“Andor’s” first season is over. And what a ride.
The series, which served as a prequel to “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” which itself was a spin-off/prequel to 1977’s original “Star Wars,” could have been a bust. “Star Wars” TV shows, in the years since “The Mandalorian” first aired, have become somewhat same-y. Small scale, limited stakes, a ceiling on the emotionality or complexity of the storytelling or characters. But “Andor,” which charted the path of Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) as he becomes radicalized in the Rebellion, five years before the events of “Rogue One,” was different – it was compelling and complex, a labyrinthine spy thriller that doubled as a richly layered character study.
And the season finale … did not disappoint. All of the various plot threads converged on our beloved Ferrix, the once ungoverned planet where Cassian made a home and where the Empire has come to put the squeeze on him. Emotional, thrilling, exciting and ending on a wonderful cliffhanger, the final episode is just as good as the rest of the season. Which is to say, very, very good.
We spoke to “Andor” creator Tony Gilroy about the finale and he teases some things about the second season (which just started shooting, set to air in 2024). And yes, we go deep into spoilers so …
Major spoilers for the “Andor” finale follow. If you haven’t watched, turn back now!
Before we get into the finale, Disney is showing the first couple of episodes of “Andor” on Hulu and Freeform. It feels like a great show of support but also that maybe not enough people are watching. What is the vibe you’re getting?
I have no clue. Honest to God. I in the same day, I’ve seen completely contradictory information I make my daily pilgrimage to Twitter and see what the f–k is going on. And you go, “It’s like a disaster. No one’s watching it.” And then I see something else.
I honest to god don’t really know what the numbers are. This is what’s common. That’s what all these labor issues are about. Because this is new business. This is not anything that anybody went through before. There was this sort of yearlong era, about a year ago, where when everyone tried to make deals and try to figure out what, and everybody was trying to pretend that this is like, Oh, this is we haven’t figured out this is business. This is how we’re going to do it. We know what we’re doing. It’s the Wizard of Oz, man. And I’m not even speaking pejoratively. I’m not speaking antagonistically.
I don’t think that anybody on the Empire side or the Rebellion side, I don’t think anybody really knows what they are doing and knows what the right thing is to do for the business. I honestly don’t know what the numbers are. And as you know, the numbers mean many different things. Who’s watching, how long they watch, are you creating an asset that has decades’ worth of value? Are you opening into other IP that makes your show even more valuable than you could ever even imagine? There are so many dimensional metrics to this and they’re all obscure. I think everybody’s trying to figure it out. I think it’s going to take a long time before we know what this all means.
I talked to Diego the other day and he said you’re shooting on Monday [Monday, November 21]. As long as that is still happening.
It’s a struggle, man. I mean, it’s not. You have your ear to ground you know that in the last two years there have been shows without budgets that happened. There’s some shows that started before us without budgets that haven’t even come out yet. This show shall remain nameless, but there’s hamburger all over the highway. We are on a tight leash. It’s a big leash, but it is tight. We’re hard against it. No, I didn’t. I did a podcast earlier this afternoon, my brother John for a post-production thing. And we don’t have any deleted scenes. We didn’t shoot anything that we didn’t use. We reshot our evenings, if we felt we could do better or we had f–ked up. But that’s it. We ate everything on our plate and we cleaned our plates. And we were ran a very high-efficiency production. I think we have enough. I hope we have enough. It’s a very, it’s a very ambitious menu we’re proposing, but we’re going for it.
How early in the process did you land on this finale? How important was a big showdown on Ferrix?
On a utilitarian level, we build an eight acre, 360-degree massive set at great expense, and you got to use it. If you’re going to build it, then you’ve got to use it. But you know, from a dramatic point of view. And it’s not something it’s not the kind of thing that you reach for cynically, or even or manufacture. It’s not some cheesy thing. But as I’m writing it, you go, Oh, my God, what, what Ferrix is going through his what he’s going through, and everything that happens to him, is resonating back to Ferrix. And everything that’s happening in Ferrix is happening to him. And we get to see his internal odyssey and his internal Stations of the Cross to becoming radicalized and committed. Wow, we get to see it here. And in the place that, even if you’re have complicated feelings about Cassian and his more morality and whatever, even if you have any kind of reluctance to embrace him, it’s really hard not to fall in love with Ferrix. It’s really almost impossible to not to not feel warmth, about that place. And it warms him up.
Let’s talk about B2EMO. Was there any reluctance to placing that much emotional importance, especially in the finale, on a little faceless droid?
Well that was a multistage rocket. It was knowing that we were going to have to have a droid and it’s Maarva’s. You know, let’s have a dog. It’s an old dog. That was the first thing and we sketched it up and had it written down and then we went to the creatures department led by Neal Scanlon.
We started to say what it should look like and they came back one day with you know, like seven different versions. And we make all our modifications and we wanted this and the eye and what color and how big and whatever. And one day we went up at Pinewood to the creature factory and and they rolled it out and it’s just like, wow, it’s just sitting there. It’s heartbreaking. And then I’ll tell you, the third element was Dave Chapman.
The easiest way to do it is to have the puppeteer, the guy who’s running the creature, doing the dialogue. It’s for timing and for the other actors and that’s the most efficient and best way to do it. Dave Chapman was the puppeteer. And he’d very experienced. And it’s Dave’s voice all the way through there. And we always had the intention to re-voice this in the end. That’s just the way it always goes. We got to the end and put out the word and got all the voice tapes back and listened to, I don’t know, a dozen people, great voice artists and different interpretations. And my brother called me up one day, and he goes, “This is nuts, man. Nobody’s as good as Dave. This guy’s killing it. Like, are we allowed to you?” Because we don’t even have to loop it. It’s all in here.
