The 12 Best Scenes In Andor Season 1, Ranked

Initially written off as just another unnecessary spin-off for an ancillary character from a spin-off from the main film series, "Andor" has instead emerged as one of the most exciting, viscerally thrilling, politically charged additions to the "Star Wars" universe since, well, the very first film. With Tony Gilroy at the helm, the series features an array of new characters, masterful pacing, and a dark oppressive feel that hangs over every episode.

"Andor" has constantly hopped between genres, from a heist film to a prison escape to a rebel uprising. It's been described by some as "Les Misérables in space," not something you would expect from the studio that brought you the often frustratingly simple "Obi-Wan Kenobi" and "The Book of Boba Fett."

As well as a strong, nuanced turn from Diego Luna at its center, the series features beautifully observed performances from an incredible cast that includes Fiona Shaw, Andy Serkis, Denise Gough, and Stellan Skarsgård. The dialogue, performances, and craftsmanship on display have been so strong that it's almost impossible to narrow down a list of the best scenes. As such, take this as a rough guide of some of the show's standout sequences, by no means definitive. 

12. Nemik's manifesto

Prior to "Andor," politics in "Star Wars" rarely rose above "Rebellion good, Empire bad," so it's more than a little surprising that the authoritarianism of the Empire is so adroitly laid out across the series. Nemik (Alex Lawther) is the perfect embodiment of the idealism of the rebellion, and the manifesto he writes serves as something of a launching point for the central message of the series and even "Rogue One."

In truth, the heist plot was the most successful story arc, and Nemik was the most likable of the motley crew. He's the series' idealist and the one who first sparks the notion of rebellion in Cassian. Prior to the heist on Aldhani, Cassian is still a mercenary at heart. He's not part of the rebellion in any meaningful way, but it's his interactions with Nemik that first draw him into the rebellion mindset.

While Nemik's manifesto came back in a big way in the final episode, it's his bonding moments with Cassian that make him one of the most memorable characters, all while dropping truth bombs like, "It's easier to hide behind 40 atrocities than a single incident." Meanwhile, when his young companion gets the jitters about the upcoming heist, Cassian's "You'll sleep when it's done" is tragically prophetic. With that said, while counted as some of the best moments, there are other scenes that stick out even more. 

11. Mon Mothma recruits Tay Kolma

So many scenes in "Andor" are about the facade of public life under fascist rule, with secret identities, hidden agendas, and coded conversations ever-present throughout the series. Nobody has to contend with this as much as Mon Mothma (Genevieve O Reilly), a senator whose entire public life as a charitable senator is a charade, living with her imperial stooge husband Perrin (Alastair Mackenzie) and resentful daughter (Bronte Carmichael). In secret, she is funding the rebellion by diverting her family fortune, but with the Empire scrutinizing her every move she finds herself under increasing pressure to find someone who can help.

At a political party, she reaches out to Chandrilan friend Tay Kolma (Ben Miles), taking a massive risk and confiding her deepest secret to him. There's an incredible tension to the scene as she essentially puts her life in his hands. In a beautifully written and performed monologue she informs an increasingly disbelieving Tay of the extent of her involvement in the rebellion: "I show you the stone in my hand, you miss the knife at your throat."

The formal setting of a civilized chat over cocktails belies the danger that both characters are in simply by having this conversation in plain sight (she tells Tay to smile so as not to be noticed). The series is so convincing in its depiction of a society completely under the thumb of fascism, that having one moment where a character has their faith rewarded makes for one of the most liberating, exhilarating scenes of the series, and in its own way, it's just as thrilling as the more action-packed sequences. It says a lot about "Andor" that there are even better moments on the list than this memorable scene. 

10. Luthen's ship

Proof that despite the show's more grounded, cerebral tone, it could still deliver a thrilling action set-piece when necessary. After a tense meeting with Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), the rebel mastermind Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård) — code-named "Axis" by the Empire — is on his way back home when he is stopped on a routine Imperial inspection. Skarsgård's performance is wonderful here, effortlessly slipping from congenial compliance when talking to the Imperial officers to a steel-jawed determination as he calmly flicks switches to prepare for his escape.

