There aren’t many Stormtroopers in Andor. They weren’t absent – they patrolled the streets of Ferrix from time to time, appearing often enough to suggest that they could always show up – but they never gathered. It’s a strange thing about a story that focuses so strongly on the Empire, the image of which is a part of itself fabric of Star Wars. Can you think of a Star Wars story without a soldier wearing a helmet?
Andor exists in opposition to this. Its main depiction of the Empire is not soldiers in fine armor, nor their weapons of war – the images mean something before they become aspects of a brand’s identity. brand – which is give the Empire a face. This face is decided Not Emperor. Sheev Palpatine, ironically, couldn’t be less important to the Empire he founded. His power to rule the galaxy did not come from being a Sith mastermind. It comes from desk workers and corporate advocates, in boardrooms and economic incentives, on every dynamic that turns people against one another instead of building community and the United.
This is what makes the Royal Security Board among the most fascinating things about Andor. Through bureaucratic meetings, people vie for power and positions under Major Partagaz (Anton Lesser), a polite and assertive official who knows how to run a meeting: The quicker the better. Under his watch, different strategies have emerged to handle the nascent Uprising and the good little ISB employees try to improve their station by making him happy by any means. any way necessary.
According to this framework, the Emperor would completely ruin the story even if he just showed up Andor talking about the Imperials. As a character that is referenced but never shown, there is no way for viewers or characters to know if a particular quest is really the Emperor’s will, or if a character’s superior officer actually Just had a conversation with Palpatine. Here’s the point: It doesn’t matter. The oppression trickled down.
People willing to get their hands dirty are also given the tools to extend that oppression, in hopes of avoiding its pain. By far, the most devastating weapon in Andor not a space station or a gun, but a Public Order Judgment Directive issued by the ISB. Under this new law, passed after Successful rebel raid on Aldhani in “The Eye”, Harsh penalties are issued for actions classified as “actions against the Empire”, and the definition of those acts depends on the person enforcing the law.
This is the way, in “Narkina 5,” Andor was arrested and sent to a labor prison with a six-year sentence for no other reason than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It gives ISB officer Dedra Meero the impetus to steal the Imperial code to track down Andor’s remaining friends on Ferrix. It indirectly clogs serial boot Syril Karn to feel like his ambitions have value, and repeatedly stress his luck with Meero in order to impose his sense of order and correctness on everyone around him.
This is a marked change in the depiction of the Empire, which previously focused primarily on the scale and machinery of war. But the kind that can be flexed by the Empire in the Original Trilogy comes with a price to pay, and that price is a Andor emphatically: The Empire is being thinly spread. It cannot be everywhere at once. And so it wields the fascist boss’s greatest weapon: bringing in former liberals to act as policemen themselves.
Syril Karn illustrates this. Karn is still AndorThe sharpest tool, an evil character who doesn’t even pay homage to the Emperor. He just loves Rule, and sees the Empire as the pure ideal of an orderly society, where rule-breakers are turned into troublemakers the way he did for being such a stubborn with them. He is also the source of Andorthe most damn bit of visual storytelling, back to his mother’s house where he constantly eats breakfast cereal: There, on the shelf in his bedroom, are figurines of Stormtrooper. They wear masks that he can’t, but he believes he can fight their war in his small way. To him, the world was full of people who broke the rules and evaded it, and stopping them was as valuable as any Stormtrooper fighting for the Empire.
With men like Karn, the Emperor never needed to show up to keep order in his tiny fascist kingdom. He has soldiers everywhere.