The HoloFiles

REVIEW: Andor: Episode 5

By Josh Bate

Andor’s first four episodes were a foraging into a new direction for the Star Wars franchise, taking advantage of the television format to tell a slow burn story that allowed for a full exploration of the title character, Cassian, and the other major players like Bix, Syril, and Mon Mothma.

Episode 5, titled The Axe Forgets, continues this pattern as the story of a small Rebellion on Alnahni further develops. Last week, audiences were introduced to the crew of misfits that plan to take down an Imperial base on the planet, and this new outing explores the group much further.

Andor retains its prestige television feel, particularly with its writing and dialogue. Once again, there’s no action in the episode, such is the contrast between this and other Star Wars shows like The Mandalorian. That style works excellently for Jon Favreau’s series, and it’s hard to argue against what Tony Gilroy is doing here with Andor. The long, drawn out dialogue sequences are compelling and the depth of character work on display is a refreshing change from some of the other Disney+ series, particularly those coming from Marvel Studios.

A particular point of praise must go to the visuals of Andor. Fans have been reveling in the return to practical effects and locations, and The Axe Forgets highlights this style more than any episode yet. The scope and scale of this Rebellion group’s camp on the planet is something that simply can’t be achieved on this level without filming on location. The planet isn’t even particularly unique in terms of its climate or visuals, yet the real world location in the UK carries it heavily. The prestige drama feel is exasperated by the direction of Susanna White, making the episode flow stylistically and visually.

This episode focused on Cassian far more than some of the previous outings, with little time for Luthen Rael or Syril Karn. Meanwhile, Bix was no where to be seen, and the planet of Ferrix was shown only briefly as the Imperial stronghold grows stronger. This gives Diego Luna ample time to explore the character of Andor at this point in his life, where he’s much more grey and selfish than his appearance in Rogue One. The seeds are clearly being planted, though, with Cassian beginning to bond with other members of the Rebellion as they are about to embark on a potentially life threatening mission. Cassian lives, but the fate of everyone else in the group remains unclear. On a side note, one wonders if Cassian’s commitment to the Rebellion will be complete if/when he gives away the valuable Kyber Crystal he holds onto so dearly in this episode.

Andor’s writing moves so fast, despite the deliberately slow place of the show, that the quality of these episodes are heightened greatly upon rewatch. There are so many details, ones that are throwaway in nature and also more important to the story of the show, that become clearer when watching it again. Episode 5 is no different, but when it comes to certain story beats it could be beneficial to repeat some things. This is a very different type of Star Wars series, though, and Andor thrives in its nuance. The quick or you missed it type dialogue appears to be a mere consequence of the subtly, for better or worse.

VERDICT: 8.5/10

Andor episode 5 is more of the same, with audiences surely knowing what to expect from the series at this point. Diego Luna gives his best performance as Cassian Andor yet, and the way this show is going, one expects him to get even better as the season goes on. The pieces are being placed for a tense conclusion and meeting between Cassian, the Imperial elements, and Syril.

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