Andor: Bureaucracy done right

Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

Let’s get one thing straight, Star Wars IS political. It has been since 1977.

Andor may not have started this but the new series has made major strides for the franchise in just a short time. Chief among them is the political resonance that is explosive throughout the show.

This isn’t just seen in the rebellious actions of Cassian Andor himself, but in the way the imperialised galaxy is being revealed to us. Other characters such as Luthen Rael, Syril Karn and of course Mon Mothma all give us fresh perspectives on how the “Imperial war machine” is keeping its boot on the neck of the galaxy.

One of the most effective ways this is being displayed comes from a less obvious source. One of the more despised corners of the political word: bureaucracy.

Much like the broader politics, the galaxy far, far away is no stranger to this term. The original Star Wars had more than one scene of serious looking men in drab olive-grey uniforms discussing the minutia of galactic politicking. But a more infamous example of this is seen decades later in the prequels.

I am of course referring to the Galactic Senate and the many scenes that took place in that revered chamber, filled with floating platforms and representatives of every species in the galaxy.

It’s fair to say that these sequences are less than exciting and offer prime examples of what critics refer to as failures of the prequel trilogy. Despite this, none can deny the galactic consequences of those scenes. They laid the foundations for the rise of Palpatine to Chancellor and later Emperor and saw the beginnings of a handful of galactic wars.

If only the dialogue and structure had been a bit snappier…

This is corrected in Andor.

In the first episode, a scene between Karn and Chief Inspector Hyne transforms an otherwise dry piece of administrative jargon into a verbal dance that displays both the sheer arrogance of middle management careerists as well as the cold calculating efficiency of Imperial life.

In episode four we see a similar scene in the halls of the ISB (Imperial Security Bureau) with perhaps the greatest ever visualization of that same ruthless Imperial efficiency. Major Partagaz, played by Anton Lesser, offers a brilliant performance in a high-ranking Imperial officer who is the very personification of a galactic level bureaucrat. His ultra-efficient manner of speech matched with his sterile white uniform have now provided the ultimate example of what it means to be a cog in an enormous and unforgiving machine.

Star Wars has always been referred to as a ‘lived in’ world with its grimy textures and rusted on features permeating a galaxy that has seen many lifetimes come and go. Rarely, however, do we see this in the people who live there.

With still more than half of the first season to go, I am hoping for many more examples of galactic scale politics brought down to a human level so that the imagined enormity of the Galactic Empire can be seen in the guise of a single man.

I mentioned the Galactic Senate before, which by the time of Andor is now the Imperial Senate, and has yet to appear in the series. Judging by what we saw in the trailer, it is only a matter of time before we get to see Imperial politics on such a truly grand scale.

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