Andor: Nobody's Listening!
November 2, 2022 2:07 AM - Season 1, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Under intense scrutiny in prison, Cassian makes his allies to plan an impossible escape.
posted by EndsOfInvention (75 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think the "screaming of murdered children" torture scene might be the first bit I have to skip over when I'm watching with my kid. Oof.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:11 AM on November 2, 2022 [6 favorites]


Karn crushing on Deedra is so cringe. Where is his plot going? Is he going to become so obsessed with "helping" the ISB that he accidentally ruins their investigation?

Vel's rich family she was running away from is... the Mothmas!

Narkina 5 inmates all have life sentences now, it seems. But with 700* prisoners and only 12 guards per level...

Saw's refusal to work with Kreegyr was probably a good idea after all - looks like Kreegyr's cell is compromised and the ISB are onto the Spellhaus plan.

*(a room has 49 workers + 1 room boss, there's 2 shifts per room, 7 rooms a level)
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:34 AM on November 2, 2022 [4 favorites]


Denise Gough was absolutely terrifying in the interrogation scene. It’s not a heel turn per se, as Meero’s always been the villain, but the depths of evil she’s capable of haven’t been apparent before. And then she also manages to be terrified, when she’s stopped on the street by Karn. It’s interesting how they show that even though she’s an ISB supervisor, she’s still vulnerable to unhinged fools like him. Gough and the writers have really imbued Meero with substance as a character, in ways that lesser show wouldn’t.

Also, Jesus fuck, Dr. Gorst, what a horrifying character.
posted by Kattullus at 3:37 AM on November 2, 2022 [23 favorites]


This was an intense episode. The torture scene was horrific - the casual discussion of a genocide that yielded this interesting side effect, then leaving the sound itself up to our imagination, the cutaway with the closing door and the pan down to someone walking away (which is exactly the camera move during Leia's torture in Star Wars). And Denise Gough is fucking terrifying, both in this scene and later in the episode whne she comes up with the plan to kill the pilot and leave him in a "disabled" ship so they can track it back (also reminiscent of a plam on Star Wars).

At this point, I think Karn might just storm the ISB; he's dangerous, a loose cannon that is surely going to fuck things up more than he did on Ferrix.

While I figured no one was making it out of the prison system, the mistake of having someone released from 4 show back up on 2 seems a little too easy for the plot - one of the few times I felt the writing has stumbled a bit in the show.
posted by nubs at 5:28 AM on November 2, 2022 [7 favorites]


This show had better clean up at the Emmys; everybody's acting their hearts out. Andy Serkis is in thisclose to stealing Diego's show right from under his nose.

I wonder who this lowlife is that Mon doesn't want to meet. Who knew we'd be seeing so many Chandrilans? Speaking of, Perrin couldn't be more of a punk if he tried. I hope he meets with an unfortunately accident.
posted by orrnyereg at 5:39 AM on November 2, 2022 [5 favorites]


At this point, I think Karn might just storm the ISB; he's dangerous, a loose cannon that is surely going to fuck things up more than he did on Ferrix.

Earlier in the series, I had thought perhaps they might have him find redemption and join the Empire, but instead it would seem that he's just going to lose his marbles chasing his white whale.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:46 AM on November 2, 2022 [2 favorites]


I don’t know how Major Partagaz would respond to someone stalking a valued underling, but I doubt that it would be particularly pleasant. Or survivable.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 9:54 AM on November 2, 2022 [4 favorites]


My God that was tense. Of all the possibilities, I never thought we’d see a Star Wars property that was half heist and half prison break. Nor did I ever expect something that made the Empire so terrifying: not the big, cinematic blowing up of planets, but the slow, remorseless grind of fascism.

Highlights for me:
  • Denise Gough’s tiny tense cheek-tic at the end of her “interview” with Bix.
  • The lights of the Senate pods going out as Mon Mothma’s pleas fall on deaf ears.
  • The insight that Tay Kolma was Mon Mothma’s “boyfriend” (which had to be very young, considering how early she was married) and that the Senator is, at least to some degree, playing him.
  • The strong concentration camp feel of the prison. Setting teams of prisoners to compete against each other, “rewarding” high performers with more calories while punishing the weak was exactly what the Nazis did. Couple that with the prisoner’s slow dawning realisation that no-one is ever getting out, and it’s a disturbingly close parallel.
  • The writing – never Lucas’ strong suit – is so good, effective in part because you don’t notice it, or how much work it’s doing in episodes with very little action.
Definitely getting strong incel vibes from Karn, who matches the profile: an authoritarian true believer who invests completely in a powerful figure. I’m in agreement with nubs and Fleebnork: he’s just the type to attempt a grand gesture during a moment of crisis that truly fouls everything up.

Perhaps most refreshingly, things that we haven’t seen:
  • Not a single mention of Jedi or the Force.
  • Barely any references to Palpatine, who remains (appropriately) unimaginably distant and remote as a black hole.
  • No appearance of Vader.
  • Not even a mention of the Rebellion, which remains an idea barely gestured at by Luthen.
Andor seems characterised by small, cautious little moves and tiny accidents of fate tumbling into crisis, completely unlike the bold, sweeping sagas we’re used to. I’m enjoying it so much.

Question for those deeper in the lore than I am: is there a single inciting incident that sparks the Rebellion proper? I see that Andor has been extended into a second season, to bring it right up to the events of Rogue One, so it’s possible we won’t see the event at all, but I am curious.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 11:39 AM on November 2, 2022 [23 favorites]


Perhaps most refreshingly, things that we haven’t seen:

Not a single mention of Jedi or the Force...



