The first season of Andor, a prequel series focusing on Cassian Andor, introduced in Rogue One, has proved to be essential viewing for all Star Wars fans.
Warning! The following article contains spoilers for the first season of Andor as well as previous Star Wars films, including Rogue One.
If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ve had some ups and downs lately. J.J. Abrams brought the space opera back magnificently with The Force Awakens in 2015, but after a controversial middle part – Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi – the trilogy came to a conclusion not with a bang, but with a subdued whimper with 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker.
Thankfully, we still had The Mandalorian. Who didn’t fall in love with Grogu and Mando’s tender relationship? But with Pedro Pascal’s star on the rise, thanks to a certain video game adaptation, The Mandalorian isn’t a lasting commitment. In the space of a year we’ve also had two underwhelming series focusing on franchise favourites, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Boba Fett.
No one seemed to really have high expectations for Andor. The prequel series focusing on a supporting character from Rogue One arrived with very little fanfare but Disney had already renewed the series for a second season, which is almost unheard of. A second season before the first has even aired over another season of Obi-Wan Kenobi? Outrageous!
It didn’t take audiences long to figure out why. Andor, created by Tony Gilroy, is a sensational Star Wars show. Gripping, tense and compelling, it’s been a while since we’ve had a show that I’ve been looking forward to watching every week.
There are plenty of things that Andor does right but the biggest one might be the simplest one; it finally shows us what a rebellion looks like. And let me tell you, it’s not pretty.
Star Wars has always been inspiring, but it’s also been very black and white. The Empire is evil while the rebels are inherently good. Rogue One, Gareth Edwards’ prequel film about a group of rebels attempting to steal the Death Star plans, finally gave us a slightly more nuanced look at what it really means to fight for freedom.
This was mostly thanks to Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor, a hardened freedom fighter who has done some questionable things in his past. While Andor is named after Cassian, its scope is much larger than the contribution of just one man towards what would eventually become the Rebel Alliance. As a whole, the series showed the price of freedom; sacrifice.
Of course, Star Wars fans aren’t strangers to sacrifice. Many have given their lives in the Star Wars universe in the fight for a better tomorrow; Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Nemik, Admiral Ackbar, countless innocent civilians at the hands of Imperial troops. But Andor shows the painstakingly personal hits that many took in order to allow the Rebellion to, well, rebel.
The season one finale of Andor gives Cassian’s mother, Maarva Andor, a rousing speech about fighting another day against the Empire. Only she gives it via hologram, as her body has been carried away in the previous episode. While Maarva seems to have died of natural causes, her fighting spirit remains firmly on Ferrix as she reminds the citizens to keep fighting. In many ways, she’s the very heart of this grassroots rebellion which would grow into a galaxy-wide movement.
Cassian has lost his mother and has spent most of the season hiding and using different pseudonyms to avoid capture, but he is far from being the only one having to make sacrifices. Bix, Cassian’s ex-girlfriend, has sacrificed her sanity after being tortured for information.
Mon Mothma, the senator secretly funding the rebellion, nearly sacrificed her career but ends up offering her only daughter for marriage and successfully lies about her husband’s gambling addiction in order to fool the Empire officials, always listening in, to believe he’s to blame for her suspicious transactions.
Luthen, a force to be reckoned with behind the scenes of the rebellion, gave a powerful speech about his lost humanity for the cause in the penultimate episode. “ 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,” Luthen mused.
His sacrifice, perhaps the greatest of them all, was eloquently put into words, spoken with gravitas by Stellan Skarsgård: “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.”
Andy Serkis’ Kino also fought for a brighter future he would never come to see. Kino was the reluctant leader of the rebellion within Narkina 5, the sadistic prison in which Cassian is imprisoned. The leader of his unit, Kino never wanted a rebellion but after learning none of the prisoners would ever live as free men, he led a passionate, relentless attack to free himself and others.
Except, Narkina 5 was surrounded by water. As others jumped off the deck to the depths of the sea, Kino was frozen. “I can’t swim,” he tells Cassian, who is soon pushed off into the water, forced to leave Kino behind. Kino was not seen after that, leaving his fate unknown. Did he sacrifice his life for others to run free? Or was he re-captured, forced to build more parts for what was revealed to be the Death Star in a post-credits scene? Or perhaps he did jump in the end, dying a free man.
Cassian has already been through the wringer in the first season of Andor, and while there’s no plot details for season two, we know that eventually Cassian will sacrifice himself for the cause. At the end of Rogue One, he perishes while holding Jyn Erso as the Death Star wreaks havoc on the planet of Scarif. Cassian’s story is defined by sacrifice, by fighting the good fight to the very end and dying not a hero, but a fighter. No other Star Wars film or show has managed to truly rejuvenate or reinvent the franchise quite as Andor has.
While there’s no official release date for season two, Andor will without a doubt continue its more nuanced, complicated exploration of the rebellion. A series that arrived without much demand has made itself into possibly the best Star Wars series out there with a powerful message about the very personal price for the greater good.