining.

Andor Episode 9 will be available to stream on November 2. You can sign up for Disney+ here.

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About The Author

Cameron is Deputy TV and Movies Editor at Dexerto. He's an action movie aficionado, '80s obsessive, and Oscars enthusiast. He loves Invincible, but he's also a fan of The Boys, the MCU, The Chosen, and much more. You can contact him at