In Praise Of Mon Mothma's Final And Subtle Transformation Into A Full-Time Rebel In Andor

This post contains spoilers for the "Andor" season 1 finale.

"Andor" has been a true breath of fresh air to the "Star Wars" franchise, in terms of tone, storytelling, visuals, and themes. One of the show's biggest contributions is its take on the Rebel Alliance. Before, the Rebels were mostly one-note, a group of chivalrous knights fighting an evil empire with pure goodness. Sure, they were cool, but there was rather little in terms of personal stakes for the non-Skywalkers or Solos in the Rebellion. Now, "Andor" is giving the Rebel Alliance more nuance, with layered inner conflict for many of the characters that turns the decision to fight the Empire into an actual personal struggle rather than a plot convenience.

This brings us to Mon Mothma, the only major "Star Wars" legacy character in "Andor," and one who's gotten a huge makeover. In the original "Star Wars" trilogy, Mon was little more than just another rebel leader who gives a big speech and then disappears, best remembered for the "Many Bothans died" meme and little else. We know she is an integral part of the Rebel Alliance, but we don't really have time to see how. Well, that's end with "Andor," a series that puts the "alliance" back in Rebel Alliance, showing how it is comprised of many different people from all walks of life. 

Mon, though similar to Leia in her high-born status, is unlike anything we've seen in the franchise before, a woman who is putting everything on the line to help the Rebellion, trapped between a desire to fight for freedom and her putting up appearances. In the "Andor" season 1 finale, however, Mothma finally sheds her persona and seemingly commits full-time to the Rebellion, all with a simple unbuttoning of her collar.

Rebellions are built on hope

All throughout the first season of "Andor," we've seen Mon Mothma caught between appearances and desire. She is dedicated to the Rebellion, but she is not going to risk losing her family and her position as a senator, which allows her to fight the Emperor on official grounds. She is also in great financial trouble, with some missing credits from her donations to the Rebel cause putting her at risk of the Empire uncovering her true profession. Her only way out seems to be to sell out her only daughter's hand in marriage to some random kid whose dad has deep pockets and, presumably, good money laundering skills.

But after realizing her daughter is at risk of becoming an extremist and a religious zealot, Mon's had enough. Though she doesn't have much to do in season 1 finale, her few scenes are quite significant. First, we see her and her husband Perrin leaving from some event, and in a moment of decisive action, Mon opens her collar and tells her driver to give them some privacy. From the show's first episode, Mon has suspected her driver to be a spy for the ISB, so she is fully aware he's gonna listen to her every word. She then proceeds to accuse her husband of gambling again, despite him promising her never to do so, and of misusing her money.

The smallest act of insurrection

It is an excellent move, one that works almost immediately as the driver tells an ISB officer of the conversation, and the officer says it might explain some dubious transactions in Mon Mothma's accounts. In one move, Mon throws her own husband under the bus, and later, when we see her introducing her daughter to the son of the money launderer, she is setting both men up. Mon can now easily blame her husband for her own actions, for trying to ask a money launderer for help, and for trying to sell her daughter in the process, ending both her marriage and freeing her daughter at the same time as she fixes her financial issues.

A detail you might have missed is the importance of Mon opening her collar right before setting her husband up. It is a subtle, quick, and small thing, but it's her way of rebelling against and shedding the perfectly curated image she's built for herself in Coruscant as a senator who doesn't get personally involved in politics outside her work. It's a move that sends the signal that she is now a full-time rebel, as seen by the fact that all the rebels' costumes in the show have open collars, while Imperial agents have high collars. This is, itself, a small way of showing that the Empire is so fixated on keeping control that it doesn't allow for even the slightest deviation from its version of acceptable, normal conduct. To quote Nemik's manifesto, "Even the smallest acts of insurrection push our lines forward."

"Andor" season 1 is streaming on Disney+.