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tv Andor Examines How Capitalism and Authoritarianism Make an Empire

Star Wars: Andor's first episodes on Disney+ eschew the familiar signs of the Empire in favor of some private corporation - which is part of the plan.

The following contains spoilers for Andor Episodes 1-3, now streaming on Disney+.

The first three episodes of Andor are an experience like Lucasfilm and Ron Howard wanted audiences to have in the first part of Solo. It is very much a familiar Star Wars world -- yet none of the iconic imagery, from Stormtroopers to specific droids, is present. The absence of the Empire is an important point. It shows that they aren't everywhere yet. Those times are coming, because the authoritarianism of the Empire is connected to the capitalism that makes the galactic economy run.

In Star Wars' prequel-era stories, private businesspeople have some level of criminality they have to deal with on top of the government's hassle. When the Republic fell and the Jedi with it, fans thought only the people under the bootheels of the Stormtroopers felt the change. But about ten years after the Empire came to power, whatever big corporation Chief Hyne (Rupert Vansittart) and Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) work for on Morlana One is able to essentially police itself. After Karn's massive screw-up trying to arrest Cassian (Diego Luna) on Ferrix, the Empire will not stay away for long. Karn's journey -- either into the Empire or the arms of the Rebels -- is going to show how fascist governments seize control of private industry just as in the real world.

It's unclear from the episodes and the marketing exactly who Luthen Rael is. "Luthen is different to everything you’ve seen before. He’s very eloquent, he’s very elegant, he’s very intelligent, he’s very informed," Luna said in press materials. Stellan Skarsgârd described his character as "complex and there's a lot of contradiction in him" and said he's "two characters in a way." In the final trailer for Andor, he's seen talking to Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly), a Senator and future Rebel Alliance leader. If Luthen is some kind of corporate magnate or wealthy political donor, he becomes the bridge from the sterile white and gray of the Imperial center to the dirty, grimy colorful world of Cassian and the others.

And it's through Karn's character that audiences will see this play out. Given that he ignored the complacent Chief Hyne, he might have a shot at staying on Morlana One. However, it's anyone's guess if the Empire fires him or locks him up. If he does get to hunt for a new job? He will surely find that all roads lead back to the Empire. Karn likes to do things by the book, and he feels loyalty to others who wear his uniform. The promise of getting a new uniform might be just enough to convince him to pose as a Rebel and spy for the Empire. Karn wants to do the best possible job he can for the company he works for -- but where's a company man to go when there are no companies left?

Andor is set ten years after Revenge of the Sith. That's a decade during which the new government cracked down on the poor while leaving the privileged alone. Audiences will see the moment where that erosion causes an avalanche. For reasons like "security" or "safety," the Empire will swoop into what private corners of life remain. A few of the privileged, such as the previously unexplored Mon Mothma, risk it all for hope of something better. Others, like Karn, trade one cruel master for another.

Even with 24 episodes over two seasons, Andor has a lot of time to cover if it's going to reach its goal of getting its title character to Rogue One. What happens to the unnamed corporation on Morlana One may not figure heavily into the larger story. But taking the time to show how slowly fascism creeps up on society is a story that audiences need right now.

The first three episodes of Andor are now streaming on Disney+ with new episodes premiering Wednesdays.

 

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Joshua M. Patton (189 Articles Published)

Father, veteran, and storyteller. A cunning warrior, the best star-pilot in the galaxy, and a good friend. The first installment of his superhero fiction book, TALES OF ADVENTURE & FANTASY, is available on Amazon in print and ebook!

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