How many other Disney shows would dare to spend an entire episode building up to a set-piece we don’t even get to see? Andor slowly unveils its story this week, but it still manages to feel like one of the most compelling corners of the Star Wars universe.
If the first three episodes felt like one long prologue, episode four settles slightly more comfortably into the format we can probably expect – Cassian (Diego Luna)
now well on his way to becoming a proper rebel.
He’s still got a long way to go though. Cassian might have escaped the cops with Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård), but he definitely doesn’t trust him. An angry speech (and the promise of 200k) helps just enough to keep him from getting off at the next stop, and the show takes us to Aldhani to show us what the rebel alliance looked like before the Skywalkers turned up. Also to show us how cool a TIE fighter looks when it’s flying over the Scottish highlands.
Here, we meet tough nut Vel (Faye Marsay), a rebel fighter working for Luthen on a guerrilla mission deep in the woods. She’s holed up with Skeen (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), Taramyn (Gershwyn Eustache Jnr), Nemik (Alex Lawther) and Cinta (Varada Sethu) – all looking dirty and rough enough to never be allowed near the upholstery on the Millennium Falcon. Not that they could ever afford their own ship anyway.
These are the early days of the rebellion and the heroes here are still very much a bunch of grubby revolutionaries sleeping in ditches. They all seem to hate Cassian for gate crashing their party, but not as much as Lieutenant Gorn (Sule Rimi), who arrives late to scream at Vel and to explain the upcoming heist with a little model made of sticks.
The plan here is to rob the payroll for an entire Imperial sector (“a chance to really hurt the Empire”) and escape on a slow-moving truck under the cover of a local solstice event. It’s a suicide mission, and the window of success seems ridiculously slim, but all that will have to wait for next week…
Meanwhile, Luthen is busy trying on wigs. Keeping his character deliberately in the shade, Skarsgård shows his range here by transforming from grizzled rebel general to preening antiques dealer with nothing but a bit of blush. Flying off solo to Coruscant, he checks into his arty boutique and welcomes senator Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly, reprising her role from Rogue One, Rebels and Revenge Of The Sith).
There’s a neat bit of backstory given here as we get to see Mothma’s own path from the Imperial Senate to the leader of the rebellion – starting off having to hide her true ambitions even from her husband. The business being discussed in secret here is finance, with Luthen trying to persuade Mothma to fund Cassian’s salary and her desperately trying to explain how little resources they really have.
Over on the other side, money doesn’t seem to be a problem. The Imperial HQ looks like an Apple store – Andor boldly giving its bad guys grey office blocks and bored bureaucrats instead of black chrome and stormtroopers.
Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) is a low-level careerist who wants to climb the greasy ladder by sorting out the Cassian problem herself. And shamed cop Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) has gone back to live with his mum. The way Andor is crafting its villains here is revolutionary stuff for Star Wars – this isn’t a bunch of Sith Lords fuelled by magic wizard hate, this is overconfident corporate pettiness at its most believable.
- Mention of an “increase in shipments going to Scarif” nods to the Imperial base we later see destroyed in Rogue One (the scene of Cassian’s final battle).
- Luthen gives Cassian a blue kyber stone, the gem used to construct a lightsaber (specifically used by a Jedi, such as Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi).
- A quick mention of Saw Gerrera opens things up for the debut of another key rebel character. Is Forest Whitaker going to make an appearance in Andor?
‘Andor’ releases new episodes on Disney+ every Wednesday