Beginning to think a Jedi reveal is coming by the end of the season; Luthen is starting to smell like a Jedi to me, one actually playing the diplomat role they were supposed to have in the Republic - except instead of keeping the peace, he's working to incite a Rebellion and connect up the various factions. I think if they do go there, it's going to be in an unexpected way (because this show always seems to surprise me, even with developments I expect), but I would also really like it if the Jedi never show up here. The whole thing is scarier and more menacing because it's ordinary people doing this stuff.

Andor seems characterised by small, cautious little moves and tiny accidents of fate tumbling into crisis, completely unlike the bold, sweeping sagas we’re used to. I’m enjoying it so much.

This show is so much about how authoritarian systems grind everyone down and compromise people (even those that serve it), its good to see the effects on those who are largely ignored by the grand sweep of the films. It's good to see the costs for those that choose to fight. There's nothing clean here, no clear act of good - everything is compromised somehow, and the one tiny moment of hope in this incredibly bleak episode is Kino coming onside to whatever Andor's plot is - which is certain to result in the deaths of hundreds of inmates across the facility as there may not be many guards, but it only takes one to turn on the floor. Then again, they're dead already, aren't they?
posted by nubs at 12:07 PM on November 2, 2022 [13 favorites]


Karn will become an imperial planted spy into a rebel cell. Possibly as a replacement for the pilot in the upcoming job.

The acting in this show is so delightful to watch
posted by rebent at 2:11 PM on November 2, 2022 [3 favorites]


Wow - agree with all the comments about Meero: she really is a piece of work! And brilliantly written by Beau Willimon and acted by Denise Gough. It's also great to see Vel's story unexpectedly interlace with Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly continues to knock it out of the park too - that last scene with Tay!) Bix's plight seems bleak, and I'm wondering why there was no mention of Brasso, unless Meero didn't even bother with him (a slip-up?); the only faint hope for Bix is the fact that Cinta may still be around?

As for the Jedi - well, it certainly would be a curveball if Luthen turns out to be one - perhaps it relates to Saw Gerrera's query last week about not knowing who he is. But at the moment he appears to be too morally compromised himself to feel Jedi to me.

Syril Karn - a sad figure indeed, and given how ruthless we now know Meero to be, perhaps surprising she didn't have him imprisoned immediately: unless she genuinely does love the Empire so much that the idea of doing that to a fellow Empire fanatic is just too much?

The music from Nicholas Britell is as ever a great support (music for the first 4 episodes available on streaming services). And Mon Mothma's dresses (and Vel's posh outfits)! - kudos to the costume department.

The tension ratchets up yet another notch!
posted by domdib at 2:24 PM on November 2, 2022 [3 favorites]


So, with the exception of the torture scene, there's an element of competence porn in watching the ISB at work that makes them enjoyable. Creative employees, the boss that cares about what people accomplishment, the "let's get to it attitude." Even the political backbiting is being done by people who are good at it. It keeps those scenes humming along despite having no appealing characters.

And having established that level of competence, it sets a bar for what it takes to oppose them. The rebellion won't succeed because of bureaucratic paralysis crippling the empire.

This episode is the first time we've seen any sign Cassian has what it takes. Certainly he's demonstrated he has talents and can act decisively in the past, but he's always been reactive. Here the creativity, planning and energy he's displaying, and the willingness to take a leadership rule, are new. When his fortunes are at the lowest point they've been!
posted by mark k at 2:29 PM on November 2, 2022 [24 favorites]


Bix's plight seems bleak, and I'm wondering why there was no mention of Brasso, unless Meero didn't even bother with him (a slip-up?)

Meera got on to Bix via Paak - the guy who runs the scrap yard where the radio was. Last episode she asked for some kind of electronic surveillance gear and I'm guessing that picked up the radio transmission Bix made, which was tracked to his yard, and then he gave up Bix. As far as Brasso goes, we know he tethered the shuttle and made it crash but does anyone else? If he gets swept up, it'll be because he's going to check on Maarva and Dedra is bored of waiting for Cassian and needs someone else to torture.

As for the Jedi - well, it certainly would be a curveball if Luthen turns out to be one - perhaps it relates to Saw Gerrera's query last week about not knowing who he is. But at the moment he appears to be too morally compromised himself to feel Jedi to me.

It was the "I'm a coward" line for me; Luthen doesn't strike me as cowardly, and I'm maybe reading too much into it to think its the self-perception of a man who hid when Order 66 happened. The first episode he appears has a cane, and there's a few moments where he appears to hold it like a lightsaber. He has a lot of knowledge and connections, though no one really seems to know who he is, so its easy to project onto him, though I'm still quite happy if he isn't Jedi.

Karn will become an imperial planted spy into a rebel cell. Possibly as a replacement for the pilot in the upcoming job.

That would be wild! I don't think Karn could hold it together in the presence of Rebels, but it would be fun to see him try.
posted by nubs at 2:47 PM on November 2, 2022 [4 favorites]


I only have stereo speakers on my tv, so my receiver mushes the 5.1 audio of the original down into 2-channel. Normally that does a decent enough job, but on Andor the factory and crowd wallah makes the dialog in the prison scenes very hard to hear. I wonder if those are deliberately mixed like that?

Still have no idea where they're going with Karn. Maybe he sets out on his own quest to find Andor and gets there before the ISB? And what's in the secret box that mom messed with?

So the ISB is on Maarva, right? So is Cinta. Given the way things have gone, I think Cinta might wind up in the ISB barrel. "The struggle always comes first. We take what's left." There may not be anything left for poor Vel Mothma.

As for the Jedi - well, it certainly would be a curveball if Luthen turns out to be one

please no no no no.

