Star Wars has another prequel in its roster: Andor, its newest Disney+ series. Andor follows Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), the Rebel Alliance intelligence officer and pilot who was introduced and then sacrificed his life in 2016’s Rogue One. But after seeing Cassian, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), and the rest of their team perish on-screen, fans never thought that more stories starring those characters were in the cards. But thanks to the franchise’s affinity for hopping back and forth through time for their various projects, Cassian Andor’s story will continue—by going five years backward.
Why focus on a character that fans know is going to die not long after the show wraps? Doing that is kind of Star Wars’ MO. We knew that Darth Vader would kill Sidious and die in Luke Skywalker’s arms in Return of the Jedi, the third Star Wars film released. But that didn’t stop the franchise from spawning an entire set of prequels 20-plus years later, which showed Vader’s (a.k.a. Anakin Skywalker’s) origins.
But unlike the prequel trilogy of movies, which end 19 years before A New Hope, Andor takes place only a handful of years before Rogue One. And while it does show Cassian as a child, the series doesn’t offer a play-by-play of his life. Instead, Andor is more concerned with the momentum of the Rebel Alliance, and how Cassian found himself fighting for their cause.
As Luna told Good Morning America in August, the two-season drama series introduces us to a Cassian who “doesn’t know [what] he’s capable of.” Not only do we get to see the dark and brutal origins of the character, but we’ll also be treated to more of the storytelling that Rogue One highlighted: the human side to the rebellion and war we saw in the original trilogy.
Even though we’ve seen some of this time period in Star Wars before, things can get confusing. We’ve got you covered with a handy guide to what you need to know going into the Disney+ show, whether or not you’ve already seen Rogue One.
The series takes place at a breaking point for the rebellion
Andor’s 12-episode first season is set to take place over the course of a year, five years before the events of Rogue One. Per Deadline, Season 2 (of two total) has been confirmed and will take place over the course of the following four years, leading up to the moments before Rogue One starts.
The end of Revenge of the Sith showed the Republic overturned into a dictatorship with heavy militant law enforcement in the form of Stormtroopers. The Jedi Order has fallen, and so there is no formidable opposition to a powerful Empire run by a Sith. But after nearly 14 years post-Order 66, the growing rebellion against the Empire is about ready to burst. If you felt like the trailer to Andor was like one big climax pusher, you’d be correct. At this point in time, the Rebel Alliance exists, and things are “fermenting,” as one security officer says in the trailer. There’s imagery akin to the early uprisings in The Hunger Games, or even something like police riots in our own time period.
Andor works with a similar formula that made Rogue One such a hit. It’s still one of the most beloved Star Wars movies to come out after the Disney acquisition—and one of the most cherished overall—because of its lesson and heart. The movie stars a group of heroes consisting of mostly marginalized characters, a team who represents the relentless human efforts in the battle to save the galaxy. They are the sole reason why Luke was able to blow up the Death Star in one shot in A New Hope. Best of all, Cassian and his crew weren’t Jedi, nor were they rebels we already knew the names of. They were a cast of new characters who were able to make you care about them in the 138 minutes they had on-screen, and then crush your soul with their death all the same.
Andor, like its predecessor, shows the truly human toll that living under a fascist regime takes. And it shows the human effort that can turn the tide of war and win.
Cassian Andor is not a part of the Rebel Alliance… yet
Andor shows how he got to be a rebel officer in Rogue One. We know that, in the beginning, Cassian is very much against joining any type of group resistance to the Empire. While he steals Imperial property and is very much not a fan of the fascist regime, his biggest goal is self-preservation. What Andor delves into is how the jaded, aloof schemer seen at the beginning of this series turns that into a dedicated rebel.
While Cassian only has one movie’s worth of development and background to show for thus far, he’s already a pretty rich character. We know, for instance, that he is what’s known as a Fulcrum informant, a title used by spies in the network of rebels developed by the famed former Jedi, Ahsoka Tano. (You may remember her from such shows as Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Rebels, or The Mandalorian.)
Ahsoka wanted to gain recruits to help the rebellion and help those in need after the Empire took over, creating the so-called Fulcrum—a title whose relationship to Ahsoka and the rebellion was only clear to those in the know. She was the original member of that group, but all of the spies used this title to confuse their identities for anyone who might listen in. As seen in Star Wars: Rebels, Fulcrum gave the necessary information to rebels to carry out heists and plans against the Empire as well.
Does all of this mean that Ahsoka herself will show up in Andor? While it’s possible and could make narrative sense, nothing we’ve seen of Andor so far has hinted at this potentially happening. But there’s plenty of time for us to be surprised.
A lot of new faces are involved, but keep an eye out for familiar ones too
Don’t expect to see all of your old faves from Rogue One—or many other Star Wars stories—in this series. Andor introduces several new characters to the franchise. Adria Arjona as Cassian’s mysterious friend Bix and Kyle Soller as stringent Deputy Inspector Syril Karn. Fiona Shaw also makes her Star Wars debut as Maarva Andor, Cassian Andor’s adoptive mother.
Most intriguing of all the newbies, though, is Luthen Rael, who’s played by Stellan Skarsgard. While we don’t know his motives yet, Luthen seems to really want Cassian to join the fight against the Empire. He sees the capabilities Cassian possesses but hasn’t fully tapped into yet; in order to convince him, he gives Cassian an encouraging speech that’s very similar to the one Cassian gave Jyn in Rogue One.
“The Empire is choking us so slowly, we’re starting not to notice,” Luthen says in the Andor trailer that premiered in August. “What I’m asking is this: Wouldn’t you rather give it all to something real?”
Again, we don’t know Luthen’s full story. But considering he’s shown in the Senate in the trailer, he might be a double agent of sorts like Senator Bail Organa or Senator Mon Mothma. These were individuals that still had a prominent position in the (now powerless) senate, but who were also deeply invested in creating resistance against the Empire. This is briefly shown in Kenobi the with Organas on Alderran.
Speaking of Mon Mothma, she is a pretty familiar face to see in Andor, played again by Genevieve O’Reilly. Senator Mon Mothma has a long history in Star Wars canon. O’Reilly’s version of the character appeared in Rogue One and Revenge of the Sith. But Mon Mothma first appeared decades ago, in Return of the Jedi (portrayed by Caroline Blakiston). The reason Mon Mothma continues to pop in Star Wars media is that she has been at the forefront of the fight against the Empire since the beginning.
Another character who appeared in Rogue One and is back for Andor is Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). While he became a rebel extremist by the end of his life, Saw has ties to Luthen, so he might be working closer with the Rebel Alliance during Andor. But fans of The Clone Wars know that Saw Gerrera is more than just the injured leader of this radical group: He also fought in the Clone Wars as a young man alongside the Republic and Ahsoka Tano, who was a commander at that point.
Even with some familiar faces and some new, Cassian Andor’s story is obviously the one to watch. And while we could get more cameos from characters we know, it’s all tying into Cassian’s journey. The journey of a reluctant hero who is about to find his purpose and become one of the most dedicated in the Rebel Alliance, willing to sacrifice it all for the cause.