TV Review / Recap – “Star Wars: Andor” Dials Up the Bleakness as Cassian Plans an Escape in Episode 9 – “Nobody’s Listening!”

I’ve grumbled before about things happening in Andor that didn’t feel very much like Star Wars to me: heart attacks, paralyzation, dystopian sci-fi prisons… but eventually the time comes when I need to accept the show for what it is– an incredibly bleak vision of A Galaxy Far Far Away.

And this week’s episode of Star Wars: Andor, entitled “Nobody’s Listening!”, dials up the level of bleakness to 11 as it opens with Imperial Security Bureau agent Dedra Meero (played by Denise Gough) preparing to torture poor Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona) for information regarding Cassian Andor’s current whereabouts.

But as if the concept of torture isn’t enough on its own, the method Dedra is using– via the creepily amiable Doctor Gorst (Joshua James)– is making Bix listening to the sounds of alien children screaming in terror. Wow. I think that would get just about anyone talking, and Meero takes the information she recovers back to ISB headquarters, where an all-points-bulletin has been put out for Cassian’s capture. Little does the Empire know that they indeed already have Andor in custody, though it’s under an assumed name at the Narkina 5 factory facility. There, Cassian and his co-prisoners struggle to get by while some of them covertly plan an escape, but not inmate supervisor Kino Loy (Andy Serkis), who seems intent on keeping his head down and working until his sentence has expired. But unrest begins to percolate among the prisoners when an incident occurs on a different level of the immense facility, followed by the disquieting death of an elderly inmate named Ulaf (Christopher Fairbank) from overwork. Meanwhile on Coruscant, Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) receives a visit from rebel cell leader Vel Sartha (Faye Marsay) who turns out to be her wealthy cousin from Chandrila. Mon and Vel commiserate on the trials of the Rebellion and discuss the involvement of Tay Kolma (Ben Miles), who now proposes to bring in a Chandrilan crime boss to help launder the money Mothma needs to fund the burgeoning insurgency.

We also check in on Syril Karn (Kyle Soller), who has received a promotion at the Bureau of Standards thanks to his efforts to help the ISB. His mother Eedy (Kathryn Hunter) is so proud– a 180-degree shift from being incredibly overbearing and critical of her son– but all Syril wants to do is further what he perceives as his relationship with Dedra, whose mere existence as a fellow devotee of law and order he says made his life worth living again. Karn stalks Meero outside the ISB HQ and she threatens to have him imprisoned on the Outer Rim– boy, it’d be funny if he ended up building machine parts alongside Cassian and company on the moon of Narkina 5. So despite the sheer hopelessness on display in just about every section of the galaxy in this episode, I do have to admit that the show is just so darn well-crafted that I couldn’t help but be glued to the screen. The acting on display here from the entire cast is top-notch and this story arc’s writer/director team of Beau Willimon (House of Cards) and Toby Haynes (Sherlock) are knocking it out of the park in terms of building the tension. It’s funny, but words like “droid” still jump out at me when a character says them because the surrounding tone is so different from the Star Wars I know and love. But I am learning to accept that this franchise can plumb the depths of human nature just as much as it can celebrate its more positive aspects like love and teamwork. I think showrunner Tony Gilroy is successfully demonstrating how malleable Star Wars is as an idea, while exploring just how bad things have to get before one becomes inspired to join a revolution.

New episodes of Star Wars: Andor are released Wednesdays, exclusively on Disney+.

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Mike Celestino
Mike serves as Laughing Place's lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly "Who's the Bossk?" Star Wars podcast. He's been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general all his life and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.