The Narkina 5 arc comes to a close with a heartbreaking prison break and an inspiring performance from Andy Serkis.
Cassian (aka Keef) takes complete control of his leadership skills in a thrilling end to the Narkina 5 arc that quite possibly should have been the final episode of the season.
“I’d rather die trying to take them down than die giving them what they want.”
Andor Episode Ten: One Way Out
The escape in “One Way Out” is the second time this season that we know the characters have a plan, but we do not know the details until they unfold. Episode six, “The Eye of Aldhani,” had its own tension surrounding the crew infiltrating an Imperial Garrison during a celestial event. The event built around the escape plan in this episode is the arrival of Ulaf’s replacement and getting the guards on the lift. Keef floods the floor before the new prisoner arrives, and there is no turning back.
They manage to take down the guards on their floor and confiscate their weapons while the water leaks on the floor below. Slowly guards realize what is going on, but for many, it is too late as the prisoners move from floor to floor, freeing prisoners. Keef and Kino get to the central control unit, and we see the face of the voice that permeates through the halls of the prison to “stay on program.” A scared little man using technology to project power that is not there. He crumbles easily when Keef and Kino kill a guard to make a point and turns off the power to the entire facility.
The escape does not take up the entire episode but makes its point all the same. Sacrifices have to be made to fight this type of oppression. And that is a theme this episode wears on its sleeve, almost to its detriment. Every character we follow in this episode faces a sacrifice, which is why we don’t see much of Dedra, but another ISB officer. It is also why Syril is missing from this episode.
It is difficult sometimes in action scenes to fully understand what is going on, so kudos to Tony Gilroy and the team for staging a cohesive escape sequence where you can tell who is doing what and who gets killed. They did not kill all the guards, which might feel out of place, but it is brilliant from a story standpoint. Those men and other guards at other Imperial prisons will have this event in their minds wherever they go next. They are afraid now.
A few episodes ago, I commented that the prisoners were all human and wondered about the decision. This episode brings everything to light- they are all human because it makes things a little more natural for viewers. It is easy to be desensitized when watching creatures that look nothing like you, but seeing men who could be your brother, father, or son dye fighting for their freedom? That’s effective.
Take A Bow, Andy
“Play it how you want. But I’m going to assume I’m already dead.”
Andor Episode Ten: One Way Out
What a performance! We have likely seen the last of Kino Loy as his arc comes to an unexpected end. Not because he dies, but how we leave him.
When we first meet Kino, he knows exactly how many shifts he has until he gets released. Even though his existence was horrible, his hope was freedom. In “One Way Out,” when Kino hesitates before addressing the entire prison, reality has set. Kino has several hesitations throughout this episode before addressing the prisoners. When the guards and medic cart Ulaf’s body away, Keef tells Kino that he has to get on board to give the men a chance. When Keef tells the day shift prisoners what happened on Level two and they don’t believe him, he calls on Kino again to speak up. And there is a good five seconds of screen time focused on Andy Serkis’s face, where you can tell his thoughts are going a mile a minute. Kino breaks and silences the room, speaking loud and clear:
“No one is getting out!”
There is not much more to say after that, and, it is assumed, the men spend the night in their cells working out a plan. As the last episode made clear, nobody is listening. When the prisoners make it to the edge of the prison, access to fresh air, and a long jump into the water, Kino tells Keef, “I can’t swim.” Kino knew he was not getting out when he learned about Level two.
I appreciate the finality in that. It is tough to watch, and one of the reasons why Andor is not for everyone. I know that open ends are difficult for people to swallow, but I do not want to see Kino again. His character was a mic drop this season so leave it be.
An Indecent Proposal
Meanwhile, Mon Mothma and Tay Kolma meet with Davo Sculdun, the Chandrilian banker with a shading background that Kolma referenced in the previous episode. Mothma skips the pleasantries and says she needs to move money for her charity. Davo reads between the lines, and when she asks what his price is, he says it’s for charity. Knowing there is a catch, Mothma tells him to get to the point, and so he does: Davo wants to “introduce” his 14-year-old son to her 13-year-old daughter, who will be of age soon.
The writers have planted seeds of Chandrilian customs throughout the show, specifically focusing on arranged marriages at young ages. And it has led to this moment of sacrifice for Mon Mothma. She needs to move money, and Davo wants legitimacy. And he sees a path by tying his family to political royalty through marriage. It is a different type of sacrifice but still horrific, and one that Mothma is adamant not to make. But, as Davo remarks, she is thinking about it.
The Vow and the Sacrifice
We do not see much of Dedra in this episode; in her place, we have the ISB agent Lonni Jong. Lonni has been in the background since the ISB was introduced in episode four, but now he gets some development. He is a mole, planted by the Rebellion for six years working suggests
And Luthen monologues with a mixture of ego and despair about what he is sacrificing to fight the Empire. Luthen understands the road he is on and that he will die at some point in this series. We know it, and he knows it. Just like Kino, Luthen is a dead man walking that will never see the promised land he is fighting for others to see.
The writing overall from Beau Willimon is excellent, but it is most certainly on the nose, which might be the most Star Wars thing about this series. Willimon loves writing monologues for his actors, as you might know, if you have seen the American adaptation of House of Cards or The Ides of March. And specifically, monologues that connect politics and sacrifice, and it translates well to Star Wars. It is also why you bring in an actor like Stellan Skarsgård to deliver that monologue.
Keef/Cassian is now free with Melchi. We also know that his mother is getting sicker, so will he find his way back to Ferrix and get in trouble with either the Empire or Cinta? Or both?
As I have said, Cassian is safe during this series, so the stakes come from those surrounding him. We have already seen the price Bix has paid for trying to get in touch with Cassian. What will others pay if he returns?
The Star Wars gods have given me a break from Syril’s mom this week, but, unfortunately, that means a break from Syril and the strange turn his arc has taken. I don’t know where that is heading into the season’s final arc, which is pretty exciting.