Cassian (Diego Luna) finds himself in the middle of the Star Wars galaxy’s equivalent of the prison industrial complex in Andor Season 1 Episode 8. He struggles through his new tasks as the other characters wrestle with the Empire’s swift and forceful action in the wake of Aldhani.
At the episode’s start, Cassian and other prisoners line up to be transported to a prison facility on the moon Narkina 5. They give up their shoes, only to find out that the entire facility’s floor is steel – if anyone makes a wrong move, the floor electrifies. The guards are safe in their boots. Cassian and his fellow inmates get a taste of the electrocution in a brutal scene of pain.
Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) is at work in his new job when he’s interrupted and taken to meet Dedra Meero (Denise Gough). Syril has been requesting data on Cassian and Dedra’s noticed. She wants to know what he’s up to so she gives him the report about what happened on Ferrix so he can read it and help fill gaps. Meanwhile, Dedra briefs the Imperial Security Bureau (ISB). She’s begun to put the pieces together about an organized plot to procure Imperial tech, and it all points to “Axis” — their name for Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård). Later, Syril offers meager details, but wants to continue to be an asset for the ISB. Dedra threatens, however, to alert the higher-ups if Syril continues to file requests for information.
Back in the prison, the guards lead Cassian to the work room, where he’ll join other prisoners in making heavy equipment. His boss is Kino Loy, in a surprise appearance by Andy Serkis (not a newcomer to Star Wars, as he voiced the infamous Snoke in the sequel trilogy). Kino runs the whole floor with an iron fist during the inmates’ 12-hour shifts. He’s a prisoner, too, and he’s in competition with the other floors to produce the most output. At the table where he’s stationed, Cassian meets Melshi (Duncan Pow), who will later become a sergeant in the Rebel Alliance during the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It’s easy to miss this detail in Andor Season 1 Episode 8 since Melshi isn’t a main character in the film, but it’s another way Andor is connecting to Rogue One.
The prison scene is abysmal, relentless, and sterile. Cassian watches the hectic, repetitive action and looks overwhelmed. He’s in hell.
Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) and her friend Tay Kolma (Ben Miles) meet again to discuss her need for 400,000 credits, but Tay is having problems moving the money. Mon juggles her senatorial duties as she tries to gain votes to help her stop the Emperor’s overreach. We also learn that Mon became a senator at 16 – and, per the custom of their culture, married Perrin (Alastair Mackenzie) at 15.
After a shift of work, Cassian looks absolutely traumatized as he stands in line with the other workers ready to return to their bunks. Fellow prisoners explain Cassian’s cell to him, but they then question him about what’s going on in the outside world with the Public Order Resentencing Directive that doubled everyone’s time in prison because of rebel activity. Melshi warns Cassian to avoid checking the number. He believes the days of looking forward to freedom are over.
The inmates’ cells are open, but the floor is electrified at night. One day, the inmates wake to find a man lying dead on the floor. Another prisoner suggests he fell out on purpose.
Back on Ferrix, Bix (Adria Arjona) visits Maarva (Fiona Shaw) after the older woman had a fall. Bix tells Cassian’s friend Brasso (Joplin Sibtain) that the fall happened when she was trying to pry open a floodgate to see if there was still a tunnel under the hotel so the rebels could sneak in and attack stationed troopers. “She’s a rebel,” Bix tells him.
Down the street, Vel (Faye Marsay) and Cinta (Varada Sethu) meet up. Cinta wants to stay on Ferrix alone to wait for Cassian, but Vel wants them to stay together. Cinta tells her they’re in a fight to the death, and it’s clear for her that romance comes second after the rebellion. Cinta stays; Vel leaves.
Bix tries to make a radio call to Luthen. His assistant, Kleya (Elizabeth Dulau), refuses to answer. She wants to shut down the entire radio to Ferrix, but Luthen wants to keep looking for Cassian. He finally relents – and she cuts off the transmission. Bix, distraught, keeps trying to make contact, to no avail.
Afterwards, Luthen pilots his ship to the planet Segra Milo. We find another familiar face from Rogue One: Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), a character now well-known across media, including from the the animated show Rebels and the Fallen Order video game. Luthen meets with him and wants to make a deal: He’ll give Saw some good gear if Saw agrees to meet with Anto Kreegyr, a man who’s been probing an Imperial power station to look for weaknesses. He needs air support from Saw’s people. But Saw wants only to buy the gear, dismissing Anto as unintelligent. Luthen presses him, saying they need to antagonize the Empire so it continues to come down hard on the galaxy. “Oppression breeds rebellion,” he asserts. Saw won’t budge.
The Imperials spot Bix and chase her through the town. They arrest her and throw her in an interrogation chamber. Bix is thrown in a chair, and Dedra shuts the door ominously.
Andor Season 1 Episode 8 ends with a shot of the prison work room, the inmates grinding away at their relentless job.
At my first pass, this episode felt like drudgery to sit through; on second watch, though, I realized that that’s the point. The Empire turns worlds into hells. That’s the job of fascists. This doesn’t stand out as a fun or exciting episode – but it doesn’t set out to be. It shows us exactly what the Empire will do and how the rebels must contort themselves in response if they’re to gain any ground.