May 2002

Viridian5's Long and Detailed Second Season Andromeda Reviews

Originally posted in my LiveJournal, these reviews were written immediately after each episode and edited over the next few days as I spoke to people and watched the LJ Comments sections. I havenít changed them much during the process of compiling them on one page here, so all of my original speculations remain. Some of them panned out and some didnít -- and I have no certainty on whether Harper died in Future Tranceís past anymore -- but by retaining them I show what the episodes suggested at the time. I also include my thumbnail reviews of the previews.

Now I'm kinder and mellower that the season's over and I see where everything was heading. I'm more annoyed over all the potential that kept getting ignored....


#201 "The Widening Gyre" | #202 "Exit Strategies" | #203 "A Heart for Falsehood Framed" | #204 "Pitiless as the Sun" | #205 "Last Call at the Broken Hammer" | #206 "All Too Human" | #207 "Una Salus Victus" | #208 "Home Fires" | #209 "Into the Labyrinth" | #210 "The Prince" | #211 "Bunker Hill" | #212 "Ouroboros" | #213 "Lava and Rockets" | #214 "Be All My Sins Remembered" | #215 "Dance of the Mayflies" | #216 "In Heaven Now Are Three" | #217 "The Things We Cannot Change" | #218 "The Fair Unknown" | #219 "Belly of the Beast" | #220 "The Knight, Death, and the Devil" | #221 "Immaculate Perception" | #222 "Tunnel at the End of the Light"



October 8, 2001

#201 The Widening Gyre

With the ship severely damaged, Dylan leads the crew of the Andromeda Ascendant in a battle against the largest and deadliest enemy they have ever encountered.

 

It seems that a lot of people liked this episode. Me? I want to throw things, though I liked bits of the episode. Bits of it.

Plenty of smaller things bothered me, but the biggest has to be the plot point in which Harper is impregnated with Magog eggs but given some never-before-mentioned drug that will render them dormant. Though the drug wonít work forever, and Trance says they might find a way during their breathing room time to get the eggs out. Maybe. They donít seem to hold out much hope. So the eggs were removed from Tyr, who weíre told barely survived, but Harper gets to live out a bizarre twist on his worst nightmare, even as his condition renders him some sort of combination of a pregnant rape victim and someone living with AIDS.

(The Magog present some interesting metaphors to present day concerns. Just as the Star Trek: Original Series Klingons can be read as standing in for the USSR during the Cold War, the Magog can be seen as standing in for the biological warfare fears prevalent today. Theyíre a lot like a virus. And terrorism leads to the fall of the Commonwealth.)

Iíd like to leave aside the fact that the spoiler about Harper being impregnated with usually lethal Magog eggs was sent to TV Guide almost a month in advance, but I just canít, because it adds to the feeling that this plot move was a cheap, cynical stunt designed to stir up the audience.

What is up with the mystery, almost-but-not-enough-of-a-miracle drug? Weíve never heard of it before. Not a hint. Where did the serum come from? Why hasnít Harper heard of it before? Why havenít the rest of them? If the writers had shown it before or shown it being developed, it would have made some difference. If itís something Trance just put together, that only adds to how unbelievable this is, because how much time did she really have to develop it, anyway? Harper and Tyr had the Magoglings growing quickly inside them.

Weíve been told all last season that Magog eggs are lethal. This drug blows a big hole in the fabric of the continuity. Itís also a cheat, allowing the writers to do this horrible thing to Harper without having to actually kill him.

And the nanobots can heal Dylanís broken leg and deep claw marks (and presumably kept Tyr alive and healed him after his surgery), but canít be used against Harperís Magog eggs? The writers would probably argue that the Magoglings start to take on the DNA of their hosts and be hard for nanobots to see as excisable material, but that doesnít quite work for me because they have to remain Magog enough to 1] feed and 2] burst out of the host as Magog..

Then thereís the thing about the eggs being dormant. If theyíre dormant, canít you remove them without them ripping Harperís insides apart in vengeance? Though someone on an Andromeda list, Nora, mentions that Zack Stentz said:

"Magog babies are designed to be pretty much impossible to remove without killing the host-- with a very few exceptions. They insinuate themselves into sensitive areas of the hostís anatomy, and when surgeryís performed, they go nuts with teeth and claws, and also secrete massive amounts of lethal toxins into the host. And their acquisition of host DNA allows them to foil immunological attacks as well."
so maybe being dormant might stop the eggs from doing voluntary stuff like snacking on Harper but might not stop autonomic functions such as ripping their hosts apart if someone attempts to remove them. Which I guess is possible, though I find it unlikely. (And feeding might be autonomic.) She did wonder whether the dormant eggs might starve to death, though, which I find to be a very interesting thought. In nature, there are some species of eggs that sort of hibernate totally until they get water or whatever, but those are much smaller, simpler organisms. So I wonder.

But it gets worse, as the writing staff exacerbates one unforgivable plot bit with another one: that Tyr seems to be the only person in the whole crew who gives a damn about what happened to Harper. Are we to believe that Dylan and Beka wouldnít have been right there when Harper woke up for the first time? Dylan, who cares deeply about his crew, who in "Harper 2.0" asked many times if Harper was all right and kept him under constant surveillance to make sure, and who here risked his life to go back to get Harper, Tyr, and Rev. Beka, who usually treats Harper as a younger brother and in "Harper 2.0" showed so much care for him. Instead, Dylan and Beka are trading inappropriate quips on the bridge without any mention of the damage done and then encapsulating in a tidy but unlikely package what this episodeís events mean to the series. Itís very sloppy and rushed writing in which you have characters doing things only because the script says they must. They would be in med deck. I understand the two commanding officers being on the deck while things are still a bit dangerous. But they better have gone down later off-screen.

But Revís in med deck? After the Magog rip the crap out of Harper, letís let a Magog be one of the first things he sees. Trance could have explained the almost-miracle drug instead. And Rev seems only vaguely sad over Harperís condition while Trance seems vaguely sad and rueful. Like theyíre already writing him off as dead. What is up with that?

Making Tyr, who only started to care last episode, the only one who shows any concern over Harperís mental state.

Did the writers think it would be too much effort for them to write more than one person worrying for Harper?

My greatest worry? That the next episodes will be the former status quo, like none of this had ever happened personally to the characters, and continue on that way until sweeps month in November or even February. I want this issue discussed, damn it. I want a Harper talk with Dylan and Beka. I want to see nightmares and lingering trauma about the Magog-related events in the crew.

The temptation of Rev Bem bored the crap out of me, though it did show me that the crew shouldn't trust him.

I also have smaller things I hated. Like the new trailer commercial for the show. I miss Sorboís low-key, earnest voiceover about "one ship, one crew." The game show host from hell guy doing it now is so over the top that he makes me wince as he smarms about Dylan Hunt, "a HERO...." And the rest of the crew is chopped liver? And Bekaís new outfit. She goes from armor to a breast-baring catsuit? Does she think flashing her chest will stop an oncoming Magog? And the Beka Valentine established last season would need many more reasons to nova bomb the cluster than what this episode gave us. Somehow the scenes of Dylan and Rev searching the world cluster for Harper and Tyr held no drama or tension whatsoever. The more airtime Rev gets, the less I trust him and the more I wonder why the crew does. And that thing where Dylan comms to Harper. Didnít MilitantRommie say in "Its Hour Come ĎRound at Last" that Tyr and the Maru crew lacked the subdermal communication devices? She didnít say specifically about the immune system boosting nanobots Dylan used as tracking devices, but to me it sounded like she distinctly said in "Its Hour..." that they didnít have the High Guard comm units.

The quips and encapsulation of this episodeís lesson at the end killed me. Nobody was in character. Itís like Robert Hewitt Wolfe realized that he was running out of episode time and raced through the med deck scene and the closing scene on the bridge. Sure, they filmed faster than usual trying to avoid the threatened guild strike, but thatís no excuse.

There are things I do like:

- Tyrís character development. Heís coming more and more to see these people as his Pride. The new bond between him and Harper may be very interesting in the long run, though I wonder how long Harper will be able to deal with Tyr seeing him kind of as his child. I canít see the Tyr of old mimicking a Harper whine under any circumstances. Or doing that almost affectionate near-thwap. Yeah, heís patronizing with some of his up-from-your-bootstraps talk, but thatís Tyr. And I liked his slavery story. Watching him as Trance and Rev break the news to Harper....

- Rommie kicks ass, whether sheís literally kicking ass or talking of herselves. ("Oh, Andromeda. Iíve never been so glad to see me.") The bit in which Rommie remembers her past mission for Beka was great. And she even looks prettier this year.

- Under different circumstances I would have liked Bekaís new outfit. Beka's reaction to finding out that Dylan can use the immune system nanobots installed in his crew to track them was perfect.

- Trance being brought back to life by having her tail pulled. Beka figuring that Trance could be brought back to life by having her tail pulled.

- Until the glib end, Dylan was great. Dylan breaking his leg during that jump since heís not Superman. Livid with offense at the Magog using guns. Cheerfully saying, "Itís me, Captain Idiot," when Tyr says that only one man could be stupid enough to come rescue them.

- Tranceís "Itís not impossible, itís just really unfair!"

- Harper in torn-up clothing. So Iím shallow. His snarky bitching as heís trying to free himself is fun. And Gordon Michael Woolvett does an incredible job in the med deck scene. The terror, the initial relief, the realization, the growing horror, the attempt to be brave.... Watching him try so hard not to cry is heartbreaking. His worst nightmare, twisting around until itís become his life. The show better follow up with this. Deb and I imagine him having some nights where heíll put his hands over his stomach and freak out over the thought of whatís living inside him. Or-- ick --feel them moving, or imagine he does.

This should have been two episodes, with the first dealing with the search and rescue on the Worldship and the second showing the desperate search for cures for Tyr and Harper as the Magog start to hatch. That second episode could have been such a nailbiter: the panicked searching of avenues for stopgaps and cures, Tyr and Harper obviously in pain from these parasites that want to rip out of them, the crew feeling the consequences of this attack as deeply as possible. They try the surgery option, possibly a cure! But then Tyr almost dying from the surgery, though he's now cured, makes the crew realize to their horror that they donít dare try it on the un-genetically modified, more sickly, thus more fragile Harper. Angst! Drama! I mean, instead we get to hear that Tyr almost died but we donít even get to see him recovering. When we see him he looks fine while Trance tells instead of shows.

Oh yeah, if the writers devoted an episode to it, it would be obvious that Trance couldnít come up with the almost-miracle drug out of nowhere just in time.

So Iím pissed about this episode, especially since Iíve been waiting for it since early May, but Iím sticking with the show. I have some faith. Besides, I want to see if they do right by Harper.

I give "The Widening Gyre" a D.



October 13, 2001

#202 Exit Strategies

Dylan, Beka, Rev Bem and Tyr, pursued by a gang of Nietzscheans, are forced to make a crash landing on an icy planet.

 

I hoped that "Exit Strategies" would redeem my faith. Well, some of it did.

First half of the episode: D (Saved from an F only for Dylan getting thrown around prettily, Dylan telling Tyr without words to protect Beka from Rev, and Tyr mentioning that Dylanís been taking an awful lot of risks lately. Harper was great, but I wanted to kick Rommie in the scenes with him from the first half.)
Second half of the episode: B- (The writers woke up?)

"Exit Strategies" consisted of the good, the bad, and the "you gotta be kidding me!" Since the bad and the "you gotta be kidding me!" grabbed my attention the hardest, they go first.

 

The "you gotta be kidding me!":
- This episode takes place three weeks after "The Widening Gyre." Because... there wouldnít be anything dramatic happening in those three weeks? After what theyíd been through? Are the writers on crack? Three weeks! Dylan and Rommie put Harper out there clearing Magog bodies for three weeks? Way to keep the suicidal guy stable. Nobody knows that for three weeks heís been haunted by a stench of Magog throughout the ship?

- Rev fasts as penance for three weeks. Do you think the crew might want to know that they have a starving Magog in their midst? Maybe Rev didnít tell them because he knew theyíd rightfully freak, being the tasty treats they are. Way to try to kind of suicide in the most irresponsible and dangerous-to-others fashion possible, Rev.

- We get to see Bekaís onscreen concern for Rev over his self-inflicted agony but not even a second of what she must be thinking about Harperís condition? Excuse me?

 

The bad:
- The new, bombastic voiceover for the show commercial is heinous. It seems to get worse every time I hear it. Kevin Sorbo, come back!

- I havenít seen computer generated image and green screen work this bad in a long time. Welcome to the worldís most obviously computer-generated cave-ins. Watch the actors go transparent against static backgrounds. Between the bad special effects and the caves (especially with the funny looking giant worms living in them), I was getting nostalgic for late 70s/early 80s Doctor Who.

- The aforementioned Rev penance fast (with all that time the episode then spends on his self-inflicted suffering) and the decision to place a suicidal Harper on corpse detail with Rommie telling him to suck it up. The people on this ship are usually much smarter than that.

- And why is Rev getting so much attention anyway? The more I see him, the creepier and more untrustworthy and self-righteous he seems to get. If he was truly of the Divine, he couldnít kill? Which makes everybody on the crew who does kill to protect innocents evil, I guess. And a truly Divine Rev wouldnít have gone in to try to save Tyr and Harper, since that involved killing. Glad youíre willing to sacrifice crewmembers as acceptable losses on your quest for holiness, Rev. Good thing Dylan and Rommie came in as back-up in case he regained his faith.

- I couldnít figure out what the hell Dylan was doing out there in the snow with his force lance until 15 minutes later. Bad storytelling.

- The fight and chase scenes in the snow were confusingly shot and hard to follow.

- One scene we see Harper with a gun to his stomach prepared to end it all. Next time we see him, heís in an access tube arguing with Rommie. How did she convince him not to shoot himself before? Once again, Andromeda cuts away from a necessary conversation out of... laziness? What?

- Harperís shirt. What the hell was that? It has the texture of wet paper toweling.

- Three weeks! Three weeks! Three! Weeks!

 

The good:
- Tyrís becoming more interesting and thawing out. His scenes with the Nietzscheans heíd double-crossed -- off-screen before the events of "Music of a Distant Drum," as it turns out -- and his "inferior!" taunt with that manic grin, the way he worked to sell Dylan on his good qualities at the end.... Major character development.

- Dylan confronting him at the end. Dylanís less innocent and has more to lose now. He understands Nietzscheans better. It sounds weird to say this of a 40-something-year-old man, but he seems to have grown-up more. Dylanís such a good, fairly easygoing guy that itís great to get these reminders that heís not someone you should mess with. Starting a game of Go, with its echoes of games played with Rhade, is a nice touch.

- Tyrís remark about how Dylan is taking a lot of personal risks lately. (Itís another thing for me to file in the "Dylanís impending breakdown" folder. I see it coming. Survivor guilt, Rhade guilt, time displacement, and now this new Magog thing. Thereís a lot of guilt, depression, and megalomania in our captain thatís bound to boil over sometime.)

- Rommie finally connecting with Harper over how that hidden personality backup and possible other hidden timebombs make up her own version of dormant Magog spawn in her guts. I hadnít thought of that.

- A drunken, fatalistic Harper using the scanner to watch and say Hi to the Magoglings in his gut. Heís given them names. Hell, Iím sure heís ascribed personalities to them too. Scary.

- The mention of Bobby and of Harperís favorite beer suggest that the information on Seamus Harper Online will be incorporated into the show. Very cool.

- Bekaís comments about the Eureka Maru being her home going way overboard. Dylanís response that he feels the same way about the Andromeda Ascendant definitely lacked her "and the rest of you can go to hell for all I care" undertones. It may have slipped out without her wanting it to, but she had that thought ready. Thereís a nastiness close under her surface that weíve seen before in "The Pearls That Were His Eyes" and "It Makes a Lovely Light."

(Her nastiness in this episode made me wonder if Beka has used the "dump you on the trash heap where I found you" threat with Harper before. It makes me wonder if sheís gotten nasty with the Maru crew before. Trance immediately acquiesces to her in "Pearls" when she got nasty with her, and in "Light" Beka backed Harper down on the bridge with a look. He seemed afraid of her. Given her experience of family through her untrustworthy junkie dad and untrustworthy con-job brother, maybe her acting as a kind of big sister to Harper isnít always a nice thing. I wonder how indebted Harper feels to her. She got him off Earth, she gave him a home and a job doing what he likes. Maybe he worries about being sent back if heís not useful anymore. Maybe he waited until Dylan and Beka were gone to have his breakdown.... Maybe thereís more Dark Beka coming.)

- Harper fixing the deadly ship problem by the time the counter hit 7. Waiting until 2 or 1 is such a tired cliche.



October 21, 2001

#203 A Heart for Falsehood Framed

While Dylan tries to help bring a diplomatic agreement to pass, the rest of his crew steals a priceless relic, then finds out that they stole a fake and have to find the real one and get it to the Than without anyone realizing that it was stolen.

My reaction to a "A Heart for Falsehood Framed" is a bit... complicated. I enjoyed it as I watched it--itís a fun episode with snappy dialogue--though it bothered me a bit that a lot of the episode ignored the events of this season. Then I finished the episode, and it really started to bother me that we had second season Dylan, Tyr, and Rommie interacting with what seemed like first season Beka, Harper, and Trance. (Rev was absent, out converting people. I know, Hunh?) But then I thought up an explanation for why that works for the episode thatís either valid or me rationalizing my ass off.

Confused? I shall elucidate.

I hope.

Dylan, Tyr, and Rommie are the second season version of themselves. Dylan is less knee-jerk idealistic, and heís the one who masterminds the theft, thus showing a major loosening of his moral code. Tyr continues to be more sprightly; him sitting in on the card game helping Harper with his hands is something he never would have done before, since he rarely socialized with the crew except for that time when in his boredom he helped with Bekaís weightlifting, which is a survival-oriented behavior he approves of. Rommie snaps more and is more ruthless, as she seems to be absorbing some of the character traits of her earlier backup copyís personality, which could be described as stone-cold militant bitch.

By contrast, Beka, Trance, and Harper seem very first season, and most of the events involving only them could have taken place first season. (I personally feel that Harperís extreme chipperness had a slightly harder edge here, but half my friends say that they felt he was normal, pre-spawn chipper in their eyes. I found it creepy, but....) Watching the second season and first season characters interact made a kind of jarring friction for me.

It ticked me off, until I found a possible reason for why it might be deliberate and not just the writers doing a reset and ignoring all the torment of the last two episodes.

Beka, Trance, and Harper probably had the theft to come in mind even as Beka and Harper were walking the bazaar. The Maru crew spends the episode reliving the good old heist days pre-Andromeda. Which means that aspects of their behavior on display here may even be pre-first season. They have time-warped.

Which is either what the writers intended or me during their work for them; I canít tell.

Since it took me three hours of talking out the episode with my friends to come to that conclusion, it makes it hard for me to decide what to rate the episode. But I sure had a good time watching it, even with the jarring moments that may be deliberately jarring.

Now that Iíve dithered, letís get to the meat of the review.

Iíve wanted them to be shown on-station for the longest time, and here it is. Not bad. Nice polyglot mix of peoples too. Beka and Harper apparently have a procedure for dealing with pickpockets, because they shoot off in separate directions to catch him like a well-oiled machine. All of their talks in this episode studiously avoid mentioning any season two events, but itís still great to hear them interacting. Ryder and Woolvett have a great chemistry, and itís obvious that Harper loves Beka deeply and that she appreciates him. And that heís stubbornly continuing an old argument and trying to convert her to the goodness of living on a planet. (Homesickness?) He apparently finds most stations to be too rickety and chintzy, while she doesnít understand the appeal of unregulated temperatures and weather, dirt, and Magog raids.

Leydon has no fire or depth--heís just hottie love interest of the week--but he gives Beka and Harper some great things to work off of, such as when Harper comes up behind him with a big pipe prepared to club him and Bekaís doing the "donít!" hand motions. Harper has a public lewdness charge on his record. "It was only the one time!" he protests. Actually, his record is surprisingly clean, with only grand theft starship, interstellar flight from prosecution, and that one public lewdness charge on it. Somebody must have taken good care of security in most cases, because the Maru crew has pulled off some heists in its past and really enjoys the buzz from it. Just watch Beka and Harper casing the museum.

Leydon brings up criminal records for Beka, Harper, Tyr, and Trance. He doesnít have anything on Dylan but says that heís keeping an eye on him, certain that heís the mastermind behind the crew. The audience scoffs... but then it turns out that Dylan was the person who told them to steal the relic. (Character development, ho! So... if peace couldnít be decided through diplomacy, heíd give the crystal to the Than, thus giving them what they wanted and hopefully taking away their reason to blow the station to dust, and say that Doge could like it or lump it?) Harper tells Dylan that he missed his calling as a criminal mastermind.

The heist is great fun. Watch the Maru crew put its illicit expertise in action and have a kick doing it. Harper looks especially happy with it all, and he has a lionís share of the research and technical work. Canon does have him throwing himself into his work when heís troubled by anything. Trance saying, "Letís bring it!" as she starts her progress toward the Heart in its security field is a nice moment.

It looks like one of the Maru crewís hobbies is trying to get Trance to volunteer information about her past. They donít seem to be very successful. And when she gets too nosy about them, they mention that her question is as irrelevant as her place of origin, which often makes her back down fast. The scene with Beka, Harper, and Trance talking in the Maru is great, because it really does feel like these three have known each other and worked together for a long time.

