REVIEW: ‘Andor,’ Episode 8 — “Narkina 5”

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Andor Episode 8 - But Why Tho

The latest episode of Andor, “Narkina 5”, places Cassian (Diego Luna) in the tightest of spots. Having been arrested following his attempts to lay low after the Aldhani heist, Cassian is shipped to Narkina 5. There, he’ll spend the next six years of his life building parts for the Empire. As Cassian gets used to his new habitat,  Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård) continues to build out his network of Rebel contacts.  Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) continues hunting Cassian, finding a pair of leads in Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona) and Syril Karn (Kyle Soller).

What stands out to me about Andor Episode 8 is how bleak things start to get. From the moment Cassian is hauled onto a transport to the titular prison planet, to the revelation that he and the other prisoners are outfitted with technology that causes crippling pain, the cruelty of the Empire is on full display. And it’s fitting given the time in which the series is taking place: this is a time when the Rebellion is in its fledgling stages. And unlike The Mandalorian or Obi-Wan Kenobi, there are no Jedi or mythic warriors to swoop in and save the day. Cassian has to depend on himself.

But what the show does touch upon is the importance of certain characters in the Star Wars universe. While he’s not a Skywalker or a Jedi, Cassian’s actions in Rogue One ended up turning the tide for the Rebellion. And his presence – or rather, absence – drives the other subplots. Rael’s paranoia over Cassian’s role in the Aldhani heist has him looking over his shoulder, even dispatching agents to Ferrix to look for him. And Bix has a target placed on her head thanks to Cassian’s actions, which is bound to put a strain on their already fractured relationship. No matter how Cassian might deny it, his actions have consequences – and writer Beau Willimon is definitely interested in exploring those consequences.

Director Toby Haynes also emphasizes the bleakness of Cassian’s situation via the environment. In stark contrast to the crystalline oceans of Narkina 5 the Imperial facility that Cassian is locked up in is a stark white. Prisoners are forced to wear white, referred to as numbers instead of names, and it’d be generous to call their living quarters “sparse”. That same banal design is present in the ISB headquarters, as well as the sector where Karn works. And Ferrix being overrun by Imperial troops makes for a bleak sight.

When it comes to the performances within the episode, Luna once again lets his facial expressions do the talking. At first, Cassian is confused and bewildered, not seeing a way out of his situation. And as time passes, he slowly grows resigned to his fate. Skarsgard is also a standout, especially when he comes face-to-face with another Rogue One alum. The passion and conviction with which he speaks are extremely magnetic. But the real MVP of Andor Episode 8 is Soller, who gives Karn just as much passion in his search for Andor. The Rebellion isn’t the only force in the galaxy with people who are willing to go the distance for their goals, and Karn is a clear example of that. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he and Cassian end up facing each other before the season’s end.

Andor Episode 8 places its hero in an impossible situation and explores how his absence affects the people in his life. With only four episodes left in Season 1, there’s no telling where the end will leave Cassian. But given how the series has been going so far, I definitely expect a great finale.

New episodes of Andor will be available to stream Wednesdays on Disney+.


Andor Episode 8 — "Narkina 5"
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

Andor Episode 8 places its hero in an impossible situation and explores how his absence affects the people in his life. With only four episodes left in Season 1, there’s no telling where the end will leave Cassian. But given how the series has been going so far, I definitely expect a great finale.

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