The story of Andor has changed all of our perceptions of the Star Wars saga. I’ve been a fan of all things Star Wars since I was a kid. But within the past few years, I’ve truly been able to appreciate the growth of its storytelling. When we think of the series in general, the things that come to mind are lightsabers, the Jedi, and heroic fights between good and evil. But if we look deeper, we’ll be able to see that within all the action is a message— one that harks back to our reality.
I couldn’t appreciate the underlying themes of Star Wars when I was younger, but I can now. Andor only enhances the stories of previous Star Wars content. While I will always enjoy a good lightsaber duel, I think it’s the realistic depictions of oppression, rebellion, and hope that keep the story going. Andor bases itself on our reality. Some of the best stories shed light on the very real issues our society continues to battle. The same can be said for Star Wars and Andor. I know some may not believe me, but if you keep on reading, your stance on the series may change.
TW: Mentions of colonization, genocide, police brutality, and inhumane working conditions
Before Andor, There Was the Original Trilogy
If you think that Rogue One and Andor were the catalysts of making Star Wars political, think again. Even in Star Wars: A New Hope, the story of Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance is intrinsically tied to anti-imperialism and politics, we just didn’t want to see it. Luckily, there is a source that can attest to the anti-authoritative themes within the films. Who better to talk about it than George Lucas himself?
In a 2018 interview with James Cameron for AMC, Lucas debunks many theories that Star Wars was based on the conservative American ideals of war. In reality, he intended on making America the enemy. Taking influence from the Vietnam War, Lucas was intent on making the “little guys” the heroes of the story. The Rebels were not the Americans, they were the Vietnamese fighters going against the big, bad, American Empire. Lucas states it blatantly, Star Wars has always been political.
You can watch George Lucas’ interview below!
This is nothing new for the science-fiction realm. In many science-fiction stories, the good guys are combatting oppression, war, and government overreach. So, it’s not surprising that one of the most popular pieces of science fiction would be rooted in anti-imperialism. Lucas even comments that while many creators like to focus on the “science” aspect of science-fiction, he was more intent on the social reaction of oppression.
That’s why his stories are so important. Star Wars shows us the human response to imperialism. The flashiness of glowing lightsabers is great, but sometimes the action can distract us from the true storytelling of oppressive regimes, and the brave people who will give their lives to fight against fascism.
Andor Follows Lucas’ Footsteps
I like to think that George Lucas would be extremely proud of the work that Tony Gilroy put into writing Andor. As I’ve stated in past recaps, Andor has never been about showy action scenes, it’s been about the people. The in-depth look at numerous communities and their reaction to the growing Empire is what makes this story unique from the others. These are just everyday people— they don’t have superpowers or heavy artillery to fight back. They’re regular citizens like you and me, which only makes Andor that much more realistic.
Instead of these godlike people fighting back, we can now see ourselves in characters like Bix, Brasso, Maarva, Vel, Melshi, and Cassian. No longer are we getting information about oppressed planets from exposition or a few tossed-out lines of dialogue, we’re seeing it firsthand. Through the eyes of these communities, the evilness of the Empire is heightened to a degree that should make us all do a double-take.
These forms of brutality weren’t lost on me or people online. Our whole world has been dealing with the effects of dictatorship and fascism for years now. And while we ignored our reality, it was fiction that made us aware of the state we’re in. Andor is a mirror to our society, showing us all the good and bad that we’ve been looking away from. Here are just a few examples to help solidify its influence.
The Colonization of Cassian
Even from the first few episodes of Andor, there’s a distinct nod to the devastating effects that colonization has inflicted on communities around the galaxy. Cassian, whose original name was Kassa, lived on his home planet in relative peace. It wasn’t until the Empire began draining the planet of its natural resources, that his people took to action.
Unfortunately, this wouldn’t end well for the indigenous people of Kenari. The audience sees firsthand how Cassian’s entire life is turned upside down by the Empire’s treatment of his planet. His people are murdered in front of his eyes, and he’s taken away from his younger sister. The only way for him to survive is by leaving his homeland behind. Changing his name to Cassian, he is forced to find a new home with his adoptive parents, Maarva and Clem. We eventually learn that the Empire kills off the rest of the Kenari natives, enacting a full genocidal attack to wipe out the planet in its entirety.
