Andor’s prison arc ends with an explosive episode that proves to be some of the best politically-charged Star Wars we’ve ever had. Andor Season 1 Episode 10 begins with Ulaf’s (Christopher Fairbank) body being rolled through the work room as the inmates stand “on program” with hands on their heads. It cuts to Kino Loy’s (Andy Serkis) tight face before Cassian (Diego Luna) pressures him to stage a break the next day. “You sound insane,” Kino says, but Cassian insists the guards are afraid because there are too few of them. When the prison replaces Ulaf with a new man, Cassian wants to test his elevator escape plan. Then, when they head back to their quarters, Cassian and Kino inform the rest of the prisoners that no one is ever getting released from the prison. So Kino finally commits to working on a plan.
At ISB headquarters, they find out that Anto Kreegyr has taken the bait of the killed pilot. An ISB officer recommends that instead of stepping back, they show an interest in what’s happening, which would be the least suspicious thing, and what Kreegyr would expect.
Next, we find out that Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) has made her decision: she invites Davo Sculden (Richard Dillane) to her house on Coruscant to discuss financial matters. It’s a tense, terse conversation, and it’s clear Mon has a strong distaste for the man. Davo is willing to help, but it will come at a cost: he wants his son to meet Mon’s teenage daughter Leida (Bronte Carmichael) for a possible Chandrilan betrothal (remember: Mon was married at 15). Mon is affronted, but Davo says he can tell she’ll consider it.
At Luthen’s (Stellan Skarsgård) antiquities shop, he and Kleya (Elizabeth Dulau) discuss an unnamed person who’s requested a meeting.
On Ferrix, a concerned citizen approaches the town doctor about a woman who’s apparently been hiding her medicine because it makes her lose her appetite. It’s safe to this person is referring to Maarva (Fiona Shaw).
Back at the prison, the escape begins. Cassian files away at the pipe he’s been working on for a long time now. It starts to give. His table-mates are antsy, but they wait, collecting all the parts they’ll soon use as projectiles. The pipe gushes, water flooding the floor.
The guards bring the new man on the elevator. As it lowers, two of Cassian’s table-mates begin a mock fight, distracting the guards. Then Cassian makes his move, jamming the elevator. “Attack!” Kino shouts, and the men begin hurling their projectiles. When the guards go to electrify the floor, the inmates jump up on their tables. Thanks to the water, the computers in the control room short out, killing most of the lights, and the men move forward, storming the elevator and trying to dodge blaster bolts. Cassian gets hold of a blaster himself and makes quick work of the remaining guards.
The other floors begin to free themselves while Cassian and Kino make their way to the upper command center. Kino holds the operators at gunpoint and demands they shut down the power. Once they do, Kino uses the intercom to speak to the entire prison, delivering a powerful message of rebellion. And the inmates do: everybody runs out of the facility and through the entrance that leads down into the ocean. The men jump to freedom.
But Kino hesitates. “What’s wrong?” Cassian shouts over the clamor. In one of the most heartbreaking moments not just of Andor Season 1 Episode 10 but of the show’s entire run thus far, Kino reveals that he can’t swim. Cassian gets pushed into the water. Kino looks on at all the men he helped rally.
One of the ISB officers we’ve seen discussing matters with Dedra (Denise Gough) and their boss is a man named Lonni Jung (Robert Emms). In Episode 10, we find out that Lonni has been working as a spy for Luthen for years. The two of them meet underground to discuss developments in the ISB’s investigation. Luthen begins with a chilling greeting: he congratulates Lonni on his newborn daughter. Although Luthen doesn’t make direct a threat, Lonni takes it as one. It casts a deep shadow over Luthen, reminding us we really don’t know how far he’s willing to go for the rebellion.
Lonni feeds him what Dedra and company have learned about Cassian and about Luthen himself. Luthen tells Lonni to encourage the ISB to keep digging because they’re wasting time. He also lies, saying he had “next to nothing” to do with Aldhani. Lonni warns Luthen about Anto Kreegyr’s pilot and tells him the ISB knows about the upcoming raid on Spelhaus. If Kreegyr attacks, the Empire will be waiting for him and his men. But Luthen counters: if they call off the raid, the ISB will suspect there’s a spy in their ranks.
Lonni tells Luthen he can’t go on being a spy anymore, now that he’s a father. But Luthen reminds Lonni that he’s taken a vow; there’s no going back. The rebels are too invested in Lonni’s work to let him go. Luthen does acknowledge the stress of the work – but Lonni counters, asking Luthen what he’s sacrificed. Big mistake. Luthen goes on an incredible, show-stopping monologue. I wish I could just quote the whole thing here because it’s a work of art. He tells Lonni he’s sacrificed things like “calm; kindness; kinship; love.” He’s turned his mind “into a sunless space” and “[he] shares [his] dreams with ghosts.” He acknowledges how the ends justify the means for him, how he has to “use the tools of [his] enemy to defeat them.” And Luthen claims, furiously, that he sacrifices “everything.” As the meme goes, the director must have said “Take five,” but Stellan Skarsgård heard “change lives.”
After that, Episode 10 ends with Cassian and Melshi (Duncan Pow) running across a landscape and away from the prison.
There’s no doubt that this is Andor‘s best episode yet. And it’s not only because of the action and electrifying kinesis (I felt the stress of this one in my chest). It’s also thanks to Kino and Luthen’s stirring speeches. On top of which, what a performance from Andy Serkis! He didn’t get a fair shake to play Snoke, so it’s great and just to see him deliver an intense, dramatic performance here. His three-episode arc as an important, revolutionary figure leave a meaningful mark for Andor as well as all of Star Wars.
And if Serkis’s speech wasn’t enough for you (it should be!), here comes Skarsgård with an excellent performance of his monologue. Luna also shines here, as Cassian tries to navigate his own plan for escape. This was a cohesive, triumphant culmination, one that cashed in on its careful build-up.
Wow. Just wow.