Leydonís a weasel. Of course. Heís not even a very cagey weasel, since he threw Beka to the wolves way before he had to. (And after him using the thief name of "Schroedingerís Cat" gave me such a geek thrill.) Unfortunately, it looks like Beka falls for him instead of playing him all the way through to the end. Lousy taste in men. (Was it part of the plan to have Tyr break up their cozy tryst or the writers being lazy about showing her having to make a decision about Leydonís offer?) Though, Harper, ever the romantic, thought it possible that the weasel might actually feel something for her. Because he does.

And how thuddingly obvious is it that the relic is known as the Heart of the Hegemon, is supposed to be the actual, crystallized heart of the first Than queen, and has numerous fakes floating around? Thanks for hitting that home to the audience with a mallet through Dylan, writers. We wouldnít have understood the metaphor even with the title of the episode being "A Heart for Falsehood Framed" otherwise.

One friend asked snarkily if Beka just has the one dress. Knowing Beka? Probably. And the award for most obvious hair extension goes to Beka Valentine. Okay, the fact that itís so obvious from the lump at the base of her skull that starts the braid makes it very Beka even if somebody seems to be trying for Lara Croft, but I still prefer the crimped hair.

Dylan dealing with the diplomats is funny, and the new dress uniforms he and Rommie sport are great. Thank you, thank you, for getting rid of that awful white one.

Rommie saying she would prefer to blow both the Than and Dogeís people away shows, I think, the continuing influence of the backup personality as it integrates. Maybe thatís why she was so insensitive to Harperís spawn problem in "Exit Strategies"? I mean, the idea that itís okay to have the rape victim with a time bomb in his stomach clear out the bodies of his attackers isnít even logical. And that snippy comment to Dylan that "Harper is sweet but he believes pretty much everything I tell him," then saying that her "brain the size of a planet" could tell his fake from the real relic instantly makes me wonder if sheíll be lying to him more in the future. LaT points out that maybe Rommie lied to him so Beka, whom Rommie didnít trust here, wouldnít be aware that the AI knew the difference between Hearts at all time. And, Rommie, doll? Youíre the shipís AI. His life and the lives of the crew depend on you. Of course he takes what you say on faith. I think the integration is also why sheís suddenly showing a concern over whether they can trust Beka.

And we do doubt that Beka told Dylan about the mysterious treasure map you can get from the Heart. Thus, sheís not entirely trustworthy in ways that Dylan would call it.

Itís a nice touch that Dylan looks guilty about the heist and is obviously unhappy to tell his celebrating crew that the Heart they stole has to be put back.

Smirk at Dylan looking at Rommieís cleavage and saying that maybe she should wear something more formal for the negotiations, then Rommie looking down at her cleavage... and ending up in a dress uniform that displays only a little less cleavage. Another nice moment is Dylanís "what he said" hand gesture to Tyr after Tyr answers Dogeís whine about what heís getting out of the deal with the observation that Doge doesnít get blown to hell is what Doge is getting out of it.

Tyr continues to be more fun after his Magog rescue experience. Him helping Harper in that card game is pretty funny, and look at his joy in dealing with the thief and Leydonís minions. Man enjoys his work. His eyes popping out of his head when opportunistic Beka switches the real Heart for the fake makes me grin. Ditto his playing with Dylan over whether to kill the delegates and then on whether to kill Dylan if he ever agreed to do this kind of thing again. Iím still not sure if his show of possessiveness over Beka in the garden was part of the heist plan or not. The scenes in which he introduces himself to the Driftís criminal element, and gets a very in-depth ogling by his criminal contact, made me grin.

The whole crew wears dark colors, with Beka and Harper in black. I wonder if thereís some meaning to it all, but there might not be. Harperís shiny black pants had one friend wondering at first if he were wearing leather, but no. Dang.

Rev is out converting people? ::shudder:: I guess his crisis of faith solved itself. Well, at least heís not onscreen.

Leydon says, "Ah, well, your captainís reputation is rapidly becoming legendary." The Legendary Journeys of Dylan Hunt? Is that like Dylan being "like a Greek god or something" in the pilot?

"My fake was better." Yes, Harper, honey, because we canít all be artistes.

Kass and I felt that the tag could have done a lot of things. Instead, we get Beka staring moodily and silently at the orbital. Missed opportunity.

So it was a fun episode, but I donít understand what the writers are doing this season. Because last year, it all came together, while this year it all feels so random. "Letís throw this story here!" If thereís some bigger plan or arc, I donít see it yet.

And, aside from a few characterization things and the sub-dermal comms, this could have been a season one episode. Itís like the writers reset to the original default. LaT very reasonably says that the characters arenít going to discuss the Worldship or Harperís unwanted passengers every five minutes and that we donít know how much time has passed since "Exit Strategies" so maybe theyíre dealing better by now, but that still doesnít work for me. And I want to watch them work through post-traumatic stress disorder and their horror, okay? I donít think itís such a big thing to ask.

And I guess weíre supposed to know that Dylan and Beka have each spoken to Harper about his condition already, just off-screen. Because it wouldnít make sense for the writers to actually show something so important and imbued with dramatic possibilities? What are these people on?


I give "A Heart for Falsehood Framed" a B-. It has some great scenes, but the way I had to spend so much time thinking about it to justify certain aspects of the episode translates into demerits.



October 28, 2001

#204 Pitiless as the Sun

Trance is held captive, while Dylan and the rest of the crew try to uncover the source behind mysterious attacks on cargo ships.

 

It was like Old Home week for me with Anne Marie Loder and William B. Davis guest-starring. The Trance interrogation plot didnít do much for me because there was no tension. We knew she was lying to him most of the time. We knew he couldnít kill her. We knew she wouldnít tell us much about herself that we didnít already know. The interrogation scenes in "Forced Perspective" were far more interesting. So it was just waiting for it to be over. Fortunately, the rest of the plot reeled me in.

Check out Dylanís new attitude. "We have to temper idealism with pragmatism," indeed. Darker, more intense, and with a lot more edge, Dylan doesnít want to help protect what seemed to be innocent people because he has bigger fish to fry whoíd be more helpful to the Commonwealth he needs to build against the Magog. He also doesnít trust the Inari from the first and decides to give them chances to hang themselves. This uses the threat of the coming Magog well and provides character development. Beka feeling that they have to step in and help the little guy is a bit of a reversal for her as well, yet her reversal is also backed up by her empathy with the freighter pilots, who are doing a job similar to what she used to do and are getting killed for it. Then thereís Harper watching this conversation with utter shock. (And making a Freaky Friday reference. And bouncing his hand on Dylanís bed in a suggestive fashion as if he has every right to.) Itís great seeing these three in a room together talking for the first time in forever, because they really do have great chemistry.

Nice use of teamwork in this episode, as our crew runs circles around their guests and works together instinctively. (Though Rev isnít here, since heís on a retreat. I didnít even miss him. LaT wonders if perhaps Dylan told him to take some time off and really think about what heís doing, considering that his penance through starvation in "Exit Strategies" was dangerous to the crew around him. Plus, he didnít bother to tell anybody he was doing it. You notice that Dylan didnít look too broken up over Revís suffering in "Exit Strategies." He doesnít have the patience for secrets and self-inflicted pain that endangers his people right now. I like it. Thereís no canon support for it in this episode, but it makes good sense to me.)

I love the new bridge, which looks beautiful and practical, a big improvement on the original, which, as LaT has said, looked more like a high tech living room. I read something in a recent Starlog article that said that the beige tones on the former bridge matched skin on film. They had to light everybody in a certain way just for them to be noticeable against the background. So they took advantage of the Magog attack to redesign the bridge for better filming. But I miss the rock Ďem, sock Ďem pilotís chair. The shipís exterior also looks more textured and sharper-edged now. And Iím very glad that they took some time over a few episodes with this, when on Star Trek: Voyager the ship was destroyed every other episode and was good as new in the next one.

Great reaction shot from Dylan, as he looks at the new bridge with surprise, awe, and total pleasure. The repair workís done, it was done fast, and itís beautiful. Which, of course, pleases Harper. Nice touch that itís based on new designs developed just before the Fall. Dylanís "down, boy" to Harper comes out sounding fond and the deviousness he shows in giving his guests free range of the ship to see what they try to mess with pleases me as well as Tyr, whoís now calling Dylan "sir" far more often.

Dylanís distrust of the Inari turns out to be on the money, as it turns out that theyíre being targeted by the Pyrians for being drug dealers. Thankfully, the Pyrians arenít too obviously a special effect. Considering the shoddy CGI work in "Exit Strategies," Iíd wondered how theyíd come out looking. As to whether they actually are "new scary supervillians we can add to the Ďpeople who suckí party," I guess weíll see.

And Dylan has Harper building nova bombs for the next time they come up against the Magog. And hasnít let anyone else on the crew know, not even Beka. Interesting. It would suggest a lot of trust that Harper wouldnít tell anybody. The fact that Harper was more than willing to kill a few thousand Nietzscheans in "Angel Dark, Demon Bright" might also be a factor in Dylanís trust that Harper will do this right.

(Though the other Magog-related development of season two isnít mentioned, and Harper is again written in first season style in this episode.)

Rommieís warmer and more sensitive to people in this episode, making me wonder if itís a matter of her personality flip-flopping as she integrates or just different writers at work.

Beka has Lara Croft hair again. *sigh*

Dylanís "pep talk" is a fun moment, as is Beka asking why she and the Maru get sent out on suicide missions every time Andromeda gets in trouble with him reasonably responding that if they were suicide missions, she wouldnít be alive to complain.

Interesting that Dylanís not wearing his full uniform unless he has to now. Lately weíve been seeing him in partial uniform or casual clothing when heís not directly commanding or doing diplomatic work. Heís come out of his recent experiences changed.

And that inevitable breakdown I foresee for him? I think itíll a beauty when it comes.

So that was the part of the plot I liked. The Trance interrogation sequences didnít do much for me. Sheís a character I like in small doses, so watching her play dumb and innocent for much of the episode as she screwed with her interrogatorís head just annoyed me. She might be telling the truth when she says that her people have seen so much that they get bored sometimes, but who knows? The other member of her kind who started the Inari civil war (or so the Inari claim) does provide an intriguing seed of doubt as to Tranceís intentions, though.

As to the ending, I think that Dylan wasnít actually saying that he trusted her. As LaT pointed out, he says he makes a few exceptions but didnít say that she was one of them. He lets her infer that. After all, he didnít ask her about that other member of her race who supposedly started the civil war, perhaps because he figured she wouldnít give him a straight answer anyway. I liked it that he let her hang in worry for a moment as he said that he didnít ally with people who kept secrets from him and he couldnít trust. Me, I think heís keeping a careful eye on her.

And the new over the top voiceover for the show commercial annoys me more and more every week I hear it.

Tranceís interrogation plot get a C.
The rest of the episode gets a B+.



November 3, 2001

#205 Last Call at the Broken Hammer

Dylan leads members of the crew to a desert wasteland in search of a former government leader.

 

*yawn* What? The episodeís finished?

Dull. So dull. The episode just slowly spins its wheels, going nowhere. No redeeming character bits. A plot you could drive a truck through. Enemies they didnít bother showing until the last ten minutes. Every "weíre hemmed in a small space while a larger enemy shoots at us" cliche put in. Beka reduced to an "at least we had the adventure" sidekick who uncharacteristically ends up trying to keep the pregnant woman calm in between shooting things. No season arc advancement or nods to anything thatís happened so far this season. No Harper. And Trance loses her tail! Itís gets blown off, why? I liked the tail.

Though it does have Dylan in supple, black leather, which just isnít enough.

I donít mind a good shoot Ďem up every once in a while. But this wasnít a good one.

It starts out well on the Maru with good-natured sniping and a not too burdensome expository exchange. But how long have they been gone looking for Ortiz? Leaving Harper and Rommie alone on Andromeda, I guess, unless Revís back from retreat. Great. Leave him with a Magog and an AI whoís told him to buck up and stop whining because she needs him to keep fixing her. Tyr is great in that second season Tyr way, whether heís asking why they brought Trance (as opposed to, say, Harper, who could snark back and wouldnít try to fix engine rattling with a hammer, we say) or saying that Dylan might try dressing in something more inconspicuous. Tyr consistently gets the good lines this episode. When we see him at all this episode. Itís a good scene, but the moment we hit the planet, all the oxygen gets sucked out of the episode.

Why couldnít our cast be the dream team of Dylan, Tyr, Beka and Harper? Because Trance has to be here to make portentous pronouncements and lose her tail. When is she working on a cure for Harper? Sheís been on away mission after away mission lately. Youíd think she had no deadline, pun intended. If she hadnít come back from last episodeís spy mission what would have happened? Well, Harper would die. Unless she figures nothing could permanently hurt her or keep her, so itís no biggie. But is she going to pull a cure out of her now tail-less ass at the last second? Because, you know, actually she had it all along or something?

Ortiz has to be the worldís dimmest person. If sheís hiding out, why have this person who looks like she used to stay right nearby? Have her be on another planet. And why have somebody who looks like you used to? If Ortiz were ruthless and had a cult of martyr-to-be followers willing to sow confusion, it might make sense, but the whole idea of Ortiz is that she isnít like that. So things only work the way they because otherwise the plot (if you can call it that) wouldnít work the way it does (if you can call it "working"). And why did it take Dylan so long to figure out? Heís a smart man.

Did anyone see Saphia giving a gun to the terrified pregnant lady and not think that badness was about to ensue? If this is Ortizís famed decision-making in practice, the universe shall tremble.

Please donít let Ortiz become a recurring or semi-recurring character.

Kind of interesting that some of the people in the Commonwealth never wanted to be there, though. I like that.

Tyrís out causing chaos off-screen most of the episode and Bekaís shoved to the corner playing sidekick with a gun, so the episode is mostly a dimmer version of Dylan and a too cute and Machiavellian Trance. Though Trance is funny drunk and asking Dylan if heíd like to look at her newly tail-less ass. In response, he waits a beat, then says, "No." I also liked her "either Iím crazy or Iím really dangerous" line.

The planetary sequences are dull and badly lit. The action scenes suck because we donít see the enemy until the last few seconds. Thereís no tension or give and take. Thereís no real story because they wasted too much time on the pseudo action sequences. Dylanís too stupid to be believed here. That about covers it.

We had a mini-"Fear and Loathing in the Milky Way" reunion as Rachel Hayward, Adulasia the metal-haired bar wench there, played Cory here, while John deSantis played Reaper there and Hsigo here. Hayward was very distracting, because I spent much of the episode thinking, "Thatís the bar wench from ĎFear and Loathing,í isnít it?" She's great here too, though. Itís the voice that caught at me. In other casting news, Gordon Michael Woolvettís wife, Michele Morand, and unborn son (precocious kid) make their Andromeda debut. LaT: "Well, at least he married some acting talent." (How many Sam Sorbo digs can we make?)

The writing this season has made me feel bad about having pimped this show all summer. Donít get me wrong; I donít regret first season at all. There were some bad and/or annoying episodes, but they usually had good character moments and I felt like the writers were heading somewhere. This season? No. Theyíre making me dig for the good stuff. It feels like the stories are just being thrown out in whatever order. After giving us bombshells like the coming Magog invasion and Harperís continuing infestation, they refuse to truly deal with either any further. Did they even think through the ramifications of these two events?

"Last Call at the Broken Hammer" gets a D.

 

Next week, Rommie is... Dark Angel!



November 13, 2001

#206 All Too Human

While the Andromeda Ascendant tries to protect a planet from a planet-killing starship, the rest of the crew tries to extract the informant who has information on fighting the planet-killer and get his data. Both missions turn much dirtier and more complicated than expected.

 

I really liked this one, which was a relief after "Last Call at the Broken Hammer" could have substituted as a sleeping aid. Everybodyís here, everybodyís in character, and events harken back to "The Widening Gyre." Plots A through C interconnect, share themes, and seem to have been thought out. I donít forgive you for prior events, Ashley and Zack, since of all the writers who should be dealing with "The Widening Gyre," you two are it anyway, but I can say that this was one well-done episode and give you credit for that.

This episodeís funding comes from the School of Hard Choices. Most of the crew is forced to make the kind of life and death decisions that really makes them wish they could go with C, none of the above. Dylan has to weigh the lives of 4 billion strangers versus the lives of 3 people important to him, deciding in favor of the 4 billion. Later, he has to balance worldwide ecological devastation versus the planet and all its people not being there at all anymore, which is an easier choice though a distasteful position to be in. Left on her own after the Eureka Maru takes a hit, Rommie has to make a variety of strategic decisions that ends in her being forced to hold a whole population hostage to reach her objective, because the government of these people is collaborating with the Magog. While we donít know if Harper understood how close he was to overdose before it happened, part of him has to figure that potentially overdosing himself has to be a easier death than if the Magog spawn become active at that very moment and tear him apart. Tyr is passive-aggressively browbeaten into risking his own life to save Harperís.

All of these things supply the kind of tension that was completely missing from "Last Call at the Broken Hammer."

"All Too Human" illustrates how small the crew really is. One might ask why anyone would send a person with a life-threatening condition that can be exacerbated by stress on a dangerous away mission, except that one then has to consider that Harperís the only crewmember who has the hacking skills necessary for the informant extraction. Likewise, the single working EVA suit thing turned into a problem here, but on a larger crew one person would not be responsible for maintaining and repairing a giant warship, a large freighter, and everything in them. When does he find the time?

Rommieís great here: kicking ass, snarking, sparking with Kim (guest star Bruce Harwood, whoís great as usual), strategizing on outwitting "the nice men with the guns," and salvaging a mission that had gone to hell. She can be such a bitch, as when she gleefully talks of the power grid going down, and itís fun to watch. Likewise on her pretending to be Kimís girlfriend. The moment when she asks Dylan how he could make these kinds of decision all the time every day is wonderful, as is Dylanís answer that he canít allow himself to think about all the things on the line because he wouldnít be able to move if he did. Dylan has many great moments as leader.

On a shallow note, I loved her coat. And Harperís boots.

The Eureka Maru can be used as a submarine. Thatís very cool.

At last, we get an episode picking up the pieces left dangling since "The Widening Gyre," with the Magog being off-screen but having a role in this episodeís events and Harper dealing with and suffering from his infestation for the first time since his deathwish in "Exit Strategies" three episodes ago. 13 baby Magog in his guts? Jeez. Heís supposed to take a hit of serum from his inhaler twice a day--and how strange is it that we finally find out the details of this now, so long into the infestation plotline--but the stress of the extraction mission going to hell makes the spawn churn inside him, so he this time keeps taking medicine hits until overdose stops him, putting him into a coma. (Once again, we donít get to see Dylan or Beka finding out about the overdose or what their reaction was. The writers are still killing me....)

That coma also delineates the limits of Tyrís recent softening of attitude toward Harper after they were fighting alongside each other and then impregnated together. Tyr will try to stop Harper from committing suicide and heíll kibbitz Harperís hand during a card game, but if it comes down to a situation in which one of them has to die, Harperís on his own with his number up if Harper doesnít have an advocate such as Rev arguing for him. As engineer, Harper is useful, but Tyrís life still comes first. He wants to leave Rommie behind for the same reason. Very Nietzschean of Tyr, of course. He takes the EVA suit for himself with very little hesitation and would probably have left with it immediately, not giving it a second thought, if he hadnít been forced to wait for Rev. In the end, Tyr does risk his life to keep Harper alive--and Keith Hamilton Cobb is wonderful showing Tyrís horror at having to voluntarily drown to do it ::shiver::--but itís only after Rev passive-aggressively works on him that he feels conflicted. I believe he means it when he tells Harper that this is the last time heíll ever do that. In this case, Tyr has to know that Rev will survive, and if the Andromeda picks them up, Rev will be talking about how Tyr left Harper to die. He really is trying to convince Rev that this is a mercy killing, because Revís opinion will matter once Dylan brings them onto the Andromeda.

Tyrís understandably pissed off that Harperís overdose and the single working EVA suit forced him to these ends, but those two things hardly deserve a death sentence. But thatís Tyr and very in-character, and I find it interesting behavior, though not something I want directed at my favorite character. :::grins:::

Revís a sanctimonious bastard with no regard for personal space, as usual. His method of calming down a person infested with Magog larvae is... to pursue that person and touch that person with his claws, even going so far as to grip Harperís head with both hands, which Harper responds to with a panicked wince before he tells his instincts to calm down because itís Rev. Revís method of dealing with a hypothermic Tyr is not to try to warm him up but rather to stroke Tyrís bare, quivering chest with his claws. Tyr has a number of great lines lambasting Rev this episode, indicting him for his sanctimony. Rev is calm that the Divine will solve all. Of course, Rev, a Magog, will survive no matter what so he doesnít have much to panic over. So I may have been happy that Rev passive-aggressively agitated for Harperís life and horrified that Tyr intended to let Harper die, but I was right there with Tyr as he greeted Revís creepy preaching and his "since youíll probably die, you might want to do this first" attitude with insults and shoves.

Me and LaT, many times: "Shut up, Rev!"

Revís depiction of The Way and the Divine is intensely creepy. His idea of faith is that you stop all your own forward momentum and trust that the Divine will come up with a solution for you. Here, Tyr provided, which Rev would no doubt see as the Divine working through him. Whatever. The only thing that creeped me out more was him telling Beka in "It Makes a Lovely Light" that "the Divine loves us more during the broken times." So the Divine likes us or tolerates us when our lives are going well, but really loves us when itís all gone to hell and weíre miserable? Ick. But thatís Rev.

Carterís secret revealed didnít work quite as well as it should have, but thatís a small thing. Carter was a great character, well performed, otherwise. I wonder whatís up with Tranceís new gung-ho attitude toward weaponry and military protocol. And whatís up with the spiky hair and corset.