The Imperial officers are so well cast in this series; none of them look cartoonishly evil, but at the same time they all have that perfect callous disdain for all civilians they encounter. It's a brilliantly concise, economic space battle, as Luthen outmaneuvers the Star Destroyer quickly and efficiently, dropping explosives to eviscerate the tractor beam before blasting the TIE fighters sent out to destroy him. In an inspired move, he bisects two of them with a giant red laser that shoots out from the sides. The look of dismay on the officer's face at the end of the carnage says it all. This is the Empire's first genuine encounter with "Axis," and it's not one they will forget anytime soon. 

9. Dedra tortures Bix

One of the most impressive feats of Tony Gilroy's script is the way he manipulates the audience into relating to Imperial Security Bureau (ISB) agent Dedra Meero (Denise Gough), casting her as the underdog in the context of her job, having to deal with bureaucracy from all quarters and being constantly underestimated and undermined by her colleagues. However, as Gough herself put it, "She is not just a woman in a man's world, but a fascist in a world of fascists. It was important to see that power corrodes women as much as men." 

It's easy to identify with Dedra, but her first interaction with Bix (Adria Arjona) is a rude awakening that she is a villain through and through; efficient, supremely competent, and utterly ruthless. Assisted by the disarmingly friendly Dr. Gorst (Joshua James), Dedra subjects Bix to a uniquely harrowing torture. Gorst is another brilliantly ghoulish creation. His cheerful little wave at his name being mentioned is a perfect introduction to the character. The torture method he has designed is horrific in its simplicity. He plays the victim the sounds of a race of alien creatures being wiped out. We only see the effect this sound has on Bix herself, but Arjona perfectly conveys the agony and trauma she goes through at that moment. "It doesn't take long," Gorst tells her. "But it won't feel that way to you."

8. Never more than 12

When we first meet Kino Loy (Andy Serkis) he's something of an antagonist. The tightly wound supervisor of the workstation on Narkina 5, he has learned to play by the rules in the dehumanizing environment of the prison, just keeping his head down and getting through his sentence. He immediately butts heads with Cassian, who begins planning an escape from his first day, and constantly pesters Kino about the number of guards on each floor, a question Kino steadfastly refuses to answer.

That is until the elderly Ulaf (Christopher Fairbank) collapses on the job, 40 shifts from freedom. Despite Kino's protestations, the facility doctor euthanizes Ulaf in what might be the most downright unsettling death in the entirety of "Star Wars." Kino's devastated, but it only gets worse once the doctor confides that a prisoner was accidentally "released" back onto another prison floor, leading to the guards killing all the convicts on that floor. The look on Kino's face as he realizes that none of them are ever getting released is a chilling moment. With no more hope left in him, he finally answers the question Cassian has been asking all episode. With a grim determination and never looking at Cassian, Kino responds, "Never more than 12." He's in.

7. That's the sound of a reckoning

The unique structure of "Andor" means that we get a natural story climax every three or so episodes, and the first indication of this comes at the meticulously constructed conclusion to the third episode. Fiona Shaw's Maarva in many ways provides the heart of the story. She's Cassian's adopted mother and responsible for some of the most heartbreaking moments in the show. Her goodbye speech to him ("That's just love. Nothing you can do about that"), for example, is just beautiful. But here it's her ominous warning to the Pre-Mor security guards watching her that sticks in the memory, as the people of Ferrix begin banging pipes to warn each other: "Hear that? That's the sound of a reckoning."

And indeed it is a reckoning for poor, determined fascist Syril Karn (Kyle Soller), whose career lies in ruins by the end of the episode. The ambush his men lay for Cassian and Luthen literally blows up in his face, and he is left in the wreckage, surrounded by furious townspeople as our heroes escape.