This is a direct example of colonization in our real world. While the planet of Kenari is fictional, places like Australia, India, North & South America, Canada, Africa, and so many other countries have suffered from the impacts of colonization. Invaders fought hard to wipe out the native people and force them to assimilate into new cultures. But just like Cassian, these Native Nations fought back, and as a result, are still living today.
When We Take Time To Mourn, Violence Strikes
Andor’s season finale was something that I’ll never forget as a fan. But one moment in particular sat with me after the show ended. Maarva’s funeral was unlike anything we’ve ever seen in Star Wars before. But we have seen something similar in our lifetime. As the people of Ferrix held the procession around the city, playing music while Maarva’s stone is brought to its resting place, the mourners are met with violence.
This scene brought me directly back to the death and vigil of Elijah McClain. Killed unjustly by police, locals and visitors gathered for a “violin vigil” to honor and grieve the loss of the 23-year-old. To their horror, they were soon met with a battalion of rage and superiority from police. In a matter of seconds, men, women, and children were being pepper sprayed, beaten with batons, and shot with projectiles.
Captured in a now-viral video on Twitter, the events that unfold look like a scene from the season finale of Andor. But they aren’t. They are from our reality, only two years ago. Down to the peaceful music, we see clear connections between this fictional story and our reality.
The same can be said for the outrage over the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran. Murdered by “morality police,” communities all over Iran protested against the unjust violence. Police squads have viciously attacked women and their families for publically mourning and protesting her death, making the government’s stance extremely clear. They have no care for human life, just like the Empire. Since Amini’s death, over 185 people have been killed fighting against this oppressive authority. Uprisings aren’t just happening in our backyard, they’re happening everywhere, and we have to be paying attention.
Imprisonment Straight From Reality
Within Andor’s riveting 12 episodes, it was Cassian’s unjust prison sentencing that solidified my real-life comparisons of the show. So many online cried out against the brutal and inhumane practices the prison carried out. But would it surprise you to learn that these institutions are anything but fictional? In the United States, prisoners just like Cassian live and work until they can be free once again, or die. To be frank, this is slave labor, and it’s so profitable to our own American Empire, that we’re unlikely to ever stop using it for our benefit.
Private prisons in this county wouldn’t know what to do without their “labor force.” They’re scared at the very notion of alternatives to incarceration. They show this deep-rooted fear in the way they treat their prisoners. Prisoners rarely get paid for their labor, endure punishments if they refuse to work, and aren’t guaranteed safety.
In line with the Empire, our country profits off of the strife of these prisoners. The private prison industry doesn’t care about its “workforce.” Similar to Cassian’s realization in episode 10, they are disposable. When somebody gets sick or dies in prison, they’re replaced within just a few days. From bogus charges to unethical working conditions, Andor has once again lifted the veil on what is fiction and what is reality.
We Are Our Only Hope
If there’s one thing that Star Wars has taught us over the decades, it’s to keep hope alive. Andor certainly lives up to that expectation in its season finale. While Luthen and Kino have some of the more intense monologues, it’s Maarva’s final words that echo in my ears now.
“I yearn to lift you. Not because I want to shine or even be remembered. It’s because I want you to go on. I want Ferrix to continue. In my waning hours, that’s what comforts me most…It’s easy for the dead to tell you to fight…But I’ll tell you this. If I could do it again, I’d wake up early and be fighting these b*stards from the start. Fight the Empire!”Maarva Andor, Episode 12
This is Star Wars at its core. Yes, the story has always surrounded the atrocities of the Empire, but at the center of that, is hope. From beginning to end, hope is what keeps us alive. Even if you haven’t been paying attention before, you can now. You can fight the forces that wish to tell you to sit and stay silent. That’s what Star Wars and Andor have been about. Even in the darkest of times and against all odds, keep fighting. The other side’s worst fear is that we will never stop resisting for our future.
From its original trilogy to future projects, Star Wars will always remain a piece of artwork that encourages one thing, rebellion against our current reality.
Check out our Star Wars: Andor season finale recap here!
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