Mon Mothma's Story Takes Another Troubling Turn In Andor Episode 11

This post contains spoilers for "Andor" episode 11.

When it was first revealed that 2015's long-awaited "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" would center on a "not the Galactic Empire" in the form of the First Order, it was hard not to roll one's eyes at the idea. That feeling only intensified when it came to light that the First Order would have its own Death Star-style superweapon in the form of Starkiller Base. Was this really the best premise the movie's creatives could come up with? The Empire all over again, only bigger and more extreme? As though the generation of civilians who grew up hearing stories about Emperor Palpatine's terrible regime would somehow get it in their heads that the real problem with the Empire was that it didn't go far enough. Talk about hack writing, eh?

"Lord, what fools these mortals be," as Puck puts it in William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

Since its release, "The Force Awakens" has proven alarmingly prescient in the way it depicts a younger generation openly embracing the oppressive politics and fascist ideologies that those who came before them valiantly fought to overcome. Those same anxieties — that is, the fear that young people will actively choose not to rage against the machine and fail to learn from the mistakes of the past — are at the heart of movies like Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss's acclaimed 2020 documentary "Boys State" (you can read /Film's original review of the film here). They've also surfaced in the "Star Wars" universe once again with "Andor" episode 11 thanks to the latest troubling turn in Mon Mothma's story.

Like mother, (not) like daughter

It's been obvious for a while that the kids aren't alright in the Mothma household. Mon's teen daughter Leida (Bronte Carmichael) has spent much of "Andor" so far ducking out of her parents' social gatherings and either talking back to her mother or eying her with suspicion. The hope was that Leida merely believed Mon (Genevieve O'Reilly) was another misguided adult caught up trying to make the clearly broken system that is the Galactic Senate work when she should be ardently trying to overthrow it. Could it be that Leida's been unknowingly following in her mother's footsteps and covertly rebelling against the Empire this whole time?

Sadly, unless "Andor" is purposely misleading us in episode 11 (and I certainly wouldn't put it past the show to be doing just that), that's not the case. Instead, episode 11 shows Leida participating in some type of Chandrilan group ritual that involves her and other Chandrilan women her age on Coruscant repeating a rather unsettling chant of which we only catch bits and pieces:

"Yielding in acceptance. Safe in the braid of the old ways. True and steady and braided in trust. The old ways hold us. Safe in the knot, in the binding. The old ways teach us. Bound against the wind, tied to shore. Tethered in permanence ... True and steady and braided in trust ... In the knot in the binding ..."

If it wasn't made clear by the way the audio of this chant overlaps with the scene before this one (in which a sickly looking Bix is interrogated by Imperials), the visual of Mon drinking heavily as she watches this ritual unfold behind glass panels makes it crystal-clear: Whatever is going on here, it's exactly the sort of thing Mon wanted to protect Leida from.

'Seriously? Is that really happening?'

Vel (Faye Marsay), a queer Chandrilan woman who has perhaps even less love for her culture's conservative, backward ways than her cousin, is visibly angry to see what's going on when she joins Mon. "Seriously? Is that really happening?" Vel snaps. "You're not following the trends," the latter calmly but solemnly notes, revealing that neither she nor her — let's be real, useless — husband Perrin (Alastair Mackenzie) has encouraged this. Quite the opposite, it seems Leida and her peers have taken this activity up of their own accord.

Again, unless it turns out Leida and her friends are actually using these get-togethers as a front for their own secret rebellious activities on the side, this is Mon's worst nightmare come true. One can sympathize with these Chandrilan teens, who seem to be acting under the belief that they are merely honoring their cultural heritage and not willingly participating in their own subjugation. But for Mon, it's just one more thing that puts pressure on her to accept the unnerving deal that Davo Sculdun (Richard Dillane) offered her in exchange for him making it easier for Mon to siphon funds to the budding Rebel Alliance.

Is Leida doomed to find herself trapped in an arranged, impassionate marriage like Mon without realizing it? Might this be the latest (and hardest) sacrifice Mon is forced to make in service of the dawning Rebellion? "Andor" has proven to be a show about the harsh realities of what it takes to start a true revolution and the ways people are often complicit in their own oppression, so it's a real possibility. As we've seen in the real-world, breaking these types of terrible cycles is rarely as easy as we would like. 

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