As you may know, I am a big old man 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. Andorthe brand new TV show set in the star wars universe, not only avoids this problem, but also finds perfect ways to use nerdy star wars lore without making it tedious or boring for people who just want to watch a good show.
Andorwhich 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 the movie and the movie A thug. 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 A thugbut during this season and presumably next season, he will become the man we met in this popular spin-off.
People across my timeline have liked Andor. Even people who had sworn before star wars are fully back and enjoying every minute of the series. Many of them happily point out that the show isn’t a giant excuse to do fan service every week. But curiously enough, Andor has some of the coolest and most interesting deep cut bits star wars know anything star wars– linked 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 is newly created for Andor, which gave showrunner Tony Gilroy more freedom to do whatever he needed with him and his employees. But, technically, we already knew Cassian’s home planet, and it wasn’t Kenari. Return when A thug came out, Lucasfilm posted various book links. A reference tome listed the homeworld of Andor as Partyan old star wars planet that first appeared in the game dark forces. So at first I thought the show just retconned that origin. I wasn’t too bothered by that, because I always prefer when star wars the media focuses on history rather than traditions.
But then, in Andor episode two, we learn that Fest was a lie that Cassian and his adoptive mother told everyone to hide the truth about where he was really 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 this 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 for normal, non-star wars sick people to enjoy the show without rolling their eyes at a bit of forced fan service.
Andor is full of star wars lore and connections like this that it deviously unfolds in a way that makes sense to mainstream audiences, but has deeper and interesting connections to the franchise’s decades of earlier material. And unlike the last star wars To display, fun (but not as good) Obi Wan Kenobi, Andor doesn’t get tangled up in fan service that distracts from the real story and characters. The refs are there to find in Andorif you care, but that’s totally fine if you just want to enjoy the thrilling ride instead.
For example, Mon Mothma’s daughter, Liedais 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 the old one. star wars traditions. Of course, many viewers are probably vaguely aware that a kyber crystal powers lightsabers. And many also probably recalled that we saw previously A thug 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.
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 the future star wars stories that take place far in the past excite 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 appears in Andor don’t change that. But it could hint that maybe one day parts of Force released will be reintroduced in modernity star wars universe. I mean, if Jaxxon is hot these dayseverything can happen.
But all those deep references and bits of fan service were probably never spotted by 90% of people watching. Andor, although 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 said 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 all this bullshit into Luthen’s gallery,” Gilroy said. 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 continue creating star wars productions like Andor, he should bring in more creators and directors like Gilroy. People who, of course, may not be the greatest star wars fans around the world, but who have 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 look like Andor. In fact, I would prefer a world where we get both shows like Andorwhich are for everyone, and shows how Tales of the Jediwhich are good but clearly targeted star wars dummies like me. star wars can’t grow if he only focuses on his big fans, and Andor shows that when you grow the franchise and do something different, you not only end up pleasing for a long time star wars nerds like me, but also reach a whole new audience that might never have cared star wars in the first place. More, Andor is just really entertaining, so more shows like this seem like a good thing to me.