The fate character of Kino Loy in Star Wars: Andor, brilliantly portrayed by Andy Serkis at the end of Episode 10, is unknown. We know that all the escaping prisoners jump off the top level into the water below, and Kino remains behind, telling Andor, “Can’t swim.” Andor is promptly pushed and falls into the water, and we do not see Kino again. The question is, does Kino Loy escape? Here’s a theory on if Kino Loy escapes the prison in Andor.
Does Kino Loy Escape the Prison in Andor? Theory
The theory posits that no, Kino Loy does not escape the prison and that he is one of the first to sacrifice himself for a cause that encompasses the entire galaxy. The main idea behind this theory is sacrifice.
Star Wars, in many ways, is a story of sacrifice. From Obi-Wan sacrificing himself to aid Luke as a Force Ghost, Darth Vader turning back to light, sacrificing himself to save Luke, and, more importantly to this series, how Andor ultimately sacrifices his own life in Rogue One. Kino is following this theme; let’s begin with how we are introduced to Kino.
Kino Loy: Level 5 Unit Manager
We are first introduced to Kino in Episode 8 when Andor arrives at the Narkina 5 prison facility. Andor is brought to his unit, and Kino gives him a curt and hard explanation of how things work. They are in Unit 5, and this is his unit which he runs efficiently and forcefully. They are all tasked with building machinery for the Empire. Each table competes against each other in productivity, and Kino competes against other Unit Managers in what he calls “a game.”
But what is most important to Kino is his number; he only has 249 days left in his sentence and does not want anyone slowing up his unit’s production so his release from prison is not jeopardized and his remaining days are as easy as they can be in prison. This is a man who wants to do his time and get out and will not suffer anything getting in the way of that, even if it means working his crew ragged. He is a man who only thinks about himself, much the same as Andor has the entire series leading up to his imprisonment.
We saw this same theme in the original Star Wars trilogy in the character of Han Solo and Lando Calrissian. Han only wanted to do the job and get paid, and Lando would sell out anyone to keep the Empire out of his mining operation, even someone he called a friend. The prevailing sentiment in this oppressive regime is to keep your head down and worry about only yourself. Thinking about others will only get you in trouble. Kino is no different, and at this point, neither is Andor.
The “On Program” command seems simple enough on the surface. It is a shouted order given by Kino to his men to fall in line with prison rules. Serkis delivers this line with such a forceful purpose you feel it in your bones. But “program” means many things to Kino outside the simple command to order. It means don’t rock the boat.
Kino’s idealized program is displayed early on when the prisoners begin questioning Andor about what he knows about the Public Order Resentencing Directive, or PORD. The character of Melshi is the first to push them to ask Andor, which is apropos, considering Melshi is a rebel fighter alongside Andor in Rogue One.
Once the questioning gets heated, Melshi steps in, giving Andor dire predictions about how he will never get out of prison, that the Empire won’t allow it. Kino quickly steps in, grabs Melshi, and forces him to shut his mouth. Kino sees this kind of rumor disrupting his hope of release in just over 200 days. He can’t believe this rumor because that means his strict compliance the entire time was for nothing; following the rules and keeping your head down accomplished nothing. Melshi is the spark of rebellion in this scenario, and Kino is the status quo.
Staying on program is about Kino’s selfishness. He feels that if he forces what he can control, his unit, to fall in line, it will benefit him in the long run, get him out of this horrible prison, and give him his freedom. Any deviation from this, creating any disillusionment in his pod, can jeopardize his control over them and his potential freedom. He has everything to lose if they continue with this rumor until the illusion of his eventual release is utterly dispelled and destroyed.
Nothing To Lose
The rumor of the Empire extending sentences (to what is effectively life sentences) becomes a harsh reality when they learn about what happened to Unit 2. It begins with a power failure throughout the prison, and eventually, they learn the rumor grew from extending sentences to mass murder to keep the rumor a secret.
A prisoner set for release was supposed to be sent to another prison, so no one in Narkina 5 would be the wiser. However, through a mixup, he was reintegrated into the unit, making people in Unit 2 realize they were not releasing prisoners but instead extending all their sentences and moving them around to keep it a secret. Once this spread around Unit 2, the guards decided to electrify the entire unit, killing everyone there to quell the spread.
