Saw Gerrera and the Partisans are an integral part of the early Rebel movement, however, thanks to Star Wars: Rebels and Rogue One audiences know that they eventually split from one another. But this split hasn’t been visualised, and has only been documented in reference material. So the question becomes, will Andor visualise this split, and what will it look like?
First, it’s worth going over what’s known. Shortly before the Declaration of Rebellion, seen in Rebels season 3 episode 18, Saw Gerrera and the Partisans were censured by Mon Mothma, cutting them off from the forces she led. The reason for this was because of Saw’s brutality and inhumane methods of conducting war. The full language of the censure itself can be seen in the 2018 Star Wars reference book, The Rebel Files.
What events caused Mon Mothma to censure Saw are currently unknown, though it’s likely to stem from a particularly extreme act by Saw. Audiences know from Rogue One, the book Rebel Rising and Rebels that Saw isn’t afraid to bend the rules of engagement, and this is likely to be shown in again.
Saw Gerrera will appear in the first season of Andor, and will likely conduct an action that’s uncomfortable to watch. Audiences will get a visit to his base, and they will perhaps see the inhumane way Saw treats Imperial prisoners. As one of the more equipped Rebel cells, he will likely have his own plans to attack an Imperial installation of some kind. To show that Saw doesn’t differentiate between civilians getting in the way, it could either be populated with both Imperials and civilians, or be in a highly populated area.
This act is likely to repulse Mon Mothma, and it would be interesting if had second thoughts about financing rebel activity. She might more carefully consider where her money goes, and start attaching conditions to it when she hands it to Luthen. While Saw is equipped enough to survive the loss of funds, it will inevitably anger him against Mothma, and form the seeds of their split.
A showcase of Saw’s brutality might end up in the Senate, which would be bad news for Mothma. While the eventually becomes a hotbed for Rebel ideals – this is pointed out in both Rogue One and A New Hope – news of terrorism might cause the opposite to occur. Support for the Rebellion may decrease. The Empire will brand Saw and the Partisans as terrorists, and extend this to the whole Rebel movement. It’s quite possible connections to contemporary politics might be drawn, as former President Donald Trump often attempted to paint peaceful protestors with the same brush as violent rioters. Fiona Shaw has already said that Andor will be a “ scurrilous [take] on the Trumpian world,” and this would be a great way to illustrate that critique.
But Mothma’s objection to Saw’s methods is likely to be more than just political. It’s about morality. Mothma shows compassion for the people in the Empire, refusing to treat prisoners in the same brutal fashion that Saw does. She’s also able to differentiate between civilians and military personnel, whereas Saw believes that even the lowest civilian, if they are in some way part of the Imperial structure, need to be taken down violently. Saw’s acts are likely to conflict with Mothma’s moral core, deepening the rift between the two.
This rift might form the backdrop of a power struggle within the Rebellion itself, does it head into a more violent and terroristic direction, and thus have Saw take over, or, does it take a more idealised route, and have Mothma remain as leader? While audiences ultimately know the result of such a conflict, it would be a great way to illustrate that the formation of the Rebel Alliance wasn’t a straightforward and simple process, but one marred with internal politics and power plays. This would echo the complicated reality of insurgency groups in other countries, and be in line with Andor’s grey take on the Star Wars morality.
It’s possible that this rift will be explored in an episode of Andor, likely in the second season. That will with a Rebellion that has a better base, and not one whose foundations have yet to be built. Saw’s split with the Rebel Alliance is worth exploring, as both a key moment in the formation of what audiences know in A New Hope but also how it affects Mon Mothma as a leader and the political angle that Andor is making itself known for.