What does the Emperor need with more starships? From the end of Revenge of the Sith to the beginning of Rogue One and A New Hope, only 19 years pass. And yet, in that time, the Empire builds a lot of new stuff. But why?
As Andor digs down on how the sausages of the Empire’s war machine are actually made, you have to wonder: Was all this new gear necessary?
Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: Andor, Episode 9.
Andor Episode 9’s twist ending, explained
By the end of Episode 9 of Andor, we still don’t know exactly what those giant cogs are that Cassian and his fellow inmates are being forced to build on Narkina 5, but we do know that the Empire has gone to great lengths to make it happen.
Previously, it was believed the self-regulating prisoners were motivated by the promise that they would be released. Kino (Andy Serkis), the prisoner who manages the other prisoners on his floor, firmly believes this. Until that is, he doesn’t.
After their fellow prisoner Ulaf suffers a life-ending stroke, a medic tells Cassian and Kino that the Imperials “made a mistake.” After supposedly releasing a prisoner on one level, they later reintegrated that same prisoner back into the workforce by trying to pass him off as someone who had just arrived. When the prisoners figured it out, the guards murdered everyone on that level.
For Kino and Cassian, this breaks any illusion that the Empire is letting them work off their time.
But for the audience, it proves something the audience already suspected: The Empire is just using slave labor to build stuff. The bigger question is: why?
The Empire’s need for new tech is baffling
By the end of the Clone Wars, 14 years before Andor begins, the Empire had already taken over the galaxy. As the prequels and The Clone Wars made clear, the Palpatine manufactured the galactic civil war between the Republic and the Separatists in order to create the Empire as the endgame. This means in 19 BBY, Palpatine has a massive fleet of starships, starfighters, and troops, all essentially leftover from the Republic.
So the only rational question is: Why did the Empire keep building more and more complicated Star Destroyers, TIE Fighters, and military tech? In theory, the Emperor has what he wants in 19 BBY (other than perhaps the entire elimination of the Senate). Building the Death Star, it seems, is his long-term plan to “maintain control without the bureaucracy.” But that still doesn’t explains all the other excess tech we see being manufactured in Andor.
Nor does it explain why the Empire needed to switch over to even bigger and badder Star Destroyers after the Clone Wars ended. Again not that much time has actually passed since Revenge of the Sith, so, you’d think the Republic ships would be enough. In the first three episodes of Andor, we see the police force of Morlana One using Clone Wars dropship, implying that technology is now second-hand.
The Empire maybe created the Rebellion
Andor is big on pointing out that Luthen wants the Empire to get even more aggressive in order to encourage more people to want to join the Rebellion, but the reverse is also true. We take it for granted that the Empire was gearing up for another war after the Clone Wars, but you really have to wonder why. By building even more starships and more tech, the Empire created a need for cheap/free labor, which we see play out in Andor. But if Palpatine was a bit smarter, he would have just used all the existing stuff he had leftover from the Clone Wars and not given the populace a reason to rebel in the first place. This is also true of the Death Star, by building it Palpatine was asking for it to be blown up.
If a future episode of Andor reveals that Cassian and the other Narkina 5 prisoners are building parts for the Death Star, Palpatine’s mistake will become even clearer. Just by demanding more Star Destroyers and Death Stars, the people who will eventually blow those things up were given their motivation.
Star Wars: Andor streams on Disney+.