For many years, probably the most pertinent query Star Wars thought to ask was normally some variation of, “Who’s your daddy?” For Luke Skywalker, it was Darth Vader, supply of the younger Jedi’s yearnings and fears. For Vader himself—when he was nonetheless the Anakin Skywalker of the prequel movies—it was nobody; he was immaculately conceived by way of the Drive, supply of his hubris. For Rey of the sequel trilogy, it was (sadly) a Palpatine. The fatherhood pattern has charted a infamous course by way of quite a few different Star Wars chapters, together with latest entries like The Mandalorian and Obi-Wan Kenobi. It’s an odd form of irony, then, that the daddy of Star Wars itself bought Lucasfilm to the Walt Disney Firm in 2012, making Disney the house of—and, when you’ll forgive the metaphor, the daddy to—all future Star Wars tales. The IP sport was afoot.
That’s the sport through which the prequel movie Rogue One landed when it was launched in 2016, and the place its prequel collection Andor nonetheless finds itself right this moment. Now greater than ever, the Star Wars franchise loves to take advantage of its personal nostalgia, typically with the through-line of lineage. Disney inventory calls for that Star Wars proceed churning out content material that gobbles up followers and their cash, and the only means to do this is by refurbishing acquainted tales and characters with new varnish. Andor, lastly, reminded us what fanfiction writers have all the time identified to be true. Initiatives born of highly effective mental property needn’t be stunted by it.
What makes Andor such an enchanting entry within the Disney chapter of Star Wars historical past is that this: The Tony Gilroy-led collection is not a nostalgia piece, even when it does capitalize on pre-existing IP. The present launched with comparatively low viewership and is working on a relatively modest finances. It has a pre-determined variety of episodes forward, and won’t outlast two seasons. Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor is a beloved however not well known determine within the Lucas universe. He’s not a Skywalker; he’s not even Obi-Wan Kenobi. He’s a traditional man, and—curiously—an orphan. Like Rey earlier than her Palpatine pedigree made itself clear, Cassian has no father. (His father determine, Clem, is lengthy lifeless.) Probably the most dominating, instructive presence in his life isn’t an erstwhile mum or dad, or the Drive, or a family tree he’s but to reckon with. It’s the Empire itself.
Andor acknowledges that Star Wars has all the time been political, even when its politics had been too tidy: Empire Dangerous. Revolt Good. So the collection cracks open the superficiality of this binary, laying naked the ethical sacrifices everybody makes within the wake of revolution. Not is the hero swept alongside the tides of rebel as a part of his personal self-actualization. Not can lineage do the work for him. At the same time as Cassian Andor does uncover issues about himself and his household, he does so in overtly political positions: As a baby whose world is destroyed by Imperial overconsumption. As a renegade profiled by callous guards. Within the throes of jail slave labor. His selections have repercussions far past his speedy family and friends, and we get to observe them. As Stellan Skarsgård’s insurgent chief Luthen Rael says in one of many late Andor episodes, “I’m damned for what I do. I yearned to be a savior in opposition to injustice with out considering the price…I burn my decency for another person’s future.”
Andor’s lesson is that the hero’s legacy, and their lineage, isn’t theirs alone. The Skywalker saga is so small compared to your entire galaxy’s freedom. And so Andor’s glorious finale episode, “Rix Street,” opens with the fittingly gut-wrenching picture: A baby constructing a bomb. (One other information level within the fatherhood movement chart: This child has been radicalized as a result of he misplaced his dad to the Empire.)
The kid’s identify is Wilmon Paak, and he’s getting ready for a warfare he is aware of arrived years in the past. The Imperial Safety Bureau is closing in on Ferrix, the house world of Cassian Andor, because the locals collect for the funeral of Cassian’s adoptive mom, Maarva (Fiona Shaw). However the Imperials are removed from the one ones after Cass’s head: Vel (Faye Marsay), Cinta (Varada Sethu), and insurgent chief Luthen Rael are all anxious to see the thief buried, to make sure what he is aware of about their mission by no means falls into the Empire’s clawing fingers.
There was by no means any query of whether or not Cassian—a fugitive once more, following his daring jail escape in episode 10—would return to Ferrix for the finale, but he’s arrived not solely to honor Maarva’s reminiscence however to rescue his ex-girlfriend Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona). The salyard operator has been captive to the Empire and their screaming-child torture machine for much too lengthy now, and by the point Cassian shuttles her to security she’s barely sentient.
In the meantime, on Coruscant, Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) is going through equally momentous struggles. The Empire has taken an curiosity in her household fortune, problematic on condition that she’s secretly pouring cash into the Revolt. To throw the Imperials off her scent, she concocts a superb, determined plan: Throughout a journey by way of the glowing airways of Coruscant, she accuses her husband, Perrin (Alastair Mackenzie), of taking on playing once more. Mon suspects that her new chauffeur is an Imperial spy, and he or she’s proper to imagine he’s eavesdropping on her non-public conversations. So she makes use of Perrin’s common ineptitude in opposition to him, and efficiently convinces the Empire that her money owed are due to a mendacity partner, not a burgeoning coup.
