Sacrifice for the greater good has always been a central theme of Star Wars. From Obi-Wan becoming one with the Force in his duel with Vader in a New Hope, to Luke doing the same in The Last Jedi and Ben Solo giving his life for Rey in The Rise of Skywalker, sacrifice has been consistently present in the franchise. Episode 10 of Andor, “One Way Out”, continues that thematic resonance while illuminating just how circumstantial the nature of sacrifice can be. Andor isn’t about a fantastic moment where a Jedi becomes one with the Force for the good of the Rebellion; it is in large part, about much less spectacular characters losing bits of themselves by the day. And no episode of Andor hammers that point home more than “One Way Out.”
Thought the prison break serves as the beautiful center of the episode, it’s the back alley conversation between Luthen Rael and his Imperial spy, Lonni, that stands out not only in the episode and the series, but also the franchise as arguably one of the most inspired and impassioned explanations of the true cost of the Rebellion. At this point, it’s hard not to think of Rael, a character new to fans just a couple of months ago, as one of the most integral figures in the Rebellion. Per his own words, however, his choices have damned him and he knows that he is fighting “to make sunrise” he knows he will never see. So when the galaxy celebrates its heroes at the end of A New Hope, nobody will to be grateful to Rael, nor to poor Lonni, nor to Anto Kreegyr, who Rael is so willing to sacrifice to keep things on track. While it’s ultimately heroes such as Luke, Leia, Han and Chewy who become the face of the Rebellion, Rael now must stand as its backbone. Stellan Skarsgård‘s work as Rael is among the most complex and brilliant in recent memory in a franchise that has all too often dipped into the well of bringing back familiar faces. In Rael, Tony Gilroy has created a new character that’s given more the the future of the galaxy than anyone will ever know.
As Rael readily accepts that there’s no way off the path he’s chosen, Mon Mothma finds herself at a crossroads from where it seems there is no gentle path for her to take. Desperate for funding, the Senator finds herself in league with the gangster Davo who proves more than willing to provide her with the money she needs, but in exchange for a detestable cost: the apparent betrothal of her daughter to Davo’s son. Though Mon is quick to dismiss it, Davo doesn’t believe she’s quite as disgusted as she puts on. The series has gone to some lengths to show that Mon’s work has already come at the cost of familial relationships but Episode 10 leaves the audience to wonder just how far she’ll go to finance the Rebellion. Andor’s creatives have done fascinating work with Mon. Originally a minor character who seemed to stand out as a beacon of everything bright and shiny about the Rebellion, the series has fleshed her out and painted her in a much different light.
Given the way the episode laid bare grim repercussions for Rael and Mothma, Cassian’s time in prison hardly seems like much of a sacrifice at all. In fact, it’s Andy Serkis‘ Kino Loy who had the most interesting journey in the prison arc. Initially a “company man”, it’s Loy who makes the episode’s most grandiose example of sacrifice, risking his life to lead the prison break with the knowledge that the “one way out” meant he would never be free. Unable to swim, Loy stands back while the other, including Cassian and Melshi, who turns up alongside his escape buddy in Rogue One, swim to freedom. The final shot of the episode, which shows Cassian and Melshi running across barren plains, is rich with symbolism. Cassian has no prospects ahead of him as he runs from his past. He has no safe haven to which he can return. The entire galaxy is after him. What comes next over the final two episodes will almost certainly remedy that and cement his place in the Rebellion, but given the job the series has done setting up the fractured nature of the fledgling alliance, it’ll be most interesting to see in which group he finds his way.