In Andor’s ninth episode, the temperature rises, as do the stakes. Cassian (Diego Luna) begins to push toward a prison rebellion as Dedra (Denise Gough) zeroes in on her target.
The episode begins with Dedra interrogating Bix (Adria Arjona), telling her she “doesn’t like wasting time.” She reveals to her that she knows about the radio and the “buyer”—AKA Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård), although Dedra doesn’t know his real name. She wants to know everything about Luthen, Cassian, their relationship, and all the stolen equipment Bix has moved. Bix refuses to give anything up, but there’s another person in the interrogation chamber: a man named Dr. Gorst (Joshua James) who brags about the genocide of an alien species and how they make a terrible sound as they die. The Empire recorded it, isolated the children’s voices, and made a torture track out of it. He attaches an apparatus to Bix’s head and plays the sounds while she begins to scream. She still refuses to comply, but Dedra tells the guards to keep her alive since she’s their only way to Axis.
Back at the prison, the inmates continue their work. We find out Cassian is sneaking out to chisel away at a pipe. Soon after, he watches a new man enter the work-room on the elevator, and he and another inmate realize it’s a possible escape route. Later, while waiting to return to their cells, they hear something has happened on level 2, but they aren’t sure what.
Meanwhile, Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) is in the senatorial chambers trying to deliver a speech on the Emperor’s overreach. She later finds out her cousin is visiting. The plot thickens! It’s Vel (Faye Marsay) from the Aldhani infiltration. Mon hesitates about working with Luthen, but Vel reminds her that she took a vow to aid the rebellion.
Back at the prison, Cassian asks Kino Loy (Andy Serkis) if he’s ever considered escaping. Kino tells him to shut up, but Cassian presses him further: how many guards are on each level? If Kino only has 217 shifts until his release, will he tell Cassian what he knows before he leaves? Kino refuses, but Cassian is convinced their cells aren’t monitored, so they can talk freely. “How many guards on each level?” he asks again to no reply.
At an ISB meeting, Dedra briefs the committee on Bix’s interrogation and what they’ve learned about Axis. We find out that Bix gave up information on every piece of gear that went through Ferrix, but not Luthen’s identity. Dedra suspects a connection between Cassian and the Aldhani raid.
Cassian and his team find out that a unit of prisoners were killed–a hundred men. Kino tries to get control of his prisoners by telling them it’s just a rumor, that they need to keep their heads down until they have more information. The way he phrases it though—using the term “until”—makes it sound like he’s starting to consider taking action.
We’re back to family time with Syril (Kyle Soller) and his mother, Eedy (Kathryn Hunter), for another helping of cereal and milk. Eedy’s been snooping through Syril’s belongings but when he protests, she complains about what a terrible son he’s been. But then he tells her he’s been promoted, and her mood shifts to pride.
Vel has dinner with Mon and Perrin (Alastair Mackenzie), the latter of whom manages to insult her age and ability to get a husband. At least, he says, she hasn’t “gone political.” If only he knew. After dinner, Mon tells Vel to act like a “spoiled, rich girl” for the time being to avoid suspicion. Later, Tay Kolma (Ben Miles) visits to warn Mon about how much danger she’s in with her accounts. She needs to make a deposit, which would require a loan, and the only person he thinks could do it is Davo Sculdun, a man Mon protests is a “thug.” Davo wants to meet with Mon at her house, and Mon is horrified by even the thought of it, but it’s clear she’s considering it.
At ISB headquarters, Syril waits outside in a windbreaker and a frown. Dedra walks by, and he approaches. (Oh no.) He thanks her for the promotion, and she asks if he’s stalking her. He then tells her that meeting her changed his life and that being in her presence made him realize “that life is worth living.” Dedra, understandably, doesn’t take this well. She threatens to have him arrested if he keeps pursuing her or the Cassian issue whatsoever.
Dedra returns to ISB headquarters, and her assistant lets her know the Imperials have found a rebel pilot who’s using a stolen masking unit. They’re sending Dr. Gorst there for further torture. It turns out the pilot is one of Anto Kreegyr’s, the man Luthen wanted Saw (Forest Whitaker) to meet with the last episode. The pilot gave up the information about an upcoming raid at a power station on Spellhaus. Dedra hatches a plan to have a staged accident that would kill the pilot and lead to the rebels towing it to the mining colony of Kafrene.
At the prison, inmates continue to work, but Cassian’s table-mate, the aging Ulaf (Christopher Fairbank), is struggling and can’t stand alone. Kino and Cassian try to walk him to the cells, but Ulaf collapses. They call a med tech, but he says it’s too late. Ulaf, who only has 40 shifts left, has had a massive stroke, so the tech injects him with something that kills him. Cassian asks the tech what happened on level 2, but he tells Kino to keep his men in line. Between this comment and watching Ulaf killed, Kino is visibly furious. “What happened down on two?” The tech finally gives up the key info: the prison made a “mistake” and sent a released inmate from four back to two. The floor found out about it, and they were all killed. Cassian realizes no one is getting out of the prison; they’re just being sent to different floors.
As Cassian and Kino walk back to their cells, the episode ends with the most stirring lines of dialogue we’ve heard yet on the show—
“How many guards on each level?” Cassian asks.
“Never more than twelve,” Kino replies.
It’s another great episode from Andor delivering raised stakes and a strong critique of the prison system and the brutal hand of fascism. Although Dedra started out as an interesting woman trying to navigate a man’s world, she’s stepped into a cold, vicious demeanor we haven’t seen before. Syril, too, has gained the title of “incel” thanks to this episode, and although his scene with Dedra is short, it still makes him even worse of a person. And that’s good! Strong villains help showcase the grim world of the Empire. As things worsen for the inmates, the show sets up a strong opportunity for a mini-rebellion in the prison. Time will tell how Cassian eventually gets out of the prison and heads deeper into the Rebel Alliance.