This post contains sex-related spoilers for the first three episodes of Andor.
The very first scene of Andor features the return of Rogue One’s Cassian Andor, who is at a bar. Played as he is by Diego Luna, Cassian is a very attractive man, and soon a very attractive woman sidles up to him. “Alone tonight?” she asks, then later, stroking his arm: “Looking for something special?” He is looking for someone: a woman from Kenari. She goes to check in the back for him.
It’s obvious from the get-go that this woman is a sex worker. Still, I assumed that the show would at least maintain some kind of plausible deniability about this scene. This is a franchise that continues to coyly reference “spice” even when it’s clear they’re talking about drugs. But, surprisingly, just a few scenes later, an official calls the setting what it is: a brothel.
“It sure is a good tell when you turn in that first episode for them to say, ‘Whoa! OK, this is what the show’s gonna be like,’” showrunner Tony Gilroy told Rolling Stone, in a story hyping the new series as “the Star Wars Series That Changes Everything.” In its first three episodes, all of which just premiered on Disney+, Andor feels bloated and aimless, much like its predecessors The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi—it’s almost redundant at this point to say that a new Star Wars show feels like it stretched a single movie’s worth of plot over several episodes. But Andor, a prequel to Rogue One, does have a few qualities that distinguish it from either of those series: It’s more stylish, it’s darker, and, yes, it’s even a smidgen sexier.
This trend continues in the second episode. A couple—Timm (James McArdle) and Bix (Adria Arjona)—make out for several seconds in the shadows, his arms around her waist. Smooshing faces has been a part of the galaxy far, far away since Luke Skywalker shared a kiss with his sister, but then the unexpected happens: Bix walks into a nearby bedroom, sits on the bed, and begins taking off her shoes. That might not sound particularly titillating, but by Star Wars standards, it’s the equivalent of a full-frontal sex scene, and might as well be scored with wah-wah guitars. It’s been a long time since Leia’s infamous gold bikini in The Return of the Jedi awakened many a teen. Since then, Star Wars has remained oddly sexless, the prequel trilogy in particular suffering from a lack of tension between its leads that bordered on anti-chemistry. (One of its most erotic moments involves Anakin telling Padme she sure is different from sand.) So pent-up are the fans that the very sight of Kylo Ren’s pecs emerging from his high-waisted pants in The Last Jedi was enough to send people into a frenzy.
Expecting sex from any Disney+ show, let alone a Star Wars one, is a bit like trying to order cocaine at a Chuck E. Cheese: It’s not on the menu, and you risk getting scolded by an anthropomorphized mouse. But Andor is already toying with the boundaries of family-friendly entertainment. Its opening sends our hero on the run for murder, and a later scene features wailing children carrying their friend’s body away after she’s been shot. And while that’s consistent with the good ol’ American attitude that violence is OK but sex is something shameful, Andor has already potentially alienated parents with that very first brothel scene. A major point of conflict in the first trio of episodes involves Timm stewing over what he suspects is Bix’s infidelity after seeing Cassian touch her on the arm over a drink.
Romance is a bad omen in the Star Wars universe for anyone who isn’t a frog—in the prequel trilogy, it’s even what turns the series’ Biggest Bad to the Dark Side, and in the sequel trilogy, the climactic kiss is followed immediately by Ben Solo’s death—and the horny characters in Andor are similarly punished for seeking human (or alien) connection. By the fourth episode, things have returned to the franchise’s usual abstinence-only approach. I’m not saying we need to see a couple of Twi’leks getting creative with their head-tails, but Andor may have found a way to make its mark in a crowded franchise by adding a little bit of heat. Now is no time for a cold shower.