This Star Wars: Andor article contains spoilers.
There’s only “one way out.” That’s the theme of Andor episode 10, and it’s not just because Robert Emms’ Lonni Jung learns the only way out of the Rebellion is in a box. Giving us a prison break that Michael Scofield would be proud of, Cassian Andor and Kino Loy (Andy Serkis) engineer the long-awaited escape from the Narkina 5 prison following that devastating reveal in episode 9.
Unlike the gravity-defying lightsaber duels and space battles of your standard Star Wars series, Andor has pitched itself as a grounded sci-fi spy series. When not pulling off daring heists against the Empire, Cassian is escaping watery prison facilities from right under its nose. And while we know how the story ends for our lead thanks to Andor being a prequel to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, most of the other major players are walking naked without that kind of plot armor. That’s why the uncertain fate of what is arguably the show’s very best character is so concerning as the credits roll on “One Way Out.” And no we’re not talking about Cassian…
From Stellan Skarsgård’s delightfully shady Luthen Rael to Kathryn Hunter’s sniping Eedy Karn, there are plenty of fan-favorites emerging. But they largely pale in comparison to Serkis’ grouchy Kino Loy. First appearing in Andor episode 8, Kino quickly became more than just the shift leader of Unit Five-Two-D. Across this latest three-episode arc, we watch Kino’s riveting transformation from obedient prisoner counting down the days until he’s released to sparking a rebellion from within the prison ranks. When Kino discovers the ultimate lie behind Narkina 5 — that none of the prisoners are actually being set free at the end of their sentences — Kino decides that he’d rather die fighting than live out the rest of his days building the Imperial war machine.
By the end of “One Way Out,” it really seems like Kino has finally earned his freedom, taking over the base with his fellow prisoners so that they can all escape. But when he reaches the top of the facility alongside Cassian, Melshi, and the rest, Kino confirms the heartbreaking truth about the watery depths below that are all that stand between him and a new lease on life: he can’t swim. It’s a cruel twist of fate, and before Cassian can help, he is pushed into the ocean, and Kino is seemingly left behind forever.
“One Way Out” ends with Cassian and Melshi on the beaches of Narkina 5 while Imperial patrol ships hover in the background, presumably hunting down escapees. The Empire has clearly learned of the escape and has sent backup, which means the prison will likely be seized again quickly. Unsurprisingly, this seemingly ambiguous ending to Kino’s story has left some heartbroken fans wondering what happened next to our favorite shift leader.
One of the grim possibilities is that Kino will be made an example of as the leader of the uprising. Andor already showed the darker side of this world when Cassian’s father (Clem) was hanged for standing up against tyranny. There were plenty of witnesses to Kino being the voice of the escape, so he’s unlikely to go unpunished. This would become a poignant swansong given his somber words just before the prison break: “Play it how you want, but I’m gonna assume I’m already dead.”
A more fitting punishment – that we imagine Dedra Meero has already thought up – is Kino being captured and going back to construct parts for whatever the inmates were working on. There have been plenty of theories that it’s the Death Star being built here, and remembering that Orson Krennic was reprimanded for things being behind schedule in Rogue One, losing most of the prisoner workforce in could be a contributing factor. It would also be the ultimate tragedy if Loy returns to building parts for the eventual weapon that’s responsible for Cassian’s death on the shores of Scarif.
Or is there somehow still a future for him in the Rebel Alliance? Even though the level-headed Kino is exactly the kind of fighter Luthen or Mon Mothma would love to recruit to the Rebellion, it doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon. But if Star Wars is good at anything, it’s a shocking and improbable return (we’re looking at you, Darth Maul). Kino hasn’t even been sliced in half like Maul or sucked into the Sarlacc like Boba Fett. By leaving his ultimate fate unanswered, Andor‘s writers have left the door open for Kino’s return down the line, and given how much fans already love the character after just three episodes, it’s likely Lucasfilm has taken note.
We know Andor season 2 is already on the way, and set to film later this month. Could Kino’s return be part of the plan? We’d like to imagine that there’s a second half to that final Kino scene that we didn’t get to see where one of the other prisoners helped him swim to safety. Following Kino’s rousing speech this week, it’d certainly pack a punch if it were revealed next season that he made it off Narkina 5 and is now working to take down the Empire, too. Since the second season will cover the next four years of Cassian’s life, leading up to just moments before the events of Rogue One, it would provide ample time to revisit Kino at a new phase in his life. Perhaps he’ll have joined up with Saw Gerrera, who coincidentally appeared briefly at the start of this arc, or organized a Rebel cell that aids Cassian on a future mission.
The only thing we know for sure is that, for the moment, there’s sadly no reason for Andor to revisit Narkina 5 once Cassian and Melshi presumably get off the planet next week. To make matters worse, Serkis has also broken down Kino’s arc in an interview with Decider and suggested that episode 10 is a pretty finite end to his character’s journey.
“I had Tony [Gilroy] explain, talk me through that. He talked me through the whole arc of the character, and so obviously I knew when I was reading the script that it would arrive at that point,” Serkis said of his character’s already oft-repeated “I can’t swim” line. “And so, really, throughout the third episode that I’m in, it is with this trepidation that he faces [the jailbreak], and that’s the sacrifice. That was what was interesting to play — the drive to get these people off the ship, once it becomes a possibility. And then knowing that there is going to be no escape and no way out for himself…Building up to that moment when we shot that, I was carrying that fear and phobia and knowing that there was going to be an edge that he would get to, to the point that he could go no further.”
But Gilroy himself didn’t quite echo this when asked the same question about Kino’s fate: “I don’t know. He’s not dead. Is he dead? I don’t see him dying [in episode ten],” the showrunner told THR. So there’s still hope!
The fact Kino isn’t in Rogue One suggests that, even if he did return, it might not be for long. But no matter his fate, Kino’s legacy will live on as the leader who inspired 5,000 men to break free from the Empire’s clutches. Chances are that at least some of them will join the Rebellion, and in that way, Kino will have helped free more than just his fellow prisoners.
Star Wars: Andor is streaming now on Disney+.