10 Answers after the Premiere of Star Wars: Andor

by Todd King, contributing writer

This is a response to my preview article back in September regarding Andor and the questions I had about it going in.

Was I right? Was I wrong? Was I on the right track or in a galaxy far away? I'll be keeping my score while not spoiling the plot because it deserves a watch with fresh eyes!

Here are my questions along with new responses to them now that the season has finished. Below each one is my score if I got anything predicted in some accurate way.

1. What will Andor actually be about?

I guessed that the themes of the Andor series would be include ideas about the "costs of victory" in a war setting. The rebellion against the Empire is still in its early stages where the Alliance has yet to be revealed. Cassian Andor doesn't find himself in the midst of battles but he is more in a personal struggle. He is not looking to enlist in an effort against the oppressive government, he is looking for his sister. We learn in flashbacks that Andor grew up in a tribe on a planet called Kenari where fate separated him from everyone. From there it seemed he was always on the fringe of things in the galaxy but stuck to his goal to find where his sister might be these many years later. Like on Kenari, trouble finds him and through circumstance and choices, he is on the run from the Empire as a fugitive. Although he's not already a soldier, we do find that his main adversaries are Imperials and we witness chains of events that are sure to lead him on a charge against tyrrany. But that's not what the series is really about.

Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in ANDOR
Cassian Andor fights for himself but begins to see the larger fight taking place in the galaxy. © Lucasfilm/Disney.

Instead of my guess of a "focus on the boots-on-the-ground struggles of fighters in difficult battles," the battles are largely internal. Mon Mothma, as a once-important senator, must find ways to support the cause of the Rebels that she believes in, while appearing to be appeasing to the Empire. (More about Mon Mothma later) Cassian Andor must find ways to support people that surround him (whether on a heist or a prison break) while also trying to set himself free. They're both putting on disguises, mostly figuratively, to hide their true selves and their true intensions. Some incidents occur that lights the fuse that will lead to the galactic civil war, but the story is not there yet. The story is laying groundwork for that large set of events by showing us that it starts with the oppression of individuals.

So, while I was mostly right about the larger theme regarding the "costs of victory," I would not call my original guess as accurate to the events that unfolded in season 1 of Andor.

My score: I'm 0/1.

2. When does the story of Andor take place?

I knew going in that this story would begin five years before the events of A New Hope, which is immediately after the conclusion of Rogue One. I was also correct in assuming that there would be flashbacks involving some origin stories about Cassian. However, I also said, "there will be so many more hints and references to future events," which is actually not as apparent as I thought it would be. There is little in the way of referencing details of Star Wars stories and I was quite surprised by this. Most of the series we've had so far on Disney+ really make it a point to reference all kinds of characters and moments from "future" events that it sometimes comes off as fan-service. Not so in Andor. This series, very much like its big-screen counterpart in Rogue One, stands alone just fine because of its heavy focus on characters. It is using its runtime well to let us see these new characters in complicated lives.

The only real reminder of the timeline is in the last shot of the last episode (#12, "Rix Road") and I won't spoil that here. The timeline simply wasn't the focus of the plot which, in my opinion, freed the story to delve onto many paths and ideas. The series is made stronger for it.

So, while I'm technically correct with the timeframe, its importance in my prediction was a miss.


The emotional droid, B2EMO, in ANDOR
B2EMO is a new beloved droid that helps Andor and his mother. © Lucasfilm/Disney.

3. Will we see K2SO?

Wrong again. All the media and previews did not list him as a character and Alan Tudyk wasn't listed in the cast and in spite of that, I said, "I belive a surprise is in store where we will indeed get to witness Andor and K2's first meeting." Well, sad trombone my X-Wing it didn't happen. We did see an Imperial security droid, actually a couple, that sent Cassian's story in a dangerous direction. Apparently this duo's formation will occur later... maybe next season? Instead of K2, we met an earlier droid companion of Andor, B2EMO, a "groundmech salvage assist unit," who was basically part of the Andor family in a surprisingly serious way.


Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly) in ANDOR
Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly) in ANDOR. © Lucasfilm/Disney.

4. What is Mon Mothma's story?

It was a vague statement of mine to write, "I think we'll get answers in what could be an amazing performance that is the opposite of the Emperor when he kept his intentions secret," but I'll give myself a slight bit of credit. For one thing, Genevieve O'Reilly's performance as Mon Mothma was indeed amazing. So much of Andor is about people living two lives (or more) and Mon Mothma has to put on a brave face in front of the entire Imperial Senate, even as its influence is crumbling as the show progresses. She has to keep her intentions hidden as well as her bank accounts! She has to talk in code to Luthen, speak in private while dinner parties are going on, and keep secrets from her own family. There is so much more to her story than I thought would be explored and she is one of several key characters whose stories are still on the verge of collision that the tension is tremendous.


Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) in ANDOR
Saw Gerrera is even taken by surprise at the costs of war. © Lucasfilm/Disney.

5. How did Saw Gerrera become extreme?

My thoughts before his appearance in Andor were, "perhaps we will see what his torturous past may have done to him and causes him to go to great lenghts in the fight against tyrrany." His "extremist" ways that are mentioned in Rogue One are not fully developed here. I was surprised that he was more the ready-to-go hero that we often think of in the Rebellion. It is Luthen who must convince Saw of the terrible sacrifices they must make to secure harder victories down the road. At this time, Saw isn't the one who tips the scales of the Rebels' efforts to a radical degree. It is Luthen who is far ahead of everyone else and sees the larger picture of how the rebellion must move in order to survive. Saw can hardly believe what Luthen proposes but eventually Saw gives in. It is a sobering moment and one of my favorites in this season with the awesome performances by Forest Whitaker and Stellan Skarsgård.


6. Is Order 66 felt by everyone?

My prediction started off well enough when I wrote, "One thing Rogue One did was not have a focus on Jedi or the Force, and it looks like this series may double-down on that conceit." It sure did. This is the first series not to show any Jedi or lightsabers at all! However, I also hoped, "for some reflection, somewhere, about the aftermath of Order 66" where the Jedi became outlaws. Nope. That really wasn't in here. This is war and the Jedi have basically been wiped out. The people of the galaxy can no longer count on their help and counsel. Belief in the Force still exists, but its peaceful guardians are gone so the people themselves must find the courage to rise up. In a way, Andor shows how the vacuum left by the absence of the Jedi made it possible for the Empire to assume control of the galaxy and its people.


7. What about the Senate and the Emperor?

"I hope he shows his ugly face in Andor" were my exact words. Wrong again. We don't see Palpatine but his influence is everywhere. Every Imperial officer shares his evil outlook as innocent people get tortured and imprisoned and made into slaves for their mechanizations to control everything. Wherever good people go, there is the Empire to make life miserable for them. So the Emperor's there, just not on-screen at all.

1/7. I'm not doing so well, but that's not a bad thing.

8. Andor as a spy?

Okay I think I got this point but it was fairly obvious from the outset that Cassian would be undercover; I just didn't know how many times and to what extent he would need to keep his true self hidden. I said this series would show "Andor and others trying to find weaknesses in the Empire in order to bring it down" and that, too, is true. But again it was bigger and more important than I could have imagined! There are many instances of this from the character of Syril Karn to the prison episodes. Syril is all-in on the Empire's stance toward what it sees as criminals--so much so that he believes he's fighting for real justice. For me, he may well be the breakout character of this whole story, marvelously portrayed by Kyle Soller. So, yes, Andor did do spy stuff, but he does so much more in the 12-episode series that his job, or any tasks he must accomplished, are made miniscule by his ambition. I was right, but it was only a piece of what we would get from his character!


Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsg
Luthen Rael is the key to secretly organizing the early Rebellion. © Lucasfilm/Disney.

