Andor 1×08 Review: “Narkina 5”

Narkina 5
Cassian (Diego Luna) in “Narkina 5.”

Cassian must adjust to life in Imperial prison “Narkina 5” while the Empire ramps up its investigation of the Rebellion after the Aldhani heist.

Sentenced to six years in prison at the end of “Announcement,” Cassian (Diego Luna), or “Keef,” is forced into Imperial prison “Narkina 5.” Still in disbelief of the quick turn of events, Cassian still proclaims his innocence as he’s ushered to the secluded prison. Like much of the series’ depiction of the Empire, the brutal prison system effectively reflects the real world.

The Imperial prison guards quickly show Cassian and the other new prisoners the rules of the prison. They demonstrate the torture device that will be used if they step out of line and explain they will be put to work. Though Luna’s performance has been great throughout the series, he really excels in this episode as he portrays Cassian’s horror and bewilderment at his new predicament.

The guards soon introduce Cassian to his new boss, Kino (Andy Serkis). Cassian barely has any time to process before being forced on the production line. The lighting, music, and Luna’s performance combine to really display the horror of the dystopian existence. Though Cassian gets acclimated to life in Narkina 5, with a time jump of thirty shifts (or days), life in the prison remains unsettling.

Not realizing that Cassian is in Empire custody, Dedra (Denise Gough) takes an interest in Syril (Kyle Soller) and his obsession with Cassian. She tasks him to provide the gaps missing from the report of Cassian’s attempted arrest. Though the two are initially cold towards each other in the interrogation, Syril argues his usefulness to Dedra. Both character’s eagerness to serve the Empire individually is already alarming, and the prospect of the two of them working together is even more terrifying.

On the Rebellion side, Luthen (Stellan Skarsgard) meets with Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) and the two have a disagreement about the Rebellion’s direction. It’s nice to see Whitaker return to the role after Rogue One, though it’s unclear whether he will have more appearances in the series. Vel (Faye Marsay) and Cinta (Varada Sethu) finally reunite as they stake out Cassian’s home planet in hopes of finding him. Though brief, I enjoyed getting more context about their relationship.

Saw Gerrara (Forest Whitaker) in “Narkina 5.”

While the series’ focus on developing its characters and worldbuilding has been overall compelling, the episode could have used some trimming. In particular, the storyline with Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) slowed the episode’s pacing. After previously seeing Mothma attempt to leverage her political power to fight against the Empire’s policies and be at odds with her family, the sequences in this episode felt redundant.

In addition to Cassian, Bix (Adria Arjona) finds herself in the Empire’s clutches are the episode’s end. After attempting to care for Maarva (Fiona Shaw), she ends up running from the Empire during an incident in town. Unable to escape, the Imperial officers bring her to Dedra for interrogation regarding her association with Cassian. While I hope that Bix gets out of the experience unscathed, it seems unlikely with the Empire’s ruthlessness.

Though “Narkina 5” had many interesting moments, Cassian’s current predicament was the most compelling. Cassian will unlikely be in the prison long, as the duration of his sentence would last past the events of Rogue One. It will be interesting to see how he will get out, and how the Rebellion continues to take shape under the Empire’s tyranny.

Author: Jessica Wolff

Jessica Wolff is a graduate of Drexel University with a BS in Film/Video. She has a passion for entertainment and representation in entertainment. She currently resides outside of Washington, DC.


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