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‘Andor’ Episode 8 Recap: The Empire Tightens Its Grip

The eighth episode of 'Andor' meditates on the concept of imprisonment. In some cases, it's literal, while in others, it's the culture fostered by the Empire that keeps the characters chained to their roles.
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At the end of The Eye, the fantastic seventh episode of Andor, Imperial Admiral Wulf Yularen tells the ISB that the only question the Empire needs to answer is “how tight should we close our fist?” The answer, it turns out, is rather tight. Andor has functioned as much as a prequel to Rogue One as it has a preface for the nearly cartoonish villainy seen in the Empire of A New Hope and its sequel films. 

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Authoritarian governments try to suffocate their victims slowly, as Luthen notes in Andor. The Empire didn’t want to spark full-blown rebellion in its early days, so it was careful to adopt the trappings of democracy and civilized society. The Emperor waits nearly two decades before he dissolves the Senate, even if the legislative body is largely powerless by the time of the Battle of Yavin anyway. But some of the Empire’s most extreme measures seem to have been direct responses to the provocation of enterprising rebels like Cassian and Luthen.

As Cassian suffers in an Imperial labor camp and Mon Mothma struggles to move her finances to help the nascent Rebellion, it’s clear that the net is closing in on all sides. The Rebellion’s first salvo, robbing the Imperial garrison at Aldani, has had the desired effect. While the average people of the galaxy might have not noticed Imperial overreach for the past fifteen years, it’s impossible to ignore the Empire’s gloved fist now.

Cassian in Prison

After being caught loitering in the wrong place at the wrong time, Cassian is thrown into an Imperial prison for six years. He was truly doing nothing at all, and Shoretroopers on a resort planet simply threw him in jail for “looking around” too much. The prison, located on a new planet called Narkina 5, is a hellish place where hope goes to die.

Prisoners are forced to walk barefoot on steel plates that conduct electricity. The guards have protective footwear that insulates them from disciplinary shocks. Cassian and his fellow prisoners are tasked with creating an endless stream of nondescript equipment for the Empire, and each block of prisoners is pitted against each other to see who can be the most productive. It’s an insidious attempt to head off any uprisings before they start by constantly sowing division among men who suffer in this nondescript purgatory.

The episode intercuts to Cassian’s new life, and a month goes by as he acquaints himself with his fellow inmates and tries to make sense of this unfair turn of events. It’s hard to see this incident doing anything but hardening Cassian into a full-on Rebel sympathizer. After all, the Empire’s unjust treatment is enough to make anyone hate them.

Developments on Ferrix

Back on Ferrix, Bix is worried about Cassian’s mom, Marva. Marva has fully embraced the Rebellion, but her failing health makes it difficult for her to sabotage Imperial outposts or spy on Stormtroopers. Bix wants to help her live somewhere with indoor heating and more comfortable accommodations, but Marva refuses. She wants to help the Rebels in any way she can.

Meanwhile, ISB agent Dedra grills Syril Karn about his role in attempting to arrest Cassian on Ferrix. Karn proves unhelpful, as he can’t give any details that will help the ISB find Luthen (who they only know by the codename “Axis”) or help them find Cassian. Little does the ISB know, the Empire already has Cassian in custody under the assumed name “Keef Girgo.” Good work on covering your identity there, Cassian.

Dedra and the ISB land on Ferrix to learn more about Cassian, the only man they know who has a concrete connection to Axis. There, they apprehend Bix and plan to use any means necessary to interrogate her for information regarding Cassian. Naturally, she’s not going to be any help–no one has any idea where the master thief is, even his closest friends.

Familiar Faces

This episode also sees a few legacy characters make their welcome returns. Cassian meets an almost unrecognizable Melshi in prison, a character who will later help break Jyn Erso out of prison in Rogue One. Here, he’s already defeated: he tells “Keef” that no one will ever get out of this prison and that the Empire will just keep adding time to everyone’s sentence indefinitely.

Meanwhile, Luthen meets with Saw Gerrera, the insurgent who was trained by Jedi to fight against the Separatists. He’s making good use of that training, arming and operating a Rebel cell known as the Partisans. Luthen and Saw don’t see eye-to-eye, which is no surprise given the latter’s predilection for senseless violence and unconscionable war crimes.

The ensemble is coming together and everything is coming to a head. War is the only outcome that can stem from the Rebel’s constant agitations and the Empire’s swift overreactions. The only question now is what role will our hero Cassian play in the conflict to come?