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One way out: It's a 'Star Wars' jail break in one of the most intense 'Andor' episodes yet
“I’d rather die trying to take them down than die giving them what they want.”
We’ve enjoyed every piece of Star Wars storytelling that we’ve been given this year. There’s been no shortage — we had The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Tales of the Jedi, a barrage of books and comics, and the start of The High Republic Phase 2. We love anything and everything Star Wars, but Andor has set itself apart from the beginning.
Episode 10, titled “One Way Out,” sees the Disney+ series topping itself yet again. It is not just great Star Wars, it’s just great. Period. This is not a review, and we’re not giving grades. That said, every now and then something comes along and lays our personal fandom gasping with a dropped jaw.
***WARNING: Spoilers will follow for Andor, Episode 10. if you have not watched yet, then you really should go ahead and do that.***
The drama has been building in the prison on Narkina 5 for several episodes now, and it is finally time for the glorious break. After Cassian (Diego Luna) and Kino (Andy Serkis) realized the truth of the prison in the previous episode (no one there was ever going to get out), there was no going back. A mass breakout takes up most of the new ep's runtime.
Cassian has taken thoughts planted in him by Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård) and is now planting them in others. Luthen asked him in early episodes if he’d want to “give it all for something real” and yes, we’re finally at the place where Cassian is ready to do that. As he says early on, “I’d rather die trying to take them down than die giving them what they want.”
Yoda’s old adage of “there is no try” might come to mind here, but we feel like Cassian is well aware that he is facing either success or death. There is no try with stakes like this. He’s willing to risk it, and so is Kino Loy. The defiance itself, even if it is only an attempt (or a try) is not nothing. At least you did something. The action matters.
Cassian, Kino, and their fellow prisoners use the prison that they’ve come to know against the guards. They outnumber them, but that doesn’t even matter because most of the guards hide from them. When they have the hot floors shut down, the prison is theirs. “All floors are cold,” Kino says over comms to the entire prison. It is time once again for the rebellion to climb.
The system is stacked against them, with the Empire making up their sentences as they go along. No one on the outside knows the truth of what is going on here, either. There’s only one way out. Kino tells the prisoners that they have to “run, climb, kill” to get out. Are these tactics all part of the “one way” that keeps getting referenced, even in the title of the episode itself? We don’t think so. Kino also commands the prisoners to do something else.
“We need to help each other. You see someone confused, someone lost… you get them moving and you keep them moving,” he says. This could have become a stampede where the weakest get left behind. It isn’t that. This directive makes us think that the “one way out” is together. Escape together, die together, climb together… try together.
It is unfortunate that the final step of the escape entails jumping into the sea below the prison itself. Kino has a bit of fear in his eyes at multiple points, and it might be because he knows that he won’t be able to survive the final jump… assuming they all make it that far. Nature has the last laugh, because Kino reveals he can’t swim.
Kino’s fate remains unknown, but Cassian and Melshi end the episode running off in the sand. They are on a path to escape, which is something that Luthen knows is metaphorically impossible for himself. He delivers a brilliant speech to Lonni Jung (Robert Emms), who is revealed to be a plant within the ISB.
Lonni tells Luthen everything there is to know about Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) and the plan to take out Anto Kreegyr’s rebel cell. Lonni assumes that Luthen will stop it, but that would show the ISB that there’s a hole in their network. Having Lonni embedded is more valuable than Kreegyr and 100 or so rebels, so Luthen is going to do nothing. He’s going to let Kreegyr and his entire cell die.
He’s not happy about it, but he has resigned himself to this fate. “I’m condemned to use the tools of my enemy to defeat them,” he says. “I burn my decency for someone else’s future. I burn my life to make a sunrise that I know I’ll never see.”
This is not a man who is going to die trying. This is a man who is already dead. “I share my dreams with ghosts,” he says, ruthlessly giving commands to Lonni that are horrible, but necessary.
“I need all the heroes I can get,” he adds, before we get the final shot of the escaping Cassian and Melshi. What began as a straightforward “prison break in space” episode is anything but at the end. Just as Kino is physically left behind (and likely expected it), Luthen is prepared to be left behind in every other way. He won’t see tomorrow, but this is not about him.
There are no Jedi, no lightsabers, and no talk of the force. There is minimal blaster fire, and no space battle. Star Wars is, and always has been, much more than those things. This episode proves it.
Galactic Points of Interest
-On Ferrix, Cinta Kaz (Varada Sethu) is on watch. It sounds like Maarva Andor (Fiona Shaw) isn’t doing well.
-Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) meets Davo Sculden (Richard Dillane), and he talks a lot about the “clarity” of Chandrillan arranged marriage customs before he gets down to business. He was prepping the pump here, because what he wants in exchange for his help is an “introduction” for his son to Mon Mothma’s daughter. The ongoing reveal that Chandrila kind of sucks adds so much to Mon Mothma’s history, especially because we know that she herself was betrothed and married to a sentient fart. How much of a part did these antiquated customs play in her own failure to comply?
-The comm panel in the prison control room looks very similar to the one that Han Solo speaks into one on the Death Star in A New Hope. “We’re all fine here, now, thank you, how are you?" That one.
-We get our closest look at another interesting item in Luthen’s gallery; a headpiece that is identical to one worn by Senator Amidala in Attack of the Clones, or it is that same headpiece.
-The prisoners weren't there because the Empire is tough on crime. They are there because they provide the Empire with free manual labor. Whatever they are building is important, and in this Star Wars time period? It's almost always something having to do with the Death Star.
-How do you pick a favorite line in this episode? You can’t, but Luthen’s entire speech to Lonni is the stuff of Star Wars legend. His line, “Your investment in the Rebellion is epic,” stood out as well.
-The show is so good and all of the characters are so interesting that we often lose sight of the titular character. The seeds of the man who Cassian will be in Rogue One are all being planted here, especially when he pushes Kino to go further with his talk on the comms. As he should be, Diego Luna is the brilliant foundation of the show that bears his character’s name.
-Andy Serkis once again proves that he is worth the price of a Disney+ membership, because… wow. That’s it, that’s the “critical” assessment of his acting. “Wow.” We’ll say the same about Skarsgård, who has made the already fascinating Luthen even more fascinating. O’Reilly’s subtle work as Mon Mothma shouldn’t be overlooked either. Everyone is incredible, there, that’s the deal.
-Aside from everything that we’ve already written, why exactly do we think that this episode represents Star Wars at its best? It inspires, just as all the best stories do. If something from the silly space wizard franchise can lead to positive action in the real world, then it’s all worth it. The magic of Star Wars is that gives you Jar Jar Binks stepping in s*** one moment, and then it gives you this next. There’s nothing like it.
Andor streams on Disney+ every Wednesday. Whatever happens now, we made it.