‘Andor’: The ISB in the ‘Star Wars’ Universe Explained

The Empire is the major villain in Star Wars, but they have several offshoots that can be deadly. The sequel trilogy introduced the First Order. Andor takes place before A New Hope, with future rebel Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) but the big capital E Empire isn’t the foremost concern. The ISB, Imperial Security Bureau, is after Andor.

'Andor': Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) hides from the ISB
Diego Luna | Lucasfilm Ltd.

Andor creator Tony Gilroy and star Luna were on a Television Critics Association panel for Andor on Aug. 3. They explained the ISB and what they mean to Andor in the series. New episodes of Andor premiere Wednesdays on Disney+. 

You’ve seen the ISB in ‘Star Wars’ before 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the same movie that introduced Cassian Andor, also included the ISB. That film’s villain was also an ISB officer. The ISB are essentially the cops of the Empire. So when Syril Karn (Kyle Soller)’s boss told him to file an accident report, there’s precedent for his hierarchy.

“Ben Mendelsohn, Director Krennic, is part of the ISB,” Gilroy said. “I mean, there’s some legacy to it but we’re really going into it.”

The ISB of ‘Andor’ are less politically motivated 

Karn doesn’t follow orders. He pursues the truth about the men Andor killed. While Karn plays detective, Gilroy said the ISB represents more nuance than the big bad Empire. 

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“As dark as they are, it’s also a work environment,” Gilroy said. “They’re regular people, they go to work, they compete at work, they are careerists, they are insecure, they are vulnerable, they are complicated and they’re a huge part of our show. Denise Gough is playing Dedra Meero. She’s the ISB inspector that will take us into the ISB.  But we have a bunch of other characters there as we expand out, and it gets very, very complicated. They’re a very large part of our show and something we’re really interested in.”

‘Andor’ gets dark 

Both Gilroy and Luna promised Andor would be a darker Star Wars show. You’ve already seen it in the first episodes. The ISB is only one dark force pursuing Andor. 

“They’re the dark side of the show,” Gilroy said. “There’s a very large spy element. We’re dealing with the ISB which is the security bureau. So we’re really exploring something new.”

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Luna added Andor still delivers the Star Wars, but the ISB gives it a new twist. 

“Yes, you have what is expected from a show like this, the adventure, the action, the huge scope,” Luna said. “It can come into becoming a very intimate story about people. And it’s interesting to see this angle on these very dark characters, because as Tony’s saying, you’ll go see them when they brush their teeth, too. You know, not just when they’re like giving orders to exterminate. And it is quite unique to have the chance to visit this universe with this amount of attention to detail and with this intimacy. It’s going to be interesting for audiences.”

In a way, it brings Kevin Smith’s Clerk’s dialogue to fruition. Dante and Randal debated independent contractors building the Death Star. The ISB may be the working stiffs they envisioned. 

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