Andor episode 9 continues the show’s insanely hot start by ratcheting up the tension even higher than it’s been.
It’s another great episode, and it sets up very well next week’s culmination of this arc of the series. Let’s dive into our review of this episode, “Nobody’s Listening!”, and as always, full spoilers are ahead!
On Ferrix, Dedra Meero interrogates Bix Caleen about what she knows of Cassian Andor and the mysterious “axis,” and Meero resorts to torture. She turns it over to an Imperial doctor, who plays sounds of children being killed for Bix as a torture technique. She is kept alive, as a prisoner, because she is the only one who could identify “axis” when she sees him. Meanwhile, the Empire decides to leave Maarva untouched, though continually watched, hoping Cassian will return to her.
On Coruscant, Meero returns and continues her investigation, but is confronted by Syril Karn, who has been stalking her. He says they could make a great team and offers to help find Cassian, but she refuses, clearly shaken.
Mon Mothma, meanwhile, addresses the Imperial Senate trying to rally support to curb the Empire’s overreach, but she is met with opposition and apathy. She returns to her apartment to meet her cousin, who is paying her a surprise visit: Vel Sartha. Mon and Vel speak privately about their commitment to the Rebellion, and then have dinner with Mon’s family. After Vel leaves, Mon meets with Tay Kolma, who tells her that her best bet at covering the money she needs is to consult a wealthy Chandrilan thug, which upsets her.
The bulk of the episode takes place at the Imperial prison, where Cassian continues to work with his unit day after day – all the while monitoring potential ways of escape. Word begins to spread that there was an accident on floor two, and later it comes out that the Empire killed everyone there. This has the crew rattled, but Kino Loy attempts to keep everyone in line. At night, back in their quarters, Cassian tries to get information out of Kino, telling him that nobody’s listening to them, and continues to ask how many guards are on each floor. Kino refuses to answer.
One of the members of Cassian’s table grows increasingly ill, and eventually cannot make it back to the quarters. Kino and Cassian stay behind to help him while a medic comes and euthanizes him, saying there’s nothing that could be done after the man suffered a stroke. Kino demands to know what happened on floor two, and the medic says that the Empire released a prisoner who then wound up on a different floor, and when the floor found out, they killed them all. Both Cassian and Kino realize this means none of them are getting out alive, and as they head back to their quarters, Cassian again asks how many guards are on each level. “Never more than twelve,” Kino responds.
Let’s start at the end, because I think it demonstrates how fantastic this show is at creating tension, and thrilling payoff, without any action sequences whatsoever. This series doesn’t rely on blasters firing or big explosions happening to engage audiences and keep us on the edge of our seats. Everything with the Imperial prison is super tense, and Cassian is busy eyeing potential escape options. So he repeatedly asks Kino how many guards there are on each level, and Kino doesn’t answer. So, when the episode ends with Kino responding, “Never more than twelve,” it’s a truly great moment that’s a thrill for audiences. It’s been set up so well, and we all know what it means: Kino’s ready to help, setting up a prison break next week.
Kino is viewed as a gruff master, but we really get to see that he’s just trying to get by without incident until he’s released before long. His days are almost up, down to just a few hundred, and he doesn’t want anything to risk that. He’s the leader of the group, but already we see signs of Cassian stepping up into that – such as when Kino briefly loses his cool on one of his crew, and it’s Cassian who keeps his head and stops it. Kino and Cassian learn that there’s no hope of getting out of there alive, and that’s what will seemingly motivate their escape attempt next week – and I absolutely cannot wait. It’s easily the most excited and intrigued I’ve been by any of the show’s arcs so far. And let me just add that Andy Serkis truly shines in this episode, and I’m so glad they cast him for this role. He’s tremendous.
But Kino’s story is also highlighting one of the same themes we’ve seen show up all season, just in a slightly different way. We’ve seen how the only real response in the face of such evil and tyranny, like we’re seeing with the Empire, is to stand up against it. There are others in the show who seem to be content to blend in and not fight back, and Cassian’s even there too. But that’s precisely what got him in the prison in the first place: he thought he could run away from the Empire, then wound up being wrongly arrested and convicted anyway. Cassian is in this prison because he thought just like Kino did: keep your head down and do your job, and you’ll be able to get by. But now Kino has learned the same thing that Cassian is (seemingly) learning too, that there’s no real hope of life or escape that way.
That’s why Mon Mothma and Vel Sartha have committed their lives to the rebellion. While Perrin pokes fun at Senators for bringing nothing good, he’s totally oblivious to the fact that the life of luxury he’s living is because of Mon’s work as a Senator. Perrin doesn’t really care, he’s just out to enjoy life as best he can. It’s Mon and Vel who are standing for something bigger. The reveal that Vel is Mon’s cousin was cool and makes sense, as we know she comes from wealth and is connected with Luthen. Mon genuinely cares for her, and appears to be quite concerned over this life of rebellion that her cousin is taking. This makes me afraid that something will probably happen to Vel, striking another blow for Mothma as she will come to give up pretty much everything (I’m guessing) for the sake of the rebellion. Yet Vel insists to Mon that the rebellion comes first and then whatever’s left, which is what Cinta told her in last week’s episode. I don’t think that Vel fully believes it, and I don’t think it’s right either, but I think it’s perfectly believable that her and Cinta would feel that too.
But all of this really leads into the other major question that this series has been asking too. Not only has it addressed what a person should do in the face of oppression, it also has addressed how a person should fight back against it. In Star Wars, how a person fights is almost as important as that a person fights. Luthen Rael thinks that the price of the fight is his conscience, and that it must be the same for Mon. She disagrees, yet in this episode she’s presented with a need to work with a wealthy thug, someone with whom she has zero interest to partner. Should she compromise on this, even though her conscience will be stricken, for the greater good of the galaxy? I’m guessing she will, and I don’t think it will reflect Mon Mothma realizing Luthen is right and selling her conscience or anything like that. But it does place Mon in the place of wrestling with that very question, which this show has brought up often.
Tensions are high throughout the galaxy, and we’re seeing the Empire’s grip tighten just like Luthen predicted. The Imperial Senate is spineless and disinterested, so they’re not going to rush to the aid of those in need. In the wake of that, prisoners are being mistreated, civilians are being tortured, and rebel spies are being captured and killed. The Empire’s crimes are numerous, and we’re getting the chance to see them in a way that feels more real than ever before. Before long, it seems more and more will fight back, both on the prison (which I’m guessing is next week’s episode) and on Ferrix (which I’m guessing is the final two episodes).
One thing’s for sure: this show is absolutely fantastic.