Just when you think Andor couldn’t get any bleaker, here comes episode 9 “Nobody’s Listening”. Even the title invokes a sense of hopelessness as the Empire sinks to a new level of evil.
During her interrogation of Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona), Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) explains that two years ago, Bix’s friend Salman Paak was asked to be a “liaison” for Ferrix by an unnamed woman at a separatist meeting in Jondora. The radio Bix used to contact Luthen was sent to Salman, and he was paid to keep it alive. He met with “The Buyer” — Luthen — only once before passing him off to Bix, who became an unwitting accomplice to the distribution of stolen Imperial equipment. When Bix refuses to reveal Luthen’s identity or the last time she spoke to Cassian, Dr. Gorst (Joshua James) steps in. He places a device on Bix’s head that plays the recorded screams of the Dizonites, who were slaughtered by the Empire for resisting its expansion. But it’s the cries of the species’ children that have its own effectiveness. We never hear the sound as the camera closes in on Bix’s terror, but the next time we see her, she looks broken.
After the interrogation ends, Dedra orders for Bix to remain in custody of the Imperial Security Bureau since she’s the only one who can identify Axis/Luthen. A top Imperial official recommends hanging Paak to send a warning to citizens of Ferrix, which Dedra approves.
No Way Out
Back in the prison world of Narkina 5, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and some of his fellow prisoners are working on an escape plan. He files away at a water pipe during his toilet breaks. As the guards escort a new prisoner onto their floor, Cassian and another prisoner notice the elevator isn’t electrified. They decide to attack the guards the next time they add a new prisoner to their shift.
There’s one problem: Kino Loy (Andy Serkis), the manager of Level 5, is suspicious of Cassian’s behavior. Kino is 217 shifts away from completing his sentence, and won’t tolerate anyone standing in the way of his release. Another complication is Ulaf’s (Christopher Fairbank) declining health — he begins to show signs of senility and is too weak to work, forcing Cassian and the other inmates to cover for him.
After the end of their shift, some prisoners realize they’ve been in the bridge waiting area for too long. Taga (Tom Reed) starts to panic while using sign language to communicate with prisoners on the bridge that’s on the opposite side of the prison. He can’t decipher all the details, but there’s something wrong on Level 2. The power shuts off briefly without any warning. When it comes back on, everybody must leave the area while the alarms sound off.
Later that evening, Cassian tries to convince Kino to reveal how many guards are in each level, to no avail. He explains the guards don’t care about any of the inmates on Narkina 5 — they’re nothing but cheap labor that can be easily replaced. Kino shuts him down out of fear the guards can hear them. This prompts Cassian to yell “nobody’s listening” over and over again, his voice growing louder. The guards never arrive to see what’s going on. They don’t even tell Cassian to shut up. Rumors begin to swirl of a riot that lead to Level 2 getting fried, killing over a hundred prisoners. There’s panic and fear, and Kino is having none of that. He reminds everyone that it’s a rumor they should ignore, but he’s as worried as everyone else.
Everything comes to a head when Ulaf has a massive stroke during his shift. Cassian and Kino watch over Ulaf in one of the tunnels while waiting for Dr. Rhasiv (Adrian Rawlins) — who’s also a prisoner — to arrive. Kino pleads with him to save Ulaf, but Dr. Rhasiv decides to euthanize him instead. Horrified, Cassian and Kino ask what happened on Level 2. He reveals that a prisoner on Level 4 who had completed his sentence was put on Level 2 by accident. Once word got out, the guards killed everyone to keep the mistake a secret. Kino realizes that Cassian was right. Nobody is leaving Narkina with death being the only way out.
“How many guards are on each level?” Cassian asks when he’s alone with Kino.
“Never more than 12,” Kino says.
