By Josh Reilly B.
“Never more than twelve.”
Four words is all it took to not only set up the end of the current arc in Andor, but to sum up the entire series as a whole thus far.
Episode nine, titled Nobody’s Listening!, picked up where the last left off as Cassian remains imprisoned at an Imperial labor camp and the Empire continues to crack down on a growing Rebellion. Cassian is clearly more comfortable in his surroundings at this point, although certainly not content, as ISB Officer Dedra takes center stage as she pieces together the work of Luthen Rael, aka Axis. Plot development wise, it’s clear that this episode is the middle of a three episode arc, especially as it plants all the seeds for next week’s expected prison escape.
The most refreshing and interesting aspect of Andor is how character focused it is. Everyone has an arc, even the likes of Andy Serkis’ Kino Loy. When he first appeared, it seemed as if he’d be nothing more than an adversary standing in the way of Cassian’s pursuit of freedom, but the final line of this episode showed that he’s now on board with an escape. He’s a Rebel now.
Again, Loy finally giving in and telling Cassian information about the specifics of the prison’s complex system summarizes this entire show. Andor is about rebellions, both big and small and everywhere in between, and standing up to fascism. Everyone has their own rebellion, as what was stated a few episodes ago, and now it’s Kino Loy’s turn. The realization that he will never get out of prison is enough to set him, and his mind, free from the Empire’s authoritarian rule.
All of this goes to show the immense strength in the writing of Andor. This episode, like the last, was written by Beau Willimon, who does an exceptional job of raising the stakes just before the end of the season. Episode nine also flows well once again, effortlessly moving from character to character. There are an unexpected amount of faces in Andor, from Syril to Dedra to Cassian himself, but all of these characters and their arcs are balanced perfectly.
There’s some surprising developments here as well, particularly when it comes to family connections. Andor has shielded away from revelations such as this, but that Vel Sartha is the sister of Mon Mothma was quite surprising. It’s not done to shock audiences or to invoke further emotion, but purely to further the character development of these two. It works and it feels right, particularly as Mon Mothma is anxious about her role in the growing Rebenllion. It’s interesting to see a character who, in Rogue One and Return of the Jedi, was completely committed to the cause, but here is nervous and having some second thoughts about it all.
Andor episode nine plants all the seeds for the prison escape next week, and expertly balances the growing number of characters at play. Dedra takes center stage in this outing, interrogating Bix Caleen and showing her true fascist colors. This is Star Wars at its most nuanced, most political, and most personal.