How ‘Andor’ Reminded Me of the Importance of Community Care

A series from the 'Star Wars' universe has a message for those with SMA

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by Brianna Albers |

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This year has been unprecedentedly good in terms of media. From season four of “Stranger Things” to the delightfully campy “Our Flag Means Death,” I’ve had no shortage of things to binge. But the highlight has undoubtedly been the renewed interest in “Star Wars.”

It started with the six-episode limited series “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” starring Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen. The show was special as it reunited the prequel actors for the first time since 2005. But it was also Disney’s first foray into well-written, live-action “Star Wars.”

I thoroughly enjoyed “Kenobi.” But I was infinitely more excited for “Andor,” an original series streaming exclusively on Disney+. “Rogue One” is one of my favorite movies, so I was thrilled to hear that Diego Luna was reprising his role as the titular Cassian Andor. It promised to be an exploration of some of the darker aspects of the “Star Wars” universe — something for which I’d been longing.

The premiere surpassed all my expectations and reminded me why I love stories. I know a story is done well when it has my hair standing on end — and “Andor” did.

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The first season was 12 episodes long. Every week, my dad and I settled in for an hour of groundbreaking television. We sat on the edge of our seats as Cassian went from rough-and-tumble thief to rebel and leader. I could talk for hours about the characterization and world building, but I keep coming back to the finale.

The last episode of the season was the culmination of everything that came before. Having recently escaped from prison, Cassian returns home to attend his adoptive mother’s funeral, only to find the city suffocating in the grip of the Empire.

The viewers have watched Maarva, Cassian’s adoptive mother, decline in health for weeks on end. Her death was to be expected. But what surprised me was how involved her community was. Maarva was a beloved resident of the city. People cared immensely for her well-being. When she fell ill, her community showed up to support her. They checked in regularly, and even encouraged her to see a doctor.

Maarva had the chance to leave Ferrix. Cassian all but begged her to run away with him. But she refused because her home was where her heart was, and her heart was with her people. She couldn’t bear to abandon them to the oppression of the Empire.

The people of Ferrix knew that. So they looked after her. When she died, they took care of her possessions, and even arranged her funeral. It was a beautiful act of care, her community coming together to honor a life lived well.

Maarva’s friends and family worked tirelessly to ensure her wishes were respected, defying imperial rule to observe their culture’s mourning rituals. Once everyone was assembled, Maarva’s droid played a final message from the deceased, in which she begged her people to rise up. For years they’d kept their heads down, hoping the Empire would pass them by. But tyranny rules with an iron fist. The true strength of Ferrix was its community. The only way they would overcome oppression is by standing together in solidarity.

Listening to Maarva from beyond the grave, I was reminded of the SMA community. Time and again, we show up for each other, uplifting and supporting to the best of our ability. We band together in moments of difficulty. We refuse to leave people behind.

The nondisabled world often feels like the Empire, ruling our lives from a far-off place. We rarely have a say, helpless when it comes to ableist laws. But we do our best to look after each other. When one of us dies, we do everything we can to ensure their message outlives them. We persist. We resist. And it’s that care, that bond of community, that’s kept us alive.

As we move into winter in the Northern Hemisphere, I find myself returning to Maarva’s funeral, her friends and family watching with tears in her eyes as she reminds them to love one another. Everything wanes, even power. But love is steadfast in the face of hardship. Love remains.

I don’t know what the future holds. But I know what I’m working toward: people in the streets, arms linked in solidarity. We are responsible for one another. This holiday season, what I want more than anything is for us to act like it.

Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram, subscribe to my newsletter, or support me on Substack.

Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.


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