WARNING: The following contains SPOILERS for Andor Season 1, Episodes 1-3.
Andor is off to a strong start after its premiere. But as we eagerly anticipate the fourth episode, one mystery has audiences stuck in data lag mode. Why were those “Republic officers” wearing the Separatist sigil? I might have an idea. Put your theory helmets on!
Andor flashbacks recap: Kassa of Kenari
Throughout the first three episodes, we get flashbacks to a significant event from Cassian Andor’s childhood on the planet Kenari. A badly damaged ship crashes to the surface, disturbing a tribe of parentless children–one of whom is young Andor, known as “Kassa” to his peers. When the tribe discovers the wreckage, one of their leaders is killed by a humanoid with yellowed skin sporting a breathing mask and a uniform that clearly displays the sigil of the Separatist Alliance–the enemy of the Galactic Republic. This establishes that the flashbacks take place some time during the Clone Wars.
The tribe removes their dead comrade from the scene, but Kassa hangs back to explore the wreckage further. The interior of the ship is a sleek black and white, with glossy surfaces and advanced computer screens–very reminiscent of the Republic, but leaning a bit more into the Imperial aesthetic. Kassa glimpses his reflection in the fixtures and becomes enraged, then begins destroying the computer terminals. Unbeknownst to Kassa, two scavengers and a droid have also entered the wreckage to gather valuables. They are Maarva and Clem Andor (Cassian’s future adoptive parents) with B2-EMO in tow. As they enter the scene, they don breathing masks akin to those worn by the fallen crew. After a quick scan, B2 deems the air safe to breath, with “no detectable gas toxicity” present. But why did they enter with masks on in the first place? How were they able to anticipate that the ship might be hazardous? More on that later.
The trio find Kassa, and Maarva makes a snap decision to take him home, claiming that he won’t be safe when “they come to clean up.” The “they” in question is apparently the Republic, as B2 exclaims that a Republic frigate is approaching. Maarva and Clem see the approaching Republic forces as an imminent threat, stating that Kassa, his people, and the scavenger trio will all be killed seeing as the tribe had just “killed a Republic officer.”
This is where things get confusing.
Maarva confidently claims that the ship and its personnel belong to the Republic, but the downed “Republic officer” bears the Separatist sigil. The Clone War was a massive galactic conflict–Maarva and Clem would not simply mistake the Separatist sigil for the Republic sigil. So was this a production error? Were the uniforms meant to bear the Republic sigil instead? Surely the team behind a massive Star Wars show wouldn’t make such a blatant mistake.
In my opinion, this confusion is very intentional. Several question marks loom over the circumstances of the crash: where was the ship was going? Why it was carrying toxic gas? What took it down? How did Maarva and Clem know where it would be? Here’s my theory:
The theory: It wasn’t the Republic or the Separatists. It was the Empire.
This theory places the flashback during the events of Revenge of the Sith, just days before the end of the Republic.
Let’s set the scene: Dooku has just been unalived, and Grievous is soon to follow. Anakin is feeling extra moody. Sidious senses that his moment to strike draws near, and begins pulling the strings to bring his war to an explosive end.
In order for the galaxy to be successfully reorganized into an Empire, Sidious needs the compliance of the Republic and their current “enemy,” the Separatist Alliance. Now–we know that Sidious is also puppeteering the leadership of the Separatist faction, and their droid army will pose no real threat. But what about the systems–the people–that, by demand of their personal values, would resist a galactic empire in order to preserve the Separatist cause? They pose a threat.
Sidious needs this threat gone, permanently. Part one is to knock down a lot of people. Part two is to ensure that they don’t get back up. Now, the question arises: how does one simultaneously commit mass murder and manipulate a people into completely abandoning their own cause?
Unconscionable war crimes, of course!
My theory is that the ship was (technically) a Republic ship with Republic personnel on board, and the team was hauling a biochemical weapon to a densely populated Separatist world. Upon arrival, they were to appear as Separatist officers carrying out unspeakable horrors against “their own,” absolutely demolishing Separatist morale. At the top of this super secret, galaxy altering scheme is the future Emperor himself, making this mission an act of the Empire, in a way.
How did the ship come down? I’m not sure. Maybe the Republic officers knew that the mission went too far, and rebelled. Maybe the bioweapon had a critical malfunction (that would explain why everyone onboard was already wearing gas masks). Maybe they were attacked. I’m hoping to find out more!
Is it complicated? Yes, but it makes sense, and touches on the role of “regular people” in the dissolution of the Separatist faction–something Tony Gilroy would absolutely be interested in exploring, given his track record with Star Wars.
I’ll be eagerly awaiting the rest of this season of Andor to see if any of my theory pans out.
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