Are The Prisoners In Andor Building Parts For The Death Star? Maybe It's Better If We Don't Know

Warning: spoilers for "Andor" season 1 ahead. Proceed with caution.

We are rapidly approaching the end of "Andor" season 1 and, with the most recent arc, the show has truly come into focus. This is a gritty, dark, serious show the likes of which "Star Wars" has not seen before. About the only thing connecting this show to the larger galaxy is Diego Luna's Cassian Andor, who audiences came to know in "Rogue One." That movie, as fans surely recall, was all about how the rebels managed to steal the Death Star plans, ultimately paving the way for the weapon's destruction. But does this show also have a connection to the infamous, planet-killing weapon?

Fans have been theorizing that the Imperial prison we've seen in episodes nine and ten, titled "Nobody's Listening" and "One Way Out," is actually being used to build parts for the Death Star. Cassian and the other prisoners work in 12-hour shifts to build these massive parts, one after another, and their purpose has yet to be made explicitly clear. What kind of machinery would require so much output of such massive parts? A laser gun the size of a small moon might.

The timeline makes sense

One thing that we can say for certain is that the timeline absolutely would make sense here. This show started approximately five years before the events of "Rogue One." While we haven't had a specific clock ticking, we've spent several months with Cassian so far and that means we're probably four years and some change away from the Death Star being completed. We saw the framework of the mega-weapon at the end of "Revenge of the Sith," which would have approximately been 14 or 15 years back in the timeline. Presumably, the Empire has made a lot of progress on it since then.

If they were indeed nearing completion. Or, at the very least, entering a more crucial stage of the build, it would make complete sense to make use of prisoners to get the job done. We discover in "Nobody's Listening" that the Empire has no intention of letting any of the prisoners go. They are being moved from site to site, with sentences being handed down for very little. Or, in Cassian's case, nothing at all. Did Cassian commit crimes could/should have been arrested for? You bet. But he's not in prison for those things.

There appears to be a real emphasis on labor at this stage in Imperial rule and, given what we know is coming in "Star Wars," chronologically speaking, there is one big, glaring conclusion we can easily jump to. These prisons are just part of the larger machine attempting to get the Death Star up and running.

That's not the only thing that needs building

It's easy to fixate on the Death Star. It first appeared in "A New Hope" and, in some ways, "Star Wars" has struggled to get away from it ever since. "The Force Awakens" had what essentially boiled down to a bigger Death Star with Starkiller Base, a second Death Star was at the center of "Return of the Jedi," it appeared in "Revenge of the Sith," and the entirety of "Rogue One" was focused on it. It's the most prominent thing in a galaxy far, far away not named Skywalker.

That said, it's easy to forget that the Empire has a great many, massive things that need building. Think about how many massive parts it must take to construct a Star Destroyer. Now, think about how many of those Star Destroyers exist in the entire Imperial fleet. It's genuinely tough to even get one's head around. That being the case, there are a number of large machines at the center of the Empire's rule that would benefit from free prison labor. That might require thousands upon thousands of the same massive parts being constructed round the clock.

Now, are we saying it's not the Death Star? Nope. There's no way of knowing that at this stage in the show. We're merely saying that there is plenty else that these parts could be for. But perhaps we're asking the wrong question. We're asking, are they building parts for the Death Star? The bigger question is, does it even matter?

Does it really matter?

Here's the thing. "Andor" has largely been about shedding a light on the inner workings of the Empire. This is a truly ugly, unruly, cruel governmental body that oversees an entire galaxy — not just one planet. There is so much bureaucracy and ugliness to navigate that we may not ever learn what the heck those prisoners were building in there. Cassian has escaped and will surely try to move on. Is he really going to go sniffing for answers? And let's not forget that he didn't truly know about the Death Star until the events of "Rogue One," so there would be no reason for him to find out directly.

So yeah, sure, it could be revealed to another character. Maybe Kyle Soller's Syril Karn finds out, or Denise Gough's Dedra. Maybe nobody finds out and it's left a bit mysterious. Ultimately, the Death Star has no part in the story this show is telling. It probably doesn't matter what they were building. Now, could showrunner Tony Gilroy prove us wrong and find a good reason to come right out and say it? I would personally put nothing past anyone involved in this show at this point.

The main thing is, this show benefits a lot from not being caught up in what "Star Wars" was. It's not full of Easter eggs, it's not full of familiar faces, and it's not treading familiar ground. We don't absolutely have to have it be the case that they were building parts for the Death Star because this show has its mind elsewhere.

"Andor" returns with new episodes Wednesdays on Disney+.