Andor Episode 5 Explains Why Rebel Tech Is So Unique (And So Janky-Looking)

Spoilers ahead for the fifth episode of "Andor."

A prequel to "Rogue One," "Andor" has quickly established itself as one of the more grounded (and consistently great) offerings from the "Star Wars" universe on Disney+. From its on-screen talent to the tight, no-nonsense writing, the series separates itself by leaning into the darker aspects of the Empire's reign and the fight against it. The thematic elements of oppression and rebellion are far more realized than in previous projects, despite the scale being considerably smaller. A part of that is the attention to detail, especially when it comes to rebels and their silent but deadly war against the Empire.

The fifth episode sheds light on why exactly the rebel tech featured in "Andor" is so janky-looking in comparison with the advanced technology of the Empire. For both philosophical and strategic reasons, the rebels opt to use dated devices and weaponry in their high-stakes ventures. Fighting a seemingly unbeatable enemy requires more than just fighting fire with fire, and the rebel group featured in "Andor" understands that.

Going analog

In the latest episode, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) finds himself in an enlightening discussion with Karis Nemik (Alex Lawther) about an old-fashioned navigational tool: a near-obsolete technology the group relies on. According to Nemik, using the more advanced technology had its disadvantages, especially since it was often the same used by the Empire themselves. Similar devices could be tracked and hijacked, so the rebels decided to abandon modernity for tried-and-true devices that are more reliable than their high-tech counterparts. Not only can devices like the one Nemik shows Andor be used without enemy interference, they can also be repaired by the rebels themselves. 

This explanation lays the groundwork for the often banged-up ships, weapons, and droids employed by the Rebel Alliance across numerous "Star Wars" stories. We've already seen the rebels brandish blasters that look centuries (and galaxies) removed from what the Empire uses. Looking beyond "Andor," I think it is safe to assume that this rings true for the rest of the saga, especially the original trilogy. 

Separating themselves from modern technology allows the rebels to divert attention from the enemy, but it also serves a philosophical purpose.

Sticking it to the Empire

For the rebels, freeing themselves from the shackles of oppression means more than just blindly firing back at the oppressor. As Nemik remarks, the quick and decisive nature of oppression can cloud their ability to properly understand and dismantle it if they are not careful. The practical purpose of abandoning advanced technology is evident, but it also serves as a form of protest against the establishment. It's the Star Wars equivalent of switching from an iPhone to a flip phone, except with much higher stakes. 

The conversation between Andor and Nemik is probably the most important of the series thus far. "Andor" does not sugarcoat their reality with simple-minded slogans or ambitions, instead intelligently framing their circumstance as a representation of all who fall victim to the machine and its oppressive cogs. It's a small but vital touch of world-building. that adds some much-needed nuance to the bigger picture.

New episodes of "Andor" release Wednesdays on Disney+.