Not even a mention of the Rebellion, which remains an idea barely gestured at by Luthen.

The ISB creeps refer to rebel safehouses and pilots at various times. I suspect those are isolated small-r rebel outfits, and that the establishment of the greater Rebel Alliance will be a plot point within this show.

perhaps surprising she didn't have him imprisoned immediately

Yeah, this had me wondering; was her "next person you talk to won't be me" threat hollow? Or did she decide that it was best to move to a safe distance before siccing her goons on him?

I wonder who this lowlife is that Mon doesn't want to meet.

I'm gonna guess that is some kind of Chandrillan Trump figure who is legit enough to operate in the open but mobbed up enough to be able to network into some big money criming. Someone who would love to own a senator.
posted by Sauce Trough at 4:00 PM on November 2, 2022 [3 favorites]


Fuuuuck.
This show! This show, guys! I mean, I know that you know, but this show!
posted by rodlymight at 4:50 PM on November 2, 2022 [29 favorites]


Makes depressing sense to me that Meero would try to scare Karn off without involving anyone else at ISB. If there’s any sort of institutional sexism at ISB - and real fascists do love themselves some sexism - she may be worried that Karn’s obsession would be used against her. “Oh, did you lead him on?” Meero’s embarrassed, and worried about further embarrassment, and desperately hoping this stupid thing will just work itself out. If she weren’t such an irredeemably awful person, I’d feel bad for her.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 5:53 PM on November 2, 2022 [14 favorites]


I think that Meero letting Karn go is really about her sensing/believing that he may prove useful in the near future. It may be as simple as siccing him on her rival in the ISB; it may be something else--maybe, if she gets closer to Cassian, she can use Karn as a stalking horse.

Speaking of Cass, it seems that the Empire doesn't have either DNA testing/matching or halfway-decent facial recognition software, despite having sentient AIs literally walking and rolling around everywhere. That may be the Imperial bureaucratic inefficiency at work, competence porn in the ISB notwithstanding. I'm guessing that we might have an upcoming scene with Meero looking at a hologram of a certain concentration camp prisoner just a little too late to nab him.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:06 PM on November 2, 2022 [1 favorite]


> The insight that Tay Kolma was Mon Mothma’s “boyfriend” (which had to be very young, considering how early she was married) and that the Senator is, at least to some degree, playing him.

Huh; I read it as that her husband had said he was her old boyfriend because he's an asshole who's saying jerky stuff about her to their daughter, not that it was true.

How is she playing him?
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:08 PM on November 2, 2022 [9 favorites]


It may be as simple as siccing him on her rival in the ISB;

Speaking of the internal politics of the ISB, we haven't seen Blevin since her presentation and being awarded the Ferrix sector. He was absent at last weeks presentation, and was no where in the room during the updates this week. However, Dedra's assistant was a bit more prominent this episode, stepping forward to present some details to Major whatshisname, and then sending Dr Gorst to interrogate the pilot on his own.

Watch your back Dedra.
posted by nubs at 8:12 PM on November 2, 2022 [6 favorites]


This show had better clean up at the Emmys; everybody's acting their hearts out. Andy Serkis is in thisclose to stealing Diego's show right from under his nose.

Forest Whitaker gets one cameo and it was masterful.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:02 PM on November 2, 2022 [11 favorites]


> Huh; I read it as that her husband had said he was her old boyfriend because he's an asshole who's saying jerky stuff about her to their daughter, not that it was true.

In the same scene, after learning that Tay is visiting her cousin regularly as a money launderer, Vel asks "Is that all?". Tay and Mon's relationship started before she met her husband-to-be, whom she now barely tolerates, perhaps even despises. There's obvious mutual admiration, respect and caring between Mon and Tay, if not an unrequited childhood crush. Both the Baron and Vel clearly suspect that there's more to the relationship than mere financial entanglements. I don't believe that Mon Mothma is being unfaithful, but it's self-evident that her marriage barely holds together as a sociopolitical arrangement, somewhat justifying her family's only-slightly-playful suspicion of infidelity.

> How is she playing him?

I read Mon's initial approach to Tay as a kind of seduction, and half-expected the banker to offer a relationship as the price for dealing with the financial crisis revealed in this episode. However, both appear to be rather more high-minded than that: perhaps I'm reading too much into it.


Potential future plot spoiler: I found the reason Mothma finally fully joins the Rebel Alliance
It's a massacre of peaceful Ghorman protestors. Which makes sense, as Mothma has been petitioning for support of the Ghormans all season.


Obviously, this isn't the sole incident that kicks off the Rebellion: as this series is showing, revolution is never sparked by just one thing.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 12:23 AM on November 3, 2022 [3 favorites]


Forest Whitaker gets one cameo and it was masterful.

Agreed! But for awards, it seems invidious to single out one actor in a show where everyone right down to the one- or two-scene actors (e.g. the brilliant little scene Rupert Vansittart as Chief Hyne has with Karn in the first episode) are acting their socks off. How would you choose between Geneveieve O'Reilly and Denise Gough, for example? Which is why the suggestion here would make sense for the Emmys - this is such an ensemble show, and such a good ensemble, that they really deserve the collective recognition of nomination at the very least. Hopefully SAG will at least do so.
posted by domdib at 12:44 AM on November 3, 2022 [3 favorites]


“I think that Meero letting Karn go is really about her sensing/believing that he may prove useful in the near future.”

I think most of the weirdness in their interaction is explained by seeing them as believers in the system, in their own respective ways.

