August 2002

 

Viridian5ís Longer, More Detailed First Season Andromeda Reviews

These were written during the summer after second season, so Iím not totally responding to the show as it was during first season. Then again, I can emphasize things I know came up later....


#101 "Under the Night" | #102 "An Affirming Flame" | #103 "To Loose the Fateful Lightning" | #104 "D Minus Zero" | #105 "Double Helix" | #106 "Angel Dark, Demon Bright" | #107 "The Ties That Blind" | #108 "The Banks of the Lethe" | #109 "A Rose in the Ashes" | #110 "All Great Neptuneís Ocean" | #111 "The Pearls That Were His Eyes" | #112 "The Mathematics of Tears" | #113 "Music of a Distant Drum" | #114 "Harper 2.0" | #115 "Forced Perspective" | #116 "The Sum of Its Parts" | #117 "Fear and Loathing in the Milky Way" | #118 "The Devil Take the Hindmost" | #119 "The Honey Offering" | #120 "Star-Crossed" | #121 "It Makes a Lovely Light" | #122 "Its Hour Come ĎRound at Last"



#101 "Under the Night"

Captain Dylan Hunt and his ship the Andromeda Ascendant are rescued by the Eureka Maru, an opportunistic salvage ship, after being trapped in the event horizon of a black hole for 300 years.

 

One of the better series pilots Iíve seen, "Under the Night" introduces the universe, two time periods and the differences between them, and its cast of characters fairly gracefully and even with some subtlety. (Though "An Affirming Flame," the part 2, second episode of the pilot, doesnít work quite as well and drags in places.) It visually contrasts the crowded decks of Commonwealth eraís Andromeda Ascendant with the vast emptiness of the contemporary Andromeda Ascendant and the dingy, rusted, patched-together Eureka Maru against the bright, luxurious, almost Art Nouveau Andromeda Ascendant without comment, trusting its audience to get the point.

We meet Captain Dylan Hunt while heíd playing daredevil games with his shipís AI, whoís called Andromeda. Heís vibrant and confident, good-natured, with the generosity of a man who knows heís the most powerful person in the room. His first officer, Gaheris Rhade, is more military, more exacting of the crew. He and Rhade banter and spark well, seeming to really enjoy each otherís company. The banter makes the exposition of Dylanís upcoming wedding go over pretty lightly, and the conversation even exposes some of the belief systems of Rhadeís people, the Nietzscheans.

Rhadeís betrayal is swift and efficient, perfectly fitting his character, whoís thrilled that the crew heís trained and is about to betray scrambled to their stations in good time to meet the threat heís part of. Heís annoyed he could take out that the security guards assigned to escort him so easily. He then sabotages the shipís systems.

Rhadeís a great character, as is the Than pilot, Refractions of Dawn. They both die in the first half of the episode, Rhade to give Dylanís story more operatic heft and personal investment and Dawn because her costume is kind of awkward. Címon, you know thatís a major reason why they killed her. Itís a shame, because the actress conveyed a lot of personality with just her voice, a necessary thing for someone in a full-body bug suit.

Rhade and Dylanís final battle is over the top, but in a fun way. It has a real momentum and a sense of consequence. And the time dilation of the approaching black hole lets them play with slo-mo, then cheekily mention it. The Nietzscheansí reason for betraying the Commonwealth looks sound once you get more experience with the Magog, which comes later in the season. Why would the Commonwealth sign a treaty with a race that slaughtered billions of people and has no intentions of changing its ways? The Magog either impregnate their victims with larvae that slowly and agonizing feasts on you before ripping you to shreds on the way out or they kill and eat you. How do you even negotiate a treaty with them? Leave a negotiator there as dinner or a host?

In some suspect science, the Andromeda Ascendant, which now has only Dylan, the AI, and two corpses aboard, is frozen in time on the edge of a black hole. Something about the interaction of the black hole's gravity with the ship's artificially-created internal gravity field. This isnít the last time black holes get abused in this series.

Next thing you know, weíre on a dingy rustbucket of a ship following a small crew looking for the Andromeda Ascendant. They intend to salvage it for their boss of the moment, Gerentex, a furry, prissy, rat-like alien wearing a fopís frills. Heís kind of pimptastic.

The crew of the Eureka Maru gets its own introduction scene, as their personalities are sketched in by thoughts of what they intend to do with their share of the money theyíll get from this job. Purple, be-tailed Trance Gemini reveals nothing of her intentions--youíll get used to that--but snarks over the "filthy" condition of Harperís engineering section, for which he thanks her. Seamus Zelazny Harper, excited, using the room as his jungle gym, pops the top off a brew and says that he intends to get himself a seraglio. When Trance asks what that is, Captain Beka Valentine replies, "Slave girls and grapes, eunuch guards, classy," with great sarcasm. Though Trance's smile and raised eyebrows suggest that she finds it amusing. Beka originally figured that heíd go for a "little cottage by the lakeside, white picket fence, dog" being that heís a "mudfoot." We later find out that heís from Earth, while she was raised on the Eureka Maru, the rustbucket ship theyíre on now, and has lived on it all her life. She figures that once she pays off her fatherís debts and all the loans she took out to do this job and fixes the Maru, sheíll have enough for one nice dinner at Cavanaughís. As long as she doesnít order any wine. Rev Bem, obviously a priest, full of platitudes and righteousness, says that heíll use his share to build a hospital on Kingfisher, which had been a place the Magog, his people, had ravaged. He says that maybe heís trying to buy forgiveness. Revís the only non-homicidal Magog weíll meet in the series. Heís also not above scaring the hell out of Harper for fun. Those claws are gross. So is the unkempt-looking fur, actually.

The dirty handprint on the back of Harper's T-shirt makes me smile. Ah, those little details....

I appreciated the low-tech of them pulling the Andromeda out of the black hole using cables instead of the sci-fi staple of tractor beams. Harper does something fairly dangerous to give them the power they need to get it free, but since it worked Beka has no complaints. Theyíre awed by the ship and preparing to board, not thinking that anyone would still be alive on it.

Dylan unfreezes and slowly finds out from Andromeda that theyíre 300 years in the future. He mourns his family and friends and crew, all lost to time.

He doesnít realize how bad things really are yet.

Unsurprisingly, heís not happy when he realizes that his ship is being boarded. The Eureka Maru crew parks their ship in the Andromeda's landing bay--the Andromeda Ascendant is that big--oohs and ahs over the luxury of the Andromeda, and goes looking for schematics so their engineer, Harper, can fix the sabotaged bits and take control of the ship. Keeping track of the boarding party, Andromeda and Dylan identify them as two humans, a Magog (Dylan: "Are they insane?"), a Nightsider (Gerentex, the pimptastic boss), and "I donít know what [Trance] is." They start to realize that maybe the future isnít what it used to be when they see that Harper has a case of Triangulum Measles that has been left to fester to an advanced stage. The disease was easily curable within 24 hours in their time.

Harper says hello to Dylan's phallic stand-in

Dylan chooses to make his first contact with the sick member of the boarding party. Their meeting is actually pretty funny, though maybe not intentionally so. The camera looks Dylan over from Harperís POV in a way that makes it seem like heís checking Dylan out. Then Dylan shoves his six-foot-long phallic weapon in Harperís face, aimed at his mouth. Harper is lying on his back on the floor at the time. *cough*  Gordon Michael Woolvett as Harper does a great job here, particularly in the one part where you see his face shift from "Hey, wait a minute, can it be?" to "I think it is" to "Heís a real High Guard leftover!" to "I know whatís going on and how to talk to him!" in half a minute. Harper at first figures that Dylanís another scavenger and should shove off since "we were here first." Itís a fair salvage. Once he finds out that Dylanís part of the original crew, he breaks some bad news a lot kinder than he had to, considering that Dylan knocked him to the floor and pointed a weapon at his head. Harper tells him that the Commonwealth was destroyed by the war that Rhadeís betrayal was the first salvo in. Everything Dylan knew is gone.

Dylan clutches the one straw left to him, a goal. Heís going to restore the Commonwealth. But first he has to get these invaders off his ship.

Harper is all for leaving the Andromeda to Dylan. Nobody said anything about anyone being on board who has a real claim to the ship and, besides, Dylanís big and intimidating. Trance says that maybe Dylan will give it to them if they ask nicely. When Dylan starts making threats to them over the comm, that ends any urge the Maru crew might have had to leave it go. But Gerentex has a backup plan, a group of mercenaries he snuck onto the Maru in cold storage without them knowing it. The Maru crew is not happy. Dylan looks at the new arrivals with an angry sneer, his day not helped by the way that the mercenariesí leader is Nietzschean, as Rhade was.

 

"Under the Night" gets an A.



#102 "An Affirming Flame"

Dylan and the crew of the Eureka Maru agree to join forces and become one team aboard the Andromeda Ascendant as they set forth on his mission to restore the Systems Commonwealth.

 

While not as successful as "Under the Night," "An Affirming Flame" still has its moments. Dylan fighting against the mercenaries is surprisingly dull, though watching him crawl through conduits is fun. Him outsmarting the mercenaries doesnít take much effort, since they seem to be pretty dim. Even Tyr, the Nietzschean mercenary who will join the Andromeda crew at the end, isnít terribly bright. Sure, rip out the AI, Tyr. Iím sure youíll be thrilled when you find out that the ship wonít work afterward.

Tyr Anasazi out of Victoria by Barbarossa

Rev and Harper gossiping to tell us Tyrís origins--last survivor of the slaughtered Kodiak Pride, hiring out as a mercenary in the hopes of finding glory enough to win a mate, full name "Tyr Anasazi out of Victoria by Barbarossa"--isnít as successful a bit of exposition as the first partís ones, though it is funny that the priest on the crew is their information man. As Harper puts it, how can you convert people unless you know who they are?

The Maru crew is pressed and intimidated into working with the mercenaries. They go along, but theyíre really not happy. Trance says that this isnít what they signed on for and it isnít right. Rev agrees on how this doesnít sit well with him either. Harper says that heíll go with whatever Beka, their captain, decides. Their boss, Gerentex, overhears them and shoots Trance dead. Only a row of mercenary guns pointed at them and Bekaís stopping Harper from going for his gun prevent the Maru crew from striking back.

Dylan takes the death personally, saying that he should have done something. Andromeda basically tells Captain Megalomaniac that itís not his fault and there was nothing he could have done.

While Gerentex and the mercenaries continue to struggle to gain control over the ship, the grieving Maru crew reminisces about Trance. Expositional bit on how they donít know what she was or what planet she came from or even her real name, despite a lot of prying on their parts. (Trance always told Harper that he wouldn't be able to pronounce her real name and brushed off his assertions that she should let him try. Yep, "Trance Gemini" isn't it.) Beka doesnít even know where to find next of kin to send her body to. Harper wants to kill Gerentex and the mercs; he figures a bomb will do. Rev lectures him about descending to their level, while Beka says that heís more likely to get himself killed too. They decide to try to sabotage Gerentexís efforts from within.

Harper jacks in

While Dylan whips the mercsí asses and puts them into cold storage when he can, Harper plugs into the AI via the dataport on his neck, very cyberpunk, and tries to gain control of the Andromeda, but for the Maru crew, not Gerentex. His virtual self walks around the shipís matrix looking for what he needs until Andromeda manifests as a giant woman, picks him up, and throws him out. Looks painful. Once out and unplugged, a bit crispy at the edges, Harper tells Gerentex that the Andromeda is sentient and pissed off.

With his minions being defeated and the Andromeda AI fighting him at every turn, Gerentex decides to cut bait and run. He tells Harper to pull the Maru away from the ship, then takes control himself and bumps the Andromeda toward the black hole. If he canít have it, no one will. Harper, alone since the rest of his crew is on its way to a black hole, is coerced by force into piloting Gerentex and his remaining minions away but sabotages the Maru to leave a kind of trail.

Dylan needs people to help him deploy the nova bombs that will save them, so he appeals to Beka, Rev, and Tyr. Itís their lives too. Trance shows up and tells them that the Andromeda saved her life, and they should help Dylan. He asks the other remaining mercenaries as well, but they decline, take an escape pod, and end up getting immediately sucked into the black hole. I told you they weren't very bright.

By the way, Beka is pissed off about the nova bombs. Gerentex hadn't told her that the Andromeda Ascendant had them, so she hadn't known what a powerful, lethal weapon her crew was freeing for him. (She probably also thinks that she might have charged more, since he could sell the nova bombs separately for more profit.) Tyr just thinks of the kind of power he could amass for himself with that kind of weaponry.

Nova bombs are apparently such a big deal that the authorization of several members of a bridge crew is needed to deploy them. Dylan and his new bridge crew of Beka, Rev, Trance, and Tyr each give their authorization. All of the nova bombs shot into the black hole makes it temporarily blow up instead of suck them in, and theyíre pushed free.

Beka has to ask Dylanís help to get the Maru back, since she is currently shipless. Dylan says he will, in exchange for a favor. She has to agree. Working as a team, they follow Harperís trail to the Maru and shove Gerentex and his minions. My favorite moments from that involve Harper revealing that he'd stolen the firing pin from Gerentex's gun and Rev spitting a stream of paralytic toxic into one minion's face, with Dylan and the others looking scared and disgusted and Rev having to mop up some of the spittle drooling from his mouth with his hand. Tyr, unhappy about being cheated of his fees and nearly his life and unwilling to leave an enemy alive, wants to kill Gerentex, but Dylan has the Nightsider put into a pod with its piloting cut off instead. You think we'll see Gerentex again? Dylan tells Harper to report to med-bay to get his problem taken care of, then says that the favor he asks for is that they listen to a proposition he has to make. Good move on his part to have Harper's cure be independent of their reaction to his proposition, since it makes him look like a good guy.

When Harper asks Andromeda if the rash would have left a scar if it hadn't been treated, he finds out that the Triangulum Measles would have eventually started to eat his flesh away, slowly killing him over weeks. After curing him, Rommie tells Harper that, despite what Trance said, Trance rose from the dead all on her own, without any medical aid from the Andromeda. Hmmm.

Dylan may be megalomaniacal, but he realizes that he canít restore the Commonwealth alone, especially since the Andromeda usually has a crew of 4,000, so he asks the Maru crew and Tyr to join him. The Maru crew decides to go along since itís better than anything else theyíre doing, while Tyr agrees for the glory heíll get if they succeed. Beka says that they won't call him "Captain Hunt" or "sir," to which he answers that "Dylan" would be fine. And thatís the way they became the Andromeda bunch.

 

I give "An Affirming Flame" a B-.



#103 "To Loose the Fateful Lightning"

Dylan inadvertently gives a group of child warriors power to destroy a solar system.

 

He sure does. Idiot.

The kids governing themselves and not surviving long enough to have an adult stratum and the way hundreds of years of verbal drift have changed the High Guard military terms are very Star Trek. Somethingís off though, and I canít quite articulate what it is. Whatever it is, Dylan and Revís platitudes about peace and civilization donít help.

Dylan is just as dumb as dumb can be in dealing with the kids--way too dumb--but whatís striking to me is his impatience. When they donít immediately throw aside the 300 years of customs that kept them alive as a society and individuals against Magog and Nietzschean invaders after only a day of listening to him, he gets discouraged and disgusted and decides to leave them. In fact, at the end he leaves them to their own devices with the stated hope that one day they will be "worthy" of a place in his new Commonwealth. I understand that he has a crew of six--seven, if you count the newly embodied Rommie--but he couldnít leave any tutorials? These kids arenít "civilized" because theyíve never seen civilization. Their life is the only life theyíve ever known, and itís one of isolation and constantly being on the defensive against hostile aliens. For all they know, all non-humans are predators, and one example in Trance being as cute as Trance can be canít be enough to offset that. The kids were too busy defending their lives to learn to be civil, and they canít read. Nor does Dylan try to leave something to teach them to.

Then again, maybe be doesnít want them to read the leftover schematics and learn to build High Guard machinery. Especially not since theyíd retained a good enough rote memory passed down over the centuries to fly slipfighters armed with nova bombs.

Also, will Dylanís "path of peace" leave them vulnerable against the Magog? Theyíd been freshly attacked at the beginning of the episode. Or did the kidsí deployment of peace through genocide buy them some breathing time? Dylan doesnít seem to care, as his response to them seems to be horror instead of empathy, as if itís their fault that hundreds of years of verbal drift has distorted the High Guard values he holds dear. And I canít help thinking that Hayek wonít be content to live quietly as a civilian when he nearly ruled all.

Hayek is actually like a dark mirror of Dylan, showing all of his worst traits: the arrogance, self-righteousness, petulance, and deadly certainty. Having him in a full High Guard uniform like Dylanís underscores it. I wonder if that was intentional.

Dylanís inability to see the kids as a force to be reckoned with--even despite their gift to him of what looked like thousands of claws and spikes from slaughtered Magog and Nietzscheans--and his pride lead to death and wide-scale mayhem. Tyr recognizes the kids for what they are and offers to train them, but that wouldnít be civilized. It might give them a chance against their enemies, but it wouldnít be civilized.

