Andor episode 12 review: "Star Wars at its absolute best"

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Andor’s homecoming on Ferrix brings together its key characters for a fond farewell to a first season that redefined what to expect from Star Wars. Despite a few missteps, the finale turns the tide on the war against the Empire in satisfying and brutal fashion

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Warning! This review contains spoilers for Andor episode 12. If you've not yet caught up, turn back now!

Andor’s season finale begins with a literal bomb being built. Intricately and painstakingly constructed, it’s a powerful statement of intent that acts as something more – a reflection of the series: a carefully plotted and tension-filled first season that has been waiting for the right moment to blow. It all amounts to a ferocious adrenaline blast that, while tainted by a flat final 10 minutes, cements the show as Star Wars at its absolute best.

Thunder starts to rumble as the major players converge on Ferrix. Andor has slinked his way back to the planet; Dedra is barking orders before Maarva’s funeral; Luthen, Vel, and Cinta are watching from the shadows in the hopes of striking Andor down; even Syril shows his face. With how little these characters have shared the same space up until now, it produces a suffocating, anxious energy that permeates throughout the finale. As opening acts go, this is a masterclass in suspense and tension, only possible thanks to the meticulous character work put into the rest of the series.

With the mood set, Andor gets to work. He quickly finds out he needs to rescue Bix – who is completely broken – from the ISB-held hotel, all while paying respects to his adoptive mother Maarva. But just when you think the finale is settling into its rhythm, the funeral starts early. It’s a clever, disruptive narrative choice that keeps the viewer guessing as well-laid plans from all corners start to slowly unravel.

It also offers a chance for Andor’s production team to really flex their creative muscles. Up until now, the show’s color palette had been fairly muted. Here, Maarva’s funeral is a cacophony of color, all yellows and reds popping off the earthy landscape surrounding the funeral march – a celebration of life not too dissimilar to the one in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. It’s all smartly aided, too by the chimes of the anvil being struck in the town square. If you weren’t already acutely aware, the clangs are a reminder that the narrative bomb is about to go off.

It’s a shame, then, that the middle third of the finale doesn’t continue the hot streak. As the pressure cooker boils over on Ferrix and news of Anto Kreegyr’s death filters through to ISB, a great deal of these fantastic, multi-faceted characters are left standing around in silence as big moments unfold. Without Stellan Skarsgard’s cutting delivery or Denise Gough’s Dedra putting the fear of God into everyyone, it feels like a waste of their considerable talents. At least Maarva’s posthumous address gives Fiona Shaw – perhaps Andor’s most underutilized actor – a chance to sign off with a fiery flourish.

It's that crucial act, sold by Shaw’s mix of joyous rebellion and hardened anger, that radicalizes the town and sets the powder keg aflame. That (literal) bomb, thrown by one Ferrix citizen, causes further fighting to erupt. The battle between the townsfolk and the Empire is unlike anything we’ve seen so far in Star Wars; it’s all panic and chaos, with men being trampled and senior officers holding the line behind the cavalry. It’s as close to a full-on gritty war movie as we’ll likely get in a galaxy far, far away – and it also helps deliver one of the finale’s most surprising twists.

Dedra, having been in full control up until this point, is dragged into the bottom of a baying mob and only rescued by her puppy dog subordinate/possible stalker Syril. For the first time in the series, weakness is written all over her face. Gough sells it superbly with the haunted look of someone who has lost everything, all while Kyle Soller’s snivelling bootlicker looks set to smack the world’s most awkward kiss on Dedra’s lips.


(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Thankfully, that doesn’t come to pass. What remains, however, is far more intriguing. With the power dynamic reversed, Dedra’s shellshocked response is one of the more interesting and open-ended wrinkles that the finale leaves primed to explore in the Disney Plus series’ second season. If Dedra is broken – the irony won’t be lost on Bix – how does she build herself back up? And what happens when she does?

Amid all the chaos, Andor pulls off a surprisingly stress-free prison break – no swimming this time – with Bix and returns her to a ship and away to safety. While it’s a much-needed breath of relief in an episode crammed with heightened tension, it does fall a little flat. Andor promises he’ll return to Bix and the assorted crew of people and droids, including Brasso and B2EMO, but Diego Luna’s budding revolutionary hasn’t spent enough time with many of these characters for us to really care whether he makes it back to them. As finale cliffhangers go, it sputters at a moment when it should be thunderous and emphatic.

The final Luthen and Andor showdown offers more – but doesn’t quite live up to its incredibly high potential. The prospect of a physical (or mental) battle between a desperate Luthen and an Andor who has changed dramatically since the pair last met is enticing but, in truth, it holds back a little too much. Andor’s proposition of “kill me or take me in” is an oddly deflating end to a series, especially as the most un-Andor of deployments – a post-credits scene showing the Death Star – was yet another reminder of the challenge facing down these rebels.

Even with those handful of undercooked moments, the Andor finale still delivered on its promise. The Empire’s grasp has been weakened oh-so-slightly in frenetic fashion, Dedra and Syril’s relationship offers plenty to ponder for the next season, while Andor and Mon (whose storyline only crawled along in the finale with her deliberately feeding false information to the ISB) are now in stronger positions than they were previously. Talk of the next season suggests that Andor will cover a larger span of time up until the events of Rogue One. If that’s the case, we’ll miss this version of Andor: an intimate portrait of loss, rebellion and sacrifice that is the best thing Star Wars has done in decades.

And that's the end of the first season of Andor. For more, check out our guide to all the upcoming Star Wars movies heading your way soon.

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Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.