I give "All Too Human" a B.

 

Next week: More Nietzscheans than you can shake a force lance at, and Tyr betrays the Andromeda crew. What, again? And it seems that the crew is split into groups. Again. Still. Whatever. (Is it really so hard to have seven people interacting in a room together? It hasnít happened since "An Affirming Flame"!) Of course, all of this depends on whether the previewís accurate, which it so seldom is.



November 18, 2001

#207 Una Salus Victus

The crew of the Andromeda battles with the Nietzschean Drago-Kazov Pride in an attempt to deliver medical supplies to an ailing colony.

 

The preview lied. Imagine that! No doublecross from Tyr this episode. Instead, the main thrust is that Dylanís mental breakdown-to-be is accelerating. (Iím taking a moment to bask, since I saw it coming as far back as April. Basking, basking... okay, Iím done now.) Cheerfully nuts and ruthless Dylan is a dangerous force to be reckoned with, just charging ahead at things, and a lot of fun for the audience to watch. He keeps screwing up the Nietzscheans because he can think like a Nietzschean and heís willing to die for his mission while theyíre not. And they know it.

Dylanís going gray. Itís a big shock to me, but I like it. If anybody has an excuse, itís him.

Dylan and Tyr have a snapping, sparking chemistry throughout, the two of them snarking at each other endlessly, such as when Tyr says that they could always sprout wings and use pixie dust to make themselves invisible and fly to get in. Or when he laughs that heíd say something about letting God sort them out, but God is dead, to which Dylan shakes his head and wonders about Nietzsche being such a comedian. Dylan has some great lines throughout:

"Damn, that was almost an apology."

"I knew there was a reason I hadnít fired you." (With Tyr cranking his big gun in response as an alternate answer to why Dylan doesnít dare fire him.)

"That was effective. Weíve got Ďem right where we want Ďem."

"But I like giving people grief."

Cuchulain: "Youíll kill us all, youíre bluffing."
Dylan: "Hahahaha. Yeah."

"Kinda curious what [missile strike number] five is going to feel like, how about you, huh?"

Dylan, after Cuchulain says that now he doesnít just care about taking Tyr out, now he cares about nailing Dylan too: "That what the universe needs more of: people caring for each other."

Dylan finally gets the story of Tyrís little field trip to get Dragoís bones, and heís not happy that this has made the Andromeda a "big, blinking target" to Nietzscheans. Especially since the Drago-Kazov is trying to destroy the relief convoy, endangering the volunteersí and the billions of disease victimsí lives, just to force Dylan to hand Tyr over. In fact, they released the plague just to bring the Andromeda Ascendant in. Shotboxer made the interesting point that the Nietzscheansí idea about the Progenitorís return to lead his people to conquer the universe has Christ parallels and that the concept is usually part of a slaveís religion. We donít know much about how the Nietzscheans started.... Tyr nails Dylan on the reason why Dylan wants to restart the Commonwealth, and Dylan doesnít look at all happy about that. Shotboxer and I were surprised that during Tyrís "youíre trying to reshape the universe to fit you" speech he didnít tell Dylan that the thing with the Progenitor is Tyr trying to do the same.

I figured that Dylan wouldnít hand Tyr over to Cuchulain. However, Iím not so sure that Dylan wouldnít shoot Tyr in the right situation.

Once back on board the Andromeda, Dylan makes it impossible for Tyr to get access to Dragoís remains in a very "how are you gonna defect now, Tyr, huh?" move. "Everything on this ship belongs to me," Dylan says. Wow, has he changed. "I donít belong to you!" Tyr yells back. Dylan says he can leave at any time... but without the Progenitorís remains. (For all the fact that he claims they can always leave, when Beka tried it in "D Minus Zero" he told her heíd prompt their enemy to use the Maru for target practice if she did. Which brings up an interesting point: If Dylan really went dangerously over the edge, what could his crew do? I donít know if any of Harperís overrides remain after "It Makes a Lovely Light," Rommie would probably support Dylan no matter what, and what might Dylan do to the Eureka Maru if they tried to leave....)

Tyr is near tears as he realizes that he and Dragoís remains are in the hands of a man willing to kill himself and everyone around him in his self-appointed mission. Tyr says that being willing to destroy the base and himself to accomplish the mission lets the Nietzscheans know how far Dylan is willing to go, and that makes Dylan vulnerable. I have to differ with him in that, since the way I see it is that the Nietzscheans now know that "how far" Dylan is willing to go is "all the way," and that has to scare the hell out of them.

Wonder how the rest of the crew will react when they realize how increasingly dangerous Dylan is becoming to himself and others.

Seeing Keith Hamilton Cobb this season and especially in this episode, I have to wonder why the hell he went sleepwalking through season one as Tyr. Maybe he was trying to make Tyr inscrutable, but it just came off as not being able to act.

But, hey, thereís still more to the episode than plot A! In plot B, Beka goes to save a relief ship that was culled from the convoy. After her ship is damaged, Beka is involved in a race against time to repair the Maru before the Nietzschean pilot repairs her ship and blows the Maru away. It turns out that Nietzscheans, or at least the ones in the Drago-Kazov Pride, let their barren women fight. Defective children, such as barren ones, are allowed to live, but they have to spend their lives trying not to bring any more shame on their families than they already have just by being born. But the pilot says that she doesnít see herself as a homebody mother anyway. I wonder if Nietzschean women ever think of trying to amend the social structure so that they have more power than in just being allowed to choose their mate. I canít imagine that everybody is thrilled to be a co-wife and just breed for the rest of their lives.

Beka gets to show how smart and tough she is again, as well as proving that sheís a good mechanic in her own right. And her authorization code for the Maru is "Shut up and do what I tell you."

In plot C, Harper is left in charge on the Andromeda in the absence of the two first officers and has to weigh his personal feelings against Nietzscheans and for the missing Beka--whom itís obvious as usual that he loves dearly--against the good of the mission and the disease victims. Harper sucks as a captain and combat pilot, understandable since he lacks the training, experience, and temperament for those positions, but he asks Rommie for her expertise, a wise move. Though he didnít do too badly for someone whoíd never tried this before, especially since heís facing impossible odds. Itís a nice touch that before Beka leaves he grills her on whether sheís certain she wants to leave him in charge as she goes to rescue the relief ship.

Rommieís far snottier with him than she has any reason to be. Heís asking for her experience and judgment, and half the time sheís angry at him for not being Dylan. Which he calls her on, at least. She was also unreasonably snotty with Beka when Dylan left Beka in charge in "The Devil Take the Hindmost." Rommieís very condescending in general to the guy who keeps her in working order. She should be glad heís not as vengeful as I am, because as her engineer being treated that way, Iíd feel compelled to teach her a lesson in mechanic appreciation.

Harper has no problems with blowing people away, especially Nietzscheans, as has been documented before in "Angel Dark, Demon Bright." His hatred of them leads him to engage the fleet, something Rommie rolls her eyes over, but the fleet would have engaged them whether the Andromeda attacked first or not. After all, the Nietzscheans were there to destroy the convoy and picked off that one ship to draw Beka away, splitting the crew up. Itís blatantly an ambush, after all.

Weirdly enough, when Harperís considering whether to go at the Nietzscheans in a kamikaze blaze of glory to save the relief convoy, not once does the script have him mention that heís already under a death sentence from the spawn in his guts, something youíd think would influence his decision. Just last episode, the same writers, Zack and Ashley, remembered that he had that. This episode? Nope. *sigh*

Given the choice of surviving but losing members of the relief convoy or dying and saving every ship in the convoy, Harper goes for certain death and the survival of all the relief ships, though Trance helps him put a spin on the decision to die defending the ships that he likes even better. Go, Harper.

At the beginning of the episode Harper mentions that they could just blow off the 31 billion dying since theyíd have to fly the convoy through the dangerous Acheron system, just as he mentions that they could just sell the Heart in "A Heart for Falsehood Framed." I wonder why he keeps playing devilís advocate when he knows these things are not going to happen. Does he think heís doing a reality check? Then again, heís pretty cranky at the beginning of this episode, especially when heís sent off to repair more stuff. When heís always repairing stuff.

Harperís been with Beka for "nearly five years," it turns out. Add that to the about 20 years (probably rounded off) he claimed he lived on Earth in "Fear and Loathing in the Milky Way," consider that Seamus Harper Online says that Bekaís the one who took him off Earth, and you end up at the conclusion that heís about 24-26 years old. We know from "Exit Strategies" that Rev was with Beka for seven years, so perhaps Harperís fine with Rev because the Magog Wayist was part of the Maru package.

(We get a voice transmission from Rev but no Rev himself this episode. Iíve heard rumors that Brent Strait has become allergic to his makeup. I hope for his sake thatís not so.)

And Iíd like to thank the writers for giving us the Beka/Harper hug. When she gets back, sheís obviously depressed, and heís trying to be so helpful. Talk? Donít talk? Go away? What do you need? And she doesnít want to talk about it but needs him and doesnít want him to leave, so she grabs him around the neck in an affectionate, manly hug and asks him to stay.

I give "Una Salus Victus" an A-.

Two great episodes in a row. Can I stand it? Do I dare hope that theyíve hit their groove this season? Well, Rhade, or a descendant of Rhadeís, is showing up next week, so maybe hoping isnít unreasonable. Then we get James Marsters the week after that.



November 25, 2001

#208 Home Fires

A message from Dylanís 300-years-gone fiancée leads the Andromeda to a world populated by the descendants of the Andromeda Ascendantís and the Starry Wisdomís evacuees and his fiancéeís, who have established a Commonwealth-like government. It looks like a done deal that the planet will join his Commonwealth and help him fight the Magog, but we know better, donít we? Especially after we find out that one of Gaheris Rhadeís descendants is in charge of the Home Guard....

 

Itís ironic that this episode was aired right after I got the news that Kevin Sorbo and Tribune intend to make the show more Dylan-centric and less ensemble-driven, because all of the ensemble scenes sparkle, while some of the Sorbo with anyone other than Steve Bacic as the Rhades scenes feel totally off. For example, the scene of Dylan meeting Saraís descendants doesnít work at all, when it should be this major moment. Maybe Sorboís going for shock, but here his shock feels like Keith Hamilton Cobbís first season inscrutability: like heís sleepwalking. Yes, the woman playing the Triumvere is awful, but he doesnít try to work despite her. Though he plays Dylanís rage over the voting results well. I love his comments that he has no time to waste here and theyíll change their minds once things turn serious, namely, once the Magog come for them.

The failure of what should have been the climactic scene of him fighting Telemachus Rhade isnít really his fault, though. Maybe the fight would have attained some momentum and drama if sepia-toned scenes of the fight with Gaheris Rhade from "Under the Night" didnít keep getting spliced in to interrupt it. That original fight had tension, momentum, the feeling of the universe hanging in the balance. This one, youíre waiting for it to be over. I was yawning and sing-songing, "They fight. And fight. And fight and fight and fight." Really dumb moment: Dylan putting down his weapon and Rhade deciding not to shoot. Since when? Rhadeís a Nietzschean. Though the really, really dumb moment is when Dylan banishes everyone, even Rommie, from the bridge so he can meet with Telemachus alone. Of course Bekaís rolling her eyes.

The other flashbacks have their good moments, but they donít really work either, especially since Kevin Sorbo has blatantly aged onscreen in the last year, making it hard for the audience to accept that itís seeing Dylan years ago. Besides, Iím not sure how Dylan could have figured out that Gaheris intended to betray him just based on the wrangling over whether heíd be Dylanís Best Man or not. Itís a bit like Lassie barking and whomever having to figure out from the barks that Timmyís trapped under a beam in the old, abandoned mine five miles away.

The vote and Dylanís decision whether to let Rhade hang so he can get the planetís military support or have the real criminal arrested and not get the military support lack any real tension. Because we all knew that he wasnít going to get a bigger fleet and a full crew for Andromeda. It would utterly change the show.

Still, ignoring all that, from a story standpoint itís interesting that Dylan returned to his former idealism here. I mean, as Rommie says, he weighed one manís innocence against getting a fleet that could help save thousands of worlds from destruction... and he chose to save the one man. Maybe Dylan feels like he has to be more scrupulous since this is a descendant of a man who betrayed him, and Telemachus is innocent. Rommie might not agree with him, but sheíd hardly be as vehement about it as Dylanís crew, whose viewpoints we donít get to hear. I can see Harper on the topic now: "Okay, so we tossed aside a whole fleet for one guy. Iím sure the fact that this one guy looks exactly like your old best friend has nothing to do with you blowing off the thousands of worlds we could have saved with the fire- and manpower the Triumvere was willing to give us. ĎCause I know youíre impartial, Dylan."

Harper continues his devilís advocate role. Itís amazing how he manages to impart unwanted possibilities into the conversation without getting in trouble for it just by being ludicrous and funny about it. He goes ridiculous by saying that the Commonwealth remnant might be peopled by cannibals or killer robots to get a laugh, then says, "Címon, every single High Guard remnant weíve encountered has been psychotic, evil, or both." At Dylanís smirk, he amends, "Present company excluded, of course." And Beka agrees that he has a point. Harper concludes it with "We shouldnít get all kissy-huggy, smoochy-woochy just because we like the cut of their uniforms." Later, when the Triumvere wants to get Dylan alone, Harper jumps in again, looking completely manic, with a ridiculous scenario of her getting Dylan away so her guards can use mind probes on them. Heís just told the leader of the government hosting them straight out that he doesnít trust her and figures she wants to get Dylan away for nefarious purposes, yet she thinks heís "sweet" as well as paranoid. Beka, seeing a perfect opening and unhappy about being split up, follows up with "Itís, uh, been a tough year," and Dylan even sees sense in this and says, "My crew is used to having the other shoe drop, and, frankly, so am I."

And Harperís right about a lot of things here, which, as ever, amuses me.

Even aside from this, the ensemble made me very happy this episode. Letís see why:

Harper, on watching the Castalian ("fish" people) ships bite the dust: "One fish down. Two fish. Red fish, blue fish... itís a freaking fish fry."

Beka, on hearing that the Castalians had 5 million casualties in the simulation: "Thatís a lot of sushi." Harper almost explodes into his laugh. While Dylan chides her for making fun of their allies, she canít keep a straight face. Neither can Harper or Tyr.

Harper: "Look, Dylan, if you think Aqua-Man and the Silver Surfer here will help you against the Magog, you might as well start basting yourself with steak sauce now and avoid the rush."
Total incomprehension from everyone on the bridge. Dylan looks to Beka for illumination, but she keeps smiling and says, "I donít know."
Harper: "Aqua-Man? The Silver Surfer? Didnít you people go to school? No classical education."

Beka: "I really liked all those Home Guard lancers lined up for my personal inspection."

When the Triumvere, whom Harper thinks is a babe, says sheíd like to visit the furthest world of Dylanís Commonwealth and asks Dylan if heíd take her, Dylan briefly looks at Harper, who gives an "oh yeah" nod and look.

Tyr: "You should never trust any Nietzschean."
Dylan raises his eyebrows.
Tyr: "Except me."

After listening to the complicated masses of elected officials the planetís Commonwealth has, Harper says, "Give me a nice simple dictatorship any day. Then at least when things go wrong, you know who to hang." Trance ripostes that heís only saying that because he never lived in a democracy. She thinks that "free elections sound like fun." Harper responds that thereís no such thing as a "free" election. Maybe an inexpensive one, occasionally.... Trance says heís "cute" when heís paranoid, so he immediately figures that sheís complimenting him because she knows something. Heís ready to use his hacking skills to stuff the ballot boxes in favor of the planet joining up with them. As insurance. "Hey, it is a time-honored system. Itís an integral part of the democracies I ever read about." Oh yeah, heís from Massachusetts. ::ducking:: When Trance and Rev sigh at him, he says, "Fine, fine. But I would have made a great king."

In the one flashback I liked, Rhade suggesting that Refractions of Dawn be Dylanís Best Man instead. Dylan feels that "Best Insectoid Hermaphrodite" doesnít have the same ring as "Best Man." Playing basketball, Dylan tosses Rhade the ball and asks, "Think you can take me?" Rhade shouts "Magog!" and sinks a perfect basket while Dylanís head is turned. "Yes," Rhade says as he walks out. Dylan mutters, "ĎBest Insectoid Hermaphroditeí sounds a lot better."

Rommie: "Do you know what it is that I really want?"
Tyr: "An avatar unencumbered by cleavage?" (I laughed out loud at this one.)
Rommie: "A real crew. I used to have 800 lancers stationed on me."
Dylan: "Yes, I can imagine the eavesdropping potential."
Rommie: "I never eavesdrop. I monitor, for security purposes."

On a shallow note, I loved the Triumvereís boots and found it interesting that the weird, crinkly, wet paper towel shirt Harper wore in "Exit Strategies" looks decent when itís under a closed vest, as it is here.

In other news, Sam Sorbo still canít act. And Jamal was sweet, but so stupid that it didnít hurt as badly as it should have when his foolhardiness and refusal to follow orders get him blown to pieces. Then again, heís one of Saraís descendants, so maybe I shouldnít be surprised that he turned out to be an idiot. ::ducking:: And Nietzscheans, as genetically modified humans, are "homo sapiens invictus."

I give "Home Fires" a B, with most of my good will coming from how good Harper, Beka, the Rhade(s), and Tyr were. Too much of the Dylan-without-them stuff felt weirdly hollow.

But how much cooler would it have been if Tarazed had been a Commonwealth splinter that had nothing to do with Sara or Dylan and they had harsh things to say about Dylanís new crew and operating procedures? Oh well.

 

Next week: Here comes James Marsters, looking lean and dangerous and knife-like. And being bare-chested, it seems. A follow-up to the events of "Harper 2.0." No braid on Beka. Harper in a tank top in one scene. Promise of good stuff here, people.



December 3, 2001

#209 Into the Labyrinth

The Andromeda hosts a conference of allies to the Commonwealth, while Harper is lured by unknown evil forces.

 

There was more Harper in this episode than you can shake a stick at, in some scenes two Harpers at once, though he only had about 30 seconds of screentime with any member of the crew aside from Trance. Yes, Gordon Michael Woolvett fans, you can see his tattoo, a yin/yang symbol on his left upper arm, due to a lot of time spent in the tank top. Which is nice, since they had James Marsters covered up in something awful except for that one bare-chested scene when he was talking to Beka. Now I shall redeem my lapse into shallowness with an in-depth look at "Into the Labyrinth" itself.

Theme of our episode: temptation. What are you willing to sell to get what you want? Our tempters are Satrina Leander and Charlemagne Bolivar. Our targets are Harper, Dylan, and Tyr. Let the games begin.

The actress playing Satrina was bad. How bad? I couldnít believe her for a second. Maybe her character was supposed to be blatantly dishonest and uninterested in the men she was supposed to seduce, but I find it hard to believe that she was supposed to be that blatant. And she pronounces "archivist," which she claims to be, two different ways, with the last one sounding so goofy and uncertain that I wanted to throw something. I almost died laughing at the way she said "carrot." Was it supposed to be sexy? Combine the terrible acting with the tiny costume and the character climbing all over every man in sight, and I am afraid to see what upcoming female characters in this increasingly Tribune-esque show are going to be like.

Still, itís funny to see Harper turn deer in the headlights when someone comes on to him. Of course, Satrina makes Adulasia (from "Fear and Loathing in the Milky Way") look demure by comparison. Though at least Adulasia was played by a good actress. But weíre talking about the trashy and blatant Satrina. The open-mouthed kissing, the straddling... the sticking her hand right through Harperís gut to remove seven of the Magog larvae via phase-shifting, something the bounty hunter Jeger could do. She has a deal for Harper. If he gives her the data archive from "Harper 2.0," sheíll remove them all. Of course she double-crosses him, though he expects that and double-crosses her too with a Trojan horse virus file named "Sea Biscuit." Then her offer involves him giving her the archive and joining her in her employment by the Spirit of the Abyss, the Entity, leader of the Magog, also known as "Olí Red Eyes" and "Mr. Tall, Dark, and Scary, the Living Lava Lamp." Iím sure you can guess by whom the Entityís known as the last two. She promises Harper everything he wants--"health, power, even love"--if he enters the Entityís service. Interesting that "love" is in there....

Harperís tempted by the power, corrupted by it, once he gets to try phase-shifting for himself. But the thought of being used and betraying everyone he cares for sets his head back straight, and he sabotages Satrinaís phase-shifted Magog swarm ship, cutting the phase-shifting power from her and her four colorful assassins, whom sheíd set to killing the diplomats on board. Though it turns out that she didnít need the phase-shifting implant in her data port after all, since she can do it herself and gets away. In the end, Harper says that he was hoping someone else could make his problems go away for him-- Rommie, Rev (!?!), Satrina, Trance --but now heís going to work on getting rid of his remaining six larvae himself, probably with the phase-shifting/tesseract stuff he learned as a path to start on.

Trance lets him say that he was slacking off by not dealing with the spawn thing himself. But, you know, if I had a disease and knew nothing about medicine, Iíd feel perfectly justified in leaving the search for a cure to my doctor. Especially if, you know, my doctor said she was going to work on a cure. Thatís not slacking off and whining, thatís leaving my medical condition in the hands of an expert, which I am not.

But itís a good thing that heís decided to take looking for his cure into his own hands if my suspicions about Trance are correct. Iíll get back to that later.

