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I’m far from the only person to use this expression to surmise Andor, but it’s so true: the Star Wars story we didn’t know we needed.
Released exclusively on Disney+ (as is almost everything Star Wars-related now), Andor follows the backstory of Cassian Andor, the strong-willed rebel introduced in Rogue One. We learn where he comes from and how he turned into the fight-or-die maverick he is.
It’s a series for Star Wars traditionalists in many ways, but it also holds a certain appeal for the newer generation. Uniquely, it also has strong reviews among non-fan critics.
I’ve explained everything you need to know in this Star Wars: Andor overview.
Key Details Up Front
A prequel to the well-received story Star Wars: Rogue One. Andor follows the charismatic character Cassian Andor and how he became involved with the Rebellion.
Throughout, the series explores the themes of loss and sacrifice. Cassian himself grows from a self-pitying thief to a hero.
If I had to sum Andor up in one phrase, I’d say it’s something different without upending Star Wars as we know and love it. And that deserves praise in and of itself.
Andor contains quick glimpses into Cassian’s past, spread out through the episodes. In the end, we gather that a young ‘Kassa’ (Andor’s birth name) and his sister lived on a mining colony called Kenari with other young people. When a Republic freighter crashes nearby, the crew attacks the tribe.
After their leader is killed, they rally and defeat the Republic officer. Kassa hides in the wreckage. The fate of the rest of his tribe is left unknown, and as Maarva and Clem Andor search for valuables, they come across the scared boy and take him in. He takes on a new name to protect his identity: Cassian Andor.
They live in relative peace on Ferrix until 18 BBY: the fall of the Republic. The Imperial clone stormtroopers arrive to scenes of unrest. Clem tries to calm his neighbors but is mistaken for a protest ringleader and hanged on Rix Road.
The young boy continues to live with his mother, Maarva, and her droid companion, B2EMO. He gains a criminal record for petty theft and other such disturbances but isn’t a serial lawbreaker. At some point, he and Bix Caleen enter a relationship that breaks down because of his constant traveling.
That all changes when Cassian heads to Morlana One in search of his still-missing sister. After two local security officers try to rob him, he fights back, accidentally killing one. Realizing this, he executes the other and flees to Ferrix with a valuable Starpath Unit, asking Bix to find him a black-market buyer.
She does, but Timm (her boyfriend) becomes suspicious and jealous. Betraying Cassian, he calls Pre-Mor Security, who come to Ferrix to arrest him. They’re led by Syril Karn, a strong-willed (but naive) deputy in the service.
In the ensuing carnage, Cassian meets the black market buyer – a Rebel ringleader, Luthen Rael. He explains he’s not interested in the Starpath Unit and instead wants to hire him. With few other choices as the Pre-Mor Security squads close in, Andor accepts and leaves. Timm is also inadvertently killed by a rookie officer.
Cassian is taken to Aldhani and joins a Rebel cell hiding near an Imperial base led by Vel Sartha. Luthen returns to Coruscant, reprising his role as an antique dealer and meeting Senator Mon Mothma to discuss Rebel funds.
Syril Karn is fired, while ISB officer Dedra Meero takes a particular interest in the incident on Ferrix.
Cassian joins the Rebels for their heist. In the ensuing chaos, two of their number are killed (Gorn and Taramyn), and one is left behind (Cinta), but they get away with the base’s payroll. While taking off, Nemic, a young boy, is crushed by a large crate, suffering a severe injury that leaves him paralyzed.
They fly to Frezno for medical aid, but he dies on the operating table. Skeen, a mercenary, proposes to Cassian that they escape with the money. Andor kills him instead, finding him an untrustworthy reflection of himself. He then returns Nemic’s manifesto to Vel and takes his promised payment.
The ISB begins to crack down on liberties on Ferrix, oppressing and enraging the local populace. Luthen is pleased, despite the oppression. The more the Imperials become hated, the more Rebels will join the cause. Dedra Meero understands that this course of action will have difficult consequences for the Empire.
Fleeing the Empire
Cassian returns quietly to Ferrix, where he tries to persuade Maarva and Bix to run away with him. They, though, refuse to flee, with his mother taking a firm stance and preparing to fight despite her ill health. He goes to Niamos, where he lives in relative comfort for a month. Bix is arrested and brutally interrogated for information. Meanwhile, Kleya (Luthen’s assistant) orders Vel to find and kill Cassian to protect Luthen’s identity.
