As of late, I feel like the crazy town crier with a bell and board that reads “watch Andor”. Unfortunately, due to the likes of The Rise of Skywalker, The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars has lost a lot of goodwill with fans, both casuals and dedicated alike. If that sounds like you then I beg you, please reconsider so you can check out Andor. It’s been great all along, but episode six is unbelievable.
The Eye (which just so happens to be the name of the most recent episode of Rings of Power) finally executes the heist Andor and company have been planning since episode four. Much like last week’s episode, Mon Mothma and Luthen are almost absent from the runtime again, but while I was critical of their absence, this week is a whole other ball game. The episode dedicates almost all of its runtime to the heist, from the staging, infiltration, firefight and subsequent escape. The final result is nothing short of sheer excellence, thanks largely in part to the setup of the previous episodes, but also superb attention to detail, cinematography, editing and, once again, writing.
Most of this episode of Andor adopts a real-time approach to the heist. Characters will shout out how much longer they have until their countdown expires. I’m not sure if it’s 100% real-time, but it’s at least close and that sense of time and urgency is felt throughout the heist, from its slower and uncertain start, where the once steadfast Vel exhibits signs of doubt and fear, to the breakneck conclusion. The score from Nicholas Britell only makes this sensation that much more prominent, thanks to a musical theme that starts off quieter only to crescendo over time, punctuated by a ticking beat to drive tension.
The heist goes off more or less as planned. The team infiltrates the base (with a nice little homage to GoldenEye perhaps?) and successfully steals around 80 million credits from the Empire. But things still end up a little rockier than expected. For one, the radio jammer doesn’t work and the heist is uncovered by the communication agent in the tower. When the agent was tinkering with the dials and levers, trying to find a clear signal, it brought to mind the agents working the radios in the Second World War. I really love how analog Andor feels. I also love how subtle the episode is. A new character, Commandant Beehaz, who is a larger fellow, can’t get his belt on properly, which highlights one of Andor’s previous comments about how the Empire is getting fat and lazy.
Despite all the action, we do get a lot of important character moments. We learn that Barcona, who totally didn’t betray them as I thought he would, used to be a stormtrooper and that little detail tells us a lot about the Empire, as now we have two defectors in this little band. Lieutenant Gorn states to Beehaz that seven years working for him is essentially worse than hanging. Poor Nemik dies while being crushed by the credits, but not before giving flight path instructions to Andor to get them out. Skeen, on the other hand, reveals that he’s in it for himself and offers to kill the survivors in exchange for half of the loot. At face value, Skeen is Andor’s denial, in it for the money and not for a larger purpose. But despite Andor’s continued denial, he shoots down Skeen, saving Vel and the payload for the Rebellion. She gives Andor Nemik’s manifesto, which is certainly going to reinforce the ideologies that Andor already believes in subconsciously. If Andor really was a mercenary, he would have let Skeen take the money.
This episode is also gorgeously shot, with the practical location cinematography offering a sense of world to the scenes. But this week is also bolstered by some beautiful CGI in the form of the celestial event we’ve heard spoken about over the last two episodes. Meteors of orange, green and blue dominate the sky, creating a visual feast for the eyes. A shot of a TIE fighter pilot entering his cockpit, silhouetted against the event must rank as one of the best Star Wars shots ever. It’s a violent and dangerous event, but only one to marvel at and celebrate, as the local indigenous population does.
Back on Coruscant, Mothma speaks to an emptying Senate, distracted by the events on Aldani, but the already empty room showcases the indifference to galactic politics at this point. Her speech is also leading into an important event, assuming they’re going to pull from the E.U., which at this point, certainly seems like it. Luthen laughs with joy upon hearing about the heist being a success, while the ISB enter crisis mode and Karn is completely missing this week. But that’s okay, this episode was wise to put almost all of the screen time on Andor and company. Next week, I’ll imagine we’ll be seeing the fallout of the heist from the point of view of the secondary characters, but we’ll have to wait and see to be certain.
In the end, this episode of Andor is nothing short of fantastic. I can’t sing its praises enough. I love The Mandalorian for its adventure and for feeling like Star Wars, but Andor is a different beast altogether. Exceptional writing and great characters are coupled with movie-level cinematography and production. The Eye will stand as one of the best things in the Star Wars universe, regardless of medium.