Harper gets a major workout in this episode: looking for the archive he hid from himself, mouthing off, fending off Tranceís anger that heís looking for it, trying to duck away from Trance, scheming, mouthing off, making out with Satrina to get a better computer analysis fix on how she does her tricks (poor boy), working out phase-shifting and ways to stab Satrina in the back, saving the day. His ruthlessness when getting the upper hand on Satrina and enjoyment of her pain is fun to watch. At one point heís talking to an interactive program whose icon looks and acts like him, only to the infinite power. Iím still wondering what was up, pun intended, with the explosively manic HarperConstructís hair. Harperís reaction to meeting himself like this is "Now I know why people hate me." Of course, having two Harpers gives RealHarper the opportunity to make comments like "Bite me, me," "Now I tell me," and "I told myself to watch out for you. I wish I listened."

We find out that the All Systems Librarians are a secret society, waiting for the return of the Commonwealth. Though how secret they can be when they have their huge insignia on their wrists or a finger is a mystery. Anyway, theyíre secret agent librarians. Harperís reaction is pretty much the same as ours.

After "Harper 2.0" Harper hid the archive in a sun, which explains "H2.0"Ďs shot of Tranceís vaguely sun-like tattoo as a show of the "safe place" UpgradedHarper figured out to stash it.

I wonder if the phase-shifter implants disappeared along with Satrina and her Crayola crayon team of killers. Even shorted out, theyíd be useful to Harper. Maybe someday heíd even be able to figure out a way to shift different parts of himself at the same time so he could take the larvae out himself instead of having his whole body being shifted at the same rate and having his hand not be able to enter his stomach. Though how he deals with the voices of the Entity and the damned that putting the implant in provides as a side effect, I donít know.

Both Harper and Dylan refuse to succumb to Satrinaís blatant charms. Or maybe her voice and inability to speak got on their nerves. It did on mine. Is English this womanís first language?

Dylan tells us that Rev thinks that Dylan should sign on more crew. Interesting. Rev wasnít onscreen during this episode at all.

James Marsters as Charlemagne Bolivar is pretty much a more debonair version of Spike sans accent. I wanted to see more of him purring his way through some tasty lines as he sparks off of Dylan and especially Tyr. Charlemagne and Tyr have some priceless exchanges, especially their first one, which I would quote wholesale except that it would take too much transcription on my part. Bolivarís Pride had different priorities than the Kodiak did in their breeding. "Instead of breeding for such obvious attributes, your people should have concentrated on more important things: treachery, cunning, proper table manners." He offers Tyr entry into Sabra-Jaguar via marriage to one of his sisters right before mentioning that he heard that somebody had taken Dragoís remains from the Drago-Kazov Pride. That scene could have been longer, especially since it amused me to watch the two of them check one another out and enjoy each otherís company.

When Charlemagneís talking to Dylan and lays out his combined Prideís pros and cons for becoming a member of Dylanís Commonwealth, the cons are that theyíre treacherous, theyíre enemies with Drago-Kazov, and theyíll spend all their time reminding Dylan that heís genetically inferior, but the pros are that theyíre treacherous, theyíre enemies with Drago-Kazov, and they have the largest fleet in the known worlds.

My friends and I wondered how Elsbett could be pregnant now if she told Dylan she was sterile. My next thought was that becoming fertile again was one of the first orders of business for her after she decided to marry instead of kill Charlemagne Bolivar. Or she lied to Dylan about being sterile, with her people only harvesting some of her ova so her line could continue while leaving her still fertile. Even if she had been sterile when she slept with Dylan, Charlemagne made that remark about needing to verify if the kid was his to let Dylan know that he knows about their one-night stand in "The Honey Offering." And to let Rommie know too.

I would have loved a long discussion between Charlemagne and Dylan as to why Dylan should allow the Sabra-Jaguar Pride to join the Commonwealth, but we donít get that. We also donít get much of Dylanís decision-making process into deciding to let them join, a decision he likens to the Allies allying with Joseph Stalin. At the end, Sabra-Jaguar becomes a part of the Commonwealth.

Charlemagne also has a lovely scene with Beka, who lounges on his bed, eats his food, and threatens him. I want James Marsters back again. I donít think itís too much to ask.

The episode raises some interesting questions about Trance, as she becomes openly threatening to Harper when she thinks heís going to retrieve the data archive and get a look at her secrets. "You know, since weíve got a little time here we might as well find a good way to spend it. I know, Iíve got this really great game. Itís called ĎHarper tells Trance everything so she can save his miserable life.í Would you like to play?" Later: "Harper you are my best friend, and because you are my friend I really need you to listen to me. Do not look at the archive." The look on her face and her intensity inspire Harper to say, "You know, Trance, I liked it better when I thought you were harmless." Her answer? "Me too." Yeah, I imagine she was much happier with him having no idea that she could be threatening.

The "thought you were harmless" discussion comes up after Harper tells her, at her prompting for what he remembers of his time with the archive loaded in his brain, that he remembers a long-lost civilization worshipping a purple goddess that looks a lot like her. When sheís still trying to deflect, saying that maybe they just liked purple or that his memory isnít as good as he thought, he attempts to recreate the hymn of worship he sang to her in "Harper 2.0" that bothered her so much. She knows that he saw something then, and she now knows that he still remembers it.

Why is this important, class? Because Iím starting to wonder if itís not so much that she canít remove those larvae as that she wonít. When Harper says at the end that heís going to work on getting rid of them himself, she answers, "That sounds complicated. When do we start?" When do we start? She was supposed to have started on that way back at the end of "The Widening Gyre." At least thatís what she said she was going to be doing. At one point in "Into the Labyrinth" when he takes a hit of his serum and is obviously suffering from the feel and taste of it, she has this "whatever; youíre annoying me" look on her face. My conclusion? She could save him but she wonít. Best friends? She seems to see him more as a cute puppy that she hopes she wonít have to put to sleep but wouldnít be too sad about if she had to. When he says at the beginning of the episode that "God hates me," her answer is "Donít take it personally." Hmmm. I also wonder if Wardrobe put her in the black jumpsuit that she wore in "Pitiless as the Sun" while she was tormenting her interrogator as a cue to the audience.

Even more wondering comes in when you see Satrina pull out seven of the 13 larvae, and they look like albino tangerine slices and donít lash out at him on the way out at all. Maybe she surprised them, I thought. I expected something with tentacles and suckers and things that would be woven into Harperís organs and react violently to removal and spew out toxins as they ripped him apart. At least that what Trance (and Ashley and Zack in the SlipstreamWeb BBS) told us. Bone-headed mistake, or more support for the idea that Trance just isnít bothering to cure Harper? Maybe the larvae and their toxins are phased at the same level as Satrina, and they tried to poison Harper but couldnít because they were not in the same phase. But they were in the same phase as her and didnít attack her. I doubt things that young and small have the brainpower to listen to the Entityís commands and so not attack. Outlook hazy, try again.

And why did he give Trance the data archive after everything sheís said to him lately? Does he still trust her? Or... is it really the only copy of the archive at all?

And when is he going to tell everybody what happened? Given the killing spree by the phase-shifting assassins, I donít think heíll be able to keep it secret for long. Is the interactive HarperConstruct still bopping around the matrix or did Harper take him down? How self-aware is it, anyway?

Once again, the action scenes sucked. Really sucked. I also wondered if Dylan and Rommie got a mild lobotomy recently. Dylan might as well not have been here this episode. Though I loved him immediately knowing once he sees Harper in the duct that something is up. But why couldnít Rommie, whoís everywhere at all times, tell what Harper was up to for much of the episode? Why couldnít she tell that Satrina was phase-shifting? If Harper had privacy mode, or overrides engaged, that kind of thing needed to be made explicit in the text. If the quarters usually have privacy mode engaged, itíd be nice to know. Because, otherwise, Harper suddenly asking for privacy would be suspicious all by itself. (Is that his quarters or a machine shop he spent so much of the episode in? Iím not sure because the show never says, though Iím leaning toward that being his room due to the bed in there. Though it could be a cot for when he overworks. Arrrgh.) Rommie says that Satrina keeps disappearing off her sensors and doesnít seem very worried about that. She remembers Harper asking her about phase-shifting but doesnít connect that up to Satrina in any way. If I were her, and Harper suddenly blinked off scans, as he must have at the end of the episode, Iíd worry. There werenít enough diplomats to distract her that thoroughly. And Dylan didnít worry about any of this, nor did he worry when Harper and Trance took off in the Maru.

Was that the mess hall or Dylanís room Dylan left Satrina, whom he didnít trust, sitting alone in?


Still, hereís some more enjoyable dialogue:

Dylan: "And you explained it to them politely."
Beka: "I even used one-syllable words."
Dylan: "Ah. Condescension."
Beka: "Thatís four syllables."

Beka, on the Castalians: "Yeah, yeah. Let one little president get assassinated, and you never hear the end of it."

Rommie, when the party-crashing Charlemagne calls her captain "Dylan": "Captain. Hunt." With a sharp emphasis on the "Hunt" in case heís too stupid to get it.

Charlemagne: "My aide-de-campís fault, no doubt. Iíll make sure heís properly shot."

Harper, when Trance refuses to help him find the archive: "Iím still a little murky on the Ďcanítí versus Ďwonítí dichotomy."

Harper, saying that he wants the archive so he can get rid of his larvae: "Itís a going away present for someone Iíd really like to go away."

Dylan: "...and in case of an emergency, the ship can be piloted from the gunnery nose."
Charlemagne: "Emergency? You mean in the event that the command deck crew is reduced to a fine red mist and splattered across the walls in a bloody mural."
Dylan: "That would qualify, yes."

Rommieís very cute as she warms up to her topic of what a tesseract is and how it can be used to Harper, who may be one of the few people who will get what sheís talking about.

Harperís message as he leaves to get the archive: "Anyway, Iíll be back before you miss me. Because who knows how long that would be. Iíve gotta rustle up a load of parts, and with me gone thereís a much lower risk for a major diplomatic incident."

Beka, on the Castalians again: "I could say the fish people were floundering," interrupted by stern look from Dylan, "but that would be wrong."

Satrina: "No, Harper, I pretty much stabbed you in the front."

Harper: "Well, you know, not only am I the president of the Liarís Club for Men, Iím also a member. But you should know that, because youíre the chair of the ladyís auxiliary, and I use the term Ďladyí loosely."

Harper: "Forget it. Iím done listening to you. Did you really think Iíd play your stupid little games, huh? Tempt me, scare me, kiss me, snare me, give me a few convenient targets to try a little bit of god-like power on and boom! all of a sudden Iím Seamus Harper, foot soldier of the Apocalypse. Well, not me, honey. Iím nobodyís pawn."

Harper: "It figures. I finally meet a girl who says she wants me and sheís a dimension-shifting hellspawn from the outer darkness."

 

I give "Into the Labyrinth" a B-, and Iím only being that nice for all the Harperage. This episode should have been better.



January 21, 2002

#210 The Prince

When Dylan and Tyr rescue the last survivor of a royal family destroyed in a civil war, theyíre named co-regents and obligated to get him on his throne alive. Of course, they have different ideas on how to accomplish that.

 

It was an interesting episode but somehow lacking much spark. If you need a quick primer on the differences between Dylanís philosophy and Tyrís philosophy, this episode spells them out. As expressed here, Tyr sees ruthlessness and treachery as the first recourse, whereas Dylan will try to compromise and negotiate first, then bring in the heavy artillery and start the slaughter if that doesnít work. The discussion they have at the end has that usual fun snap and crackle, but most of the episode has them expressing their way of thinking to Prince Eric instead of one another. Prince Eric, played by a younger Matt Damon clone, is one of the thankless roles of all time, since heís a sullen brat who whines most of the episode.

As seen here, Tyr and Dylan are just about the only crew on the ship. Rommie shows up as a guest star, while Trance has two, short "move the plot along" scenes. Beka zips by with a gun at the beginning of the episode. Harper and Rev are nowhere to be seen, though for Rev thatís the usual this season. Itís enough to make you think that the bridge is uninhabited. Why is it that the showís writers canít have most or all of the ensemble interacting together in one room more than twice a season?

Rommie has some of the best scenes. When Dylan threatens back the cutter thatís making demands of him by detailing the awesome might of the Andromeda Ascendant, Rommie has this cocky, elaborately casual pose that screams, "Iím not one to toot my own horn, but I could blow you to hell in three seconds." Later, when Dylan calls in the giant battle Ďbots Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee to decimate the snipers and Eric says, "Youíre just like Tyr!" Rommie, whoís controlling the Dee and Dum, answers, "No, Iím better."

Ruthless Dylan and Rommie are one of the few kicks in this episode. They take total advantage of their greater firepower. We see season two Dylan again, who backs up his idealism with heavy artillery and iron-fisted pragmatism. As a greater bonus, the episode makes it very clear that he slaughtered Ericís enemies, since we get to see the bodies lined up on the grass.

Of course, that greater firepower lets a lot of the tension out of the episode. We know that nobody involved has the power to harm the Andromeda Ascendant or its crew. The biggest thing at risk for Dylan is that he canít get Eric on the throne as an ally against the Magog. That keeps the stakes very low, especially since we donít care much about Eric in his own right. We know that if Tyr pulled his double-cross off he wouldnít dare let the nobles he was dealing with pick Dylan off because he has to know that if he survived a sniper attack that killed Dylan, Rommie would figure heís involved and slaughter him herself. No way Dylanís death would get him control of the Andromeda Ascendant.

Hey, is there anyone who didnít immediately realize that the one surviving retainer was the guy who sabotaged the royal shipís slipstream drive? Anyone aside from Dylan, Tyr, Eric, and Trance, I mean.

 

I give "The Prince" a C. I might have given it a slightly better grade if I hadnít waited a month and a half for a new episode, then gotten this. Itís better and more interesting than "Last Call at the Broken Hammer." Then again, a root canal is better and more interesting than "Last Call at the Broken Hammer."

 

Next week: Revolution! Guns! Angst! Harper! Angsty Harper with a gun! It looks like weíre going to Earth, folks. Yee-haw!



January 27, 2002

#211 Bunker Hill

The Andromeda is drawn into a Drago-Kazov/Sabra-Jaguar war because Sabra-Jaguar, through Charlemagne Bolivar in "Into the Labyrinth," is part of Dylanís mutual defense pact. Meanwhile, Harper gets a message from his cousin on Earth saying that they heard about the strike against the Dragans and would be willing to provide ground support if the Andromeda helps free Earth from the Dragans. Dylan sends Harper and Rommie to mobilize the resistance on Earth, promising to send help in the form of an air strike if the rebels can get the Dragans out into the streets.

 

Of course, only Harper actually cares for Earth, which is considered just another slave world of no strategic importance to the rest of the crew. Dylan seems weirdly smug and superior when he tells Harper that he and Rommie are it as an advance group to Earth. Harper is not enthused. Heís supposed to rally people to stick their abused necks out to the Dragan Nietzschean oppressors on a promise that Andromeda will nail the Dragans after the ship finishes its space battle with the fleet? But Dylan promises, and Harper and Rommie go.

While the rest of the Andromeda crew fights and gets led into a Dragan trap by a stupid Elsbett Mossadim, who took matters with the Sabra-Jaguar fleet into her own hands, -- she was much smarter than this in her first Andromeda appearance in "The Honey Offering" -- Harper and Rommie rally the resistance, give them a few weapons, set some mines, give some tactical advice... and sit things out, watching people die. Rommie just gives advice and watches surveillance. She lends no help. Makes me wonder if she didnít want anyone to know sheís an android specifically so they wouldnít ask her to contribute more. She also looks annoyed when Harper goes out once to save his cousinís life.

Due to Elsbett sticking their necks in the trap, Dylan canít get to Earth as he promised. Did he think that he could finish off the Drago-Kazov fleet on a timetable? What happened to "No plan of battle survives the first engagement"? Anyway, there will be no surgical strike from the air. The resistance is on its own, and shall be crushed. The episode emphasizes that Dylan values his word, but apparently his promises to his crewmates donít rate as high. He does send Tyr in a small slipfighter to tell Harper to call it off. Tyr, a Nietzschean, which has to be insulting to a group of people fighting Nietzscheans. Tyr, Dylanís weapon master, to make sure the choice of sending Tyr of all people makes no sense. Harperís like, "Uh, how do I stop the rebellion now? And by the way, people are dying out there because we made a promise." Okay, thatís my paraphrase. One of the real quotes is a heartbroken "But Dylan always keeps his promises." Tyr doesnít volunteer the slipfighterís services in helping the rebels.

Everybodyís going to die, and Harper feels that itís his fault for rallying them to begin with.

Harper begs his cousin to call a halt to things somehow or at least come with him into space. Theyíll lose and theyíll die. Itís pointless. It turns out that Harperís parents died protecting him from a slaver raid. He sees his fatherís defiance as an act that got them killed and an example of when you shouldnít fight. His cousin says he canít leave or stop fighting, heís part of this. Harper is made to look like a total coward. Usually heís a character who prefers to talk his way free, but if he has to fight heíll throw himself at enemies much bigger than he is. About the only threat that backed him down during the first season was the Magog, and theyíre his personal demons. I kept waiting for the hard Harper to come out this episode, but it never happened.

Harper then leaves Earth with Rommie! Dylan finally gets his fleet free and is all "Iíll take this as a victory, letís go to Earth." Except that the rebellion has been brutally crushed and heís far too late.

How many millions probably died worldwide? We donít know.

Harper, looking very small and in a lot of emotional pain, figures his cousin is dead. Instead of even bothering to offer sympathy for Harperís guilt and dead, Dylan pours salt on the wound by handing him a transmission Brendon got out about rebellion and living free and all. Dylan says that other slave worlds are starting to revolt. Unspoken is that they will no doubt be crushed too. So, Dylan says, Brendan won, and so did Harper. Hereís Harper, probably thinking that if he hadnít brought up helping Earth none of this would have ever happened and his cousin would still be alive, while Dylanís all "Hey, how about those slave worlds?" Then he leaves Harper to grieve.

The End

Thank you, Dylan. Thank you so much. Thank you for giving Harper and Earth some hope by sending two people to do nothing, then failing to arrive. Thanks for failing to see that as having done something wrong. There is no excuse for doing it so half-assed. There is no excuse for putting it on a split-second timetable. Dylan had delusions of godhood that didnít pan out, that killed millions of people, then didnít even have the decency to apologize. I wanted to kick Dylan in the head.

And I still canít believe Harper didnít fight and I definitely canít believe he took off. Yeah, heís a main character on the show and canít stay on Earth, but running off to leave his cousin to die is not what he would have done. Weíre given no onscreen support for this aside from cowardice, which is out of character. If the authors had made Rommie coldcock Harper and carry him away it would have made much more sense. [ed. note: I found out on a SlipstreamWeb forum that a scene of Rommie threatening him if he didnít get on the Maru and saying that she couldnít bear to lose him here had been filmed but cut for time. Arrrrrrgh.]

Now I assume that we shall never hear of Earth again, since nobody but Harper cared to begin with. With no strategic importance and any ground support crushed, Earth will be left to itself.

Dylan has some good moments, like when he says to the Dragan general, "You didnít talk to Cuchulain about me before you executed him, did you?" But his cheesy 80s track suit is distracting as all hell. Plus there was this smugness about him throughout--"Earth doesnít matter." :::"Iím Captain Terrific" smile::: "Unless we make it matter."--that not even having millions of people die because he made too many promises breaks.

My dad, who doesn't even like Harper: "I would never trust Dylan again. He's not even human."

Gordon Michael Woolvett is great as Harper throughout, trying his utmost to sell his script. Heís always acting and reacting. Harperís story about him, Brendan, and Isaac is subtly done yet powerful. His initially halting but slowly building speech to rally the rebels is really well done. "Singapore... Johannesburg...." Harper wants to believe that Dylan will come in time--itís Dylan--yet he canít entirely believe and it kills him to have to tell the rebels with such certainty that their backup will arrive. All of that comes through.

Beka gets to show off her stuff, and she does it without the braid extension. Hearing her trying to soften Rommieís "Earth is just another slave world of no strategic importance, so why should we care?" for Harper was appreciated. Brendan is good, very effective, and the scenes between him and Harper really give the feeling that these characters have history together. Tyr is excellent... and more sympathetic to Harperís plight than Dylan is! Did they switch brains? My favorite Tyr moment has to be his reaction to Elsbettís attempted seduction. Elsbett is ballast here. And do we have to look forward to having a seductress of the week on the show now every time we have female character show up?

The exterior shots of Earth are mostly bad, but the underground warren, which looks like it was a subway station once, the Bostonians live in is a well-realized, skanky environment. Yeah, we now have canon reinforcement of Seamus Harper OnlineĎs assertion that Harper is from Massachusetts. Check out the American flag in the background in some shots. The people look legitimately dirty and downtrodden.

I give "Bunker Hill" a B-. It was suspenseful and I cared about Brendan and the rebels and Harper. The episode would have gotten a higher grade if not for Coward!Harper and EgoWritingChecksHeCanítCashAndNotSorryAboutIt!Dylan.

 

Next week: Time travel, alternate realities, and the crew in jeopardy. Someone will go, someone will be saved, someone will be changed forever, lots of someones will wear weird costumes.... Harperís Magog infestation goes into overdrive. Big changes for Rev and Trance.



February 8, 2002

#212 Ouroboros

As Harperís infestation takes a turn for the worse, the crew faces distortions in time and space.

 

Robert Hewitt Wolfe sure does a great swan song, since "Ouroboros" has action thatís well done for the first time in a long time balanced with great character moments and momentous changes. Except for a few small things, the episode left me very happy.

