So far, Andor hasn’t been afraid to dip its toes into some rather dark storylines. In its ninth episode, titled Nobody’s Listening, the show dips into some of the most overtly brutal storylines Star Wars has ever dabbled with. One character is tormented by the screams of alien children, another is worked to death in a prison labor camp, and the oppressive boot of the Empire can be felt on every character’s throat.
This week on Andor, we get to see more of the ISB’s brutal approach to information-gathering. Meanwhile, Cassian is crafting an escape plan and Mon Mothma is feeling the pressure of the Empire on all sides of her covert work as a Rebel.
The ISB Interrogates Bix
The first thread we pick up in the episode involves ISB agent Meero’s interrogation of Cassian’s friend Bix. Meero is convinced that Bix knows enough to help them identify “Axis,” the man we know as Luthen, who has helped organize the disparate Rebel cells for some time. Meero employs a heinous torture technique to get Bix to talk–a recording of alien children who let out a horrible distress call as they die.
The torture proves effective, and Bix has no choice but to tell the ISB all about her role overseeing the black market for Imperial tech she’s been secretly running. Meero, smugly satisfied with herself, rushes back to her masters in the Imperial Navy to tell them what she’s found. She encounters Karn, the former security official, who has apparently been stalking her for weeks. He’s developed an unhealthy obsession with her, which seems to be the first thing in this series to visibly disturb Meero.
Meero’s supervisors are still scouring the galaxy for Cassian, but they have no idea he’s already in an Imperial prison under the assumed named Keef Girgo. The show is clearly setting up the inevitable showdown between Cassian and Meero, but it’s still unclear where the professional boot-licker, Karn, will fall in this taut narrative.
Mon Mothma’s Problems Mount
Back on Coruscant, Mon Mothma is experiencing some trouble in her role as a secret Rebel and a moderate Senator. Her proposal to block the recent Imperial mandates that will ramp up security enforcement alienates her from her fellow Senators, most of whom seem content to let Emperor Palpatine have his way. Meanwhile, her cousin, the Rebel Vel who we met during the Aldhani mission, has come for a visit.
It’s unclear if these two are actually cousins or just fellow Rebel sympathizers, but Mon cautions Vel to “just be a spoiled rich girl for a while”. It’s evident that Mon cares about Vel and wants her to keep her cover, but, as we’ve already seen, Vel is a true believer in the Rebel cause. It’s hard to picture her mingling with Imperials and smiling through dinner conversations over praise of Palpatine.
Mon’s also going to be in trouble with the Empire if anyone audits her bank accounts. She’s been moving money around to help fund Rebel causes, and there’s nothing she can do to paper over the money missing from her ledger. She’s going to need a smokescreen, preferably one with ties to her home planet of Chandrilla.
Cassian Plots His Escape
Cassian’s been busy over the past few months. For the most part, he’s been playing the role of dutiful prison laborer, literally making cogs for the Imperial war machine. In spare minutes he does find, he’s been trying to carve his way through a pipe in the work area–using a trip to the bathroom as cover. Meanwhile, the oldest prisoner in the camp, Ulaf, isn’t doing too well.
As Ulaf slows down and his fellow prisoners try to pick up his slack, Cassian presses floor boss and senior inmate Kino into giving him details about the number of guards on each floor. Kino resists giving him any information, focusing on how he’s got a little less than a year until he gets to walk free. Cassian suspects that nobody is even listening to their conversation, because the Imperials are so cocky that they assume no one can even challenge them.
Kino changes his tune after a string of bad luck strikes the prison. Ulaf suffers a stroke and dies, which summons a medic from another part of the prison. This medic lets slip that the guards killed 100 men on the second floor after accidentally processing someone released from Level 4 back into Level 2. This led to a full-blown prison riot on that level, resulting in the guards employing the deadly, electrified floors of the Narkina 5 prison. At this revelation, realizing no one is ever getting out, Kino quietly tells Cassian precisely how many guards can be found on each floor. Next week, it’s time for a prison break.