Dylan would probably see the human resistance on enslaved Earth as a pack of savages too.

Watching this episode and the kids, I felt like theyíd done very well for themselves considering the conditions they live under. They seem to be good and caring to one another, an orderly society. What Dylan canít seem to deal with is that 1] theyíre kids (and thus canít possibly know what theyíre doing, in his thinking), 2] the lack of education or the ability to survive past the age of 20 has led to them having no technology or decent medicine, and 3] they are a society at constant war with predators far larger than they are.

The Andromeda left them with little more than what they had before, though at least the removal of the radiation will give the kids a chance at longer, healthier lives. Okay, Dylan may have also left them with the dangerous idea that they should pursue peace with their enemies. Good going, Dylan. Maybe the Magog will let them talk for half a minute before eating or raping them.

There are way too many Dylan and Rev platitudes in this episode.

Dylanís very quick to claim that heís their messiah when it looks like it might get him what he wants from them. Of course, that leads to badness, though at least he later admits that he was far too proud. Sure, Dylan, be their messiah and unknowingly bless their pilots so that they may fly the ultra-lethal slipfighters you unwittingly gave them access to! Though it does give Harper the opportunity to snark about being an "acting apostle."

The kids getting around all of Dylan's fail-safes and nearly taking over the Andromeda at the end was great, because he was so incredulous. Theyíre kids, and heís Dylan Hunt! Alas for him, undereducated doesnít mean stupid, and these kids are canny. Hayek is actually a smart leader; too bad heís so power-hungry and careless of his peopleís lives. Harper ends up inadvertently saving the day through the newly embodied Rommie heíd just put together, who comes off as very cute and young amongst friends but hell on enemies who invade her decks.

Harper instantly springs up with his gun when the kidsí "Magog" shows up in their historical play, and we learn here that he hates the Magog through very personal experience, since two cousins whoíd grown up with him almost as his siblings were infested and had to be mercy killed by his family. So heís all for genocide. Understandable. He has a lot in common with these kids. Itís interesting that he never told Beka about the cousins, Siobhan and Declan, before, but Beka does have a Magog on her crew, so....

Dylan sends the nova bomb-armed slipfighter ships into slipstream, where he triggers them all to blow up. Probably doing all kinds of damage, this viewer thinks. Or as my dad put it, "And thousands of worlds nobody knew existed die in a wave of fire."

Dylanís moment of formally meeting his shipís new android avatar is nicely awkward. Rommie mentioning that sheís seen him naked coming out of the shower so many times and his reaction is a good laugh.

At the end, Dylan saves one nova bomb that becomes very important in the season two premiere, "The Widening Gyre."

 

I give "To Loose the Fateful Lightning" a D- for excessive platitudes and high-handedness. Those poor kids....

 

[Deleted scene from this episode on the DVD that I liked: Dylan is handing out force lances to Harper and Beka for their boarding party, since Tyr and Rev canít come for fear of scaring the survivors, who have obviously fought Nietzscheans and Magog from whatís visible of the debris around the guardpost. Harper asks what if they hate humans too. Dylan says, "I doubt it; they havenít even met you yet."]



#104 "D Minus Zero"

Beka and Tyr square off against Dylan for leadership of Andromeda during a dangerous face-off with an unknown enemy.

 

In "D Minus Zero," Dylan has moments here too where heís a paternalistic, condescending ass who hides important things from his crew, though here he has the excuse of not knowing them very well, since this is only the second episode in which they are his crew. If heíd told them his plans, he could have averted a lot of trouble. Then again, if heíd told them that he intended to spend almost two days baking them and the ship in the radiation of a sun, they probably would have rejected the plan strenuously. For understandable reasons. Also, he knows almost nothing about them and hasnít really asked anything about them, and his lack of knowledge keeps biting him on the ass, such as when Rev refuses to shoot because itís against his beliefs. Beka, smug, says, "I could have told you that." He doesnít trust them and he expects High Guard-style soldierly performance from them. Six people doing the work of 4,000... yeah, thatíll work. I donít blame Beka for wanting to mutiny, especially after what happens with Harper.

And Dylanís prepared to misdirect their enemies into blowing up the Maru if Beka tries to leave. So much for giving them a choice in being his crew.

When Rev and Trance refuse to leave with her, you can see her heart breaking. Itís an amazing thing. When Dylan refuses to let her take the very ill and dying Harper with her, itís even better, especially since Harperís illness from Dylanís plan is what spurs her to at last mutiny. (Fortunately for Harper, he has hours yet before the damage done by the radiation is irreversible. He can keep dying until then. Great.)

Bekaís been captain of the Maru for 10 years. Dylan twits her that being captain of a "freighter" doesnít count for much. She tells him that being a fossil 300 years out of time isnít doing him any favors either, so a freighter trumps his out-of-date knowledge. Heh.

This is Bekaís family at risk. Sheís not going to blindly follow Captain Terrific into whatever harebrained scheme he has on tap while her crewís getting hurt. If theyíre facing off against a tougher opponent, they should run, not stand there trying to make friends and get their ass blown off. Tyr talks a good game toward mutiny, but she doesnít trust him for a second and is amused by him. She gets to be both hard-bitten and caring in this episode. Beka and Harper reminiscing makes an interesting scene, since they really do seem like theyíve known one another for a long time, not an easy thing for two actors in a series thatís just beginning.

To my surprise, Harper may complain, but heís the most obedient part of the Andromeda bridge crew. He already trusts Dylan and is defending Dylan to Beka. Though he does apologize to Beka for going with Dylanís command over hers once on the bridge.

::smiling over his "the universe hates you; deal with it" speech::

Of course heís the first person to feel the effects of the radiation poisoning Dylanís plan subjects them to, continuing to work even as he starts to feel ill and cough up blood. The radiation poisoning Dylan felt they didnít need to know about, because he figured they had hours yet. Another thing Dylan didn't know about his new crew is that Harper has a weaker than average immune system due to his years in an Earth refugee camp. Harper's past just gets sadder and sadder....

Dylan refers to him as a "good kid, smart." Though not to his face. He does later tell him he did a good job on the FMS machine, but thatís hours after Rev said that the crew could use some positive reinforcement. *sigh*   And itís after Harper worked on it through the initial stages of radiation poisoning and only allowed himself to collapse once the machine was done. At least Dylan looks concerned and a bit afraid as he kneels by Harper's crumpled body, though that's quickly interrupted by a focus on whether the machine had been finished correctly.

Poor Harper gets very upset when the ship gets its ass kicked while heís piloting. At least Rev told Dylan to let Harper know that not even a trained High Guard pilot could have done much better in that situation.

The Dylan/Tyr basketball game is a lot of fun. Harper and Dylan have a great casual conversation in a conduit. In fact, the episode has several small character moments that work very well in showing who these people are and advancing the plot.

 

"D Minus Zero" gets a B.



#105 "Double Helix"

Captain Dylan Hunt must save the Andromeda from the Nietzscheans, who are trying to persuade Tyr to help them destroy the ship and rebuild his Nietzschean life. His new life would include a wife to carry on his lineage.

 

This episode is a must for viewers looking for insight into Nietzscheans, but a lot of it drags. The most entertaining bits are the Rhade flashbacks as the presence of the Orca Pride and Dylanís wonderings on what Tyr is up to sparks Dylan's memories of the Nietzschean first officer whoíd betrayed him.

Poor Dylan. I wonder how long heíd been playing Go with Rhade before he realized that Rhade was cheating. Werenít you cheating too? Rhade oh so innocently responds. They have such great chemistry....

Here is our introduction to Orca Pride, surely the dimmest group of Nietzscheans ever. Their main advantage is their ship/asteroid/giant cannon. It lets them pillage and destroy ships, then run. The Andromeda first meets them as theyíre taking out some Than ships. Dylan saves one ship and offers to mediate peace between the Than and Orcas, sending Tyr to the Orcas as his delegate. They immediately try to kill Tyr, but heís smarter than that. An Orca woman, Freya, chooses Tyr for a mate since he outsmarted the other Orcas, proving himself superior, and a matriarch type says sheíll approve the match once they check out Tyrís lineage to see if itís worthy.

A wife as a chance to start a new Kodiak Pride is only what Tyr wants most.

Beka and Harper are wondering why Dylanís making the Andromeda such a nice target for the Orcas and trusting Tyr, but he gives his "give peace a chance" spiel. Meanwhile, Tyr is considering betraying him. Heís accepted and mates with Freya. Heís also creating a plan to take the Andromeda, not so much for Orca as for himself. Heíll just use the Orcas to get it.

As Dylan thinks back on Rhade, he realizes that he never understood Nietzscheans as well as he thought he did and starts putting precautions in place. When Tyr and the Orcas force their way on board the Andromeda and try to take over, Dylan reveals that heís set the ship to self-destruct. He will not surrender his ship. The Orca commander, Guderian, has no back-up plan, but Dylan figures that Tyr did. Tyr does. Heíd set charges on the asteroid to blow up the cannon, forcing the Pride to evacuate the asteroid, in case things didnít work out. He pretends that heíd always intended to betray the Orcas right now as justice for them doing nothing while Kodiak Pride was being slaughtered. The Orcas are forced to flee.

Dylan lets Tyr know that he figured that Tyr intended to take the ship and eventually betray the Orcas anyway. He says that heíll trust Tyr to be Tyr, which means that heíll expect this kind of thing at all times.

Freya is pregnant and given the choice of carrying the child to term or aborting. We donít see her choice, but Iím sure you know what it is.

 

I give "Double Helix" a C. It would have gotten a lower grade if not for Rhade.



#106 "Angel Dark, Demon Bright"

Dylan is faced with a difficult decision when Andromeda slipstreams back in time -- days before the climactic battle of the Nietzschean Revolution where the Commonwealth was defeated and the Nietzschean Alliance was destroyed.

 

Great episode. Everything works, and everyone is On.

We start with Beka and Tyr trying to teach Trance to pilot in slipstream. Sheís apprehensive, but Tyr says that it may be necessary for to take over if the rest of the crew was injured. Her slipstream flight knocks them around and blows out the shipís drive. The ship is immobile until Rommie and Harper can make repairs. Dylan is really pissed off, but not at Trance. Mostly it's because no one asked or consulted him first, and he does this great, exasperated "the hell?" gesture. During his pep talk to Trance, Dylan mentions that Beka sees her as lucky, that her mishaps tend to turn out to be for the best, which is a foreshadowing alert.

They find out that theyíre at the Witchhead Nebula. The Witchhead Nebula is the site of the climatic battle where the Commonwealth was definitively defeated and the Nietzschean Alliance was destroyed. Harperís version of this is hilariously wrong and legend-like, even to the Biblical 40 days and 40 nights the battle supposedly raged for. Captain Teddy Roosevelt, indeed. Tyr says that no one won this battle; it was a society-destroying disaster for both sides. But Rommie finds no signs of debris. Even after 300 years, something should be there.

Then the Renewed Valor shows up, captained by an old friend of Dylanís. It seems that the slipstream mishap sent the Andromeda back in time 299 years to a few days before the climactic battle. Dylan lies about why heís been out of commission for a year as he talks to Captain Yezgar.

I liked Yezgar. I should have known what that would mean.

The crew is divided on what to do. Harper wants to take advantage of their advance knowledge to make a financial killing. Dylan figures that they might be able to save the Commonwealth, but Tyr says that the Commonwealth is already dead, since Tarn-Vedra has been cut off from slipstream, the empress has already been assassinated, and opportunists have already risen up. Their only option is to help the Nietzscheans. You can guess Harper's reaction to that, to which Tyr retorts that Harper should set aside his emotional biases and listen to logic. Because, you know, Tyr is completely objective here. Right. Tyr says that the Nietzscheans are strong, unified. If they win this battle, they could perhaps shave years, maybe centuries, off the Long Night to come. Beka reminds him that the Nietzscheans brought about the Long Night to begin with, and Tyr answers that the irony is not lost on him. Interestingly, Rev privately counsels Dylan to help the Nietzscheans, because then maybe the Magog won't successfully invade. Dylan says that the Nietzscheans are more devastating, since the Magog come and leave like locusts but the Nietzscheans oppress planets for years, sometimes centuries.

Dylan decides that they donít dare stay or do anything here for fear of having a disastrous impact on the universe. The other option is that everything has already happened, and nothing they do would have an effect, in which case they might as well go anyway. Once the drive is repaired, theyíll leave. Harper, Rommie, and Tyr arenít happy with this, each for their own reasons. Harper sees a chance to make a pre-emptive strike to save Earth from the Nietzscheans, Rommie knows how many good ships and people will die and is a warship who could make a difference here, and Tyr wants a Nietzschean empire.

Harper, though, decides to do something about it:
"Harper Historical Document 1.1: How I saved the future, the autobiography of Seamus Zelazny Harper. Now for reasons of his own, our captain, Dylan Hunt, has decided not to interfere in the Battle of the Witchhead Nebula. Now while I respect his decision, I do not share in his evaluation of the situation. Therefore, I have decided to take matters into my own hands. After, umm, blinding Andromedaís internal sensors, I have begun to modify key systems of her power core. These modifications, when complete, will allow me to cause a single cataclysmic explosion in the nebula. Note to sculptors. Statues of me should look uh, I donít know, wise, concerned. I suggest posing me with a soldering wand over my head like a sword. Oh, I almost forgot! For those of you that have already done the math and are thinking clearly this is a brilliant idea, but-- in order to hit the Nietzschean fleet Harper will have to anticipate their exact position several minutes in advance and you are correct, that is where this comes in. A complete history of the Battle of the Witchhead courtesy of the Maruís database. So-- to summarize: genius, young, somewhat good-looking engineer sets trap. Nietzscheans arrive. Nietzscheans go boom! And everybody lives happily ever after."

Heís willing to risk the Andromeda, his life, and the High Guard ships to do this, since the whole nebula might go boom. But Trance finds out and brings news of it to Dylan. Harper is placed in solitary confinement, though Rommie zaps him with electricity a few times in her anger at him for messing with her sensors and trying to force her to go against Dylanís orders.

(I wonder if Wardrobe put Harper in the ridiculous big, red, cargo clown pants as something to make him look funny and make the audience take a little less seriously the knowledge that he is about to kill several thousand people.)

Then more than three times the number of Nietzschean ships than history recorded show up. With that many ships, the Nietzscheans will win. Dylan realizes that he has to destroy them so time comes out as it should, and he later finds out that he was meant to destroy them. Remember who brought the Andromeda here.... Heís horrified by the kind of slaughter heíll have to do, but if he doesnít want to come back to a different future under a united Nietzschean rule, it must be done. Rev supports the slaughter as a necessity, since he's certain that the Divine brought them back here for good reason. He also touches Dylan much more than he has to to get his point across. Have I mentioned recently that Rev is creepy?

Harper is released from confinement and set to work on creating the necessary weapon, but ship movements have changed since Harperís deployment target time had passed. "Which means a catalyst is not going to work. Unless you can get them all to politely line up to be incinerated." Andromeda will have to lead the enemy ships to the right area. Trance convinces Tyr that itís in his best interests not to leave in the Maru to warn the Nietzscheans. Machiavellian, yet cute and "clueless," thatís our Trance.

Dylan tells Yezgar the truth and offers her a chance to come back with him, saying that the Renewed Valor will be lost here but could make a difference in the future. She finds his story unlikely but trusts him and decides to bring her ship along to the future. But then the Valor is destroyed by the Nietzschean fleet.

As Dylan prepares the trigger for the mass slaughter, Tyr reveals that his people have a legend about this day. It turns out that their angel of death here had been the Andromeda.

Harper's weapon destroys about 1,000 Nietzschean ships, killing 100,000 Nietzscheans and leaving the odds what history had reported them as. Harper finds that vengeance doesnít feel as good as he thought it would. The Andromeda returns to the future.

Ah, time travel. You can run yourself in circles figuring out how Andromeda did this the first time in history. The important thing is that Trance knew what they had to do and got them back in time to do it. She brought them there, then she stopped Harper from using his weapon before all the other Nietzschean ships showed up, then she stopped Tyr from getting a warning out. When she confronts Harper, she already knows exactly what Harper intends and is toying with him a bit. Itís obvious.

When she tells him that he can destroy the whole nebula and kill himself and the rest of them with his plan, he answers that it would be worth it. She says that the Magog would invade Earth anyway, but Harper responds that as awful as the Magog are, the Nietzscheans are worse, because at heart theyíre human and humans are worse. He offers to verbally walk her through the barbarities of humanityís past if she needs to be convinced. Interesting.

 

"Angel Dark, Demon Bright" get s a B+. I took some points off for Dylan and Revís seemingly interminable platitudes and agonizing as Dylan decides whether he has the right to kill all of those Nietzscheans.