On Niamos, Andor is unlawfully arrested and sentenced to six years in prison after the Empire’s changes to galactic law. In prison, he’s forced to work in the labor section, building equipment for the Empire. He and his team, including Ruescott Melshi (of Rogue One fame), are overseen by the floor boss, Kino Loy.
Eventually, an incident on Narkina 5’s Level 2 results in the entire floor being killed. The prisoners discover that nobody is ever let out; they’re simply transferred to a different prison. Cassian persuades Loy to lead a prison escape, giving the men the only shot they have at freedom. After breaking free from their floor, Loy inspires the remaining prisoners through a motivational speech broadcast across the prison.
He then leads the men to jump for their freedom into the sea. It’s only here that he pauses, revealing that he can’t swim, and stays behind, awaiting an unknown fate.
Andor and Melshi escape, parting ways to ensure that one of them can spread the news of the Empire’s oppression. Cassian heads back to Ferrix.
Culmination on Ferrix
Meanwhile, Mon Mothma has run into trouble. An error in her accounts might expose her as covering up her Rebel funding. She goes to an old friend, Tay Kolma, a banker, to ask for help. He reveals that he can’t assist but introduces her to Davo Sculdun, an untrustworthy businessman with the necessary skillset and resources. He asks for no payments but instead looks for an introduction between his son and her daughter, potentially leading to marriage. Mon Mothma is caught with no choice.
Syril has also found Dedra Meero and passed over all his information on Cassian Andor. He wants to work for her, but she repeatedly refuses. His nature becomes obsessive.
Maarva dies while Cassian is away. Meero encourages the funeral procession as bait for Andor.
During the funeral on Ferrix, B2EMO plays a holorecording of Maarva, taken before her death. In it, she encourages the citizens to rise up and fight the Empire, causing a riot in which Dedra Meero is almost killed. She’s saved by Syril Karn, who has also learned of the funeral. Luthen, Vel, and Cinta arrive to assassinate Cassian. In the ensuing chaos, he rescues Bix and takes her to a cargo ship with B2EMO to escape.
He, though, follows Luthen, hiding on his ship. Rael has watched the growing Rebellion with a smile, recognizing his plan is working. Cassian confronts Luthen and gives him a blaster, telling him, “Kill me, or take me in.”
- Kassa – the two Pre-Mor guards corner Cassian and try to rob him. He kills them (half by accident) and flees back to Ferrix.
- Kassa – Cassian finds Bix, and she sets up a meeting with Luthen so he can sell the Starpath Unit.
- That Would Be Me – Timm betrays Cassian and summons Pre-Mor Security as Luthen arrives on Ferrix.
- That Would Be Me – Syril leads a squad to capture him.
- Reckoning – Cassian meets Luthen, who offers him a job and helps him escape from Syril and the Pre-Mor squad, who also kill Timm.
- Aldhani – Luthen drops Cassian on Aldhani to link up with Vel and her squad.
- Aldhani – Mon Mothma struggles to navigate life as a senator and a Rebel supporter, and her link to Luthen is revealed to us.
- Aldhani – the ISB starts to become interested in unfolding events.
- The Eye – Vel’s squad raids the Imperial payroll holding area on Aldhani and successfully completes its mission, taking heavy casualties.
- The Eye – Mon Mothma realizes that almost all senators are either corrupt or too scared to speak against new restrictive legislation.
- Announcement – Cassian returns to Ferrix and tries to persuade Maarva to leave with him. She refuses, telling him to depart.
- Announcement – Dedra Meero and the ISB take more notice of Aldhani, Ferrix, and Cassian.
- Announcement – Mon Mothma brings in help from Tay Kolma to erase accounting evidence of her Rebel funding.
- Announcement – Cassian is arrested unlawfully on Niamos and sentenced to six years imprisonment.
- Narkina 5 – Meero interrogates Syril and gains more information on the Rebels.
- Narkina 5 – Cassian is imprisoned on Narkina 5, meeting Kino Loy and Melshi.
- Narkina 5 – Luthen meets Saw Gerrera and his extremist Rebels.
- Nobody’s Listening! – Bix is brutally tortured by Meero.
- Nobody’s Listening! – Cassian begins formulating an escape plan but can’t persuade Loy to take him seriously.
- One Way Out – Mon Mothma meets Sculdun, betraying her morals and dignity, but she’s left with little choice.
- One Way Out – Cassian and Kino Loy lead a prison escape on Narkina 5.