Karn is a zealot who sees the empire and its emphasis on order and authority as the very definition of what it means to be right and good. He knows he's the hero of the story — the plucky outsider trying to get things done, even if it ruffles feathers — and so how could Meera be a threat to him when he's just trying to help her? He admires her. He has no awareness that order and authority doesn't like plucky outsiders, nor does it care what their intentions are, and it will squash him underfoot when he gets too annoying.

Meanwhile, Meera fully understands the unchecked power of the state but she doesn't see it as in any sense her personal power; it's not in her nature to use her office to solve what she sees as a personal problem in Karn's conduct with her. She will do so, eventually, if Karn's actions move into her official purview, but it's not her first instinct.

At the same time, Karn's weird personal obsession with her very much is a creepy man stalking a woman, and that is something the system just doesn't care about. She's afraid, despite all her institutional power, because at that moment her institutional power doesn't really matter. This is a creepy stalking guy. Mostly, she just wants him to go away. Once back in her office, she probably doesn't want to think about that moment of feeling vulnerable and just puts it out of her mind.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:08 AM on November 3, 2022 [25 favorites]


This show is as excellently-acted and unremittingly tense as The Americans, and has a lot of the same flavors of characterization. The kind of TV-watching experience where you're constantly murmuring "Oh no, oh no, oh no," and I am here for it.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:35 AM on November 3, 2022 [5 favorites]




I really love how the series handles Karn and Meero. It shows them in their contexts, with their bosses, their institutional constraints, their ideologies. It lets them be the underdog protagonists of their own plot lines. Meero shows herself to be a savvy and driven operator in the scenes of Partagaz's staff meetings cum graduate seminars, the only subordinate in the room with a sense of what's really happening and a vision for what the ISB should be. We see Karn's mundanely awful family background and his drive to right what he sees as a grave injustice. You almost start rooting for them, because that's how these sorts of stories are structured to make us root for the underdog. And then an episode like this reminds us what they really are. Meero is a driven visionary, but her vision is for a more horribly effective and terrifyingly efficient evil. Karn's drive for justice makes him an obsessive creep and the sort of petty fascist who is just begging for a leader to tell him that all of his problems are someone else's fault, and the greatest justice is grinding your boot into that person's face.

And that's not even touching the prison stuff. The last two lines of this episode were such a predictable, even lazy, callback, but the way the story set them up and Serkis' and Luna's stellar performances had me fist-pumping at them nonetheless.
posted by firechicago at 7:10 AM on November 3, 2022 [14 favorites]


This is what the Karn actor Kyle Soller looks like out of character.

a photo of Pedro Pascal from the same event.

I wonder if they're doing subtle CGI to de-age Pedro Pascal? Andor is an early-twenties babyface while Pascal is pushing 50. I didn't realize he was that old.
posted by Sauce Trough at 11:52 AM on November 3, 2022 [1 favorite]


(Pedro is The Mandalorian when he has his helmet off and sometimes Brendan Wayne when masked, Diego Luna plays Andor and is 42 - your point still stands)
posted by Molesome at 12:05 PM on November 3, 2022 [2 favorites]


Pedro Pascal plays the titular Mandalorian in that other Star Wars show. Cassian Andor is played by Diego Luna.
posted by firechicago at 12:05 PM on November 3, 2022


goddamn it. Mods, please delete my comment.
posted by Sauce Trough at 12:07 PM on November 3, 2022 [3 favorites]


Also, gah, every single episode just reinforces how the craft behind the actors is on top form - the scenery, the costumes, the props. No Gillette Sensor Excels on show here. Also, we appear to have broken the three episode mini-arcs with The Announcement (S01E07), and it's episodes 8-10 that have same writer/director. I came into this episode expecting a resolution to the incarceration plotline.
posted by Molesome at 12:10 PM on November 3, 2022 [4 favorites]


So the writer/director structure is going like this

-eps 1-3 Tony Gilroy/Toby Haynes
-eps 4-6 Dan Gilroy/Susanna White
-ep 7 Stephen Schiff/Benjamin Caron
-eps 8-10 Beau Willimon/Toby Haynes
-eps 11-12 Tony Gilroy/Benjamin Caron

Episode 7 was a "standalone" in terms of the team structure they've been working with, and then a just a pair at the end instead of three.
posted by nubs at 12:25 PM on November 3, 2022


Meero is a driven visionary, but her vision is for a more horribly effective and terrifyingly efficient evil.

Do you read her that way? I'm parsing her as an ambitious careerist. She wants to advance, and she's not content to just put in her time and suck up to the right people and hope she gets recognized.

I guess that's a kind of visionary, in that you want to make the department efficiently and impressively evil because then Palpatine will reward her. But if her job was "end organized crime on Nar Shaada" or "Stop the exploitation of wookies acrosss the empire" I feel like she'd throw herself at the problem with exactly the same mix of energy, enthusiasm and impatience.
posted by mark k at 12:53 PM on November 3, 2022 [6 favorites]


nubs: -eps 11-12 Tony Gilroy/Benjamin Caron

My assumption is that the two-part finale will be the raid on Spellhaus, which has been compromised.
posted by Kattullus at 12:58 PM on November 3, 2022 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Meero is just a very efficient larger cog. She is sympathetic because she aspires to make more of herself in a clanking bureaucratic system despite the system pushing against its cogs. And then this episode shows how much blood she's willing to get on her hands.

Previously I've come across concerns that this show does too much to humanize the space fascists. And then this episode goes and reminds us why they are supervillains.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:46 PM on November 3, 2022 [5 favorites]


If you told me that She-Hulk and a spin-off of my least favourite Star Wars spin-off would be two of my three* favourite series this year, I would have laughed in your face

(but would have kept an open mind because with the nature of this claim, hey, anything’s possible and it pays to never form especially strong opinions with regards to entertainment media).