 

[Deleted scene from this episode on the DVD that I liked: Harper apologizes to Rommie, with flowers, for modifying her sensors without her knowledge. It's a nice touch that he apologizes for the modification, not for why he did it. ]



#107 "The Ties That Blind"

Bekaís con-artist brother unexpectedly shows up claiming to be a devout Wayist, making the Andromeda a prime target for Restorian attack.

 

Nice summary, official Andromeda site. Inaccurate too.

Boring episode. Annoying episode. I like twisty plots, but here I was just trying to see if any of it made sense. For a guy whoís a priest-- no, heís an eco-terrorist-- no, heís a crusading spy for the Free Trade Alliance avenging the death of his activist girlfriend-- no, heís really a con artist all the way through, Bekaís brother Rafe is amazingly dull. No charisma.

Khalsa does show that there are Wayists with an even more passive, annoying view of things than Rev. And the que sera sera view of the Mountain Path, the "purest form" of Wayism, turns out to be a good way to refuse medical treatment and hide the fact that youíre actually a mound of attack nanobots. His Way made Khalsa a great target for the terrorists, the Restorians, since they killed the real Khalsa and used his reputation to spring their trap.

The Restorians are eco-terrorists whose idea of protecting planets involves destroying crewed spaceships. Can't colonize, terraform, or despoil planets you can't reach. It turns out that they're the mysterious foes Andromeda faced in "D Minus Zero," and they show up again later in the season, but they're not very interesting.

Still, this episode has some important canon, such as the first acknowledged appearance of the Restorians and the first delving into Bekaís screwed up family. On lighter notes, this is the first time we hear Tranceís battle cry of "Hee-haw!" as Tyr tries to train her to fight (better than her original one of "hi, ho!") and the family nicknames of "Valentine Smart" and "Valentine Smarter" and Bekaís childhood nickname of "Rocket." They come up again in later episodes. Tyr's response to Dylan saying that humans must all look the same to Rev is "They look like lunch." Dylan has a great scene of throwing Rafe against the wall for being a Restor saboteur. When Beka says that, no, Rafe is actually an FTA spy, Dylan says that if there's no FTA fleet coming to assist them--and there isn't--then it makes no difference to him.

And Harperís off at a surfing competition. Uh, okay. The writers had to send him away, because he would have fixed the damage too quickly if he'd been around. This is the first time we don't get to see the whole crew in an episode this season but far from the last.

 

I give "The Ties That Blind" a D.



#108 "The Banks of the Lethe"

Finally, after 300 years and a black hole keeping them apart, Captain Dylan Hunt reunites with his true love, Sara.

 

The official siteís synopsis of this episode reads like an unintentionally funny Harlequin romance novel, sans sex, of course. Mineís a bit different, especially since it keeps in mind all of the other plots going on.

The Andromeda is back at the black hole it had been stuck in, helping the Perseids do research on the black hole. Rommieís at the end of her rope in dealing with them, since they really want to take her apart and see how she works. Dylan assures her that no one will be taking her apart. Most of her power is being shunted toward research, and she doesnít like being vulnerable.

Harperís helping the Perseids look into the teleportation possibilities involved in black hole science and is trying to create a machine. "It scans you, destroys you, transmits you through the projector and then rebuilds you from the particles up. Hilarity ensues." The episode has several snarky moments that hearken to how transporter technology is a mainstay of Star Trek but not possible in the Andromeda universe. So far the attempts arenít going well, as Tranceís plant Walter gives its life in the name of science, exploding into messy chunks after teleporting.

Dylan explains that the Perseids may be annoying, but helping them like this might get them to sign the charter to his new Commonwealth. In the original Commonwealth, the Vedrans werenít interested in letting humans join, but the Perseids sponsored humanity in.

298 years ago, Dylanís fiancée Sara is trying to get the Andromeda loose from the edge of the black hole. In the present, Harper picks up a long-range signal from her ship, The Starry Wisdom. They manage to send a message back to her, though Dylan doesnít tell her that heís speaking to her from a few hundred years in her future. Later, Dylan is interacting with her via hologram. While heís there, Nietzscheans attack her ship and disrupt the effort to pull the Andromeda free. Hologram Dylan takes over command of the Wisdom and saves it, but the Nietzscheans will be back.

The Andromeda crew ponders the situation. Beka says that itís obvious that Sara didnít succeed, because they got Dylan out. Harper thinks it must be torture for Dylan to be able to talk to Sara but not be with her. Then he gets an idea....

A little later, Harper calls Dylan in to watch something. A melon materializes and messily explodes. Dylanís attitude is "so what?" Harper gets a melon, writes "Trance" and a happy face on it like the exploded melon had, and puts it in the transporter. It disappears. Harper does a ta-da! Dylan doesnít get it. Harper explains that the melon he just put in is the very one that exploded after Dylan entered the room. "The deck drips with the guts of the unworthy melons. I have given life and form to the first time traveling fruit in the history of the universe!" Itís Dylanís ticket to Sara. Dylanís reaction to the fruit carnage and the news that Harper expects him to use this machine is priceless.

But Dylan eventually gets over his fear and decides that heíll use it. Beka thinks itís a stupid idea, while the Perseids are thrilled to get a live subject who can tell them what happened. This scene is interesting, because it lets you see how so much of Harperís cockiness is actually fake, a put-on to put his client of the moment at ease. The transporter works, and Dylan is on the bridge of The Starry Wisdom with Sara. They have their reunion, and Dylan thinks her plan to pull the Andromeda out might work. Funny how now heís all for changing history.

But the Nietzscheans attack again, and this time theyíre attacking the Andromeda and the Wisdom in two different time zones. As the Wisdom has to defend itself, the possibility of getting the Andromeda out diminishes, since the factors needed for success are slipping away from them. Dylan must decide whether to stay with Sara or his future crew, continuing his mission to restore the Commonwealth. Then he thinks that maybe he can have Sara and his future crew.

When Harper calls to say that Dylan has to come back now before his stored data is lost, Dylan tells him to bring Sara back with him. Several attempts fail. Harper can reconstruct Dylan from the data from the last teleport but the machine doesnít have the power to bring Sara back with him. Itís too risky to try to transport her, since he doesnít have a record of her pattern as a backup.

I would wonder if all of me came back or if I were still really me after using this kind of transportation, but that's just me.

Dylan decides to go back to the future, choosing his self-appointed duty to bring law back to the universe over staying with his fiancée. He tells Sara to live a long, good life and get over him, then returns to the Andromeda alone, and they fight off the Nietzscheans. The Perseids are thrilled by the time travel results and canít wait to talk to him about his experience, but Beka tells them to give him some time.

Rommie reveals that her calculations show that Saraís efforts had helped pull the Andromeda closer to the edge of the black hole and made the Maruís job in the Pilot easier, so things had worked out as they were meant to.

Sam Sorbo, who plays Sara, is awful. Really bad, really fake. Her Saraís "sadness" seems more like whiny petulance. Every scene she has with her husband or by herself drags. Meanwhile, her crewís Nietzschean, Khalid, who stayed loyal to the Commonwealth while most of the rest of his people revolted, is one sad specimen. This is a member of a genetically superior race?

Beka and Harper have some great scenes. Trance isnít around, and thereís no explanation for where she is.

 

"Banks of the Lethe" gets a B-. Sam Sorbo destroys every scene she touches, but the rest is good.



#109 "A Rose in the Ashes"

With their communication with the crew of the Eureka Maru completely cut off, Dylan and Rommie are forced into exile on a prison planet and must befriend fellow inmates to attempt any escape.

 

The scenes on the Andromeda are good: Harper reviewing the Commonwealth signatory document and trying to get information out of Trance, the crew snarking about diplomacy, Tyr wanting to just blow everything up as he usually does, Trance psychoanalyzing Andromeda. Trance shows off her talent with probabilities, and Harper trusts her enough to go with it. But almost everything involving Dylan and the prison planet sucks, even if it is funny that heís sentenced for preaching the litany of restoring the Commonwealth and punished for letting the Fall happen. Of course itís up to Dylan to teach the inmates that theyíre worth something and arenít innately evil. Platitudes and "rousing" speeches, ahoy! Android Rommie seems to have a ludicrously small amount of battery power, and no way to recharge without the ship. Now there's stupid design. And it makes no sense that the prisoners would decide to stay on a planet on which it is impossible to grow food. They'll be begging their captors to take them back in once they really start to starve.

Yet Kae-Lee is actually more fun than youíd expect as the leader of the prisoners, since she seems to have the time of her life being a bad person, and Rommie in a "sexy" outfit while standing in a cage made me cackle, especially since Dylanís prison wear is a baggy sweatsuit. This episode seems to suggest another difference between MotherboardRommie and HologramRommie in that Motherboard seems to be more involved with exterior ship functions and combat, while Hologram's concerns run more toward the interior and the crew. And I love this quote:

Harper, on prisons: "Hey, you have the potential to be a nasty piece of work, why donít we lock you up with a serious bunch of hard cases and get you really good at it."

 

"A Rose in the Ashes" gets a D.



#110 "All Great Neptuneís Oceans"

Tyr and Rommie are framed for the assassination of the Castalian president.

 

This episode has several great scenes, but somehow it doesnít hang together into a great whole. Sure, itís actually Murder, She Wrote in space, but thatís not really an obstacle. I think the problem is the Castalians, particularly the leaden Colonel Yau.

Beka and Harper are being tutored on place settings and protocol for the upcoming diplomatic dinner by a Rommie whoís like Martha Stewart on even more crack. Harperís all over the dining and the foreign babe bit, but he and Beka are not dealing as easily with dress and comportment. Just watch Bekaís reaction to Rommie trying to put her in something pink. And why does she have to wear a dress? What if thereís a battle and she has to run and shoot? Rommie wants to know what kind of dinner parties Beka is used to. The blue sequined monstrosity--with a bow!--that Rommie tries her with next doesnít go over any better.

Beka ends up wearing military boots with the black dress she settles on. Harperís suit is tailored to within an inch of his life, and he will not put the tie on. They grumble that this isnít what they signed up for. "Goodbye, room service; hello, foreign service." Harper snarks over the Castaliansí Hail to the Chief music, and Rommie assures him that it probably sounds better underwater, where most of the Castalians live. She emphasizes how important it is that they get the Castalians to sign the charter to join the Commonwealth, since theyíre a "peaceful" and "stable" people. Heh. Not for long.

Dylanís showing the Castalians--some of them water-breathers and some air-breathers--around his bridge while dressed in something awful. The dress uniform is white and mustard-gold and baggy. Not only is it awful by itself, it also looks awful with Dylanís coloring. Not that the Castalian makeup looks that great either.

The dinner party itself is full of ass-kissing, to Harper and Bekaís grumbling disgust. (By the way, Harper does have his tie. Sitting next to his wine glass on the table.) Every time someone proposes an obsequious toast, the whole table has to stand. Plus, the Castaliansí music must constantly be played. Rev and President Lee pretty much get into an ass-kissing contest. The toast-proposer stands, the music plays, everyone else stands, the toast is said, everyone sits. The person the toast was dedicated to stands, the music plays, everyone else stands, a toast praising the person who made the last toast is said, everyone sits.... Tyr really spoils the party by walking in and calling the Castalians a bunch of murderers.

Dylan goes out to privately ask Tyr what that was all about. It turns out that a Castalian habitat containing Nietzscheans and Castalian slaves blew up, killing everyone. Dylan says that the Castalians claim the Nietzscheans blew it up themselves. With themselves in it? Theyíre Nietzscheans! Tyr growls. In any case, the Nietzscheans didnít have the weaponry necessary.

The Castaliansí president, Lee, says he wonít sign Castalia to the Commonwealth charter unless Tyr publicly apologizes. Dylan manages to convince Tyr to do so, forcing Harper to pay up on his bets to Beka and Rev. He pulls his money out of the top of his boot to do so. Rev is gloating as he accepts his winnings and says that the money will go to charity, of course. Itís a great set of scenes.

Harper also took advantage of the televised apology set-up to do a product placement for a bar he frequented. He has his eyes on the prize.... "Ka-ching! Seamus Harper: interplanetary pitchman." Beka responds, "Are you sure that isnít Shameless Harper?"

Lee asks everyone to leave him alone with Tyr afterwards. Everyone hears the Castalian music play, weaponís fire, and Leeís screaming voice. When they run in Lee is dead and Tyr is unconscious nearby. The Castalians figure that Tyr shot Lee.

Tyrís incredulous when he comes to, since the narrative of his supposed assassination makes him out to be the most incompetent assassin ever. He knocked himself out doing it? If he were to kill Lee, it would be subtle and undetectable as murder. Tyrís hilarious and wry in this scene, especially when he gives a long laundry list of better ways to kill Lee. Tyr also mentions that he could see Dylan sacrificing him to the Castalians--even if heís innocent--to get the charter signed. Itís what he would do.

Harper feels that it might not be such a bad idea to hand Tyr over. "All Iím saying is, and it may sound a little selfish -- sometimes you gotta throw a wolf to the wolves to keep the rest of us from getting eaten." He thinks Tyr could have done it. After all, Tyr used to kill people for a living. Beka admits that thatís true but wonders who could have hired him for this.

Harperís investigation into Tyrís force lance--the supposed murder weapon--shows that it is the weapon that killed Lee. But it was fired at the floor, and then the smart bullets corrected their course to fly up and hit Lee. Itís a bizarrely indirect way to kill someone. Yau says that assassins have been known to be eccentric. Not Tyr, Harper says, "Uh, overbearing, self-righteous, vain, vicious, brutal, way too serious, and a little big -- yeah. But eccentric? No," and Beka and Dylan agree. Harper adds that the force lance then shocked Tyr, which only happens if someone whose DNA is not keyed to the lance tries to use it. Yet itís Tyrís lance. But Yau is now even more convinced that Tyrís the killer.

This scene ends up being force lance 101 and also provides a visual suggestion as to why Harper doesnít use a force lance, since, extended, itís longer than he is tall.

The Andromeda crew continues to investigate on its own, as Castalian ships start to circle them, trying to intimidate them into giving up Tyr. The Andromeda could swat them easily, but Dylanís not into that. Dylan lets a boarding party in and easily defeats them. But the way he used his lance to do it gives him an idea: lances can be fired by remote. Except that it turns out that the command to fire Tyrís force lance came from Andromeda. Horrified, sheís prepared to turn herself in to be erased, which is death for an AI.

Harper isnít buying it, since she has no memory of planning this or actually doing it. But she feels that duty is duty. He tells her that they could hide her personality in his neural net after uploading her through his port. She says that the process would work for three seconds before burning his brain out from overload.

In a funny and touching scene, Harper then goes to Dylan and confesses that he made Rommie do it. Because he wants to save her and is willing to die in her place. Unfortunately, he doesnít lie very well when it comes time for telling why he wanted Lee dead. Because he hated their "stupid fish music" is the best reason he can come up with on the spot. Dylan tells him to go back and keep working on finding the real killer, since Dylan doesnít believe that Rommieís at fault either. Harper claims the right to confess again later. He figures that the Castalians, eager to find a culprit, wonít ask him any questions about motive if he goes to them with a confession.

It looks like Yau might be involved in the murder, since she had been a slave and her family had been on the habitat when it blew up, but she claims that she loved Lee for all heíd done for air-breathing Castalians like herself, giving them rights closer to what the water-breathers had. Chancellor Chandos is taken off the suspect list because Lee was resigning in a few days and heíd be president soon anyway.

Then Harper gets it--though when Harper shows up Beka twits him with "Youíre not going to confess again, are you?" which he says heíll take the time to resent her for later--and shows Dylan how the murder was done. Dylan plans a public, televised surrender of Rommie to Castalian justice. As heís about to hand her over, Beka says that it wouldnít be right if they didnít play the Castalian music. Chancellor Chandos, the new president, panics and tries to remove the presidential breastplate in a hurry, while Tyrís force lance starts to shock him. Chandos had loaded a computer virus into the music to remote trigger Tyrís lance to kill whoever was wearing the breastplate. Harper figured it out because the Castalian party never played the music again once Chandos donned the breastplate, yet the Castalians play that music for all kinds of official moments.

To my amusement, it looks like nobody told Tyr about their plan to expose Chandos this way.

Chandos explains privately that Lee, when he resigned in three days, was going to confess to destroying the habitat. It would cause riots and possibly civil war between the water-breathers and air-breathers since all the slaves killed with their Nietzschean oppressors had been air-breathers, and Chandos refused to let that get out and cause havoc. Dylan hands Chandos over to Yau, to be tried on the planet. But she intends to kill him and keep the real story about the habitat a secret, because sheís afraid of the possibility of riots and war too. Dylan stops her and tells her that the truth is best.

And the riots do start soon afterward.

