Warning: This article contains spoilers from the 3-episode premiere of Andor.
From Petunia Dursley in Harry Potter to Carolyn in Killing Eve, Fiona Shaw is a well-known actor who always makes her characters nuanced and captivating to watch. This continues to be the case in Andor where she plays Maarva Andor, a character who plays a pivotal role in Cassian’s story.
The 3-episode premiere introduces her as Cassian’s adoptive mother on the planet Ferrix. She loves Cassian and is deeply troubled when she learns that the Pre-Mor Authority is looking for a human male from Kenari on Ferrix.
Flashbacks reveal that Maarva met young Cassian (known then as Kassa) years earlier during the Clone Wars aboard a crashed ship on the planet of Kenari. According to Maarva, she needed to take Cassian with her as he would be killed if he stayed behind.
In an interview with GamesRadar, Shaw explained why her character was on Kenari, why she and her husband and their droid B2EMO were scavenging the crashed ship, and provided insight into her character’s decision to take Cassian with her:
"“She and her husband have made a living going around to various planets, collecting bits of metal from spaceships,” Shaw explains. “You suddenly see that all of this could be a parallel with Detroit maybe in the ’70s, where people were recycling bits of cars. So they’re recyclers, there’s an element of people who are from another time, who are reusing the world. She’s a very anonymous person. I don’t think she’s a person with a big ego, she’s a person with a big heart. And she certainly has a great moral compass, and I think that becomes very, very important in this particular season.”"
Maarva’s decision to take Cassian with her is morally complex because she saved Cassian’s life and raised him in a loving home, but she did kidnap a child against his will, and unknowingly separated him from his sister.
Cassian’s search for his sister all these years later sets off the chaotic chain of events in the 3-episode of premiere, something that Maarva unwittingly set into motion with her decision years earlier.
Beyond her relationship with Cassian, Maarva is a widely respected and well-known individual on Ferrix. This is clear when the people of Ferrix voice their outrage about the Pre-Mor Authority going into Maarva’s home and threatening her.
In the interview with GamesRadar, Shaw elaborated on how Maarva is seen by the people of Ferrix:
"“She is actually a member of a thing called the Daughters of Ferrix, who are like a community group of women who keep the moral standing of the planet very well. So she’s a very revered person, and she also is a very old person, and she’s not so well by the time we meet her in this series.”"
Maarva proves to be a cunning character in her own right as she simply delivers a few ominous remarks that take advantage of the Pre-Mor Authority’s ignorance of Ferrix to get them to leave her and her home later in the episode.
By the end of the third episode, Cassian has left Ferrix with Stellan Skarsgård’s character Luthen Rael, but it is definitely not the last that fans have seen of Maarva.
As a fiercely intelligent individual who is a pillar of her community, a mother, and a former scavenger who made a morally complex decision, Maarva has already established herself as a fascinating individual, and fans eagerly await when they will see her character next.