*also Cunk on Earth but that’s no surprise
posted by TangoCharlie at 6:08 PM on November 3, 2022 [5 favorites]


I may never stop being impressed at the way they’ve (re?)created the perfect OG Star Wars aesthetic. They get it right in the grimy settings, in the sterile settings, and especially in the look of the characters.
posted by TangoCharlie at 6:20 PM on November 3, 2022 [17 favorites]


Except that now we have female characters! And people of color!
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:55 PM on November 3, 2022 [21 favorites]


This episode was magnificent: a masterclass in building tension. Every time they cut to Ulaf missing a step at the table, we held our breaths fearing the worst; when the end came, it was more impactful for being so much less violent. Except, of course, it's still violent—just in a slower way.

I loved the visual storytelling behind the medic; the blue tunic told us everything we needed to know. I loved the lights turning out in the Senate as Mothma pleads with her colleagues to listen. This is a show that makes the argument for continuing to tell stories in a well-known world. As a book it might make sense to roll its own world, filing off the serial numbers of the fascist galactic empire to tell your story. But the visual iconography makes Andor pop in a way that "Cassian, A Galaxy War Story" would not.

Still: the one note I didn't like about this episode is that it still shows torture as an effective interrogation technique. I'm giving it a slide here because (a) unlike SFF in the aughts it's not being done by the "good" guys; (b) it's supposed to solidify our dislike for Meero and (c) Gorst is holy shit repulsive. But given how clear-eyed the show is about totalitarianism it would have been nice to see, a la "Chain of Command Part II", that torture is less about collecting information and more about breaking your opponents.
posted by thecaddy at 7:23 PM on November 3, 2022 [22 favorites]


the one note I didn't like about this episode is that it still shows torture as an effective interrogation technique

Concur! But I do wonder how much Bix really told them, anyway. It's not like she knows much anyway. Andor didn't tell her where the money came from nor where he went.

This show is very smart, though: I wonder if we can trust them to have Bix mislead the interrogators somehow. Fingers crossed.
posted by suelac at 11:27 PM on November 3, 2022 [6 favorites]


It might be my bias for strong characterization in narrative media, but I've noticed that there is a very obvious correlation between how good a show really is and the presence of relatively lengthy threads here filled with character analysis.

Furthermore, it also seems to me that shows that are very strong on characterization are often very strong in other respects. We haven't dwelled on the other stuff in these threads, but the discussion has consistently included scattered comments praising numerous other aspects of this production.

In my case, I've repeatedly noticed the exceptional quality of the sets — I paused on a very striking shot that framed the interior of Luthen's shop and found myself admiring the verisimilitude of the architectural and design elements. Likewise the exterior of the shop, with the brutalist concrete walls subtly stained by water.

The sets and props all feel extremely real and appropriate for their environments. Also the costuming.

I have a fan's interest in cinema and photography, but I only know enough to be intrigued without really understanding the excellent lighting and the way it seems like there are different film stocks used. (But isn't it all digital?) This combined with the sets work organically to be very immersive and set the appropriate tone for a scene.

Likewise, the music. It's sometimes a bit too intrusive for my taste, but I think it's in keeping with its overall retro aesthetic. I enjoy the short title sequence every time — and I think the music for it varies.

As I noted in a previous thread, there are three Gilroy brothers involved in this, and they're all industry veterans in late middle-age. My sense is that we're seeing the high competence that arises from decades of refining skills, coupled with a very clear creative vision and unity of purpose. I'm not sure that this formula can be duplicated; this seems like a fortuitous pairing of the Gilroys and Disney.

But I sure wish all this other franchise product were nearly this good.

BTW, this deserves awards recognition, but I don't think it will get it because the two things that it is — a character study in a tense war movie, and a SF genre franchise — will work against each other in the minds of awards voters. It's also very politically timely, as we've discussed, but I don't really expect awards voters to be able to see that because they'll not be willing to take this franchise seriously enough to recognize the subtextual commentary of our current period.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:10 AM on November 4, 2022 [16 favorites]


@Ivan Fyodorovich Agreed! Quality all down the line. In particular, the casting directors deserve an award. And you may be right about awards recognition but let's hope not!
posted by domdib at 12:43 AM on November 4, 2022 [1 favorite]


Karn crushing on Deedra is so cringe. Where is his plot going



Still have no idea where they're going with Karn. Maybe he sets out on his own quest to find Andor and gets there before the ISB? And what's in the secret box that mom messed with?


I read that scene less as him actually crushing on her, but having his obsession with Cassian and creepy worship of fascism come off as creepy worship of Deedra.

Combine that with the suddenly-visibly-competent underling, and I suspect she’s either going to
A) get shafted by Underling, and need to use Karn to get back in the game
B) preempt the underling-shafting by drafting Karn as a controllable puppet
posted by coriolisdave at 4:04 AM on November 4, 2022 [11 favorites]


My thought is that Karn will end up doing something stupid that gets him or Meero killed, and will derail ISB’s response to Spellhaus.
posted by Kattullus at 5:00 AM on November 4, 2022 [1 favorite]


We can go back and forth on whether "visionary" is quite the right term for Meero, but she clearly has a vision for what a more proactive and effective ISB would look like and is willing to stick her neck out for it in the ISB supervisor meetings, in marked contrast to the other ISB supervisors who seem either to be focused on internal politicking (like Blevins) or just doing whatever it is they think makes it least likely that Partagaz will ask them hard questions. That makes her much more than an efficient cog.

