The first few episodes of Andor on Disney+ were a bit of a slow burn, but the show has turned into the best Star Wars small screen adaption so far! There are no Jedi masters or Sith lords. The “force” is not a topic of conversation. However, the main theme of the hope that builds a rebellion is a call back not only to the Rogue One movie, but to the very first film, Star Wars: A New Hope. Here are three things I noticed, learned, or loved about season 1 of Andor. (SPOILERS FOR SEASON 1 OF ANDOR FOLLOW).
1. You are the protagonist of your own story.
The show is called Andor after its supposed star. But Cassian is rarely the focus of the story. The show could easily be named after Luthen, Mon Mothma, Maarva, Kino or a host or other “side” characters who play leading roles in the direction of the story. Each of the characters named above have similar goals, but their attempts to accomplish their individual objectives all take vastly different looks based on their personalities, their skills, and their means. Mon Montha plays the pollical game and wears the necessary masks to keep her high position. Luthen admittedly sacrifices his standards and uses the tools of the enemy to fight the empire. Even in death, Maarva uses words to rally an entire city to the cause.
We all may sometimes feel like the side characters in our story. But the role we play is our own choice. What are your goals? How can you uniquely use your skills, personality, and means to reach your own objective? Be the hero!
2. “A sunrise I know I’ll never see.” / “I can’t swim.”
In the tenth and best episode of the season, One Way Out, we get two speeches from two talented actors, Andy Serkis and Stellen Skarsgard, that should give hope to all who work toward a “greater good.” First, when Luthen is asked what he has sacrificed, he despondently lists the good things in life that he has willingly given up. In a beautifully delivered monologue, Luthen grabs our hearts, invokes our pity, and makes us instantly believe in the rebellion. He has forfeited all the good and goodness of life because he believes in “a sunrise [he knows he’ll] never see.”
Likewise, Kino inspires the prisoners to their freedom. Most (or maybe even all but two) of them do not survive, but they would rather “die trying to take [the empire] down than die by giving them what they want.” In the end we learn that Kino gave that speech, led the breakout, and inspired hundreds to freedom, knowing full well that there was no possibility of his own escape. The prison is surrounded by water. And he cannot swim.
3. A new perspective on the one’s ability to “try.”
One of the most famous quotes in Star Wars lore comes from Yoda. “Do or do not. There is no try,” Yoda claims. As a Star Wars enthusiast, I have spent time trying to understand this quote. Does he mean that you must set out to do something and let fate determine if you are successful? Does he mean that the force will make you successful if you do not doubt? Or… is this one of the times that the Jedi were blinded by their own arrogance?
Perhaps those in power have the luxury of do-or-do-not-ing that is not afforded to the average citizen of the empire. The humility associated with the need to try is emphasized in the 12th episode titled Rix Road. Cassian finally gets to read the manifesto written by the departed optimist-soldier Karis Nemik. From the first line of the call to arms, it is evident that it could not have been written by a do-or-do-not loyalist:
“There will be times when the struggle seems impossible. I know this already. Alone, unsure, dwarfed by the scale of the enemy. Remember this. Freedom is a pure idea. It occurs spontaneously and without instruction. Random acts of insurrection are occurring constantly throughout the galaxy. There are whole armies, battalions that have no idea that they’ve already enlisted in the cause. Remember that the frontier of the Rebellion is everywhere. And even the smallest act of insurrection pushes our lines forward. And then remember this. The Imperial need for control is so desperate because it is so unnatural. Tyranny requires constant effort. It breaks, it leaks. Authority is brittle. Oppression is the mask of fear. And know this, the day will come when all these skirmishes and battles, these moments of defiance will have flooded the banks of the Empire’s authority and then there will be one too many. One single thing will break the siege. Remember this. Try.”
The manifesto, ending with a desperate call to “try,” is inspiring, if not to powerful Jedi, then to a common citizen yearning for freedom. Maybe Yoda was right in declaring his absolutes: do or do not. But then again, only a Sith deals in absolutes. Maybe there is room for setting out with the best intentions, giving your best effort, trying.