It really is a shame that the Castalians are such a drain and the episode doesnít hang together as a whole, because the entire regular crew--except for Trance, who isnít around for whatever reason--gets great moments. Beka and Harper get several nice scenes, together--looking like old cronies, snarking over the diplomacy, being amused by one anotherís snark, being forced to dress up, making bets--and alone--Harper giving his force lance spiel and flinging himself into danger for Rommieís sake and Beka despising the evening wear and being devilís advocate for Dylan and then checking out his ass as he leaves. The force lance scene actually shows the chemistry Dyan has with the both of them as they all play off one another. Dylan gets ever more long-suffering as he has to deal with ludicrous boarding parties and a spontaneously confessing engineer. Tyr makes incredulity look good. Rev gets to be an obsequious ass and later looks properly triumphant when he reminds Harper to pay on the bet.

 

I give "All Great Neptuneís Oceans" a B- when watched as a whole but a B+ when watched as a Fast-Forward Special. You donít have to fast-forward through all that much even!



#111 "The Pearls That Were His Eyes"

Beka Valentine receives a distress call from her beloved Uncle Sid, but to her disdain realizes that he has become Sam Profit, a big business tycoon.

 

We start with snark that furthers the plot. When Dylan walks onto the bridge, Rommie shouts, "Captain on deck!" Trance snaps to attention but everybody else is underwhelmed. Beka responds, "Iíll alert the media." Trance hisses that "It means that weíre supposed to stand at pretension." The Andromedaís been knocked around so much recently that sheís reverted to some of her pre-sets. They intend to buy replacement parts at El Dorado Drift.

Mail delivery is really chancy for space travelers, since Beka only now finds an over three-year-old emergency message from "Uncle" Sid, a friend of her familyís. He needs her help. (We also discover that spam is alive and well in the future when Harper talks about the junk mail he and Trance get, and she mentions how itís so cool. "Because you can buy your own moon, or you can make millions without ever leaving the comfort of your own homeworld.") News also tells that Trans-Galactic Shipping and Quantum will be merging, which will put many private cargo carriers out of business. Having been private cargo carriers, Beka and Harper are annoyed but resigned, since the Free Trade Alliance "never met a monopoly it didnít like," as Harper puts it.

Beka goes off to help Uncle Sid, with Trance stowing away, while Dylan, Harper, Tyr, and Rev look into replacing the much-needed parts. Harper wants staples that make the ship run, while Tyr demands more weapons on the list. Aside from Harper and Tyrís dueling priorities, the problem is that theyíre broke; none of the cash onboard the Andromeda is current. Harper says that he can steal what they need as long as Dylanís ready to provide a fast getaway, but Dylan refuses and suggests that they do a "garage sale" instead, selling off things they donít need.

When Beka and Trance go looking for Sid on Diphda Five, they run afoul of some local Flash junkies. Flash is a synaptic enhancer that makes you "stronger, faster, better," Beka says, but itís also very addictive. It says a lot about her dad that his attitude toward it was that "it was a great solution if you donít make it your problem." Then again, later on we found out that Ignatius helped invent Flash.... You squirt it into your eyes, and it leaves an eerie white film over your irises and pupils. Beka makes the mistake of phrasing her search for Sid as "Hey, Iím looking for a guy," to which the only answer thug number one can give is "Lucky you, you found one." Things get ugly from there, though one thug entertainingly asks Trace, "What about you, sweetness? You into older men or you just into her?" Beka casually beats the crap out of them when they start to get too fresh. Go, Kickass!Beka.

After finding out in "The Ties That Blind" that Bekaís brother is a con artist even she canít trust, here we discover that Bekaís father was a Flash junkie and that he ended up dying of a drug-related illness. Then we find out that he was a drug dealer too, no matter how many times Beka protests that he wasnít. Sheís never mentioned her mother, and it makes you wonder what was up with her mom, given her family history so far.

"Uncle" Sid isnít that great either, since it turns out that heís head of Quantum, a drug dealer, a murderer, and several other unsavory things, though heís very ingratiating at first. Too ingratiating.

And Bekaís dad was his partner for the drug dealing, though Ignatius Valentine drew the line at murder. Not that he was above blackmailing Sid with a record of the murders whenever he needed money.

Beka gets credit and ponders Sid

But Beka only slowly finds out about all of this. Sheís surprised and a bit horrified to find out that Sid is Sam Profit, the head of Quantum, but she accepts a fancy penthouse suite room and an unlimited credit disk from him. Trance enjoys the real chocolate and orange juice, masseur, and bubble baths. He claims that heís not in trouble anymore, though he would pay Beka well if she could find some old data records of her fatherís. Heíd prefer them unopened. Beka is, of course, suspicious.

Gathering together sale items on the Andromeda is pretty funny, especially since Rommieís very attached to many items of sentimental value. "Thatís ceremonial china from the Than ambassador!" Harper just sees cash. They get involved in a little tug of war. Dylan refuses to let anyone sell off his old crewís personal effects.

They sell their items to a dealer who gives them faulty parts, but they should have expected it since Chichins are notorious thieves. Tyr is even more emphatic: "Theyíre scum. They eat their own young." The ship is dead in space and in the path of a destructive solar storm. Dylan and Rev go after the dealer in search of justice and trade heavily on Rev being a Magog to help convince the Chichin to give them the right stuff. Of course, being deposited on the bridge of the Andromeda as the storm comes helps too. Rev enjoys playing the big, bad, hungry Magog a great deal, and the guys do tag team intimidation very well.

Tyrís funny while getting upset over the shipís impending destruction, especially after Dylan and Rev took off without telling him where they were going and what they intended to do. Harper knows but isnít telling--"Iím sorry. Captain Hunt has stepped away from his desk. Please leave a message after the tone from the funny little guy. Beep!"--not even when Tyr picks him up and shakes him. "Switch to decaf," Harper sneers, unimpressed.

Trance and Beka are tied up right now

Beka and Trance go out shopping and partying on Sidís dime, and Trance is cute while buzzed. "Iím still trying to figure out this whole Ďpoisoning yourself for funí thing. I think I like it," Trance says. Of course, she's also wondering where on a body the "moneymaker" is located. Beka is sober and trying to think of what Sid could be looking for. She mentions that her dad was good with machines, an inventor, and that he created nanobots for her that change her hair color, which is actually red by nature, not blonde. In a nice bit of detail work, when she does a demonstration of the nanobots her hair has a brief transition into red between blonde and purple and back. She realizes that someoneís been in the Maru, but too late, as the thugs take them down and Sid asks why she couldnít have just handed over what he wanted.

During the interrogation, Sid rips at her dad, saying that he was junkie, that he saw his kids as a ball and chain, that he was a drug dealer. Hearing this may be eating Beka alive, and theyíve been beating on her physically a bit, but she sticks by her story that she has no idea what heís talking about when he mentions data records. He says that she must know, that she must have come back now because she figured she could use them against him as heís trying to put this merger through. Since his current interrogation methods arenít working, he pins her down and forces Flash on her, using a specially designed metal frame to force her eyelids to stay open for it. Her father did Flash....

Beka is returned to the penthouse-now-prison still high on it, jittering, pacing. Trance is scared. Ranting, Beka reveals that sheís totally straight-edge in that she doesnít drink, smoke, snort, etc. for fear that sheíd turn into a junkie just like her father. From there she plunges straight into paranoia but not a totally baseless paranoia as she starts wondering about Tranceís purpose in being with her. "Donít treat me like a child-- I am not a child! You are! Or are you? How old are you, Trance? I donít even know! I donít know anything about you-- where ya from? Who ya working for? Why are you purple?!"

Once Beka comes down, Trance uses her unusual talent to find a way to get the bars off the windows. They jump out the window onto the Maru, which theyíd called by remote control. Once away, Beka sets the Maru on autopilot, takes one of her hairs, and puts it in a scanner, having realized a while ago that the nanobots her dad had created for her must hide the files. She sees a mass slaughter, with Sid as the killer and her dad as the accomplice, on the recording.

The autopilot is now driving them straight into a sun, having been programmed to do so by Sid. Heíd let them escape so they could die in this "accident" and take the data with them. He says goodbye via comm. Beka says that if something happens to her, all the copies she sent to news services would go public. She may not have the money to send that, but the unlimited credit he gave her did the trick just fine. Unable to take the chance that she isn't bluffing, he relinquishes control and lets her go.

Tyr is telling Dylan that Bekaís late because she took off for good, but Dylan doesnít believe it. Bekaís incoming call proves Dylan right.

Beka thinks on how screwed up her family is and accepts that her dad was a mess, but she tells Trance that he was a great guy when he was straight: smart and funny. Actually, from the way she describes him he sounds a bit like Harper. It sounds like his death was slow and painful for everyone....

I appreciated how this episode was full of everyday future life and nice details. We get to see the crew getting news and their mail, but sporadically, since theyíre traveling all over the universe. Beka and Harper snark over mergers in the business news and get into politics regarding the Free Trade Alliance and how the small, independent operators get shafted. Beka finds planets to be disgusting and wet; she was raised on a ship, the Maru. She and Trance wander around amidst regular people shopping, though a lot of the bystanders may be junkies, which is an interesting detail right there. Beka sums up spacer funerals thusly: "Eject cargo pod: yes, no?" Her lounging outfit of tank top, boxers, and unbuckled boots killed me, and I like her visible sliding bra straps under the tank straps. Itís just very real.

 

I give "The Pearls That Were His Eyes" an A-.



#112 "The Mathematics of Tears"

Andromeda encounters her damaged sister ship, the Pax Magellanic, that leads the crew of the Andromeda Ascendant on an eerie mission.

 

Trance isnít back yet, but sheís sent a note. Harper, in the pilotís chair, reads that she lucked into being around during a speciesí rare mating season. They mate only once every hundred years. Beka says that they get more action than Harper does. "Ha, ha. No, they donít," Harper responds. At the end, the note tells them to pick her up in a few weeks.

Dylanís pissed. Beka says that they always played fast and loose with vacations on the Maru. He snarls, "This is not the Maru."

She catches up with him and asks what he has up his ass. He says that Trance has gone AWOL, and in his time that could land her in the brig. Beka reminds him that they are not a military crew. He says that with Harperís surfing expeditions, Revís retreats, and Trance going off, he feels like heís ferrying his crew from vacation to vacation. (I guess this is the show's way of covering its ass, as various crewmembers go missing in episodes through the rest of the season.) Beka reminds him that Trance just finished a very intensive update on the xenobiology files and had "worked her purple tail off." He goes on about the mission and their duty. She reminds him that this isnít his peaceful time, that this is a bad future and surviving has been her crewís mission all their lives, and if they need a vacation now and then, she has no problem with it, so lay off.

Dylan sulks and grumbles to Rommie that his crew isnít here for a mission, theyíre here for "three hots and a cot." She reminds him that they have good hearts, and he says that he realizes that theyíve never known civilization or law, so maybe heís expecting too much. Beka comes by with a peace offering--though I donít see why she needs to--of Gerentexís coordinates list of the other known derelict High Guard ships. Gerentex was obsessed with salvaging a High Guard ship of the line.

Harper squeaks, "Weíre going after the ghost ship of Tau Ceti VI?" It apparently has a dire reputation and is thought to be cursed. Dylan scoffs. They find the Pax Magellanic, which looks like a golden version of the Andromeda, floating motionless in the midst of an asteroid field. "It glitters gold," Harper murmurs, just like the legends say. The ship is putting out eerie vocal signals of babble about tears, what is the mathematics of tears, which doesnít hearten Harper at all.

As they fly over to board the Magellanic, Rommie says that the ship was her big sister, part of the Glorious Heritage line, and had a distinguished career. Seeing her derelict like this.... Dylan tells Rommie not to worry, that heíll save her. Harper gets a snarky look over that, since he apparently had the same "Thanks, Captain Bombastic" reaction I had.

Theyíre fired upon almost as soon as they get in. Harper works on putting an end to it. A group of officers show up, armed, but lower their weapons when Dylan identifies himself. Dylan asks if theyíre descendents of the original crew, but Jill Pearce, the leader, says that they are the original crew. For some reason they havenít aged and they couldnít get their slipstream drive to work after the Nietzscheans blew up the nearby planet during the war. With Captain Warrick dead in that battle, sheís in command.

Dylan is immediately seduced by the military spit and polish and the respect shown to his rank by the Pax crew. Beka looks nauseated.

Rev, who stayed on the Andromeda, calls to say that he canít figure out from the crew cell samples why they arenít aging.

Harper says that the Pax AI is still connected but not responding. When Rommie goes into the matrix, the Pax avatar is wandering nearby, featureless and confused. Itís also doing a kind of interpretive dance. It doesnít recognize her, denies her access, and orders her to leave. Later she gets back in and manages to call up a recording of the fateful day. She finds out that Jill Pearce destroyed the planet, causing Warrickís death.

She immediately goes to Dylan about it. Heís having dinner with Jill, whoís been talking about how purposeless sheís felt these 300 years. She wants him to be the Paxís captain. He says that he feels sheís had enough experience over that time to continue on as captain and offers her and her ship a place in his new Commonwealth and a purpose. Once confronted by Rommie, Pearce explains that Warrick commanded her to fire at the Nietzscheans, which set off a chain reaction and caused the planet to explode, and that sheíd put that horror in the past and pretended it never happened. Dylan consoles her by telling her that she did the right thing by obeying Captain Warrickís orders. Rommie, less convinced, tells Jill that now that the truth is known, she may be able to help the Pax.

Harper finally cuts through the welded-shut door to the slipstream core--though first he succumbs to the Pax engineerís delaying tactic of very dangerous welder twirling--and finds nothing in the room. The slipstream drive is gone. The Pax engineer tries to kill him now that he knows, but Beka helps get him loose. They run to Dylan with the Pax crew in homicidal pursuit and tell Dylan about the missing drive. Then Harper presses a button and the whole crew goes motionless. Including Jill. Theyíre androids. He sent them into a repair cycle, but theyíll come back online soon. Dylan is upset that he was almost making time with a robot, but they donít have the time for that.

They run to the Maru as the crew comes to. Once there, Rev reveals that there was no crewmember named Jill Pearce on the manifest. They realize that Jill is the Pax Magellanicís AI made flesh, like Rommie is for the Andromeda Ascendant. Rommie hadnít realized, because the AI used to call herself "Maggie." Tyr wants to erase it, but Rommie says that the Pax is a High Guard officer and should be given the opportunity to defend herself. She convinces Dylan, and they go into the matrix. Meanwhile, the android crew is trying to break in to the Maru, with murder on its mind....

In the matrix, the featureless avatar appears and transforms into Jill. Rommie tells her that sheís repressing a memory from the day the planet blew up and that itís affecting her thinking. Jill states that Captain Warrick tried to kill her and that she acted in self-defense.

The three of them stand within and watch a 3-D memory that shows Warrick commanding Pearce to self-destruct because the Nietzscheans were trying to attack and take control of the ship. Jill reveals that she and Warrick had a sexual relationship that heíd initiated and that sheíd changed herself to please him. She thought they were in love, and Warrick said that he couldnít live without her. She told him that the war had been lost, that they could run away, that their love was more important. He commanded her to self-destruct. Emotional, the way heíd wanted her to be, she says that he was ashamed of her and what theyíd done and wanted her dead.

She released the slipstream driveís exotic matter pulser from the Pax Magellanic and jettisoned it toward the planet. The planet then exploded. Pearce explains that the entire crew was on the planet and lost as a result of the explosion, so she used their DNA on file to manifest her favorite ones in android form (with human skin, hair, etc., I guess) so she wouldnít be lonely. Creepy. Dylan tells her that he will have to erase her because she disobeyed her oath to the Commonwealth to sacrifice herself if necessary. She refuses to let them do that. Quite nuts (if you hadnít figured that out by now), she talks about ther favorite part of the opera, The Flying Dutchman, in which the crew sings of its eternal damnation....

The android crew gets into the Maru by having the engineer disguise his voice as Rommieís. A fight breaks out with Beka, Harper and several robot crewmembers, with Harper in particular defending Dylan and Rommieís vulnerable bodies. Tyr shows up as the cavalry. The Pax plays a favorite selection from Wagner, namely The Flying Dutchman, throughout, which is great fun. Tyr certainly approves.

Once Dylan and Rommie return from the matrix, they fly out at great speed in the Maru from the Pax, which is firing on them. Rommie begs her to stop but she wonít. Wanting to preserve the Pax, Dylan commands a barrage that will disable but not destroy the ship, but Pax puts her shields down, having used them to help her commit suicide. Jill smiles, and her final words are that she has sacrificed herself for love, then the communication picture goes dead and the ship blows up.

Rommie grieves, actually crying, since Harperís work on her body was that thorough. She wonders if this is what love does. Rev tries to comfort her but fails.

And, Rommie? This definitely means that you should keep your hands off your captain and vice versa. This audience member is pleased by that.

Jill seemed fairly wooden throughout, but then it turns out that she was supposed to be, which means that Monika Schnarre was a good choice of actress for the material. Heh.

The clash between Dylanís High Guard values and the Maru crewís fast and loose and practical way of doing things is always fun. The show should put Dylan, Beka, and Harper in a room together more often, since they have great chemistry.

 

"The Mathematics of Tears" gets a B. Would have gotten a B+ if we didnít have to listen to Dylan and Jill gassing nostalgically on at one another for a few boring stretches.



