With just two episodes left in "Andor" on Disney Plus (after this one), our minds are raging torrents, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative possibilities as to where the first season will leave us. What perilous, anxiety-inducing cliffhanger does creator Tony Gilroy deem fit to leave us clinging to by our fingernails for, potentially a whole year?
This episode we were finally rewarded with escape from Narkina 5 and while the show is following the same fundamental story-telling formula as the raid on the Imperial base on Aldhani, there's no denying that the ante was significantly upped and if you thought episode 6 dialed up the tension, this installment straps it to a Minuteman ballistic missile and fires it directly into the heart of our own Sun.
Upon first viewing, it's a lot to take in. Your heart is still pounding in your chest from the masterful, sustained build up of suspense and on top all of that, add the fate of poor Kino Loy (Andy Serkis) and you will almost certainly miss a few key elements. For starters, you can actually see the coastline in the distance in just a few shots, blink and you'll miss it. And that's crucial to consider when you spend the next few days rewatching and reexamining this episode.
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The thing is … so far, this show has been a masterclass in science fiction drama. But, the very, very ending of the escape leaves you feeling ever-so-slightly incomplete. And while much of that is intentional, to accentuate the tragic separation of Andor and Loy, it also feels like important details have been deliberately overlooked.
Alternatively, we could pick up as the first wave of prisoners rushes towards what turns out to be the exit. Almost immediately upon opening, we see that the exit leads to a precipice and after a momentary pause, convicts begin jumping into the ocean below. Many are simply being carried along in the tsunami and pour over the edge and into the water, a hundred or so feet below. Loy reveals he can't swim and our jaws drop and our hearts sink at which point Andor is quite literally swept away.
Our POV switches for the briefest of seconds to the imposing Imperial production facility and the ledge we just left, rapidly disappearing into the distance. Our perspective changes once again and we see the surface of the ocean racing towards us and then we're underwater. Andor plummets into the sea and his rapid descent slowly stalls as he frantically swims to the surface. Everywhere, all around him are bodies plunging into the water, there's a flurry of bubbles and he breaches the surface, gasping desperately for air. He spits out a mouthful of water and shouts, "Which way?! Which way to the shore..?!" A voice behind him shouts, "To the west!" And off they go.
We cut back to Loy, who is slumped, sitting against the wall...as prisoner after prisoner sprints past him. When we finally return, the sun has now set and we see Andor and his colleague emerge like Ursula Andress from the sea. We cut back to Loy, who is back inside the facility wandering around aimlessly. No one is around. A door hisses open...and we get an over-the-shoulder shot as we glimpse a shuttle parked and empty.
Now, while it could be argued something like that – ultimately a happy ending – is more old "Star Wars" and not something that has a place in this brutal, cruel and more nihilistic approach. Plus, the emotional weight of him not being able to go and never leaving that facility after his rousing speech would have been wasted if he found a shuttle all gassed up and ready to go…but, I just don't believe his character would give up so easily. Not after having so much time to replay recent events through his mind.
Perhaps this ending has too many lose ends, a little like the hostage situation in the raid on Aldhani. We're asked to totally ignore the injuries that would be incurred by many as they willingly jumped off. Fatalities that come as a result of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco are mostly due to non-fatal injuries caused by initial impact, like punctured lungs and broken limbs, which in turn cause incapacitation or even loss of consciousness, which finally results in drowning. And that fall looked a lot like about 220 feet, which is the clearance of the Golden Gate Bridge.
And… Loy would be despondent at first, but he wouldn't give up. At the very least, he would arm himself — maybe he'd run into Imperial prison guards that were hiding, that's quite possible — but he would dig deep and tap into the same courage it took to mount the escape in the first place. Maybe we'll see him later on in "Star Wars," possibly in an expanded story, or maybe even later in "Andor," who knows. But he would find something he could use. Be it something he could craft a crude raft from, or a maintenance pod, or something. He would have to, because he also knows that reinforcements — or at the very least, an investigation unit — will arrive, eventually.
But you know, nit-picking like this on a show that is of such supremely high-quality is a welcome relief and I'd far rather be having a discussion over why this episode only scores 99% and not 100% than having to wade through all the reasons why other mainstream sci-fi is so depressingly awful.
In other news, four additional networks will be showing the first two episodes: ABC on 11/23 at 9pm ET/PT, FX on 11/24 at 9pm ET/PT, Freeform on 11/25 at 9pm ET/PT and Hulu on 11/23 and 12/7. While this is excellent news, just showing the first two episode won't give new viewers the chance to see that first act conclude properly, so they'll miss out. Hopefully, this might change between now and then...but we're not exactly holding our breath.