Episodes 8 and 9 of Andor on Disney+ have shown us that the Empire are using their prisoners to build parts for something. But what? This article will explore some possibilities of what Andor is building in prison, and contains spoilers for episodes 8 and 9.
Andor episode 8 and episode 9 have seen Cassian jailed on trumped-up charges and sent to prison on Narkina 5 for six years after the Empire clamps down on any perceived Rebel activity in the aftermath of the heist on Aldhani.
In these two episodes, Andor and the rest of the prisoners spend their time building something, but what they are building hasn’t been revealed. It’s likely that what they are constructing is something that’s mass-produced, as the same component can be seen again and again in the episodes. Star Wars may have already given us a hint at what they are building, and why the Empire doesn’t use droids in their building process.
What is Narkina 5?
Andor episode 8 introduces a brand new location, Narkina 5. It is a small watery moon, orbiting a gas giant. This giant will be the planet Narkina, and the moon that Andor is sent to would be the fifth moon orbiting the giant. This is very similar to Yavin 4 in A New Hope, as that’s the fourth moon orbiting the planet Yavin.
The Empire establish seven prison complexes on this moon, each capable of holding at least 4,900 prisoners, 50 in one room, one set on day shift, one set on night shift, 7 rooms on each level, and 7 levels. It’s possible there are more because the medics are also prisoners, as Andor episode 9 shows. It’s unknown how many medics there are in each prison.
With the 7 prisons on the moon, there are at least 34,300 prisoners.
What is Andor building in prison?
Neither Andor episode 8 nor 9 gives us a concrete answer to what is being built inside the prison complex. But it’s known to be simple and repetitive so that whatever it is the Empire needs it mass produced.
Something that is mass-produced on a huge scale are TIE Fighters and their variants. While the design was created by Sienar Fleet Systems, the Empire spread their manufacturing process across the galaxy. The parts that Andor and the other prisoners are building look like the components for the insides of TIE Fighter wings, attaching them to the cockpit.
The prisoners might also be building parts of other ships, such as Imperial Star Destroyers.
Are the Empire building Death Star parts?
It’s also possible that the Empire is building components for the Death Star. The novel Catalyst shows that construction on this huge battle station began midway through the Clone Wars, and didn’t finish until 0 BBY, 20 years later. At the suggestion made by Orson Krennic, the Republic started to use the Geonosians as a workforce for this huge project, until it was moved away from Geonosis in 9 BBY.
At the time of Andor, the Empire would still need parts for the Death Star, so it’s possible they would use their prison labor as a way to get parts. As the Death Star is huge and spherical, it’s likely the same parts would be needed over and over. The parts that are being built might be needed to reinforce the structure, which would be placed under huge stress because of the Death Star’s immense size.
Because of Andor’s link to the Death Star already, it’s likely that Tony Gilroy and Lucasfilm would want to tie this to the series. The Rebels might even get their first lead on the Death Star by investigating what Andor was building in prison, which could be explored in the second season.
Why isn’t the Empire using droids?
Droids provide a key source of labor in the Star Wars universe and have been seen in factories on planets like Geonosis, raising the question as to why the Empire don’t use their own. Andor episode 9 gives us the answer.
In a heated conversation with Kino, Andor brings up that the Empire doesn’t care about its prisoners, because they “are cheaper than droids and easier to replace”.
Droids might do a better job than living workers, but in a galaxy where the Empire spends a huge amount of its budget on security, they need to cut costs where they can. With huge arrest sweeps throughout the galaxy, the Empire would be wasting a source of labor if it didn’t use living beings, and can simply replace one with another. If a droid breaks down, it’s complicated to find the part that’s gone wrong, order a new part and fix it.
The Empire are well known for their use of slavery in other parts of Star Wars. After the Empire took over Kashyyyk, they enslaved the Wookiee population, first seen in canon in the book Aftermath: Life Debt, but expanded upon in the videogame Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order.
The Geonosians are another species that the Empire enslaved. As mentioned, Krennic suggests that the Republic use the Geonosians to build the Death Star, as they were the ones to come up with the original design. After the Empire moves production away from Geonosis and they slaughter the Geonosians, to prevent knowledge of the Death Star from getting out.
Andor Episodes 8 and 9 are available on Disney+