REVIEW: ‘Andor’ Episode 4 “Aldhani”

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Andor Episode 4

Andor exploded onto the scene, dropping the series’ first three episodes that explore the past of the Rogue One character Cassian Andor played by Diego Luna. The episodes cover the origin story of Cassian, from a time when he’s merely fighting to stay alive through to his early recruitment by Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård) as a way to avoid capture from Preox-Morlana Authority Corporation after killing two of their security officers. In Andor Episode 4, titled “Aldhani,” Cassian gets thrown into the trenches as he embeds with a rebel group days away from a massive financial heist from one of the Empire’s ultra-secure facilities.

Cassian’s world is one of survival as we learn that even from a young age that the Empire has always had their boot on his neck, taking whatever they want from him and those like him with the belief that they are entitled to it. So far, the series has detailed a side of Cassian that we’re not familiar with. While he still possesses that deep-rooted survivalist mentality, he’s yet to find that cause that drives him, that allows him a target upon which to focus his rage. The landscape where we find Cassian depicts a planet that is certainly not thriving under the stewardship of the Empire but rather an industrial planet tasked with the physical labor of completing their machines of law and order.

During Andor Episode 4, however, the show moves beyond the initial introduction of the story as it begins opening up to the larger plot by widening the focus on other key components. Cassian finds himself left on the planet Aldhani with a small group of rebel fighters hoping to liberate an excessive amount of funds and weaponry from right under the noses of the Empire. Meanwhile, we get our first real look inside the inner workings of the Empire, specifically with the Imperial Security Bureau (ISB). While across the galaxy, we learn that Luthen is far more of a chameleon than he first appears as he travels to Coruscant under a new guise as an art dealer and meets with a very familiar face in the world of Star Wars, Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly).

Cassian’s story definitely lays the groundwork for something bigger that we can expect to come up in the next few episodes. He is also faced with the reality of the rebels around him as well as the displacement of inhabitants from Aldhani, forced to make way for large-scale occupation from the Empire in order to establish distribution centers for their armory and barracks. But the real meat of the episode, for me, was the narratives around the ISB and the meeting between Luthen and Mon Mothma.

To this point, the Empire has been referenced heavily, and the weight of their oppression is felt everywhere. But it’s interesting to see the restraint that Andor takes in not forcing these villains down our throats immediately. On top of that, as we finally are introduced to the bureau itself, they manage to do something I wasn’t expecting, they were intimidating. In the past, iterations of the Imperial leadership have been cowardly, bumbling, and generally inept, save for two notable forces of evil in Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) and Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen). These characters were not force users, they weren’t physically imposing, but the gravitas in how they led their troops and the conviction in their twisted malice really marked them as fantastic characters.

This is something we see more of through the introduction to the ISB. A group of ambitious career-driven security officers vying for the approval of their senior, Major Partagaz (Anton Lesser). Alongside him were also the two Lieutenant’s, Dedra (Denise Gough) and Blevin (Ben Bailey Smith), who delivered fantastic performances, increasing the threat of the Empire. It is what we’ve been missing in parts of star wars; legitimacy to the threat of the Empire as an organization itself, not just in its sheer size and numbers, but to the callousness and entitlement of their actions with the belief they are the elite bringing order to the galaxy.

This is only reinforced further when we witness the meeting between Luthen and Mothma. They hurriedly talk in whispers about the mounting dangers they’re facing as the frequency of Imperial spies being placed in their paths increases steadily. The show does a brilliant job creating a sense of tension and manifesting actual dangerous situations that even communications amongst trusted sources mean seemingly putting your neck on the line.

All of this only furthers the importance, which brings us nicely back around to the task at hand, of Cassian’s covert mission to put a very real dent in the armor of the Empire.

Andor Episode 4, “Aldhani,” understands the balance it must strike after the opening three episodes set the foundation. The show finally introduces us to the forces of the Empire and depicts them as a very real and tangible threat while also showing the danger that rebel sympathizers are undergoing as they attempt to make a change from the shadows. Lots of great performances, and the visual aesthetics continue to deliver in a way I wasn’t expecting. An incredibly nuanced approach to Star Wars that feels more cyberpunk sci-fi than what we’re used to.

Andor Episode 4 “Aldhani” is available now exclusively on Disney+.


Andor Episode 4 "Aldhani"
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Andor Episode 4, “Aldhani,” understands the balance it must strike after the opening three episodes set the foundation. The show finally introduces us to the forces of the Empire and depicts them as a very real and tangible threat while also showing the danger that rebel sympathizers are undergoing as they attempt to make a change from the shadows. Lots of great performances, and the visual aesthetics continue to deliver in a way I wasn’t expecting. An incredibly nuanced approach to Star Wars that feels more cyberpunk sci-fi than what we’re used to.

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