Andor has not had a proper action-heavy episode ever since the heist on Aldhani in the sixth episode, “The Eye”. The tenth episode, “One Way Out”, became one perhaps a little unexpectedly. It was also an episode of two memorable speeches and yet another big step in Cassian’s life.
The action-heavy part of the episode takes place in the Narkina 5 prison. After the ending of the previous episode it became clear that an escape attempt was coming soon, but “One Way Out” did not beat around the bush. The breakout was immediate, large-scale and epic.
Care For The Support Characters
One cannot overpraise the execution of the plot in this line. Let me single out a couple of details. One is that the show creators have once again managed to make us care for the secondary characters. Even the random background prisoners. I could not tell you many details about the prisoner named Xaul aside from that he has been with Cassian’s team. But when he got killed and someone shouted “Xaul!”, I felt much more emotion than I would for an average sidekick in an average hero movie. Somehow, perhaps by showing those guys working alongside Cassian throughout the last couple of episodes, the show has managed to establish the audience’s empathy for them as a group.
Cassian The Motivation Man
The other notable piece was, of course, Kino’s speech for the prisoners. Not much needs to be said about Andy Serkis’s amazing performance (again, great casting here). But story-wise, it was also important that Cassian was here in the role of the “cheerleader”. And this is no longer a random occurrance, this is clearly a character trait as it has become a pattern. Cassian does exactly the same thing to Jyn in Rogue One. He is the motivator, even if he may not look like the type on first sight (but that just makes it more brilliant!).
Which is something that makes Cassian a rather unique protagonist. He is not the hero-leader type. He is the main character, but in the group dynamic he is the sidekick. That is a refreshing approach and his cheerleader role is also rather unusual in cinema for someone of his type (the able-bodied young man).
Dark Side of the Rebellion
Other storylines as usual provide the respite by shifting our focus somewhere else for a moment. If the previous episode was a lot about the Imperials, now we see more of the Rebels.
A definite surprise was the reveal of Lonni Jung as a double agent. The scene also showed more of the “dark side of the Rebellion”, the blackmail, the willingness to go over dead bodies, but also the regret that is hidden behind the facade. To top it, Luthen’s monologue was clearly an attempt to stuff this episode with epic speeches provided by well-established actors.
One Way Out?
Mon Mothma’s story is one that has been staggered into small bits, but that is what makes it more dynamic: every scene usually ends with suspense. The latest one showcasing again the “dark side of the Rebellion” aspect: how far is Mon Mothma willing to go for the Rebellion? Will she sacrifice her own daughter by arranging a marriage for her? (What makes it even better is her own clearly less-than-ideal marriage, as she is clearly well aware!)
Once again the writing is superb, making the villain signal to the audience that even though Mon does not look like it, she is considering the option. Is the alliance with a criminal her “one way out” of her current predicament? (As often, the episode’s title offers multiple readings.)
Even if Mon Mothma does not get that much screentime, her character is written with much depth and an eye for nuance. (Not unlike all the other characters in Andor…)
I have to briefly mention the setting of the meeting between Luthen and Lonni. Lonni is taking an elevator into the underbelly of Coruscant. The environment serves as an atmospheric backset for the scene but at the same time the scene allows us a peak into another level (in all meanings of the word) of the universe and of Coruscant in particular. From screenwriting perspective this is a masterstroke.
As a sidenote, the environment of Coruscant’s mid-lower levels with their dilapidated elevators has often featured in Star Wars novels or other media. Up to now we have not seen it on-screen. Yet the moment Lonni entered the elevator I felt an instant sense of familiarity, this was exactly how I have been imagining the environment to look like. I am sure many long-time fans share this feeling.
Free At Last
The episode ended with Cassian finally free AND alongside his future comrade Melshi. Is this already the setup for him joining the Rebellion? But in Andor, things never go straight.
And what of poor Kino? Andy Serkis’s final scene was deeply emotional. We can assume that Kino died, but we cannot be sure. However much I enjoyed that character, I believe that is not really the point. Kino’s mini-arc during the last three episodes was a self-contained character story on its own. It can be laid to rest as a concluded one, just like those of the dead Rebels from Aldhani.