The design of the Narkina 5 prison is unlike anything we’ve seen in “Star Wars” before, a symbol of the cruelty and oppression of the Empire, and one of the most sadistic locations in recent TV memory. You have electrified floors, which means escape is near impossible and there don’t have to be as many guards, and you have a system of punishment and reward that fosters a sick competition.

Speaking to Rolling Stone, showrunner Tony Gilroy explained the guiding principle behind the prison arc of “Andor.” According to Gilroy, the show’s creative team tried their darnedest not to do something that we had seen before:

“If we can’t figure out something that nobody’s ever done before, we’re gonna do something else. We’re not just gonna do the same old s*** in a prison.”

The key to this whole thing was the electrified floors. That simple idea became the guiding point for both the story around the prison, and the design of the complex itself, with production designer Luke Collins even joining the writers’ room for five days to plan it out. It would take another 10 months to build the prison, redesign it, and rewrite it into the rest of the show. Still, at that point, “no one [was] thinking thematically about what [the prison] means,” Gilroy admitted.

It is the sign of an effective design that you know everything you need to know about the prison and about the Empire just by looking at it, and how clean, empty, and ultimately oppressive it is. Once the design was in place, it was time to figure out the prison’s thematic meaning. Ultimately, the show’s writers realized every story arc in the series has one thing in common: revolution.