We all know a Prison Break is coming in Andor. However, we find ourselves in the middle of the current arc of episodes that is building up towards it. Star Wars Andor Episode 9 shows viewers how bad the Galactic Empire is. They’re slowly pulling back the wallpaper on Luthen Rael’s (Stellan Skarsgard) Rebel operation. Additionally, seemingly about to catch Saw Gerrera (Forrest Whittaker) in the middle of his little war.
Let’s start with the Prison side of this episode. We have an issue on level 2, and we hear what happened by the end of the episode. A Prisoner from Level 4 was meant to be released and free from prison. However, he found his way back to Level 2. This was discovered, and they killed everyone on Level 2 to keep the information hidden. I guess what the guards don’t expect is that the Prisoners have developed a sign language to communicate between levels during shift changes. Therefore allowing this rumour to spread throughout the prison.
And an interesting part of this episode is the radicalisation of Kino Loy (Andy Serkis). The middle manager of Cassian’s (Diego Luna) shift. At the beginning of the episode, he is a loyal little prisoner. He is just doing what he needs to get through shifts. Get good productivity and while away his final shifts till his release. But as soon as he finds out, no one is being released, and their treatment is unfair. As such, Ulaf (Christopher Fairbank) being Euthanised just for being ill and unproductive turns Kino.
This use of Ulaf in this episode is just heartbreaking. Throughout the episode, you see him struggle more and more, from small lapses in memory to being fainter and less active. To him, he inevitably collapses from a stroke. It truly was heartbreaking, and to see Kino, Cassian, and the other prisoners be the only ones to give him any respect was painful. The Guards want to get a bag for him. Even the doctor (Adrian Rawlins) wants to euthanize him. However, the doctor was doing the best with what he could do. Additionally, as a prisoner, he was doing what he had been told to do.
An Isolated Mon Mothma
We may get no Luthen this week, but we have some aspects of this episode alluding to Luthen. We have the ISB tracking him down under their codename of “Axis”, but some other stuff is also happening. An interesting new piece of information in this episode is that Vel (Faye Marsay) is the sister of Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly). I didn’t expect that going into this episode. So it seems she was actively involved with Mothma and Luthen. Therefore she chose to go active on the frontlines route instead of the behind-the-scenes route.
I must say Mon’s husband continues to be a character we hate even more. One of the first things he even says to Vel is asking whether she will find a Husband. However, we so far know that she prefers the other gender. Considering Chandrilla seems to have a custom of marrying 15-year-olds. I wouldn’t be surprised by this heteronormative view of Chandrillans and the “traditional” way it should be. There is a lot to talk about regarding that, but definitely, an interesting one to throw into the story, perhaps another freedom that is wanted but scrutinised under the empire.
This is not the only concern at the Mothma household, as it seems Mothma will now have to get a loan from a notorious Chandrilan thug to settle her accounts before a review happens. This will be interesting to see what a “Chandrillan” thug will be like, considering most Chandrilans we have seen have been nice people, bar Perrin (Alastair Mackenzie). But still, the thought of being a “thug” is interesting.
As said, this was a setup episode, but in the best way possible. They showed us where all our characters were and where they were manoeuvring next, from Cassian in the Prison planning his uprising to the ISB cracking down on rebel activity in its infancy. Andor Episode 9 has done a great job of showing how vulnerable the rebels are in a way that not many other Star Wars media have done. You feel when watching this that the imperials might be able to connect the dots faster than they can spread and hide their activity.
And the worldbuilding of just some throwaway lines coming back to make the rebel network feel alive whilst not showing us much at the same time. The intention to look back at Saw’s cameo and utilise that to give us random names of other rebels, so we have that connection when references are made later, is good. They are names we are meant to remember, Steergard, Spellhaus, Anto Kreegyr, and Maya Pei. Places and characters we, as the viewer, are made to pay attention to and listen out for when they might become relevant.
Worldbuilding and character development are at the core of Andor as a series. Something that other shows, not just Star Wars, should take note of. We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep saying it again what we would give for Tony Gilroy to direct and create another Star Wars show after this one. You know it would likely be out of this world. Andor Episode 9 is streaming now on Disney+.