Andor Expertly Balances Storytelling With Star Wars Fan Service

Andor Expertly Balances Storytelling With Star Wars Fan Service

A poster shows the characters of Andor, including Mon Mothma, Luthen, and Andor himself.

Picture: Lucasfilm/Disney

As you may know, I’m a big Star Wars nerd. And one of my favorite things in star wars the media is all the little references and easter eggs embedded everywhere. But sometimes that fanservice goes overboard and derails a story in a way that alienates or annoys non-fans. Andor, the newest TV show in the Star Wars universe, not only avoids this problem, but also finds perfect ways to use cheesy Star Wars lore without making it tedious or boring for people who just want to watch a good emission.

Andor, which premiered in late September on Disney+, is the latest entry in the Star Wars franchise and takes place before the events of the original Star Wars movie and the Rogue One movie. It follows the life of Cassian Andor, played by Diego Luna, as he navigates a galaxy controlled by the Evil Empire. He’s not yet the rebel we know from Rogue One, but during this season and presumably next season, he’ll become the man we met in this popular spin-off.

Disney / Lucasfilm

People across my timeline have loved Andor. Even people who had already completely given up on Star Wars are back and enjoying every minute of the show. Many of them happily point out that the show isn’t a giant excuse to do fan service every week. But oddly enough, Andor has some of the coolest and most interesting bits of Star Wars lore of anything Star Wars in years; it’s just handled so well that most people miss it.

A great example comes from how the show handles Cassian’s home planet. In the first episode of the show, we learn that Cassian was born and raised on the planet Kenari. It was recently created for Andor, which gave showrunner Tony Gilroy more freedom to do whatever he needed with it and its inhabitants. But, technically, we already knew Cassian’s home planet, and it wasn’t Kenari. Around the time Rogue One was released, Lucasfilm released various book tie-ins. A reference tome listed the homeworld of Andor as Party, a former Star Wars planet that first appeared in the Dark Forces game. So at first I thought the show just retconned that origin. It didn’t bother me too much, as I always prefer Star Wars media to focus on story rather than lore.

But then, in episode two of Andor, we learn that Fest was a lie that Cassian and his adoptive mother told everyone to hide the truth about where he really came from, Kenari. For most viewers, this scene wasn’t so bad: Cassian lied because he was trying to hide where he came from, understood. But for Star Wars nerds like me, it was a fantastic way to recreate something using Star Wars lore while honoring a reference book from years ago. And it didn’t interfere with the show at all, allowing normal, non-Star Wars sufferers to enjoy the show without rolling their eyes at forced fan service.

Lucasfilm/Star Wars explained

Andor is filled with Star Wars lore and connections like this that it slyly unfolds in a way that makes sense to mainstream audiences, but has deeper and more interesting connections to decades of earlier Star Wars material. franchise. And unlike the last Star Wars show, the fun (though not as good) Obi Wan Kenobi, Andor doesn’t get tangled up in fan service that distracts from the story and the real characters. Referees are there to find in Andor, if you care, but that’s totally fine if you just want to enjoy the thrilling ride instead.

For instance, Mon Mothma’s daughter, Lieda, is not a brand new character, but rather a very deep character that barely existed in the old Star Wars Expanded Universe. So her appearance on the show not only brought her into canon, but was a lot of fun fan service that didn’t sit well with most viewers.

Likewise, the kyber crystal that Luthen Rael gives Cassian as payment for assisting in a heist has its own subtle connection to ancient Star Wars lore. Of course, many viewers are probably vaguely aware that a kyber crystal powers lightsabers. And many also probably recalled that we saw previously Rogue One heroine Jyn Erso wearing a similar necklace. But while people looked at the crystal and said, “Oh, that’s a thing I kind of know…” Luthen drops one of the coolest elements of the show, explaining that the crystal “famous uprising against the Rakatan invaders”. It could have set off alarm bells in the minds of all the fans who played Knights of the Old Republic.

A screenshot from a comic showing a screaming Rakatan alien warrior in space.

It’s because the Rakatans were created for this game. They were an ancient race of super-powered aliens who may have invented the hyperdrive and at one time controlled the galaxy as part of their Infinite Empire. Technically, they’ve already been mentioned in canon, but this is really the first major reintroduction of the species. Thinking about how they might work in future Star Wars stories set far in the past excites me a lot.

Speaking of video game references, in Luthen’s shop – which is full of fun Easter eggs that could fill an entire blog of its own – we see what appears to be a costume from Sith Stalker Armor as first seen in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. This game and its main character, Starkiller, are no longer canon, and this armor that appears in Andor doesn’t change that. But it could hint that maybe one day parts of Force Unleashed will be reintroduced into the modern Star Wars universe. I mean, if Jaxxon is hot these dayseverything can happen.

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But all of these deep references and pieces of fan service have probably never been spotted by 90% of people who watch Andor, even if some of them are directly related to the plot or the characters of the series. It’s an impressive feat to achieve, and based on interviews with the show’s creatorTony Gilroy, a lot of this was included by Lucasfilm nerds and not himself. He recently told Variety that he works closely with lore experts like Pablo Hidalgo to make sure he doesn’t do anything that breaks the Star Wars universe. But for him, his real focus is the story of Andor and its characters, not references to textbooks or old video games.

“The art department is going to sneak through all that crap in Luthen’s gallery,” Gilroy told Variety. “I had no idea. Like, ‘Oh my God, the thing in the background!’ and people are blowing it. It’s the art department. So many cool people working on the show. There’s a deep geekdom in Pinewood, believe me.

This is how it should be. If Disney wants to keep making amazing Star Wars productions like Andor, it should bring in more creators and directors like Gilroy. People who, of course, may not be the biggest Star Wars fans in the world, but who have some interesting stories to tell. Let these folks create some cool stuff while the nerds at Lucasfilm fill in the gaps with fan service that excites weirdos like me, without ever spoiling the show for everyone else.

I admit it’s a difficult balance to strike, and I don’t expect all future Star Wars projects to be like Andor. In fact, I would prefer a world where you have both shows like Andor, which is for everyone, and shows like Tales of the Jedi, which are good but clearly target Star Wars nerds like me. Star Wars can’t grow if it only focuses on its huge fans, and Andor shows that when you expand the franchise and do something different, not only do you end up appealing to longtime Star Wars nerds like me, but you’re also reaching a whole new audience that might never care about Star Wars in the first place. Also, Andor is really, really entertaining, so more shows like this seem like a good thing to me.


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