The episode's final moments are beautifully edited, as Cassian's escape into an uncertain future with Luthen is contrasted with his rescue as a child and departure from his home planet of Kenari. It might not be quite as memorable as some of the later stand-out scenes, but this is the moment where "Andor" became a show to take seriously.

6. Thesis, please?

There might not be much action in the scenes set in ISB headquarters, but they remain some of the most gripping and tense scenes in the series. In the best of these, the bickering and infighting of the internal politics came to a boil as the resentful Lieutenant Blevin (Ben Bailey Smith) attempts to undermine Meero's investigation into Ferrix.

Anton Lesser's understated performance as the quietly spoken Major Partagaz is one of the highlights of the season, and this scene is the perfect encapsulation of his chilling demeanor. When Meero defends herself and questions the validity of the sector guidelines set up by Partagaz himself, the silence in the room is deafening before he quietly intones the now iconic question, "Thesis, please?"

Partagaz is not proud, indignant, or thin-skinned, as we have become accustomed to seeing in Imperial officers, instead "saluting the provocative exchange of ideas." He is a ruthless taskmaster who instills fear in his underlings, and yet he also might be the most supportive boss we've seen in the "Star Wars" universe. He listens, and encourages initiative and endeavor in his underlings, supporting Dedra's investigation and even complimenting her resourcefulness. That being said, I'm fairly confident he's going to turn on Meera at some point in the future.

5. Maarva's funeral

The finale for the first season of "Andor" is a powder keg of an episode, as most of the main characters congregate on Ferrix for the funeral of Maarva Andor. The whole sequence builds suspense masterfully, with beautifully mournful brass band music. As the music swells, and the procession picks up speed, the population of Ferrix turns out en masse to say farewell to one of their most beloved citizens, in defiance of the occupying Imperial force.

Fiona Shaw brought such gravitas and pathos to her performance as Cassian's adopted mother, when she died off-screen many viewers were devastated that we wouldn't get a proper farewell. However, the finale gives her character one final blistering speech thanks to B2EMO, who projects a hologram of Maarva into the town square, where she makes a damning indictment of the Empire, telling her fellow residents to rise up against the Imperial oppressors. 

It's a powerful speech, building up an epic command to "Fight the Empire!" and leads to a full-scale revolt, but the whole build-up is just masterfully constructed. We see the looks of anguish on the faces of characters we haven't spent much time with but who make an indelible impression nonetheless. All of them are moved in different ways by Maarva's speech; even Luthen, watching from the sidelines, gives a wry smile as he sees the effect her speech is having on the townspeople and Imperials alike.

4. The Narkina 5 prison break

The climactic prison break from Narkina 5 remains the tensest, most thrilling sequence in "Andor" so far. With the shocking revelation that none of the convicts are getting out alive, they are all primed for the attack, and it falls to Cassian and Kino to lead the imminent uprising. From Kino's first "Attack!" we are on the very edge of our seats as they take over the facility, working their way to the control tower.

As well as a heart-stopping sequence, it also provides development for Cassian. He knows that he isn't the right person to lead the escape. He's a planner, not a figurehead, and urges Kino to address the prisoners rather than himself. Kino still uses Cassian's words to rouse the convicts, though, in a truly powerful speech, encouraging them all to escape with the mantra of, "One way out!"

That final moment of elation with the convicts jumping into the sea is brutally undercut by Kino's choked admission: "I can't swim." Serkis' delivery of that line is perfect — part disbelief, part laughing at his luck. Some have chosen to read this moment as a bitter irony, that after leading his fellow inmates to freedom he cannot leave, but we choose to read it differently. His line before the shift, where he says, "I'm gonna assume I'm already dead and take it from there," suggests that he knows he isn't going to be able to escape himself. He's seen the water surrounding the facility already, and knew that he wouldn't be able to escape, but led the uprising anyway. ("Burning his life to make a sunrise he will never see.") It makes his sacrifice much more impactful and beautifully fits in with the rest of the series' themes.

