Diego Luna’s Andor is a lot of things – the most political Star Wars show yet, an examination of both the Empire and the Rebellion in a way we haven’t seen before, and a fun spy drama. But for those in Latin America, Andor is also something more personal, a refugee story that feels incredibly close and familiar, even with its protagonists existing in a galaxy far, far, away.
Star Wars fans are more likely to focus on the callbacks to the larger franchise, which are few and far between in the first three episodes of the show, but the backstory of one Cassian Andor points to the kind of story we rarely see on TV, and that feels even more poignant as portrayed by Antonio Viña and then Diego Luna. Because refugee stories are very common in Latin America, and forced immigration sadly is too.
Cassian Andor doesn’t choose to leave his home planet, he is “rescued” by a woman who saves him from near-certain death, and who, in doing so, separates him from everything he knows and understands. Her intentions are good, there is no doubt about that, but the manner in which she goes about “saving” Cassian while robbing him of his agency is inherently problematic. And it translates into the Cassian Andor we meet as an adult, one who has built a family of sorts around him but has never truly had a home.
The story of immigrants is a story of belonging in two different places, and yet feeling like you don’t belong anywhere. In the United States, in particular, it seems like there is no real way to be Latine enough for the stereotypes. From skin color to language, the ideas of what it means to belong to our communities have often been dictated by people outside of it and reinforced by propaganda to the point where even those of us who identify as Latine have trouble fitting in with the expectations.
For Cassian Andor, a fictional character in a fictional show about space, the same holds true. Some stories, it seems, are universal. But that Star Wars can go here, and do so in a way that feels not just realistic, but nuanced, is a testament to the casting of Diego Luna at the center of this story, and of actors like Adria Arjona around him.
To be sure, Cassian Andor was already an interesting character in Rogue One. What kind of man gives up everything for a cause, for the greater good? Just getting there would have been interesting. But to see Andor tie that journey to Cassian Andor’s identity, to his forced migration, and to his search for not just a home, but a place to belong, makes it more moving than fans had any right to expect.
Concepts of home and belonging get right to the core of the immigrant experience. For many people in Latin America, and for many first-generation immigrants in the United States, the story isn’t just something they can separate themselves from. Instead, it’s their own story, and the journey of finding a place is their own journey. Not everyone gets to fight for the greater good, or join a real-life Rebellion against the Dark Side, even if politics sometimes feels as charged, but every immigrant has to find their own place in the world.
And if Diego Luna’s Andor can do that, plus become not just a spy, but a hero, then it feels like maybe there’s hope for us all.
Diego Luna’s Andor premiered with three episodes today on Disney+. New episodes will be available weekly on Wednesdays starting next week.