Warning! This review contains spoilers for Andor episode 10. If you've not yet caught up, turn back now!
After weeks of bubbling tension and dense character work, there was a slight fear that, when the inevitable prison break on Nakina 5 arrived, Andor would lose a lot of what made it truly great. Those fears were unfounded. In a pulsating race-to-the-finish, ‘One Way Out’ sticks the landing – and lays some tantalizing breadcrumbs for the rebellion’s more assured future back on Coruscant.
The episode, though, begins on a slightly disappointing note – with a fakeout-of-sorts. After his quiet act of rebellion at the end of the previous episode, Kino rolls back on his escape plans as the weight of the situation slowly descends on him. It’s a deflating (and temporary) moment that, happily, yields Andor and Kino’s strongest interaction to date.
Kino lays out the reality of the situation: With hundreds already killed and no way off the prison complex, this is “power” at work. Andor snaps back: “Power doesn’t panic.”
The show has been efficient with its quick and quiet moments, but here it’s amplified by the magnetic performances from Andy Serkis’ reluctant Kino and Diego Luna’s Andor, who has slowly grown into his leadership role. Serkis’ greatest acting tool – his hugely expressive face – is put on full display as the cogs slowly turn and Kino is persuaded to set in motion a hugely cathartic series of events.
With everyone now on his side, Andor eventually breaks open a pipe on the work floor and, with it, the dam bursts on the episode. It’s all forward momentum from hereon out as the prisoners rush forward on cold floors. In one cutting reveal, it’s shown that the Nakina 5’s command centre is manned not by men of great charisma or power, but by two weedy drones in uniform. It’s a wonderful piece of commentary, shining the spotlight on those below the shot-callers who are just as complicit.
Up until this point, Andor has been the antithesis of fist-pump moments. This isn’t the Death Star trench run or Darth Vader turning on the Emperor. The series has focussed on the quiet little victories. That’s what makes the sound of prisoners chanting “One way out” reverberating around Nakina 5 so powerful. The Empire has been routed in a moment that feels like the first real step towards the events of Rogue One and the Empire’s eventual defeat. The breakout doesn’t work, either, without these three episodes of protracted build-up – and it should be a blueprint for how Star Wars treats its serialized Disney Plus stories moving forward.
It's just a shame, then, we had to lose Kino; Serkis’ prison floor manager reveals he can’t swim. As others make a desperate leap for freedom, he takes Andor’s words of dying for the cause to heart. As a faint sense of calm washes over him, he realizes he can go no further. It’s at once a darkly funny moment and proof of the show’s mastery of its characters’ ability to say so much with so little.
Arriving as a character actor over halfway through a season can be a thankless task. It’s to Serkis’ credit that he stole the show, offering a warm and assured presence in a sterile environment that would otherwise have proved relentlessly bleak. Many will know Serkis for his motion capture and CGI work on The Lord of the Rings and Planet of the Apes. On this evidence, it could be one of the industry’s greatest disappointments that he hasn’t been given the chance to couple his groundbreaking mo-cap performances with a really meaty live-action role such as the one provided by Kino.
On Coruscant, Luthen and Mon’s journeys take wildly different paths. Mon’s terse sitdown with the garish and cocksure banker Davo Sculdun quickly turns ugly when he tries to pimp out his son to Mon’s daughter in a desperate grasp for power. Mon turns the proposition down, but Davo sees through the façade – she is thinking about it, because the cause means that much to her.
Luthen, too, will give anything for the cause. In a face-to-face meeting with ISB mole Lonni, Stellan Skarsgard’s rebel leader delivers the show’s best speech to date.
In an emotionally charged scene that dives into Luthen – and Lonni’s – sacrifice, we’re given a peek of Luthen’s cold pragmatism. He is someone who would let scores of men be killed to ensure no suspicion of the ISB leak exists. He’s even sacrificed his humanity, and the chance to love and live, for a chance of something better. It’s an even greater tragedy, still, that his name doesn’t stand side-by-side (as far as we know) alongside the likes of Leia and Mon Mothma – but it all plays nicely into the episode’s theme of anonymous heroes providing the spark. Kino, Lonni, and Luthen, in that regard, are alike. As Luthen says, backed by scenes of Andor and Melshi escaping, he needs “all the heroes [he] can get.”
That final act gives ‘One Way Out’ its greatest gift by tying together the rebellion’s loose threads. The episode wobbles slightly – and, admittedly, has done throughout the show’s run – when it brings in more of events on Ferrix and inside the ISB. There’s always an oddly unconfident fear that we’ll forget about major players if we don’t check in with them for a week. As the final two episodes roll into view, Andor’s prison break brings it all together. The show’s 10th episode brilliantly provides an adrenaline-fuelled character study of heroes – anonymous or otherwise – and how their small decisions make all the difference in the world.
New episodes of Andor stream on Disney Plus every Wednesday. For more, check out our guide to all the upcoming Star Wars movies heading your way soon.