We bid an official farewell to Rev Bem, whoís been MIA for most of the season anyway. Poor Brent Strait must have had a major problem with the makeup because he couldnít even don it for his final episode, instead providing a voice dub for another actor in the costume. A "Dear John" hologram message lets us know that Rev, his faith broken, is leaving the Andromeda crew to go walkabout and find himself again. Or something. And he apparently didnít bother to do any research into a cure for Harperís infestation the way heíd promised to. Itís not terribly surprising that Rev is all platitudes and no action after all.

Harper, understandably, is upset. Another promise to him broken. (As Dylan had--by necessity and stupid planning--broken his promise to help Earth rebel against the Drago-Kazov Pride last episode in "Bunker Hill," costing millions of people and probably Harperís cousin their lives.) Since Trance doesnít seem to be working on a cure either, it looks like itís all up to Harper. Explaining why heís upset to Dylan, who went after him after he stormed off the bridge, he gets hit by another attack by his larvae, and this time the medicine isnít making them settle down. Dylan is panicked and obviously feeling helpless watching Harperís pain and shouts out a code red for immediate medical aid.

Trance confirms that the larvae are now immune to the medicine. Harper has a week to live before they hatch. The poor guy, obviously at the end of his rope, still has to do the work for everybody by demanding to go to Sinti to get Perseid help. He gets Dylan to promise to kill him if the Magoglets start to hatch.

The Perseid Höhne returns to the show, this time with an assistant, and heís excited by the opportunity to work on a machine that should manipulate strings and tesseracts (since Harper intends to try to expand on Satrinaís tesseract technology to remove the larvae using the implant from "Into the Labyrinth"). Having an interactive subject like Harper is great too. Harper finds their glee inappropriate--obviously--but canít argue with the results. Höhne and Rekeebís input is bringing the machine to completion faster.

Rommie is upset at the thought that they might be forced to mercy kill Harper. As she and Dylan do some repairs--since Harper is otherwise occupied--she tells Dylan that she may have started out thinking that the Maru crew was untrustworthy and "unprofessional," but she never had an engineer as close to her as Harper is. In fact, she doesnít think she ever had a crewmember as close to her. Dylan says that theyíve become family, "even Tyr." Rommie is regretful, saying that they shouldnít have deviated from military detachment, making me wonder how sheíd react to Harperís death. Dylan says that itís far too late to change things. "They needed us, and the truth is... we needed them. Theyíre all we have."

Moments later, Dylan suddenly finds himself 300 years back in time as the Andromeda Ascendant faces the Nietzschean ambush. When he gets back to the present, heís no longer in the same area he was before. His first thought is that he may finally be cracking from the strain of having lost everything heíd known, with the latest stressors of Revís departure and Harperís death sentence being the final straw. Yet he disappeared from Rommieís sensors for a while and had come back at a different part of the ship.

Rommie suspects that Harperís machine might be responsible, but it hasnít even been completed or started working yet.

While still working on the machine in machine shop 17 with the disturbingly giggly Perseids, Harper sees the door open and an obviously confused Tyr walk in. Bare-chested, Tyr gives the impression that heíd just come out of the bathroom or something. Heíd walked through the doorway expecting his bedroom to be on the other side. Being Tyr, he grabs Harper by the scruff of his neck and demands to know what heíd done.

The next thing they find on the other side of that doorway is open space, which, as vacuum tends to do, tries to suck them out of the ship. Harper manages to save Rekeeb from sliding out, getting a major déjà vu moment since he saw himself doing this at the beginning of the episode while the Magoglets were partying in his gut, while Tyr deliberately lets go so he could pull Höhne inside and shut the door. Sure, it looked like Tyr had risked his life to save Höhneís, but he probably just wanted to get the doorway clear so he could close it. Thinking things like that probably lets him sleep a just Nietzschean sleep at night.

Hearing about the incident, Dylanís really upset, because machine shop 17 is at least 50 meters away from the shipís hull, making the whole thing impossible.

Harperís machine was spindling and mutilating time and space even before he finished it. Or, rather, after he finished and used it in the future.

As time/space distortions are opening up all over the ship and Sinti, Dylan and Rommie struggle to get to the bridge, Trance and Beka face spontaneously appearing Kalderans on the Maru, and Harper, Tyr, Höhne, and Rekeeb get Ďported around the ship then threatened by some High Guard officers from 300 years ago. Tyr, whom the officers target for being Nietzschean, splits off to run and do battle with them while Harper and the Perseids try to find machine shop 17 and dismantle the machine. Höhne had set robots to finishing it in their absence. Oops. Well, itís not like he knew this would happen.

Robo-Beka

Harper, getting random attacks from the spawn all the while, has to rally the Perseids, who are now wondering if all of this means that everything is predetermined. Dylan, separated from Rommie, really gets upset and commands the doorway to open to the bridge. Good try, guy. When he meets up with Rommie by random chance, she lets him know that she sees the pattern to the distortions, so they manage to find the bridge at last and get the ship away from Sinti so the distortions would stop spreading there. Beka is saved by her future, horribly-scarred cyborg self. Trance trades places with a Trance from that future after Future Trance Warrior Princess tells her that things had gone very wrong, and this was a way they might make things right. Beka trusts the haughty, non-purple Future Trance not at all but consents to follow her to the machine shop, hoping that Tranceís luck will lead them right.

Past, present, and future Trance

Höhne dies after Harper and the Perseids are literally dropped into the engine room. If Rekeeb had helped Harper pull Höhne up onto the catwalk instead of whimpered and cringed, maybe they could have saved him. But Rekeeb didnít. Höhneís hand slips off Harperís shoulder and then slides out of his grip, with Harper almost going over the railing and falling to his death with Höhne.

After showing up in the Maru and getting shot at by Kalderans, Harper hands Rekeeb a gun and tells him to help defend himself. On their next Ďport they run into Beka and new Trance. Harper happily accepts a hug from Beka but turns his gun on the dread-locked warrior princess who tells him that if he wants to live, heíll follow her.

Finally they find machine shop 17, right after Dylan and Rommie do. The machine is done. Dylan is all "címon, use it," but Harper says that HöhneĎs death makes things more complicated. If they used the machine to try to cure Harper, Höhne would stay wrongfully dead. If they destroyed the machine, making sure it couldnít ever be turned on, Höhne would live and scary Trance would be replaced again by cute, purple but still Machiavellian Trance. All Harper has to do is destroy his only chance at a cure. They also have to decide soon because the stresses of the day have worsened Harperís condition and left him minutes to live.

Rekeeb gets tired of listening to them debate it and takes matters into his own hands by threatening them with the gun Harper had given him to defend himself against attackers. He wants them to destroy the machine to bring Höhne back. Tyr and an attack of invading Magog attack stops the standoff by distracting Rekeeb and letting Dylan disarm him. After much cathartic shooting of the Magog by the entire Andromeda crew, the attack is over and itís decision time.

Dylan puts the decision into Harperís hands, a hard burden in general but far worse for someone whoís weak and sick. Harper decides that Höhne, being a genius and far more important than him (Beka immediately refutes that) and his friend, should live. He canít go through a cure that would cost Höhneís life. Heíll destroy the machine. Himself(!!!!). Dylan, perhaps trying to make him change his mind, reminds him what will have to be done if he isnít cured and the eggs start to hatch. Tyr interrupts to say that he, not Dylan, will mercy kill Harper because he made a promise. Yep, Dylan gets subtly pounded on the promise thing again.

But as Harper turns back to shoot the machine, Future Trance turns it on, removing the larvae and settling things permanently. Also making sure that she doesnít get sent back to the future.

When Harper comes to, heís depressed that his salvation resulted in Höhneís death. Rommie says that all he can do now is earn it. So, what are they going to do with the machine?

Dylan has a talk with the haughty Trance Warrior Princess, saying that at least before he felt that his aims and hers coincided. He wonders why he should trust her now that sheís an unknown quantity with a self-announced goal to stop things from leading to a supposedly horrible future. He asks how saving Harper achieves her goals. She says that it didnít, it might have even made things worse, which leads me to infer that in her timeline Harper died. She did it because Höhneís a stranger and Harperís her friend.

Dylan chooses to see that as honesty and a good start.

Even with all the action, we get to see plenty of great character moments. Dylan looks lost and obviously feels helpless in the face of Revís departure and Harperís deteriorating condition. When Harper crumples in front of him, he helps him lie down and actually puts the medicine atomizer right to Harperís mouth for him, trying to do something. Listening to Dylanís panicked muttering here is interesting. In the scene in which he warps back 300 years itís obvious how much he misses these people. No wonder heís reduced to loudly trying to command doorways and time/space distortions to do his bidding. He passive-aggressively tries to get Harper to use the machine with his eyes and that "you know what Iíll have to do," which isnít admirable since heís the one who put the decision on Harper in the first place, but maybe he never thought that Harper would actually be willing to die to get Höhne back. It was really nice to hear Dylan acknowledge that his new crew has become family to him.

Beka is concerned and ferocious in the defense of her self-made family, and Future Beka kicks ass. Lisa Ryder portrays the two Bekas as different people who come from the same source and conveys a great deal of emotion in Future Bekaís brief scene. Laura Bertram also does great work as the two Trances, with purple Trance being sweeter and ditzier and obviously not very happy with what she turned into. Future Tranceís haughtiness and mostly bared breasts in their leather bustier already annoy me. I really miss the purpleness and the now long-gone tail. With Rev also off the show now, the crew now longer has anyone all that alien looking. But at least she can fight, though she better not be able to fight too well.

Tyrís scene in which he says that heíll mercy kill Harper since he promised it is very emotional. Itís obvious that heís become very attached, and he looks hurt when Harper tells him not to enjoy killing him too much. Even so, it seems that Tyrís emphasis on having promised Harper something is also a jab at Dylan. Multi-layered and nicely done.

Rommieís snarky and protective, though perhaps I better amend that by saying that Android Rommie is. Android Rommie is becoming more and more her own person, as evidenced by the ridiculous blue wig sheís now wearing. But I can deal with the wig if the show follows through on the thought that sheís becoming more autonomous from her ship self, perhaps going through a teenage stage of rebellion.

Harper is excellent, prickly and in pain and cracking jokes and kicking ass and trying to be brave and sacrificing himself. And saving his own ass, since everybody who promised to help him welshed. Gordon Michael Woolvett has a lot to carry here, and he makes it look effortless. A nice rapport is shown between him and Höhne to support the later assertion that Höhne was Harperís friend and Harper would be willing to die for him. Despite Harperís cynicism, thereís a kind of hopefulness to him, as shown in the scene where he says that through sheer will he intends to shape the future and in a later scene that humans donít give up. He retains his sense of humor as a shield in bad situations, such as the contortion he does to illustrate what the machine might do to him if he screws it up and is twisted into an "abstract painting. ĎHarper Descending Staircase.í" (And I love it that Höhne chuckles at the sight.)

Some sites have deplored the showís violence, but I appreciate that itís violence with a purpose and consequences. I believe that The A-Team style of violence, in which everyone gets out of their overturned cars alive and uninjured and nobodyís seriously hurt despite all the punching and shooting, is far more harmful to the audience.

And how glad am I that the show didnít cynically hold back on a resolution to poor Harperís infestation until May sweeps? Very, very glad. Heís alive and deloused! Whoooo!


Some favorite bits of dialogue:

Trance: "ĎThe darkest placesí? I donít like the sound of that."
Harper: "Me neither. I say we track him down and drag him back here whether he wants to come or not."
Tyr: "Heís a free... being. Heís made his will known."

Dylan: "Harper. Harper, are you in here?"
Harper: "No!"

Rommie: "The problem is, I wasnít programmed or equipped as a science vessel. My expertise runs more along the lines of making things explode."

Dylan, to doorway: "Oh, come on! I am getting sick and tired of this cut and paste ship! Okay, hereís the deal: you will open onto the command deck, and that is an order. On three. One. Two. Three!"

Harper: "I donít believe in destiny, I donít even believe in density, except in the hands of Perseids. Itís a compliment. I believe in Seamus Zelazny Harper, I cogito, therefore I sum. And I sum to cogito that damned machine out of existence. Capisce?"
Höhne: "I do. I actually do. You seek to defy fate through a sheer act of will."
Harper: "Yeah, baby. You better believe it. A man makes his own density."
Höhne: "Destiny."
Harper: "Yeah, that too."

Rekeeb: "Your human tendency toward violence--"
Harper: "--pales before my human tendency not to give up."

Beka: "You can see probabilities, right? Glimpse into the future?"
Future Trance: "Sometimes."
Beka: "Good. Then you know whatíll happen if I find out youíre lying to me."

Harper: "Follow you? We donít even know you."

Dylan, on mercy killing Harper: "Harper. If we destroy this machine, you know what Iím gonna have to do."
Tyr: "What someone will have to do. I made him a promise. Iíll keep it."
Harper: "Thanks. Just try not to enjoy it, okay?"

Dylan: "Oh. Well. Thatís a change in a way."
Future Trance: "What?"
Dylan: "Honesty."

 

For its masterful blend of great characterization and nicely performed action sequences, "Ouroboros" gets an A-. I docked it a few points from how stupid the Kalderans still look, my wariness of the new Trance, and annoyance that the crew would be willing to let a family member die to save Höhne and then make it even worse by putting the burden of the decision on Harper, whoís been sick and stressed for months.

Now lets hope that, having shown what it can do while working on all cylinders, the show doesnít turn into the Kevin Sorbo Action Hour as Sorbo has been suggesting in interviews on and off.

 

Next week (well, this weekend by now): Dylan hijacks a cruise ship to escape from attackers and teams up with a poor manís Beka clone. Argh. But Iím still hopeful that there will be more to the plot, since "Pitiless as the Sun"Ďs preview looked like all Trance but actually spent most of its time in a more interesting plot involving the rest of the crew and gave us the wonderful Dylan/Beka/Harper conversation and introduction to the new bridge.



February 11, 2002

#213 Lava and Rockets

Dylan hijacks a cruise ship and its pilot to escape killer mercenaries.

 

"Lava and Rockets" ::cringing at the name:: had three plots going on. Of those three:

Plot A: On the run from killer mercenaries, Dylan commandeers a tour ship and kidnaps its pilot. He gets ever more out of character as the plot goes on, culminating in the audience having to ask who this naked guy in the bed is who replaced our regularly scheduled Dylan who doesnít throw everything he cares for aside in favor of impressing the chippie heís having a fling with.

Plot B: Rommie and Tyr ride out in search of Dylan to rescue him and snipe at one another almost the whole time like the two bitchiest poodles in the universe. Lots of fun.

Plot C: Harper is having problems dealing with the new Trance, especially since heís feeling ever more like maybe sheís the Biggest Bad of all, manipulating them for her secret agenda. Excellent.

 

The worst thing about Plot A is that it starts out fairly promisingly. Molly, the pilot Dylan kidnaps, is too perky and a lot like a poor manís Beka but without the edge, yet sheís not brainless. I kind of like her. Then she and Dylan start sucking face at unlikely times, turning Plot A into a poor manís copy of Speed.

By the time the remains of her tour ship is falling through the atmosphere about to burn up, with Rommie and Tyr fighting to save it, and she and Dylan are making out, I wanted to throw things at the screen. Then they follow that with Dylan and Molly gratuitously post-coitus in bed together--let me take a moment to shudder--as Big Daddy Smooth Dylan gives her a letter of recommendation to the military academy on Mobius. Not that sheís a great pilot or engineer, but maybe Dylan feels guilty about destroying her ship and career. But giving it to her after a bout of sex just feels smarmy and high-handed beyond belief, like itís her payment for putting out. It canít get uglier, I thought. Oh, was I wrong. He could get Molly to the academy in 24 hours, but instead lets her convince him to take her on a three-week cruise. Using the Andromeda Ascendant as the cruise ship. (Somewhere off-screen Rommieís no doubt ranting, "Now Iím a cruise ship ferrying my captainís bimbos around?!?")

Uh, Dylan, what happened to reestablishing the Commonwealth and fighting the Magog? He doesnít seem too worried that the Ogami mercenaries wanted him dead while he doesnít know why or who was behind it either. Get the guy laid and all his principles and concerns evaporate? Iím sure his crew will be thrilled to have three weeks devoted to Dylanís chippie.

Rommie has a great moment of disgust as she tells Dylan that "his friend" is waiting in his room for him. Sheís probably wondering how he could go out for armaments and come back with a blonde instead. Sheís probably also considering putting Molly into a missile tube and shooting her out into space.

But I loved the corrupt cops in Plot A, who demand an incarceration fee, an arrest fee, a wasting-our-time fee....

In Plot B, Tyr seems actually broken up that he was commanded to leave Dylan behind. Rommie, of course, doesnít trust this for a moment and wonders if Tyr killed Dylan, so Android Rommie goes with him in search of her beloved captain. Rommie and Tyr needle each other at various times. She doesnít trust him. He knows that she has a thing for Dylan. After Tyr gives a speech about Dylan being "a man who is not and may never be my enemy," Rommie realizes and tells him that Tyr considers Dylan to be a friend but canít quite deal with it and gives Tyr a further kick in the ass by saying that she knows that the one thing heís afraid of is being alone. By the end of their plotline, they arrive at a temporary truce.

Android Rommieís wig is a bit better this week, and her punk dominatrix wear is a gas. Matrix-style badass Rommie makes a return appearance, running along walls and corkscrewing through space. She gladly and ruthlessly uses the fact that she looks like an attractive woman along with her ass-kicking and bone-crushing talents to get things done.

Tyr loses a kind of friend and is obviously hurt by it. Between that and his horror at the thought that Dylan might be dead, he continues to become more attached to the rest of the crew and open this season. Which doesnít mean he canít still rip out an enemyís eyes with his arm spurs. Iím really liking him.

Some nice Rommie and Beka scenes straddle Plots B and C. They seem very comfortable and snarky together, like when Rommie jabs at Bekaís fashion sense and Beka jabs right back.

In Plot C, we find out that Beka doesnít trust the new Trance at all--watch her (and Rommie!) step back when Trance steps forward on the bridge--but she feels that they have to be able to work together. Harper doesnít trust Trance and has no intentions of working with her. He obviously gets a very frightening vibe off her. And, with her cushioning sweetness and ditziness gone along with her purple hue, leaving only hard determination showing, itís harder for him to pretend that he doesnít think she has a secret agenda that might be dangerous to them. He actually flat out tells her this. When Trance answers his accusation by saying that she used to think he was the smartest person she knew but now she thinks she was as wrong about him as he is about her, she might as well be yelling, "Yes, itís all true! All of it!"

Beka comes by as his captain (and sounds Mom-ish as she talks about their "sibling squabble") to demand that he work with Trance, though he's not obligated to trust her or like her. He lets her know exactly what his problems with Trance are--he can deal with "quirky and mysterious" but not "cosmically frightening"--and Beka sympathizes, but Trance is sticking around, so.... She softens it a bit by squeezing his shoulder as she leaves--taking off the captain hat to be Beka again, his friend--continuing the habit of touching him more that started while he was infested with the Magog eggs.

He reluctantly but sweetly buries the hatchet with Trance, though Iím sure he still doesnít trust her as far as he can throw her.

Plot C also has a nice moment in which Harper tells Rommie that during the re-evaluation of his life he did when he thought he was going to die, thinking of the things he wanted to do but would never get a chance to, he realized that heís already doing his dream job by taking care of his "pretty little starship." Heís happy.

Itís great that the crew is not adjusting well to the new Trance or immediately accepting her. Of course, sheís not helping by alternately demanding to be treated the same as ever while obviously enjoying their discomfiture over her differences.

However, this audience member would be much happier not having to watch moments like when Tranceís breasts enter the access tube with great fanfare before the rest of her does. The leather corset with boob shelf has to go, especially since the character is now supposed to be a warrior. What, was the future so depressing that Trance ate more and thus needed a heavy-duty foundation garment to control her figure?

Laura Bertram does a great job as the new Trance, still giving a menacing vibe but mixing in a little bit of the old Tranceís smiles and wide-eyed routine to make herself more palatable to her old friends.

You might be tired of me praising Gordon Michael Woolvett as Harper, but heís just really subtle and good, okay? He conveys a lot just with a flicker of his eyes, twist of his mouth, or lift of his shoulder.

Some favorite bits of dialogue:

Rommie: "Itís the repetition of being shot at that I find so annoying. I would like just one day where I can build missiles and tweak fire control in peace."
Beka: "We definitely need to find you a hobby."
Rommie: "That is my hobby."

Trance: "Youíre still not used to it, are you? The new me." ::steps forward::
Beka, stepping back with Rommie stepping back behind her too: "Honestly? Itís not every day that you watch one of your best friends walk into the future, change places with herself, then walk out again, so no, Iím not used to it."

Tyr: "If we find him alive, then I must be innocent, and you owe me an apology."
Rommie: "And if we find him alive, Iíll give you one. But if we find him otherwise Iíll give you something else entirely. Do we understand each other?"
Tyr: "My lady, I imagine in all your years no one has ever accused you of being obscure."

Tyr: "And Iím the reincarnation of Drago Museveni."
Ferahr: "With that hair?"

Trance: "I know that I seem different to you, but everyone changes."
Harper: "Yeah, points of view, attitudes, weight, underwear even, but you, itís like youíre not you anymore and now Iím not even sure you ever were you to begin with, if you know what I mean."
Trance: "No, explain it for me."
Harper: "All right. Over the past year weíve run into so many nasty, evil, jerk-headed goofball pieces of work Iíve lost count--Kalderans, Nietzscheans, Magog, crazy starships--you name it, and itís attacked us, and I canít help wondering if thatís all one big coincidence or if maybe the biggest bad guy--or girl--of all hasnít been with us, right here, all along, watching and waiting and looking for any opportunity to manipulate us into serving whatever unspeakable ends might be knocking around her formerly purple noggin. Ring any bells?"
Trance: "You know, there was a time when I thought you were the smartest person I had ever met, but listening to you now.... If that is what you think then I am as wrong about you as you are about me."