- One Way Out – Lonni meets Luthen, who lectures him on sacrifice.
- Daughter of Ferrix – Maarva dies after her ill health catches up to her.
- Rix Road – Cassian, Vel, Luthen, Meero, Dedra, and Syril converge on Ferrix. Cassian rescues Bix after Maarva’s funeral hologram inspires a revolution.
- Rix Road – Cassian joins Luthen in the Rebellion.
Everyone can see that Andor’s strongest feature is its storytelling. The arcs span the series from start to finish, linking up with the broader Star Wars story in the process.
Here are some of the most prominent themes that stand out to me.
The Cost of Hope
For me, the most tension in Andor comes from the Mon Mothma/Luthen Rael plotlines. Yes, I know – who would’ve ever thought that space politics could be so interesting?
It’s fascinating, though. I strongly recommend taking the time to rewatch Andor with this in mind.
If either Mon Motham or Luthen slip up, they’ll simply disappear. Both know this. Luthen is willing to take more significant risks for the Rebellion, though; something his peer and financier has yet to see.
The cost of fighting against an almost hopeless cause is enormous. But it’s explored very differently from previous Star Wars stories.
For example, Luke Skywalker is the traditional hero. He’s the go-to good guy, pressing forward to lead the charge and save the day. In contrast, Luthen is the behind-the-scenes orchestrator. The man who will never get any credit and who will likely never be remembered.
He’s willing to sacrifice all this in the name of freedom; not just his life, but his identity and legacy.
I’m sure you’ve clocked onto how I’m leading up to his dramatic, fiery quote. (It’s written in the Key Quotes section below.)
When asked what he’s sacrificed, Luthen seems to scoff and pause for a moment, then launches into one of the best speeches ever to come out of Star Wars.
He’s a dark individual, perhaps, but the Rebellion would have stuttered to nothing without him. For Luthen, the price is that he condemns himself for the galaxy’s greater good. There are also signs of Mon Mothma learning this, as she looks set to marry her daughter off to cover up traces of Rebel activity in her accounts.
Star Wars has always been about ‘hope’. “Help me Obi-Wan” might spring to your mind. The Chosen One (Anakin); Luke; Leia; Rey – these all embody the galaxy’s ‘only hope’.
But what is the cost of hope? This has been alluded to in a few areas, such as Luke’s self-sacrificial actions onboard the Death Star II or Obi-Wan’s gut-wrenching pain as he realizes Anakin Skywalker, his friend and the Chosen One, is gone (in Episode III and Obi-Wan Kenobi).
Andor brings this theme to the forefront. Yes, a person can have hope, but what will it cost (mentioned above)? Cassian starts off with no drive and no reason to fight. Throughout the series, he’s hit in every direction – the deaths of many of his colleagues, rejection from his friends, unlawful imprisonment in Narkina 5, the death of Maarva, and then the attempted assassination from Luthen Rael. Coming through all this, he concludes that without hope, there’s nothing. Thus, like Luthen, he’s willing to sacrifice everything for the cause.
Dealing with Loss
Loss and heartache are also nothing new in Star Wars. Anakin and Padme lose each other. Obi-Wan loses Qui-Gon, almost all the Jedi, and then Anakin too. You might even think of Yoda’s famous quote: “The fear of loss is a path to the Dark Side…”
Loss is everywhere in Andor. First, he loses his freedom by being forced into hiding. Working for Luthen, he witnesses the deaths of most of the inexperienced Rebel force. Leaving them behind, he returns for Maarva and Bix, who refuse to go with him. He’s then placed under arrest for no reason with a six-year sentence.
After escaping, he finds that Maarva has died. During the ensuing skirmishes, many of his friends and neighbors are also mown down. On top of all this, Cassian is looking for his long-lost Kenari sister.
How does one deal with all that loss? Andor starts off with Cassian running away from it all. He’s in hiding, alone, distrustful of anyone who approaches him. Because of this, the losses ultimately start mounting up and reaching a level he can’t cope with.
While in prison, he concedes there’s no reason to live without freedom and mentally commits to the Rebellion. This helps him confront the fear of loss.
Eventually returning to Ferrix, he learns of Maarva’s death. Rather than retreat into hiding, the village stands with her against the Imperials. They take heavy casualties but drive the Empire’s forces back in the name of freedom. The losses here aren’t mourned as worthless; they take encouragement, knowing the price that has been paid.
