*Warning: the following article contains spoilers for episode ten of Andor*
Yes, Star Wars Prison Break is finally here, which is incredible. But, bar none, this week’s episode of Andor is its best yet, with a thrilling conclusion to the show’s best story arc. Last week saw an incredible cliffhanger in which Kino Loy (Andy Serkis) told Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) that there are never more than twelve guards on each level. This week pays off that cliffhanger brilliantly, not only for Kino Loy’s character arc, but for everyone else oppressed by the Empire. They will never leave their prison if nothing is accomplished.
At first, Loy hesitates to go through with the escape but does it after Andor tells him, “I would rather die trying to take them down than giving them what they want,” about the Empire. Of course, this being a prison break, nothing goes off according to plan, but the action is always thrilling and highly energetic. The camera moves at a breakneck pace; this is the first time a blaster hit looks and feels deadly. I think we’ve all been mocking the “pew pew” sounds they make, especially as children, but when someone trying to climb a ladder drops dead to the ground because they were hit by a blaster, it takes a brand-new significance.
Of course, the Empire tries to zap everyone, but Andor ensures to break a water pipe, so the whole system is fried. And we see the ill effects of a “hot” floor also killing a few prisoners – it’s one hell of a gimmick designed explicitly so that no one would ever get out. It’s particularly frightening when the Empire has total control over the prison, but they don’t have enough guards to take them all out. And once the prisoners start to revolt and bear arms, most of the guards cower in fear and let them escape.
In the episode’s most poignant moment, Kino Loy delivers a speech convincing everyone to escape because he would “rather die trying to take them down than giving them what they want.” A full-circle moment for the character, now convinced that he can do some good and never fall from the Empire’s oppression any longer. Serkis has been consistently terrific as Loy but steals the show in this episode alone, seeing a clear progression from the first time we meet him (one who collaborates with the Empire to make his sentence as short as possible) to now (one who has finally seen the Empire’s true colors and has had enough of them. There’s only “one way out” of this). Who knows if we’ll ever see the character again (he didn’t jump out of the prison because he can’t swim, and Andor was pushed out before saying anything to him), but Serkis’ presence in the series was a more than welcome surprise for me and everyone else who thought he was only relegated to Supreme Leader Snoke.
As for everything in the episode, it wasn’t as thrilling as its main prison break, especially with another repetitive conversation involving Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) and Tay Kolma (Ben Miles). They’re setting something up involving Mothma (and lord knows if Tay can be trusted), but it feels languid in its repetitiveness, and would’ve worked better had the scene been cut. O’Reilly is still excellent as Mothma, but the character is wasted in situations that keep repeating themselves.
But the episode ends in the most riveting way, with Stellan Skarsgård blowing everyone away as Luthen Rael through an impeccable monologue with Lonni Jung (Robert Emms), who is revealed to be a spy for the rebellion working in the Empire. He tells Luthen of Dedra Meero’s (Denise Gough) hunt for “Axis,” but it doesn’t scare him, and encourages her to look for a person that doesn’t exist. And that’s where the monologue comes in, and my god. The line that bookends the episode, “I burned my life to make a sunrise that I know I’ll never see,” is an all-timer. It’s been a while since Star Wars writing has been this riveting (or, as Kyle Soller has put it in our interview, “psychologically active”) that I am always glued to the screen and wondering what’s going to come next.
I’ll even say that the Mothma scenes are semi-riveting because of their masterful performances, even if they were the weaker parts of the episode. But it didn’t matter. Andor’s tenth episode is a masterpiece. I say it every week, but it’s true: it’s one of the best things to have ever come out of Star Wars. I am consistently blown away by the quality of its writing, action sequences, and performances. The fact that each episode follows the previous one logically is refreshing and feels deliberately paced for us to feel that anticipation. I can’t wait to see in which position Cassian Andor is in the show’s penultimate episode before its (hopefully) thrilling climax in two weeks.
The ninth episode of Andor is now available to stream on Disney+.