Welcome to the review for Episode 5 of Andor, the latest Star Wars show on Disney Plus. It has been quite a road so far, and we are only on episode 5 of the show. Each week we get closer and closer to finally seeing the moment the rebellion is created, and with it, the moment when Leia takes the Death Star plans and sends the message to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Andor is still a prequel, and it falls into the same pitfalls as all prequels do, but its tone is really making it feel like something new and special in Star Wars.
Episode 5 is titled “The Axe Forgets”. The title comes from a conversation Cassian has with his teammate Skeen. There, Skeen tells Cassian the same old speech about how he hates the Empire and how the ones who oppress often forget about the ones being oppressed. You could say the saying is a sort of foreshadowing of what will come next in the Star Wars original trilogy. That theme certainly connects with how the Emperor’s confidence in his abilities ends up being his downfall.
Episode 5 keeps being, truly an amazing breath of fresh air for the franchise. After being victims of shows such as The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor really feels like a show that is made with love and care. The production values are just impressive, and with this episode, the show reaffirms that it is a mission for them to make this series look as if it were a theatrical experience. The look is very much in line with Rogue. Let’s hope that when the time comes to deliver in terms of action and storytelling, Andor can stick the landing just like in that movie.
It is a big concern that while Andor is definitely a good show, it doesn’t have the normal structure of a TV show. Dan Gilroy, who pens this episode, is undoubtedly a talented writer. There is no doubt about it. However, you can feel that the screenwriter wrote this as if it were a movie and not a TV show. Just like last week’s episode, Episode 5 ends in an underwhelming way, hyping up the final mission until the very end but not giving us any sort of hint about what is going to happen at all. Teasing is good, but you need something more.
Andor is definitely doing the whole “arcs” thing by hiring a duo of writer and director to handle the making of an entire mini-arc in a couple of seconds. The result is that we are getting a series of movies instead of a series consisting of episodes. Episodes 1-3 should have been 1 episode, and it seems like 3-6 are following the same path. These episodes are telling one single story within the frame of Andor and the creation of the rebellion, but the lack of a hook is really hurting the show. This should be a binge-watch, not a weekly release series.
Either way, the episode goes deeper into the group that is about to steal the entire quarterly pay of an entire Imperial sector. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is in fact part of the strategy of death by a thousand cuts. A strategy that is being identified by some members of the Empire, while others are simply dismissing it as a conspiracy theory. We, as audiences, know exactly what is going to happen, so it feels kind of sad to see some of those Imperial officers be utterly wrong.
The good thing about the episode is that it goes deeper into the motivations of the team, and it actually shows us who these people are. It isn’t very elegant. The episode has to ignite a lot of tension that isn’t there in the first place in order to create drama. But at least, it ends up giving the characters a personality that feels right for each of them. These are not the best characters ever put into a Star Wars story, but at least they are the bike gang from The Book of Boba Fett.
The episode also goes a bit into the life of Mon Mothma, but the character is still completely far away from our main storyline. Her interventions in this episode feel absolutely random, and while they build the status of her home life, these moments feel like they could have been anywhere else. Another sign that these three episodes, just like the three before them, were designed to be experiences that could be enjoyed in one sitting. Instead, Disney decided to cut this experience into three episodes each, and we are left with an episode with no hook at all.
Andor keeps being great, but we can only hope that the series becomes more cohesive as the story progresses. It might be already too late for Season 1, but they are making Season 2 right now, so there is still time to put some feedback into the final product.