The closest real life analog I can think of is someone like Donald Rumsfeld, who was certainly a careerist, and a genius at bureaucratic infighting, but also had a vision for how the US could use special forces and new technologies to achieve an unprecedented ability to project force (i.e. kill people) globally. (Go look up "Revolution in Military Affairs" if you want to read more about the debates that were happening over this stuff in the 90's and early 00's). He realized that vision, and it worked extremely well in destroying the conventional capabilities of states like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Unfortunately, his vision didn't extend to solving any of the problems that happen after you destroy the conventional military formations of a country. Even more unfortunately, he deployed that vision in the service of the both misguided and evil idea that what the US ought to do is kick the shit out of some random country every few years to keep the rest of the world in line with the "End of History" version of capitalist liberal democracy.
posted by firechicago at 6:20 AM on November 4, 2022 [3 favorites]


Soundtrack volume 2 just dropped. Includes Chill Relaxing Niamos Beats to Overthrow Empires to.
posted by rodlymight at 7:12 AM on November 4, 2022 [6 favorites]


The Atlantic: Star Wars Gets Political (archive link)


When I say politics, I do not mean that Andor is a liberal or left-wing show. It can be read that way—one can see the echoes of the issues that animated the George Floyd protests in the show’s portrayal of Imperial law-enforcement agencies cracking down on dissent, or in the Imperial prison that has debt clocks in every cell. What I mean is that the series attempts to imagine an internal politics of class, culture, and ideology that motivates its principal characters and fictional institutions.

The characters all come from somewhere, be they rich in the glittering towers of the Imperial capital, lower middle-class in the kitchenettes of its crowded apartment buildings, or poor and desperate to survive on an austere world in the Outer Rim. They have failing marriages, overbearing parents, and ungrateful children; they worry about debt and unemployment and keeping their bosses happy. If the Rebels are a motley band of idealists, fanatics, and crooks, Andor’s Empire, a sprawling colonial power, is populated not just by stormtroopers but by bureaucrats, strivers and sadists, outwardly respectable functionaries who allow a fascist government to manage its everyday business.

posted by nubs at 10:02 AM on November 4, 2022 [13 favorites]


I said in an off-the-cuff comment to a co-worker today that Andor might be the best Star Wars... anything I've ever seen. As it came out of my mouth I was surprised at myself, but thinking about it more, no, I think it is an accurate statement. It's just so well done.
posted by synecdoche at 11:20 AM on November 4, 2022 [12 favorites]


I told a friend of mine that it was the best Star Wars in 35+ years. And that Atlantic article gets at why - it feels real, there's a political economy in Andor that is missing from most everything else, and while I may not like some of the characters, I understand why they are the way they from their context and situation.

The prequels and things like the Clone Wars (which I've tried and tried to get into but just can't) tried to build out some of that political economy, but largely failed for me - all I was left with was the sense that the Republic was hopelessly inept & ineffective, and that the Jedi were arrogant, out of touch, and morally bankrupt - which leaves the original trilogy in a weird place for me, because why should I want Leia, Luke, and Han to bring back a system of governance that was broken even before the Emperor took control.
posted by nubs at 12:05 PM on November 4, 2022 [12 favorites]


The article by Adam Serwer, which I otherwise enjoyed, touched on one of my pet peeves, which is that people credit Lucas with worldbuilding. I forget the exact quote, but he said that he didn’t like figuring out the background to the setting, which is why he hired Leigh Brackett to do the first draft of the script for Empire Strikes Back. She combined success as a science fiction writer and Hollywood screenwriter, winning a Hugo for the former, and penning several classic films, and was therefore an ideal partner for Lucas. And from what I have read, her contributions to making Star Wars a setting with a grand scale can’t be overlooked. Most of that was hashed out in a week-long story conference, which as far as I’ve been able to make out, was mainly just Lucas telling Brackett an outline for a plot, and her turning that into a full story. She didn’t originate Star Wars, but she’s the one who figured out how to turn it into a setting.

Anyway, rant over.
posted by Kattullus at 1:44 PM on November 4, 2022 [24 favorites]


Dr Gorst's project reminded me of something, then it clicked.

From the painful cries of mothers to a terrifying scream
We recorded it and put it into our machine
They told us all they wanted
Was a sound that could kill someone from a distance
So we go ahead and the meters are over in the red


Kate Bush, 'Experiment IV' (1986)
posted by Major Clanger at 11:04 AM on November 5, 2022 [17 favorites]


As of this episode, it looks like everyone has written Marva off as a sick old woman, at best maybe bait for catching Cassian. So... I'm looking forward to seeing what she ends up doing.

I don't doubt that she's sick and old, but she doesn't seem the type to quietly fade away, and this doesn't seem to be that type of show either.
posted by mersen at 5:25 PM on November 5, 2022 [12 favorites]


I said in an off-the-cuff comment to a co-worker today that Andor might be the best Star Wars... anything I've ever seen.

It's really wild that this is spin-off of a space opera that I loved as a child and still love, honestly, but probably just the original trilogy. I think the more content there is, the more I'm happy to pick and choose what I like and watch what I want without feeling like I have to see all of Clone Wars or somehow try to like the Sequel Trilogy.

My wish for this franchise is for it to always be trying different things. Give me a workplace comedy on the Death Star. Give me a rom-com on Naboo. Give me West Wing in Space with teen Senator Leia Organa oh please oh please oh please.

I think trying to recapture the magic of the original trilogy is a fool's erand. That will never happen. One of the smartest choices of Force Awakens was introducing new characters and having the legacy characters as support. Mandalorian was a good choice, because it felt familiar but was different. Andor is so different, I'm not even sure how to compare it to the original trilogy - it's not trying to leverage my nostalgia even if I do get a dopamine hit every time Palpatine is mentioned.

