Andor Season 1 Ep. 10: The Heavy Sacrifice and Burden of Leadership
The tenth episode of Andor drives home the burden and sacrifice of leadership and what people who put themselves into those positions end up sacrificing. We also see the end of the prison plotline and spend more time with Luthen than in the previous episodes. His intentions are still unclear, but if his character only exists to occasionally say impressive speeches that only a theater-trained actor could deliver with elegance and passion, then that's enough. It's still a little unclear whether or not this show ends up sticking the landing when it comes to the final two episodes, but this one was worth the journey alone, as it might be the strongest episode of the entire season so far.
One Way Out And No Going Back
The plotline on Narkina 5 has been handled interestingly throughout this entire series. This show has been pretty obvious on its stand of being anti-prison and ACAB, but we see all of that come to a head in this episode. In the previous episode, we learned that these men aren't going anywhere, and the prison sentence numbers don't mean anything. The prison tries its best to cover it up, but information is powerful and spreads like wildfire until it reaches the men able to do something about it. This entire arc should remind us of what a talented actor Andy Serkis is without any sort of motion capture. Kino is the king of reluctant leader that is often thrown into situations like this when they don't have a choice but to either die trying or just die.
We knew that a prison break was on the way, but seeing the way the show decided to handle Kino is really interesting. He could have easily been a folly to Cassian and the others planning on getting out. Instead, he saw the truth and decided that it wasn't worth trying to stay in a broken system that wouldn't ever reward him. Kino is passionate as he rallies the entire prison to fight back and help each other because now is the only chance they have to escape. He does all of this until we find out at the last second that he will never make it out. They are in a prison surrounded by water, so Kino isn't getting off unless it is through official means. When he tells the men that he is acting like he's already dead, it's because he knows the minute he decides to fight back, he's not making it off, and he's going to die.
The entire culture of this prison was to pit the men against each other by punishing the tables that underperformed, but we see during the escape that it didn't work. Kino even says that if any of them see a lost or confused man, help him. This is their one way out, but that doesn't mean they should leave everyone behind, either. One would think that would be how these men would approach it, but it's not. We see them shocked when comrades fall, and we see them helping each other. It speaks to how well Kino could make these men follow him so that they didn't turn against each other. The prison arc also made the fascinating choice to never use what these men did to end up there. For all we know, some of them are like Cassian and didn't do anything, but there are some that are criminals, maybe even evil men, but that doesn't matter in this context. The show never takes a moral stand on whether or not the men in the prison are good or bad, but they don't deserve to serve indefinite sentences.
Leaders In Andor Lose Themselves And Everything Else
We are still getting a better idea of what kind of leader Luthen is, and this episode is once again showing just how ruthless he can be. We learn that he has a man high up in the ISB who is spying for him and is using that to his advantage. We see that he is willing to let fifty men die because calling off the attack would reveal the hole in the security and possibly compromise the mole. The mole is more important than the lives of fifty men. We see Luthen make that call in shadows in a dark cape that makes him look like Vader or another member of the Empire. Andor isn't being subtle as it shows that while Luthen might be a rebel, he is not a good person. We must remember that this is the same person who wanted the Empire to strike back against people because that would cause people to rebel.
When we think of leaders of the Rebellion, we think of people like Leia, but Luthen isn't anything like Leia. At times, it can be hard to even see him as a protagonist, which is something he even seems to acknowledge. He tells Lonni, when asked what he sacrifices, that he gives up everything. He knows that he is fighting for a future that he isn't ever going to see, and he seems at peace with that. However, it is surprising to see someone so willing to throw away the lives of others in the name of people one spy. It's something we don't expect from the Rebellion of the trilogy but is very much a move that Draven and the Rebellion of Rogue One would do. Stellan Skarsgard's speech to Lonni is yet another example of why you hire top-tier talent to deliver these kinds of speeches.
On the other hand, Mon is not what we expect from what will become one of the great leaders of the Rebellion. This episode is showing her exactly what she might have to give up to help the Rebellion, and, in this case, it isn't anything that affects her. Mon seems keen to let this impact herself, but now the consequences could reach her daughter, and that is a sacrifice she doesn't know if she's willing to make. One could argue that Mon hasn't been asked to sacrifice anything like Luthen or Kino in this episode, but she is on the precipice of making one. It's one thing to make a personal sacrifice the way Kino did, but Mon is essentially being asked to sacrifice her daughter.
This entire series has been about watching people who will soon change the galaxy come into themselves, and the journey we have been watching, Mon, is not the many expected when they found out the character was in Andor. Likely, many expected her to be steadfast in her belief and to never waver in her convictions because that is the Mon we see in the movies. However, this woman isn't ready to make the final leap into Rebellion because that would mean losing more than she is willing to. It's a very human reaction to see, and Genevieve O'Reilly is doing such a lovely job of portraying it. The truth is, even those most dedicated don't start that way, ad Mon is just like anyone else. She is coming closer to accepting it, but that final sacrifice and taking on that burden will likely be the end of her arc for this season. Season two could be watching her learn how to shoulder that burden.
Only Two More Episodes Left
We already know that we are getting a second season of Andor, but the second season will be different in that it will cover multiple years, while this one will cover just one span of time in one year. So, the question becomes, how much is getting wrapped up this season? We know that certain people here will live, but are there any massive casualties in the main cast? Will Syril finally get to do something other than be a giant creepy dweeb who blames Cassian for his entire life going downhill? Lucasfilm hasn't said who would return for a second season, if anyone, from this cast. So unless your names are Cassian, Melshi, or Mon, then lives are on the line. Now that the Narkina 5 plotline is done, how are they going to have Cassian end this season exactly? There are a lot of questions heading into this season and quite a lot of plot threads left. There needs to be some sort of satisfying conclusion if the wait for season two isn't going to feel absolutely horrid, but shows with season orders tend to use that as an excuse to end poorly [see: Loki]. Even if we know that more is on the horizon, there needs to be something coming to an end by the time episode twelve ends, and whether or not they do that will be the thing that ultimately decides just how good this series is a whole.