Andor: In defense of Leida Mothma

(L-R): Tay Kolma (Ben Miles) and Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
(L-R): Tay Kolma (Ben Miles) and Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

I wanted to take a moment to talk about Leida Mothma from Andor. Since her introduction, I’ve seen some takes on Twitter and heard on podcasts a dislike of the character. While I do think that some characters should be allowed to be unlikable because they usually lead to interesting storylines, I’m on the fence about these takes on Leida because I find them quite polarizing.

Part of the struggle I think is we as the audience have knowledge that Leida does not. We know that Mon Mothma is the future leader of the Rebellion and everything she’s doing is very important work. Mon is playing an incredibly dangerous game that could literally get her and her family killed. She’s trying to free the galaxy from oppression the best way she knows how which is through politics.

But Leida has none of this knowledge. All she sees is an overworking mother who seems to care more about the needs of the galaxy than the needs of her daughter. We know this from her first breakfast scene. Mon wants to take Leida to school. Leida is quick to point out that she feels like a tool to make her mother look good. That kind of dialogue doesn’t come out of thin air. That is the pain she feels because Mon’s actions put her in that position. It’s not like Mon can explain her reasoning either to quell her daughter’s emotions.

While Perrin, frankly, sucks, it’s clear that he’s a much more active role in his daughter’s life which is why Leida tends to side with him. He is offering emotional support that teenagers desperately need. It’s something Leida is not getting from her mother. Of course, the audience knows the reason why, but Leida doesn’t.

Then Tay Kolma enters the picture as an old friend from Mon’s childhood. Leida is quick to pick up on his presence and even calls him Mon’s boyfriend. Teenagers are very smart. She’s clearly aware there are marital problems with her parents. From how Andor frames everything, it seems like Mon and Perrin were an arranged marriage. Leida clearly sees Tay as a threat and probably assumes wrong that her mom is having an affair.

As someone who has divorced parents, that really resonated with me. While my parents didn’t have an affair and just simply fell apart, that is a major fear for a kid. Divorce completely upends your life and changes the course of your future. Everything you knew feels like it’s vanishing and I completely understand why Leida feels threatened by Tay’s presence.

The last point is Leida’s love of Chandrilan customs. Mon finds them outdated as her focus is shifting to the bigger galaxy as a future Rebellion leader. But for Leida, those customs are probably a comfort. They’re a representation of her life with her mother and father that she’s desperately trying to cling onto. It’s the one part of her family that she can control so she will love those customs with her entire being.

Leida hasn’t done anything wrong outside of being a hurt teenage girl. They write her so well because her actions are understandable in the context of the story. This is how teenagers act especially when they feel like they’re not only losing their parents but also feel like someone (Tay) is moving in on their way of life.

After Andor’s excellent episode “One Way Out,” I really feel like Leida is about to be a huge catalyst for Mon Mothma’s story. Davo Sculdun offers his teenage son up as collateral to do business with Mon hoping to set up a betrothal with Leida. Mon is aghast at the notion. But with Leida’s love of Chandrilan customs, will she agree to the proposition to get out from under her mother’s thumb? Or will Leida continue to feel like a prop in her mother’s political game and deny it? It puts Mon in a lose-lose position. Mon either has to marry off her daughter to secure funds for the Rebellion or she risks losing those funds and getting caught by the Empire.

It all goes back to Luthen’s speech from the episode: What is Mon willing to sacrifice: her soul or her daughter’s future? It’s setting up for a tense storyline. But regardless, I feel like Leida is going to be a huge player going forward and I wanted to take a moment to defend her.

Because her only “crime” at the moment is being a teenage girl.

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