Hello my friends, and happy weekend!
(Spoilery things ahead!)
Andor’s tenth episode, “One Way Out” was probably the best of the series so far. This, of course, was the prison escape episode, and it delivered in so many ways. Now that Kino Loy (played by Andy Serkis) is done with the Empire’s games and is on board, they make a plan. Now that the old man Ulaf died, a new prisoner will be coming in to fill his spot. And that’s when the Imperials will be at their most vulnerable. Cassian finishes sabotaging the water pipe from the refresher, and that leaking water will help disable the electrified floor. Once the new guy is brought in, they attack (poor new guy, he has no idea what’s going on…and ends up dying from a blaster bolt). Once they’re all out and kill the guards, they make their way to the command center and take over. They cut off the power to all the floors, and then Kino makes his speech over the intercom, telling the prisoners they had taken control and were escaping. But more than that, his speech is inspiring to the prisoners, as he tells them to help one another. It’s not “every man for himself”, it’s “if we work together we can get out of here.” So it was heartbreaking when they finally get out and have to jump into the ocean to get away and Kino says he can’t swim. He helped everyone else get out while likely knowing he wouldn’t make it out himself, as it’s obvious he knew they were surrounded by water. I really liked Kino’s story arc, going from a man counting down his days until he gets out and everyone better not ruin that for him, to a man leading everyone out while he himself can’t get out. I hope we find out what happens to him–sent to another prison? Killed? Suicide? Maybe I don’t want to know.
Anyway, there was another big speech in the episode, given by Luthen Rael. He meets with one of the ISB agents, Jung, who is actually a mole and working for the Rebellion. He’s meeting with Luthen to warn him about the ISB laying a trap for Kreeger’s rebel cell, but really he wants to tell Luthen he’s done with this double agent thing. He’s got a baby coming and wants a different life. But Luthen won’t let him, telling him that they have to make sacrifices. Jung asks what Luthen’s sacrificed, and what we get is some sorely-needed insight into this man. Basically, he tells Jung that he’s sacrificed his soul. He’s not a kind man, and he uses the Empire’s own tactics against them. In other words, he’s become what he’s sworn to destroy, all for a victory he suspects he’ll never see.
Someone who’s not ready to sacrifice her soul is Mon Mothma. She meets with this Davos, a “thug” in her estimation, only because she’s desperate for money to cover up what her “charity” is actually doing. She’s willing to pay the man off, but he’s already rich and doesn’t want money. He wants his son to meet her daughter–probably in the hopes of a traditional Chandrilan arranged marriage, likely so he can get closer to the influential and more respectable Coruscant society. Mon balks and is curt at dismissing him. But as he points out her, she’s thinking about it. What is she willing to sacrifice? I’m curious to see how this plays out. Only two more episodes of this season!
Now that The Rings of Power is done, I need to make that Amazon Prime subscription worth paying, so I’ve added a few things to my watchlist. One of those things is Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to 1984’s Blade Runner that came out a few years ago. I saw it in the theater at the time, and absolutely adored it. I’m a big fan of the original, and wasn’t sure about a sequel. But my doubts were immediately dispelled as I heard that otherworldly music and watched Ryan Gosling totally nail it as a replicant Blade Runner called “K” whose job it is to “retire” older, less compliant Replicants from the past.
During one of his cases, he comes upon a mystery and a miracle: a Replicant woman who gave birth 30 years ago. Sensing the enormity of the event and what such a child represents, K’s boss, Madame, played wonderfully by Robin Wright, orders him to find and kill the (30 year-old) child. But during his investigation, he comes to believe that he, himself, is the child of that long ago miracle.
In the meantime, the creepy corporate billionaire Wallace (played by Jared Leto), who had taken up the reins left by Tyrell Corporation and created new models of Replicants like K who obeyed, also wants to find the child in order to figure out how to make his Replicants with the power to give birth. So he can have more slaves, you see, to dominate the stars. He sends his pet Replicant, the ironically named Love, to follow K during his investigation, a woman who certainly doesn’t know anything about love.
Director Denis Villeneuve’s Los Angeles of 2049 is a bleak and wondrous place, where illusion is the order of the day. Replicants are implanted with false memories, to make them emotionally stable. They know that they’re implanted, they know exactly what they are (and aren’t), but the memories make them feel more human. K has a relationship with a beautiful hologram named Joi, and though her programming is meant to fill every one of K’s desires (except, of course, physical contact, which is solved in a clever way), it certainly seems like Joi is a real person who loves him. And he does love her. Or maybe he’s in love the idea of her. Can you be in love with someone who’s not “real”? She’s an illusion, but K’s feelings about her are not. Does that make her real?
Are Replicants “real”? They’re alive–they breath and bleed and can die–and they’re sentient beings. They have emotions. They’re supposed to obey and not be able to lie, but K breaks both of those rules. It seems moot to me that if one is “born” instead of “made” they’re more real and therefore have more rights. But apparently this child represents something dangerous–the fact that Replicants can reproduce give them more “self-agency.” To Madame, this would be disastrous, leading to a Replicant rebellion; to Wallace, it is the holy grail that would serve his purpose to simply enslave more Replicants.
Some people thought this movie was too long and convoluted, but not me. I loved every single minute of its almost 3 hour runtime. It’s mesmerizing to behold, and offers a lot to chew on. The performances were amazing, especially Ryan Gosling, who was a revelation to me at the time. I wasn’t really familiar with him except for “The Notebook,” lol. But he perfectly captures the nuances of a person who initially accepts the status quo, and then gradually learns who he is (or could be), and what it means to be “human.” Bravo.
In books, this week I started and finished a rereading of Mission to Disaster, a middle-grade book by Justina Ireland. It’s a Phase 1 High Republic book, and I wanted to revisit it because most of it takes place on Dalna, a planet we see 150 years earlier in Path of Deceit. Basically the Nihil has taken some children prisoner to “recruit’ them, and young Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwho and her Padawan Imri Cantos are on it. Their friend, Avon Starros, a technological genius, has been taken and made to help the Nihil with a weapon that can destroy the planet.
I wanted to see if I could get any insight into Dalna considering the events of Path of Deceit, which also took place on Dalna. What we learn is that something happened on on that planet involving the Jedi, something that went very bad and the Jedi are blamed. Ever since, the Jedi are not trusted, although by the time of Vernestra’s time, there is a Jedi Outpost there. There seems to be some evidence that the Jedi covered up the incident. We don’t get anything like that in Path of Deceit, but I think we will see it later in Phase 2.
That’s about it this week. What’s been entertaining you? Let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!