It’s perhaps best summed up by a line in Kino Loy’s inspirational prison escape speech: “I would rather die trying to take them down than giving them what they want.”
B2EMO’s heartfelt line is also significant – “I don’t want to be alone.”
Bear with me here. This is one of the simplest connections in Star Wars. It’s so straightforward you might miss it!
In Luthen’s passionate monologue, he describes himself as sacrificing everything “to make a sunrise that I know I’ll never see”.
This is a potential nod to the Rogue One ending, where Cassian and Jyn are consumed by the explosion engulfing the horizon. It isn’t really a sunrise, yes, but think about Luthen’s words. He points out that he’ll never have “the light of gratitude”; nobody will know what he did. Indeed, the comments of Mon Mothma in Return of the Jedi reflect this. “Brave people died,” and that’s all you need to know.
Ultimately, the gritty Rebels sacrifice their sunrises in the name of freedom. Because of what they did, future generations (Luke, Rey) can sit and watch the (twin) suns in tranquillity and peace.
They finished the fight and reaped the light. But Luthen and Cassian started it.
What a satisfying full circle.
Luthen Rael – Reckoning
“Wouldn’t you rather give it all at once for something real?
Luthen, as will come to be understood, knows the true value of sacrifice.
Major Partagaz – Aldhani
“Security is an illusion…
In its broader context, Partagaz is talking about how he believes the Empire’s cause is just – how it stands for order and security. In this phrase, though, he also shows the Imperials’ weakness: “security is just an illusion”.
This same thought is mirrored by Nemik’s recording: “Oppression is the mask of fear.”
Karis Nemic – The Eye
It’s the brave final words of a young man. However, this quote also carries through to Rogue One, with B2-SO’s last words to Cassian. Both characters are encouraging him to symbolically overcome and rise above the Empire with their last ‘breaths’.
Luthen Rael – Announcement
“Has anyone ever made a weapon that wasn’t used?
Simple logic, but it’s so true. While Mon Mothma is uncomfortable with Luthen’s direct moves, he pushes forward, refusing to fold. There’s no help otherwise.
Kino Loy – One Way Out
“I can’t swim.
After leading the charge during the Narkina 5 prison escape, Kino Loy reaches the ledge above the ocean and stops. He can’t swim. He essentially sacrifices himself to save everyone else.
Luthen Rael – One Way Out
“… I yearned to be a savior against injustice without contemplating the cost, and by the time I looked down, there was no longer any ground beneath my feet. What’s 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. And the ego that started this fight will never have a mirror, or an audience, or the light of gratitude. So what do I sacrifice? Everything!
This isn’t even the full quote. But it sums up Luthen’s character. For him, it’s all about leading the fight against the Empire at all personal costs to free the galaxy from its grip.
Maarva Andor – Rix Road
“… And now I’m dead. I yearn to lift you. Not because I want to shine or even be remembered. It’s because I want you to go on.
Maarva’s attitude, even in death, mirrors Luthen’s speech about self-sacrifice and the lack of glory that comes with it. She understands the fuel the Rebellion needs – but she, unlike Rael, recognizes that Cassian is the spark.
Cassian’s name is in the title, and he’s arguably the main character, but he isn’t the story’s hero. Not yet, at least. Andor is about how he develops from a self-serving common criminal to an Empire-resisting warrior, molded in Luthen’s example.
Cassian Andor was born Kassa on the planet Kenari in 33 BBY.
Luthen pulls the Rebellion’s strings, orchestrating them in the background. Owning an antique shop in Coruscant, he uses this as a front to develop a galaxy-wide network, fighting against the Empire from the shadows. He has a brutal streak, willing to sacrifice and remove allies. He views the conflict like a giant game of chess, ready to lose pieces to maintain his advantage.
His ultimate goal is to force the Empire into oppressing local populations, thus stimulating independent rebellions throughout the galaxy.
Mon Mothma is one of the few recurring characters from Star Wars canon. We first saw her in Star Wars Episode VI, giving the briefing of the Battle for Endor. Since then, she has appeared in The Clone Wars, Rebels, Rogue One, and the Star Wars comic books.
The Mon Mothma we meet in Andor is also just starting her journey to join the Rebellion (by providing it with secret funds). She is a politician from Chandrila, representing her planet in the Senate on Coruscant.
Throughout every scene she’s in, there’s a real sense of fear that she will be discovered and her world will suddenly crumble.
