If there was any doubt at the end of last week’s episode of Andor that things were going to get worse for our heroes, this week’s doozy of an episode makes it clear that the Empire has everyone in a chokehold. With an unexpected arrest leading Cassian (Diego Luna) to a new prison, and Dedra (Denise Gough) coming down hard on Ferrix, there still must be a way for the tide to turn back in favor of the rebels... right?
Episode eight out of twelve really took a turn to some truly dark places under the direction of Toby Haynes with a script by Beau Willimon. It’s aptly titled “Narkina 5" after a prison cause it feels like we’re in Star Wars jail, too. Well, let’s get on with it, as always spoilers ahead.
Naturally, we’re diving straight into the Empire’s prison industrial system. As soon as we pick up on Cassian, he’s transported to Narkina 5 along with other prisoners (who may or may not have been wrongfully accused) to show the might of P.O.R.D. Andor keeps quiet as he struggles to make sense of why the hand he was dealt is so bad.
It would be worse if he was out of prison, as two different parties are out for his head. Finally, Syril (Kyle Soller) gets picked up by Dedra and they have the most intense meet cute under interrogation. They’re so obnoxiously severe at each other, it’s kind of perfect, as Dedra admits Syril has engaged the curiosity of the ISB. She can see he’s out for revenge, and to clear his name, but tests his dedication to the Empire. He tells her information she didn’t know, which was that he was forced to sign a false report, and that he doesn’t even know how much of his account of the events in Ferrix made it in. Dedra provides him with it to read over so she can gather more intel.
Convinced that Karn has some vital information that was withheld, Major Partagaz (Aton Lesser) and Dedra present the possibility that the rebellion has developed a pattern for acquiring specialized Imperial gear to help their efforts with the help of an unknown central figure they’re calling “Axis” (who we know as Luthen). They think it’s “troubling” —key word “trouble,” as the meaning of the word gets examined throughout this episode. Turns out the Starpath unit Andor didn’t want to leave behind but did has given them enough of a lead to figure out that he was delivering it to “Axis.” So they want to track Andor down for interrogation to identify them. Now it makes sense why Kleya (Elizabeth Dulau) ordered Vel (Faye Marsay) to kill Cassian to protect Luthen’s identity before the he could be captured.
Meanwhile Andor arrives at the prison greeted by officers with giant orange soles on their military boots. The shots go out of their way to show these unique kicks, to the point where you’re shouting, “what are those?” And you note that all the prisoners have to stand barefoot in the pristine prison that they’re told is just an Imperial factory, where they’ll serve their sentences in decent conditions, so long as they keep in line... or elsethey’ll be “humanely” punished with the Tungstoid steel flooring that fries their nerves. So the shoes, which Andor clocks, clearly protect the guards. He’s escorted to his factory line led by fellow inmate Kino Loy (Andy Serkis) head of his section. In a few words and a demonstration, he sees that the least productive table gets punished by being fried. Here we get Andor not saying much as he observes the way the wheel turns to hopefully find a weakness.
Back in the very sub and dom interrogation between Syril and Dedra, they go over details and bond over the criminal negligence of commanding officers. Dedra asks him to recall what the man he saw with Andor looked like, and poor Syril only blurts out colors, which does not please Dedra. As she decides to let him be on his way, he stammers that he’d recognize Axis’ voice if he heard it again. It’s almost as if he stops short of calling Dedra mommy, cause the way she handles him definitely brings something up for Syril. Soller and Gough have a chemistry that’s simply seething through their exchange in a real messed up way that makes sense. I mean, as he’s dismissed he snaps, exclaiming that he was a good bo—deputy inspector and solved the murder in two days. He even offers himself as an asset to her and Dedra declines. It’s a definite vibe between the two and I hate that it’s hard to look away.
Things get switched up when we pick up on Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) having rich people problems on Coruscant, but that’s the point. She and her prop husband are hosting another soiree where Mon is hoping to court fellow politicians to stall the Emperor’s overreach by gaining votes. Gentleman Tay (Ben Miles) comes up and they share a quick moment where he relays that Imperial auditors are onto the banks because of new regulations but he’s got her back in regards to her recent withdrawal. Their talk gets cut short as Mon has to press other members of the senate for help, as they express how they feel about Palpatine. Some say he’s overreactive, yes, but also that “he says what he means” to which Mon counters, “what does he mean?” It really strikes a nerve to see Palpatine’s demagogue leadership, and those quick to defend it, beginning to show their true face. Rhetoric abounds around P.O.R.D. policies being normalized so long as no one is doing anything wrong. Why would it be a concern to those not getting into trouble? Mon wonders what the definition of wrong entails.
