Andor Episode 10 review: A triumph of Star Wars storytelling

A still from Andor Episode 10Disney+

Andor Episode 10 had me cheering at the screen; Star Wars has never allowed itself to find catharsis in such brutality, joy in overcoming such adversity, and triumph from fear and violence. It’s the best episode so far.

Brutality in Star Wars has usually been a creative flourish, from helmet-slashing, torso-halving throne room fight in The Last Jedi to Darth Vader ripping through Rebels like a typhoon at the end of Rogue One.

In Andor, it’s fundamental not only to its tone, but the lay of its Imperial land. This is a show where people die of desperation, where the good guys kill people, where hundreds of prisoners are killed in a flash to preserve the image of the Empire.

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After Episode 9 showed us the rock bottom of Imperial Era suffering, Episode 10 is a necessary joy. Viva la revolución.

Spoilers for Andor Episode 10 to follow…

Andor Episode 10 review: We’re not gonna take it

With Ulaf (Christopher Fairbank) dead, wheeled out unceremoniously past his fellow inmates, Kino (Andy Serkis) has never looked so discontented. Cassian (Diego Luna) pushes him to take action, but Kino can’t see how they’d win. Cassian asks him why they “fried” 100 men just to keep them quiet, and he says it’s “power”, but Cassian replies: “Power does not panic.”

“Whatever we’re making is clearly important,” he says, arousing suspicions that the components are for the Death Star. “I’d rather die trying to take them down than die trying to give them what they want,” he adds, which is the pep-talk mic-drop that finally brings him round.

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As they all head back to their cells, Kino screams: “Nobody’s getting out… the rumors are true, we’re gonna die here or in the next place.” He’s asking them to accept their fate, but use their death as an excuse to fight one last time. “Play it how you want, but I’m gonna assume I’m already dead,” he says.

Back at the Imperial Security Bureau, Dedra’s (Denise Gough) plan to intercept a rebel pilot working for Anto Kreegyr at Spellhaus has paid off, much to Major Partagaz’s (Anton Lesser) delight. Dedra is clearly pleased, but she seems unnerved by Lonni Jung (Robert Emms) suggesting to attend the scene.

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Andor Episode 10: Mon Mothma gets direct with a thug

Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) and Tay Kolma (Ben Miles) meet with Davo Sculdun (Richard Dillane) to discuss alternative financial options; aka, bundling together her stolen credits in such a fashion that they can be deposited without alarming the authorities.

Dillane gets some absolutely incredible lines, including: “One of the great indulgences of great wealth is the freedom from other people’s opinions”; and describing the Empire’s financial regulations “as cumbersome as they are avoidable… they made it a game, and we play.”

Davo is happy to help and doesn’t ask for any payment for his services. When Mon insists, wishing not to owe him anything, he says “a drop of discomfort may be the cost of doing business.” But he actually does have something in mind: an invitation back where he can bring his teenage son to meet her daughter, not to betroth them, but just to have them introduced to each other.

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Mon asks Tay to show him out and is left seething with rage. The implication is that Mon and her husband entered into an arranged marriage between two elite families, and she disagrees with the tradition.

Andor Episode 10: Luthen meets his double agent

Lonni arrives at a grimy, Blade Runner-esque city in a cloak, where he covertly meets Luthen – he’s his double agent at the bureau, reporting on any big breaks in cases and keeping his ear to the ground where nobody can see him. However, Lonni wants out – he has a child now, and his vow to the Rebellion is becoming too dangerous.

Luthen says he’s an “epic” investment he can’t lose, and Lonni asks him what he’s sacrificed for the cause. “Calm, kindness, kinship, love, no inner peace,” he replies. “I share my dreams with ghosts… I yearn to be a savior against injustice without contemplating the cost.” It’s an extended monologue full of stunning observations, ones a casual viewer wouldn’t necessarily consider.

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Andor Episode 10: The Great Escape

If you thought the Aldhani heist was the best moment of Andor, think again: this is the most thrilling, emotionally-charged set-piece to come out of the Star Wars TV era.

All of the prisoners perform their duties to the letter, anxiously waiting for the moment they can strike. Cassian bursts a water pipe in the bathroom, and as a new prisoner arrives, he jams it in the lift, leaving him and the guard stranded. The scene is frantic, with blasters being fired, bits of metal being flung, and panic filling the air.

It doesn’t take long for the guards to try to “fry” them all, but the water fries the circuits beneath the panels, meaning they’re free to walk around as they please. Once a Caesar, always a Caesar, Serkis’ Kino shouts: “Fight!”

As Melshi and the others free the prisoners on the rest of the levels, Cassian and Kino make it to the mainframe of the prison. Cassian tells Kino to rally everyone together, as he’s the only person they’ll all listen to. Borrowing Cassian’s line about dying trying to take them down, Kino tells them to “take charge and start climbing… run, climb, kill.”

This sequence is on another level to anything in Andor so far. Nicholas Britell’s score is triumphant, the action is clear and unafraid of death, and the ending is joyous – until it’s heartbreaking. They all reach the door to the ocean, and Kino is afraid to jump. “I can’t swim,” he says to Cassian as he’s pushed off into the water. We’ll maybe never know if Kino ever jumped, or if he just accepted death on his own terms.

The episode ends with Cassian and Melshi running under the pale moonlights, free at last but with nowhere to go. Once your heart stops beating out of its chest, you’ll realise: this might be the best 45 minutes of Star Wars we’ve had in the last five years.

Andor Episode 11 will be available to stream on November 17. You can sign up for Disney+ here.