An event in episode 11 of Andor makes Alderaan’s demise an even more heartbreaking point in the franchise. The planet Alderaan, where Princess Leia spent her formative years, was ominously vaporized by the Death Star’s laser in the 1977 film A New Hope. In Star Wars, the destruction of Alderaan revealed the true might of the Death Star and the depths to which the Galactic Empire would go to achieve its evil goals.
Episode 11 of Andor specifically mentions Alderaan, a planet that appears in several prequel Star Wars media. Using Alderaan as his transponder I.D. and professing to be a member of the planet’s trade alliance, Stellan Skarsgard’s Luthen Rael attempted to negotiate his way out of a tractor beam controlled by an Imperial cruiser. The fact that he chose Alderaan to demonstrate his innocence to the Empire is more evidence of the tranquility of that society. He couldn’t understand why Imperial officers would have any problems working with someone from Alderaan. Even yet, the Empire managed to wipe it out in the end.
In the Star Wars chronology, Alderaan was only one of many planets in the galaxy the Empire had to keep an eye on as the Rebel movement advanced throughout the Star Wars universe. For generations, it had a name for itself as a peacemaker in the galaxy, avoiding involvement in any battles. However, things changed during the Clone Wars, when Senator Organa led the planet to become a haven for those who had fled their homes because of the Separatist threat.
Organa became a major figure in the Rebel Alliance’s fight against the Empire after the fall of the Republic, and she was instrumental in turning Alderaan into a strategic asset for the upstart movement. Although Alderaanian citizens avoided direct combat, their government provided substantial aid in the form of resources and weapons. It was enough to make the Empire angry with Organa and Alderaan before it was destroyed in A New Hope.
When it comes to expanding on the tragedy of Alderaan’s destruction, Andor isn’t the first time the franchise has done so. While Alderaan was only glimpsed in passing in A New Hope, subsequent stories—including the Leia, Princess of Organa novel—have made conscious efforts to learn more about the planet’s geography and inhabitants. The tragic irony of seeing its tranquil culture and gorgeous scenery in Obi-Wan Kenobi and other projects (while knowing the tragedy that awaits it) has only increased the emotional weight of this watershed point in the Star Wars saga.