Ferahr: "Iím not lying to you!"
Tyr: "You havenít said anything!"

 

Plot A: D- (Iíd give it an F, but the plot started out okay. Then again, I had to see Kevin Sorbo getting it on for no damned reason. Arrrrgh. Why is this the main plot? Oh, hell, Iím still staying with a D-.)
Plot B: B+
Plot C: B+

The extreme highs and smarmy lows of "Lava and Rockets" make it hard to rate the episode as a whole.

 

Next week: Costas Mandylor looks like an idiot in his cyborg drag as Bekaís psycho ex-boyfriend Bobby, but thereís Beka and Harper backstory, which Iíve been waiting eagerly for, and Dylan abuse, so I am so there. Check out red-haired Beka and ratty, fresh-from-Earthís-tunnels Harper! ::grins:: Though Iím still dying over Harper drawling like somebody from Deliverance, "I gotta get me one of those...."



February 19, 2002

#214 Be All My Sins Remembered

Beka is forced to face her past when an old crewmember resurfaces.

 

Beka and Tyr start the episode off having the time of their lives doing hand to hand sparring. Tyr says that this great warship theyíre on is making them complacent, so they have to be able to fight, with tooth and nail if need be. Beka responds to that by getting out of his stranglehold by sinking her teeth into the web of skin between his thumb and forefinger, then flipping him. Theyíre rolling around, choking one another, grinning madly. Eventually Bekaís on top of him, hands around his neck, saying that she prefers to shoot people, preferably from behind a big rock.

When Dylan walks in, Beka and Tyr have their hands around each otherís necks, Bekaís on top of Tyr, and heís growling playfully. Dylan assumes he walked in during an intimate moment and turns away a bit, asking whatís going on. Tyrís laughing, with Beka swatting Tyr and saying, "Shut up." She explains that itís hand to hand combat.

Dylan tells her that she got a message about a Robert Jensen, and she asks what trouble heís into this time. Dylan says Bobby was killed by a landmine and has her listed as next of kin. Sheís supposed to go for the funeral. She says that surely Dylan wonít let her go, they have an evacuation of a planet to do--it sounds like she wants an excuse not to go--and he says no, she can go.

When Tyr asks about the next of kin thing, Beka says that Bobby was the love of her life. He looks upset at the prospect.

Trance wants to go on the Maru with Beka, but Beka says sheís over Bobby and doesnít need the help. Undertone: Trance still scares the hell out of her.

Then Dylan says heís coming along. He wonít open the bay doors to let the Maru out unless she agrees to let him come. Very paternalistic on his part, which is interesting on a character basis though annoying on a personal one. She gives him a hunted, annoyed look and says fine, come then. Harper slides down the ladder and takes that as a yes for him too.

Beka says that sheís touched that everyone is so concerned about her mental state, but-- Harper says that itís not all about that. He wants to make sure Bobbyís dead. He mimes shooting unwanted ex-boyfriend five times, the last time looking like a crotch shot. There is so utterly no love lost there. When Dylan asks if Harper always keeps grudges going against dead people, Beka explains it by saying that Bobby inspired strong emotions.

Thereís a really nice Harper/Dylan scene where Dylanís choosing a Maru bunk for himself--Harper saying that the Maru doesnít have officerís quarters here--and then Harper tells him about Bobby. Dylan hits his head on some tubing in the cramped quarters, having taken Vexpagís(?) bunk--the dead crewmember last mentioned in the pilot episode--while Harperís on the bunk above, hanging his head over a bit, seeming very comfortable with his perch. Dylan wants to know about Bobby. Harper rummages through some clothes on the bunk heís on, wildly flinging things around, until he finds a small projector. "You wanna meet Bobby? This is Bobby."

Lunky Costas Mandylor comes up in image form, having been recorded by a fresh-off-the-Earth-streets Harper. "We are shipmates, we are not friends. This tugboat belongs to Beka Valentine; Beka belongs to me. You mess with either of them, Iíll kill you dead." An image of a deeply spiked-haired and ratty Harper shows up as he comes close to check out Bobbyís cerebral port. When he gets close, Bobby wallops him across the face. End of clip.

"You see?" Harper asks. Dylan looks kind of chastened, but says, "You donít like people touching your port either." Harper answers, "Yeah, but when I hit, I hit out of love." Harper says that Bobby felt threatened by him, at which point Dylan asks how, since Bobby massed so much higher than Harper does. Harper makes a comment about being jealous of his good looks and worried about Beka going for Harper. Beka cuts in over the comm to tell Dylan not to let Harper show him whatís under his pillow.

Dylan: "What do you have under your pillow?"
Harper: "Nothing!"

Great banterage all around.

They come out of slipstream straight into a minefield. After taking some bad hits, they come to full stop and send out an SOS, then turn off all their power for fear that some of the mines might detect electromagnetic emissions. So they get out some emergency lanterns. Harper says itíll be like camping, not that he ever actually camped. Beka asks if anyone knows any campfire stories. Dylan, nosy Parker that he is, wants her to tell the story of Bobby Jensen. She says that Dylan would have liked Bobby, which makes Harper snort. So in flashback we see red-haired Beka and Bobby fighting side by side. A bad background check on her employer led her to some trouble.

Sheís surprised he stuck around, since most of her partners donít.
"What cause are you fighting for, Bobby Jensen?"
"You."
"We have so much in common."

They find out that the aboriginal population on the planet is being abused by the colonists, who are few but have nukes. Bobby tries to organize a union of the slave workers, which makes him unpopular with the bosses. Dylan is all "I think I would like him." Harperís just about exploding with "oh please."

Next flashback is post-Beka and Bobby sex. Bekaís admiring Bobbyís muscular form, then asking about their next shipment. Bobby is picking up computers on Earth with the help of this Earth street kid named Seamus something or other Harper. Kid thinks Bobby will get him off the planet. But Bobby believes in "traveling light," so once he gets what he wants from the kid.... Yeah, Beka, Bobbyís the great kind of guy who would promise a desperate kid a ticket off Earth, use him, then dump him. Bekaís not entirely happy about lying to the kid, but not totally against it. "Just donít ever lie to me."

Present time:
Harper: "You see!"
Beka: "I stuck up for you, and I didnít even know you yet."
Harper gives her such a look....
Beka: "Besides, he saved your life."
Harper: "What? When?"

Flashback again. Harper and Beka come through the door. Harper is totally ratty punk in old, stained clothes and a beat-up leather jacket, with hair in spikes like HarperConstructís in "Into the Labyrinth" but grungy looking, and with an earring in his left ear. Completely feral wolf child. All attitude. I donít know if itís the dirt or the hair or the layers of ratty clothing or what, but he really does manage to look younger in the flashbacks.

As theyíre grabbing their shipment, he asks her why she stays with a steroid case like Bobby when sheís so hot and smart and could have anyone she wants. Beka and Harper get pinned down in a firefight with Nietzscheans, and Bobby comes in with a serious gun and blows all the enemies away. That usefulness and protectiveness is why Beka stays with him, she says.

In present time, Harper obviously feels that it doesnít count as saving his life. Which it doesnít really, since Bobby was saving Beka and the shipment. Dylan says that Harper will have to try harder to make him believe that Bobby had it in for him. Bekaís looking at Bobby through the eyes of love, but whatís Dylanís excuse?

Harper: "But I saved the day."
Beka: "You were such a newbie that Iím happy you werenít spacesick all over the Maru."

Harper and Beka

Flashback: Theyíre on the Maru, and Harper is awestruck as theyíre passing the moon. Heíd never been in space before. Hey, heíd never been more than three clicks out of the human ghetto in Boston before. He comes in close to Beka, whoís piloting, and does an almost animalistic sniff of her from a few inches away. "I like it. The air donít stink here."
"Filtered fresh daily."

Then theyíre getting shot at, which Harper does not like.
Beka: "Missile to the aft cargo pod by the feel of it. Whatís the matter, no one ever shot at you before?"
Harper: "Yeah, but Iíve never been shot in the aft."

They fly into Saturnís rings to try to cloak themselves from their Nietzschean pursuit. Beka wants to dump the cargo, since computers arenít worth her life. Bobby is dead set against it, since the aborigines need the shipment. Harper tries to get a word in, but both Beka and Bobby are against that. Mommy and Daddy are talking, so why donít you go play somewhere else, is pretty much what Beka says. As Harperís leaving, he says he canít believe she didnít think sheíd get pursued after stealing all those missiles from the Nietzscheans.
Beka: "You told me those were computers!"
Bobby: "They have computers in them!"

Harper has the most gleefully spiteful look on his face as he leaves the room, because he knows Beka is pissed. And she totally is. Bobby says that he knew sheíd never take the job if she knew they were missiles. She says that damned straight she wouldnít, and she told him never to lie to her. As they walk out, Bobby sees Harper in one of the crates, grabs him by the neck, and hoists him up a ladder. Harper says he wasnít ruining them, heís just mechanically inclined and could make them better. (It seems that Harper was just a mechanic when he first joined up, at least thatís the impression you get from the dialogue. Plus, he was chosen because he could help get them in, not for being an engineer or mechanic. He picked up the science background during his years with the Maru crew. Which makes a lot of sense.) Beka has no trouble with Bobby putting someone in a stranglehold, since sheís still dwelling on Bobbyís personal betrayal even if Bobby is saying that heís doing it to help the aborigines. After Bobby lets him out of that first chokehold against the wall and then turns in Harperís direction, Harper just about jumps back and puts his arm up to shield his face, instinctively prepared to be hit.

Theyíre getting shot at again now. Beka has Harper adjust the missiles a little. When she asks if he did it right, he answers, "Is my name Seamus Zelazny Harper?" Beka, whoís been calling him all kinds of things like "Schmendrick" and "Cooper" before this, replies, "God, I hope not." But when she tries to dump the missiles she finds out that Bobby has locked out her control of the ship using his data port and is piloting them to Cascada as he planned. Harper really, really wants a port of his own now.

She tells him to go stop Bobby. Harperís not having it, since Bobbyís "big and scary" while heís "small and cute." She grabs him by the shirt and says that as crew heíll do what she says. He asks if that means sheís giving him a place to stay. She says she will if he obeys her. He agrees. (This puts an interesting spin on that moment in "It Makes a Lovely Light" when Flash-fried Beka tells him that if he doesnít go away sheíll dump him "back on the trash heap" where she found him. Not only does this threat make him back off fast, it also apparently strikes terror in him. This piece of "Be All My Sins Remembered" suggests that his obedience was always a requirement for his stay on the Maru. Once again I wonder: Has she made this threat to him at other times?)

Harper drops down on Bobby from above, knocking him down, rips out the port connection, and tries to do the release manually, but heís not sure what heís looking for. Bobby grabs him around the neck and starts to squeeze, while Harperís bouncing around trying to get loose, attempting to get leverage by jumping the lower part of his body up to put his feet on the top railing to try to make his body level enough to slide out.

Beka aims her gun at Bobby and tells him to let Harper go. Bobby gets all superior about good causes and helping people, which Beka responds to by saying that she is her own cause and she wants to live to get rich. Bobby lets Harper go, and Harper does the release under Bekaís command. The missiles flying out destroy the pursuing ships. Unable to trust Bobby now, Beka tells him to go. Present time Beka says she wasnít evolved enough at the time to go with him, though she sometimes wishes she had. Harper feels that sheís better off without Bobby, and now Bobbyís dead so why think about it?

She says that Bobby was right, that a cause did choose her, and that was "you guys." Harper smiles at her and rubs her back, while Dylan agrees that things did work out for the best.

At which time cyborg Bobby, his current trashy girlfriend in vinyl and chains, and an aborigine in vinyl and chains invade. Yeah, Bobby set the mines and lured them here. Beka says that heís changed.
Bobby: "Didnít you get the message? I died."
Harper: "Not enough."

It turns out that present time Bobby got the aborigines to rise up, but theyíre seriously outclassed with their slingshots and bottles against nukes. He wants Bekaís help and has no problems demanding it at gunpoint. He wants the Andromeda to nuke three major cities. Beka and Dylan say theyíd help him negotiate a peace, but Bobby doesnít want a peace with the people who partly blew him up. Beka figures that he wants to be a king. He says that the aborigines arenít ready to rule themselves, and they need direction. Which he, of course, shall provide, being their much-loved savior. The trashy girlfriend, Margot, looks forward to being queen and keeping the aborigines as slaves.

In the message Dylan sent to Andromeda at Bobbyís demand, using Bobbyís script, Dylan blinks out a message to Rommie that theyíre being held hostage. When Andromeda attacks, since she doesnít negotiate with hostage takers, Bobby sets the AP tanks to explode in 30 minutes. Rommie convinces a very upset acting captain Tyr to give Dylan a chance to fix things. Tyr seems to be getting more and more attached to this crew....

While Bobbyís talking to Beka, Dylanís locked in an under the floor panel, where he tries to convince the aborigine whatís really going on. Harperís tied up with wires in the cockpit.

Beka says that if Bobby lets the others go, sheíll stay with him and things will be like they were before. But she canít quite disguise how squicked his awkward machinery makes her. Beka is quite shallow about her men, it seems, and itís underscored here again.

Thereís a Beka/Margot catfight--which annoyed me since Beka doesnít usually do the hairpulling thing--with Beka as winner. But before she can get Dylan free Bobby comes in and they have a firefight. Heís trying to guilt her into going along with him, but she says that the cause she serves is the one he claims to serve--freedom. Her firing does nothing to his cyborg skin, and he knocks her out cold. The aborigine slips Dylan a key, and he gets out and engages in a way too long and dull fight scene with Bobby. If this is what "Dylancentric" is all about, ick. Beka ends it by grabbing a live wire the fight had pulled loose and using it to fry Bobby. He calls out her name the whole time. Dylan has the aborigine untie Harper, who just about disappeared through the second half of the episode, so he can fix the AP tank, which has ten minutes left on it. Beka is kneeling, devastated, next to Bobby.

Rommie is triumphant at their success, saying to Tyr, "Dylan did that" with the smuggest voice possible. Which isnít entirely correct, but sheís biased.

Beka tells Dylan that getting cyborgized must have taken Bobbyís humanity away. Dylan says that humanity isnít something that can be taken away like that. Which sucks as offering comfort, but might be Dylan coming around to Harperís point of view, which was that Bobby was bad before the landmine. The End.

Interestingly enough, Beka with Bobby was much more wishy-washy. Being away from Bobbyís "protectiveness" let her grow into her potential as a bad-ass, which I think is Harperís point. Lisa Ryder as Beka and Gordon Michael Woolvett as Harper (and Ethlie Ann Vare as the writer of this episode) did a great job of differentiating the past and present selves even beyond the obvious costume stuff. Past Beka is much more diffident along with being accepting of Bobbyís little violent quirks. Dresses dorkier too. Past Harper is all attitude, showing protective flashes of ego to hide what seems to be fear, and is very feral. That sniff he does near Beka kills me. He uses a higher-pitched voice and stronger accent. Itís funny that he wears an earring, since Kass has been saying for months that Harper should have one.

Maybe Casting deliberately got someone without charisma, namely the leaden Costas Mandylor, to play Bobby to subtly backup Harperís view. Then again, I could be overthinking this.

Maya said that seeing "All My Sins Remembered" makes her feel that she would be very happy to follow a TV show named Eureka Maru. I agree. Hey, I agreed prior to this.

"Be All My Sins Remembered" gets a B. It would have scored higher if the second half had matched the quality of the first half better. I donít need to see Dylan laboriously trying to convince Lem of things or fight Bobby for such a long, dull time. Iím told that previous drafts of the screenplay were more focused on Beka and Harper, and if Sorbo is responsible for the shift, Iíd like to give him a good asskicking.

 

Next week: It looks like theyíre invaded by a virus that zombifies people, and Trance gets processed by it. Itís When Trance Attacks!



February 24, 2002

#215 Dance of the Mayflies

A parasitic infection gets on board the Andromeda and causes havoc.

 

Maybe the Bokor wasnít an airborne pathogen, but the plot-ons sure were. Plot-ons are infective organisms that cause a disease in which characters do really dumb things only because their stupidity advances the plot. Poor Dylan especially had a terminal case of the plot-ons this episode.

Stupid Dylan things:
1] Theyíve gotten kicked in the ass for being Good Samaritans before, yet it still surprises him when his good deeds go horribly wrong. He doesnít know why that Drift was attacked. Hey, he came on not even knowing that the Drift had been attacked instead of fallen prey to an internal accident. Yet he still loaded a bunch of people from it onto the Andromeda.

2] The Than are attacking. Theyíre blowing your ass to hell. Your armsmaster and engineer are very helpfully yelling at you to let them start firing back. You sit there and let the Than roast you. Then you try to talk to them. Then you keep sitting there when they fire on you some more instead of talking back. Then you stand there with a superior look as Tyr and Harper consider mutiny.

3] Once upon a time Dylan would have wondered why the Than were shooting at him and come up with several ideas. Here, he thinks up one possibility, then turns his brain off again.

4] You have a contagion on board. I can see Dylan maybe being too softhearted to vent the living into space, but how about at least ejecting the corpses?

5] Dylan, shoot the zombies in the head! The head! It should at least slow them down! Címon, shoot the zombies in the-- Arrrrrrgh. Donít, then. See if I keep hoping your tight leather-clad ass gets out of this alive. Maybe the leatherís cutting off the blood flow to his brain?

6] Bekaís sick and unconscious. Letís leave her out in the open, unprotected in the cargo hold, while the walking dead wander the ship looking for victims.

7] Trance had been possessed by the Bokor and trying to infect everyone else. You gave her what should be enough of an electrical shock to kill the infection and perhaps her as well. Yet you sit almost on top of her body waiting to see if she wakes up and the shock worked. Whatís the worst that can happen? Uh, she could wake up still possessed and wipe the floor with you?

I could make a comment about Sorbo dragging Dylanís intelligence level down to his own, but I wonít.

But heís not alone in stupidity. Plot-ons make Beka do mouth to mouth on one of the victims just so she can be infected. Thereís no other reason. The Bokor supposedly pass by mouth to mouth contact, yet everyone on the Drift was infected. Everyone. Did they have some kind of orgy? Even with the children? The contagion is supposedly not airborne--the swirly stuff that sometimes shows around the zombiesí mouths was just a purty special effect to make the infection visual--but if itís not airborne thereís no way the whole Drift could have been infected. But if it had been airborne, Rommieís filtering at the beginning of the episode should have gone a long way to stop it, since an airborne vector was their first guess. The storywriters couldnít win so asked the audience to turn off their brains.

And didnít we end up going past the deadline for how long Beka had before the spores ate her brain and killed her?

Despite the stupidity of certain elements of the episode-- particularly Dylan *cough cough* --I had fun watching it, since Tyr, Rommie, Harper, and Trance were so good and it had some enjoyable fight scenes. If you check your brain at the door and relegate Dylan to "cute, decorative meat in tight leather pants" status, the rest goes down easier, I find. If he has to be that stupid, he should damn well be wearing tight black to try to make up for it.

Harper and Tyr, wondering what Dylan's smoking

So Dylan can get into the hand to hand zombie action against the "ungrateful dead," he makes Tyr acting captain of the ship, leaving him stuck on the bridge, just as he left Tyr as acting captain in "Be All My Sins Remembered" so he could get involved in the Bobby Jensen thing. Yes, the captain is stranding his weapons master on the bridge so he can kick ass instead, which is an interesting character thing even if it isnít very smart. Iím really wondering if one day Harper, in a particularly provocative mood, will start asking for orders from Tyr first instead since Tyr gets left on as acting captain all the time. Speaking of Tyr and Harper, they really click as a team this episode, especially since theyíre thinking just about the same thing about whatís going on. Theyíre in each otherís space on the bridge and, damn, Harperís head doesnít even reach the top of Tyrís shoulder. ::grins::

In one of the few smart moves Dylan makes in this episode, he tells Harper to go into isolation on the Maru since "your immune system sucks." Of course, Harper hates that, objects, and then later comes back to take care of repairs anyway, since he canít leave his baby to be shot at while heís somewhere else doing nothing. At least he comes back to do it in a special suit and half-mask, telling Rommie with some eyebrow waggling that heís "wearing protection."

His unwillingness to hide in safety while everybody else fights is just another reason why Iím pissed that they cut that scene from "Bunker Hill" in which Rommie threatens to break his legs and carry him there if he doesnít get in the Maru and leave Earth because sheís lost too many people already. Instead, "Bunker Hill" makes him look like a coward who would abandon his own cousin. Harper, the audience, and even Rommie were robbed there.

(LaT has mentioned that, as much as much as she appreciates Harper coming back to work on Andromeda and loves him, it wasnít terribly bright of him to come back. You have the immune system of an AIDS patient and you come back onto a ship filled with a pathogen of indeterminate origin? The difference for me there is that it ties in with his established loyalty thing and the audience can guess what his arguments for it are. We know where heís coming from. But it isnít the smartest, most survival-oriented move.)

The second smart thing Dylan does is something the episode canít convince me he actually thought up on his own. At the very moment Harper sees one of the zombies fry himself into permanent death, Dylan, out of the blue while walking through a different part of the ship, theorizes that an electrical shock might put the zombies down. While Harper saw it in action and is an engineer, thereís no reason for Dylan to come up with this, and it seems like a total non sequitur from him. It was a lame attempt to make up for what an idiot he was, but it came from so far out of nowhere that it didnít work. As LaT said, Dylan wasnít that smart even at the top of his game, like in "Una Salus Victus." Maybe the writers--Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz, and you know my theory that they have it in for Harper--also did this to stop Harper from getting full credit from coming up with the solution, although Harper is the one who figures out just how strong a shock is needed.

