Andor Shows Us Why Being Barefoot Is Bad on “Narkina 5”

Ah, space Florida, we hardly knew ye… but we’re about to get to know one of the Empire’s worst prison complexes.

 

Recap

Cassian is brought to a transport that will send him to Narkina 5, where he will serve out his six-year Imperial sentence. Syril Karn is located at his current job and brought in for questioning by Dedra Meero; he’s been making false inquiries with the Empire to try and find any possible information on Andor and she wants to know why. She gives him Blevin’s write-up on the Ferrix situation and tells him that she expects him to fill in the blanks. She then gives her report to the ISB officers and Yularen, explaining her theory on the coordinated rebel activity and referring to a person they call “Axis,” the one responsible for pulling all of these things together (they don’t know it’s Rael). Later, she asks Karn to give her more information on the Rebel informant on Ferrix, but he doesn’t have much left to give her. He tries to insist that he was a good officer and could be of use. She tells him to stop filing false reports and stay out of her way.

Cassian arrives on Narkina 5, where all the inmates go barefoot due to the disciplinary system being run through the floor of the complex, one that can cause anything from unbearable pain to death when activated. He is put to work assembling tech for the Empire, in a room run by Kino Loy (Andy Serkis). He’s assigned to Table 5 with a team; whatever room works fastest for the day gets flavor in their food; whatever room works slowest gets killed. Cassian notices that one of his table-mates has been signaling other prisoners in the facility using their own form of sign language. His table-mates manage to ask if anyone has noticed the latest legislation that went through, the PORD (Public Order Resentencing Directive), one that doubled everyone’s sentences. They want to know if people outside are talking about the rebellion, but Cassian insists that he knows nothing. One night, a man steps out of his bunk and onto the red floor on purpose, dying by suicide.

Mon Mothma is having another party to try and put a stop to this far-reaching legislation. Tal arrives and tells her that the current climate has made it very difficult to handle her money the way she requested, and Mon worries that the 400,000 credits she already pulled from her accounts will be missed.

On Ferrix, Bix has come to check on Maarva; she has been attracting attention and causing trouble, trying to pry open an old tunnel under the hotel where the Imperial prefect is holed up so that rebels can get in. She’s hurt her leg and is also having trouble breathing, but she tells Bix that she’s already seen a doctor and doesn’t need more help. Brasso also comes by to check on her, and tells Bix that they need to be much more careful. Vel and Cinta are watching Maarva’s house for signs of Cassian. Cinta insists that she could rent a room nearby, since this is the only lead they’ve got. Vel wants them to stay together, but Cinta reminds her that the cause comes first, and that Vel only loves her because she’s a mirror and shows her what she wants to see. Vel leaves and Cinta stays nearby. Bix asks Salmaan Paak (Abhin Galeya) if she can use the message tower again; he doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but she tells him it’s urgent and sends another message to Rael.

Andor, season 1, episode 8, Narkina 5, Bix and Maarva

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

On Coruscant, Kleya intercepts the message and tells Rael—she also says that he should tell her to shut down this line of communication and that he’s slipping. Rael tells her that he’s just been in hiding too long, but agrees to shut it down. The next day Bix learns that Salmaan was taken in for questioning last night and never came home; the Imperials are now after her, and she runs, but gets captured anyway. Meero is at the hotel, there to ask her questions about Cassian, having already tortured Salmaan. Rael takes a ship to Segra Milo to meet with Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). They both accuse each other of being responsible for the Aldhani job. Rael brings equipment that Saw can get for free if he agrees to meet with a fellow named Anto Kreegyr, who needs help taking down an Imperial power station on Spellhaus. Rael tells Saw that to achieve their desires, they all need to start working together. Saw has no interest in risking his crew for people whose ideologies are “lost” to his mind—separatists, Neo-Republicans, and so on. He sends Rael away.

