Andor gets a good deal right—very right, even—about a lot of things in Star Wars, but it’s slowly but surely learning how to do one thing even better: cinematic tropes in the galaxy far, far away are even better when they’re queer.
After the events of the Aldhani heist rippled throughout the galaxy, it seemed unlikely that we’d get to see the wonderful Vel and Cinta—Star Wars TV’s first explicit on-screen female queer couple—again, but this week’s episode, “Narkina 5,” briefly caught up with them as they surreptitiously dropped in on Ferrix to try and monitor Cassian’s whereabouts. Unfortunately, no one knows where Cassian is, because he’s been jailed on the episode’s titular Imperial prison world. After a brief chat which reveals just how much each of them are willing to sacrifice in their personal life to commit to fighting the Empire, Cinta decides to stay on Ferrix while Vel goes off-world. “I’m a mirror, Vel,” Cinta tells her doubting partner, after explaining her plan to assimilate into Ferrix and get closer to Cassian’s known associates. “You love me because I show you what you need to see,” she continues, before grasping Vel’s hand tenderly.
If the closeness between the two in prior episodes was too casual for you to have noticed that Vel and Cinta were romantically involved, and somehow even feel this conversation is too subtle to know for certain, we then get the Star Wars romanciest-thing imaginable as Vel glumly takes a shuttle off-world:
This goddamn fade shot. Look at it! Distant lovers, gazing at different things—Vel, her eyes cleverly matched to be looking into Cinta’s, while Cinta looks away from her, shows us that her love for Cinta remains on Vel’s mind, while the mission is on Cinta’s, as the completed fade shows us she is watching the door to Maarva’s home. It’s full of melancholy and longing, and represents a personal example of a theme running throughout “Narkina 5” of how the Empire tears people apart in so many ways as it tightens its chokehold on the galaxy. But also: it’s incredibly queer.
Andor already understood that it could portray queer people in the Star Wars galaxy as casually and as part of its fabric as heteronormative characters have been since the very beginning. But there’s something wonderful in its approach to Vel and Cinta developing into something more explicitly textual (and developed to the point that it’s infinitely more engaging and romantic than The Rise of Skywalker’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it queer kiss) by taking one of Star Wars’ most consistent editing tropes and just... making it gay. It could’ve only been more Star Wars if it was a full-on screen wipe, but still: it’s wonderful.
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