Luthen Rael is by far Andor‘s most mysterious character, but his knowledge and money could be explained by a connection to Emperor Palpatine. Given that Luthen is an original character created for Andor, there is nothing in existing Star Wars canon regarding his origins, nor what happens to the mysterious antique dealer after Andor. Luthen remains alive at the end of Andor season 1, however, meaning Andor season 2 can reveal more backstory behind Stellan Skarsgård’s character.
Luthen commands a series of small rebel missions against the Empire by putting together crews, financing them, and supplying those crews with key information on the Empire’s operations across the galaxy. Luthen is also recruiting valuable assets like Cassian Andor as the formation of the Rebel Alliance nears the Andor timeline, all while running a popular antiquity shop on Coruscant. Luthen’s double life tactic to deceive the Empire is incredibly risky, especially because Luthen’s business is not just a regular antiquity shop.
Luthen Is Openly Selling Jedi & Sith Artifacts
Luthen’s shop in Andor is full of Jedi and Sith artifacts, as well as other items that would prove difficult for any regular collector to obtain. For example, Luthen’s shop sells a Jedi Temple guard mask, a Sith holocron, a Sith helmet similar to the one used by Starkiller in The Force Unleashed, a World Between Worlds-inspired tablet, and even a piece of Mandalorian armor. Boasting such an impressive collection, Luthen’s Coruscant shop displays items that only a person with connections to the fallen Jedi Order or the Sith could find. Granted, Luthen’s wealth may have helped him overcome those obstacles, but he perhaps also required assistance from powerful friends.
Sith holocrons, for instance, were already a rare sight in the final days of the Republic. The Sith had been gone for millennia, and it was in Palpatine’s best interests that Sith secrets hidden within the holocrons did not fall into the hands of the Jedi. The fact that Luthen had access to a Sith holocron and was willing to sell it shows not only that he possessed powerful connections, but also that he was not afraid of showing those connections. If Luthen’s main contacts were Jedi-associated, he would likely be more careful when selling ancient Sith artifacts. Luthen Rael may, therefore, also have Sith-associated clients and suppliers.
Could Palpatine Be One Of Luthen’s Clients?
One possible explanation as to why Luthen can have access to and openly sell Sith artifacts is that Palpatine is counted among his special clients. Palpatine may have taken over the galaxy, but Sith artifacts are tricky to track down – even for an Emperor. In his quest to become all the Sith, Palpatine would want to collect everything that remained of the old Sith Empire. While Darth Sidious had lived long enough to collect a significant portion of the Sith’s physical history, it is a large galaxy, and Luthen Rael could be one of Palpatine’s many Sith curators across the galaxy.
Given that most of the galaxy did not know Emperor Palpatine was a Sith Lord, it makes sense that Darth Sidious would seek help from merchants like Luthen who could do the searching work in an official capacity. In exchange for his help, Luthen would likely then be granted permission to own a few Sith artifacts, as well as some Jedi items. Curiously, Sith artifacts like the holocron and the Starkiller armor are kept in the back of Luthen’s store and not on display, suggesting that Luthen was keeping those for a special client instead of selling them to anyone.
A Palpatine Connection Would Explain Luthen’s Fear Of The Empire
If Luthen has connections to Palpatine or someone else in the Emperor’s inner circle, then his fear of the Empire in Andor makes even more sense. Luthen commands a passionate rebellion and despises the Empire, which is reason enough for him to fear the regime, but he also lives in a state of constant paranoia. As shown by his meetings with senator Mon Mothma, Luthen is not afraid of operating in plain sight, meaning he would probably be brave enough to be associated with the Emperor while also working against the Empire. Still, it would be very risky for a rebel to have a direct link to Palpatine.
A possible connection with Palpatine would make Luthen’s rebel operation far riskier, but it would also prove beneficial. Luthen had valuable information about the Empire’s operations throughout Andor season 1, which he might have acquired thanks to his connections to the higher ranks of the Empire. Luthen is a valuable asset for Star Wars’ soon-to-be Rebel Alliance, but his methods come at a cost. Luthen’s fear of the Empire means that his rebel operations must be flawless and leave no loose ends, which is why Luthen considered killing Cassian Andor in Andor season 1. Whatever secrets Luthen holds can now be revealed in Andor season 2.
More: Andor’s Death Star Reveal Makes The Original Trilogy Way Darker (& Better)