Andor brings back a brilliant concept from 1970s Star Wars canon
The Empire is everywhere, except they’re not. Here’s how the Preox-Morlana Corporate Zone fits into the Star Wars galaxy.
From a certain point of view, the Empire was the most successful government in the history of Star Wars. During its brief rule of the galaxy, Palpatine ensured every planet was directly under Imperial control — or maybe not?
In Andor, we learn that some corners of the galaxy are regulated by corporate authority, which reboots an old concept from the non-canon Star Wars books of the late ‘70s. Here’s the deal with Andor’s Preox-Morlana Corporate Zone, and how it’s similar to largely forgotten Han Solo comics and novels.
Spoilers ahead for Andor Episodes 1-3!
What is Preox-Morlana in Star Wars: Andor?
In Andor's first three episodes, the action takes place on two planets: Ferrix and Morlana-One. Ferrix is where Cassian lives with his adoptive mom Maarva (Fiona Shaw). Morlana-One is where Cassian gets in the brothel fight in Episode 1 that kicks off the whole series. This is why when Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) and his gang try to arrest Cassian, they have to travel to Ferrix. Not all these people live on the same planet, just in the same sector.
And although the Empire nominally regulates this sector, the Pre-Mor employees are not Imperial officers. Syril Karn — the overzealous investigator obsessed with finding Andor — is basically a corporate cop working for a relatively small organization called Preox-Morlana (presumably named after the planets it regulates). Although the Empire makes the laws these blue-uniformed guys abide by, they are not faux-Stormtroopers. For the citizens under Pro-Mor influence, however, they’re just as bad.
The entire “Corporate Zone” is patrolled by Pre-Mor law enforcement. This makes the planets in the Preox-Morlana Corporate Zone the Star Wars equivalent of a “company town,” where everything is owned by the same corporate entity. The company that pays you is also the company that sells you your groceries, creating a closed system with the potential for abuse.
Even the Morlana-One brothel is regulated, and Cassian wasn’t supposed to be there because he’s not a Pre-Mor employee. This may all seem like Andor has added some new wrinkles to the Star Wars galaxy, but the roots of this set-up go way back to the 1979 novel Han Solo at Star’s End.
Han Solo and the “Corporate Sector”
In 1979 and 1980, Brian Daley wrote three Han Solo novels set before A New Hope. In the first book, Han Solo at Star’s End, Han traipses around the “Corporate Sector,” a segment of space separate from the Empire.
While the Corporate Sector in the Han Solo books has a different relationship with the Empire than the Preox-Morlana Corporate Zone in Andor, there’s one big similarity: in both cases, the corporate setting insulates the narrative from too many pre-existing canon complications.
For the Brian Daley books, that was the entire point. In the early days of tie-in Star Wars books and comics, it was important that nothing in them directly contradicted the events of the films. The invention of the Corporate Sector was a useful way to demonstrate the hugeness of the galaxy and make it clear that not everything was controlled by the Empire. In The Empire Strikes Back, Lando even says that his Cloud City mining operation “doesn’t fall into the jurisdiction of the Empire.”
The Empire didn’t nationalize every single element of every single industry, probably because it couldn’t.
The Inverse Analysis — By starting the action in the Preox-Morlana Corporate Zone, Andor pulls off the same trick as the early Han Solo and Lando Calrissian books. By choosing a setting slightly detached from the Empire’s influence, the galaxy seems bigger and more unwieldy.
Yes, we know the Empire has to get involved in all of this because we’ve seen the trailers and we know Cassian Andor becomes a Rebel Alliance intelligence officer. But by starting the story in the Corporate Zone, the stage for the entirety of Star Wars suddenly seems a little bigger because, paradoxically, it’s starting smaller. The Empire is massive, but it’s not everywhere. That raises a lot of possibilities for a story about taking the Empire down.
And who knows? If Cassian hangs around this part of space for a bit longer, maybe he’ll cross paths with Han or Lando. After all, those two know their way around Corporate Zone trouble better than anyone.
Andor is now streaming on Disney+.
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