Pieces begin to fall into place for another showdown as the Empire tightens its grip, this time in Narkina 5. Keef is over prison life and starts to take more of a leadership role, working with the other prisoners to weaken security points. One prisoner notices that the elevator used to bring new arrivals to the rooms is not wired because the guards are not wearing their insulated boots. One of the last bits of information that Keef needs comes from the floor manager, Kino, who gets a reality check in a heartbreaking moment.
Dedra Gets A Fanboy
This scene is quite something. For reasons best known to themselves, people have been rooting for this character, even though she works for the Empire and is dangerously good at her job. Dedra is not a good person, and this episode underscores this fact. In this episode, we see her torture Bix by monologuing, followed by another monologue from the torture doctor before she is truly tortured with the sounds of alien children dying. I do not know if this is based on actual torture methods throughout history, but it is new to Star Wars as the Empire usually uses more physical forms of torture. Nevertheless, it has an effect, and poor Bix can barely speak after all is said and done, but “go, Dedra, I guess.”
Dedra tells Prefect Tigo (remember he asked Blevin for a title change) that she doesn’t care what happens to Paak, and Tigo suggests that he hang.
So Dedra getting her version of a Fatal Attraction without the sex is hilariously earned. Syril shows up at her work to personally thank her for his promotion. It is an awkward exchange that will feel very familiar to people who have experience with stalkers. Surprisingly, Dedra goes easy on Syril and gives him only a warning, but the damage is done. Syril might have ruined any good-faith relationship he had with Dedra. She kept her word and gave told the ISB he was cooperative. And that one act of kindness was all Syril needed to lose his mind.
Although he is dealing with hell at home with his mother, Eedy, who is so draining as a character, I just want her to go away. I do not blame Syril for desperately grasping for the one thing that gives his life meaning. Maybe he will figure out how to not end up in a cage in the Outer Rim and claw his way into the ISB. Dedra could have inadvertently created a monster.
Yes, it’s also supposed to be commenting on harassment in the workplace, and we are still asked to care. But I do not. You cannot ask me to care about a woman who gave the ok to hang a man and torture another woman (both people of color, which is another layer). Blevin is probably missed by the people of Ferrix and a little by me. The actor was so good, especially in scenes with Denise Gough, and I hope he is not entirely out of the picture.
What Happened On Level Two?
What happened on Level Two is the mystery of the episode. The question fills the air with anxiety and finally gets Kino to answer Andor’s question about how many security guards are on each floor. It starts with a brief power outage throughout the entire prison and the prisoners panicking and communicating with other prisoners on different levels. Kino tells the men on L5 D2 to be quiet and that they don’t know anything yet.
Keef asks Kino how many guards are on each floor, but Kino refuses to answer, concerned that anyone could be listening, but Keef replies they don’t matter enough. Nobody’s listening.
Then the men get a little more information. The rumor is that an entire floor was killed, which caused the brief power outage. Kino is disturbed but tells his men to remain calm and that they still do not know what happened.
It is quite extraordinary that there are windows in the level bridges that allow the prisoners to communicate and no guards monitoring them. And that they would move a released prisoner to another level and think no one would notice or the prisoner would not talk. Even after Aldhani, it displays an arrogance that leads to the Empire’s downfall. But, then again, the Empire still doesn’t realize they already have Cassian Andor in one of their prisons.
The Andy Serkis Show
Serkis owned the last episode, and he is the best part of this episode. The hope of 217 days left on his sentence keeps Kino Loy going along with the system. All Kino wants is to keep his head down, obey the rules, and leave when his time is up. Never mind that he is feeding this horrible system that treats its prisoners as disposable and more worthless than droids. He sees an out, and that gives him hope.
Then Kino hears about the guards murdering an entire floor of prisoners, the contrast between what Kino is saying and his facial expression is brilliantly executed by Serkis. The camera focuses on his face as he tries to assure his men that they do not know anything yet.