#113 "Music of a Distant Drum"

A crash landing on a strange planet leaves Tyr with a complete loss of memory and a mystery crate to protect from not-so-brotherly Nietzcheans.

 

Tyr comes to on an unfamiliar planet with no memory of how he got there or who he is. His human hosts are kind but wary, since he is Nietzschean and their ruthless overlords are Nietzschean.

It turns out that heíd stolen the Maru for some mission and the ship was infested with attack nanobots designed to scramble electrical systems both mechanical and biological. Since Tyr is a Nietzchean and has a bioengineered immune system, his own internal defense nanobots stopped the attack and will eventually fix his damage, thus restoring his memory. The Maru isn't so lucky. Meanwhile, heís wondering whatís in the large code-locked crate....

Bekaís pissed about Tyr taking off with her ship. Sheís also trying to convince Dylan to let the Andromeda carry cargo for pay. He gives the impression that he thinks itís beneath his and the shipís dignity. She and Dylan go searching for Tyr.

Her Arthurian dream is pretty funny, what little she lets us hear of it.

The planetís overlords are the Drago-Kazov Pride, which also helped slaughter Tyrís Pride and stole their holiest relic, thus they are his enemies too. (The episode continues the effort to put a boundary between good Nietzscheans and bad ones. Tyr works completely in his own best interests and will screw you over in the name of that, but look how bad he could be! Plus, there are human bullies too! We know....) He and the human woman whoíd taken care of him, Yvaine, find a bond in that and seem to be developing feelings for one another, but he leaves to protect her and her son from the Dragans.

It turns out that the crate contains that holiest relic, the mummified remains of Drago Museveni, the Progenitor and first Nietzschean. The Drago-Kazov stole it from Tyrís Pride, and he had taken it back.

Tyr, Beka, and Dylan defeat the Dragans. Having gained some empathy for and appreciation of a few humans, Tyr is tempted to stay with Yvaine and her son, but itís too dangerous for them. He asks her to come with him, but she wonít leave her home.

Tyr takes the crate back to the Maru and leaves with his crew. Not telling them whatís in the crate.

 

"Music of a Distant Drum" gets a C.



#114 "Harper 2.0"

Harper finds himself overloaded with information when a dying Perseid transfers data into his brain.

 

Bantering, Harper and Beka are coming back from a cargo run in the Maru when something hits them. Itís now in the airlock and looks like a big "killer beachball," as Harper puts it. When Beka tells him to open it, Harper and the audience both say, "What? No!" but he works for her and so follows her command. Split open, it reveals a very beat up Perseid, whoís gasping, "Must save... must save...." Beka says that heís safe now and asks who did this to him, but heís too busy checking out Harperís dataport.

The Perseid knocks Beka aside, latches on to Harper, and tongue-kisses his port. Really. Seamus Harper Online confirms it, even if the close-up shot has the Perseidís mouth a short distance away from it, probably out of some concern for the audienceís supposedly tender sensibilities. Besides, the first shot that shows the back of the Perseidís head as he goes for it sure looks like he has his face right at Harperís neck. Harper's later description of the event while in med-bay, that the Perseid "opened up wide, clamped down, and zap! major electrical discharge," again suggests a more intimate transfer. Anyway, a stream of energy comes out of the Perseid's mouth and goes into the port.

Beka rushes over, while Harper writhes and murmurs, "Iím on fire... Iím on fire...." Beka tells him that heís not and that heís far better off than the Perseid, whoís now dead.

Back on the Andromeda, Beka asks what killed the Perseid, to which Tyr responds by asking what didnít kill him. The Perseid had obviously been subjected to several forms of torture. In med-bay, Trance says that Harper is fine aside from a small bump on the head and the light burns on the skin around his port. He says that he feels twitchy and asks her to check his epinephrine levels and look for signs of any kinds of drugs. Dylanís wondering when Harper picked up medical jargon.

A bounty hunter calls them up looking for the Perseid and wants him back. Bekaís knee-jerk hostile to him, though it might have helped that he claims that she seems familiar.... Beka doesnít want to give him the body, but Dylan says that the paperwork seems to be in order and heís not going to fight local authorities over a corpse. If the Perseid had still been alive, that would be a different story. Before they hand over the body--vacuum-sealed in plastic wrap to retain freshness--Dylan notices a symbol on one of the fingers. Research shows it to be the insignia of the All Systems University library, Special Collections Division. Dylan wonders whether the Perseidís crime was stealing from the library, and why the information might be worth killing for.

Meanwhile, Harperís having nightmares of genocide and mass burials, and they seem to be coming from his port. Unwilling to sleep, he goes to feverish work. "Why dwell in hell? Get busy!"

Rommie notices his elevated breathing and pulse rate and worries that heís working himself too hard. Sheís also getting tangled in the coil of wires he asked her to hold, which she put around her neck, which is pretty funny. Heís on a manic inspiration streak, sweating and wild-eyed. Heís also speaking in other languages, something he spectacularly failed to do while on the Maru earlier. How actor Gordon Michael Woolvett manages to speak that fast and in several languages and technobabble.... (In interviews he has spoken of the virtues of drinking several cups of black coffee before the more difficult speeches. Who knows if he's kidding?) To my amused surprise, Rommie says that she didnít know he was such a "cunning linguist," and Harper answers, "Love speaks in all tongues, baby."

By the way, a friend in the know says that the spoken and closed caption Gaelic throughout this episode was correct.

The bounty hunter, Jeger, has taken apart the Perseidís corpse but failed to find what heís looking for. Frightened by his sinister, shadowy boss, he vows to find it.

Meanwhile, the crew is watching Harper by remote as he works on something and sings "Sheíll Be Coming ĎRound the Mountain" in several languages. Rommie says that he has started and abandoned several projects, though the upgrades heís completed on her have been excellent. Dylan and Beka decide to go talk to him. Harper, running at a faster speed than usual, tells them that heís fine and busy, even if he's not sure what he's working on, but the sight of Rev throws him into a panic. He screams at Rev to get away from him and says, "Youíre not going to get me." Notably, Rev at first refuses to back off in the face of Harperís obvious terror and keeps approaching, while hurt over it. Concerned, Dylan and Beka lead Harper to med-deck.

Scans show that Harperís brain is in overload and they realize that itís from the transfer by the Perseid. Harper is thrilled at having a new level of creativity, knowledge, and power, but Trance worries about his insomnia and nightmares. He also seems to have some kind of seizure as he walks down the hall away from Beka and Trance, but he brushes it off as "a small price to pay for God." Harper says that he has the entire Commonwealth medical archive in his brain and is thus a better, more knowledgeable doctor than Trance. "So-- as the senior medical expert here, I can tell you I am not gonna have a stroke, okay? Now are we through here? I donít know, Dr. Harper, are we? Yes, I think we are. Uh, meeting adjourned." He refuses to rest or think of giving up the archive, saying that "possession is nine-tenths of the law."

We also find out in this episode that Andromeda takes place about 3,000 years in the future when Harper explains that he's making a replica of the first human flight module to break the speed of sound, "going back three millennia, 1947, Old Earth calendar to be exact."

Jeger is phasing right through the walls of the Maru. Remembering that Dylan said that the Perseid almost killed his engineer, Jeger goes looking for Harper.

Watching from the bridge, Dylanís worried about Harper, but if Harper doesnít want to rest, they wonít make him. Then he sees Jeger appear in the room. He shouts for Tyr to go to the machine shop and goes running there himself. Harper tries to run from Jeger--expertly slipping out of his overshirt and trying to slide for cover under a table--but is caught. Jeger says he just needs Harperís head and tries to twist it off, but Harper fights back and gets loose. Tyr barrels in to fight Jeger but isnít succeeding. Dylan shoots him but does no damage. Jeger smirks and melts through the floor. Dylan says, "Heíll be back." As if we didnít realize that the actor who plays Jeger, Ralf Moeller, looks and sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger and in fact played Conan in the TV series.

Harperís having nightmares. First heís being chased through the Maru by a horde of Magog, then his vision switches to being in an unknown place as Magog slaughter everyone. It stops when a Magog slashes down at him.... Awake, in a fetal curl under a gurney, Harper starts to break down, gasping and crying.

The Andromeda is attacked, with the weapon taking out a whole deck. Harper, his tough front up, says that they were hit by a PSP, a point singularity projector, which is a weapon that fires miniature black holes. As they work to repair the damage, Rev comes up to help, but Harper attacks him, using martial arts know-how he doesnít have, calling Rev a murderer and a rapist, saying that he wonít be Revís next meal. Dylan separates them, but Harper goads Rev into attacking by saying something in Magog. It doesnít take much to get Rev in full, insane attack mode. Dylan calms Rev down, while Beka tries to do the same for Harper.

Strapped down to a med-bay table, Harper is writhing in agony, his brain and body unable to take the information overload anymore. He comes up with a way to get the data out of himself, but the process starts to put too much strain on his nervous system and puts him into a seizure, forcing them to abort the procedure, though they did release some of the data and thus some of the pressure.

Combing through the files they have out doesnít show them why this archive is so important. Beka suggests they search for things related to the Magog, since Harper didnít have a problem with Rev before. They find eyewitness footage of the Brandenburg Tor massacre, in which billions of people were slaughtered by the Magog in a few days, the "beginning of the end for the Systems Commonwealth" since the Nietzscheans revolted over the Commonwealth treaty with the Magog after that, but that massacre is no secret. Why is the footage worth so much?

Rev goes to comfort Harper but does anything but. Harper is strapped to a table, terrified of him, yet he wonít take a hint. Harper says that all he ever wanted was to know things--how they worked, where they came from--and now that he does heís being haunted by these images of pain, suffering, and death. He asks Rev how he can make it stop. Rev tries to show Harper a way to deal with the pain, but it involves him reminding Harper that Rev finds the crew a tasty temptation and has to fight not to devour them. Thanks, Rev. His claws are just about stroking the tips of Harperís hair. Have I mentioned that Rev is really creepy? The Andromeda is attacked again, and Harper asks Rev to set him loose so he can help.

Harper comms Jeger in the Maru to leave the Andromeda alone and come and get him. The Andromeda crew is not pleased with his sacrifice....
Harper: "Jeger wants to clock me. I donít wanna be a bullís-eye on your butt."
Beka: "Dammit, Harper, youíre gonna get yourself killed! And by the way, thatís my ship youíre steering into oblivion, so get your skinny ass back to the hangar deck, now!"
Harper: "Oh, now donít get all sentimental on me, boss."

Using his archive knowledge, Harper turns his slipstream portal into an impenetrable knot behind him, but Jeger slips through before it becomes impossible. Only the Andromeda is unable to get through. They decide to try to figure out where Harper will come out. In the meantime Trance has found what made the footage so valuable: it has scenes in which a shadowy humanoid figure directs the Magog attacks. The crew is stunned.

Jeger catches up with the Maru, ties Harper up, and uses a laser probe in Harperís neckport to try to find the archive. It is, of course, excruciatingly painful. He strokes Harperís hair and face a bit first, since this is the episode where everybody ties Harper down and molests him. Not that Iím thinking thatís a bad thing.... The Andromeda finds them, and Jeger is forced to flee. His ship is destroyed, but he phase-shifts away before that happens.

A cute moment has Harper finally passing out from it, and Beka tipping him toward the waiting Tyr, who hoists him over his shoulder to carry out. Itís so casual that it almost looks like theyíve done this kind of thing before. Heh.

Harper has figured out a way to remove the archive. While being examined by Trance, he sings something at her in an alien language that really upsets her. She says that the archive is too dangerous and should be destroyed. Uh-huh. Iím sure she has no ulterior motives. Right.

Harper says that itís too important to destroy and he knows a safe place for it. He stares at the tattoo on her back, which looks like a face with a kind of corona around it, and the episode briefly cuts to a picture of a sun. None of that will make any sense until second seasonís "Into the Labyrinth."

Jegerís boss isnít happy. Jeger promises to go back for the archive, but his boss painfully discorporates him.

Harper looks at his unfinished projects and asks Rev to please tell him that someone was taking notes while he was on a hot streak, since he doesnít remember how any of it works. Rev says that they didnít. (They were watching him on viewscreen all that time but donít keep recordings of anything?) Harper says that heís just "empty old Harper again" but Rev says that he has a keen mind and the beginnings of wisdom. Harper intends to figure out how to complete the projects on his own. The flight module he started here continues to show up in his workroom/bedroom(?) in several episodes in the future.

 

"Harper 2.0" gets an A.



#115 "Forced Perspective"

Dylan is taken captive and forced to admit that he killed the Mobius leader and overthrew the Mobius government more than 300 years ago.

 

Dylan is tortured and about to be executed for a crime he supposedly committed 300 years before. I fast-forward through everything that isnít a flashback with Rhade in it, since Rhadeís fun in general and even better when heís twinkling at Dylan in his dangerous, sociopathic way and acting a bit like a homicidal Spock. One of the All-Pimp All-Stars protests, "No, no, donít forward through Dylan-torture! Heís so lovely when he suffers!" Well, he is nicely smart-assed.

There are details, like how the guy who helped Dylan and Rhade get close to the leader as long as there would be no bloodshed is now the current dictator torturing Dylan as vengeance for his lost innocence... or whatever. And heís cloning himself and transferring his minds to the clones so he can rule in perpetuity and thatís why he remembers Dylan, but damn, itís so hard to stay awake through the bits that take place in current time....

"Forced Perspective" is an important episode because it shows some of Dylanís black ops experience and tells how Dylan became captain of the Andromeda Ascendant. He gets his captaincy as a reward for assassination, while Rhade is made his first officer for the same reason. The really hilarious thing is that Dylan didnít even want to kill the guy--though Rhade did--but a few botch-ups resulted in a lethal gunfight. The audience is given the impression that the commander who sends him in, Admiral Stark, who also happens to be his fiancéeís aunt, is happier with the death. Yes, that noble Commonwealth.... Trance also explains her abilities a bit and tells us that she used to be a thief, though she sees it as transferring items to people who want or need them more.

This episode is a Fast-Forward Special for me, though Iíll be lingering over those flashbacks....

The subplot featuring a growing sexual tension between a very bored Tyr and Beka just annoyed me. Though the scene in which Tyr sets up a dinner for Beka that looks like a romantic date and then basically implies that sex between a Nietzschean and a human would be like bestiality slays me. Tyr has no idea why she gets so pissed off. Though we have:
Beka: "Umm, whereíd ya get all the candles?"
Tyr: "I rendered them from the fat of my enemies."
Beka: "Canít wait to see the entree."

Rev and Harper arenít around this time, though theyíre explained away as being on a separate parts-finding mission. But how many days do you think Harper could bear Revís Wayist philosophy in a small, enclosed space before wanting to put a bullet in his brain? And where is Rommie? Her absence is left completely unexplained, yet sheís the shipís avatar. It's not like she can go on vacation or a religious retreat.

 

"Forced Perspective" gets a C. It would have gotten a worse grade if not for that delicious, twinkling Rhade.



#116 "The Sum of Its Parts"

A humanoid robot visits the Andromeda crew, helps them fight off a culture of organized machines and learns what it means to be a living being.

 

An emissary from the Consensus of Parts brings a load of trouble with him, and itís not all from the direction the crew expected. Another great ensemble show. Lexa Doig as Rommie is especially good, particularly when sheís playing HG in Rommieís body. The way she doesnít sweep that tendril of hair out of her eye, being HG and unused to having hair, works well. Watching even Dylan be nauseated by how sweet and innocent HG is makes for good eating, as does him obviously being a bit intimidated by how much taller than him VX is. HGís sweetness and friendliness drive everyone except Trance crazy, and sometimes you can swear that the crew can hear and are reacting to the "cute," goofy theme music his scenes are scored with. Dylan has a funny look on his face when Trance vehemently promises HG the protection of Dylanís ship, very "How about you talk to the captain about this first?" Smile over everyone having polite expressions as HG hands them pieces of himself during his wake, then when heís moved on let their faces show their "What the hell is this and what do I do with it?" thoughts. HG comes and leaves in peace and in pieces!

Interesting how even machines can tyrannize one another.... VX seeing the Andromeda crew as disgusting contagions makes me smile too. Organic viruses don't get a say in the Consensus of Parts!

Harper ruthlessness always makes me happy, so the decision on whether or not to "let slip the nanobots of war" is sheer viewing pleasure. Everybodyís great and snarky, all the reaction acting work is lovely, Harperís wearing a tight shirt, and we have a lot of great lines.

Itís something of a kick that the Andromeda crew ends up inadvertently creating a whole new machine society at the end of the episode. Though Tranceís finale speech about HG makes me laugh and laugh, and I donít know if thatís intentional.

 

I give "Sum of Its Parts" a B. Itís more of a reward for the characters than the plot.



#117 "Fear and Loathing in the Milky Way"

Trance, Harper and their former employer Gerentex are unwilling partners on a wild ride to find a valuable artifact.

