Disney+’s Andor has already given us plenty of criminal activity at the expense of the Galactic Empire and their subsidiaries. We’ve seen the Empire forever. They’re only the villains of the whole saga, unless you also count the criminal underworld. But in episode four, we met a faction of the Empire we’ve seen on screen before but never spent much time with. That is the Imperial Security Branch, or ISB. All good totalitarian regimes need a security group, right? They oversee the operations on the various planets the Empire dominates. And they seemingly work to undermine all forms of rebellion. In Andor, we also meet a new figure from the ISB, Dedra Meero.
When Did the Imperial Security Bureau Start?
The Empire began when Palpatine took supreme executive powers during the Clone Wars. After Order 66 and the destruction of the Jedi, the Emperor began turning a Republic into a fascist dictatorship. Right away, 19 years before the Battle of Yavin, the ISB began. The ISB was the secret law enforcement organization of the Empire designed to root out any enemies of the regime. Their mission directive was “to further security objectives by collecting intelligence, providing useful analysis, and conducting effective covert action.” It’s a fancy way of saying “we’re the Empire’s deadliest tool.”
The ISB was but one of several umbrella organizations under the greater Commission for the Preservation of the New Order (COMPNOR). It was also larger than its sister agency Imperial Intelligence. Whenever one saw the white uniforms of the ISB, they knew they were in serious trouble. It didn’t matter if you were a rebel or another Imperial.
One of the first tasks of the ISB after the start of the Empire was to dismantle all Separatist warships, weapons, and materials. Ever wonder why we saw little in the way of Confederate ships or droids past the Clone Wars era? You can thank the ISB. And although never explicitly stated, the ISB’s task of spreading disinformation was probably why many in the galaxy did not believe the Jedi were real a mere 19 years after Order 66.
The ISB In A New Hope and Star Wars Rebels
One of the earliest members of the ISB we saw in the saga was Admiral Wullf Yularen. We first saw him in A New Hope, wearing his pristine white ISB uniform in Tarkin’s meeting aboard the Death Star. They later filled his backstory out on The Clone Wars. There, we saw he was a respected Republic general before becoming a part of the new Empire. They introduced the next most prominent ISB member in canon in Star Wars Rebels. This was Agent Alexsandr Kallus, who searched for signs of insurgency across the galaxy. This brought him into direct conflict with the crew of the Ghost. Interestingly, over several seasons, he would ultimately defect to the side of the Rebellion.
We see many members of the ISB in Andor episode four, but one of them will be our chief character within the group going forward. That is Dedra Meero, played by actress Denise Gough.
Who Is Andor‘s Dedra Meero?
The human face of the ISB in Andor is seemingly Dedra Meero. She was introduced in episode four of Andor, “Aldhani.” A young woman, she probably came of age at the dawn of the Empire. Andor introduced Dedra Meero to us as a supervisor of the ISB. Possibly because of her age, she was often overlooked by more seasoned officers. As someone who grew up in the Empire’s reign, she remains a true believer in the rule of Palpatine. She will do anything to maintain his order and views the other officers of the ISB as mediocre.
In an interview with Comic Book Movie, Dedra Meero actress Denise Gough talked about how ruthless her character is. She said that “for Dedra, it’s definitely about power, and so you see that throughout the season. You see her get closer to what she thinks is going to make her have status and make her seen. And so all the lengths that she’ll go to, who she will hurt, essentially, in order to get what she wants.”
In another interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Gough said “she sees these other lazy guys getting to have power that they don’t deserve to have. I don’t think she thinks of herself as being a woman in a man’s world. I think she just thinks, ‘I am so good at what I do, I deserve better than this.’”
Dedra Meero and the ISB After the Aldhani Incident on Andor
For the first six episodes of the series, Dedra was warning her superiors at the Imperial Security Bureau that what looked like random criminal acts were actually coordinated rebel attacks. Her higher-ups scoffed at her, and basically told her to do the job they assigned her, and not overreach. But after the Aldhani incident in Andor‘s episode six, Dedra Meero was proven correct.
In episode seven, her boss at the ISB, Major Partagaz, finally sees that she was on to something after all. After this, he expands her investigative powers and has her take over duties once belonging to Blevin, her rival at the bureau. This did not exactly please some of the other members of the Imperial Space Bureau. Knowing that her fellow ISB agents were now threatened by her, Partagaz gave her some good advice — “Watch your back.”
More generally, the Empire and Imperial Security Bureau are now reacting strongly to any perceived rebel threats. Minor indiscretions against the Empire are being heavily punished and the Empire is truly reaching out a strong hand. On the other hand, as we see with Maarva Andor, the rebellion is bolstered by this reaction. It feels like we’ll definitely see a clash between the ISB and our heroes/the heroes of the Rebellion sooner rather than later.
From the sound of things, Dedra Meero might be one of those villains that we hate, but can’t help but respect at the same time. We eagerly await to see what kind of conflict Meero, and her ISB higher-ups, have in store for Cassian Andor as the series unfolds.
Originally published September 28, 2022.