Warning! This post contains spoilers for Andor season 1, episode 5.Andor season 1, episode 5 adds another more mature element to Star Wars canon, and it may yet prove to be controversial. The series provides a different outlook on the Star Wars universe, and the Rebellion especially, by showcasing the difficult choices and sacrifices that need to be made to win against the Empire’s oppressive regime. Though Andor is not the first Star Wars property to explore the founding of the Rebellion, it has a distinctly more adult vibe to it, in part due to its subject matter but also because of its approach to world-building and character introductions.
Even though Star Wars is considered a franchise for kids, it has always depicted adult themes. The tolls of war, fascism, slavery, sacrifice, and loss are all explored in great depth. Star Wars has introduced concepts like drugs in the form of “death sticks” and plenty of galactic curse words as well. The insinuation of real-world issues, substances, and language has always been a part of Star Wars, no matter the medium or the story that was being told. Andor has striven to tell a story that is more grounded in reality, one that people can see themselves in and relate to. Using real swear words and showing people’s daily habits all help make Andor’s story and characters feel more real, urgent, and timeless.
A few scenes included in Andor season 1, episode 5, “The Axe Forgets,” take place at the Aldhani Imperial base, the very same location that Cassian’s Rebel group is preparing to rob of its payroll credits. One scene introduces Imperial Corporal Kimzi as he takes a smoke break and stares out over the majestic landscape that Aldhani boasts. Some viewers might think that depicting a character who smokes, no matter how briefly this might be shown on screen, is inappropriate in a franchise that is mainly targeted toward children. Kimzi’s smoking isn’t the only controversial adult element that Andor has inserted into Star Wars canon – a previous episode was subjected to backlash after one character used a well-known English swear word instead of a made-up Star Wars curse word — but these additions are good for the franchise.
Why Andor’s Controversial Canon Additions Are Good For Star Wars
The Star Wars universe is immense, populated with places, species, beliefs, science, and magic that have no basis in our reality. Despite that, Star Wars remains relevant and relatable because of the stories that it tells and the way it treats its characters. Star Wars characters have personalities and habits that the audience can recognize themselves in – people smoke, people swear, they drink, and they make good and bad choices, and that’s a fact of life, no matter how much someone may wish it wasn’t. Andor isn’t shying away from those aspects of reality, making Star Wars’ vast and imaginative setting feel more tangible.
It also makes the characters in the show feel more grounded – they might remind you of someone you know and are not there to simply admire or detest from afar. In a Star Wars show like Andor, which is striving to tell one of the franchise’s most relatable stories yet, these small details can make or break the audience’s immersion. Hearing someone yell “karabast” instead of “sh*t” would break that engagement, especially when coming from a human character. An Imperial Officer throwing away the evidence of their smoke break likewise humanizes that character, forcing the audience to question how or why that person, who does something so innocuous that they themselves might do as well, could have ended up working for Emperor Palpatine’s Empire.
Andor is Star Wars’ grittiest show yet, diving deep into the heart of the Rebel Alliance and Empire and the ordinary people that make up the vast majority of these organizations. The characters, even minor ones such as Corporal Kimzi, feel like they have a purpose within the show. It’s all down to small character details, those that may seem insignificant at first, that play a huge role in making Andor’s characters some of Star Wars’ most interesting to date.
New episodes of Andor release Wednesdays on Disney+.