Andor episode 6 review: "An explosion of chaos and excitement"

GamesRadar+ Verdict

It all led to this. Andor’s heist (mostly) goes off without a hitch – but a few odd character moments means it stops short from being the best episode of Star Wars television yet.

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Andor has settled into its rhythm. The series is going through three-episode mini cycles of setup, tension, and action, a structure that deftly dials up the pressure until an explosion of chaos and excitement. It’s predictable in its own way, but no less thrilling, and the approach has led to one of the best Andor episodes yet – though it can’t escape a handful of nagging issues that stops it from being truly top-tier Star Wars.

The chaos and excitement doesn’t start straight away. We’ve spent three episodes getting to the heist, and the show makes us wait a little more. It’s clear the creative team – and actors – are enjoying every little character beat, with Andor and Nemik’s final clash of ideologies between stubborn hopelessness and the spark of something greater wringing out the last drop of thematic tension between ‘Clem’ and the group. It helps drive up the anxiety further too, which is no bad thing.

As the group marches towards the Imperial base, backed by the Dhani people making their pilgrimage to see The Eye of Aldhani, the objective is clear: the payroll in the vault. What’s less clear is who (or what) might stop them. The show, though, wisely introduces a new antagonist. Enter Commandant Jayhold, a snivelling member of the upper brass who has grown fat and complacent, and offers a very human face to represent the Empire’s evil. He’s a racist who threatens to hit his own child and exists in a perpetual state of smug self-worth. As an admittedly shoehorned-in villain, you couldn’t get a better foil for Andor and his group to hold up at gunpoint.

Once the team are in, Vel drops a line that hits like a bomb: “One path, one choice. We win or everyone dies.” From here, the scenes become a little more breathless as the group winds their way through the Imperial base. Yet, while the heist mostly goes off without a hitch, there are a handful of narrative faults. We expect casualties, but the way a handful goes down is completely un-Andor in places, feeling both rushed and devoid of suspense.

An image from Andor episode 6

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Despite Andor setting up these rebels for multiple episodes, Gorn and Taramyn both fall with little fanfare – almost a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-moment – and, in turn, Nemik’s later demise becomes telegraphed and obvious. Cinta being left on the planet, too, is a bizarre loose end, and is especially egregious given the reveal that she was the one in a relationship with Vel. The heist itself promises much yet ultimately doesn’t quite live up to lofty expectations. Vel and Cinta’s Metal Gear Solid-style underwater entrance is fantastic, though those on the ground level felt robbed of peril.

The best heists – think Mission: Impossible – have a sense of danger at every turn. Even a corridor could be a roadblock. By contrast, Taramyn’s team jumps from room to room, barking out orders and meeting very little resistance. That speaks to a job well done in the planning stage, but doesn’t make for compelling viewing.

Andor soon wrestles back its goodwill with a pulse-pounding escape. The brief firefight and TIE Fighter dogfight are set against the beautiful backdrop of The Eye. If there was ever a scene that demanded to be watched on the biggest television imaginable with the sound system pumping, it’s this moment. Expect it to be a feature of bleary-eyed, nostalgia-tinged early-morning YouTube binges in a few years’ time.

Star Wars has always looked great, and the scene pushes the series to a level that almost felt unimaginable before ‘The Eye’. VFX artists are always given short shrift – we should never notice a job well done and they get untold flak if something looks rough – so their work deserves to be celebrated here.

An image from Andor episode 6

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

A post-escape detour to the wonderfully-named Doctor Quadpaw (he has four arms, naturally) helps sign this episode off with a bang. The show has proved adept at being able to twist the knife in when you least expect it and so it proves again with Skeen’s offer of betrayal to Andor. Diego Luna gives his best performance as the character to date, not only dispatching Skeen with a cold ruthlessness, but also giving Vel a take it or leave it offer as Nemik lies dead on the doctor’s operating table.

Through the selfishness and money-grabbing, Andor does leave with one gift: the manifesto. The fire burning inside of him as he departs in the doctor’s ship may be one of anger, yet it’s soon going to turn to something far greater. Nemik may be dead, but he gets a final win: Andor isn’t a lost cause. The open-ended mystery of how that emotion manifests itself is something that will likely drive the second half of the opening season.

News then trickles through to Coruscant. The Empire has an all hands on deck meeting, while Mon Mothma’s dry bill reading is interrupted by the collective murmurs of senators reacting to the Aldhani heist. The final full stop is left to Stellan Skarsgård’s Luthen. In the prior episode, he was a ball of energy and restlessness. Here, like the viewers, he signs off with a deep, sharp intake of breath. It was a rollercoaster ride just to get here and now, for the rebellion, it’s only just getting started.

New episodes of Andor stream on Disney Plus every Wednesday. 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.