It is part of a whole. It probably doesn't exist without the SW universe exisiting. It is bolstered by our knowledge of the "unvierse" and the political machinations. But it feels almost like it stands alone because it's very good in the way Tony Gilroy's work is often so good - feels real, sounds real, real people doing understandably real things even in weird circumstances.
posted by crossoverman at 6:13 PM on November 5, 2022 [10 favorites]


Give me a rom-com on Naboo.

Didnt they try that in Attack of the Clones?
posted by nubs at 5:30 AM on November 6, 2022 [3 favorites]


Can anyone weigh in on something that’s confusing me (not sure if I misheard or misunderstood or what):

A prisoner who left floor four ended up back on floor two, thereby revealing that no one is ever actually getting released, they just get cycled back into a different part of the prison (or another prison?). If this is the case wouldn’t every new arrival who’s been moved from somewhere instead of being released tell everyone? What would stop this happening every time? I’m missing something.

Only demanding an explanation because the show always makes sense in such an un-Star Wars way.
posted by distorte at 6:41 AM on November 6, 2022 [1 favorite]


distorte, they probably meant to send the “released” prisoner to a facility where everyone is already serving life sentences, with no chance of parole. you know there have to be a lot of those, if being near a crime can get you six years.
posted by rodlymight at 7:01 AM on November 6, 2022 [1 favorite]


Yup. The reception such a prisoner is meant to get would be "we all thought we were getting released, too", not "what the hell do you mean you were told you were being released but ended up here?"

It's implied that this is a very new policy. Along with the various other problems we've seen with the prison staff that show they are understaffed and incompetently managed, this was likely a genuine mistake. The reaction - killing every prisoner who heard about it - also suggests a panicked response to a cock-up.

As has been noted above, the insidious horror of the way we view the ISB is the 'competence porn' of how well they do the job of being utterly evil. The Narkina 5 facility is the same evil, but the opposite end of competence.
posted by Major Clanger at 8:21 AM on November 6, 2022 [14 favorites]


I think the judge who sentenced Cassian said something about new regulations (so 6 weeks changed to 6 years), and the prisoners also talk about the increased (doubled?) quotas because of some acronym.
Maybe the mix-up with level 2 and 4 wouldn't have happened before because maybe prisoners actually could get released.
posted by Acari at 10:16 AM on November 6, 2022 [8 favorites]


The acronym you're looking for is PORD - The Public Order Resentencing Directive, which was announced to the ISB supervisors in "Announcement" as having two relevant pieces: re-classifying certain crimes as Class One offenses (presumably why Andor got 6 years instead of 6 months) and doubling the remaining sentences of existing prisoners (this is the thing that the prisoners are all eager to ask Andor about when he arrives at the prison, so presumably this was done in the open). Wookieepedia seems to state as fact that it also caused the recycling of prisoners at Narkina 5, but I'm not sure we've actually been told that. It's plausible, but it's also possible this is just how the prison has always worked, and it's only the recent fuckup on level 2 that revealed it to the inmates.
posted by firechicago at 12:19 PM on November 6, 2022 [3 favorites]


PORD is also what Mon Mothma is talking about in the Senate sequence at the beginning.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:17 PM on November 6, 2022 [2 favorites]


I suppose it makes sense that there's some other inescapable prison planet somewhere where workers might be dumped after their release date comes. But if that's the case it does make one wonder about why Narkina 5 gives so much hope to its inmates. Why not just toss them in there and say 'You're never getting out, here's your food paste'? Is there something about the nature of the labour that requires hope, motivation, teamwork more than other prisons? Or is it just a holdover from a "kinder" era? Or a social experiment?

I think you're all right, that everything is in flux with the PORD coming online, prison administration is flailing to figure out how to cancel releases without open revolt/killing productivity, and fuckups are happening.

Anyway, thanks everyone!
posted by distorte at 2:50 AM on November 7, 2022


But if that's the case it does make one wonder about why Narkina 5 gives so much hope to its inmates. Why not just toss them in there and say 'You're never getting out, here's your food paste'? Is there something about the nature of the labour that requires hope, motivation, teamwork more than other prisons?

Probably, but also, if your prisoners think their sentences have end dates, they're vastly less likely to attempt an escape or riot, which allows you to cut costs on guards and surveillance.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:23 AM on November 7, 2022 [10 favorites]


Giving prisoners hope means they're self-policing. Another prisoner acts as "boss" to keep them in line because their behaviour could impact his release. They all want to just get through their shifts and get released. Melshi seems to be a rare disbeliever (he predicts they're never getting out) and yet he still works hard during their shift, even if only to avoid the zap/get the food flavour. They even chide each other for talking about escape in case it gets them in trouble. For the Imperials, its the perfect system - minimal guard staffing and intervention needed.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:44 AM on November 7, 2022 [7 favorites]


I don't think the "Judean Peoples Front" thing fits perfectly. Throughout the prequels and series like the Clone Wars the Separatists were depicted as the baddies, always willing to murder, torture and betray. It seems like there ought to be conflicts as they become part of the Rebel Alliance.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:45 AM on November 7, 2022 [1 favorite]


A More Civilized Age - Andor ep 09
There are many things about Andor that, push come to shove, I think we could have predicted. Self-sufficient (if selfish) rogue slowly warms to a rebellion? Sure. Imperial bureaucracy tightens its snare around the revolutionary and the uninvolved alike? Definitely. Coruscanti political drama? Probably, hell, they had that in Clone Wars.

