Cassian Andor remains in captivity, but he and his fellow inmates begin to perceive cracks in the procedures and nervousness in the personnel, all suggesting that any passive chance of being released after ‘time served’, as promised, has disappeared. But as the urgency and sense of desperation increases, can it be channeled into an actual plan to escape confinement?
Even as the danger of exposure threatens Mon Mothma’s plans she welcomes a familiar face into her home and elsewhere Imperial officer Dedra Meero begins to close the net on the rebels and uses all techniques at her disposal to make Bix talk.
The future of both the Imperial forces and Rebellion may rest in the choices that officers and operatives are about to make and how long they can hold out…
While the glacial pace of Andor looks to have no signs of melting any time soon, it helps that the latest episode substitutes the lack of a more kinetic momentum for a gradual rising tide of unease, individual moments subtly cranking up the tension with a sense of foreboding for what is to come..
And along the way there’s some nice surprises, especially in the way that some threads are quietly intertwining.
We find out that Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) and Vel Sartha (Faye Marsay) who have had quite separate roles and arcs so far, are actually cousins, with the latter’s dual-identity as an active, hands-on rebel a closely-guarded family secret. Mon begs Vel to be careful and asks her to play the spoilt rich girl persona more actively so as to throw off any suspicions and there’s a sisterly grace between them as they quietly shrug off Major Partagaz (Anton Lesser) and his put-downs. But it is clear that both women will have to watch their respective backs as Mothma makes her political speeches more pointed and her friend and accountant Tay Kolma (Ben Miles) notes the real problems she’ll soon be having in hiding her financial transactions to support the cause.
The Syril Karn arc remains one of those interesting threads despite the fact it’s the one of the slowest… because, where is it going? Last week saw him collide with Imperial officer Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) as he provided intel to her that could be useful. Now he’s positively stalking her, turning up at her office and leading her to threaten him with deportation to the outer rim if he continues to push his own agenda. One suspects it isn’t going to deter him from pursuing all leads related to the man who has become his personal nemesis, Cassian Andor. It’s a case where we don’t quite have any idea what’s going to happen next but there’s still an innate feeling of dread, like watching a slow-motion car-crash where you know someone’s going to get hurt but you’re not sure who or when or quite how. Kyle Soller – and the script – gives Syril a chilling sense of self-importance and sense of singular mission and looking for a touchstone I can only come up with a biography of Lee Harvey Oswald, a resolutely unimpressive person who somehow had enough guile and force of vision that he managed the assassination of JFK. In Andor, he feels like a similar personality, one that might have sunk into obscurity had things been only slightly different, yet may still be pointed in a specific direction or a certain orbit for the benefit of other individuals and be allowed to be their fall-guy. I do not foresee a good fate for Syril, but one suspects there’ll be some moments along the way.
Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona) faces torture at the hands of Meero (or rather her torturers and henchmen)… so this may well put paid to any idea that Meero might actually be a rebel spy merely posing as a loyal high-ranking officer. The fact that we are told what the torture is (with her essentially being forced to listen to the harmonically-adjusted screams of murdered alien children but we are left to imagine, as an audience, how bad that could be, is very effective (though perhaps underlines that this isn’t your grandfather’s – or even George Lucas’ – vision of a family-adventure romp anymore). The nonchalant tone of the torturer Doctor Gorst (Joshua James) when he talks of the procedure as if it was a routine check-up is casually appalling and the headset that delivers the sounds seems to deliberately reflect and draw parallels with that rat-infested cage described by George Orwell in 1984 but one wonders if it would have been just as effective if delivered in a more streamlined and sterile way. Perhaps not… such imagery conveys an extra chill.
Andor’s own story makes him, yet again, feel like a passenger rather than a titular protaganist, his captivity being an interesting element being stretched out over too many episodes and which could have been considerably foreshortened. (In fact, this episode might have been more effective if we simply hadn’t checked in with him at all – which would have given more weight to the idea of him AWOL, being locked away from view, in a becalmed state and having to watch, wait and observe rather than act). There are clearly problems in the prison base with rumours filtering through the various levels that there have been incidents, but which remain vague enough to be deemed likely true but unclear. Even Andy Serkis’ Kino Loy – previously the cold, pragmatic task-master of the level – begins to realise the hard truth that as of now, no-one is getting out of the facility, they are merely being moved around. This development looks to be the one thing that might make him finally cooperate with Andor and his fellow team in doing something, anything to get out. Christopher Fairbank also gives the dying Ulaf a sense of pity and fragility as the old man falls, incapable of keeping up. Well-acted and interesting per se, it still feels like the same territory could have been covered in half the screen-time in either episodes placed wider apart or in a more concentrated way.
By now, you’ve probably decided whether Andor is for you or not – and some of the audience have clearly bailed on a show that often seems to burn up traction on impulse power… but for those staying with it and willing to put up with the tighter focus and grimmer tone, foregoing the usually essential and more spectacular elements, this is still highly watchable and intense drama of the more subversive and political variety. But there are only three episodes left to go in this season and certainly things need to build and ramp up…
- Production Design / VFX9