“Andor” skyrocketed: It was about the Force, not the Force, of the Star Wars universe

This article contains spoilers from the season finale of Andor.

In a corner of the Star Wars galaxy, you’ve got the eeeeevil Sith Lord Emperor Sheev Palpatine crackling with Force illumination as he fries Jedi Master Mace Windu in a crisp, yelling “POWAH! POWAAAAAAH UNLIMITED!”

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

“Maybe slightly,” she says. “Pockets, piping. A little light tailoring.”

Several years separate these two events and they exist on different orders of magnitude. The Emperor and all his cackles and crackles belong to the mythic, to the macro Star Warss – Joseph-Campbell’s hero’s quest from George Lucas’ original vision, which combined sprawling space opera with the high adventure of Saturday movie serials: tight escapes, thrilling stunts, and hiss-worthy villains.

But about up Andor, you have villains like Syril Karn. They’re not exactly hiss-worthy, these pathetic, clueless wrestlers. Their constant desire for recognition and advancement, not to mention their obsession with the aesthetics of fascism (Piping! Light tailoring!), makes them more noteworthy.

Which is exactly why Andor it works as fresh, singular and powerful as it does.

Force with a lowercase “f”.

Karn and his colleagues are dedicated to the cause of fascist oppression (which they are careful to refer to only as “order”) with a zeal that is nowhere near gross. It is not mythical, religious or even passionate. Instead, they are driven by institutional imperatives that rid their souls of empathy, compassion and understanding and reward them for ruthlessness, cruelty and, above all, efficiency.

Who is the showrunner here, Hannah Arendt? Because while we were watching the first season of Andor played in a series of mini-arcs over its 12 episodes, we got to see the inner workings of the Empire. IS The Banality of Evil: The Series.

The Star WarsToday’s movies showed us an empire that was evil because it destroyed planets and went after our brave heroes. Of course, there were always the gray-uniformed Space Nazis milling around in the background, and the few who landed acting roles – Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin, for example – were possessed with the cold wit of a Saturday serial villain, in contrast with Vader’s relentless menace and the Emperor’s exaggerated mustache twirl. They were all in one piece, larger than life.

But the fascist functions of Andor – Syril Karn, Dedra Mero, Major Partagaz, Supervising Lieutenant Blevins and others – they are cogs. Hardworking, dedicated cogs who appreciate the machine they’re a part of, even if they each believe they could be more useful somewhere else.

There is the Force and there is the force: blunt, brutal and dehumanizing. In AndorAgain and again we have seen the latter variety exert its unabashed influence, not on entire planets, but on individual lifetimes. The public display of Andor’s father’s corpse. Andor’s judgment and six-year sentence not but truly forever for vagrancy. The exploitative and endless work of Narkina 5. The frighteningly cheerful and realistic torture of Bix. The cumulative result was heartbreaking and personal and inevitably, strangely, relevant.

As well as the resistance portrait of the season.

Andor he walked so Luke could Skywalk

The Star Wars the movies argue that a galaxy can be saved from tyranny by a handful of heroes – and, yes, a number of easily exploitable design flaws in space stations.

Andor showed the growing discontent and anger that gives rise to heroes. In many different ways, for their own individual reasons, the characters of Andor decide to rise up and fight, because totalitarianism is an unnatural state; generates resistance.

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

ON Andor, we watch as that grip tightens 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 slip away. Yes, lives are lost and compromises are made – that’s what Luthen’s monologue in Episode 10 is all about, the freedom fighter’s excruciating loneliness.

But Andor it shows us that the fall of the Empire is and always has been inevitable, Skywalker or no Skywalker. It’s baked, the inevitable 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 Andori first season stand out. Back in 1977, at his aunt and uncle’s Tatooine Moisture Farm, we all watched Luke Skywalker inform C-3PO, “If there’s a bright center of the universe, you’re on the planet from which it’s furthest away.”

This turned out to be a lie. For several reasons, most notably the unhealthy infatuation with nostalgia/fanservice that continues to haunt the franchise, the Star Wars the powers that be keep booking us passage back to that same damn featureless sand planet. Even the otherwise excellent The Mandalorianswhich mostly traffics in the same ground-level interplanetary action Andor ago, it couldn’t resist the siren song of the Krayt dragons of Tatooine and the Tusken Raiders. (And despite a first season that she managed to step out of the shadow of what came before, even the gravitational pull of Jedi temples and lightsabers proved too strong to handle. The Mandalorians to escape.)

Looking forward to the second and final season of Andor, we know a few things. Mon Mothma will be exposed and run away (she seeks her daughter to betray her). Cassian is to meet K-2SO. Karn and Mero are wildly dysfunctional, in boots foil-a-deux maybe he will see them a-deuxing each other. (Personally, Karn’s infatuation with Mero seems more to do with his crazed obsession with authority than with anything purely sexual; see above, in re: “Pockets. Piping. Some light tailoring.”)

And at least a few of our favorite gray- or white-suited Imperial apparatchiks will end up on the Death Star as it meets its fateful end.

We know this. This we can only hope:

That everything will happen as far from %##*& as possible! Tatooine possible.

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