Wrong like being a tourist at the wrong place at the wrong time. Back in the prison, Andor is asked about P.O.R.D. by his fellow inmates, who are frustrated at seeing their sentences increased because of what happened on Aldhani. The sentiments toward the rebels leans toward feeling as if they’re paying for it. Andor continues to avoid any awareness and those around him argue amongst themselves to express disagreements about the cause, the time they’re in for, and one of them says it doesn’t matter—they’re there as long as they’re useful for as long as they live. After 30 shifts Andor learns to get used to a hell better than the one he’d be in outside.
On Ferrix, Bix (Adria Arjona) visits Maarva (Fiona Shaw), who has been boldly watching the stormtroopers looking for a way to act like a rebel in her moment. As much as Bix tries to discourage her, Maarva has her mind set as the Imperial presence increases around them. With Andor gone, Maarva has nothing to lose, no matter if she has no idea that two opposing sides are about to zero in on them in their search for him. Vel, we find out, is on Ferrix with Cinta (Varada Sethu), who tells her lover to leave or they’ll draw too much attention. It’s the right thing to do despite Vel just wanting to be with Cinta, but for Cinta the cause comes first. She tells Vel she’ll stay and assume the role of a rich girl running away from her family, which is a dig at the classy Vel, who we saw on Coruscant blending in very well. Cinta points out, “You love me cause I show you what you need to see.” An ally can be in love with the cause but not fully understand it as deeply as those most impacted by the necessity of rebellion, which will always come first. Where Vel will stand still remains to be seen (where’s that kyber?).
Hoping to get a hold of Andor to help Maarva, Bix attempts to send out a comm to Luthen but is shut down. Kleya cuts all communication from Ferrix for him, “vulnerability is inevitable,” she tells him, as they’re in too deep. Honestly, there’s something about how little we know about Kleya that really creates unease. Luthen takes off to Segra Milo. It becomes harder to root for Luthen and Kleya as we see characters we care about be treated as discarded pawns. Andor suffers in prison when he witnesses someone unalive themself overnight, a body fried in the row of his cell. And we witness Bix being taken by officers soon after she sends out the comm.
Meanwhile on Segra Milo Luthen meets Saw (Forest Whitaker), and they banter about which of the two were behind Aldhani. Saw wants to know why he’s there, what he brought, and why. Luthen offers him three sealed Steergard targeting deflectors if he meets with Anto Kreegyr, someone who has been probing the Imperial power station at Spellhaus, and has found a weakness in the defenses. Saw’s gonna Saw and he calls this man a whole Ox, “slow and stupid,” and insists he works alone. Luthen says they need to pull together. Luthen calls the Empire getting angry and coming down hard a necessary evil they need. “Oppression breeds rebellion.”
Whittaker plays it close to the chest as Saw, immovable as Luthen attempts to persuade him to “think of Spellhaus in flames... something neither can accomplish on their own” but together stand a chance. Saw’s issue is that Kreegyr is a separatist, and rattles off splinters who are lost to him in his mind. Point blank, he asks Luthen what he is, to which, in full Skarsgård tonal shift, Luthen’s businessman façade falls as he says he’s a “coward” afraid the Empire’s power has grown beyond the point where they can do anything to stop it. He’s there to try to get all the sides to put aside “petty differences” or they’ll all die with nothing. Saw affirms that he has clarity of purpose, and while Luthen concedes that anarchy is a seductive concept, it’s a no from Saw.
Meanwhile as the consequences play out, we see the price being paid. Bix gets strapped to a chair as Dedra prepares to torture her, and Andor is stuck in a prison meant to exploit his body for labor until he drops. All for a greater cause that can’t find its footing as things get worse enough to radicalize more people. It’s a heavy episode that really emphasizes that only through enough suffering will any action continue. When they come for everyone to tighten their grip, only then will a rebellion mobilize as one, or die divided.
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