Warning: FULL SPOILERS for the Andor Season 1 finale follow.
Andor concluded its highly acclaimed first season this week with an eventful finale episode that brought nearly all the major players on the series back to the planet of Ferrix, where the series began, including Cassian Andor himself and several different individuals who hoped to either catch or kill him.
By the end of the hour, Cassian had made a huge decision for his future, as he heads towards the heroic end of his life depicted in Rogue One, the film that introduced the character.
I spoke to Andor creator Tony Gilroy about many of the big moments in the season finale and how they set the stage for the second and final season (which just began production this week), including that big post-credit scene.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR CASSIAN
Season 1 ended with Cassian (Diego Luna) making a big decision and going to Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård), telling him he wanted to truly join him as a Rebel. The entire first season charted Cassian’s path as someone who actively resisted joining the cause – his one big previous Rebel mission was for money – only to come to realize it was something worth fighting for, thanks to his experiences on Aldhani, with his fellow prisoners on Narkina 5, and given what his mother taught him.
We know there will be one more season of Andor, this one made up of four different three-episode arcs that take place across four different years in the lead up to Rogue One. So with Cassian now a Rebel, what will we see next for him? One thing Tony Gilroy promised is there won’t be any regrets or backpedaling about his decision, even as we learn more about how he comes to take an increasingly prominent role in the burgeoning Alliance.
Said Gilroy, “His allegiance to the Rebellion – which means a lot of different things to a lot of different people – his allegiance and his commitment to that will not be in doubt anymore. That’s a blood oath he’s made at the end. So that question is over. But becoming a leader… What do you do with that?”
On top of that, Andor has depicted a galaxy where many different individuals and groups have begun to fight the Empire, but without any sort of organization and even some outward animosity between these different groups. Referencing the moon where a more mobilized Rebel Alliance has assembled by the time of Rogue One, Gilroy said Season 2 would explore the question, “How are all of these disparate factions going to try to learn to play together and turn into Yavin?” He added there would be “all of the betrayal with that, all the manipulation of that by the Empire, the spy game, the war games, the personal stuff, while we’re telling a ripping yarn, a big adventure. But it will be about using [Cassian’s] leadership and negotiating his way through the minefield of a revolution that’s trying to come together.”
From Luthen willingly sacrificing potential allies like Anto Kreegyr, to Mon Mothma regretfully putting her daughter Leida on the path to an arranged marriage — both actions done in order to protect what they’ve built so far — Andor has frequently depicted just how difficult, if not outright terrible, the choices are for the Rebels. Gilroy confirmed this spotlight on characters needing to decide what lines they’re willing to cross for what they consider to be the greater good will continue to be integral in Season 2.
Said Gilroy, “We have a lot of arrows in the quiver at this point. A lot of balls in the air, a lot of people moving around, a lot of people who are in trouble and have troubled histories and certainly have troubled futures. Watching people that you care about make really difficult decisions about stuff that really matters is just the best form of drama. So we’re gonna watch people make [difficult] decisions through everything that we do. That’s kind of the turbine on the whole show, really, is people having to make those decisions.”
As for the actual end of the series and directly connecting to Rogue One, Gilroy noted, “It’s no secret, I’ve said it a million times, the last episode of our show, we’ll walk [Cassian] across the tarmac into the ship on his way to the Ring of Kafrene to go begin the movie. So we’re going to have to be there, we’re gonna have to be in Yavin and we’re going to have to tie that in. We’re going to have to send him there with the few bits of breadcrumbs and evidence that make the trip worthwhile and make a risky thing like that worth it to the Rebel Alliance.”
THE STAR OF DEATH
The season finale of Andor offered something no episode had up until now – a post-credit scene. It’s one devoid of any characters, as we simply see machinery working, and come to realize we’re watching the Death Star – and specifically the Death Star’s superlaser – being assembled, using the same pieces Cassian and his fellow prisoners were forced to put together on Narkina 5.
In an interview a few weeks ago with THR, when asked what was being built in that prison, Gilroy had said, with a laugh, “They’re building Season 2. It’s the spine of Season 2.” Now though, with the actual answer to that question given, it’s hard not to wonder if he was being literal and if the continued work on the Death Star will be depicted in Season 2.
When I repeated what he’d said to THR to Gilroy, he replied, “I was kind of goofballing, but when you say it now, I realize it actually is applicable. It is the spine.” Gilroy still wouldn’t explicitly confirm if we’d see more of the Death Star construction in Season 2, but did note it’s important either way, since everything is leading to the events of Rogue One, where it very much does factor in.
Regardless of if we see the Death Star in Season 2, Gilroy said, of including it at the end of Season 1, “What’s cool about it is not just that it’s an Easter egg and it’s fun and the rest of it. The cool thing for us was, ‘Oh my god, Cassian is building something that he’ll never know what it was, but he’s actually been building the thing that’s going to kill him.’ He’ll never know it but he’s there because he got sentenced because he was in the Aldhani robbery which caused [the Public Order Resentencing Directive]. So there is some element of synchronicity and destiny that’s pulling together for him.”
