Why Andor Has So Few Easter Eggs—And Why That's a Good Thing
Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in Lucasfilm's new Disney+ series 'Andor' Credit - Lucasfilm Ltd.
In the first three episodes of Andor—and presumably for the rest of the new Disney+ series—those loyal to the Empire will do their best to hunt down Diego Luna’s titular Rebel spy. They will have a hard time, though, because Cassian Andor is good at what he does. Star Wars fans might likewise be on a mission to hunt down any Easter eggs or sneaky references in Andor. They too will have a hard time because Andor is, at least through its opening episodes, remarkably devoid of them.
Most Star Wars shows on Disney+ are packed with obscure references to the animated Clone Wars or Rebels series, deep-cut lore from the original trilogy or the prequels, or allusions to the mountains of Star Wars content that’s no longer canonical ever since Disney took ownership of the franchise. But Andor, a prequel to the 2016 spin-off movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (which itself was a prequel to the original Star Wars film, A New Hope), doesn’t have much in the way of sneaky, winky connections to the wider Star Wars universe. That’s by design, according to Tony Gilroy, who created the series and had a heavy hand in making Rogue One.
That’s not to say that there are absolutely no Easter eggs in the first couple of episodes—there is a smattering, though they’re so subtle and natural that they might not even count, depending on what your definition of the term is. Regardless, the dearth of Easter eggs in Andor is the best thing that could have happened to Star Wars, even if some die-hard fans might not realize it while they search for hidden secrets in vain.
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Andor’s creator wanted to avoid fan service
Andor, not unlike the Obi-Wan Kenobi limited series from earlier this summer, goes back in the Star Wars timeline to tell a story about a character whose ultimate fate viewers already know. Cassian Andor, played by Luna, did not survive the events of 2016’s Rogue One, which saw him give his life stealing crucial Death Star plans. However, unlike Obi-Wan, which was most notable for bringing Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen back to reprise their roles for the first time since 2005’s Revenge of the Sith, there’s nothing about Andor that will inherently delight fans of the prequels, or the cartoons, or any of the other Star Wars movies, really.
“We didn’t want to do anything that was fan service,” Gilroy told IGN prior to the premiere. “We never wanted to have anything… the mandate in the very beginning was that it would be as absolutely non-cynical as it could possibly be, that the show would just be real and honest.”
In other words, Andor, while admittedly an origin story that will, by the end of its two planned seasons, lead up to the events of Rogue One, aims to exist on its own merits. That means avoiding peppering the screen with obscure distracting references or Easter eggs that could leave an episode feeling more like a Force-sensitive Where’s Waldo than an actually engrossing story.
There are a few Easter eggs in Andor, but they’re organic
Granted, Andor does not exist in a total vacuum. It is part of the Star Wars franchise after all, and takes place in the same galaxy far, far away. Recognizable characters will appear and you might even catch some familiar proper nouns, by Gilroy’s own admission.
“We will be introducing people along the way,” Gilroy said, acknowledging that, for instance, Forest Whitaker’s anti-Imperial extremist character from Rogue One, Saw Gerrera, will make an appearance in Andor. However, Saw Gerrera is a major player in the early stages of the Rebellion in the time period when Andor is set. If an Easter egg is typically a fun little bonus bit of information that rewards those who are in the know enough to notice and understand it, Saw Gerrera is a much more organic, load-bearing aspect of the Star Wars world.
As Gilroy put it, “There will be some other people. But when we bring them, we bring them because we need them and because there’s really some protein there, there’s something for them to really do.”
What few “Easter eggs” there are to be found in the first three episodes of Andor, which all dropped earlier this week, are much more akin to natural bits of worldbuilding than shout-outs to the fandom. (Members of the press were sent the fourth episode, too, and without spoiling anything about what happens in Episode 4, the relative lack of fandom-pleasing Easter eggs continues.)
In Episode 3, Cassian and Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgård) escape on a 74-Z speeder bike, which fans will remember from the high-speed chase on the Forest Moon of Endor in Return of the Jedi. Is that an Easter egg, though, or does it just make sense that a widespread and established mode of ground transportation might appear again, here? Same goes with the Y-Wing that can be spotted in the shipyard where Cassian gets his rides. It’s recognizable, sure, but it feels less like a reward for eagle-eyed fans and more a natural occurrence of having an expansive franchise where there are a lot of different types of spaceships. It would almost be weirder if every ship in Andor was brand-new.
There are a few planets that, while not nearly as famous among fans as Tatooine or Coruscant, are nonetheless pre-established parts of the Star Wars Universe. Timm Karlo (James McArdle), the new boyfriend of Cassian’s ex and ally Bix Caleen (Adria Arjona), mentions Wobani, a planet that makes a brief appearance in Rogue One when Cassian springs Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) from an Imperial prison.
While Cassian’s true home planet Kenari made its debut in this show, the planet he claims to be from as part of his cover story, Fest, has appeared before. The planet made its debut as a level in the 1995 video game Star Wars: Dark Forces and has since been folded into the mainstream Star Wars canon. Due to its origins, Fest is probably the thing in Andor’s first three episodes that feels the most like a true Easter egg, but even then, it’s not distracting. Cassian needs to (pretend to) be from somewhere. Why not Fest?
Finally, Bix asks for a cup of “Caf” when she wakes up. This is only an Easter egg because it is very funny to hear a real person say, out loud, the name of “Coffee” in the Star Wars Universe. Canonically, coffee is called “Caf” in Star Wars, the same way that the jazz-like music genre is officially called “Jizz.” Can’t blame Andor for being consistent.
The relative lack of Easter Eggs helps make Andor exciting—and it’s what Star Wars needs
Finding Easter eggs is fun! It’s nice to get a little rush and feel the thrill of the hunt, it feels good to have your fandom rewarded, and it can be exciting to speculate on whether an Easter egg could be heralding something much bigger, like the return of a forgotten character or a possible spin-off. However, constant vigilance can distract from one’s enjoyment of a story. Moreover, an endless barrage of references to other, seemingly more exciting things can have the side effect of making the very thing you’re watching seem like an afterthought. Why care about Cassian Andor’s story if there’s a stealthy reference to [insert obscure Jedi character here]?
In the grand scheme of Star Wars, Cassian Andor is not that important a character. He’s not a main character like Obi-Wan, he’s not a longtime fan-favorite like Boba Fett, and he’s not a beloved character from the cartoons like Ahsoka Tano, who will be getting her own live-action series. Cassian is the secondary lead of a spin-off movie. And yet, Andor is a fresh-feeling, exciting tale. A large part of that goes to Gilroy’s writing and direction, talented actors, and the fact that much of the show was filmed on location instead of in front of Disney’s high-tech LED screens.
The lack of Easter eggs and fan service is a huge part of Andor’s early critical success, too. While so many recent Star Wars titles have been about expanding the universe or promoting cartoon characters to live-action, Andor is so far only really concerned with, well, Andor. It’s a level of confidence that the franchise as a whole could benefit from adopting, rather than getting distracted with tantalizing Easter eggs.