The third smart thing is to distract possessed Trance with a shot thatíll make her dodge into the path of his second, shock-giving weapon. That one I can believe.

Iím liking Android Rommieís growing autonomy from the rest of herself in the ship and disbelief of what organic beings live through and keep going on through. She appreciates having emotions at times, but she doesnít want to be physically fragile like an organic. She doesnít want to be human; she wants to find a way to get the people she likes to last for a thousand years or more like she will. I think itís an inevitable development for the part of herself that fraternizes so closely with them. Sheís going on away missions with them. They physically touch her. The rest of her, the part thatís the ship, seems to be becoming more distant, perhaps in self-protection. Sheís become more aware of personal loss since "The Widening Gyre." The slaughter of her original crew bringing into greater focus the loss of her second crew to time, the near death of her current crew to the Magog, nearly losing Harper to the larvae....

Android Rommie is coming into greater conflict with the rest of herself, especially since it seems to her that her ship self is so indifferent to the beings that keep her going and give her purpose. Her emotions can hurt her and make her fear for her crew, but at the same time she canít stand to hear the rest of her callously say that they can just serve the next round of humans once these die. Android Rommie snaps back that humans "arenít interchangeable" ("--like snow mobile parts," I finished, like the Due South fan I am). Lexa Doig is great as the various Rommies. LaT and I just hope that the writers donít fall prey to the Roddenberryism that sentient synthetic beings canít really be whole unless they get in touch with/are in touch with their "humanity." Lexa said in her January Starlog interview that Rommie has no urge to be human, and I hope that remains constant.

Tyrís understandably and entertainingly pissy about their infestation of the walking dead. "This is what you get for helping people!" Heís continuing to deal with his growing attachment to his crewmembers and changing moral values. Iím liking it, but I hope the writers donít make him too soft and fuzzy. He still roars with victory where applicable, being a big kid in some ways.

(Someone asked me why I thought the crew should have been shooting the zombies in the head. Iím going off the concept that if the whatever it is is making use of the eyes, blowing them out would give you an advantage. Plus, the zombies spread the virus by mouth to mouth, since itís suggested that the stuff loses potency when in the air. Letís see them try to spread it to you when they have big gaping holes where most of their heads used to be. Plus again in this case, the spores make use of the hostsí central nervous system, finishing their takeover in the brain. Once again, a gaping head hole would screw that to hell. Seems like common sense to me. Then again, some people are scared of me....)

The male zombie trying to kiss Dylan into infection? Priceless. "You gotta be kidding me!" In a nice bit of continuity, the episode mentions that Beka has a drug problem for the first time since "It Makes a Lovely Light," when that problem started. The fight between Rommie and possessed Trance was great. "Trance is stronger than she looks." And whipping Rommieís android ass. This show can do action well now and then. Laura Bertram does a good job as the possessed new Trance but her breasts are just too distracting in that outfit they have her wearing. Her makeup job even highlights them to make sure you notice them.

More questions are raised about Trance... and not answered. Big surprise. Beka asks why Trance is gold now. No answer. Since the Bokor took Trance right over and it could only do that with dead people, Dylan has to wonder if Trance was ever alive to begin with. Her answer to his question as to whether sheís dead or alive is "Yes."

The Bokor was an interesting concept: a race of spores with one central intelligence that takes over bodies and uses the memories and expertise of its hosts, retaining the memories of over 50,000 years of victims. A shame that their vector of infection made no sense as shown in this episode.

On a shallow level, I enjoyed Dylanís tight leather pants and sleeveless top as well as Harperís two different outfits. Mmm, well fitting black. Plus we have Harper doing his jungle gym routine.

Some favorite dialogue:

Harper: "What? I thought the bug people were our friends."
Dylan: "So did I."
Tyr: "Which is why I place great stock in paranoia."

Harper: "Yessir, bravely running away, sir."

Tyr: "It isnít so easy to kill dead people, is it?"

 

I give "Dance of the Mayflies" a B- because I was able to check my brain at the door and enjoy it on a "fire pretty" level, like when you watch a cheesy horror movie. Maybe Dylan will grow a brain again.

 

Next week: It looks like Dylan, Beka, and Trance are competing against other teams for some kind of powerful artifact. Whatever. Once again Iím invoking the "Pitiless as the Sun" preview maybe-there-will-be-more-and-better-stuff-to-the-episode-than-whatís-shown-here clause. Besides, Brendan Beiser, formerly Agent Pendrell on The X-Files, has a role.



March 3, 2002

#216 In Heaven Now Are Three

Beka leads a mission to find a legendary artifact.

 

You know, itís a toss-up as to whether "In Heaven Now Are Three" or "Last Call at the Broken Hammer" is the worst episode of the season so far. On one hand, "Last Call" was hard to stay awake through and consistently dull. On the other, "In Heaven" is mostly dull and it makes Beka look like an incompetent, whinging neurotic to make Dylan look better. Because Andromeda is all about Dylan Hunt, really. Ensemble show? Pah!

You know, for displaying intense male chauvinism, ripping down the usually bad-ass Beka to build Dylan up higher, and shoving a smug, paternalistic, patronizing Dylan down our gagging throats, I think the winner is "In Heaven" despite the few good scenes it has.

And this is the last new episode we get for over a month. Way to leave us wanting more.

It starts out promisingly enough, as Beka tries to manipulate Tyr into going on her treasure hunt. Tyr, understandably, demands more detail. Before she can give him much, Trance walks by and says that if he finds out anything, he will die. Tyr, again understandably, now doesnít want to hear another word about Bekaís plan. This is a great scene, with Tyr being excellent, and you better relish it while you have it because this is the high point of the episode and you wonít see Tyr again.

When pressed, Trance tells Beka that when they did the mission with Tyr in her timeline, he got killed. Since Trance Warrior Princessí whole deal is that she wants to stop badness from happening all over again, she wanted to make sure Tyr didnít come. Beka exposits that they need three people, and that Harper took Rommie on an "educational" trip, with the quote marks on "educational" provided by Beka. Iím now dying to know what Harper and Rommie are doing. Beka mentioned Albuquerque Drift, which suggests gambling, drinking, and whoring. But we still donít know for sure.

Trance suggests that they make Dylan their third. "We need Dylan!" Trance says. Beka doesnít want to, because this is hers and if he mixes in heíll make it all about his own power trip. Beka is so correct, as we shall see. But she brings Dylan in because she does need a third person to fulfill the legendís requirements and Dylanís the only one left on the ship.

We find out that she has a map to get to the famed Engine of Creation, which might as well be called "The Engine of Continuity" since Harper and Beka mentioned it in "It Makes a Lovely Light" and Beka got the holo-map for it during "A Heart for Falsehood Framed." This Engine supposedly allows its wielder to reshape reality. Beka foresees riches.

I really donít want to bother going much into the detail of their very dull planet walk, so Iíll just give you the important stuff that happens. Beka is whingy about this being her first top dog gig since she joined up with Dylan about two years ago. How many years before that was she a captain, keeping her own business afloat? But she canít be strong and independent and kickass! Sheís a girl! And sheís not Kevin Sorbo! At least this episodeís fight scene didnít have her pulling hair(!!) the way she did "Be All My Sins Remembered." But here she mostly has crises of faith in herself and her leadership abilities and steps on a landmine.

Maybe sheíd feel better about it if Dylan didnít spend the entire episode undermining her authority every chance he gets, disobeying her orders even after he told her that this mission was her deal. Because his way is just better. He actually tells her that when she chides him for undercutting her.

This show is all about Dylan, and the rest of the ensemble is just there to make him look better. Here Dylanís boyish self-deprecation strikes the audience as being only a thin layer over his smugness, and thatís a problem, because it makes the self-deprecation look like just another show of arrogance.

Shoving this smug, paternalistic version of Dylan down our throats only makes me loathe Dylan and Kevin Sorbo. Especially when the writers make Dylan look better by pulling this crap at the expense of Bekaís character in this episode and stealing the thunder on the electro-shock zombie-killer solution Harper comes up with in "Dance of the Mayflies." Building up Dylan by tearing Beka down is inexcusable. If Kevin Sorbo was worried--not that heíd admit it--that the rest of the ensemble was stealing the show, he could have responded by giving us an even more compelling Dylan Hunt. Instead the solution is to cut down their screentime and have everyone fawn over Dylan in a way that we didnít see even when Sorbo was playing the demi-god Hercules.

My anger at the "opposites attract" scene is that itís kind of implying a parallel between the lovers on the rival team and Beka and Dylan. (No Beka/Dylan relationship! Especially not now! Please!) "Heís controlling, and sheís a shoot-from-the-hip kind of gal"? Anvils much? Especially since they hammered those characterizations of Beka and Dylan earlier in this episode? You notice that for all the crap about Dylan planning ahead and Beka flying by the seat of her pants, Bekaís the one coming up with the sensible non-macho solutions. "Letís counterweight the landmine," she says. Heís "No, let me fling myself at you heroically and stupidly instead!" and "Let me threaten them with my big bad dick instead of trying to talk this out logically."

Not only does Beka have to be incompetent, but she has to give that awful "youíre important to me" speech to Dylan. You notice the bastard makes her spell it out for him just to make sure she knows sheís his bitch?

Watch both Trance and Beka suddenly forget how to use their weapons when the deadly flying shuriken comes at them. Trance Warrior Princess in particular is holding her force lance in a way that suggests that sheís never even seen one before. So big manly Dylan must save the girls from that and the other team! He also must volunteer himself to save the hapless Beka, who took her leader responsibility seriously and volunteered first, during the trial by battle. (Though I conjecture that he also volunteered because when the shuriken cut his force lance in half he had to find a way to regain his manhood.) And look what a difference Dylan made because Tyr didnít even survive this long in the original timeline! *gag*

Then we have Andromeda Smackdown!, the big battle scene, only some of which worked for me. I kept getting World Wrestling flashbacks and expecting the two sides to tag members in and out. To my horror, it starts with the women on the sidelines, cheering on their menfolk. At least Beka gets to finally jump in and kick some ass here, wielding an axe no less. By sparing their foesí lives, Beka and Dylan are declared the righteous party by the highly stereotypical natives and get the Engine.

While Beka and Dylan do the fight scene, Trance has a talk with what turns out to be another disguised member of her race (played by Brendan Beiser, formerly Agent Pendrell on The X-Files), providing more information about her and her people than weíve ever gotten. This little bit furthers the Doctor Who comparison somebody made on SlipstreamWeb a while back when talking about her new body, since it now turns out that sheís also a renegade butt-in-ski from a super race that wants her to return back to the fold and stop meddling. Itís cool to find this stuff out but doesnít make up for what a thankless role Beiser had for the whole rest of the episode or for the way Trance spends most of the episode being taken hostage by one person or another.

By the way, Tranceís breasts look huge and are highlighted with makeup even deeper than usual. They should get their own casting credit. And she only wears that one Warrior Princess leather boob shelf outfit. Thatís the only thing weíve seen her in since new Tranceís introduction a few episodes ago. Did original recipe Trance take all her clothes with her when she switched places with her future self? Does Trance now have seven of these outfits that look exactly the same, or is the shipís laundry just efficient enough that she never has to worry about wearing anything else? I hope she has more than one version of the leather thing, because otherwise Rommie would start getting ticked off about cleaning the same thing over and over again. "Canít you just buy other clothing? Or use the original Tranceís?" Or, uh, she doesnít send them off to be cleaned at all and wears the same thing everyday, in which case I wouldnít want to be downwind of her.

But the episodeís final smackdown of the audience comes at the end as it turns out that Dylan and Beka were aware from the beginning that this might not be the whole engine at all they were after, that it might just be a useless piece of it. What it does is... it glows. When no oneís in the room with it. Making this an episode in which they risked their lives. For. Nothing. In another timeline Tyr died for nothing. Making this a very annoying and often dull episode about... nothing.

The worst thing is that two possibly interesting plotlines were ignored in favor of showing the crappy treasure hunt. 1] Harper takes Rommie on an "educational" trip. Please define "educational" for the audience. What are they doing, and how did he convince her to go? I mean, we are talking about Albuquerque Drift, which seems to be a modern equivalent of Las Vegas. 2] While it appears that Tyr might have been packing to go somewhere--we donít know where--at the beginning of the episode, that might have changed once he realized that heíd be all alone on the ship with only the Progenitorís remains locked away from him and the motherboard and hologram Rommies. What to do, what to do?


Some dialogue I liked:

Beka: "Why canít I tell him?"
Trance: "Because if you tell him, Tyr will die."
Tyr: "Then, by all means, leave me in suspense."

Beka: "Tyr will die? Arenít we being a little dramatic?"
Trance: "Itís only dramatic until somebody does die."

Trance: "Not taking Tyr? Thatís good for everyone."

Beka, after finding many decapitated bodies at the Rock of Refuge: "I say we forget the Rock of Refuge. Badly named."

Dylan: "Well, Harper always says that opposites attract."
Beka: "Thatís just his excuse to meet women. Everyoneís the opposite of Harper."

Beka: "Iím starting to realize that the thing I really like about being your first officer is that when things go wrong, not my fault."

 

I give "In Heaven Now Are Three" a D- out of rage on Bekaís behalf and fear that this may be the shape of a Dylancentric Gene Roddenberryís Andromeda to come.

 

Next week: Reruns begin again, but next week itís the excellent "Una Salus Victus." Revisit a time when Dylan was smart and fun crazy, Beka got to be bad-ass and devious because she is, Tyr got more than a few minutes of screentime and was witheringly sarcastic, and Harper showed up and definitely counted. And that Beka/Harper hug gives me a warm feeling every time.



April 14, 2002

#217 The Things We Cannot Change

Dylan hovers near death in an alternate reality.

 

After a month and a half of reruns, they give us a clip show, the height of laziness? Dammit. And not only is this episode made up of a ton of material recycled from other episodes, theyíre also intrusive and badly introduced recycled scenes. They keep putting the brakes on any sense of momentum the new material gets too. The fire in the kitchen during Dylanís head-trip seems to have happened only to cue the Spirit of the Abyss footage from "Its Hour Come ĎRound at Last" and "The Widening Gyre." Watch Dylan "remember" through clips his fiancée watching his message to her in "The Banks of the Lethe." Even though he wasnít in the frigging room with her when it happened.

How much clip material got shoved on us? Well, we have footage from "Under the Night," "An Affirming Flame," "To Loose the Fateful Lightning," "D Minus Zero," "The Banks of the Lethe," "Forced Perspective," "Star-Crossed," "The Devil Take the Hindmost," "The Honey Offering," "Its Hour Come ĎRound at Last," "The Widening Gyre," "Exit Strategies," "Home Fires," "The Prince," "Ouroboros," and more! Interestingly, in all this force-fed footage, Harper only shows up once, in the "To Loose the Fateful Lightning" scenes. I hope thatís not significant. At least here we get to see the "Home Fires" Dylan/Rhade fight without that episodeís clip flashbacks of the "Under the Night" original Rhade/Dylan fight interrupting it.

And the clips had an unintended side effect:
Viridian5: Really, Iíd be much happier with Dylan gone.
During the "The Banks of the Lethe" clip when Dylan said he had to go back to the future, I amused myself thinking of him staying in the past, leaving his new crew to take over the Andromeda. Beka would be hauling cargo, kicking ass, and taking names. Theyíd be pirates! :::grins:::
LaT: Andromeda By Way of Eureka Maru would totally work as a show for me now.

The episodeís new material is dull, badly acted by Kevin Sorbo and Dylanís fabricated family, and raises a ton of questions.

The worst moment in the new material for me had to be when the crew had to explain to Harper, their engineer, why the ship canít go near the black hole after Dylan. Harper is their mechanic and science expert! He should be the one explaining that to other people! What the hell?

But now we get to the questions I had. Iíll start with the few that I can answer and go from there.

Havenít we seen Dylanís happy family head-trip before? Yep, it was a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. I found that episode dull too, though Patrick Stewart ran circles around Kevin Sorbo as an actor. Why do we have to see Dylan almost naked in bed with a skinny blonde for the second time in the run of only five episodes (see "Lava and Rockets." Actually, avoid that part of the episode if you can, for your stomach's sake.)? Because Kevin Sorbo is an egotistical, sadistic minion of evil. Why does whomever make Rommie and Bekaís hair look so awful? See the "minions of evil" argument. Why does Dylanís fake kid seem mentally defective? Because the kid canít act his way out of a paper bag. Why did it take Beka and Tyr so long to find Dylan when heís floating in space nearby? So we could get all of the head trip and clips done, thatís why. How did Dylan know to come out of his coma just in time to help Tyr rescue him? Plot-ons.

Okay, the questions that the show didnít answer:

How and when did Andromeda get damaged? (Or did it? The conversation was confusing to me.) Why are they investigating this black hole when only Dylan seems interested in it? Why is Dylan interested in it when an upcoming clip from "The Banks of the Lethe" mentions that he understandably hates black holes? Why is the captain doing something so dangerous? Why canít Trance wear something other than that skanky brown leather thing, which sheís had on for six episodes and makes me feel that the crew should be standing downwind of her? Why did the writers even have Woolvett and Bertram report for work when their characters got three minutes of airtime and were then forgotten until the very end of the episode? Is Dylanís head-trip the product of his oxygen-starved brain or was it forced on him? How did he hear Trance? Why are we forced to watch recycled footage of Sam Sorbo acting badly again, especially since Liandra is also an awful actress? Is that thing from Liandra about him "killing her people" a total red herring? Why doesnít the black hole suck Dylan in immediately? (Iím now imagining the black holes saying, "Didnít you learn anything from the pilot episode? We donít want him!") How can Tyr, even with Nietzschean strength, pull Dylan out of a black hole?

And where did Harper and Rommie go and what did they do during that "educational trip" mentioned during "In Heaven Now Are Three"? Itís not revealed here.

Harper and Trance trying to get the teleporter from "The Banks of the Lethe" working to get Dylan back was a nice tie-in to that past footage and seemed to make sense, but then the writers donít let it work, which made me feel oddly cheated. Itís almost like they introduced something elegant and logical and connected, then threw it aside in favor of having Tyr pull Dylan out of a black hole. Oh, wait, that is what they did.

The head-trip stuff in Heavenís waiting room, er, Dylanís house was dull and weird, though it had its few moments. Dylanís manic, crazy rampage through the bedroom, talking to himself and searching his body for medical incisions and alien implants, was the highlight of the episode.

You know, if the delusions hadnít been so dull, it would be easier to be intrigued by the questions they brought up. If this is all about a part of Dylanís brain talking to him instead of aliens playing with his head, we have a part of Dylan telling him that heís a screw-up, a megalomaniac, ruthless, someone who endangers everyone he claims to care about. (Finally acknowledged in the show! And so much of it is true!) This part is saying he should quit his quest to restore the Commonwealth.

Emcee rings in some supporting details for the idea that the head-trip was created by Dylanís mind. The main one is that the family life here isnít all that tempting. The wife and kid are wooden, the home is colorless and almost unfurnished, because his own head supplies them. In contrast, the memories shown in the clips are saturated with color and far more inviting. Here Dylan finds out that while he may have thought that he wanted home and family, he derives his identity and sense of purpose from his career and being High Guard. You could even say heís obsessed with being High Guard. Food for thought.

And, if you want to get Freudian, you canít ignore the further symbolism in Liandra hiding Dylanís force lance in the closet and Dylan being very upset about it. :::grins::: Itís not just his High Guard status sheís stripping from him. *cough*

The fact that he refuses to ignore the threat of the Magog in the head-trip gives me hope the writers wonít just throw that storyline away in the new effort to pare down on continuity-dependence.

Dylan chooses his career, ignoring the voice telling him to give it up, and he seems a bit crazy in the final scenes on the Andromeda bridge in which he reaffirms his identity as the megalomaniacal Dylan Hunt, High Guard officer and Commonwealth captain. "I am back in command."

"I am back in command," said in that dead, too steady voice?

Iíve been predicting a mental breakdown for him since the end of last season. If this is all there is, I feel gypped, but if this is just the beginning of it, I see potential.

Trance is very fast to say that what he saw was just a product of his oxygen-starved brain. Hmm. Dylanís happy to close the book on this. Only Harper didnít seem happy or satisfied with the answers. Our final scenes have Dylan seeming crazy, Trance emphatically saying that the visions mean nothing, and the rest of the crew being happy to go along, but Harperís attitude is "wait a minute, there are things we need to answer here!" Sorry, Harper, itís not going to happen. Then again, maybe his last lines sound so snotty because heís annoyed by how little airtime heís getting.

Interestingly enough, Trance and Harper no longer have any chemistry whatsoever. I donít know if itís Woolvett playing that Harper doesnít trust her or Bertram playing a new character or both, but the spark between them is gone. I miss purple Trance. She was annoying, but she was more fun and had a nicely weird bond with Harper. Flirtatious, friendly, threatening.... New Trance is one note, mostly just threatening. LaT and I feel that making her change so drastic was a tactical error in terms of the characterís ability to interact with the other characters in a smooth way. We knew before that she was manipulative and Machiavellian. Now sheís also open about it and threatening and no fun. Is this an improvement? No. Itís an instance where making the subtext of the character full-on text doesnít work, since her previous ambiguity was a big part of her appeal. Though Kevin Sorboís probably happy now, at least judging by things heís said in interviews. We want our stupid, stupid audience to get everything, so weíll be bludgeoning them over the head with it. "Trance has plans! Plans, I tell you!"

