Rebel parents have it hard in Andor

Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgard) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgard) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

The high cost of rebellion was never in doubt. It was painfully clear in the original Star Wars when old Ben Kenobi muttered: “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.”

Those millions of terrified voices? Every single being on the planet Alderaan being eviscerated by a blast from the Death Star—and the Princess of Alderaan, prisoner of Darth Vader and rebel leader Leia Organa was forced to watch. Surely, she felt more than a disturbance in the Force in witnessing the destruction of everything and everyone she ever knew.

But the movie had to move on; tears were put on hold. In 1977, there’s no time to spare to mourn those lost, faceless souls. There are lightsabers to ignite and S-foils to lock into attack position. Leia is devastated, sure, but we don’t really see it—there’s too much else going on.

And so, despite the utter destruction of an entire planet, despite the gruesome Imperial powerplay, it’s easy to shrug. Our heroes are safe, and we—the viewers—didn’t really know anyone on Alderaan anyway. (Bail Organa? Little more than a name until Jimmy Smits took up the mantle more than twenty years later.)

Andor is changing all of that. The cost of rebellion is no longer abstract. It’s dramatically foregrounded: heroes unceremoniously gunned down, years stolen from innocent lives for fictitious crimes, and families broken thanks to a climate of Imperial oppression.

What’s more, we really see it. These aren’t just brief scenes of epic explosions, leaving us to guess at the emotional and physical devastation wrought. Nor are these scenes the triumphant though heartbreaking march to multiple self-sacrifices that play out in the second half of Rogue One.

We simply sit and stare at characters as they process the tremendous weight of rebellion: Mon Mothma sitting alone in her chambers; Bix Caleen grappling with torture. Will any of this amount to anything? Our heroes cannot know.

But in the face of this wanton disregard for basic decency, can any cost be too high when it comes to fighting the Empire? Can any good be found in such a corrupt system?

Luthen Rael clearly thinks not: “They’ve set me on a path from which there is no escape. …I burn my decency for someone else’s future,” he declares in a show-stealing monologue. “I burn my life to make a sunrise that I know I’ll never see.”

Luthen pulls the strings, a man willing to sacrifice others for the good of the cause—a cause he has become inescapably bound. There is nothing too great to lose in its work. He will stop at nothing to route the injustices of the Empire.

A worthy pursuit, no? We know it to be true; we’ve seen how the story ends.

And yet, characters like Mon Mothma, like rebel spy Lonni Jung, they, too, have sacrificed, continue to sacrifice, for this same cause—but they want to glimpse that proverbial sunrise now, too. Not so much for themselves but for their children. The burden of parenthood in the time of rebellion.

Mon Mothma is sickened by the idea of using her daughter as a bargaining tool; Lonni has been understandably affected by his newfound fatherhood and his own child’s future.

Is it wrong, then, to try to find some good in the current moment, even against the backdrop of this Imperial tyranny? Is it wrong to hold something—someone—back in the hope that they might be able to find some brief peace in a galaxy of terror?

Can’t we do all in our power to allow our children to begin living that better future now?

Luthen has clearly taken a side. And we might yet see Mon and Lonni change their tune.

But these questions are ones for each of us, too. Too often, injustices feel like the distant explosion of an unknown planet—the Alderaans of our daily lives.

But as they grow closer and closer to home, how do we respond? How should we? How can we protect those in our care—providing sunrises here, now—while also undertaking the sacrifices necessary to ensure that same sun continues to rise for all of us, for those without the luxury of choice?

These questions, unfortunately, aren’t bound solely to a galaxy far, far away.