By Josh Reilly B.
Andor is officially in its second half of its first season after episode seven, titled Announcement, debuted on Disney+ this morning. The series, starring Diego Luna, Kyle Soller, Denise Gough, Genevieve O’Reilly, and Stellen Skarsgaard has already been renewed for season two.
The previous three episodes were focused on Aldhani, the planet that the group of rogue Rebels were on and successfully executed their heist and mission against the Empire. Last week, The Eye almost felt like a season finale, such were the stakes of the episode, especially as some characters met their end. Because of that, there appeared an expectation for Announcement to take it down a notch and regroup after everything that happened.
Perhaps surprisingly, episode seven continues to expand the scope and scale of the series, even as it isn’t as action packed as the last outing. Announcement features less of Cassian and more of Syril (who didn’t appear in the last episode at all), Mon Mothma, and more of the supporting cast. As the news of an attack against the Empire grows, so does the urgency for the likes of Syril and Mothma to do something about it, albeit on the opposite ends of the political spectrum.
Without spoilers, this episode definitely feels like a political thriller, even more so than the rest of Andor up until this point. The political spy themes were always there, but Announcement takes it up a notch. The dinner party scene with Mon Mothma in particular, where she puts on a brave face amidst Empire loyalists in order to ask her old school friend for help, feels like something right out of a show like The Americans. There’s a reason for that, too. Stephen Schiff, a key writer on that series, penned this episode of Andor. It’s telling, and the parallels are clear. Mon Mothma is acting like an Empire loyalist in the same way that Elizabeth and Philip Jennings do with the United States in the FX series. It all makes for a tense and captivating watch.
There’s more of the Empire as well, with scenes that show Cassian’s near perfect depiction of the corrupt regime. The hero of this story described them as being too full of themselves to even care to look around to see that a Rebellion was happening, which is exactly what occurred in this episode as the Imperials labeled the events on Aldhani as a heist rather than a Rebel incursion. George Lucas always spoke about the influence of Nazi Germany on his creation of the Empire, and those parallels have never been so clear than in this episode. Denise Gough is also given more to do here, delightfully so, appearing as the audience’s viewpoint (of sorts) in these Empire boardroom meetings. She is the only one who appears to take the events on Aldhani seriously, and it seems like she’s sounding an alarm that everyone else is too arrogant and ignorant to do anything about. All of this adds to the political thriller vibes of this episode.
The last three episodes have been so isolated on Aldhani that other characters like Bix were nowhere to be seen, but Adria Arjona’s hero came back into things in Announcement. Still reeling from Timm’s betrayal and death, Bix cut a defeated figure in her scene with Cassian. The two said their goodbyes again here, but it doesn’t seem like Cassian is done with Bix just yet, and for good measure. Bix appears to be one of the few who truly knows Cassian, making all of their conversations even more interesting.
One of the others that knows and understands Cassian is his adopted mother, Maarva, with whom he shares an emotional scene with in this episode. The writing is the biggest strength of Andor and it was on full display here. Even as audiences know the fate of Cassian in Rogue One, and even as there’s arguably higher stakes stories and characters out there to tell, the writing continues to make Andor emotionally resonant and gripping.
Again, without spoilers, the music kicks into another gear in this episode as well. The score in Andor so far has always been good, but it really hits new heights in this outing. It’s part political thriller, part Star Wars, and part Blade Runner, all coming together to make a unique and interesting score.
If there is a criticism to be had for this episode, it’s the somewhat jarring nature of an undefined time jump that occurs towards the end. Cassian runs away to a beach-like planet, and has a house and a woman he’s living with. It appears that it’s been at least a few months since his previous scene but, again, the timing of it is unclear. This makes it a little jarring, but that’s admittedly nitpicking.
If it wasn’t clear before, episode seven proves that Andor is the best show on television right now. The writing is exquisite and the performances from Diego Luna, Denise Gough, Genevieve O’Reilly, are exceptional.