Why Yularen is perfect for Andor

(L-R): Attendant Heert (Jacob James Beswick) and Supervisor Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
(L-R): Attendant Heert (Jacob James Beswick) and Supervisor Dedra Meero (Denise Gough) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

The seventh episode of Andor titled “Announcement” brought back a familiar face to live-action Star Wars with Malcolm Sinclair portraying Colonel Wullf Yularen. As detailed by fellow Dork Side of the Force writer, Kieran Burt, fans of the animated series have followed Yularen for years as he was one of the main supporting characters in Clone Wars, voiced by Tom Kane. He also worked alongside Grand Admiral Thrawn in Star Wars Rebels and has appeared in several books and comics. But this is the first time the character has been in live-action since A New Hope which is very cool to see.

Yularen is absolutely the perfect person to bring into Andor because he very much fits the themes and morally grey storytelling. Starting off as a hero, his transition into the fascist regime of the Empire has always been a fascinating narrative about how good people can become corrupted. Writer Timothy Zahn has said before that he would love to write a Yularen novel and it would be a book I would love to read.

Yularen starts off fighting with our heroes during the Clone Wars. The main Jedi he works with is Anakin Skywalker, who gives the poor Admiral more than one headache over the course of the show. Because of Anakin, he’s often fighting alongside Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka Tano as well. Yularen is a valued and trusted member of their team. His bravery and honesty give him a high level of respect from both his men and the Jedi. Unlike Tarkin’s episodes where the writers are clearly playing into Tarkin being one of the major villains in the future, Yularen is showcased as tough but kind. He is a friend of the Jedi and clones. He believes in the Republic. He fights to preserve the safety of the citizens of the galaxy. It’s what makes it almost tragic when he dies on the Death Star.

There is a time period in Yularen’s life that we simply don’t know about. In my opinion, this is the key missing piece of the character which is why his place in Andor is so fascinating. Andor is very much a show where good people can do the wrong thing to survive. Good people must break laws to defeat evil because the laws are unjust. This is the core of the Rebellion in a lot of ways.

We don’t know why this good man in Clone Wars shifted to the Empire. We don’t know Yularen’s thoughts on Order 66, the transition away from the Republic, or really why he left the Imperial Navy to join the ISB. The Jedi were his friends, so is he really okay with them being eradicated? For someone who fought so hard to save the Republic, didn’t he care about the Empire taking over?

It makes Yularen just as morally grey as the rest of the characters in Andor.

One of the best looks at his life in the Empire is Thrawn by Timothy Zahn. In this book, he befriends Thrawn and Eli Vanto as they work together. What I find fascinating about Yularen’s portrayal is getting to see the mix of his Clone Wars self and who he is now in the Empire.

Yularen is a stickler for order and rules. He was in Clone Wars too, part of the reason why Anakin so often got under his skin. His main role in the ISB is to seek out insurgents and defectors in the Empire’s ranks. But he won’t hesitate to go after Rebels too as is the case of Nightswan, Thrawn’s own Moriarty to the Chiss’ Sherlock Holmes.

But there is still care for the civilians under the Empire too. Yularen is angered at the end of the novel after the Battle of Batonn and the Siege of Creekpath. That’s because Arihnda Pryce murders an ISB agent and sets off an explosion to cover her tracks. This explosion gets trapped inside a forcefield-like thing and kills hundreds if not more civilians. Yularen, Thrawn, and Eli Vanto all pretty much know it is Pryce who did it. But because they don’t have hard proof to convict her and she essentially blackmails Thrawn into taking credit for defeating Nightswan which promotes him to Grand Admiral, they cannot have her arrested. The loss of life and lack of justice bothers Yularen, proving there is still a person with a morally good compass in there. The order he loves so much falls apart at that moment.

He also cares for individuals as he befriends both Thrawn and Eli Vanto. The three men get along swimmingly, teaming up a few times in the novel. Also, Yularen has a good mentor relationship with another character Alexsandr Kallus from Star Wars Rebels. He was Kallus’ teacher in the ISB, calling the younger man his star student. Kallus, who has secretly defected and worked as an undercover Fulcrum agent, is clearly affected by his old teacher being there. He honored being in Yularen’s presence. The two men clearly respect each other as Yularen kept tabs on Kallus rising through the ranks. When he finds out that Kallus is Fulcrum, Yularen is clearly upset at the betrayal.

All of this is why it’s almost jarring to hear Yularen’s speech in Andor about how the Empire will respond swiftly to the attack on Aldhani by deciding how “tightly to close their fist.” Any planet harboring Rebels will be taxed heavily as well as their planet’s traditions ripped away from them to make people conform. He spoke with Palpatine personally to give the ISB far more power and reach than they had prior. He’s nothing like his Clone Wars self, caring about the well-being and thoughts of the people he’s supposed to serve. Which is what Dedra points out to her attendant in private that all of this is exactly what the Rebels want. Like how Leia said to Tarkin in A New Hope, the tighter the Empire squeezes, the more people will slip through their grasp.

I would love to have a novel set after Order 66 about Yularen. He’s a fascinating character who was a hero turned bad guy, and we don’t know the motivations behind why. Did he join the ISB because he thought that was where he could help the most people? Was it an “absolute power corrupts absolutely” scenario? Does he really believe that his work for the Empire is just and correct? We simply don’t know at this time.

It’s exactly why a morally grey character like Yularen is perfect for Andor.

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