Unit 5 learns this, and they quickly panic, realizing it is all true. Kino continues to calm everyone, insisting it is just a rumor. Kino cannot believe it; if he does, he will know everything he has done was for nothing. He demeaned himself and his unit all this time to not acquire the thing it was all for, the thing he couldn’t lose; his freedom.
It isn’t until their unit member Ulaf dies of a stroke that Kino and Andor get confirmation of what happened from the medic, a prisoner, who confirms what happened to Unit 2. Kino’s entire world is destroyed, it was all for nothing, and the realization that he now has nothing to lose begins to grow and take shape. Still, at this point, he knows in his heart escape is impossible.
Andor insists that Kino helps them because he knows the prison better than anyone else. Kino continues to resist because not only is anyone attempting to escape nearly impossible, but he knows he cannot escape because there is only one way out, through the water.
One Way Out
By Episode 10, Andor has resolved himself with the realization escaping the prison is the only road forward. He realizes there is no more running from the truth, there is no escaping the Empire, and resistance is the only option. In a heated and brilliantly performed scene, Andor confronts Kino in another attempt to bring him on board with the plan. Andor knows Kino is a born leader, and the men listen to him; they cannot do this without him but will if they have to.
After the heated and powerful exchange, the two men walk back to the pod. Andor begins notifying everyone that they will execute their plan tomorrow. During the tense walk through the pod, the struggle on Kino’s face is apparent; thinking about himself accomplished nothing except condemn everyone else to the same fate of never leaving the prison.
Serkis emotes the war of attrition happening in mind to perfection. It is here he finally realizes he truly has nothing to lose. Kino knows he can’t swim; he knows swimming is the only way out, and he has to decide to make the sacrifice for the sake of the greater good over his safety, to put others before himself.
Kino still feels the plan won’t work, but they have to try at least and finally tells everyone the rumor, all of it, is true and concedes that Andor’s plan is the only way forward for them. Even though he knows he can’t escape, he struggles with making a decision that will put everyone in danger. He has to motivate them for the plan to succeed, even though he knows in the end, he has no way out. Kino foreshadows his sacrifice when he says, “Play it how you want, but I am going to assume I am already a dead man.”
During the initial purposeful chaos to distract the guards, they begin their attack, and the guards call to electrify the floor. Throughout the ensuing plan, Kino still doubts it can work, which includes Andor flooding the floor so it short circuits when the guards activate the electricity to fry them.
Kino orders everyone to get on the tables to avoid the initial activation, but he curiously does not get off the floor. His face is in shock when he realizes the short circuit attempt worked. His confidence begins to build to, at the very least, help everyone else he has been complicit in keeping here free.
Kino’s self-sacrifice comes to full fruition when he and Andor arrive in the control room. He will no longer give them what they want, even if it means his inevitable death. Andor urges him to be the leader he knows he is and speak to the entire prison over the comms to encourage them to act. He stumbles at first but finally provides the right words, words Andor spoke to him earlier, “I’d rather die trying to take them down than die giving them want they want,” which was what Kino had been doing his entire time in the prison.
The Actualization of Sacrifice
After the bold and inspiring speech, the entire prison moves into action. They fight and climb to the very top of the prison, which is the only egress they have, and ultimately jump to the waters below and swim to freedom. Kino leads the charge with his unit, the words “One Way Out” morphing into a battle cry throughout the entire prison. In magnificent valor, Kino screams with them, knowing full well he has no way out, for he cannot swim.
Nothing matters at this point except giving everyone else a fighting chance of escaping, even if he can’t. The theme of sacrifice in the Star Wars universe comes to fruition in this episode and scene through the character of Kino, and it mirrors the eventual and inevitable conflict and sacrifice Andor must make in Rogue One.
In the final chaotic and climactic scramble on the platform, men push past Kino to jump into the waters below, his face with the calm acceptance that his time is done, but his actions mean something. Andor looks at him confused, asking, “What’s wrong?” Kino calmly responds with a shrug, “Can’t swim,” before Andor is pushed off the platform. This is the last we see of Kino Loy, and as this theory shows, it most likely is the last we ever see of the fantastic Kino Loy.
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