Indeed, stranger things have possibly happened since the Mouse House took the reins of Star Wars, and I shudder at the prospect of just how, say, Vader himself might emerge to be the source for all that is good in this program. This isn’t to say that the show deserves some credit for perhaps trying to add a bit of nuance to what’s otherwise a reasonably classic tale of good-versus-evil. I guess, rather, it’s that I’m an old, old dog, and I’d rather not have some new trick forced down my throat as some late-breaking development. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer knowing just who’s wearing the black hats as well as knowing whom I am supposed to cheer for.
Still, I think “Nobody’s Listening” – the ninth episode in Andor’s first season – does represent a small yet monumental step forward: with the reality of an endless incarceration serving as the fate awaiting those who’ve run up against the dark legal side of Palpatine’s Empire, audiences are finally given an all-new reason to hate the status quo. Once you enter this prison, there’s genuinely no way out – it would seem – and this development appears to be the catalyst that’ll unite freedom fighters – maybe even those properly sentenced – in their bid to overthrow Imperial aggression.
Given the predicament, I think it best for me (in the very least) to stop thinking so much about Andor, certainly as it either compares or doesn’t to the wider tapestry of the George Lucas creation. Because they’re insisted “this is the adult Star Wars,” I suspect its storytellers require a different rubric with which to consider good and bad. Yes, that might even leave enough wiggle room for Meero and Karn to somehow (miraculously!) be players we should be secretly cheering on, though their somewhat shared affinity to torture as well as making the lives of others into an absolute sh#tstorm compels this free-thinker to – ahem – freethink otherwise.
As a performance piece, Andor includes much of what’s come before, which is to say that it’s palatable at best though predictable at worst. While there might be some suggestions as to who our heroes and villains are (Gilroy himself is on record as suggesting Mon Mothma derives from – ahem – Nancy Pelosi), the creatives have all produced small moments worth a bit of attention. Though Diego Luna remains his dour self (imbuing Andor with enough anger to spawn a rebellion all by himself, it would seem), the always interesting Andy Serkis has touched on just the right measure of spineless conformity and institutional self-loathing to elevate an otherwise routine turncoat ‘Kino Loy’ into the fledgling rebel you always knew had to be in the universe but had yet to encounter. Hopefully he’ll last a bit longer than one suspects, but folks who’ve toed the traditional company line for so long and so faithfully tend to wind up as worm food sooner as opposed to later. Only time will tell.
If nothing else, kudos to “Nobody’s Listening” for finally serving up a rallying cry for those who would seek an end to their forced servitude. It was a brilliant moment delivered with a tug on the heartstrings, and – for what that’s worth – Star Wars doesn’t strike as many of those harmonizing chords these days as perhaps it should. (Fandom … sigh … it can be so divisive!) Audiences hungry for escapist fare do have cause to tune in at this point onward … all I can say is that I do wholeheartedly hope that now that we’ve found the heart of what looks to be a building rebellion that we don’t squander it on another handful of episodes delivering us nowhere new or interesting.
(Here’s looking at you, Boba Fett.)