 

Harper and Trance have a really bad day as trouble comes looking for them, first in the form of their old boss Gerentex and later in his enemies. But they have the opportunity to make a big score in the form of Hasturiís diary, which is said to contain slipstream directions to reach long-lost Tarn-Vedra. Electroshock, several gun battles, and blazing gouts of fire figure prominently....

During the first electroshock segment, Gordon Michael Woolvett, as Harper, shows that he can apparently make the veins in his neck stand out on command. Thatís a useful thing to know.

Harperís still harping about his 84 grand, the money Gerentex owes him for the job the Maru crew did in "Under the Night"/"An Affirming Flame." Harperís not really much one for keeping his mouth shut when being threatened. Of course.

Iím trying to make excuses for my ecstatic joy over Harperís ruthlessness here. You know, like that Iím just admiring how Gordon Michael Woolvett is so good that his expressive face goes from soft and boyish to hard, steely, and donít-fuck-with-me so completely just through narrowed eyes, a pursed mouth, and a certain set to his jaw. Iím admiring the acting when I get happy over him talking about and demonstrating the use of a nanowelder as a torture device... with him starting at the subjectís groin level. Iím appreciating the use of his voice as an instrument when his usual light, nebbishy tone has been replaced by something darker thatís suggestive of spitting out nails as he grinds out his threats.

Really.

Damn. Even I donít believe that.

I liked the fact that the episode showed how nagging-toothache-level evils can screw your life up as badly as grand, operatic Evil. Yeah, this guy is a buffoon, but he can shoot you just as dead. Or, you can be very generous here and still have the other party whine for more. Trance even gets her furry purse stolen. I like Gerentex for being kind of Roddy McDowall-esque, since I miss Roddy McDowall.

Iíve heard that some people didnít like this one because it was a "comedy episode" but didnít make them laugh all the way through. That set me back. Nobody said it was meant to be a straight comedy episode. Woolvett told interviewers that the story gets into Harperís tragic past a bit, and it does. There are plot points that are very deliberately not comedic. I can understand if the viewer were complaining about comedy where a comic scene fell flat on its face, but thatís not what theyíre doing. Theyíre complaining that thereís chocolate in their peanut butter.

One person on a message board didnít like it that the episode featured a few different pronunciations of the name "Hasturi," since he saw it as carelessness, but I think it was deliberate, and I appreciate it if it is. The show features various races from various planets, ships, habitats, stations, etc. so of course they wouldnít all use the same pronunciations. In general, Harper has an accent nobody else on the show has--which we find out later in the series is a product of growing up in Massachusetts--and the Nietzscheans all very carefully enunciate their words.

Harper's having a hair-raising experience

It kills me that all the electroshock gradually makes Harperís hair stand on end. Nice detail. It also makes Harperís pissed off expressions as he has to listen to Gerentex go on and on seem even funnier. "Cry me a river and drown in it" and "Want to change your life for the better? Put a bullet in your head" are two comebacks.

Harper is devious, gleefully mercenary, and nearly sociopathic at points as his genial mask slips to show glimpses of what he had to be to survive on Earth, and only Tranceís presence keeps him from doing some Very Bad Things. ::purr:: Yet he still goes deer-in-the-headlights when Adulasia comes onto him. Even Gerentex is awed by Harper's capacity to kill when Harper depressurizes the asteroid and gets their enemies sucked out into space. "You are... a very bad person." Harper answers, "You're welcome." We also find out that he was tortured by Nietzscheans sometime in the past. That Harper is full of surprises....

Even with (especially with?) the threats of murder and torture, "Fear and Loathing" is a good time and funny in many places, especially when our unlikely band of three reaches Hasturiís hideaway and faces traps and the bounty hunter and the thugs from the casino.... Great dialogue, and Gerentex is much more interesting here than he was in the Pilot, since here he gets to show off his prissiness more and is a wonderfully banal evil. He sees himself as an aesthete, a being of exquisite taste. Thus... the pimptastic clothes. But he's lost some fur since then, just as Rev has lost fur over the course of the season. Gerentex sees himself as having good reasons for screwing everybody else over, considering it a kind of self-defense. The system keeps him and the other Nightsiders down!

Trance has a great bit where she uses a nonstandard method of forcing Harper and Gerentex to stop trying to kill one another that makes you see that she knows how cute she is and uses it to her advantage. To be precise "...if you donít show each other a little peace, love, and understanding, Iím going to kill you both!" Harper and Gerentex, even with a gun at each of their heads, donít believe sheíd do it but she says she certainly could. "ĎCause I could get away with it. Because Iím cute!" she says with malicious glee. With a disconsolate, yet chirpy, voice and much batting of eyes welling with tears, she demonstrates: "Oh, Dylan, it was so awful. They just started killing each another and I couldnít stop them," and ends with "Drop your guns now, or in a few days Rev Bem's going to find me on the obs deck and counsel me on my tragic loss." Her words and the gun she has at each of their chins convince them to disarm and desist.

Deviousness even wins the day in the Dylan and Beka plot B, as Bekaís insults and going behind peopleís backs works where Dylanís idealism and appealing to peopleís better natures failed miserably. Valentinology works! Dylanís befuddlement on how to stop the Perseids from backing out of the Commonwealth--"...mints on their pillows?"--is appreciated. Plot B feels like a tacked-on afterthought, though.

Tranceís initial appeals to Gerentexís better nature donít work either. Whether Tranceís later gift of a rare tundra flower that he might be able to build a profitable business out of makes a change for him... well, who knows? I personally doubt it.

"Fear and Loathing" suggests more of the futureís environment than most episodes, as we see an Albuquerque Drift casino and hear about restaurants and strip clubs. I appreciate it. Harper sometimes speaks in an entertaining multilingual mishmash--using phrases like "das goodbye-bye" and "Habla es 'bad guy'?"--that may or may not be an aftereffect of having the data archive in his head during "Harper 2.0."

But... Perseid stand-up comedy? Advertised on a placard in English, when every other bit of text on this show looks alien? Didnít quite work. And as a science fiction fan, I felt that having Harper live on a ship yet carelessly litter it was wrong on so many fronts, especially since within the episode itself we see why itís a very bad idea to have things lying around loose in a spacecraft. Heh. Harper whipping the ship in spirals was great, especially since Trance behind him has such a gleefully malicious look on her face as Gerentex goes flying like a furry pinball....


Some other favorite bits of dialogue:

Harper: "Hey, I'm all for spreading good will. And if I'm very lucky, the good will commence any minute now."

Gerentex: "Arenít you dead?"
Trance: "I got better."
Gerentex: "Hhmm. Lucky you."

Harper: "You donít get it, do you? You harm one hair on her head, and I will come after you. And then youíll have to kill me. Because I absolutely will not stop until one of us is Magog food."

Harper: "What? You want me to be nice to him?"
Trance: "Youíre supposed to be the good guy."
Harper: "Correction: standing next to you, Beka, Rev, Rommie, Dylan, and... uh, well, anyway, then Iím one of the good guys."

Harper: "Thatís strange, arenít we forgetting something? Yes, I think we are. Something important. Oh yeah-- he killed you!"
Gerentex: "Not permanently!"

Trance: "If this is that good cop/bad cop game you were telling me about, isnít this the part where Iím supposed to play the good cop?"
Harper: "Sorry, mon cherry [sic], welcome to, uh, a new game: bad cop/worse cop." ::picks up nanowelder:: "And guess which one I am?" ::fires up nanowelder with a big burst of sparks::

Harper: "Any thoughts, your purpleness?"
Trance: "Signs are hazy-- try again later."

Adulasia: "Shhhh. I prefer my men strong and silent."
Trance: "Well then, you wonít like Harper."
Harper: "Trance, would you--" ::"zips" his lips::

Harper: "Ladies and germs-- on your left: Hasturiís World. Right next to the galaxyís biggest ball of twine."

Gerentex: "There are two kinds of people in this universe, Mr. Harper. The kind with loaded guns, and the kind that open doors. You open doors."

 

"Fear and Loathing in the Milky Way" gets a B, since it may have some clunky bits but gets saved by Harper and Bekaís reaction shots and charisma.



#118 "The Devil Take the Hindmost"

Rev Bem gets a call from a Wayist friend in need of his help to save the Hajira and its settlement, Serendipity, from being taken over by slavers.

 

Itís hard for me to watch this episode, since it ends with such tragedy. Even the first time, you can sense that things will not go well....

Thaddeus Blake, one of Revís Wayist "brothers," calls on the Andromeda to protect a group called the Hajira from slavers, but the Andromeda canít go because itís doing aid to the beleaguered planet Pythia. Dylan and Rev go to Serendipity in the Maru to help the Hajira while Tyr and Beka take the needed shipments to Pythia in the Andromeda. Rommie is pretty bitchy to Beka and not very helpful and sounds very superior when she says, "Perhaps the commanding officer would like to ask Tyr why he and his mercenaries are stealing from the relief supplies."

Meanwhile, Thaddeus isnít happy with the help heís getting, since he wanted the Andromeda to just blow the slavers away without the Hajira having to lift a finger. Heís very invested in the idea that the Hajira are innocent, and he doesnít want them to sully that with violence or bloodshed. Dylan gives him a Look and says that they have to be taught to defend themselves or theyíll always be a target. Theyíre so innocent--and so misled by Thaddeus--that they have no idea that 99.9% of Magog are slaughtering rapists. The founder of Wayism was a Magog who was tutored in theology by a dying Magog victim-- *shudder* --and Thaddeus filled their heads with tales of how good Rev is, so the Hajira think that all Magog are like that and see Rev as something approaching an angel.

It turns out the Hajira developed genetic memory at some point in the last 300 years after the Fall of the Commonwealth and can remember all the way back through their ancestral line. The Hajira want to learn to fight and have no problem with learning how to do so, feeling pleased that their descendants will remember. In fact, Tiama offers to have Dylanís child so her children will know self-defense. Heís flustered and turns her down.

"Innocence" has no value to them, especially not when their lives and freedom are in jeopardy over it.

Thaddeus destroys all the weapons Dylan brought, hoping to force Dylan and Rev alone to fight. Instead, Dylan drills the Hajira in more primitive weaponry.

Rev carries a picture of the woman who hosted him and broods that she had to die to give him life. Have I mentioned recently that Rev is creepy?

On the Andromeda, Beka tells Tyr that she knows what he and his hirelings are doing and that itís way beyond wrong. He says that they feel they deserve proper payment and then offers her a cut of the profits from the sale of the stolen relief supplies. She accepts.

Thaddeus dies in battle against the slavers, his preaching and pacifism proving to be ineffective. The head slaverís second in command gets killed, and he swears vengeance, that they forced his hand and now heíll slaughter them all when he comes back. Aw, poor slavers.

Tiama knocks Rev out and implants some of his DNA inside herself, radiant in the knowledge that she will be mother to a clutch of protective angels. Her death is a fair trade-off, she feels. Sheís also in obvious pain, no matter how martyr-like sheís being, as the larvae ripple in her gut. Dylan is horrified when he finds out and wants to put her out of her agony, but Rev stops him, saying that the Magog will take on the genetic memory of the Hajira and perhaps will be the first Magog to be born innocent. Perhaps life and something good can come out of Tiama's inevitable death. Dylan listens to him and stays his hand, partly for Rev's hopes and partly for the idea that the Magog spawn could be used as living weapons against the slavers. Dylan, you idiot.

As Dylan prepares the Hajira for the next slaver raid, Rev cares for his babiesí host, although the "care" does not include painkillers. (Does Tiama even register to him as a person anymore? She doesnít seem to.) When theyíre ready, he rips Tiama open to set them free. She, of course, dies. He plays with and feeds the spawn, which are quickly growing. He looks really pleased. Have I mentioned recently that Rev is really, really creepy?

The slavers come back and get decimated by the Magog spawn. Except that the Magog are slaughtering the Hajira too. When Dylan and Rev try to stop them, the Magog Hajira shocks them by speaking, and she answers that it is only logical and this is the only way the Hajira can defend themselves, by becoming Magog. She has Tiamaís voice. Tiamaís brother, one of the few surviving Hajira, says that these Magog are family and are not to be harmed. This is their future. The Magog with Tiamaís voice hands Revís Wayist medallion back to him and tells Dylan and Rev that they can leave now since theyíre not needed anymore.

Tyr finds out that Beka used her new knowledge of his thieving operation to send all the aid to Pythia instead right under his nose. Donít mess with Beka.

Tyr finds Rev and says that he is jealous that Rev has fathered an entire race of warrior-priests. Rev looks very happy with himself and proud. Have I mentioned recently that Rev is really, really, really creepy?

And thatís the end. We never find out how the rest of the crew reacts to the news that Revís kids slaughtered the very people he and Dylan had been sent to protect. Or the news that Dylan could have stopped the birth but didnít. I hope no strangers drop down on the planet because I imagine that the Magog Hajira get hungry, and those deaths would also be Dylanís fault. Harper is nowhere to be seen in this episode, though we briefly hear his voice over the comm at the beginning, and that non-presence is probably because thereís no way in hell he would have let this situation lie quietly.

Iím left with the question of how the Hajira developed that genetic memory. Or how a Commonwealth outpost descended to a primitive agrarian society, especially if they have genetic memory. You remember what your ancestors did, yet make no technological progress building off those ideas whatsoever? Did total amnesia herald the start of this memory? Because they should remember their technological past otherwise. And why do two Magog out of billions seem to have some kind of higher thought processes beyond kill, eat, and breed? What makes them different?

Wayism was started by a Magog learning from a dying Magog victim? Another reason not to go in for it.

The breeding thing was beyond creepy. Rev, stay away from me. Stay far, far away from me.

 

"The Devil Take the Hindmost" gets a B-. Itís a good episode, but itís painful and often creepy to watch.



#119 "The Honey Offering"

An arranged marriage between two rival Nietzschean Prides puts the Andromeda Ascendant in danger when Captain Dylan Hunt agrees to transport the bride to the wedding.

 

A marriage is arranged between the Sabra First Daughter and the son of the Jaguar archduke in an effort to bring peace to two rival Nietzschean Prides. Unified, the Prides would be large enough to deal with the Drago-Kazov Pride, so Tyr approaches Dylan about transporting the bride to the wedding. Dylan agrees, since he hopes that the Sabra and Jaguar Prides may sign the Commonwealth charter after this service.

The bride, Elsbett Mossadim, insults every member of the crew upon arrival, dismissing the humans as mere kludges, the Nietzschean insult term for homo sapiens, and calling Trance a trained monkey. She gives only Tyr the slightest hint of respect. Dylan will later ask him when heís going to tell her that Dylan is the captain. Feeling that her assigned room is too small, she commandeers the whole observation deck for her private quarters. Tyr approaches Elsbett in an attempt to forge a partnership, and she toys with him, then lays a verbal smackdown on him. Actually, everybody except Harper loathes her. "She hates you!" Beka protests, and Harper answers, "I know. Sheís hot, and sheís a good judge of character," and "So what if she holds me in utter contempt? At least sheís thinking of me." I guess Harper enjoys a little abuse now and then. Suspicious and offended by Elsbettís ways, Trance breaks into Elsbettís room but gets caught before she can find anything.

Two hundred Nietzschean fighters approach, and Andromeda secures Elsbett in her room, while the fighters from the Drago-Kazov Pride surround the ship. Cuchulain, the leader, tells Dylan to hand Elsbett over.

While the rest of the crew stage a "hostile takeover" of the Andromeda by Elsbett as a feint for the Dragans, Dylan will transport her to her wedding in the Eureka Maru. The fighter ships are supposed to pursue the Andromeda. Elsbett takes one last opportunity to insult Beka and Dylan before departure, sneering that Dylan should hurry up his goodbyes to his lover, but Beka takes that opportunity to plant a kiss on a stunned Dylan. She gives this admonition to Elsbett: "Just remember: heís pretty to look at. Lovely to hold. But if you break him-- consider him sold." Then Beka slaps Dylanís ass on her way out. Go, Opportunistic Beka!

Once under way, Dylan confronts Elsbett about her true identity as an assassin when he discovers several deadly weapons in her possession. Elsbett then kicks his ass, though he puts up some fight, using the greater than normal human strength in his half-heavyworlder (from his Momís side of the family) physique. When Elsbettís weapon, an EM-Lash, rips a hole in the side of the Maru, she lets Dylan brave the vacuum decompression to plug it up, then slaps a kind of slaver bracelet on each of his wrists while heís tired and off-guard. Heís forced to do her bidding. Heh.

The Andromeda crew puts on a big public show about the "takeover," with guns being fired and flash cans going off and the works. Cuchulain seems to believe them that Elsbett has taken over and his fleet follows the Andromeda. After they're off-camera, the crew shows how much fun they had with their little theatrical performance. It's cute.

