Rebel With a Cause

What is Andor about? Kenari reveals the show's secret Star Wars politics

Extensive flashbacks show Cassian's past, adding a whole new layer to both his character and Star Wars as a whole.

Andor introduced several new elements to Star Wars during its three episode premiere, but one of the biggest additions was its influx of new planets. From Morlana One to Ferrix, Andor has yet to feature a single familiar location, which is a refreshing change from the supposed backwater of Tattoine playing host to an endless series of important adventures. Out of all these new planets, the most interesting was Kenari, where Cassian Andor was born.

What’s the story of Kenari, and why haven’t we heard of it before? Its existence in Star Wars provides far more than just a backdrop — it’s a game-changer for the entire franchise.

The Kenari shown in the flashbacks of Andor is made to look foreign. There are no subtitles when Kenari characters speak, and if you turn subtitles on you’ll only see “speaking Kenari.” This is not like the Star Wars planets we’ve seen in the past.

But what happened to all the adults on the planet? In the present day we hear of a “mining accident” that obliterated the population, but is that just Empire propaganda? Did the Empire really take all the adults and fold them into the military?

Young Cassian on Kenari.Lucasfilm

These Kenari scenes underline the colonial themes that have long bubbled beneath the surface of the Star Wars saga. Every space exploration story is inherently about colonialism as native populations come into contact with interstellar explorers, but Star Wars has often skirted the topic by showing planets long after they’ve been colonized.

The very first planet we see in Star Wars, Tatooine, is the perfect example. Luke and his aunt and uncle live as moisture farmers alongside Tusken Raiders and Jawas, but humans were originally invaders and colonizers.

Even the Tatooine we know came about through colonialism.Lucasfilm

Andor doesn’t hide the fact that Kenari culture is rich and unique. We see rituals we don’t understand and hear a language that isn’t translated for us. Then the entire society is wiped off the face of the planet, save for Cassian and possibly his sister. When we see flashbacks to Kenari we see them from Cassian’s point of view, because he’s the only one left to remember them.

The Kenari people losing their culture because of the Empire’s interference acknowledges that colonialism is a central column holding up the worldbuilding of Star Wars. As Diego Luna has often reminded fans, Andor is a refugee story; the story of an unlikely survivor of a predatory regime who learns to not only thrive under harsh conditions, but to fight back against them.

Andor is now streaming on Disney+.