Kino finally understands that there is no getting out as he watches the older prisoner, Ulaf, suffer a massive stroke only 41 shifts before the end of his sentence. A medic prisoner injects him with something that kills Ulaf immediately, putting him at peace. The doctor then confirms that the guards reassigned a “released” prisoner to Level Two and the prisoners found out, and an entire floor of 100 men paid for it with their lives. Knowing that broke Kino, Keef asks him the question one more time. And Kino replies, “No more than 12.”
It is a cleverly written single-episode arc for Kino because he is the only character that shifts his point of view, and it will play a big part in the next episode, and whatever Keef and the rest of the prisoners have planned. Kino might be the heart of this arc. I am not sure what the writers have planned for his character in episode ten, but I am sure it will be poignant, and Andy Serkis will deliver.
Somethings Got To Give On Ferrix
If Tigo does hang Paak, I do not think that will have the effect he wants. It will just make his son and the town retaliate. But that is the Empire’s weakness, pushing too much without understanding the culture or resolve of the people. In episode eight, “Announcement,” we learn that there is a secret tunnel under the hotel when Maarva tries to pry open the floodgate check. She ends up hurting herself, but we have already established that Bix and Brasso know about the tunnel. Brasso and his coworkers are strong enough to pry open the gate, so it is a good bet that the tunnel will come into play either for rescuing Bix or for the townspeople will raise hell on the Imperials occupying it.
Speaking of Ferrix, Maarva does not appear in this episode, but she is referenced. Dedra says Maarva is too old to have done anything worth questioning, but they have eyes on her because she is the only link to Cassian. I also feel that Dedra will regret underestimating Maarva because she is old.
Keeping Up With The Mothmas
“You’re the one to worry about. Trapped here. Boxed in.”Andor Episode Nine: Nobody’s Listening!
We finally learn about Vel’s family background. It turns out she is a Mothma. Her driver tells Mon Mothma that her cousin came to visit, and the Senator arrives home from a dreadful day being yelled at on the Senate floor to see Leida gushing over what “Aunt Vel” brought her.
When Leida goes to try on the dress, Vel brought, the two cousins have a conversation about what Luthen (though his name is not mentioned) has Vel doing. Mon is worried about her cousin, but Vel replies that she is the one who is trapped. And it does seem that way. Most of the scenes with Mon Mothma take place in her apartment around a party or with her family.
And the family is not getting any better. While Leida seems to love Vel, Perrin is a direct prick. He asks her if she is on her way to Chandrila to find a husband and that no men of value are left at her age. Wow, Perrin.
With Vel heading to Chandrila for a while, I hope we follow her and take a break from Mon Mothma. We have never seen Chandrila in live-action, but it has been referenced so many times in the novels, shows, and parks that it has appeared on Andor at some point. At the very least, can we hang out in another fancy apartment on Coruscant?
It was also lovely to see two women with a positive relationship interact and have a relationship that passes the Bechdel Test (I don’t count Luthen because he is not a love interest). And Star Wars live-action has been horrible in portraying friendships between two women. That is something this show can improve on, and Mon Mothma and Vel’s relationship is an opportunity to add another layer to these characters.
We have not touched on Cassian’s search for his sister, and I wonder if this plot point will return. His sister is not in Rogue One, so I figured either he never finds her, or he does, but she has moved on with her life. She very well could be alive, given the conversation with the madam at the brothel in “Kassa.” But there is another possibility- what if Cassian takes Maarva’s advice and stops looking? It would be anti-climatic since his search for his sister set off this chain of horrible events in Cassian’s life. Still, it is a possibility that we might never get an answer to the whereabouts of his sister.
This ISB agent has been in the background most of the series but got more to do in this episode. When Dedra uncovers a plan to attack Spellhaus from Anto Kreegyr’s pilot (the one Luthen mentioned to Saw), he is briefed on the situation and seems to know much about Kreegyr’s faction. Could he potentially be another informant of Luthen’s? Just a theory, but it could be a way for Luthen to get out of the encroaching ISB net surrounding him.