By Mike Redmond | TV | November 5, 2022 |
By Mike Redmond | TV | November 5, 2022 |
After last week’s brilliantly bleak “Narkina 5” clocked in as one of Andor’s longest episodes yet, “Nobody’s Listening!” is a return to a form as it clips along at a brisk 47 minutes. (Which in Disney+ times means about 40.) But while this episode might not be as narratively jam-packed, it continues Andor’s trend of a taut political thriller that has no business to keep being this good. Kathleen Kennedy needs to reflect on whatever jostled inside of her to greenlight this show instead of farting out another fan service turd like Obi-Wan Kenobi. More of that impulse, less of… well everything since The Rise of Skywalker.
“But, Mike, even The Mandalorian?!”
Look, man, I don’t know anymore. I made it a point when these recaps started to say that both The Mandalorian and Andor can exist, but after nine episodes of rich storytelling, actual dramatic stakes, and cinematography that isn’t an unholy AI rendering of Mark Hamill, I’m having a hard time squaring what this franchise has been doing until now. (The Last Jedi still owns though.) I don’t want to be one of those guys who is like, “Andor is what Star Wars should be from now on.” But I’m way less opposed to that train of thought these days.
Anyway, going with the narrative chunks again. Enjoy!
Imperial Security Bureau
With Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona) in custody, Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) tries her hand on the good cop routine by telling Bix she can make this all very easy by giving up information on Cassian Andor and the buyer for the stolen Imperial Starpath Unit. That buyer is, of course, Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård) who Dedra and the ISB only know as “Axis.” Thanks to interrogating the store owner where Bix conducts her transmission, Dedra is well aware that Bix has met with the buyer at least six times.
However, Bix is no idiot. She knows that whatever information she gives Bix won’t be believed unless it’s extracted under duress, which reveals that Dedra is basically toying with her at this point and sickly enjoying it. Dedra hands things over to Doctor Gorst (Jason James) who gleefully informs Bix that he’s basically going to assault her eardrums with the sounds of dying Dizonites, an alien race who apparently create a brain-melting sound upon death. Particularly the children. Yeah…
Of course, the Star Wars universe has a documented history of torture. An Interrogation Droid was used on Leia in A New Hope, Han was tortured in The Empire Strikes Back after being captured by Vader on Bespin, and Riz Ahmed’s Bodhi almost had his mind liquidated by Saw Gerrara in Rogue One. Torture is what fascist governments do, both space and regular. That said, I wouldn’t exactly call this scene a direct callback to the War on Terror or even Abu Ghraib, but I wouldn’t not call it that. The door is definitely open for that kind of inference as this show has been throwing modern-day haymakers more than any other piece of Star Wars in recent years. This is true sci-fi, folks.
Unlike real-world examples of torture, Bix surprisingly gives Dedra a buttload of actual intel. She’s also kept alive because she can ID Luthen, whose name is the only piece of info Bix did not give up. However, Dedra extracted enough intel to connect Cassian to the Aldhani heist and get a bead on whatever operation Luthen was trying to talk Saw (Forest Whitaker) into joining in the last episode. The net around Luthen has tightened significantly.
Meanwhile, Syril (Kyle Soller) is getting even more creepy. He’s got a new hairdo, telling off his overbearing mom over cereal, and becoming quite the stalker. Since his last encounter with Dedra, he’s been waiting out the ISB for a month so he can personally thank her for getting him a promotion at work. Dedra, however, does not seem to enjoy some weirdo telling her how beautiful it is that she’s hunting down Cassian, but also… maybe she does? There’s a chance these two might have gross fascist sex, or Syril is going to f*ck up an important operation with his incel Dunning-Kruger vibes. Why not both?
In an interesting twist, Vel (Faye Marsay) turns out to have a Chandrila connection after all, but not the one I thought. Her familial relation is actually to Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly). The two are cousins, which raises questions as to what is Luthen’s connection to the two of them. Is he a blood relative as well? More importantly, Vel clearly hates Mon’s dickbag Proud Boy-lite husband and doesn’t hide it at all, which is delightful. F*ck that guy.
Vel’s reason for returning to Coruscant is nebulous, but Mon encourages her to make sure people see her acting as a rich girl to tamp down any suspicions about their Rebel sympathies. Once again, Mon’s daughter is in the periphery of all of this, and I have a feeling their relationship may not survive this series, or even this season.
Complicating matters is Mon’s more frequent meetings with Tay Kolma (Ben Miles), who is notably identified by Mon’s daughter as Mon’s old boyfriend. Where did she get this information? Dickbag dad of course. Tay is also the bearer of bad news as he lets Mon know that moving her family fortune just became a much trickier situation due to increasing Imperial regulations. To bankroll her Rebel activities she’ll have to meet with a wealthy Chandrila thug, who she clearly wants nothing to do with.
“But what does it all mean, Basil?” I honestly don’t know, and the episode leaves it hanging for next week. So we’ll put a pin in that and get to the good stuff.
Like last week’s episode, the meat of “Nobody’s Listening!” takes place at the Imperial prison on Narkina 5. Not content to be ground into dust churning out Imperial parts, Cassian has been probing the prison factory for weaknesses. Just like the heist on Aldhani, he’s once again proving that he knows his shit. Our boy is a competent f*cker, and he’s already got his escape route eyed up. The only problem is getting his fellow inmates on board, particularly Kino Loy (Andy Serkis).
I’m going to be upfront. I was not onboard with Serkis’ cameo last week because I still think one of Andor’s many strengths is its cast of relative unknowns. Granted, Serkis isn’t a huge name, but he is recognizable enough that he sticks out more than the other characters. You can’t help but think in the back of your mind, “Hey, there’s Andy Serkis.” That said, he blended right in this episode as Kino becomes increasingly aware that the Empire had no plans to honor the end of his sentence and that whole floors were being slaughtered because, well, the Empire has no shortage of workers. As Cassian notes, they’re cheaper than droids.
However, Lino’s deflection is a beautiful slow burn, and his decision to join Cassian is saved until the very last seconds in one of the best exchanges of the entire series. After witnessing the cold, jarring death of Ulaf (Christopher Fairbank) and learning from a medic that no one is getting out alive, Cassian and Lino head back to their cells. But this time, after spending the episode growling at Cassian to put thoughts of escape out of his mind, Lino finally answers when asked how many guards are on each level.
“Never more than 12,” Lino says. Goosebumps. Fade to black. F*ck, I love this show.
— Is it me or is the intro music starting to slap even harder as Andor progresses? It seemed like this week’s synth riff was particularly bitching.
— This thread from Joanna Robinson on how Andor is an “inverted and perverted take” on Terry Gilliam’s Brazil is freaking amazing. The few clicks this will generate won’t pull Elon’s ass out of the fire, so don’t feel guilty.
— Luthen never shows his face during this episode, but it’s important to remember that every horrible thing that is happening is entirely his fault. He wanted the Empire to overreact to Aldhani, and he doesn’t care who goes into the meat grinder because of it. Cassian is literally grist in a mill and Bix had her brain blended so Luthen’s plan would work. At least one of them is not going to take that in stride.
— Not sure if I mentioned this, but Mon Mothma’s husband suuuuuuucckkkkss. The dude blows so much. On that note, it truly is a crime that Twitter is starting to wake up to Andor just as Emerald Mine Fartwaffle III is running the whole thing into the ground. We are about to be robbed of exquisite gems like this (and Joanna’s take), and that is a damn shame:
Disney brought back Boba Fett and Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan and the best Star Wars tv show by far is the one where we watch Mon Mothma go through a divorce— Keifer (@DannyVegito) November 3, 2022