3. The Eye of Aldhani

One thing Tony Gilroy has to be applauded for is the restraint he has shown in the depiction of the familiar elements. There's virtually no nostalgic references, and the iconic iconography and designs of the original trilogy are used sparingly. For the first time in years, stormtroopers are genuinely threatening again, and a lot of this is due to their limited screen time over the course of the series. When they appear, we know it's serious.

The appearance of the TIE fighters similarly carries so much more weight when they only make fleeting appearances. The scream of a singular fighter flying through the Aldhani valley was a jarring, chilling moment, and served as a precursor to the most impressive shot of the series as the Imperial pilots scramble to their fighters in the wake of the robbery on Aldhani. It's a stunning visual as well as creates a genuine feeling of unease as our heroes run out of time. 

The shootout during the heist itself is a frenzied, chaotic sequence, with both Taramyn (Gershwyn Eustache Jr) and Gorn (Sule Rimi) unceremoniously dispatched as the rest of the rebels begin their escape, and no sooner are they in their ship than Nemik has been crushed by the payload. Nemik's mortal injury is truly heartbreaking, especially as he uses his last ounce of strength to tell Cassian to "Climb!" — a wrenching callback to the death of K-2SO in "Rogue One." The chase is thrilling and it remains the most visually striking sequence in the series, as the rebels use The Eye of Aldhani to both mask their escape and take care of the pursuing TIE fighters, who are destroyed by the meteoric debris.

2. What have I sacrificed?

Luthen is one of the most morally grey, nuanced characters ever depicted in "Star Wars." Part kindly mentor, part ruthless spymaster, part charismatic antique dealer, he's an enigmatic figure shrouded in mystery. He claims to be many things to different people, but in the final scene of this episode, he finally lays his cards on the table. In a moody, cloak-and-dagger meeting with his reluctant spy within the ISB, Lonni Jung (Robert Emms) Luthen confides exactly what he has had to sacrifice for the rebellion.

It's such a rich, beautifully observed monologue we would include it all here if it wouldn't take too much space, but from the moment he says, "I've made my mind a sunless space," you know you're in for a truly epic speech. It sums up the themes of the episode, of the series, and even "Rogue One," and applies to any number of characters in the show who sacrifice themselves for the greater good, not least of all Kino Loy in the same episode.

Luthen has been shown to be a cool-headed pragmatist first and foremost, and it's true that he is prepared to sacrifice an entire rebel battalion in order to maintain Lonni's cover, but this is the point where we see the toll this has taken on his soul, as he finally exclaims that he's sacrificed "Everything!" He's under absolutely no illusions about his own heroic status. As he says at the end of his speech: "I need all the heroes I can get."

1. Cassian shoots first

There's more than an echo of "Han shooting first" about this scene from Episode 6, perhaps the first moment in the series where Andor consciously chooses the rebellion over himself. From the first time we meet Andor we see exactly who he is, dispatching two bullying officers unwillingly but quickly. After the heist, though, he is confronted by the duplicitous Skeen (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), who casually proposes that the two of them abandon Vel (Faye Marsay) and the dying Nemik and escape with the spoils of the heist. Cassian listens to Skeen's plan intently, but then before we can process what we've just heard, he unceremoniously shoots the traitor dead.

Diego Luna is often overshadowed by the more showy performances on the show, but his facial expressions here are pitch perfect, conveying reluctance, doubt, and then a grim determination as he processes what Skeen is saying before gunning him down. There are more intense and satisfying scenes in the series, but this one wins for the sheer economy of storytelling. The scene could have been dragged out, but Cassian quickly realizes that the only way he's getting out of this alive is to shoot Skeen before he has the chance to kill him. In Skeen he sees a negative reflection of himself, of the way his life could go, and at that moment he chooses another course. It will take several more episodes before he fully commits to the rebellion, but this is the first indicator of the path he will eventually set down, ultimately leading to his role in "Rogue One."