It’s the day of the big heist. Andor’s biggest episode starts with a beautifully soggy conversation between Cassian (Diego Luna) and Nemik (Alex Lawther) about hope and loyalty. The future rebel has neither at the moment, but he’s finally well on his way.
After months of planning, everything is in place for the robbery on Aldhani – with the planet’s annual solstice event attracting the best of the Dhani locals and the worst of the Imperial brass. Commandant Beehaz (Stanley Townsend) lays out the Empire’s soft power tactics in another example of Andor understanding real evil more than the rest of the Star Wars universe ever has. He knows they need to keep the plebs happy enough to control them, using free buses and cheap drinks to keep the numbers down during ‘The Eye’ (think the stone circle at Glastonbury meets the Northern Lights).
Luckily, the rebels have something more aggressive in mind. Now dressed as imperial troops, Cassian, Nemik, Skeen (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) and Taramyn (Gershwyn Eustache Jnr) join the troops on site – while Vel (Faye Marsay) and Cinta (Varada Sethu) swim under the loch and an undercover Gorn (Sule Rimi) leads from the inside.
Beehaz swaps sheep skins with the local druid preist (both looking disgusted with each other) and Vel stalls out of fear, not quite the tough nut she pretends to be. As ‘The Eye’ starts, Andor breaks out its most impressive set-piece so far – somehow filling the sky with CGI sparkles and still managing to look grounded and gritty.
The heist starts scrappily but they get there in the end, taking Beehaz hostage and forcing him to load up his own stolen credits in the cargo bay. Obviously, something goes wrong. The radio signals are jammed but not quite enough to stop a platoon of troops from overhearing the wrong crackle and running down to the vault to investigate. A shootout starts and everything gets messy.
Gorn gets shot. Beehaz has a heart attack. Nemik gets crushed. Cassian just manages to get the escape ship into the sky but the TIE fighters are close behind – Andor using the multi-coloured solstice to give us one of the best looking dogfights in Star Wars so far. Now halved in numbers, Cassian takes over from Vel and heads to the nearest hospital, determined to try and save Nemik’s life.
Too late. With a (four-armed) doctor failing to bring Nemik back around, the rebels lose the heart and brains of their whole operation. And that’s not all… seizing his own chance, Skeen asks Cassian if he wants to help him run off with the money (“I am a rebel, but it’s me against everyone else…”) Not considering it for even an instant, Cassian shoots him in the head, mid-pitch, and asks Vel for his own original cut at gunpoint. He might have completed his first mission for the Rebel Alliance but he doesn’t want any part of it anymore. For now, at least.
- The spark of romance between Vel and Cinta gets another flicker this week but Andor still stops short of revealing the first gay couple in Star Wars (that isn’t brief enough to be easily edited out in China…)
- Taramyn is another defected stormtrooper – setting the pattern for Finn and Jannah in later chapters.
- Vel hands Cassian Nemik’s “manifesto” as he leaves, surely giving him the motivation he needs to get back in the fight? With Luthen’s crystal now handed back there’s nothing else holding him.
‘Andor’ releases new episodes on Disney+ every Wednesday