Skywalker and Lucasfilm, everybody like, “Holy shit.” I got to call Dave up. I mean, the phone calls that you get to make when you hire actors and you and tell them they got the part or this? I don’t think I had a better phone call and calling Dave because he’s been doing it forever. And it was never something he would even hope for. And you go, “Dude, it’s you.” A very, very emotional phone call. Very powerful. That performance is on set.
And he survives. Was that always the plan?
They’d bring pitchforks to my house, I will tell you flat out. I can be really chippy. But I do not have the balls to kill B2 in the first season.
There’s an element of the show brought up in episode 11 of The Braid. Was that just to show that there’s more spirituality in the galaxy than just The Force?
What a heavy complication for Genevieve O’Reilly, for Mon Mothma. There’s nobody has a tougher ride than that character. Everything she does has to be observed. She’s on display all the time. She has no way of physicalizing her anxiety. She can’t go shoot a gun or blow something up or run away. She has to stay in place. She’s suddenly faced with this. I mean, the decisions that she has to face. They’re just terrifying.
And look, the other thing is in our show, if any of the elemental people go down, the whole thing goes down. There’s just collateral damage to anybody going down. She goes down, the whole thing goes down, Luthen goes down, everything goes down, Vel goes down. And then my God, this Hobson’s choice of, do I let my daughter take this introduction even? Or do I? Do I run? What do I do?
You find that they’re going full Orthodox, and what a cool ltwist and turn. And that’s a real thing, too that I was fascinated by – the hippie parents that have the hedge fund daughter. And Chandrilan culture, we spend time digging into it more later on. It’s very posh and ritual this place and we’re doing a lot of epic work along the way. Those braids, they’ll do that.
Let’s talk about Andor’s arc in this episode. Maybe we start with the final scene, with him and Luthen.
Oh, start with that. There’s no game there. What he says to him is legit. Seriously, recuit me or kill me. Ferrix is gone, his mother’s gone. He’s been through all this stuff, he’s tired. He can’t keep running. It’s the tension of not belonging anywhere. He’s been an exile. And he’s exhausted. And he’s imprisoned and he’s in and he’s out.
The need to have a home, the need to have to land is also completely matched by the passion of his anger and the realization of how dark and evil and how great it is to destroy this f–king Empire. He means that he’s all in, we will not be putting his commitment to the cause in debate going forward. He’s still all in the other issues. And many of you know, this season was all about becoming that person, then the other four years are becoming a lot of other things and becoming a leader and surfing your way through all the rest of the revolution.
It’s interesting to have the big climax be about this character who is so action-driven but spends most of the time in the shadows.
He’s hiding because there’s like 20 people and they want to kill him. He’s found out that Bix is trapped. And that’s part of his motivation. You know, he feels so responsible for what’s happened to her. He’s been with her whole life and she’s so important to him. So that’s part of it. And things on the ground are out of his control and taking a shape that, that he never expected the same way that Luthen is watching.
He is, in a stupid sort of doctoral thesis, I don’t work this way… I don’t think this way when it happens. But he’s watching himself writ large on the streets, that yes, that’s his consciousness coming together from various points of view around the town. When you get there you go, like, Oh, my God, I didn’t. I didn’t, I didn’t know I was doing this. But wow, look how look how smart we are for doing this. When I saw those dailies come in, it’s like, Wow, man, you could watch all the parts of yourself coalescing to where you are, that’s really what’s happening.
Let’s talk about the big post-credits scene.
As much shit as I brought into the writers room, all kinds of different things and all kinds of scenes all the way through and sketches for stuff and ideas for stuff, I did not have. Luke Hall who’s really my primary collaborator above all and he’s the production designer because he I have to do everything with him first before anything. Luke was in our in our first writer room.
And when we were doing the prison stuff, we said we’re not going to do prison if we have to do something that’s already been done. We want it to be new or we’ll do something else and or substitute something else for it. I cannot remember in the speed and blur of the room, but someone said, “Electric floors.” I’m like, “Okay, wow, what’s that like?” And then the factory and making these things. And then we have to go off with Luke. And they designed the actual process and what the thing was and that got refined and then we got there. We’re like, “F–k what are they building? They’re building parts for the Death Star.” We had that idea.
And then we thought, oh how smart we are and how clever and whatever and we gave that idea to the visual effects department. The visual effects department is like Santa Claus, you give them these ideas and you go back to a visual effects review and you just go into like, “Oh my god, can we have that?” They went off and built that whole thing and brought it back to us. And we tweaked it a little bit, but it’s really their baby.
The thing I would say about it from a bigger point of view, is that Cassian is like Zelig. Not in the shapeshifter away but in the fact that he’s at all these events that matter and we don’t want pixie dust and I don’t want to do something in some goofball, manipulative way. But that’s the centerpiece. That guy is in prison, becoming radicalized and becoming a leader for the first time and coalescing a lot of these elements inside himself that are building up. He’s building this thing. He has no idea what it is, he will never know what it is. He’s building the thing that’s ultimately going to kill him.
“Andor” will be back for 12 new adventures in 2024. Season 1 is now streaming in its entirety on Disney+.