Episode 10 of Andor delivers a standout ending to its prison chapter, but the main crime taking place is that more people aren’t watching this incredible show.
This review contains full spoilers for episode ten of Andor, now available to view on Disney+. To remind yourself of where we left off, check out our Andor episode 9 review.
Andor reaches boiling point again in Episode 10, as all of the bubbling tension of its previous Narkina 5 installments comes to fruition. It’s another layered and nuanced episode that, despite containing a fair helping of high-quality action, doesn’t ever forget its characters and their motivations. It highlights all that is good about the series, by successfully juggling its many parts to create a thrilling whole.
The thrust of the episode can be found in one phrase uttered by Cassian: "I'd rather die trying to take them down than die giving them what they want." Once Andy Serkis' Kino Loy comes to the same realisation that the prison population of Narkina 5 are all dead men walking, the idea of escaping doesn't seem like such a high-stakes risk. It's a rare outburst of true emotion from Cassian – you get the feeling that this incarceration is acting as a crucial chapter in his life as he learns to work with others as his hatred for the Empire finds a new high. Serkis is magnetic throughout, instilling Loy with a newfound rage and purpose with his bellows and determined stares; he channels his superb performances as Caeser in the Apes movies, but is also reminiscent of a stalwart union leader going up against an austerity-supporting government. He's been an excellent addition to the cast and it's therefore a shame we may well have seen the last of him.
Mon Mothma is now faced with a predicament that wouldn't feel out of place in Game of Thrones, weighing up whether the price of her daughter's betrothal is one worth paying for the good of the galaxy. It's the first time Mothma has been placed in a situation similar to others her cast mates have been in and will be a real test of morals for someone presented as truly good so far in the series. Genevieve O'Reilly continues to excel in the role as you sense the burden she carries just from a glance at her face, a helping of personal anguish lumped on top of the galaxy-wide battles she's fighting. Her smarmy guest is dripping in entitled arrogance and elevates a fantastic scene as a slice of Westeros is dropped into Coruscant.
After his noticeable absence last week we also get the return of Luthen in one of his most memorable scenes yet, despite not physically appearing in it for the most part. Squeezing information out of a mole from inside the Empire adds a welcome wrinkle to the plot that only helps drive Andor's espionage thriller ambitions home. It also succeeds further in bringing many of the characters that have so far been kept apart closer together as we inevitably head for a collision course between them. It serves as yet another reminder that Luthen is the character most willing to bend the rules on the side of the resistance. To him, it's a simple choice between 50 lives and one valuable one. It’s a decision Mothma is still not comfortable with making, with Cassian fitting somewhere in between.
A scintillating lesson on how to create engaging action in limited space.“
Nicholas Britell's score continues to excel, the metronomic countdown brilliantly building towards the big escape. When the moment comes for the prison break itself the score masterfully drops out, revealing a droning alarm that ramps up the tension even further. What follows is a scintillating lesson on how to create engaging action in limited space. Much like the escapees, director Toby Haynes does a fantastic job in utilising the tools available to him in the workroom to engineer a thrilling sequence. It never reaches the same level of spectacle that The Eye's heist did but is a much more grounded passage of action, more akin to the series' opening episodes. It's a further reminder of Tony Gilroy's crucial involvement as his masterful vision touches every layer of what makes Andor so compelling.
It's brilliantly choreographed and littered with fantastic flourishes, like the guards’ plan to electrocute the inmates (mostly) backfiring against them or the water dripping down onto another floor's workers to give the episode its very own Shawshank moment. The shot of the prison guards cowering in a room as the escapees rush past is a particularly sweet cherry on top. The episode is beautifully shot and the overhead view of prisoners flooding out of the Imperial symbol-shaped jail is an especially stirring image.
Of course, not everyone was ever going to make it out alive. There are numerous casualties on both sides, with actual stakes and accurate shooting once again adding a refreshing edge to Star Wars. It all builds to a rousing takeover of the control room that satisfies in heaps. Kino Loy using Cassian's words to stir a resistance not only hits an emotive bullseye but confirms to us – and crucially Andor himself – that he has what it takes to lead a rebellion. By risking dying trying to take them down, he may well have finally found his true calling and it hits harder knowing it won't be the last time he takes such a gamble.
This story originally appeared on: IGN - Author:Simon Cardy