But there are scenes in this week's Andor that never in one hundred years would we have imagined to have shown up. Here? In Star Wars? No. Couldn't be. Disney wouldn't let it happen.

And yet... here we are.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:46 AM on November 7, 2022 [3 favorites]


Throughout the prequels and series like the Clone Wars the Separatists were depicted as the baddies, always willing to murder, torture and betray.

Not completely accurate; the Seppie leaders (political and military) were absolutely as you describe, and given the war-action focus of those stories, that's the vast majority of what we were shown. Dooku's movement seems to have been a vast (evil) manipulation of genuinely freedom- and justice-seeking anti-Republic sentiments (see, for example, the "Who Is Count Dooku?" feature from the old HoloNet News). My perception, based on current and Pre-Mouse canon, is that the Republic was indeed dysfunctional to the point that it would've needed something analogous to a constitutional convention to fix it—and it got Palpatine instead.

It seems like there ought to be conflicts as they become part of the Rebel Alliance.

Absolutely, yes. The SW Essential Guide to Warfare describes how one of the first jobs of Palpatine's new Empire was putting down the smoldering remains of Separatism, which by then was all homegrown local resistance groups/coalitions rather than the corporate- (and Sith-) supported mechanized juggernaut we see AOTC/ROTS/TCW. It makes perfect sense, therefore, that vanquished anti-Republic AND anti-Empire types might have struggled about choosing an uneasy "Alliance" with folks like Mothma and Organa, as shown both by Saw Gerrera himself and his (awesome) list of the Empire's enemies a couple episodes ago. (And re: Saw's list, the Rebel Alliance of IV/V/VI had the formal name of the "Alliance to Restore the Republic" in the old EU canon. I will fistpump if they call it that in this show.)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:03 AM on November 7, 2022 [5 favorites]


However, the self-policing explanation, while definitely at work effectively in Narkina 5, would be absent (not just absent but made impossible) in any situation where prisoners promised release are returned to prison. If there's another planet prison, or a new policy at Narkina 5, you will never get a self-policing system working there. You'll have bred an even more angry and rebellious population. The jig is up.
posted by distorte at 4:04 AM on November 7, 2022 [1 favorite]


which is certain to result in the deaths of hundreds of inmates across the facility as there may not be many guards, but it only takes one to turn on the floor.

The thought occurred to me this morning that taking out the entirety of one of the rooms on Level 2 knocked the power offline briefly; can only imagine what would happen if they had to try to fry all the inmates at the same time across the whole facility.
posted by nubs at 2:20 PM on November 7, 2022 [3 favorites]


Someone in the previous episode's thread said this labor seemed like something you'd use droids for, so I was particularly pleased at Cassian's "we're cheaper than droids" comment.

It's such an elegant, believable explanation for a lot of nitpicky questions about why they don't use some technology over here that they use over there. "It's cheaper this way."
posted by straight at 1:55 AM on November 10, 2022 [4 favorites]


Speaking of Cass, it seems that the Empire doesn't have either DNA testing/matching or halfway-decent facial recognition software, despite having sentient AIs literally walking and rolling around everywhere.

Been thinking about this, and wondering if maybe in a galaxy where cloning technology created an army and where shapeshifters exist, perhaps these aren’t areas of much utility.
posted by nubs at 9:19 PM on November 12, 2022 [2 favorites]


"we're cheaper than droids"

Hmm. Also it seems like in the SW universe droids are always implicitly created with a personality.
I wonder if the tech used to make droids is either so little understood or so completely ancient that droids aren't really something that you can generally reliably churn out in a factory.

I know there was all the battle droids in the prequels but even they had personalities and were often hampered because of it. Were there any rebellious battle droids?
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:17 AM on November 13, 2022


I figure it's more "3rd world planet slaves are cheaper than 1st world manufactured products"
posted by rebent at 9:06 AM on November 13, 2022 [4 favorites]


We can go back and forth on whether "visionary" is quite the right term for Meero, but she clearly has a vision for what a more proactive and effective ISB would look like

Meero is most significantly a visionary in the way that she sees a bunch of seemingly disconnected incidents -- small-time thefts of equipment, etc. -- as evidence of a larger rebel conspiracy. And she's right.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 5:03 PM on November 23, 2022 [2 favorites]


Interesting insights into the Meero/Karn scene in this episode, from a great interview with Denise Gough:
“She’s sacrificed everything,” she explains. “She doesn’t have friends. She doesn’t have a life. She’s prepared to be despised. ... She ices her life,” agrees Gough. “Everything is iced out. Everything.” ... Perhaps, she reasons, that’s another layer to Dedra’s rejection of Karn outside the ISB building. “When we were playing that [scene] I was fucking furious. ‘How dare he touch me?’,” Gough recalls. “But when I watched it, I thought, ‘Oh my god, she’s never been touched. Never. Yes, this guy can be construed as creepy and weird. But what does that do to a woman who’s never been with anyone? Ever? That’s Tony, and Beau [Willimon] and Dan [Gilroy], the writers. ‘Dedra is a dominatrix’ isn’t as interesting to me as Dedra as somebody who has serious issues with intimacy, and is way overwhelmed by this person’s energy for her.”
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 8:05 PM on December 2, 2022 [8 favorites]


Just jumping in to say that this Star Wars is the best of all Star Wars, inclusive of the originals as far as we're concerned. Only The Mandalorian comes close.

At one point Partagaz uses the word "endeavor," and I wonder if that was a super-low-key Easter egg. I half expect him to conclude one his staff meetings with "...and where in the devil are Thursday and Morse?"
posted by jquinby at 1:25 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


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