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Will you tolerate this? Will you pay attention? Will you listen? In a galaxy run rampant with fascism, it may be easier to keep your head down and try to stay breathing… but how long can you do that? Episode 9 of Andor, the latest streaming Star Wars series on Disney+, answers this question.
The episode is aptly titled, “Nobody’s Listening!” This is true of the situation in one of the worst prisons ever depicted on television as well as in the Galactic Senate. It is possible for someone who is firmly embedded in the system to lift their head up and start to really pay attention? Can that attention drive them to action?
***WARNING: From this point forward, there will be spoilers for Episode 9 of Andor. If you have not watched yet, swing your Senate pod out of here.***
Thankfully, the answer is yes. We’ve already met characters who are paying attention and doing what they can to help; Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) continues her thankless pursuits in the Senate (where no one is listening) while moving forward with her rebel plots in the background. Vel (Faye Marsay) reminds her that they both “took a vow” in this episode, so no matter how much the walls close in, Mon Mothma is either going to win or die.
It is the character of Kino Loy, played by the incredible Andy Serkis, who provides the biggest moment of release. He’s a prisoner in the Floor is Lava jail where Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) has been unfairly imprisoned, and he tows the Imperial line because he’s been made a part of the system. He has a bit of power over the other inmates, so he keeps them all “on program.” Cassian whispers to him about escape plans in the night, but Kino doesn’t want to hear it. He thinks that the guards could be listening in.
“You think they care what we say?” Cassian says to him. “Nobody’s listening, nobody.”
Word eventually gets to them that something bad has happened on Level 2. The inmates there did not stay on program. Kino still maintains order (the Empire’s tactic of having a prisoner do this is both brilliant and evil), and it’s only the declining health of the old prisoner Ulaf that concerns him. Ulaf’s sentence is almost up, and he’s going to go free. Kino will see him through.
The consequences of being a dissident (a rebel, a separatist, whatever) has serious consequences. Being slightly connected to one has consequences too. Bix (Adria Arjona) is tortured and interrogated by Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) in the first scene, as the ISB’s beloved Dr. Gorst forces her to listen to the screams of dying Dizonite children. Bix is forced to listen to something entirely different.
Paak, who had the radio connecting Bix to the rebels in his yard, is simply going to hang. Dedra is going to keep Bix around because even though Bix held strong, she did give up a little information. It’s enough to tie Cassian to the Aldhani job. Major Paratgaz of the ISB (Anton Lesser) is impressed with her work. Dedra Meero is listening to everything, no matter how small it might seem. She's a Thrawn, not a Tarkin.
Mon Mothma is certainly in for a far harsher (and more public) fate if she gets found out. She’s sticking her neck out in more ways than one, as her dealings with Tay Kolma now have her working with someone named Davo Sculden. He sounds like a Chandrillan gangster— as Mon Mothma says, “He is not a banker. He’s a thug.” Rebelling against fascism makes for strange bedfellows.
What we are truly waiting for is the musical banging of the people of Ferrix (heard and seen in Episode 3) to begin all across the galaxy. Star Wars Rebels features events that bring rebels together, but that has yet to be seen on this show. The “reckoning” that Maarva Andor (Fiona Shaw) spoke of is still very faint in the galactic sense. It’s not so much that no one is listening… it’s that those who hear it are ignoring it.
There’s still hope, even in the darkest moments. Ulaf is euthanized at the end of the episode, after he suffers a massive stroke. Kino finally asks the doctor what happened on Level 2, and he's told that no one is getting out of the prison. He has to keep his men in line, but the small scrap of power that the Empire has given Kino is no longer enough. The pointless death of an old man, close to freedom, has opened Kino’s ears.
Cassian has been taking note of every vulnerable point that this place has for the entire episode. He asks Kino for more information once again at the end, asking, “How many guards on each level?” In one of the most powerful moments of the show thus far, Kino responds.
“Never more than twelve.”
Andy Serkis is listening. He's also talking. He is ready to take action. This prison is due for a reckoning.
Galactic Points of Interest
-Even though he played Supreme Leader Snoke in the sequel trilogy, Serkis is playing a new character here. This is not Snoke Origins: A Star Wars Prequel Prequel Prequel to a Sequel.
-There are more references to other rebel cells, and both of which are led by people who were derided by Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) in the previous episode. Both Maya Pei and Arto Kreegyr are in the ISB’s sights.
-The rebel pilot that the ISB captured was on their way to Kafrene. The Ring of Kafrene is a location seen early on in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
-Mon Mothma’s home life continues to suck, with her Chandrillan betrothed husband Perrin constantly proving to be the worst guy around. Vel (Faye Marsay) is visiting, pretending to be Mon Mothma’s cousin. Perrin thanks her for not being political, adding, “All the interesting people are getting very tedious these days.” Yeah, she’s a fierce rebel, you dumb sack of s***. She could tediously murder your a** with a look.
-Is there a romantic vibe between Mon Mothma and Vel?
-The opening interrogation scene is masterful, with the performances of Gough and Arjona standing tall. Arjona’s defiance is matched only by Gough’s chilling line deliveries, especially, “The very worst thing you can do right now is bore me.”
-One shot cuts away from Bix’s torture to an Imperial officer walking away. It is very similar to the cut from Leia’s interrogation in A New Hope.
-Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) update of the week! He’s still having emo snits over breakfast with his mother (Kathryn Hunter) and now… wait for it… he’s stalking Dedra? We thought that he wanted more of that hot ISB action, but all of his talk of beauty in the galaxy made us think that he might just want more of Dedra herself. Is this awful little punk in love? Ew, but maybe she’ll shoot him or something.
-Our favorite line of the episode (aside from Serkis' final one) goes to Vel, who says the following to Mon Mothma: “We’ve chosen a side. We’re fighting against the dark. We’re making something of our lives.”
Andor streams new episodes on Disney+ every Wednesday. Are you a fish or a thief?
Looking for more dark, smart science fiction? Check out SYFY's Battlestar Galactica, streaming now on Peacock.