On Coruscant, Eedy Karn (Kathryn Hunter) is berating her son Syril for coming home late and skipping dinner. When Syril accuses his mother of going through his things, she goes into this long monologue of how neglected she feels, all while Syril slurps his cereal. She doesn’t shut up until Syril mentions his promotion, which means his work hours changed. She’s excited and even shows her son a little affection by wrapping her arms around his shoulders. This scene feels more like an explanation for Syril’s twisted personality — which we get a glimpse of when we catch him waiting for Dedra outside ISB headquarters. He thanks her for the promotion, though she claims to have nothing to do with it. He then proceeds to declare his undying obsession with her. It’s creepy, disturbing, and even cold-hearted Dedra is shaken when Syril grabs her arm.
“I want what you want,” Syril tells her. “I sense it. I know it”. It’s hard to decipher if he’s referring to their shared interest in fascism and pursuing Cassian, or if he’s deluded himself into thinking Dedra actually wants him (probably the latter). Dedra threatens to have Syril thrown into a “cage on the Outer Rim” if she sees him again. Dedra’s a bitch, but her interaction with Syril isn’t too different from the millions of women who have come face-to-face with an unhinged man with a crush.
Dedra gives a report on her interrogation of Bix to her superiors. She shares her suspicions about Cassian’s involvement in the Aldhani garrison heist. Attendant Heert (Jacob James Beswick) backs her up when he points out Cassian had shaved his beard the last time he was seen, and the rebels involved in the heist were clean-shaven. Also, the two soldiers from the garrison said one of the thieves looked like the ISB’s reference picture of Cassian. But for now, the ISB shifts their focus to a rebel pilot in their custody who’s connected to Anto Kreegyr. With a raid planned on a power station at Spellhaus, they decide to set a trap by killing the pilot and sabotage the ship, so it will be towed into Kafrene.
In her address to the senate chamber, Mon Mothma tries to convince her colleagues to take a stand against Emperor Palpatine’s new public safety legislation. Her speech is met with booing and senators turning the lights off on their podium. Only a small few showed their support. A defeated Mon returns to her home in Coruscant. Her driver has some good news: her cousin has arrived for a visit. And her cousin happens to be fellow rebel Vel Sartha (Faye Marsay). When they’re alone, Mon expresses concern for her cousin, and Vel is worried about Mon being “trapped” in Coruscant. “The Rebellion comes first. We take what’s left,” Vel says to Mon. It’s an echo of what Cinta told Vel in the last episode. Interesting now that Vel is in Cinta’s shoes this time.
While Vel gets along well with Mon’s teenage daughter Leida (Bronte Carmichael, the same can’t be said with Mon’s husband Perrin Fertha (Alastair Mackenzie). During breakfast, Perrin throws shade at Vel for not having a husband, since Chandrilans tend to marry in their teens. Things get even more awkward when Perrin mentions Tay Kolma (Ben Miles) who Leida refers to as her mother’s old boyfriend, which Mon denies. Seriously, can anyone in Star Wars have a nice drama-free breakfast? We’re only 9 episodes in and this is, what, the fifth awkward breakfast scene in the whole season.
Anyway, before Vel leaves, Mon admits she’s having doubts about the rebellion. Vel reminds her they’re “fighting against the dark” and making something of their lives. We see Mon standing alone in her house and get a sense of what Vel meant about her being trapped. Everything about her is a facade. She’s struggling to preserve what little democracy is left in the galaxy. She’s stuck in a loveless marriage with her annoying, bratty husband and has to deal with her equally annoying, bratty daughter. The only real difference between Mon’s life and a prison is the floors in Coruscant aren’t electrified 24/7.
Things go from bad to worse when Mon speaks to Tay. New tax regulations have made transferring money a problem. There’s also a 400K credit withdrawal from Mon’s account that needs some explaining. Tay suggests Mon turn to Davo Sculdun for help. He’s one of the richest Chandrilans around, and he’s on his way to meet Mon in Coruscant. Mon is livid over the idea of working with a “thug” like Davo, but it doesn’t look like Mon has much of a choice.
Episode 10 of Andor will be available to stream on Disney+ Thursday, November 10.