Andor Expertly Balances Storytelling With Star Wars Fan Service

A poster shows Andor's characters, including Mon Mothma, Luthen and Andor himself.

Picture: Lucasfilm / Disney

As you could know, I’m a big ol’ Star Wars nerd. And one among my favourite issues in Star Wars media is all of the tiny references and Easter eggs embedded in every single place. However generally this fan service goes overboard and derails a narrative in a manner that alienates or bores non-fans. Andor, the latest TV present set within the Star Wars universe, not solely avoids this downside, but in addition finds excellent methods to make the most of nerdy Star Wars lore with out making it tedious or annoying for people simply wanting to observe an excellent present.

Andor, which premiered in late September on Disney+, is the most recent entry within the Star Wars franchise and is ready earlier than the occasions of the unique Star Wars movie and the film Rogue One. It follows the lifetime of Cassian Andor, performed by Diego Luna, as he navigates a galaxy managed by the evil Empire. He’s not but the insurgent we all know from Rogue One, however over the course of this season and presumably the following season, he’ll evolve into the person we met in that fashionable spin-off.

Disney / Lucasfilm

Folks throughout my timeline have been loving Andor. Even individuals who’d beforehand sworn off Star Wars totally are again and having fun with each minute of the collection. Lots of them fortunately level out how the present isn’t an enormous excuse to do fan service each week. However funnily sufficient, Andor has a number of the coolest and most attention-grabbing bits of deep-cut Star Wars lore out of something Star Wars-related in years; it’s simply dealt with so properly that the majority of us miss all of it.

An ideal instance is available in how the present handles Cassian’s residence planet. Within the first episode of the present, we be taught that Cassian was born and raised on the planet Kenari. It’s newly created for Andor, which allowed showrunner Tony Gilroy extra freedom to do no matter he wanted with it and its folks. However, technically, we already knew of Cassian’s residence planet, and it wasn’t Kenari. Again when Rogue One got here out, Lucasfilm launched numerous e book tie-ins. One reference tome listed Andor’s residence world as Fest, an previous Star Wars planet that first appeared within the recreation Darkish Forces. So, at first, I believed the present had merely retconned that origin away. I wasn’t too aggravated by this, as I at all times want when Star Wars media deal with story over lore.

However then, in Andor episode two, we be taught that Fest was a lie that Cassian and his adoptive mom advised everybody to cover the reality of the place he was actually from, Kenari. For many viewers, that scene wasn’t that huge of a deal: Cassian lied as a result of he was attempting to cover the place he got here from, obtained it. However for Star Wars nerds like me, it was a unbelievable technique to retcon one thing utilizing Star Wars lore whereas nonetheless honoring a reference e book from years in the past. And it didn’t intervene with the present in any respect, permitting regular, non-Star Wars sickos to benefit from the present with out rolling their eyes at some compelled little bit of fan service.

Lucasfilm / Star Wars Defined

Andor is crammed with Star Wars lore and connections like this that it sneakily deploys in ways in which make sense for basic audiences, however which have deeper, attention-grabbing connections to the franchise’s a long time of prior materials. And in contrast to the final Star Wars present, the enjoyable (however not practically nearly as good) Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor doesn’t get snarled in fan service that distracts from the precise story and characters. The refs are there to seek out in Andor, when you care, however it’s completely wonderful when you simply wish to benefit from the thrilling experience as an alternative.

For example, Mon Mothma’s daughter, Lieda, isn’t a brand-new character, however as an alternative a really deep-cut one who barely existed within the previous Star Wars Prolonged Universe. So her popping up within the present not solely introduced her into canon, however was a really enjoyable little bit of fan service that didn’t stick out to most viewers.

Equally, the kyber crystal Luthen Rael offers Cassian as cost for serving to with a heist has its personal refined connection to previous Star Wars lore. Certain, many viewers most likely know vaguely {that a} kyber crystal powers lightsabers. And lots of additionally most likely recalled that we beforehand noticed Rogue One heroine Jyn Erso carrying the same necklace. However whereas of us have been wanting on the crystal and going, “Oh that’s a factor I sort of learn about…” Luthen drops one of many coolest bits of lore within the present, explaining that the crystal “celebrates the rebellion towards the Rakatan invaders.” That may have set off alarm bells within the heads of any followers who performed Knights of the Old Republic.

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

That’s as a result of the Rakatans were created for that game. They have been an historical race of super-powerful aliens who presumably invented hyperdrive and at one level managed the galaxy as a part of their Infinite Empire. Technically, they’ve been talked about in canon earlier than, however that is actually the primary huge re-introduction of the species. Pondering how they may work into future Star Wars tales set far up to now has me very excited.

Talking of online game references, in Luthen’s store—which is chockablock with enjoyable Easter eggs that might fill a complete separate weblog—we see what seems to be a go well with of Sith Stalker armor as first seen in Star Wars: The Power Unleashed. That recreation and its fundamental character, Starkiller, are not canon, and this armor popping up in Andor doesn’t change that. But it surely might trace that maybe someday elements of Power Unleashed can be reintroduced into the fashionable Star Wars universe. I imply, if Jaxxon is canon these days, something can occur.

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However all of those deep-cut references and bits of fan service have been possible by no means noticed by 90% of individuals watching Andor, though a few of them straight connect with the plot or the present’s characters. That’s a formidable feat to tug off, and based on interviews with the show’s creator, Tony Gilroy, a variety of this was included by Lucasfilm nerds and never himself. He recently told Variety that he works carefully with lore consultants like Pablo Hidalgo to ensure he’s not doing something that breaks the Star Wars universe. However for him, his actual focus is on Andor’s story and its characters, not references to manuals or previous video video games.

“The artwork division will sneak in all that crap into Luthen’s gallery,” Gilroy advised Selection. “I had no thought. Like, ‘Oh my God, the factor within the background!’ and persons are blowing it up. That’s the artwork division. So many cool folks work on the present. There’s a deep geekdom in Pinewood, consider me.”

That’s the way it ought to be. If Disney needs to proceed to create wonderful Star Wars productions like Andor, it ought to deliver in additional creators and administrators like Gilroy. Individuals who, certain, won’t be the largest Star Wars followers on this planet, however who’ve attention-grabbing tales to inform. Let these folks create cool stuff whereas the nerds at Lucasfilm fill within the gaps with fan service that weirdos like me can get enthusiastic about, whereas by no means ruining the present for everybody else.

I admit, this can be a laborious stability to strike, and I don’t count on all future Star Wars tasks to be like Andor. In actual fact, I would like a world the place we get each reveals like Andor, that are for everybody, and reveals like Tales of the Jedi, that are good however clearly goal Star Wars nerds like me. Star Wars can’t develop if it solely focuses on its huge followers, and Andor reveals that if you increase the franchise and do one thing completely different, you not solely find yourself pleasing longtime Star Wars nerds like me, but in addition attain a complete new viewers which may by no means have cared about Star Wars within the first place. Plus, Andor is simply actually entertaining, so extra reveals like this feels like an excellent factor to me.

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