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Star Wars | Sex With Robots: Lando, L3-37, and the Drinks Droid

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“Everything you’ve heard about me is true.”

Lando Calrissian, Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

As introductions go, it’s a pretty good one.

The film is the 2018 Star Wars prequel, Solo: A Star Wars Story and our hero (played here by Alden Ehrenreich) has just met Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) for the very first time. Lando is sitting in the Lodge on the planet, Vandor, and is about to beat Han at a game of Sabacc. He is clearly totally in his element.

“He’s the best smuggler around,” mutual friend, Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) has already briefed him, but Han still has a few questions to ask. Lando dismisses him easily with these words while simultaneously getting his drink recharged by a passing floating drinks dispenser.

Lando exudes confidence. “Everything you’ve heard about me is true.” These are not the words of a shrinking violet. His attitude could probably be best summed up by the John Ford line from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962): “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” It is unlikely Lando has ever seen the film. We are after all still in a galaxy far, far far away, in a time long, long ago, don’t forget. This quote nevertheless seems to reflect his attitude. 

This moment occurs 54 minutes into the film, or if you prefer, exactly one minute into the film’s theatrical trailer.

This article is here to support Databank Dive Episode 9, in which ForceCenter’s Joseph Scrimshaw and Ken Napzok muse over the very same scene and its attentive purveyor of hydration.

Give it a listen here 🎙️

The Great Mundane

One of the appealing things about the Star Wars franchise is the matter-of-fact matter in which everyone treats the – to us –  amazing things which they see around them on a day-to-day basis. To us, the Millennium Falcon looks like one of the most incredible things we have ever seen and centuries ahead of anything available on Earth. But to the characters, it is just “a piece of junk.” This lack of awe is echoed by the filmmakers. This isn’t always true of other films. It’s true Rick Deckard doesn’t seem especially awed by the admittedly heavily polluted sights of 21st century Los Angeles in Blade Runner (1982). But Ridley Scott clearly is, hence why we get a number of sequences showing them off.

In Star Wars, the effects are great too, but it’s clearly all intended to be background. Any spaceships, monsters or other astonishing sights you might see are all basically just adding to the backdrop against which our action is set.  Nobody’s showing anything off.

This is reflected in Lando’s approach to the drinks dispenser. Okay, it’s just a drinks dispenser: nothing to get too excited about. But it still floats by itself in a way that nothing on Earth ever really does (at least not quite like this one does). Lando barely looks at it at all choosing to maintain eye contact with Han instead. He acknowledges the dispenser only when he turns briefly to thank it as it floats off again.

Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) being absurdly charming in Solo: A Star Wars Story. | Disney, 2018.

Love in a Chrome Climate

Lando’s “thank you, love” is in itself interesting. Perhaps not in itself, but coupled with some of the observations from Phoebe Waller Bridge’s implacable droid rights activist L3-37, it opens up an aspect of Lando’s character that is worthy of deeper analysis.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that Lando has feelings for me. Which makes working together difficult because I do not feel the same way about him.

L3-37, Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Being as this is the voice and mo-capture behind the BBC comedy-drama Fleabag, which featured many a subjective aside to camera, it’s tempting to dismiss this purely as an entirely comic moment. A surface reading is that he treats droids like people and the eccentric, self-assured L3-37 has read too much into it. In a universe where people treat them as slaves, pets, or furniture, Lando’s empathy is no small thing.

L3-37 (Pheobe Waller Bridge) and bae. | Disney, 2018.

L3-37 is at least humanoid and therefore easy to humanize, which makes that simple “thank you, love” towards the table service is remarkable. With barely a glance, he clocks a floating toaster-like contraption and sees a person. But then he reaches for ‘love’, a term of endearment or condescension depending on your politics.

Lando is just being sweet, most likely, or flamboyantly charming as is his general vibe.

But, then there’s the rest of the conversation above.

L3-37: I’m sure you’ve noticed that Lando has feelings for me. Which makes working together difficult because I do not feel the same way about him.
Qi-Ra: Right.

[pause, decides to humor her] 

Qi-Ra Yes, Yeah. Yeah, I see that.
L3-37: Sometimes, I think… maybe. But, no. We’re just not compatible.
Qi-Ra: [pause]  How would that work?
L3-37: It works.

L3-37, Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

That’s not ‘it could work’, but ‘it works.’ Is she talking specifically about her and Lando, or about the physical side of biological/mechanical romance generally? Each question begets more questions. Luckily, Donald Glover is a sort of Ozymandias-style effortless polymath and nothing about his performance is left to chance. He has his own interpretation:

“How can you not be pansexual in space? There are so many things to have sex with.

“I didn’t think that was that weird. Yeah, he’s coming on to everybody. I feel like if you’re in space it’s kind of like, the door is open! It’s like, [not] only guys or girls – no, it’s anything. This thing is literally a blob. Are you a man or a woman? Like, who cares? Have a good time out here.”

Donald Glover, to Entertainment Weekly

Are Lando and L3-37 in an ongoing FWB sort of situation? Or did they have a bit of a drunken fling and she put the brakes on? Was there an edge to the accusation that Lando and Han were flirting?

Hang on, wind the clock back.

Was Lando flirting with the drinks droid? Does Lando have his eye on the drinks droid? HAS LANDO ALREADY HAD HIS WAY WITH THE DRINKS DROID?

Only two people know for sure. One is most likely mute and the other – for all his sins – doesn’t kiss and tell.

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Chris Hallam is a published author and freelance writer based in Exeter. In the past, he has written for magazines such as DVD Monthly and Geeky Monkey. He provided all the written content for the Star Wars Clone Wars and Smurfs annuals for 2014, and the Transformers annual 2015. He continues to write for Yours RetroBest of British, and The History of Comics, 1930-2030.

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