*Warning: the following article contains spoilers for episode six of Andor*
Doesn’t it feel good to have great Star Wars content on Disney+? Because this week’s episode of Andor was terrific. After two weeks of painstaking buildup, here’s Andor delivering one of the best action set-pieces crafted from Star Wars in a very long time. One that is still exciting and amazingly choreographed even if you know Cassian Andor’s (Diego Luna) fate.
Of course, it was written on the wall that Ebon Moss-Bachrach‘s character, Arvel Skeen, was going to die. Whenever you cast him in a television project, there’s a good chance his character dies halfway through the series. And would you look at that? He gets killed by Cassian Andor after he tries to convince him they leave Vel Sartha (Faye Marsay) and split the payroll data between the two…on the sixth episode of a twelve-episode series. His characters either die halfway through or is a massive asshole to everyone around them. In Andor, he was both. Yes, he portrayed Skeen brilliantly, but did he need to be this selfish? I’m not sure, but I hope Bachrach will be getting more roles where he’ll make it to the finale.
Aside from that, the episode further fleshes out Andor’s relationship with Karis Nemik (Alex Lawther), who unfortunately bites the dust after trusting him with his life. Two crates of payroll crushing Nemik’s stomach unfortunately fatally injure him. They try to save him through one of Star Wars’ most creative-looking doctors, but to no avail. Nevertheless, Nemik believed in the mission and in ‘Clem.’ When you see the devastation in Andor’s eyes as his body is lying, a genuine emotional attachment is made, which isn’t suitable for Andor as he was only here for the money after being sent over by Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård).
As for the mission itself, it’s the main attraction we have been anticipating for two episodes. And it doesn’t disappoint. I need to say what needs to be said right now: Tony Gilroy needs to be in charge of Star Wars. Not Kathleen Kennedy, nor Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau. Gilroy is the only filmmaker, aside from Rian Johnson, who has a clear vision of how Star Wars should evolve.
He knows that fans who want something truly spectacular don’t want to relive the past (which is probably why Obi-Wan Kenobi came and went) but want to see the endless world of Star Wars expand even more. And in doing a spinoff on Rogue One with Cassian Andor, Gilroy knew one thing: reliving the past or constantly winking at Rogue One wouldn’t cut it. Of course, it would help if you were in a completely different storyline with brand-new characters. Aside from Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) and Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), who will appear in later episodes, Andor has no legacy characters and brand-new protagonists to attach ourselves to.
It’s a shame that some of them die in this week’s episode. Still, previous episodes took time to develop their arcs so that their deaths are emotionally invested and devastating for the character and the audience. It’s even better when the action feels tense! When I watch prequel movies where I know a character’s ultimate fate (Black Widow or Solo, for example), I don’t necessarily feel the weight when you have an action set-piece that puts the character in imminent danger because you know that the protagonist will be fine. Black Widow’s action is incredible, but we know Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) will survive the climax no matter what.
The same thing can be said for Andor, but there’s a sharp difference here. Because the show takes so much time developing Cassian’s arc through his relationship with new characters, you become emotionally invested in the story, no matter what you know will happen. And it becomes exhilarating when the action hits. Episode three had one of the most exciting Star Wars action scenes I’d seen in a while, but episode six’s is an even bigger one. Again, the choreography is vivid and exhilarating, with a tight, Jason Bourne-styled gunfight leading most of the scene.
But then it develops into an air fight as Cassian tries to avoid three TIE Fighters while Aldhani’s Eye forms in the sky, and oh my god. It is the most visually stunning setpiece I’ve seen in a Star Wars piece of media since the battle for Crait at the end of The Last Jedi. The Eye is a terrific framing device to set an aerial sequence inside an ever-changing, colorful sky. And the results are staggering. Unfortunately, I won’t reveal anything from that moment because it needs to be witnessed for yourself. Still, it’s a testament to Gilroy’s understanding of Star Wars from a screenwriting perspective and a visual standpoint. Susanna White‘s directing and Frank Lamm’s cinematography help bring the sequence to light, one of the most exceptional moments of Star Wars media I’ve seen all year.
One wonders in which direction Andor will take in its remaining six episodes. I have no idea for the first time in a long time, and that’s amazing. It’s keeping me on my toes, and I’m purely enjoying this incredible achievement in science-fiction television for what it is, without worrying about any possible fan theories on what could occur. My only hope for the show is this: that it gets even more exciting. That’s all I ask for.
The sixth episode of Andor is now available to stream on Disney+.