'Andor' soared - it was about strength, not strength, in the Star Wars universe

‘Andor’ soared – it was about strength, not strength, in the Star Wars universe

This article contains spoilers for the season finale of Andor.

In a corner of star wars galaxy, you have the eeeeeeevil Sith Lord, Emperor Sheev Palpatine, crackling with Force lighting as he fry Jedi Master Mace Windu to an “POWAH! UNLIMITED POWAAAAAH!”

And in another corner – the much dirtier and low-key one depicted in the first season of Disney+ Andor — you’ve got bootlicker, low-level fascist Syril Karn standing at attention as he nervously answers his supervisor’s question about whether he’s altered his uniform.

“Maybe a little,” he said. “Pockets, piping. Some light stitching.”

Several years separate these two events, and they exist in different orders of magnitude. The Emperor and all his cackling and crackling belong to the mythical, to the macro Star warss – the quest for hero Joseph-Campbell from George Lucas’ original vision, which combined a sprawling space opera with the grand adventure of the Saturday movie series – tight escapes, thrilling stunts and hiss-worthy villains.

But more on Andor, you have villains like Syril Karn. They are not really worthy of whistles, these pathetic and thoughtless fighters. Their constant quest for recognition and advancement, not to mention their obsession with the aesthetics of fascism (Piping! Light tailoring!), makes them more worthy of attention.

That’s exactly why Andor works as freshly, singularly and powerfully as it does.

Force with a lowercase “f”

Karn and his colleagues devote themselves to the cause of fascist oppression (which they are careful to call only “order”) with a zeal that is by no means macro. It is not mythical, religious or even passionate. Instead, they are driven by institutional imperatives that race through their souls without empathy, compassion and understanding, and reward them for their ruthlessness, cruelty and, above all, efficiency.

Who is the showrunner here, Hannah Arendt? Because while we were watching the first season of Andor playing in a series of mini-arcs through its 12 episodes, we’ve seen the inner workings of the Empire. This is The banality of evil: the series.

The Star warsThe s movies showed us an Empire that was Evil because it destroyed planets and hunted down our brave heroes. Of course, there were always space Nazis in gray uniforms circling in the background, and the few who had speaking roles – Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin, for example – possessed the cold cunning of a serial Saturday villain, to contrast with Vader’s relentless menace and the Emperor’s exaggerated mustache swirl. They were all in one piece, larger than life.

But the fascist officials of Andor – Syril Karn, Dedra Mero, Major Partagaz, Lieutenant Supervisor Blevins and others – are cogs. Willing, dedicated cogs who enjoy the machine they’re a part of, even though they each believe they could be more useful elsewhere.

There is the Force, and there is the force – brutal, brutal and dehumanizing. In Andoragain and again we have seen this last variety exercise its impartial influence, not on whole planets, but on individual lives. The public display of the corpse of Andor’s father. Andor’s arrest and a not-but-really-eternal six-year sentence for vagrancy. Narkina’s Endless Exploitative Labor 5. Bix’s Frighteningly Shredding and Factual Torture. The cumulative result was heartbreaking and personal and inevitably, oddly, relevant.

Just like the resistance portrait of the season.

Andor walked so Luke could Skywalker

The star wars the movies claim that a galaxy can be saved from tyranny by a handful of heroes – and, yes, a succession of easily exploitable design flaws in space stations.

Andor showed the growing discontent and anger that bring heroes to life. In many different ways, for reasons of their own, the characters of Andor decide to stand up and fight, because totalitarianism is an unnatural state; it breeds resistance.

“The tighter your grip you get,” Princess Leia told Tarkin in Star Wars: A New Hope, “the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”

On Andor, we see this grip tightening around places like Ferrix and Aldhani and Narkina 5 and Coruscant. We watch the people we care about get crushed. But we also watch others sneak in. Yes, lives are lost and compromises are made – that’s what Luthen’s monologue in Episode 10 is about, the heartbreaking loneliness of the freedom fighter.

But Andor shows us that the fall of the Empire is and always has been inevitable, Skywalker or no Skywalker. It is embedded, an inescapable result of the system’s utter disregard for the humanity of the people it seeks to exploit and control.

Anakin was right about the sand

Let’s be real, though.

There is another reason, besides the satisfying clarity of its focus on the individual, that from Andor first season stand out. In 1977, at his aunt and uncle’s Tatooine humidity farm, we all watched Luke Skywalker inform C-3PO: “If there is a luminous center of the universe, you are on the planet whose it is. is the farthest.”

It turned out to be a lie. For several reasons – most notably the unhealthy nostalgia/fan-service craze that continues to haunt the franchise – the star wars the powers that be continue to reserve passage for us to that same ruined, featureless sand planet. Even the excellent The Mandalorianwhich mainly traffics in the same interplanetary action at ground level Andor fact, couldn’t resist the siren song of Tatooine’s Krayt Dragons and Tusken Raiders. (And despite a first season that managed to emerge from the shadows of what had come before, the gravitational pull of temples and Jedi lightsabers also proved too strong for The Mandalorian to escape.)

Looking forward to the second and final season of Andor, we know a few things. Mon Mothma will be exposed and go on the run (looking for her daughter to betray her). Cassian is to meet K-2SO. Karn and Mero are extremely dysfunctional, booted madness-a-two maybe see them a couple each other. (Personally, Karn’s infatuation with Mero seems more to do with his demented obsession with authority than anything purely sexual; see above, in re: “Pockets. Piping. A few light cuts.”)

And at least some of our favorite Imperial apparatchiks in gray or white suits are going to end up on the Death Star as it meets its fateful end.

This we know. What we can only hope for:

That everything will happen this far from %##*&! Tattoo possible.

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