REVIEW: ‘Andor’ Episode 9

Andor, a series built on mini-arcs, is in the midst of an arc that paints a bleak picture for the characters who have put themselves in the crosshairs of the Empire. Whether it’s Bix being tortured by the all-too-eager Doctor Gorst, Mon’s voice being ignored in the Senate or Cassian continuing along as a cog in the Imperial machine, Episode 9, “Nobody’s Listening” exists to show the extent of the Empire’s scope and power and contrast it against the Rebellion. Though Meero hasn’t caught the big fish she’s hoping to snag in her net, the fact that she and the Empire can do their work openly and without recourse, while the Rebellion has to strike from the shadows, serves to remind the audience that the galaxy is still a long way from openly embracing the Rebels. However, the events, which take place five years before the Battle of Yavin see in Star Wars: Episode IV-A New Hope, also work to show exactly why the Rebellion eventually grew into what audiences know it to be. In this way, Andor continues to be a prequel story worth telling and one that future generations of Star Wars fans will come to view as an essential piece of the overall story of the galaxy far, far away.

The centerpiece of this arc, of course, is the very THX 1138-inspired prison where Cassian spends his days avoiding electrocution while serving as an Imperial laborer. While most of the prisoners seemed resigned to their fates, as best personified by Andy Serkis‘ Kino Loy, Cassian has recruited at least one fellow prisoner in an escape plan that, to put it nicely, is in its infancy. Despite his efforts to recruit Loy to assist in his efforts to escape, Cassian finds himself unable to break Loy free from the fear that the Empire is listening in on their conversations. Cassian’s tense conversation with Loy in their sleeping quarters is reminiscent of his conversation with Luthen Rael earlier in the series: the Empire isn’t listening because they don’t have to. They’ve come to believe themselves to be so omnipresent and omnipotent that they can simply rule through fear and intimidation. Meero is the face of that in Episode 9, though Cassian’s time in the prison only serves as an ironic display of the fact that the Empire has grown so large that they aren’t even aware that the person they’re searching for is already being held in one of their prisons. As Meero and the ISB scour the galaxy and leave behind a trail of dead and broken bodies, the man they’re attempting to catch is plotting his escape from them.

With that in mind, it seems that the incident on Level 2 serves as the pivot point of the episode (and potentially the entire prison arc) as it is likely to ultimately lead to Meero and the ISB learning they already had Cassian in their grasp. The mass murder of the prisoners is sure to be a breaking point for Loy, but it also works as an example of exactly the type of behavior Rael hoped the Aldhani heist would provoke out of the Empire. The Empire’s dedication to swift and terrible retribution can’t be overlooked, even within the walls of a prison. Imagine the response if word were to get out…

“Nobody’s Listening” stands as an incredibly strong episode because it allows the audience to feel the enormity of everything that has come before and what feels like is about to come next. Andor, both the character and the series, seems poised on a precipice that promises to lead to an exciting downhill ride over the next three episodes of the series. That’s built on season-long character development and intricate attention to detail in slowly tying together season-long plot threads. Once again, Andor proves that taking time to tell a story can be a brilliant choice as long as it’s a story worth telling.

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