In “One Way Out,” news spreads across the prison that nobody’s getting out. The ISB find a ship planted by Antor Creeger to lure them in. Marva won’t take her medicine because it makes her nauseous. Mon Mothma meets with Davo Sculdurn, the unscrupulous banker Taye found. She’s uncomfortable with his terms: an introduction and potential betrothal of her daughter and his son. As a new man arrives on the level, Kino, Cassian, and the others enact their escape plan. One of the men from the ISB, Lonnie, is revealed as Luthen’s informant. Numerous prisoners die in the escape, and Kino, unable to swim, is left behind.
With Andor, I find myself perpetually stunned, and lately, I fear I’m just repeating myself. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a show get so much right. Episodes with virtually no action have me tense the entire time nonetheless, and I always want more when it’s over. This show is a blast to watch but reviewing it makes me nervous. It’s uncomfortable praising something so much, especially a Disney+ Star Wars show when some of the bigger ones have been so disappointing. Don’t get me wrong; we should always give credit where it’s due, and I wish and hope Lucasfilm and Disney would learn something from this show about what works. But it’s hard to find technical flaws in a series when the script, performances, music, and visuals are so excellent and deliberate. Andor is The Mandalorian’s opposite in tone, visual style, and view/use of fan service. But it’s easily the best live-action project Lucasfilm has released since then, and it’s not even close. I don’t understand why Disney and Lucasfilm put so much effort into their original characters while essentially crapping all over fan favorites like Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi. It’s all their IP, and that’s probably not the best way to maintain brand value. In a roundabout way, the sheer quality of Andor’s writing and production serves as an indictment of much of Lucasfilm’s recent live-action output. I just don’t understand. While I find it difficult to criticize this show, that makes it even easier to see the flaws in the studio as a whole.
With that being said, “One Way Out” is yet another dazzling, tense venture into the nuts and bolts of the Star Wars galaxy. The prison break on Narkina 5 is at the center of the story, and we don’t even see characters like Syril and Bix. In other shows, it disappoints or even distracts me when my favorite characters are excluded from even a single episode. But Andor has expertly created drama, intrigue, and fear around the jailbreak. Throughout the season, this is the most I’ve cared about Cassian. But I still feel more for Kino and the other prisoners. I had a feeling some of them wouldn’t get out alive, and it was refreshing to be so unsure of who would survive in a Star Wars production. Aside from Andor himself, I don’t know anything about any of these people save what we’ve learned in the last two episodes. Not knowing who will escape or even live adds a layer of tension and compassion for the characters that can’t be mustered for someone like Obi-Wan Kenobi. Despite still being a prequel, Andor has mastered this balancing act, and I’m impressed every single week.
The main thing “One Way Out” left me with was absolute dread. Kino is a charismatic, intelligent leader who cares about his men deep down. I’ve grown to love this character, thanks in no small part to Andy Serkis’ marvelous performance. Now, I remain in abject terror at the prospect of him being stuck in the prison on Narkina 5. And Kino spoke over the intercom, identified himself, and instructed the men to escape. When the Empire ultimately investigates what happened to this prison, Kino is either going to die a horrible death or get tortured for information. I suspect the latter; what a way for the Empire to learn that they DID, in fact, have Andor in custody. I don’t want to go on about this character too much, but I will say that Kino’s speech over the prison’s intercom is epic. Kino’s entire arc has been masterfully handled, and I’ll be sorry if his story ends here.
Then, we have Mon Mothma’s ever-precarious situation. I have a feeling she will arrange the meeting in exchange for Davo’s services, which I am dreading. Her own traditional Chandrilan marriage has made her miserable, and it’s difficult to imagine Mon choosing to put her only child in the same position. Would Perrin go through with this process and approve the match? He’s more into their home’s traditions than Mon, but he’s seemingly closer to Leda and lets her “do whatever (I) want.” I somehow doubt this willful child will agree to a marriage with a stranger; furthermore, she’s not at all mature enough. With the way Davo kept steering Mon to say things verbatim, I initially wondered if he was recording her or trying to set her up. Clearly, I misread the signals here.
I find it interesting that Lonnie, Luthen’s Imperial contact, seems more concerned about the Rebels than he does. He warns Luthen about the trap and the danger Creeger’s men would be in, but the man remains unphased. This leads to one of the surprising highlights of “One Way Out”: Luthen’s monologue about what he’s given up for the Rebellion. I’m not going to quote everything he says here, but this is a fantastic scene. The dialogue about how alone and antisocial he’s become is incredible, let alone Skarsgård’s magnificent presence and delivery. The cast of Andor always delivers.
“One Way Out” is epic from start to finish. The dialogue is smart and efficient, the acting is magnificent as always, and Nicholas Brittel’s original score absolutely pops, especially this week’s unique theme. I honestly don’t have any technical critiques of this episode. The highlights are Kino Loy’s speech and, later, Luthen’s monologue.