Gripping Star Wars series Andor hit episode 10 on Disney Plus last Wednesday, and we catch up with mercenary Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) as he gears up to escape the awful Imperial prison he was unjustly thrown into following the totalitarian regime’s harsh crackdown. Vitally, he also managed to secure the support of prison unit manager Kino Loy (Andy Serkis), who’s accepting that the Empire will never let them go free.
It seems like the net is closing around mysterious rebel recruiter Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård), as Imperial Security Bureau Supervisor Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) relentlessly leads her allies in chasing down every lead in her pursuit of a man she only knows as “Axis.”
Rael’s violent methods have also put him at odds with fellow rebel Sen. Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly), but she’s been struggling as she secretly raises money for the cause. One of her allies suggested working with morally questionable financier Davo Sculdun. Despite his excellent name, Mon is deeply uncomfortable with that idea.
Andor happens five years before Rogue One, which tells the story immediately before original Star Wars movie A New Hope. Let’s get on-program with some SPOILERS.
One way out
NARKINA 5 — As Ulaf’s body is taken away, Cassian realizes that the arrival of their late buddy’s replacement will give them an opening to escape. He also knows the Empire must be freaking out, since it slaughtered an entire floor of prisoners to stop them from revealing the ugly truth: it’s shuffling people who finished their sentences into new facilities rather than freeing them.
“Power doesn’t panic,” he tells Kino to convince him of their opportunity.
They spread the word to the other prisoners on their shift, then use a broken water pipe to short out the floor security system as they make their move and attack the guards. It turns into a classic Star Wars shootout as they overwhelm their gaolers and snatch their blasters.
As the main group of prisoners liberate the other floors, Cassian and Kino make their way to the control room to confront the rather wussy looking dudes running this dystopian nightmare place. Taking over the intercom, Kino delivers stirring speech to the whole prison and encourages them to rise up against the Empire.
“I would rather die trying to take them down than giving them what they want,” he says, quoting Cassian and sowing rebellious ideals more widely.
The guards are placed in an impossible situation, since the Empire will presumably punish them severely for letting the inmates run free. On the other hand, they’ll definitely be killed if they take on the prisoners. Cowering behind locked doors, they decide to risk Imperial anger. Probably the wise choice.
Following the rallying cry of “One way out,” the inmates rush to an exit high above the ocean and leap out to freedom.
In a last-second emotional gut-point, Kino stops… and tells Cassian that he can’t swim. So he rallied his fellow prisoners to escape, knowing he wouldn’t be able to join them (Serkis sells this moment of resignation magnificently). It’s the kind of sacrifice that’ll inspire Cassian to become the rebel hero we know from Rogue One.
Damn, this show is so good.
A Game of Thrones offer
CORUSCANT — Mon Mothma and her banker ally Tay Kolma (Ben Miles) meet deeply sleazy financier Davo Skuldun (Richard Dillane) at her Chandrilan embassy apartment, and he lives up to the promise of his name. This scene is delightfully tense, with the trio seated far apart as Mon radiates disdain for her guest.
“I know it’s tasteless and cliché, but one of the indulgences of great wealth is freedom from other people’s opinions,” Davo says, telling us all we need to know about him.
He also won’t take any kind of fee for laundering Mon’s money, even after she says that owing him an open-ended favor makes her uncomfortable.
“A drop of discomfort may be the price of doing business,” he responds.
Davo reveals that he wants a return invitation so he can introduce his 14-year-old son to Mon’s defiant 13-year-old daughter Leida. Even though he denies it, he clearly wants to bind their families through a marriage pact and increase his family’s political clout. It’s more Westeros than a galaxy far, far away, and I love it.
Mon is understandably horrified and refuses, but clearly isn’t done with this idea. She’s gotta do something about that suspicious rebellion money, in case the Empire starts sniffing around.
Anyway, Davo seems nice.
The Imperial mole
Mon’s fellow rebel Luthen is summoned to a meeting in the city planet’s lower levels, which I was sure would turn out to be an Imperial trap. This show’s slightly paranoid vibe must be getting to me, because it turns out Luthen’s got an ISB double-agent who’s been feeding him information: Supervisor Lonni Jung (Robert Emms).
This guy has been super low-key hanging out in the ISB all season, but Emms gets his moment to shine here. On his elevator ride to meet Luthen, he uses an earpiece to communicate with the rebel. Luthen warmly congratulates Lonni on the birth of his daughter, which sure seems like a veiled threat.
Lonni reveals how close Dedra is getting to discovering Luthen’s identity. Luthen denies having any role in the Aldhani heist (a big lie, but he can hardly trust an Imperial who’s willing to act as a mole). He also decides the 50 rebels in the operation that Dedra is arranging a trap for will be sacrificed to put ISB at ease, which is the kind of Machiavellian tactic we’ve come to expect from him.
The Imperial wants to end their arrangement, prompting another Luthen speech dripping with charisma. He reveals that he started his rebel efforts 15 years previously — around the time the Empire was rising — but accepts that he won’t see it come to fruition.
“Calm. Kindness. Kinship. Love. I’ve given up all chance of inner peace, I’ve made my mind a sunless space,” he says. “I share my dreams with ghosts.”
It’s jaw-droppingly cool, and he sends Lonni on his way with their arrangement intact. Hopefully he won’t decide the ISB guy is liability and have him killed or something.
“I need all the heroes I can get,” he says, before we jump back to Cassian and Melchi on Narkina 5.
The future rebel heroes — both of whom will give their lives fighting the Empire in Rogue One — run across the barren world as the Empire hunts the escapees in the distance behind them.
Rogue thoughts, unanswered questions and Easter eggs
- So I guess this is how Kino becomes Supreme Leader Snoke?
- That’s a joke.
- But maybe…
- The “On-program” phrase used to make inmates place their hands on their heads evolves in a fascinating way through the prisoner sequence. Cassian shouts it at Kino as he convinces him to escape, hinting that he’s seized power and influence, then yells it at the guards in the control room, indicating that he’s now in charge of the whole facility.
- The headdress seen on display in Luthen’s antique shop looks exactly like one worn by Padmé Amidala in Attack of the Clones.
- We have a super brief check-in with Dedra at ISB headquarters before Lonni sneaks out to meet Luthen. She seems mildly displeased about the influence he has, so maybe she’ll decide to dig up some dirt on him.
- Lonni was cleverly seeded through all the ISB scenes, so there was no “Who’s that?” when he was revealed — his facial structure and moustache made him distinctive. Seeing him descend into Coruscant’s lower levels is just a visual treat too.
- On Ferrix, Cassian’s adoptive mom Maarva (Fiona Shaw) is refusing her medication or any help, and her health is declining. This will presumably draw Cassian back.
- Rebel Cinta Kaz (Varada Sethu) is watching for Cassian’s return, having been tasked with killing him to protect Luthen’s cover. This will presumably lead to a confrontation, hopefully Cinta isn’t killed, because she’s fascinating.
- There appears to be another man watching Maarva’s place, but it’s unclear if he’s another rebel or an Imperial.
- No sign of Syril Karn this episode, I wonder he’s still hanging out around ISB headquarters like an idiot?
Come back for more Easter eggs and observations next Wednesday, Nov. 16, when episode 11 of Andor hits Disney Plus.