During his captivity, Dylan learns of Elsbettís plans to assassinate the entire Jaguar royal family and take out some of their city too. She was trained for that from birth, and her eggs were harvested so that even as she dies she knows that she will have progeny to continue her line. After all, she will be legendary after the slaughter. Because she knows it is her last night alive, she gets the most luxurious suite--the honeymoon suite!--for herself and Dylan, whoís forced to carry her luggage. Heh. She hits Dylan in one of his vulnerable places by giving him a sad story about how her whole life has been centered on her killing herself to destroy the Jaguars, and then she sleeps with him.

Dylan had to sleep with her. She destroyed his force lance during the fight on the Maru, and he had to reclaim his manhood. Too bad she doesnít give a damn about him and is just using him to get off. Not that I think he minds that much.

A Drago-Kazov agent finds out where Dylan and Elsbett are. Soon after, the crew on the Andromeda discovers that Cuchulain has tricked them, and his fleet is not chasing them after all, though itís risky making sure....
Trance: "And what if theyíre not decoys?"
Beka: "Then when we get to the pearly gates, make sure everyone lines up behind Rev-- heís got spin control."
Rev: "Iíll see what I can do."

Once theyíre certain they were suckered, the Andromeda crew doubles back and heads to find Dylan, who awakens to find Elsbett ready to kill him. Big surprise. Before she has a chance, Cuchulain and some of his men confront the two. They manage to escape, and Dylan manipulates everyone into an open Nietzschean civil war, with the help of the Andromeda. Now the Sabra Pride has to unite for real with the Jaguars, because otherwise the Dragans will stomp them. Annoyed, Elsbett reluctantly agrees to marry her intended and not kill himÖat least not yet. "Are you sure youíre not Nietzschean?" she asks Dylan.

Later, Dylan receives a message from Elsbett, thanking him for his help and to inform him that she has granted independence to the two Prides as per his request. And her husband isnít as bad as she thought he would be. He will be allowed to live. For now.

Elsbett makes a good superdiva bitch queen, and I think I might have enjoyed her if I didnít hate her kind of person. Too bad she lost so many IQ points during her season two appearance.

By the way, in this episode we see that Harper has revamped and customized the maria-bot drones. When Dylan asks Rommie what she thinks of the change, she says that theyíre stronger and that their thighs donít rub together when they walk. Itís a clever change, showing how the new crew is impacting the ship. The maria-bots--with their smooth, gleaming silver exteriors, rounded curves, and breasts(!?!)--matched the style of the Andromeda Ascendant and, by extension, the High Guard. The new-style drones, which look a lot like knights and more adrogynous, are dark charcoal black and more angular, and their exteriors are textured and layered. If the Maru were new and clean, they would match it.

 

I give "The Honey Offering" a C.



#120 "Star-Crossed"

Rommie falls in love with a surviving android of a destroyed ship, only to be betrayed as he turns out to be the ultimate enemy.

 

Harper and Trance come in badly but enthusiastically singing what sounds like a High Guard fight song. (It turns out to be "The March of the High Guard.") They work their enthusiasm ever higher as they end with a nearly shouted, "Hold the line against the night!" Theyíre so cute. The crew just came back from getting Scheherazade Drift to sign the charter and had partied hardy while there. Trance extols the fun of "abdomen dancing" and demonstrates a move, only to have Dylan say that she had seen sign language, not dancing, and he thinks she just made a naughty suggestion to Harper. Amused as ever by Harperís romantic misfortunes, Trance sounds gleeful as she mentions how Harperís naughty suggestions got shot down by every woman there. Beka says that Dylan had better luck as she playfully unsnaps part of his uniform jacket. "Not the brunette," Harper groans. Dylan said it was just dinner and a few drinks. Onscreen, Rommie looks upset. Great scene.

A passenger ship comes under attack by Restorian terrorists. The Andromeda fires, but the Restor ship flies directly into the passenger ship, killing approximately 500 people and themselves along with. (Real history note: this episode was originally intended to rerun the weekend after September 11, 2001 but another episode was subbed in instead.) A survivor is detected and brought on board the Andromeda. His name is Gabriel, and heís an android. There is an instant attraction with Rommie when she walks in the room, and itís so blatant that Harper, who said that he was a mechanic not a therapist and has no bedside manner, says that he suddenly feels a fit of empathy coming on and he can deal with Gabriel after all. Rommie shoos him away.

Dylan tells the crew that the Restors will only be stopped if they locate and destroy the base of operations. Three fighter ships show up from the Free Trade Alliance to help. The leader of the three, Shura, whom Harper refers to as "my future ex-wife" and Tyr calls a pirate, provides Dylan with a data reader containing the ID file of the Restors flagship, the Balance of Judgement, a heavily-armed Commonwealth ship. She also blatantly ogles Dylan and Tyr, to my amusement. I like her, and you know what that means.

Rommie pays Gabriel a visit to tell him goodbye. They have decided to drop him off at another location for his safety. Gabriel convinces Rommie to talk Dylan into letting him stay. Dylan is hard to convince, but Rommie gets him with a charge of a kind of racism. Beka prodding AndroidRommie for details about her relations with Gabriel while fondling a phallic tool gets a smile from me every time.

The rest of Rommie, disgusted by "lovesick schoolgirl" behavior, washes her hands (so to speak) of the affair. Harper installs firewalls so the android can have her romance without distracting the rest of the ship.

Meanwhile, Gabriel is romancing Rommie and tampering with the ship at the same time. He sends a message to his true boss, The Balance of Judgement, and sets the wiring for the Andromeda to be destroyed.

Harper accuses Rommie of being more concerned about her new love interest than in keeping a lookout for the enemy. Tyr thinks this is all stupid, since "love" is all about reproduction and what issue can two androids have?

Rommie goes in search of Gabriel, and finds him in the machine shop with his fingers entangled in the wiring. She confronts him about looking at her mission logs. Gabriel apologizes and says he was just curious. Once again, they kiss, but this time they take it a step further as their two virtual reality entities meld into one. Itís android sex! And itís scored to music I found hilarious. I half expected to see rockets, and trains entering tunnels. But Rommie doesnít know that Gabriel still has his other hand entwined in the shipís wiring.

Suddenly, the ship falls under attack, and, to everyoneís surprise, the weapons arenít working. Dylan demands that Rommie find Gabriel. In the meantime, the FTA fighters come in and destroy the Restor ship. It looks like their trick worked... but then an unseen missile destroys Shuraís ship. The Balance of Judgement comes into view. Rommie confronts Gabriel, who confesses that he is not an agent of the Balance of Judgement, he is the Balance of Judgement. Of course he is!

He is the shipís humanoid avatar, just like Rommie is to the Andromeda. He has his own thoughts and feelings but cannot deny his overriding programming. Itís not his fault that the rest of him makes him do bad things! He just wants to be a scholar! Oh, cry me a river, Gabriel. Yes, Rommie, men can really suck. He explains that after the High Guard crew of the Balance of Judgement was killed, the ship continued on its mission to bring justice to the universe. Itís just that the Balanceís idea of "justice" shifted a bit over the years.

Dylan gives the remaining FTA fighters a Footprint Magnification System, a device last seen and used in "D Minus Zero," which will confuse the Balance of Judgement into thinking that they are High Guard cruisers. He thanks them for still helping him, but they say that theyíre doing this for Shura. Rommie then forces Gabriel to convey a message filled with false information to the Balance of Judgement. Despite all that has happened, Rommie still canít shake her feelings for Gabriel. You know that this means badness, of course.

Meanwhile, during verbal contact Dylan learns that the Balance of Judgement is also the founder of the Restorians. The FTA fighters move away to reveal a sea of mines laid out to destroy the Balance of Judgement, but the Balance picks them off one by one because it already knew.

Figuring out whatís up, enraged, Dylan confronts Gabriel as the Andromeda comes under further attack and accuses him of infecting Andromeda with some sort of Trojan Horse virus. He shoots Rommie with his force lance and orders an emergency AI shutdown.

They all board the Eureka Maru. When Rommie comes to, she tells Dylan that he must leave her behind, because otherwise sheíll continue to betray them and compromise the crewís safety. Rommie and Gabriel will remain alone aboard the Andromeda, still deeply in love. Bleh.

The Eureka Maru slips away unnoticed, coasting toward the Balance. Dylan reveals to the crew that he has stockpiled weapons aboard the Maru. Once close enough, they open the pod doors and use inertia to cause the weapons to fall toward the Balance of Judgement. They haul ass away. As Rommie and Gabriel prepare for the destruction of the Andromeda Ascendant, they are surprised to watch as the Balance of Judgement is destroyed. Gabriel looks vaguely distraught and incredulous, but he is now free and asks Rommie to come away with him. She agrees to come with him and argues with Dylan until he grants permission for her to go away with Gabriel. How sad that she has to make her stand on AI rights over this case.

But later Rommie shows up with a holstered force lance and says that she found out that before the Balance of Judgement was destroyed it transmitted a huge amount of coded data, a copy of the shipís core personality, to Gabriel. Gabriel says that he didnít want it, but that it will eventually overwhelm him, forcing him to build a new ship with the continued mission to destroy. But he still loves her! Rommie draws her force lance, tells Gabriel she loves him, and shoots him. Finally! Though she gives him a final kiss as he dies. He thanks her for doing what he didnít have the guts to do for himself.

I know people who have had boyfriends like that.

She begs Dylan to dismantle her android body. More specifically, she asks him to rip it to pieces and throw it out an airlock. Itís too dangerous to retain. And sheís afraid, because the Pax Magellanic went insane and so did The Balance of Judgement and is that her fate too? Sheís in tears, close to a breakdown, and is stunned by the strength of her physical reactions. "I didnít know Harper was this good." Dylan tells her that those ships had no captains or purpose. She has him, and heís her heart. Oh, gag me.

Lexa Doig is great as Rommie, whoís puppyish and innocent yet awkward and machine-like all at the same time. Too bad Michael Shanks is petrified wood as Gabriel, though heís fun as the Balance of Judgement. You know the soppy love affair will end badly, so that and Shanks as a redwood can be painful to watch, which is a shame, since this episode has several lovely scenes otherwise. (I know that Doig and Shanks became an item in real life, but I still cannot see it on his side based off of this episode.)

I loved the FTA pilots, and watching Harper and Tyr be united in their belief that Rommieís love affair is a mistake, even if their reasons are very different, is fun. And watch Harperís face when Tyr called him "boy." Itís very much "Iím not allowed to kill him; I am not allowed to kill him...." Beka doing her "Rommieís got a boyfriend" routine is also a nice moment.

 

I give "Star-Crossed" a C. Rommie, Tyr, Harper, and Beka are great, but Michael Shanks as Gabriel somehow manages to be boring and deeply annoying at the same time. Why did Rommieís first reach for the rights due a sentient being have to be over this and make her look like she lacks the judgement to deserve such rights?



#121 "It Makes a Lovely Light"

Beka jeopardizes the crew when she takes a mind-altering drug while attempting an exhaustive piloting mission that could bring Dylan to his long-lost home planet.

 

Dylan is running fast and hard through the corridors as alarms go off. Thereís a reactor meltdown coming in just a few seconds. He runs to the core chamber, then leaps back in shock, looking as if he nearly went into a heart attack, as we hear "SURPRISE!" followed by scattered shouts of "Happy birthday, Dylan!"

Everybody except Tyr, whoís not there at all, is wearing party hats and standing around a large, candle-topped birthday cake. Harper is jubilant with "We got you. Oh, did we get him. Look at his face. Okay, you see that? That is why you donít tell him a week ahead of time." Dylanís wondering if they really had to feign a meltdown to bring him in. Rommie, whose party hat seems to be awkwardly jammed down on her head, replies that Harper overrode her systems, saying that it was all part of "the gag." They tell Dylan to blow out his candles. "There are so many of them," Dylan says, chagrined. Rev, also wearing a party hat(!), answers that they put a candle on for the 303 additional years Dylan had been frozen in time. Harper adds, "But donít worry, you donít look a day over 200," and blows on his noisemaker. Dylan asks for help. After they blow it out, Dylan looks depressed and we hear Harper worrying about the fire alarms going off.

Itís a wonderful family-like scene. Things get angstier from here.

Beka goes to speak with Dylan privately, and she says that she heard that he spent his last birthday on his homeworld of Tarn-Vedra. Sheís still amazed that she knows someone from Tarn-Vedra. Itís like knowing someone from Atlantis. He reminisces about his home and parents--his mom a high-G shuttle pilot, his dad involved with the imperial gardens--and says that itís hard for him that Tarn-Vedra disappeared 300 years ago and he canít go back. Beka concurs. Very strongly. Suspiciously so. Dylanís wondering if this is headed somewhere. Beka hands him a wrapped box. Since heís opening it too slowly, she takes it from him and tears into it, revealing a computer pad. Star coordinates come up on it at the press of a button. His birthday gift is that sheís figured out a way to get him home.

Beka explains that she figured it out from the diary of Hasturi, the Mad Perseid, that Trance and Harper had stolen in "Fear and Loathing in the Milky Way." "Acquired!" Harper corrects. He says that he even read it, but it was impossible to decipher, being "half mystical mumbo jumbo, half putrid poetry, and half bad math." Rommie says that he just listed three halves. Obviously hoping that someone would mention that, Harper delivers the punchline of "Like I said, bad math." Beka tells them that you need to be a pilot to understand what Hasturi was getting at and that phrases like "the swan palace of lapis and gold" refer to coordinates. All the easy slipstream routes had been tried, so Hasturi checked out the not so easy ones. Namely, the dangerous and tricky ones. But Bekaís a great pilot, and she can get Dylan home in "46 easy steps!"

Dylanís reluctant--"Slow down, Moses."--but she says that finding Tarn-Vedra would give a boost to his efforts to start a new Commonwealth. Plus heíd be able to resupply there. After being reassured by Beka that she can handle the psychological exhaustion such a trip can put on a pilot, Dylan gives her the go-ahead. When Tyr says that he can stay on the Maru far away while they try this dangerous stunt, she tells him that Tarn-Vedra has to have shipyards and munitions, theirs for the taking. Ah, canny Beka, tailoring her pitch. Tyr is in.

Harperís dreaming of the loot to be had and packing his laser saw, but Rev Bem wonders if the Vedrans intentionally cut themselves off from the rest of the universe and donít want to be found. This might not be an abandoned world they can plunder.

While passing Beka, Harper says that she must think that the "engine" is on Tarn-Vedra. She tells him not to say any more. This will come up again second season. In a very disappointing episode.

Beka lets the strain show for a moment

Soon after taking over the pilotís chair, Beka takes the crew through the first ten slipstream routes. The physical toll is tough on some of the crewmembers, but Beka is ready to continue. Despite her objections that sheís physically fine, Dylan orders Beka to rest. "Tarn-Vedraís been lost for over 300 years. We do not have to find it this morning," he says. Once sheís alone, Beka drops the facade of cocky energy, and it becomes clear that sheís not fine and the trip is more demanding than she anticipated.

Thereís a cute discussion about Hasturiís odd tendency to use references from Earth mythology and Homer. ĎCause Hasturiís a Perseid, though a mad one. Beka says that sometimes he mishmashes up those references with an alien work of literature whose name I can't begin to reproduce. Rev rhapsodizes about that alien work, calling it a fine thing. "If you like beheadings," Rommie says. Heh.

Beka climbs back into the pilotís chair to continue forward with the trip. After one particularly rough slipstream jump, they arrive at the core of the Andromeda galaxy, made up of twin black holes, and the ship is stuck between them. Dylan orders her to take a break, and Beka feels as if Dylan has no faith in her piloting skills. Reluctantly, she leaves.

Beka claims to have been born during a ride through slipstream. Wonder if that has any effect on a person....

Later, Trance collapses while talking with Beka. Something in her alien makeup is being badly damaged by the constant trips through slipstreams, and they have no idea how to help her. A nice touch is that as she gets worse through the episode her lips turn a paler color and her skin looks chalkier. Beka, determined to get everyone through this as quickly as possible, manipulates Rev into leaving her alone in med-bay and gets together the components to make Flash, which we last saw in "The Pearls That Were His Eyes." It enhances your reflexes and acts as a stimulant, but itís also mind-altering.... She got a taste of it then and knows what it does, how dangerously addictive it can be. Trance comes to long enough to see what Beka is doing, but Beka tells her she has it all under control. Yeah, thatís what they always say. Beka argues that sheís taking it to boost her reaction time. Trance doesnít approve, but sheís too weak and her mindís too vague to do anything to stop Beka.

Beka puts drops of Flash in her eyes and returns to the pilotís chair, successfully freeing the ship from its stuck position. When Dylan compliments her on her improved reflexes--and she didnít even need to recalibrate the instruments--Beka snaps at him but excuses it as stress talking. When he tries to see the diary himself, she blows up at him, saying that "my guys bled" for it and he better keep his paws off. When he tracks her down to ask what the hell that was, she impatiently apologizes.

