The following contains spoilers for Andor season 1, episode 4 “Aldhani,” now streaming on Disney+.
Throughout Emperor Palpatine’s reign in star wars, Imperial forces focused on creating order, which included wiping out many cultures from the galaxy in favor of one united empire. In many cases, their actions were overtly genocidal, such as the enslavement of Wookiees and the murder of Jedi. However, the Empire also attempted to destroy the cultures of the galaxy through forced assimilation.
AndorThe fourth episode of “Aldhani” illustrated some of the more subtle attempts at cultural erasure of the Empire through the lens of the titular people. The rebels used their knowledge of Aldhani cultural history to plan their assault on the Imperial garrison precisely because they believed the Empire would reject Aldhani rituals and beliefs. If the rebels are successful in their assault in episode five, Aldhani will serve as another example of the Empire’s ruthlessness leading to their downfall.
Aldhani’s conquest of Andor Reflects real-world colonialism
The Empire’s conquest of Aldhani reflects from Andor focus on reality and the subtler means of evil. Vel Sartha, the leader of the rebel forces on Aldhani, explained that the Empire had forced over 40,000 Aldhani from their homes. “They had been here for centuries,” Vel said, “but it only took the Empire a decade to wipe them out.” The Empire’s actions on Aldhani show how quickly they moved to eradicate cultures that didn’t fit Palpatine’s vision for the galaxy.
The Empire forced most of the Aldhani to settle in newly built Imperial colonies and attempted to assimilate them into Imperial culture. The imperial government most likely justified this decision under the pretext of creating a united empire, but they were trying to eliminate the culture of the Aldhani and replace it with their own. The plight of the Aldhani reflects real-world colonialism. Throughout history and especially when countries attempt to build empires, conquering nations often commit genocide against people from other cultures or attempt to replace them with their own through assimilation.
At a press conference before from Andor version, Diego Luna mentioned that from Andor diversity reflects the real world more than many others star wars works. Luna specifically discussed this mirroring in regards to Cassian Andor’s status as a refugee and the various identities of other refugees throughout the series. Aldhani’s story helps advance the goal to land Andor in reality despite the tale taking place in a galaxy far, far away.
The Aldhani culture could become a pivot against the Empire
While colonialism and empires might try to destroy other cultures, those cultures sometimes survive thanks to the resilience of ordinary people and their refusal to be erased. Vel also explained that the Empire had built its garrison at Akti Amaugh – the Valley of the Caves – which was sacred and also contained the Nasma Klain, which houses both a sacred river and the Temple of Nasma Brani. The Empire saw the land only as a storage place for its cause and had no respect for the importance the valley had in Aldhani religion and culture.
However, building their fortress at Akti Amaugh may also have been a fatal mistake in the Empire’s plans. Lieutenant Gorn explained that Mak-ani bray Dhani, also known as the “Eye of Aldhani”, is an event that occurs every three years. Gorn described the event as the equivalent of “50 meteor showers at once, but like a curtain drawn across the sky until the Eye, the window to the galaxy, forms on the horizon” . The rebels’ plan relies on the use of the Mak-ani bray Dhani as cover for their robbery of the sector’s Imperial payroll. Their knowledge of the culture provides the Rebellion with a unique opportunity to confront the Empire.
Vel’s rebels illustrate how the rebellion’s focus on individual cultures helped them survive. While the Empire has been on the planet for 13 years and has probably witnessed the Mak-ani bray Dhani, they clearly haven’t developed any protocols or altered any plans to accommodate the event – which again shows their arrogance. If the heist is successful, the rebel group will have secured vital funding for the rebellion. The Empire’s refusal to respect other cultures and their history could directly lead to the growth of the nascent rebellion against Imperial tyranny.
New episodes of Andor air Wednesdays on Disney+.