Andor's Prison Episodes Are A Microcosm Of Cassian's Journey Toward Rogue One: A Star Wars Story [Exclusive]

"Andor" is the rare "Star Wars" story about a person whose journey to becoming a Rebel is far from an overnight process. By comparison, it doesn't take much for Luke Skywalker to join the battle against the Galactic Empire in "Star Wars: A New Hope." Nor is "Star Wars Rebels" lead Ezra Bridger all that hesitant to wage war against the Imperials when given the chance to do so. Even in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," Jyn Erso is relatively quick to take up arms when the Rebel Alliance turns to her for aid.

In most of these cases, the characters are partly motivated by the death or capture of loved ones at the hands of the Empire. It's here that Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) really stands apart from the rest of the pack. When viewers meet him five years prior to "Rogue One" in "Andor," it's already been a while since he was separated from his sister and tribe on Kenari. He's even done prison time and been forced into serving the Empire before the series begins, on top of having to watch the Imperials murder his adopted father. But rather than spurring him to start a rebellion, these traumatic events understandably leave Cassian disillusioned and convinced he's better off focusing on surviving than trying to change things.

This is where the prison arc in "Andor" season 1 comes into play. "You're then also asking yourself, thematically, what are you trying to do?" said the storyline's primary writer, Beau Willimon, speaking in an interview with /Film's Jeremy Mathai. The goal of the arc, Willimon explained, is to make Cassian "really feel what it's like to be under the boot of the Empire in a serious way," nudging him closer to becoming the dyed-in-the-wool Rebel seen in "Rogue One."

Going from mercenary to recruiter

Beau Willimon, for those who are not familiar, is best known for creating the U.S. version of the TV show "House of Cards." He also co-wrote "The Ides of March," a film based on his 2008 play "Farragut North." The 2011 political drama casts Ryan Gosling as Stephen Meyers, the naive campaign manager for a U.S. state governor who gets a hard lesson in the dirty truth about U.S. politics. But where "Ides" sees Stephen going from being an idealist to a self-serving cynic, "Andor" finds Cassian evolving in the opposite direction.

Speaking in his interview with Jeremy, Willimon commented on this. As he pointed out, Cassian is basically a mercenary when he's hired by Luthen (Stellan Skarsgård) to assist the latter's Rebel agents on Aldhani in the first half of "Andor" season 1. However, after being unjustly sent to an Imperial prison on Narkina 5, Cassian finds himself slipping into the same recruiter role as Luthen. He even manages to convert his fellow prisoner Kino Loy (Andy Serkis) into a fellow Rebel-in-the-making without realizing it, Willimon noted:

"If he was being recruited by Luthen at the beginning of the season, in [the prison] arc, he actually has to become the recruiter. He's the Luthen, of sorts. And Kino's journey during the course of that is a part for the whole of the larger story: How do you become a Rebel? Over three episodes, we go [from] Kino being complicit in facilitating the oppression of the Empire to being the guy who's leading the charge in the escape. That's a shorter version of what Andor's journey will be all the way up to 'Rogue One.'"

To see more of Cassian's hero's Rebel's journey, check out the latest episode of "Andor" every Wednesday on Disney+.