We first come across Vel on the planet Aldhani. She’s (somewhat unconfidently) organizing the heist that Cassian is recruited to aid. Later, we find out that Vel is also from Chandrila and is Mon Mothma’s cousin.
She’s a driven leader, clearly having a drive for her cause. However, she is still willing to blindly follow orders from Luthen. Over the series, we see her develop as a character following the losses she faces during the successful mission on Aldhani.
Maarva Andor is Cassian’s adopted mother, a scavenger from Ferrix. She and her husband Clem rescue a young Kassa from the wreckage of a Republic ship, fearing what might happen to him. Clem is killed a few years later, leaving her to raise Cassian alone. She’s strong but tired, and determined to do something to help her people.
We don’t yet know a lot about Dedra’s history. Dedra Meero works for the Empire in the Imperial Security Bureau. She is ambitious and trying to climb the ladder at the ISB.
Dedra sees links between the apparently random attacks (organized by Luthen), recognizing that the Rebellion is taking advantage of how different sectors are delegated to individuals without effective information exchange.
Bix lives on Ferrix, working as a mechanic. She previously had a relationship with Cassian and has stayed in close contact despite them not seeing eye-to-eye. She carries the sense of struggle common to all the people of Ferrix.
Bix developed a secret working relationship with Luthen, likely selling valuable items that would benefit the Rebellion. She works alongside her boyfriend, Timm, who eventually gets jealous of Cassian and rats him out when the call for information is issued.
Kino Loy is the managing inmate in the prison on Narkina 5. He runs the shift and manages Cassian and fellow inmates building parts for the Death Star.
One of the best characters in the series, he is initially keen for all the inmates to follow the rules and stay in line. That is until he hears that the prisoners are never released after they finish their sentences and are instead reintroduced to another prison. He leads the push to freedom with the iconic line, “One way out!”
Melshi is imprisoned alongside Cassian on Narkina 5. He’s already sowing seeds of discord between members of his shift.
After the riot, Melshi flees with Cassian before they part ways. Don’t worry, though, Melshi fans! We are almost guaranteed to see more of his story before the fate we know he meets in Rogue One.
Syril is a straight-cut, fresh officer in the Preox-Morlana Security Force (Pre-Mor Security). His ambition and need to do things by the book result in the Ferrix incident and the manhunt for Cassian.
After being removed from duty in disgrace, he returns home to live with his mother. He sees himself as a hero-type character and starts to have a somewhat creepy obsession with ISB Officer Dedra Meero and the Cassian Andor case.
Conclusion: What Did I Think of Andor?
The more you think about Andor, the better it becomes. As many others have described, the first few episodes are a ‘slow burn’. For me, the scene setting takes a little too long. In fact, I’ll hold my hands up and admit that I lost interest around Episode 4, only coming back to it once all the episodes were released.
Andor is undoubtedly the most unique thing that’s happened to Star Wars. It brings something different without causing profound upset among the fanbase. In that, it’s quite impressive.
Thematically, Andor is brilliant. It wraps its story up in a close-knit conclusion, in a way only previously achieved by George Lucas and the collective overarching message throughout Episodes I to VI. Arguably the cleverest thing is that Cassian himself isn’t the main hero; he’s becoming that person thanks to the influences around him. This is undoubtedly an intentional narrative device, making him much more likable in the upcoming Season 2.
I couldn’t recommend watching it enough. As mentioned, you might have to power through the first few episodes, but give it a chance.
It’s worth it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How can Cassian say in Rogue One that he’s “been in this fight since he was six years old”?
Answer: This might be confusing because we’ve just seen that he only joined the Rebellion a few years before the Battle of Yavin.
However, he was born in 33 BBY. At six years old, the year would’ve been 27 BBY. This is long before even the start of the Clone Wars (22 BBY).
The events depicted in the flashbacks on Kenari are of Republic officers (not Imperial). Thus, he’s referring to being in a hopeless fight since he was a child.
Question: Why does Cassian say, “This is a first for me,” when locked up by Saw Gerrera?
Answer: Wasn’t he also interred in the Narkina 5 prison?
There are many possible answers here. Sarcasm? Outright lie? Was he referring to being locked up by Saw and the Rebels specifically?
Perhaps one will be revealed as canon in the future. Just know that it’s far from a continuity error.
Question: What are they building on Narkina 5 in Andor?
Answer: You didn’t watch the post-credits scene, did you?
At the conclusion of Rix Road (53:31), we see what these devices are being put to use on.
It’s part of the Death Star’s firing mechanism.