However that doesn’t resolve her cash woes fully. She nonetheless must cowl her money owed, and her best choice is the skeevy Chandrilan banker Davo Sculdun (Richard Dillane), who agrees to facilitate if Mon is prepared to introduce her personal 13-year-old daughter to his 14-year-old son. (Chandrilan custom encourages baby marriage; Mon herself married Perrin on the age of 15. Introducing Leida to Sculdun’s son is pretty much as good as guaranteeing their betrothal, particularly given Leida’s latest indicators of indoctrination in earlier episodes.) It’s a horrible sacrifice, certainly one of many all through Andor’s morally nuanced first season.
Others are feeling the rebel squeeze them, too. Vel, Mon’s cousin, can barely get Cinta to take a look at her lengthy sufficient to recollect they’re in love. And Cassian himself is batting away regrets, satisfied he by no means ought to have left Maarva alone on Ferrix. His pal, Brasso (Joplin Sibtain), reminds him that he “is aware of the whole lot he must know and feels the whole lot he must really feel.” The rebel is now not his non-public combat; now, it’s in his blood. His outdated Aldhani pal, Nemik (Alex Lawther), stokes these fires with a pre-recorded manifesto: “Even the smallest act of rebel pushes our strains ahead,” he dictates. “The Imperial want for management is so determined as a result of it’s so unnatural. Tyranny requires fixed effort. Authority is brittle.”
These actions converge, lastly, throughout Maarva’s funeral, which begins early due to some untimely anvil-clanging from the city bell-ringer. Extra mourners than the Empire authorised collect within the streets, and it quickly turns into obvious that ISB officer Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) and her males have solely superficial management of the gathering. (Do I odor a metaphor?) The parade progresses down Rix Street, and B2-EMO unveils a holo-cast of Maarva within the days main as much as her demise. She addresses the viewers of family and friends with a warning, and a name to arms. “There’s a wound that received’t heal on the heart of the galaxy,” she tells them. “We let it develop, and now it’s right here. It’s right here, and it’s not visiting anymore. It desires to remain.” She finishes her rousing speech as Cassian and the Imperials evade each other. “Struggle the Empire!”
Within the heart of Rix Street, all hell breaks free. Wilmon Paak throws his bomb as former ISB worker Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) sprints to save lots of Dedra. The road erupts in mud and shrapnel. The Stormtroopers unleash fireplace. Folks die, and Andor lets us see it. As Cassian hauls Bix to security, Syril does the identical for Dedra, who can’t appear to fathom what her eyes are telling her: That her former stalker has rescued her from a Ferrix mob. Cassian carts his pals to the shipyard, the place Bix, Brasso, Wilmon, B2-EMO and Co. escape from Ferrix to Gangi Moon. Cassian doesn’t go together with them, a lot to Bee’s whimpering chagrin.
As an alternative, he finds Luthen Rael’s ship, and intercepts Luthen because the insurgent prepares to evade Imperial seize as soon as extra. There, Cassian provides his one-time recruiter a easy selection: Kill him, or enlist him into the trigger. This time for actual. No strings hooked up. No turning again. All collectively now. Luthen’s smile tells the viewers the whole lot we have to know.
And nonetheless, that’s not the tip of the episode. The credit roll, and Star Wars takes a web page from Marvel (one other Disney entity) within the type of a post-credits scene. On this seconds-long epilogue, a pair of sparking droid fingers seem, and the digicam pans again to disclose quite a few robots hauling the unusual gear-like steel items Cassian and his fellow inmates assembled within the Narkina 5 jail. Because it seems, these gears are items to a weapon of mass destruction. Cassian and his fellow prisoners had been, unbeknownst to them, constructing the Loss of life Star.
Might there be a extra splendid ending to Andor’s first season? It’s twisted; it’s obscene. It makes good sense. That Cassian and his crew would labor on behalf of the house station he’d quickly die attempting to destroy is so becoming it’s nearly musical. And it speaks volumes concerning the route Gilroy has tried to wrench the Star Wars universe towards: The IP will solely survive if its chapters evolve past—and even perhaps eclipse—their predecessors. And one of the simplest ways to evolve IP is to interrogate it. How did this occur? Who constructed this technique? Who received, who suffered? We already know the Empire is evil, and the Revolt good, however how did they arrive to be considered that means? Why? Nostalgia could be a supply of inspiration, if it doesn’t first grow to be a entice.
Star Wars remains to be all about its sacred IP, its characters’ lineage. It’s nonetheless about paternity, the current’s accountability to and influence on the longer term. However Andor proved that our understanding of what meaning can and will change. Cassian Andor isn’t essentially a extra fascinating hero than Luke Skywalker, nor Anakin, nor Rey. He’s a unique face on the identical die. However Andor thought to ask a unique query of him: Not “Who’s your daddy?” however “Why does it matter?”
Lauren Puckett-Pope is an affiliate editor at ELLE, the place she covers movie, TV, books and style.