Luthen Rael is one of the most fascinating characters in Star Wars. Shown in Andor as Cassian’s introduction into the Rebellion and Mon Mothma’s secret ally, he hasn’t appeared in any other Star Wars media. It’s a problem with debuting a character in a prequel: how do you explain why they don’t appear in older stories set further down the timeline?
Thankfully, there’s an explanation built into the non-canonical Star Wars Legends timeline if you know where to look. One of its stories not only explains Luthen’s conspicuous absence from the rest of Star Wars, but also a key problem with the portrayal of the Rebellion as a whole. Just how did the uprising go so well?
In Andor, Luthen Rael takes the role of Rebellion co-founder alongside Mon Mothma. But in Legends, the three main founders of the Rebellion are Mon Mothma, Bail Organa, and a Corellian politician named Garm Bel Iblis. A closer look at Bel Iblis’ life shows a perfect parallel to Luthen, including a shocking betrayal.
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Bel Iblis was a political maverick whose loyalties were defined by his morality, not party obligation. He was one of the first to speak out against Palpatine when Palps started showing a thirst for power. However, he was also a proud man who could hold a grudge like no one else.
His suspicion of centralized power backfired when Mon Mothma became the leader of the Rebellion. After fellow rebel Bail Organa was killed when Alderaan was destroyed, tensions between Iblis and Mothma rose until Iblis delivered Mothma an ultimatum: release some of her power, or lose him forever. Mothma wanted the stress and risk of all life-or-death decisions to go through her, so she cut Bel Iblis loose.
Bel Iblis fought his own private Rebellion parallel to the “official” Rebellion, which is how Lando Calrissian and Han Solo meet him in Timothy Zahn’s novel Dark Force Rising. He revealed that he’d established a base and was stockpiling supplies, waiting for Mothma to become a tyrant so he and his team could pull off a coup.
The Rebellion achieved its goals without Mothma becoming who he thought she’d be, but Bel Iblis was too proud to end the rivalry. Lando and Han finally convinced him to help his old ally fight Grand Admiral Thrawn, and due to his eleventh-hour aid he was welcomed back into Mothma’s New Republic, although his relationship with Mon Mothma remained frosty.
Bel Iblis’ story may seem different from Luthen’s, but sowing unrest between Luthen and Mon Mothma would be the perfect way to explain why he never appeared in the original movies. If he’s hidden away, seething and plotting a coup, then his absence would make sense.
This would also add an element to the Rebellion’s story that’s almost completely missing: infighting. The Rebellion was a galaxy-wide movement made of countless factions and planets, and yet aside from a few hints in Andor we’ve seen no real strategic and moral disagreements. That’s surprising, and unrealistic.
As it stands now, Luthen’s story can only end one of two ways: in death, or with him leaving the Rebellion. If the show opts for the latter, he could return in a New Republic-focused episode of The Mandalorian or Ahsoka. Getting more Stellan Skarsgard is definitely worth it, even if it means he betrays his former friend.
Andor Season 1 is streaming on Disney+.