A captivating Andor focuses on sacrifice

"One Way Out" gives us a thrilling prison break and some hard truths

A captivating Andor focuses on sacrifice
Andor Screenshot: Disney+

Andy Serkis, everyone. If this is the last time we see him in Andor, I’ll be sad but beyond grateful for his work as Kino Loy. If Disney+ had launched ten years ago, you better believe Serkis would have been stunt cast as some kind of over-involved CGI gagoo. Instead, he and Diego Luna have been tearing it up in a mini competition over whose eyes can express more conflicting emotions in any single moment, and it’s been a joy to watch. Go back and watch him just before all hell breaks loose: Hands on his head, he shouts, “Hold your positions!” but everything else on his face, in his voice, screams something else. Fear, anticipation, hope, despair—it’s all there.

Let’s get to the big topic at hand, though: The prison break we all knew was coming has arrived. The bulk of the episode is focused on Narkina 5 and its uprising. Moments after Ulaf’s death last week, Cassian and Kino return to their cellblock. Cassian’s desperate to put their new intel—that no one is ever leaving Narkina, and the Empire will simply shift the prisoners around until they die—to work, but it takes Kino a moment to let go of everything, every promise his old life held. It’s just a moment, but it’s a stop for breath most shows wouldn’t bother with.

We find out what’s up with Cassian and that pipe in the bathroom, too. When a new prisoner is brought to the floor to replace Ulaf at table five, the breakout begins, and a lot happens all at once. Cassian manages to spring a serious leak in the bathroom, and when the guards turn on the floors to fry the inmates, it breaks the floor for good. An almighty melee leads to casualty and death, but before long Kino’s men are in control, blasters in hand.

In the regular Star Wars universe we’ve come to know, things would go off without a hitch here, but this is Andor. People die, people suffer, blaster fire actually meets its target, and in another brilliant character moment, Kino freezes when he gets to the main control panel, suddenly doubting he has what it takes to rouse an entire building to fight back. Cassian plays the hype man part big time here, and it’s a gentle, earned moment between the two men that sticks the landing in a loud, angry episode. Kino’s inspirational speech is a little cliche and safe by Andor standards, but, hey, they’ve earned it.

The prison break, centerpiece as it is, isn’t the whole piece. Bookending the Narkina revolution are two big scenes that ponder the meaning of sacrifice. First, Mon Mothma meets Davo Sculdun (a perfect sleaze-bag Star Wars name) who’s more than willing to launder her “foundation” money on the condition his son and her daughter meet with a view to get engaged, as is Chandrilan custom. Mon dismisses it out of hand. “It’s a lot to think about,” Davo concedes. “I’m not thinking about it,” Mon says. Davo looks her in the eye: “That’s the first untrue thing you’ve said.” This is a thread too large and too complex to just leave dangling, so it’s safe to say Mon is going to have to make some hard choices about the nature of her sacrifices and who will bear the repercussions.

“Sacrifice” is invoked at the end of the episode, too, when Luthen meets with his ISB informant, Supervisor Lonni Jung (Robert Emms). Jung tells luthen about Deedra, her investigation on Ferrix, and the trap the Empire’s laying for Anto Kreegyr. Luthen insists the plan move ahead, sending Kreegyr to certain death, lest the ISB suspect a mole. Lonni wants nothing to do with it, and begs to bow out of both the ISB and the rebellion. Luthen, with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, threatens his family and tells him in no uncertain terms he’s trapped. Luthen is so fully committed to his interpretation of the rebellion that these things barely register in his voice as difficult decisions, and from everything we’ve seen and everything we know about him, his well-written monologue about what he’s sacrificed, accurate as it may be, still rings quite hollow.

Kino, too, reckons with his own sacrifice in the end. The prisoners taste fresh air, standing on a platform about Narkina’s sprawling ocean. “Whatever happens now, we made it!” Cassian tells Melshi, and of all the competing philosophies against the Empire, this moment distills his as the most pure: He’s here to fight for as long and as hard as he can and knows he’ll keep going until he dies. Kino, who can’t have reasonably expected a fleet of lifeboats ready and waiting, tells Cassian that he can’t swim just before the two are separated and Cassian is knocked into the water below. Some time later, he and Melshi make it to shore. They’re out, but where they’re headed next week is honestly anyone’s guess.

Stray observations

  • [Nathan Fielder voice] Monologue city over here this week. Former House Of Cards showrunner Beau Willimon’s dialogue isn’t as sharp as we’ve come to expect from Andor’s other writers, and the momentum stutters under his penchant for grand speeches here.
  • I adored the weight Andy Serkis gives in shouting “Run! Climb! Kill!” Can someone make a two-hour loop of that so I can listen to it when I go for a run?
  • Dedra’s back at ISB headquarters after fucking Bix’s shit up last week. How quick is the commute between Ferrix and Coruscant?
  • We get a brief check-in on Cinta, who’s still staking out Maarva’s home. We don’t see the elder Andor this week, though. Nor fascist fanboy Syril, nor (tragically) his tiny, viciously funny mother.

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