9. What is Andor not proud of?

This referes to a line by Cassian from Rogue One where he talks about all the things he, and the rebels, have been through to get where they are. I said, "I think it's an assured idea that our Rebels here will walk the line of morality in their conflicts." I was right about that, but that doesn't mean they were without morals. The townspeople of Ferrix had many good and honest people from Bix to Brasso whose lives would be tumultuous because of Andor's actions. They were steadfast in their ethics, even when the Empire pushed them down. To push back against the tyrrany of the Empire necessitated harsh actions and it really centers around the doings of Luthen Rael who seems to be the cornerstone of the rebellion's rise. He makes the hard decisions, he has to convince others that the idea of rebellion against such boundless evil will require a multitude of sacrifices. In what is arguably a pivotal scene in Andor that relates to the entirety of Star Wars, and one of the best speeches in sci-fi ever, lays this out best. While I set out to not spoil anything from the series in this article, I cannot mention this theme of sacrifice without mentioning Luthen's delivery. Here is his speech, a modern-day soliloquy:

Calm. Kindness, kinship. Love. I’ve given up all chance at inner peace, I’ve made my mind a sunless space. I share my dreams with ghosts. I wake up every day to an equation I wrote 15 years ago from which there’s only one conclusion: I’m damned for what I do. My anger, my ego, my unwillingness to yield, my eagerness to fight, they’ve set me on a path from which there is no escape. I yearned to be a savior against injustice without contemplating the cost, and by the time I looked down, there was no longer any ground beneath my feet. What is... what is my sacrifice? I’m condemned to use the tools of my enemy to defeat them. I burn my decency for someone else’s future. I burn my life, to make a sunrise that I know I’ll never see. No, the ego that started this fight will never have a mirror, or an audience, or the light of gratitude. So what do I sacrifice? Everything.


10. Who are the Bothan Spies?

Now this was just wishful-thinking on my part. I had mentioned, "Their purpose, their origin, and their actions are still veiled in much mystery even after all these years." They still are now. "I'd love for this series to show them at their best." The show didn't show them at their best because it didn't show them at all. Again, that is okay and perhaps they will show up next season--there I go with more wishful-thinking. They are not necessarily needed but it could be an addition to Star Wars lore if the writers so choose. So far, the writers of this program haven't focused so much on lore, but on what the lore means and what the lore represents. This is a program about fighting. Fighting for freedom, fighting for others, fighting for what's right. We talk about these ideas in our real lives now, but what does "fighting" really mean? If we hold ideas like freedom valuable, then what happens when that idea is put in danger or taken away. When must we fight? And if we must fight, what does that fighting entail. It means violence. It means righteous indignation. It could mean sacrifice. I didn't know this show would drive those points so hard that I would forget that this is a Star Wars show only to realize that these things get to the very heart, to the awesome reality, of what Star Wars is truly about.


Vel Sartha (Faye Marsay) in ANDOR
Vel Sartha is a Rebel leader on the planet Aldhani and cousin of Mon Mothma. © Lucasfilm/Disney.

So, I only got 2 points out of 10 and that was being generous. This is in no way disappointing. Andor didn't meet my expectations, it blew them out of the water! Any expectations I had regarding the themes of this series were brought triple-fold in the story and characters. This is a rich story with serious outlooks on the problems of fighting evil and the value of human life. It is more than just "a good story that happens to take place in Star Wars," it is an incredible story that dives deeper than ever into some of the grander ideas of Star Wars--emphasis on war. The battles are real, they're about people and they're struggles within themselves as much as the struggles with each other. As kids, we all wanted to be rebels fighting in spaceships against the evil Empire. This is a grown-up show for folks like me who were wide-eyed with wonder about the Star Wars universe but now taking a serious look at what it really takes to be part of a rebellion against evil. So, in many ways, I'm glad I was wrong because the story went above and beyond what I thought it would be while still being true to the galaxy we know. I recommend and encourage you to experience the Andor series for yourself.