Andor episode 9 review: "Features one of Star Wars' most chilling scenes"

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Dedra would be proud. Not a moment is wasted in 'Nobody's Listening!', with Andor, Mon, and Kino slowly breaking free of the Empire's restraints. Syril's directionless story is the only blot on the episode's exploration on the human cost of uprisings.

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Warning! This review contains spoilers for Andor episode 9. If you've not yet caught up, turn back now!

"I don't like wasting time," Dedra coldly tells Bix during her interrogation. It's a mission statement 'Nobody's Listening!', the ninth episode of Andor, takes to heart. Here, the gloves are off in a tight, unmissable 50 minutes that serves as the best episode to date. Thanks to the urgency,  the vast majority of its cast – from Imperial to prisoner – is given greater purpose as the Empire races to uncover Andor, Axis, and the rest of the rebel plot.

Let's start with Bix's torture. It not only keeps a ticking clock on Andor's exploits – aided by the kinetic back-and-forth cuts between the prison and the hotel – but really digs deep into Dedra and the gurning Doctor Gorst's depravity. The middle episodes in Andor's mini-arcs usually yield the most intriguing character moments, and so it proves again here as Denise Gough excels in a performance as unsettling as any seen in the show so far.

Up until now, she had been doing her job – quietly attending meetings, doing research – in an attempt to break open a wider conspiracy. Here, with Bix and the threat of a new interrogation technique that uses the screams of children, Dedra is simply having fun. The shocking moment even features one of Star Wars' most chilling scenes as one of her colleagues says, with a smirk, they'd like to hang one of the hostages.

It all amounts to a peek at the business-like façade of the Empire breaking down into something much nastier. Dedra enjoys this. It's more cartoonishly evil than we've come to expect from the subtle nuance of Andor – but it serves a purpose. Thanks to Dedra's actions, the episode quickly settles into a nervous energy that radiates throughout.

The Narkina Redemption


(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Over on Narkina 5, Andor is doing a Shawshank. He's observing guard patterns, platform mechanisms, and even slowly cutting through metal in-between shifts that carries more than an echo of Andy Dufresne's own prison break. Much like Dedra's own demand for efficiency, each scene here – whether it's Andor butting heads with Kino or helping Ulaf keep up with his work – acts as one building block on top of another for not only Andor's radicalisation, but that of everyone else around him. It's a smart way to ensure the prison scenes slowly build up tension – and to avoid grinding down its audience.

Ulaf, the elderly prisoner on Andor's table, has a journey that's just as uncomfortable to watch as Bix's torture. It starts with his hand shaking, continues with memory loss, and ends with him dispatched in unceremonious fashion by an unfeeling Med-Tech worker after a massive stroke. It's a cruel reminder of the stifling nature of the Empire's forced labor camps, but it also serves as the spark to eventually get Kino and Andor on the same page.

Mon Mothma, meanwhile, may be fighting a losing battle in the Senate – but she's making in-roads elsewhere. That's helped enormously by the reveal that Vel, the rebel leader on Aldhani, is her cousin. Where Mon's previous appearances were in danger of becoming redundant, this twist propels her side of the story back into immediacy. Vel not appearing in the original trilogy (as far as we know) also adds a personal element of risk for Mon that the character was desperately lacking.

At dinner, Vel presents her "spoiled rich girl" act while deftly dealing with veiled homophobia and misogyny from Mon's boorish husband. Mon's win comes later, when they start to get the wheels turning behind the scenes – as a meeting with Davo Sculdun is set up.

While it's reassuring to see Mon with some real stakes for the first time in a while, it does call into question the show's message. For a series that's been so overtly political, having so much of the rebel's direction come from the upper classes is an odd disconnect at best and narrow-minded at worst. It will be curious to see how the writers continue to thread that needle between the downtrodden masses and the elites in future episodes.

With how much is packed in this episode it was inevitable that someone had to be sidelined. Unfortunately, it's Syril who yet again draws the narrative short straw. There are certainly some crumbs scattered throughout this episode – his private box, his promotion, his obsession with Dedra – to keep his story intriguing, it's puzzling that Andor keeps dropping the ball with one of its most engaging threats. Let's hope he (finally) picks up steam as the season hits the home stretch.

Rebel with a cause


(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Andor can sometimes be bleak and exhausting, so you have to take the victories where you can get them. That's why it's a brilliant and bold choice for episode nine to end where it does. Kino telling Andor how many guards are posted on each floor, in a less daring show, would serve as little more than a bridging scene on to something more outwardly action-focused. 

Here, it's the final word: a small triumph that not only slowly peels back the hard-boiled exterior of Andy Serkis' floor manager, but also sets the show up – much like the Aldhani heist did – for a thrilling set-piece after weeks of oppressive shuffling through sterile floors. Couple that with this episode's undeniable forward momentum for most of its major players and it acts as a pitch-perfect full stop that helps lay the groundwork for Andor to potentially deliver one of Star Wars' finest hours next week.

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.

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Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.