Over the past month and a half, Andor has proven itself to be a pretty excellent show, and its cast is a big reason why. In each arc thus far, Cassian (Diego Luna) has drawn in a variety of different characters into his often chaotic orbit who are, like him, trying to get by under the Empire’s rule. This most recent one has seen Cassian as an inmate on the prison colony Narkina 5, where he’s brushed shoulders with fellow inmate/semi-warden Kino Loy (Andy Serkis). The actor/director previously made his Star Wars debut with the Sequel Trilogy as Emperor Snokewhere it seemed like he was primed to be the Palpatine of those films before Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) abruptly sliced him in half during The Last Jedi. (Let’s not get into him apparently being a Palpatine husk?)
Serkis has spent the last several days talking about both his brief Snoke time and how that affected his return to the franchise. When he recently spoke to Slashfilm, he admitted to being hesitant to join the show when approached by showrunner Tony Gilroy. Primarily, those worries stemmed about fueling fan theories—”Is Kino actually playing Snoke?!“—but it was his love of Rogue One that won out. “The world of the “Rogue One,” it feels so gritty, and real, and human, and complex,” he explained. “Unlike the world that Snoke lives in, which is very much about the dark and the light, this is much more about the gray areas of the “Star Wars” universe.”
Worries of Snoke connections aside, Serkis did confess to feeling less pressure with this show as opposed to the films. And it helped that his inclusion in the show was a complete secret, thereby eliminating any speculation that could’ve created a false sense of promise when he inevitably showed up. “Nobody knew about [me] until last week,” he said. “There was no pressure whatsoever in the sense of it being out there. I think that was a great thing not having it announced earlier. […] It’s a nice surprise, I think, hopefully for everybody.”
Serkis’ personal backstory for the character, he revealed to Collider, was that Kino was a show owner that was fighting for labor rights and unionization when the Empire took him in. But that desire to help others was something that gradually faded away while in prison, continued Serkis, and he “sheds any desire to look out for other people apart from himself. Just do his time and get out.”
Yeah, about that…
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The first episode of the Narkina 5 arc—fittingly titled “Narkina 5”—portrays Kino Loy as a hardass that just wants the prisoners’ construction operation to go smooth as his sentence winds down. Last week’s episode, “Nobody’s Listening!,” sees Cassian make an active effort to get Kino in on a prison break he’s cooking up with other inmates, with Kino trying his hardest to very much stay out of it. For the inmate portion of the episode, that pressure is felt throughout, and the prison guards tightening their authority on the inmates gradually begin to wear Kino down. Once he learns his sentence ending will just result in him being Transferred to another level of the prison, Kino joins Cassian’s prison break, punctuated by a banger of a final line. (“Never more than 12.”
Of Kino’s side change, Serkis praised the writing of Gilroy and the Narkina 5 arc’s writer, House of Cards showrunner Beau Willimon, calling it “phenomenal.” He continued by saying that Kino has kept his eye so Focused on getting out to the point that a prison break or questioning if he’d actually leave was never something he considered until Cassian’s repeated attempts to radicalize him. Having that actually cemented in his mind, said Serkis, is “intolerable to him. It’s like a trigger switch which enables him to then stop thinking about just himself and his release. […] He starts to think about the greater good, and how he might enable and affect a journey out of there alongside Cassian.”
The end of each Andor arc has seen losses on the side of both the Empire and Andor’s side, but some—like Vel (Faye Marsay) and Cinta (Varada Sethu) have thus far managed to live and have their stories furthered. Whether Kino ends up biting it during the heist or gets out with Andor, the character is definitely up there in a cast that’s been stacked with strong characterization and excellent performances thus far.
Andor premieres new episodes Wednesday on Disney Plus.
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