Warning: This article contains spoilers for Andor episodes 1 – 8.
Over the course of Andor season one, Luthen Rael’s attempt to coordinate with other prominent rebel leaders reveals that the spectrum of rebellion is a vibrant one. The political landscape of Star Wars has always been complex, but establishing the diversity of political thought and defining these characters’ personal stakes under the hand of fascism is something that Andor handles with finesse.
Episode seven, “Announcement,” demonstrates that while people like Mon Mothma and Tay Kolma believe in and pursue a free galaxy, their ability to take action is entirely contingent on the preservation of the status quo. Social status and wealth are the only cards in their hand—if the Empire scales up or the rebels get too rowdy, it falls apart. They fear that once the shooting starts and buildings comes down, they’ll lose the platform on which they maneuver. With the Public Order Resentencing Directive, Mon Mothma’s sees this materialized, and learning that Luthen was the catalyst for the Aldhani heist puts a wedge between the two.
Luthen’s blunt vocabulary in this conversation has lead some fans to make a similar judgement call on the character, deeming him some sort of extremist—which is a blatant misnomer in this case. Luthen is an accelerationist. He knows that the Empire will steadily legislate, imprison, and oppress their way to totalitarian levels of control. It’s a controlled burn; not enough to raise smoke. Karis Nemik (may he rest in peace) said it best: “The pace of repression outstrips our ability to understand it. It’s easier to hide behind 40 atrocities than a single incident.” Luthen knows that he has to pour gasoline onto the fire to send a signal high into the galaxy—and the PORD has the potential to be the “single incident” that causes the average citizens of the galaxy to stand against the reach of Imperial authority.
Though it’s true that Luthen orchestrated the chain of events that lead to Imperial retaliation, it would be a mistake to put him at fault for the oppression of the Empire. The only ones responsible are the parties that enact and enforce the oppression. Mothma’s strong reaction is a prime example of the way that even well-intentioned political players tend to forget who the real enemy is when their privileges are threatened by change—and out of all the ones we’ve met, Mothma certainly has the most to lose.
Contrarily, one man with a sharp stick and nothing to lose can take the day. These words come from Saw Gerrera, reintroduced to us in Andor episode eight (played yet again by the phenomenal Forest Whitaker)—and this quote couldn’t be more a fitting summary of his ideology. We already know where Saw stands when it comes to fighting the Empire: he’s a true by-all-means-necessary anarchist. There’s a laundry list of ethical questions that we could go in circles about, but Saw does understand many things that other oppositional factions are missing. In his words, “They’re lost! All of them, lost.”
Many know that fighting the Empire means that they must be willing to give everything, but Saw knows that you must also be willing to take. He knows that no amount of political stalling will prevent the Empire from violently exerting their power over the oppressed, and that that power will not be willfully relinquished. He knows that it must be claimed, and that if the galaxy is to be free, fascism must be completely and totally eradicated—unable to claim it back.
In the end, the Rebellion needs everyone. It needs their skills, willpower, and leverage. It needs financial, organizational, and martial prowess. In the fight against the Empire, the only way to fail is to be complicit. In that regard, every rebel is hero.