A MATCH MADE IN HELL?
The finale had a big moment for both Dedra Meero and Syril Karn, as the former Deputy Inspector saved the ISB lieutenant’s life when the citizens of Ferrix turned on her and her fellow Imperials. Dedra and Syril have been a fascinating component to Andor, as we see their point of view and can sympathize with them and their personal struggles, only to then be reminded of the kind of people they are. For Dedra, that’s being a straight up torturing and murderous Imperial fascist, while Syril, while not that type of zealout, is also rather disturbing with his stalkerish behavior towards Dedra.
I told Gilroy that I loved the conflicted reactions these characters can bring, including feeling concern for Dedra lowering her guard around Syril, considering his obsession with her, even as I have to keep in mind what a terrible person she is at her core. Asked if he enjoys keeping the audience off balance with these two characters, Gilroy replied, “Definitely! The answer to that is definitely,” adding, “It should be pretty clear we’re not done with them. It would be narratively suicide to to get rid of that couple there.”
Gilroy said he enjoyed making the duo so darkly intriguing, explaining, “If they were the neighbors across the hall, you’d really want to know what was going on over there. There’s a lot to be figured out with them. That’ll be fun.”
He also had high praise for the performances given by Denise Gough and Kyle Soller as Dedra and Syril, feeling they’d been integral in drawing the audience in in the manner they have. Said Gilroy, “It’s fascinating to watch the actors, because Denise is just a super serious theater actor. She had this amazing play, People, Places and Things, a couple of years ago that my wife and I saw in London. And when [Casting Director] Nina Gold brought her in, she was the first person to audition for the part for me. it was still pre-COVID and she just took the part in the room. We never auditioned anybody else. Then when Kyle came in, we never saw anybody else [after]. I was like, ‘Okay, let’s just have that. I don’t even want to see anybody else.’ They’re so brilliant but they’ve had very quiet careers. And now they’re action figures!”
Online you’ll find plenty of discussion and debate about these two characters, including, yes, some who are rooting for them as a couple. Said Gilroy, of these varied reactions, “I spoke to Denise and I said ‘I don’t know how interesting your fanbase really is. You’ll have to tell me!’ And who’s going to be writing fan letters to Syril? I don’t know. It’s interesting to contemplate!”
A LOVING MOTHER AND A LOYAL DROID
It was somewhat surprising to viewers when the eleventh episode of Andor opened with Cassian’s mother, Maarva Andor, having passed away offscreen, given her significance to the story. It even caused some to wonder if she was actually truly dead and if perhaps there was some sort of ruse at work.
As it turned out, she had indeed died — there was no trickery here aimed at either the audience or those in the story watching Maarva from afar, like Dedra or Cinta — yet we did actually see her again in the season finale, in an unexpected manner, as the ever-loyal droid B2EMO projected a hologram of Maarva that she’d recorded shortly before her death. The stirring message B2EMO played was crucial in fact, and ended up causing her fellow people of Ferrix to rise up against the Empire.
Because Maarva was going to appear in this capacity in the finale, Gilroy explained that he felt it took the onus off of giving her any sort of big death scene in the previous episode. “If you know you have that in your back pocket as a writer, it just frees you up. I mean, who’s she gonna play the deathbed scene with? What’s it going to be? I knew I had that in my back pocket, so it was also fun because the way the show releases [weekly], to watch people all of a sudden have anxiety about the storytelling… ‘Oh wow, they got lazy or maybe they couldn’t afford Fiona Shaw for that episode or there was a scheduling problem?” All these different things and you go, ‘No, man, we have an ace.”
Gilroy added, “If I didn’t have the hologram, I don’t know what I would have done, but that idea was up early for me. The idea of doing your own eulogy was a fascinating topic and what she might be able to say about Ferrix and fill in the blanks. Knowing I had that, a death scene is anticlimactic, in a way.”
There has been an outpouring of love for the aforementioned B2EMO in the past couple of weeks from Andor fans, thanks to his heartbreakingly sad reaction to Maarva’s death. When I jokingly (but not really!) told Gilroy how traumatized fans would be if anything happens to B2EMO in Season 2, he replied, “Yeah, I think I’m aware of that!”
Of that droid’s creation, Gilroy noted, “The absolute original impulse was to have an old dog [as a droid]. What would that be like? And then ‘Oh, it has to be a salvage droid. So what does it look like? And what does it do? What size should it be?’ We sketched it out and wrote a bunch of stuff for it. And then we had Neal [Scanlan] and the creatures department and [Production Designer] Luke Hull’s concept art. And all of a sudden, you’re looking at a board with six or seven comps and they’re all gorgeous.”
We’ll have to wait until Season 2 of Andor to find out B2EMO’s fate, though keep in mind it’ll be awhile, as it just began production for an expected 2024 debut.