The following contains spoilers for Andor Season 1, Episode 9, “Nobody’s Listening!”, now streaming on Disney+.
Mothers — both biological and surrogate — have always played a quiet role in Star Wars. Though often absent and rarely perfect, they’re often portrayed as supportive and good-hearted. Shmi Skywalker is the strongest example, raising Anakin to be a good-hearted boy before letting him go in the name of giving him a better life. Leia’s bond with her villainous child Ben remains a palpable force throughout the sequel trilogy, while adoptive mothers like Beru Lars do a great deal of heavy parental lifting offscreen. Even Padme Amidala — who died giving birth — conveyed some measure of her love and devotion to her children.
Until recently, Star Wars hasn’t shown any flat-out bad mothers. That changed with Andor in a big way, however. Eedy Karn — Syril’s grasping and manipulative sire — is a quiet nightmare in a series full of them. Watching her go to work on her son informs the quietly terrible nature of the galaxy under the Empire, and her effect on him stands in sharp contrast to the far more benevolent maternal figures the franchise has delivered thus far.
Eedy Makes Syril’s Life Miserable in Andor
Eedy lives on Coruscant, and Syril comes to stay with her after the disastrous Ferrix incident in Season 1, Episode 4, “Aldhani.” She greets him by slapping him in the face before a perfunctory embrace, and the passive aggression is apparently a feature not a bug. She subsequently delivers a symphony of quietly devastating observations about Syril’s various inadequacies: reminding him of his failure at Ferrix without having to say a word. She calls in a family favor the get him a new job in the Imperial bureaucracy — and never lets him forget it — while sniping at him about everything from his food to the height of his collar. She denies him privacy as well, and makes it clear that his business is automatically hers by default as long as he lives there.
The impact of Eedy’s behavior on Syril is demonstrative. The young man lives in a state of constant anxiety, papered over by stiff politeness and hiding a growing mania beneath the surface. The Norman Bates vibes are in ample abundance, and while Syril remains fixated on Cassian Andor as the source of his woes, his mother feeds that fire every episode simply by sharing the same space with him.
Eedy’s Values Are The Empire’s Values
Andor has its share of good mothers too: notably the quietly selfless Maarva Andor and the distant-but-making-an-effort Mon Mothma. Like their predecessors in the Star Wars saga, they tend to embody everything the Empire opposes, such as selflessness and concern for others. It’s a small wonder so many of them are political leaders. Eedy, on the other hand, concerns herself solely with station and standing. Success is measured by competition, and whatever her son wishes to become pales before social expectations and the perception of authority.
It makes her an adept stand-in for the Empire itself, whose values she embodies and for whom Syril is an eager accomplice. Like them, Syril can’t escape her, and like them, she insists on making his life quietly miserable every single moment. Eedy does it all in the name of improving her son, or at least ensuring that he succeeds within the corrupt system. Syril’s final fate has yet to be revealed, but he’s clearly building towards an emotional explosion, and it’s apt to be even uglier than the debacle at Ferrix. Eedy didn’t light that fuse, but she’s doing everything she can to shorten it.
Star Wars tends to focus solely on the heroes, and while its villains are generally terrific, audiences see little of their day-to-day lives. Andor changes that with its collection of Imperials: most of whom trudged through a meaningless but pressure-filled existence even more miserable than the Rebels they fight. Eedy puts a frighteningly friendly face on that vibe: reminding those caught in the Empire’s grip that it’s all for their own good. Star Wars doesn’t have a lot of evil mothers, but this one seems to be making up for lost ground.
New episodes of Andor stream every Wednesday on Disney+.