Meet Andor's Maarva Andor, The Tough And Tragic Mother You Need In The Star Wars Universe [Exclusive]

"Andor" has been one of the most surprising things "Star Wars" has ever done. After a few years of samey stories fervently focused on nostalgia and cameos from your favorite Glup Shitto-like side characters, along comes "Andor" to show that the franchise is capable of more than power fantasies and recycling nostalgia. It's been said before that this show is unlike anything else in "Star Wars," and it bears repeating, because it's true. This is a show with zero nostalgia for how cool the past was, because it focuses on the darkest chapter in the history of the franchise. It features no major cameos, but it introduces several interesting and memorable side characters who command the spotlight immediately. 

Likewise, "Andor" presents a vastly different portrayal of both the Empire and the Rebel Alliance, showing how cruel and evil the Empire really is, and how the Rebellion has to be willing to make huge sacrifices for the greater good. This leads to a show that recontextualizes the conflict of the original trilogy, showing the Galactic Civil War to be more than a superficial fantasy battle between good and evil.

Indeed, "Andor" showing a more grounded and human take on "Star Wars" even extends to its family units. While family has always been at the center of the franchise from its very beginning, rarely has it been given this level of depth. This show is different, showing us abusive relationships like Syril and Eedy, but also Cassian and Maarva Andor (played by Fiona Shaw), who is the best, toughest, most tragic maternal figure we've seen in "Star Wars" yet. 

/Film is pleased to debut an exclusive new video that highlights what makes Maarva special.

A rebel at heart

Maarva is a very different kind of character than we've seen in "Star Wars" before. When we first meet her, she is a caring mother who we discover was once a smuggler who discovered a young orphaned Cassian in a remote planet and decided to take him in and adopt him rather than risk him get killed by stormtroopers like the rest of his family. She seems to genuinely care for Cassian, who she raised as her own son, and worries whenever he gets in trouble.

But this is not a case of a stern mother who hinders the protagonist from fulfilling their dreams until they run away from home. We sympathize with Maarva because, like her, we want Cassian to rebel against the Empire, but don't want him to get caught and imprisoned (or worse). She's seen what the Empire is capable of, and she has experienced great loss at their hands — her husband Clem was executed by stormtroopers after they took over Ferrix, and she doesn't want to go through that again. And yet, Maarva is a rebel at heart. She just never had the chance to participate. 

In her time in the show, we get a sense that Maarva could have been a rebel leader, that she could have done more, but she stopped herself because she didn't want to suffer any more loss. As Fiona Shaw told The Hollywood Reporter

"Maarva has been in these moments before, the same way somebody might remember the 1960s and when the revolution died. She is somebody who remembers previous turbulence."

A caring mother

We get a sense of Maarva's rebellious past when she reacts happily to the sounds of the people of Ferrix revolting against the Empire when helping Andor escape, then again when she praises the rebels' robbery on Aldhani. Even if she doesn't know it was her son, she is Cassian's biggest supporter, and Aldhani finally awakens something in her, making her want to re-dedicate her life to the Rebellion. As Shaw says in the video, "isn't [Maarva] like all of us, that we're all rebels if we could just have the confidence to be so?"

Maarva is a unique character even among "Andor" characters. As a mother, she is as caring as Shmi Skywalker, but as fierce as Padmé. She cares about Cassian, but doesn't stop him from resisting oppression, and even encourages it. She is the opposite of Mon Mothma, a hero closer to the likes of Kino and Luthen, a character who could have served the Rebellion, but instead chose to sacrifice her chance at the spotlight to raise a rebel who would one day help destroy the Death Star. 

"Andor" is all about the unsung heroes of the Rebel Alliance, those who do everything for the cause, but don't get big medal ceremonies at the end of the story. And Maarva definitely is a hero.