Andor Episode 9 Proves That Nobody's Listening

There will be spoilers for "Andor" Episode IX – "Nobody's Listening!"

Andor's ninth episode, "Nobody's Listening!", shows us increasingly bleak situations for our characters. Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly), Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona), and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) all find themselves practically suffocated by the oppression of the Empire. Mon Mothma still can't move her money around and is more and more suspicious of everything around her when her cousin unexpectedly shows up. 

That's a surprise for the audience as well, as her cousin turns out to be Vel Sartha (Faye Marsay), the rebel operative in charge of the heist on Aldhani. For Bix Caleen, much of the episode revolves around her torture and interrogation as ISB agent Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) works to uncover the rebel conspiracy. For Cassian Andor, the entire episode revolves around his desire to escape the prison and convince Kino Loy (Andy Serkis) that no one cares about them and a prison break is their only path to survival. In the meantime, they all prove to be cogs of the larger Imperial machine.

Nobody's Listening!

In the first arc of "Andor," Cassian tells Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård) that the Empire can't believe that anyone would be able to just walk into their facilities, spit in their food, and take their belongings. They're too fat and arrogant to think it's possible. And that's exactly the attitude Cassian tries to exploit and make Kino Loy aware of in prison as he's trying to convince him to help with the escape attempt. "You think anybody is listening?" he asks.

And it's true. They don't care about any of the prisoners, thanks to that arrogance and they can plot their escape because they think it's impossible.

Contrast that with Mon Mothma on the floor of the Senate. Palpatine's arrogance is on full display there, too. He can afford to allow the Senate to operate however they want—albeit with his manipulations—because he knows no one is listening and it's never more apparent than during Mon Mothma's speech here.

This is a fascinating irony because every other character outside an Imperial Facility is under threat of constant listening because of their drastic surveillance state. The fear of the unknown—whether or not anyone is listening when it's important—permeates every moment of this show.

A shocking reveal

It felt surprising, yet inevitable, that Vel Sartha would turn out to be Mon Mothma's cousin. The reveal was handled well, giving audiences the ability to piece the ramifications of what's happening together. All of the ties to Aldhani are getting closer and closer to Luthen Rael and his contacts on Coruscant. The rebel movement seems smaller and smaller as their net closes in.

At dinner with Mon Mothma's family, Vel plays the part of a spoiled princess, adding more coldness to the remark her girlfriend, Cinta (Varada Sethu) made as they separated on Ferrix. She mentioned that her cover story would be something like a spoiled rich girl running from her family and Vel reacts viscerally. It is no surprise that it's true and a dig at her.

Vel plays the part of a disconnected brat, unswayed and disinterested in politics well, enough to draw in Mon Mothma's husband and daughter. It's also apparent that Vel is still living in the closet as far as her extended family goes, working hard to take no offense to Perrin's digs about her not having a husband yet, adding another, deeper layer to the character.

Details to watch out for

As one looks at the smaller details in this episode, there are a few worth pointing out. In the opening interrogation, Deedra reports that Salman Paak was first recruited by Luthen Rael's network on the planet of Jondora. Pandora was a planet that appeared in the video game "Star Wars: The Old Republic." There was an Imperial facility there that had weapons stolen and sold on the black market, making it the perfect thematic choice for this throwaway line.

Another great moment that echoes classic "Star Wars" comes when Bix Caleen is first interrogated. After she begins her screaming, the camera follows the sliding door to the ground, twists to the hallway, and pans back up to a passing Imperial officer. This is a move-for-move recreation of the shot on the Death Star after the Imperial interrogation droid goes to work on Princess Leia.

The last significant name drop in the episode is another tie to "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." The rebel pilot that the Imperials picked up from Anto Kreegyr's crew was heading to Kafrene. The Ring of Kafrene was the site of Cassian Andor's first scene in "Rogue One", where he's meeting a contact from Saw Gerrera's partisans. Kafrene seems to be a nest of rebel activity over the years and this adds to that idea.

The final accounting

This episode is another home run for the crew behind "Andor." It has all of the tension you want for a show like this but adds deepening layers of despair for folks living in a fascist regime. Whether it's the hopelessness of a brainwashed incel like Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) or the final moments where they euthanize a prisoner because of his inability to produce. But like Luthen keeps saying, this oppression breeds rebellion. Watching Kino Loy's change of heart by the end of the episode feels like a major victory. People who would ordinarily play by the rules will turn against their oppressors if the injustice they personally feel is high enough.

It holds up a mirror to those of us in the real world, wondering how we're going to deal with the encroaching fascism that grows in our world every day. What would we be doing in the time of the Empire? It would look a lot like what we're doing right this minute. What will tip us over the edge into being activists and would-be revolutionaries? It's a question we all have to ask ourselves.

It's such a well-written show and aims so high that it's easy to forgive the fact that it doesn't always feel like "Star Wars." It's just good drama with real-world issues to tackle and that's what we want in our entertainment, right? I know it's what I want.

New episodes of "Andor" air on Wednesdays on Disney+.