Andy Serkis Returns To Star Wars In Andor Episode 8, But Don't Start With Your Crazy Snoke Theories

Spoilers for the latest episode of "Andor" will follow.

In the weeks since "Andor" arrived on the scene, it has proven itself to have absolutely zero interest in cameos, references, or Easter eggs just for the sake of them. This radical, novel idea to put story and character above shared universe connections — in case it's not clear, please note the sarcasm dripping from that sentence — puts the prequel series in a league of its own compared to other "Star Wars" media in recent years. As surface-level enjoyable as they might be, shows like "The Mandalorian" and "The Book of Boba Fett" increasingly seem to exist solely to activate the pleasure centers of fanboy brains, digitally de-aging actors for off-putting and distracting appearances, or turning a standalone story into a semi-sequel to a much more popular series for kicks.

Meanwhile, "Andor" has consistently refuted those meme-worthy allegations tossed at "Star Wars" in general since Disney took over the franchise. But that only makes it all the more eyebrow-raising that the latest episode (as recapped by /Film's Bryan Young) went and cast a very recognizable, familiar actor from another "Star Wars" chapter for a key role.

Yes, Andy Serkis makes his "Star Wars" return, and this time it's in the flesh, as opposed to his motion-capture duties as Supreme Leader Snoke in "The Force Awakens" and "The Last Jedi." In "Andor," Serkis portrays a brutally efficient line supervisor named Kino Loy, tasked with overseeing the Imperial prison labor program Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) is trapped in and ensuring it runs at a smooth clip. 

Before anyone gets ahead of themselves, there's no reason to believe this is anything other than what it is: a returning "Star Wars" actor cast in a brand-new role. Sorry, Snoke truthers, but here's why you should keep those fan-theories to yourselves.

Not everything needs to be connected

Much has already been written about just how different in tone, ambition, and purpose "Andor" continues to be week in and week out. This latest episode once more puts its priorities in the right order, using Andy Serkis' character to underline its points on the prison industrial complex. While some background players have been included in the story to deepen connections to other franchise installments, these instances of deep-cut lore references never come at the cost of overwhelming the narrative or distracting viewers from what's most important in any given episode.

That doesn't sound like the kind of show that would suddenly pull the rug out from viewers and randomly introduce an origin story for a shadowy villain who existed behind the curtain in a sequel trilogy that's utterly unconnected to the events of "Andor," does it? The phrase "media literacy" has popped up on social media with more and more frequency lately, implicitly calling out those who fail to engage in good faith with movies or shows in favor of their own head-canon or fan-theories completely unsupported by the actual text. Serkis' appearance in this episode will likely stand as the latest example of how certain types of viewers choose to interpret stories, not as vehicles for theme, subtext, and characterization, but as Easter egg delivery systems with no larger reason to exist besides #branding.

On some level, this may be the fault of modern "Star Wars" media that have conditioned fans to consume content in such a harebrained way. On the other hand, "Andor" really isn't doing anything more complex than simply telling its own story. In this case, Serkis' appearance really isn't any deeper than that.

Several actors have played multiple Star Wars characters before

After spending so much time talking about how different "Andor" is from other "Star Wars" media, how about one major reason why this prequel series actually upholds franchise tradition?

After Serkis first portrayed the villainous Snoke in the first two movies of the sequel trilogy, fan speculation kicked into overdrive over who this mysterious character really is and what his motivations really are (the unsatisfying answer provided in "The Rise of Skywalker" ought to have served as the ultimate lesson of being careful of what you wish for). Upon his introduction as a new and never-before-seen character in the latest episode of "Andor," one could practically sense all the YouTube videos and viral tweets getting ready to take advantage of any lingering Snoke obsession still out there.

But if it puts anyone's minds at ease, it helps to recall that Serkis would hardly be the first "Star Wars" actor to be brought back in another role entirely. Lest we forget, none other than Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, came back to put his voice acting talents to good use as Darth Bane in "The Clone Wars," along with other random roles in the movies. Even casual fans likely know that franchise legends Kenny Baker and Anthony Daniels have both portrayed multiple characters over the years outside of their fan-favorite droids. There's a long and storied tradition of "Star Wars" employing the same performers for wildly varying roles, and there's no reason to believe that Serkis' return in "Andor" is any different.

This non-controversy shouldn't and hopefully won't overtake the discourse surrounding "Andor," which stands on its own as one of the very best new stories set in the galaxy far, far away. Let's just enjoy the fact that we're getting a double-dose of Andy Serkis.