While going over some maps in the Maru, sheís interrupted by Harper, who immediately notices that her eyes are white all the way across and recognizes that as Flash at work. Heís stunned and concerned. Amusingly, he throws all the Flash statistics at her like a drug public service announcement: a broad percentage of people in prison got there from crimes they did while on Flash, Flash users tend to flip out and kill their neighbors, etc. She protests that she knows and sheís only using small doses and she wonít use it for all that long and "itís medicine and itís working!" He counters that if itís no problem, she would just tell Dylan about it. Annoyed but full of gleeful malice, she says, "Harper, I saved your skin before and Iíll save it again. But youíve got to get off my back, or so help me I will drop you back on that trash heap where I found you." Harper gets a look like it would have been less painful to him for her to have ripped his heart out with a dull knife. Subdued, he leaves.

Beka returns to the bridge with an "epiphany." Sheís found a way to cut several jumps out. This new route she has planned is far more dangerous than the original. Instead, Dylan wants to turn back. She suggests they put it to a vote. Harper is about to say something, but she gives him a look that cuts inches off his height. Heís terrified of her here, and that strikes me as very interesting. Has she threatened him before? Was his complete obedience to her orders always the price of his stay on the Maru, with a one-way ticket to Earth used as the ultimate threat? He says that heíll abstain from voting. She blows up at Dylan over his lack of guts and asks who the real captain here is, since the High Guard is long gone. Who would that be, Beka? "That would be, uh, me!" The insults continue.

Tyr says that arguing with her is no use since sheís on drugs. Nietzschean, he can smell her sweat and adrenaline and see the contact lenses in her eyes. Dylan is stunned and asked why Tyr didnít say something earlier. "It was working," Tyr answers.

Harper tries to leave quietly, but Dylan calls him back and seems more pissed off at him than he was at Beka. Dylanís certain Harper knows all about the drug problem and has known for some time. Torn, concerned over Beka, Harper answers that sheís "Flash-fried," and she snarls that he'll pay for that. Dylan asks her why she would do Flash. She starts and leaves incomplete several flimsy excuses. Dylan commands Beka to hand over the vial of Flash. Instead, Beka throws it in the air to distract Dylan and then runs to the controls and sends the ship wildly into slipstream. Trance goes into cardiac arrest in med-bay, while on the bridge Dylan fights to pull Beka off the controls. When they stop, theyíre stuck in another difficult area of space. Finally, he has Tyr take a struggling, kicking, screaming Beka to a holding area.

As Trance recuperates from the effects of slipstream, Beka begins going through Flash withdrawal. The ranting and pacing is darkly funny, but itís obvious that sheís losing it. Meanwhile, Dylan canít get the ship loose. Rev Bem pays her a visit in hopes of counseling her, but sheíd prefer it if heíd help her get some Flash. Sheís sure that going cold turkey is too dangerous on her body and that slowly tapering off would be the answer. Rev gives her this spiel about how the Divine loves us best during "the broken times." Thatís... great. Iím sure Iíll appreciate it that the Divine really loves it if Iíve hit bottom.

Dylan works on getting the ship out again, and this time it seems to work. However, after going through a slipstream, it becomes apparent that they are not in control of the ship because itís still heading toward Tarn-Vedra. Beka escaped from holding after shooting Rev--the official Andromeda site says that she stunned him with a tazer, but the episode never mentioned that she shot him with something meant to be non-lethal--went to the slipstream core, and used hidden overrides to take over Andromedaís controls and lead the ship on its course toward Tarn-Vedra. And radiation levels are rising....

Harper reveals that the Maru crew didnít remove all of their overrides theyíd put in while trying to take over the ship in the Pilot as insurance in case Dylan turned out to be a nut. Rommieís stunned, because sheíd watched him take them out. Clever Harper. "You always have a Plan B!" Harper protests as Dylan and Rommie glare at him. "But mine work," Dylan snits back. Yeah, Dylan? Isnít the problem really that theirs worked?

The crew debate on how to take control back from Beka before she unwittingly destroys the ship. As Beka takes more and more Flash, Dylan tries to reason with her from outside the locked door to the slipstream core, but sheís set on keeping her promise to get him home. Unlike her junkie father. She rants about how her dad would give her things then sell them for drugs, and how heíd promise to get her a new one. "Sorry, Rocket." Dylan doesnít know that sheís talking about her dad, so asks who called her "Rocket," but she sneers, "Like you donít know." She says that sheís not her father, not an addict, and that she can stop anytime she wants to, but she canít stop now, because "This Valentine keeps her promises."

Using a hologram of himself, Dylan talks to Beka about how stopping now wouldnít be breaking a promise, because his actual home is 300 years in the past. She can't take him home. He distracts her long enough for Harper to sneak in and shout out the override code for the door to let Dylan in. Sheís strangling Harper for it until Dylan stops her. He shows her her own reflection, the Flash-white eyes, and tells her that sheís killing herself. Some sense of reason returns to her, and she says that she can fix things but then realizes that sheís too messed up, especially as overdose hits and she starts bleeding from her eyes. Radiation levels are rising, threatening the ship. As Harper cradles Beka, Dylan sends the ship into slipstream, taking it out of harmís way.

Beka wakes up to find Dylan sitting in her recovery room. Beka apologizes for everything she put Dylan and the crew through, though we never see her apologize to Rev for shooting him or to Harper for threatening and trying to strangle him. Dylan warns Beka that her system may be clean, but sheíll have to struggle with addiction for the rest of her life. Beka resolves to face her demons.

 

I give "It Makes a Lovely Light" an A.

 

[Deleted scene from this episode on the DVD that I liked: Hologram Andromeda says that the stress of so much slipstreaming is so awful that maybe they should rotate another pilot in. In response, Harper talks about how once a "vertically challenged but charming" Harper was running a sweet con and got in trouble with the law. Beka put the Maru up as bail for him. Then stole it back and flew their asses out of there. Later "that scamp" Harper was stealing military surplus and ran afoul of the law. Another close escape with Beka as bad-ass pilot. Then... Andromeda says she gets the point. Harper says that he wants to finish the dance with the person who brung him. Beka's listening from the corridor.

It further establishes the Maru crew's shadiness, Beka's skills, and Harper's loyalty. The last of which makes it even more painful that she turns on him once the Flash really starts to twist her mind. It was probably cut for time, but I would have appreciated having it in. ]



#122 "Its Hour Come ĎRound at Last"

Andromedaís memory of her current crew is wiped out when an old core personality is accidentally re-installed.

 

This is the only Andromeda episode in the series so far--and this is counting season two--which was prefaced with a "violence, not suitable for all viewers" warning when it aired. It deserves that warning. Itís also an excellent episode.

It starts with Dylan drinking and brooding over how long itís taking to reestablish the Commonwealth, while Bekaís trying to cheer him up. Sheís surprised that they already have 12 worlds. "Why is it that whenever I start to become optimistic, you become a pessimist?" she asks.

Harper is working in the virtual reality matrix to repair the ship. He really seems to enjoy it, since in the real world he does this "mmm" and sensuous, happy little wiggle while heís plugged in. *ahem*   While wandering around inside troubleshooting, he stumbles upon a window heíd never seen before and notices what looks like another Rommie avatar "asleep" behind it. He informs Rommie of his discovery, which he believes to be a backup copy of Andromedaís personality core. He says that heíd like to run a comparison to see if there are any differences. She sees no problem with it.

When he opens on the alternate avatar, something goes wrong. Announcements are issued that the backup is being restored, which he shouts isnít what he wanted. The whole matrix changes from blue to gold. Hologram and Motherboard Andromeda both freeze momentarily before being reactivated, this time wearing different uniforms.

The backup avatar demands to know who Harper is and throws him out of the matrix and knocks him unconscious when he fails to respond with a proper authorization code. The backup AI issues an intruder alert. Dylan and Beka are surprised when it fails to recognize them and warns them that if they do not surrender theyíll be killed. The AI locks them in the Officerís Mess.

Lexa Doig does excellent work as the backup AI. She looks sharper and colder, and even her voice is different.

The backup AI is looking for Captain Perim, the previous commander of the Andromeda who went missing in action a few years before Dylan became captain. Trance, hearing the intruder warnings, runs onto the bridge to ask whatís going on and is forced into the pilotís chair by some drone androids. The backup AI and hologram order Trance to pilot the ship into slipstream. She says that she canít and they say that she has no choice.

Android Rommie is arguing with her backup AI and hologram, shouting, "What do you mean you donít recognize me? Iím you!" Her autonomy confuses them, and they see her as a malfunctioning, customized drone. They try to contain her, but Rommie still has some control over ship functions and goes off to try and find out whatís wrong. It looks like the firewalls created for her during "Star-Crossed" are coming in handy.

Back in the Officerís Mess, Dylan and Beka are relieved when Tyr blasts down the door. The three head for the escape pods as time runs out before the emergency decompression commences. The backup AI figures that decompression would kill them all with minimum muss and fuss. Not that sheís not going to stop shooting at them until then. However, Harper has revived, figured out the situation, managed to prevent the venting from occurring, and temporarily turned off internal defenses. He informs the three via intercom of the backup being reinstalled but tries to be vague about how it happened. Not that it isnít obvious. Tyr wants to get in the Eureka Maru and leave, but the Andromeda's slipstream jumps are happening too quickly and at unpedictable intervals, making it impossible for them to fly out safely.

Meanwhile, Trance is forced to continue piloting slipstream. She protests that theyíre heading into Magog space, which is a bad thing. The backup wonders how she knew that, since itís classified. "Lucky guess?"

Elsewhere, Rommie tries to convince the backups that the original crew no longer exists and that many years have passed. The backup hologram begins to consider that maybe Rommie is telling the truth, but the motherboard backup isnít convinced. How could the Commonwealth possibly fall? Besides, what Andromeda crew would really be allied with a Magog, Rev?

Rommie and Dylan speculate that the backups might be following a classified mission. Suddenly, the Andromeda comes under attack by thousands of ships that clamp on and rip through the Andromedaís hull. Magog ships. Harper immediately realizes what's attacking them and goes into a panic, nearly paralyzed with fear. "No, no, no, this canít be happening...." Dylan sends Tyr to protect Harper, while he and Beka head for the bridge to find out who is piloting the ship.

Trance tries to change direction of the ship, but the backup AI tells her to stay put. Eerie sounds fill the corridors as the Magog get closer to boarding. Tyr joins up with Harper and manhandles him out of his paralysis and whimpering. It involves hair-pulling and threats. "I will not die because you cannot handle your fear." Tyr says that if Harper doesnít shape up, "Iíll kill you myself." Harper responds, "I love you too." Great scene. They head for a reactor core where Harper thinks he can gain access into the AIís main memory.

When the Magog finally get in, their growls and high-pitched, rat-like squeals fill the hallways. They start to drum on the walls. Itís very disturbing. The darkness in the malfunctioning ship is kinder to the somewhat awkward costumes, making them look more like dark, furry shadows with claws.

Dylan and Beka gather weapons and put on chestplate armor. Harper puts his goggles on and tells Tyr to put some kind of glasses on, because the Magog can spit paralytic poison and you donít want it in your eyes. Tyrís "oh, thatís right" reaction shows Harper that Tyr never faced the Magog in person before, and that really worries him. "We are so dead."

Suddenly, the drumming stops, and the ship is filled with silence. Then the Magog launch their internal attack. In one corridor, Beka and Dylan fight off a swarm of the enemy, while in another corridor Rommie fights them off alone. Tyr has to smack Harper into firing at the advancing wave. They hold their position for a while, then retreat from the Magog in an attempt to get to the reactor core. No matter how many Magog you shoot, more keep coming. The Magog run right past Rommie, not caring about her at all since she canít be food or a host. Great detail.

Meanwhile, Rev is slashing at another group of attacking Magog when he is confronted by one named Bloodmist. He tells Rev to join them, but Rev refuses. Bloodmist is about to kill him when Rommie arrives and flings Bloodmist aside.

A group of Magog surprise Dylan and Beka. Beka manages to fight them off, but not before Dylan is badly wounded.

In the reactor core at last, Tyr tries to shake Harper out of his fear, unnerved by what a mess Harper is. He grabs Harper by the head, lifts him up a ladder, and tries to put back some fight into him by sheer will. "You are an annoying little man, but you have fire in your blood! Are these your demons? Well, it is time to fight them now!" Harper begs Tyr to promise to kill him if he gets infested by the Magog. Tyr looks very upset, then shouts, "Go to work!" Harper scrambles over to plug in. Another great scene.

While Tyr defends Harperís helpless body against the Magog, Harper contacts Dylan from inside the matrix and informs him heís at Andromedaís memory core but needs an access code to get in, which Dylan provides. Itís an older access code from Perimís time, before Dylan was raised to captain. Once inside, Harper is horrified by what he sees in Andromedaís memory. The bridge is littered with dead bodies, swarming with feeding Magog. Andromeda appears to be attempting to do that mission over again. Harper starts to reinstall the updated memory of Andromeda when the Magog attack in full force. He comes back to himself to help the defense. If he stays in the matrix, the reinstall will go faster, but theyíll be overwhelmed in the real world. Harper and Tyr shoot and run.

Eventually they run out of ammunition and have to make a last stand. Tyr has one round left and Harper says that will be enough. Tyr sighs and asks if Harper wants to close his eyes, to which he gets a pained nod in response. Harper squeezes his eyes shut. But just before Tyr can shoot Harper in the head, Harper opens his eyes and says to wait. "I was thinking... maybe theyíre not so tough, ya know? Maybe-- uh-- maybe we can take them in hand-to-hand combat. What do ya think?" His laugh sounds weak and a bit hysterical. Tyr grins and says, "Thatís my boy!" Tyr fires his one remaining round at an entering Magog arm and then throws his now useless gun at it.

He and Harper stand back to back in defense, and he hands Harper a knife. "Your weapon, sir." Taking it, Harper answers shakily, "You really do care." Tyr brings his own knife up and says, "Shall we dance, Master Harper?" They do their best and injure and probably kill many, but theyíre swarmed. As the Magog drag Harper down, one bites down hard and deep into the side of his face and he screams. Disarmed, Tyr rips out oneís throat with his teeth. But then theyíre overwhelmed and dragged under by the mass of homicidal Magog.

Uhm. Give me a moment.

Okay, Iím back.

Bekaís trying to cut her way through the locked door of the bridge with her force lance. She says she has no regrets. Dylan asks her to carry on the fight to start the new Commonwealth if he dies. She says that he wonít die, but he has her promise.

We find out that Revís real name, his Magog name, translates to "Red Plague." Lovely. The Magog can speak in ultrasonics too high for most beings to hear.

Paralyzed but seemingly still conscious, ripped up and bloody, Tyr and Harper are dragged through the halls by the Magog. Really, from the way theyíre struggling to move, it looks like theyíre still semi-conscious! *shudder* "Delectable," Bloodmist says as he looks down at the captured prey. When Rev shows up with Rommie, Bloodmist continues in his attempt to lure Rev to their side. Rev attacks and is shot. Rommie tries to stop Bloodmist, but he pins her to the wall thorough her abdomen with a sharp piece of metal that looks like a pipe or a lance. Later, Rev Bem comes to and runs off to find Tyr and Harper, unaware and perhaps uncaring that Rommie needs his help as well. He tears off his Wayist medallion and leaves it behind.

Dylan and Beka finally cut through to the bridge as Trance pilots out of slipstream and right into an enormous, traveling Magog universe, tens of thousands of miles long with an artificial sun at its core. Harperís reinstall is starting to work, with their Andromedas personality starting to subvert and assimilate the backup. The backup AI now recognizes Dylan, though vaguely, and informs him that the cluster of worlds, which look a bit like an atom illustration only with a sun as its nucleus, is filled with trillions of Magog. From deep within the Magog world, a familiar shadowy figure from "Harper 2.0," with glowing red eyes and pupils made of swirling black holes, watches in silent gloating as an all-out assault of point singularity weapons are launched at Andromeda. Explosions rip through the ship. Dylan, Trance, and Beka go flying across the damaged bridge. Rommie and the rest of Andromeda faintly call out a Code Red, but no one can answer it. Dylan, Trance, and Beka are lying on the floor of the bridge, bleeding, eyes closed....

And then the Powers That Be made us wait all summer to find out what happens next, only to screw up with the confused, dull, compressed mess that is "The Widening Gyre," the second season premiere. Bastards.

 

But "Its Hour Come ĎRound at Last" gets an A. Maybe even an A+. Sometimes itís good to leave an episode feeling like somebodyíd punched you in the gut....

 

 

Saint Dylan in sweats and Rommie in a cage in 'A Rose in the Ashes' Why Andromeda? (Season One)

Andromeda Season Two

Longer, More Detailed Season Two Reviews

Andromeda Season Three

Longer, More Detailed Season Three Reviews (part 1, #301-#311)

Longer, More Detailed Season Three Reviews (part 2, #312-#322)

Andromeda Season Four

Longer, More Detailed Season Four Reviews (part 1, #401-#411)

Longer, More Detailed Season Four Reviews (part 2, #412-#422)

Pictures I've collected