At its core, Andor is a show about sacrifice. Hope alone is not enough to create a better world. Meaningful change requires meaningful action, and often that action comes with a cost few are willing to pay. Not all sacrifice is the same, though. The exact price required of any person can be dramatically different. Kino Loy and Luthen Rael represent the cost of true sacrifice, for neither will ever benefit from their actions. But the series’ eleventh episode added even greater depth to its most important theme by showing there are greater sacrifices one can make than giving up their lives or even their souls. Mon Mothma’s desire to save the galaxy far, far away has put her in an impossible spot. She must decide if her daughter is a price she’s willing to pay for the Rebellion.
Prior to Andor, Mon Mothma was known almost entirely as a public figure in Star Wars. That was enough to make her sympathetic and worthy of praise. Her existence as a former Senator serving as the public face of the Rebellion made her one of the franchise’s greatest heroes. But her role on Andor is revealing why Mon Mothma’s dedication to the cause is both far greater and tragic than we ever knew.
Mon Mothma is not merely a political figure. She’s a person with a family who has no idea just how amazing she is. Worse, they resent her for the person they believe her to be. Mon Mothma’s husband Perrin, who we first meet on Andor, is a vapid, unserious man who would rather hob knob with Imperialists than support his wife in any way. But Mon can at least take comfort in knowing that distaste is mutual. There’s no such comfort to be found in the distance that exists between her and her daughter Leida. And with the decision Mon Mothma must now make on Andor, it’s a chasm she might never be able to cross again.
Until Andor‘s “Daughter of Ferrix” it was easy to imagine why Leida is so cold to her mother. For one, she’s a teenager, and it’s not exactly uncommon for teens to push away from their parents as they grow more independent. Especially when her mother works as much as Mon does. Mon Mothma is not only a politician, she’s secretly a Rebel, all of which takes her away from home all the time. Of course, even “home” is an issue for Leida, a child of a Senator who must live on a foreign planet. But now we know the two also have fundamentally different beliefs.
Mon Mothma is a progressive who despises the old customs of her home world of Chandrila. Those customs resulted in her marrying at just 15 to a man she no longer likes, let alone loves. But it turns out Leida not only embraces “the old ways,” but they bring her great comfort. Chandrila customs are the only source of happiness and friendship Leida has on Coruscant. And that puts her mother—who has already sacrificed her time and daughter’s love to the Rebellion—in an impossible spot.
The Empire was already cracking down on the free movement of money before the robbery at Aldhani. Now it will soon discover 400,000 credits missing from Mon Mothma’s financial accounts. That will inevitably lead to an investigation of the Senator, which will put the entire Rebellion at risk. Mon Mothma funded much of Luthen’s work on Andor. If Mon falls, it won’t just be her wealth or life she loses. Mon Mothma could risk the entire fate of the galaxy.
That predicament is how Andor‘s Davo Sculdun, a Chandrilan banker with a notorious and disreputable reputation, ended up in Mon Mothma’s house on Coruscant. He might be the only one who can help her escape her financial troubles before they become the Rebellion’s problem. Only Davo does not want money. Nor does he even want to have a powerful politician in his debt. He simply wants his teenage son to have a meeting with Leida.
Initially, that didn’t seem like much of a problem. Just because two kids meet doesn’t mean they’ll fall in love, let alone get married. It’s why Mon’s initial refusal of Davo’s request seemed to be purely one of principle. She simply wouldn’t allow her daughter to be used in an improper way, even if that meeting would almost certainly prove inconsequential. Only we now know why Mon Mothma really refused: she knows her daughter will likely marry Davo’s son.
Leida is the exact age when Chandrila custom says she should marry. Even if she were close with her mother rather than openly hostile to Mon, Leida seems all but certain to embrace a proposal from Davo’s boy. This arrangement is the exact kind Leida believes in and is eager to accept.
Mon Mothma is a good person with good intentions, and she doesn’t want her daughter to hate her. But until now, she could always take comfort in knowing that while her actions as a Senator and Rebel make her daughter resentful, she was always doing what she thinks is best for Leida. Mon Mothma doesn’t want her child to grow up in a world with the Empire. She wants a better future for Leida same as she does the entire galaxy. Losing her daughter’s love hasn’t been an easy price to pay thus far, but it’s one Mon understood to be necessary (and hopefully temporary).
Only now, the totality of Mon Mothma’s actions—made without her family’s knowledge—have brought her to a place where the cost of sacrifice will be unimaginable no matter which choice she makes. If she doesn’t accept Davo’s offer, the Empire will learn of the stolen money, leading to untold pain and misery for so many. That might very well include the lives of her and her family. But if Mon Mothma does let the children meet on Andor, she will be using her daughter as an unwitting soldier in a war Leida isn’t fighting.
Even if Leida might believe herself to desire a traditional match, it is not the life Mon Mothma hoped to give her. She will instead be dooming her own child to the very same life Mon Mothma has and resents. But there’s no other way out now. Mon must either sacrifice herself and the Rebellion or her child’s happiness.
How can any parent make such a decision, let alone live with themselves after? How do you even begin to know what’s the right thing to do for the person you love more than any other? What do you do when you don’t know how to protect the person you most want to keep safe? But that’s the impossible spot Mon Mothma finds herself in because of her service to a greater good. Because, as always on Andor, the greater the service, the greater the cost we must pay to make it. It’s also why Mon Mothma seems to already knows what she’s going to do. All that’s left is to live with the never-ending pain of knowing what she did and why. And it’s something she’ll never be able to forgive herself for.
Mon Mothma is one of Star Wars‘s oldest heroes, but Andor (and Genevieve O’Reilly’s stunning and moving performance) has made her story so much richer, emotional, and heartbreaking than we’ve ever known. By showing us the woman behind the Senator, we know what she really sacrificed for the Rebellion. It’s not easy to see her go through all of this, though, and that’s the point. Meaningful change, the kind that truly reshapes the world and makes it a better, more just place, comes with unimaginable costs few are capable of making. Because sometimes a parent has to sacrifice their own child’s happiness for everyone else’s.
Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.