Commentary

I really hope this series isn’t trying to reposition Saw Gerrera as an anarchist, because that would be… entirely inaccurate from both a political and a philosophical standpoint. Sure, it’s a fictional universe, but this is being developed largely by Americans and westerners, and anarchy as a political alignment does actually mean something. You shouldn’t just toss the term around when you’re trying to indicate a person who doesn’t care about collateral damage or collaborative effort—that’s functionally erroneous.

Andor, season 1, episode 8, Narkina 5, Saw Gerrera

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

That said, the idea that Saw is uninterested in joining forces because he cannot abide the political leanings of other rebel operatives checks out. I’m a little put out by how vague Star Wars has been on Saw’s development in general, because drawing a line from the character who was introduced in Clone Wars to the guy we’re seeing now is still difficult to parse, but I buy that he’s viewing all these potential allies by alignment labels that he finds distasteful. The idea that he’s the one “true believer” amidst people who aren’t up to the task jives with everything we’ve seen of the man in this era. Bringing this forest-for-the-trees conversation to the table would be interesting if they genuinely put the time in on it. Obviously, Saw believes that if he helps these “lesser” rebels, he runs the risk of empowering people who will create a galaxy that’s just as bad as one under the Empire to his mind.

Does anyone else have questions about Cassian’s credentials, being whether he paid for some really impressive fake IDs and identity-building, or the Empire really doesn’t check out anything at all, or is that just me? I would like any explanation on that side of things, given how thoughtlessly this stuff tends to be built into these narratives. Din Djarin had to scan his face at an Imperial facility for no discernible reason in The Mandalorian’s last season, and I will never be over it, so I need them to give me something.

Also, I would like even one line about what they’re building at that prison facility and why it’s more useful for the Empire to use human manual labor for these purposes? (I kept looking around for any form of alien and didn’t see one, so that’s clearly intentional.) The Empire uses slave labor for plenty of purposes, and it’s not necessary to the plot to tell us why this particular prison works this way, it would just be a favor to me, a person who wants more bad bureaucratic hell reasons behind the absolutely awful infrastructure the Empire builds. Please?

Andor, season 1, episode 8, Narkina 5, Vel and Cinta

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

So they’ve finally made it clear(er) that Vel and Cinta are together, but I… don’t understand how we’re supposed to feel anything about this incredibly sad love story when we know next to nothing about either character? It feels very in keeping with how big companies handle queerness on screen now—making it the entirety of how they’ve thought of a given character, and believing that will be enough of a “hook” for modern audiences. It’s not. Try again, Disney, these actors deserve better material.

The rest with Meero and Karn and everything happening on Ferrix is tense, for sure, but I’m not all that pleased about the fact that we never get to watch Maarva Andor committing any of these acts of resistance. She talks about walking across the square in the last episode, and this time we find out that she was trying to pry into a secret tunnel that the Rebellion could use against the garrison, but it’s pretty bullshit that we don’t get to see any of the action centered around the one older woman in this cast.

Andor, season 1, episode 8, Narkina 5, Dedra Meero and Syril Karn

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Can we have a sidebar here about how the Star Wars galaxy now features not one, but (at least) two planets where girls are encouraged to the public service sector at tender ages, and one of those planets is completely okay with teenagers getting married because tradition? Padmé was queen of Naboo at fourteen years old, and became a senator directly after her two terms ended. Mon Mothma became a senator at sixteen, and was already married the year previous. Leia was a senator for Alderaan at nineteen, and probably started much earlier than that. Obviously there are plenty of questionable and outright abusive practices throughout this galaxy—this one just happens to be a very odd niche to carve out…

Bits and Asides:

  • We’re supposed to be getting the sense that Tal was the person Mon was actually in love with, right? I’m guessing her marriage to Perrin was arranged if they were so young, which does explain a few things.
Andor, season 1, episode 8, Narkina 5, Mon mothma, Tal, Perrin

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

  • Does the worm make the drink alcoholic because if so, I have questions, but also wanna try it, gimme.
  • Bets on whether Perrin is using their daughter to spy on Mon, place your bets right here…

 

Next week we’ll hopefully find out what that sign language is all about?

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