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Tony Gilroy explains why ‘Andor’ avoids aliens - and what’s next for the rebellion in Season 2

Things are "only going to get more complicated" for Cassian’s go-to Rebel contact.

By Benjamin Bullard
Andor Season 1 Episode 2

Through its first 10 episodes, Andor has infused the small-screen Star Wars universe with the same kind of mature, action-driven thrills that distinguished Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the 2016 film that inspired the Diego Luna-starring prequel series.

Beyond their interconnected events, both Rogue One and Andor share a similar strain of Star Wars DNA, thanks in no small part to Tony Gilroy, who co-wrote Rogue One’s screenplay (with Chris Weitz) before being handed the creative reins to the TV series. Andor, of course, follows the earlier exploits of Rebel spy Cassian Andor (Luna), diving into how he fell in with the Rebels before meeting his tragic, sacrificial demise at the end of Rogue One.

Stepping into the spotlight with the series’ third episode and emerging as a key player in the early Rebellion, undercover spy fixer Luthen Rael (played by Stellan Skarsgård) has rapidly become an Andor fan favorite. In a far-ranging recent interview about the show’s creative process, Gilroy confided to The Hollywood Reporter that the approaching end of Season 1 won’t spell the end of Luthen’s story.

Andor Season 1 Episode 10

“[Luthen is] a chess player, man. He’s sacrificing a castle to protect his queen,” said Gilroy, noting Luthen’s ill-fated efforts to bring local operative Anto Kreegyr into the confidence of the uncompromising Saw Guerra (Forest Whitaker). “So I don’t think the Kreegyr story is over yet. Luthen is in a very tough spot, and his position over the next five years is only going to get more complicated…That’s also one of the major food groups that we’ll be dealing with in the second season.”

While they haven’t entirely been missing in action, the rich menagerie of aliens that typically populate the Star Wars story-verse have definitely taken a back seat to Andor’s human characters through most of the show’s first season. Gilroy offered a couple of sound reasons for that — not least of which is the Empire’s tendency, at this stage of its growth, to tap humans to do its dirty work.

“There’s already so much politics in the show to begin with, and we’re trying to tell an adventure story, really,” he explained. “So adding strong alien characters means that all of a sudden, there’s a whole bunch of new issues that we have to deal with that I don’t really understand that well or I just couldn’t think of a way to bake them into what we’re doing. You’ll see more as we go along, but it’s a legit question and one we’ll be answering as we go along. There is a more human-centric side of the story and the politics of it. There’s certainly no aliens working for the Empire, so that kind of tips it one way, automatically.”

Andor Season 1

Part of Andor’s distinctive dramatic tone comes from the series’ deep exploration of character, and not just for the good guys. Gilroy said placing viewers “in everybody’s shoes” lends believable stakes to the building conflict fans already know to expect through the events of Rogue One, and that even Imperials like Dedra Meero (Denise Gough), the Imperial Security Bureau officer vying for her own shot at Cassian, grow more interesting when the audience can see the world — if only for a moment —  through their eyes.

“I can’t imagine writing a character where I couldn’t get behind their point of view for the moment I was with them. When we wrote her and built her out, we had the exact same experience that the audience is having. We were like, ‘Oh my God, she’s this woman who’s trapped in this thing, and there’s only one other woman who works there. She’s also working harder than everybody else, and she’s getting no credit. She’s a freaking underdog. We’re rooting for her. How do we make her strong?’” said Gilroy.

“And then we got to [the ambush on] Ferrix, and we’re like, ‘Oh my God, look at her. What is she doing?’ There has to be another term for walking in someone’s shoes. You don’t have to endorse somebody’s thinking, philosophy, sadism or whatever, but you’ve got to get in there and be with them if you really want to have a strong character.”

It’s hard to envision all the pieces falling neatly into place with only two Season 1 episodes left, but the series has definitely framed out the brewing galactic conflict with oodles of fresh Star Wars intrigue — despite fans knowing how Cassian’s story ultimately plays out. Catch the penultimate 11th episode of Andor’s debut season on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at Disney+.

Looking for more dark sci-fi? Check out SYFY's Battlestar Galactica streaming on Peacock.