But only one outfit!

A very few positive things: Tyr had some good moments. I mentioned Dylanís manic, crazy thing in the bedroom. Dylanís aborted comment about Harper stockpiling food made me laugh. Harper lugging around a piece of "heavy" machinery thatís probably actually made of styrofoam gave me a meta laugh. And:

Trance: "I know Harperís wrong, but I donít know how heís wrong, so you tell him."

The episode wasnít as bad as I expected, but Iíd seen some spoilers months ago and anticipated that it would be the maw of hell. The fact that it was clumsy and dull instead of hellish isnít much of a comfort.

 

"The Things We Cannot Change" gets a D.

 

Next week: Blue aliens want to take over the Andromeda and throw Dylan off the ship! And the PTB want you to buy Andromeda trading cards!



April 22, 2002

#218 The Fair Unknown

The Andromeda crew discovers a species that existed during the time of the Commonwealth.

While the action scenes fell flat again, we had another bimbo of the week, and Kevin Sorbo spent most of the episode giving line readings that made you think he should change his medication immediately, I enjoyed much of "The Fair Unknown," though my enjoyment was mainly of the second half of the show and non-Dylan parts of the first half because everybody else was On throughout. Sorbo doesnít come alive until Dylan gets petulant.

Bekaís wanting to take much-needed supplies from the Kalderan ship and looks annoyed when Dylan says that they donít take from the dead. As if the dead have any use for it, and besides these were predatory Kalderans. When she convinces Dylan to at least destroy the ship so no one else will know whatís going on, she again seems annoyed that he didnít let them take anything from it first. She doesnít meekly fall in line with Dylan in other areas either:
Dylan: "But that was a Vedran. Itís my duty as a High Guard officer to find her and protect her."
Beka: "It didnít look like she needed much help."
Dylan: "Thatís not an assumption Iím willing to make. We need to know."
Beka: "ĎWe,í hunh?"
She later takes advantage of Dylanís absence to take out some Kalderan ships. Pragmatic Beka is a favorite of mine.

Tyr spends most of the episode standing around on the bridge again, but otherwise has some great comments to make about the Vedran agenda. This is a race that disappeared 300 years ago to leave everybody else in chaos while they waited elsewhere in safety. Just because we assume theyíre our allies, are they really? Tyr foresees the possibility of a star-struck Dylan being seen as a Vedran pawn and eventually becoming one.

When Dylan asks who started the chaos with the exploding planet and blasted-out ships, Tyr immediately points right to Beka.

New Trance is getting better, still prickly but also a little more playful. She has a different outfit here, but I have no idea how she can fight in it when she canít even raise her arms. And will she now be wearing only fetishy, constricting things of brown leather? At least we didnít have the twins bouncing around in the open with this outfit. By now Iím far more familiar with Laura Bertramís breasts than I should have to be.

The scene when Trance tells Dylan that just because the Vedrans didnít ask for his help doesnít mean that they donít need it is a good one, though they of course come close to getting their asses handed to them because theyíre busy gabbing instead of keeping watch. Her point is that he claims that heís all about giving help, the Vedran needs help, so therefore it shouldnít matter if she came to Dylan the Great asking for it. (This conversational gambit is also designed to get him off the track of asking her how much she already knows of whatís going on. She gives the impression of knowing a great deal but, as usual, isnít sharing.) She also attempts to wean him from his awestruck "the Vedrans are a superior people" stance.

Trance doesnít succeed, but his opinion on the Vedran, Uxulta, does change once Uxulta refuses to give him a pat on the head and the coordinates to Tarn-Vedra, his homeworld. In fact, Uxulta tells him nothing, saying that itís need-to-know, and she wants him to give her a nova bomb. She doesnít need him for anything else. Wonderfully icy and superior, she also reminds him that he is a captain and must take orders from a higher authority, which she is, being an admiral of Argosy special ops, his old division.

Dylan, whoís become ever more of an unstable, megalomaniacal, "me, me, me" person as the series has progressed, seems more upset that Uxulta wonít give him what he wants, praise him, or tell him anything other than that she wants to bring a nova bomb down to a populated planet for unknown reasons. He says that he canít quite trust the Vedrans, since theyíre been out of touch for 300 years and he has no idea what theyíve become, which are valid points, but his real objections seem to come from a much more personal place. He freaks out and gets petulant, which I found fun to watch. Kass seemed to find it funny too and helped me invent dialogue as we watched:
Kass: Mr. Arrogance. "Iíll make one."
Viridian5: "Iím Dylan Hunt. You can call me ĎGod.í"
Kass: Or JC for short. ::howling::
Kass: How about you quit waving your dick around, Dylan, and follow orders.
Kass: And heís sooooo insubordinate. ::grin::
Viridian5: "But, but... I give orders, I donít take them!"
Kass: I confess, I do find him cute when heís unreasonable. Especially when someone puts him in his place.
Viridian5: "I have to know everything. Everything! And I want my home!"
Kass: "I want my mommy and daddy!!!"
Viridian5: "Wah!"

An incredulous and exasperated Rommie gives him the what-for about legitimate orders and basically tells him that heís only being like this because heís hurt, which is a legitimate human reaction. Which she doesnít have. Sheís fairly superior about it. ::grins:: But then she gets subtly reminded that as a computer she has no option of disobeying a direct order. Human, he does have that option.

By the way, Rommieís hair is somewhere mid-range on the blue wig awfulness scale. Itís not the maw of hell, but neither is it particularly flattering. And the micro bangs have to go. Continuing the shallow hair-related notes, Dylanís gray streak is now camouflaged, much less visible. Itís a shame, because the two friends who mentioned the camouflaging to me and I thought that the streak suited the character and the stresses on him.

Uxulta finally convinces Dylan to follow her orders by reminding him about one of the first human admirals in the Commonwealth who gave his life and the lives of thousands of soldiers to win a battle. The admiral knew it was suicide, but he trusted his Vedran superiors. Uxulta says that sheís not even asking Dylan to commit himself to a suicide mission, just to give her the armaments she needs and let her spend her own life. She puts him in his place handily, saying that her mission is far more important than "the desire of one lost son to cling fast to his piece of home."

The Kalderans are a problem in this episode again, though when Trance asks why the Kalderans hate Vedrans so much she seems to have forgotten Dylanís "Last Call at Broken Hammer" explanation that the Kalderans were brought into the Commonwealth by the Vedrans by force, and Dylan doesnít repeat that explanation here as a possibility for her. (I think itís possible that Dylanís too invested in the Vedran-centric, Commonwealth-centric view to think that the Kalderans would be pissed enough over being forced in that theyíd still be vengeful 300 years later. I think I remember that the point of his "Last Call" divulgence is that the Kalderans were always vicious and now that theyíre not held in check by the Commonwealth they can pillage and kill at will.) Superior race, those Vedrans....

The events of this episode also suggest that the imperilment of their favorite nature preserve is enough to bring the Vedrans out of hiding, but not the disintegration of civilization and suffering amongst the thousands of Commonwealth worlds after the Fall. Nice priorities.

I wanted to mention again how great I think it is that the federation of planets in this show was not started by humans in any way, shape, or form. Thereís also a certain paternalistic racism in the way Uxulta deals with humans, like theyíre foolish children who need direction. Then again, humans are the only race we see her talking to in this episode. Hmm. Maybe that attitude comes from her being an admiral, but somehow I donít think thatís it.

Though bimbo of the week Maia needs direction. Badly. The actress can barely walk right, let alone try to say her lines. And she kisses Dylan. How annoying is it that now with this show I have to worry every time a woman comes to Dylanís room that heís going to end up in bed with her?

Uxulta does throw Dylan a bone by saying that Tarn-Vedra is aware of his quest to restore the Commonwealth and is proud of him. She then salutes him, and it takes him forever to salute her back. Methinks Dylan has gotten too accustomed to being the big cheese, Lord of All He Surveys.

The episode very cleverly gets around having to show Uxulta, a nearly centaur-like creature with four legs, walking by having her either zip around blurred at high speed through use of tesseracts, lying down, shown standing still, or shown only from the neck up. Better to be clever than show this awesome being galumphing around in a highly unconvincing manner.

Dylan gives Uxulta her nova bomb, electing to trust her, and she uses it to either destroy the star system or move it via tesseract elsewhere. He doesnít know for sure. He has to have faith and hope he did the right thing, though it seems that getting only tiny scraps of what he wanted from Uxulta has tarnished his worship a bit. Heís going to try to avoid thinking about the unknown number of Warders on the planet who might be dead now if it turns out that sheíd used the bomb to destroy everything. The "destroying everything" option is made more likely by the fact that she refused to let Maia return to her homeplanet. Uxulta tells Dylan to find a home for Maia. I tell him to do it somewhere far away from the ship. But it looks like the system tesseracted, so why did Uxulta want Maia nowhere near the planet?

Is it just that Maiaís so incompetent?

Harper is just about doing a cameo appearance again, though he makes his few lines count and has a great scene with Dylan as they prepare an armed ship for Uxulta. Once you gain membership to that small group of people he considers His Own, you own him for life. Heís also cute when he catches sight of his first Vedran ever, with Trance having to pick up his jaw for him. And Iím all for showing off Harperís arms more often as is done here. I own my shallowness.

The sequences downplanet felt somewhat reminiscent of Doctor Who, with the woods, caves, and horse-riding Warders wielding their high-tech lances. Maybe itís to complement the Kalderans, who still look stupid. Bad costumes. The dull battle scenes seem to go on forever. This series either does action very well or in total incompetence, with no in between.

 

Some favorite bits of dialogue:

Harper: "These hands have been touched by God... not to mention a few other things."

Beka: "News flash: Theyíre on our side!"
Tyr: "Are they? Or would they simply expect us to be on their side?"
Beka: "Thatís splitting hairs."
Tyr: "Not at all."

Harper (over the comm): "Arenít we supposed to be hiding?"
Beka: "We are hiding. Proactively."
Harper: "Oh, and what does that mean exactly?"
Tyr: "It means we are being pragmatic and refusing to respond to their obvious probes. Shut up, and weíll tell you when to worry."
Harper: "Okay. Just checking."

Tyr: "You could have told me."
Beka: "What, and ruin the surprise?"
Tyr: "Youíre picking up some unamusing habits from Dylan, you do know that."

Uxulta: "Thank you, captain."
Dylan: "Donít thank me. I might change my mind."

Harper: "Boss...."
Dylan: "I know."
Harper: "Okay. But what if she--"
Dylan: "She wonít."
Harper: "Okay. Youíre sure?"
Dylan: "Yep."
Harper: "Okay."
Dylan, surprised: "Just like that?"
Harper: "Yeah." :::while making "Iím crazy" hand gestures around his head::: "I trust you."

 

I give "The Fair Unknown" a B.

 

Next week: The Andromeda is swallowed by a giant space creature. And the PTB continue their tacky campaign to get us to buy trading cards, made even tackier by how they cut down the final preview to about half a second so they can do their pitch instead. Fortunately, I was paying attention to the preview shown amongst the commercials near the middle of the hour, but in this case we just get to see Harper being thrown around on the bridge right before footage of the ship being swallowed by a giant space monster.



April 28, 2002

#219 Belly of the Beast

The crew of Andromeda encounters a creature once thought to be mythical.

 

"Belly of the Beast" was goofy fun, with Dylan and Trance being less annoying and everybody else being who they should be. Itís annoying that even when heís not on the ship, a lot of the story is cheerleading Dylanís idealism and about what a neat person Dylan is, but I can deal with it when heís personally being more self-deprecating, as he is here.

Dylan and Trance are flying to Savion in the Eureka Maru, answering to a radio wave distress signal saying that a giant space monster, the Cetus, is coming back to take a chomp out of the planet, as it does every 6 thousand-something years. Dylan doesnít really believe the monster exists. Back on the Andromeda, where the remaining crew is scanning for signs of space monsters or whatever else is out there, they donít believe it exists either. We learn here that Harper likes big band music while everyone else in the crew, Rommie included, canít stand it. Rommie stops the music as they find the Cetus, which is actually rather pretty and definitely not a myth. (By the way, in their talk of mythical creatures, Tyr mentions the "Snarkosaurus." Iíd like to say that Iím not a myth either and am living in New York. Thank you, and please try the veal.) They send a message to Dylan, whoís 44 light minutes away, and donít expect to hear his answer for at least 90 minutes. This time lag does good things for the tension.

Of course, once the Andromeda gets swallowed, thereís no communication whatsoever.

Dylan and Trance see horrific scars on the planetís surface. Being Dylan, heís not willing yet to see it as signs that the creature is real and is instead looking for other possibilities.

The Andromeda folks try hailing the creature, with Tyr and Harper being annoyed at following Dylanís protocol when getting out of the way or shooting it would serve them better. The Cetus isnít answering but is heading straight for the planet. It eats their missiles and drones, to Rommieís outrage. But they got its attention, since it chases and swallows them. Everybody gets thrown around the bridge, and Andromeda isnít taking her treatment with much grace, since her hull is being hurt in so many places at once.

Dylan finds out that the planetís scars werenít made by tectonic shifting or meteors. Then he gets Andromedaís hail and sends back a message that he know wonít reach them until another 44 minutes. He hopes theyíre taking care of themselves, but heís also heading back to try to get them out. Trance asks why he would do that when he came to save the planet, but he answers that the Andromeda is essential to save the planet. She says that if it eats the Andromeda, maybe itíll be full and wonít want the planet anymore. Dylan answers that that might save the planet, but it would lose them the universe.

Heís right, but the facts that this is his ship and the people on it his only family must figure in.

Trance in this episode is an uncomfortable mixture of New Trance and pale shades of original recipe Trance. The writers still arenít sure what to do with her. Sheís back in buxom outfit #1, so say hi to the twins, everybody.

Then again, Wardrobe put the blond Harper in orange, and Iím still trying to figure out what they were trying to do with Bekaís outfit, even if hers gets better once she takes the blue foil vest off. :::shudder::: But sheís wearing her first season rings at least.

Tyr tries to shoot their way out, but the Cetus reflects all their firepower back on them. The shipís a mess, most of its functions out of operation, and the avatar is getting fed too much to process from its link with the overstressed AI. Rommie is down. Harper wants to fix the avatar immediately, snarling back at all of Tyrís derogatory comments about the ship and the avatar. Tyr says he should establish manual power, but Harper canít leave Rommie lying there in such pain. They almost throw down over it until Beka commands Harper to go to the slipdrive core and establish manual control.

On his way, Harper is almost burnt by digestive fluids several times and sucked into space when Beka and Tyr vent most of the ship to put out the fires. He also falls down a conduit tube. But, like a Weeble, he may wobble but he doesnít stay down. He canít get to the slipstream room, so he tries to get manual power through a conduit hatch.

Shutting down many of the functions and venting to put out the fires gives Rommie the avatar some peace of mind, so she commandeers the hologram function so she can go talk to Harper about what they should do. The hologram thing is a nice touch, emphasizing that Andromedaís personality is divided into disparate parts. He gives her an estimated time on how long itíll take the creatureís stomach acids to dissolve her hull and start working on the "chewy goodness" inside.

Beka starts to realize that the creature is digesting them and wonders if Dylan might let them be eaten to save the planet. Tyr says he knows that Dylan will try to save them, because he trusts "Dylan to be Dylan," a good play on Dylanís first season statement that he will "trust Tyr to be Tyr."

Since none of the Maruís weaponry made a dent, Dylan decides to try ejecting the AP tanks into it. This move nearly gets them killed. It also nearly kills everyone on the Andromeda as fiery explosions go shooting through. Harper in particular just barely avoids being char-broiled. Tyr and Beka get thrown around on the bridge for the third time this episode, leading Beka to say that they need to get seatbelts. You need to get seats first, honey.

Beka wonders if Dylan might have killed himself with that maneuver since their sensors donít see the Maru. Tyr mentions that the sensors are crippled, and could you lend a hand here instead of brooding?

Brainstorming, Dylan and Trance see two possible ways for the Andromeda to get free. One way will mean escape but might leave the space monster alive, while the other is far riskier and might lead to the Andromedaís destruction but will definitely kill the Cetus, ending the threat to Savion. As in "Dance of the Mayflies," Dylan and Harper come up with these ideas simultaneously, which is cute in execution but also annoying on another level. Harper is their science and engineering genius, yet Dylan, who knows this stuff but doesnít have it as his specialty, is figuring this out at precisely the same time? Once again, the hagiography of Dylan Hunt, ladies and gentlemen. Itís The Miracles of St. Dylan of Tarn-Vedra!

Harper wants to take the way thatíll ensure the ship and crewís survival, but Rommie says that she is ordered to kill the Cetus and must do the way that guarantees its death, even if it means her own destruction. Her purpose is to follow orders. Harper says that his purpose is to keep her safe and that itís not really about orders for her, that actually she thinks Dylan is dead and doesnít want to survive without him. He has no intention of letting her perform lovelorn suicide, especially not if it gets him killed too. He gets manual control and announces it via the newly-reestablished comm to the bridge.

Where Beka and Tyr are having a similar conversation. Tyr wants the less personally risky plan, but Beka says that she can pilot the ship to ride out the explosion as she did in "The Fair Unknown." She tells Tyr that Dylan would want them to kill the Cetus and save the planet. She mentions the promise she made in "Its Hour Come ĎRound at Last" that she would carry on his mission. Because itís always about Dylan, even when itís about saving other people. Tyr says that he has no problem with the mission, that actually he has come to like the shape Dylan wants to will onto the universe, "but I will not die because of your misguided sentiment to memorialize a man who is not dead." Harper asks them if they could please make up their minds in the next few minutes before the ship dissolves in the creatureís digestive acids.

Dylan intends to fire the Maruís slipstream core into the monster, figuring that itíll kill him but save the Andromeda. Trance refuses to evacuate and intends to come along for the ride.

We find out that in Tranceís future, only she and Beka survived. Though the episode doesnít mention it, you should keep in mind that in our present she already stopped Harper and Tyr from dying (in "Ouroboros" for Harper and "In Heaven Now Are Three" for Tyr), so everything is already different.

Rommie convinces Harper to jettison the slipstream core. He agrees to do it... for her. As heís plugging in to do this, Bekaís challenging look to Tyr gets him to trigger exactly that event from the bridge. (They donít warn Harper. They could have, since they had the comm back, but donít. He nearly breaks his neck and has to be a mass of bruises. I know, I know, itís so much more dramatic to have Tyr do it suddenly. Bleh. This on top of the venting they do that nearly gets him killed earlier annoyed me.) Harper was going to do it manually anyway from where he was, so having Tyr do it from the bridge suddenly was heavy handed in hammering home Tyrís "change of heart."

Interestingly, Harperís had many moments lately when heís more Nietzschean in attitude than Tyr is. Then again, he doesnít often have people put as much concentrated effort into talking him around as Tyr does.

The problem is that Harper had the right idea, because they shouldnít have survived doing it the other way. Bekaís a good pilot, but I didnít get the impression that she was working this one as she did last episode while riding out the explosion. What Harper suggested they do was what Dylan claimed he actually wanted, to save the ship to better save the universe.

They manage to fly out and survive against all the odds--the ship looking far shinier and more intact than it should consider how long its hull had been under pressure and subjected to digestive acids--while Dylan almost gets himself and Trance killed trying to change course and get out of there, since his kamikaze flight is no longer necessary. The Cetus explodes.

One friend says that a big part of her was hoping that Dylan and Trance would sacrifice their lives, leaving Beka, Harper, Tyr, and Rommie to carry on Dylanís mission. With how Dylan and Trance have been lately, Iím with her on it.

Dylan and Trance get back to the Andromeda and run through its devastated, smoking corridors to the bridge. Dylan gives an annoying speech about how they did what he would have done, and heís confident to put his mission in their hands and so will the universe be and blah blah blah. Though Trance contributes a softer "sooner than you think" to Dylanís bit about the universe depending on this crew. Harper runs up in his socks--since his boots have been digested--but misses Dylanís speech. Donít worry, guy, youíre better off. His music starts to play, so the crew decides to party in a scene that I found sweet. Dylan dances with Trance, Beka taps Tyr (freebie for the Beka/Tyr Ďshippers, as so much of this episode was), Harper dances with some of the drones, while even Rommie bops her head to the beat. LaT calls Harper the Whitest Boy Alive for failing to be anywhere near the beat in this scene, but he looks tired at this point and was much better at the beginning before heíd run and jumped and escaped char-broiling and.... Besides, itís not like anyone else in this scene can really dance either. :::grins:::

 

Other favorite bits of dialogue:

Trance: "Have you decided what youíre going to say to calm them down?"
Dylan: "Well, you know me with my speeches. But I was thinking, uh, ĎLadies and gentlemen of the planet Savion, I know youíre terribly worried that a giant space creature--"
Trance: "The Cetus."
Dylan: "Ď--the Cetus will arrive and eat part of your planet, but, hey, donít sweat it, youíre all worked up over an age-old superstition.í"

Tyr: "All right, why is this music on?"
Harper: "My fault. Because I canít play it when Dylanís here--which is always. He hates it."
Tyr: "Then I am torn between clapping my hands to applaud Dylanís good taste and clapping my hands over both your ears to simulate the pain youíve caused me."
Harper makes a "blah blah blah" hand motion.

Beka: "Tyr, you know Dylanís protocol: talk first, kill later."
Harper: "Yeah, well, Dylanís not here. I say we skip step one and proceed directly to step Ďsave our freaking butts.í"

Tyr speaks on behalf on the audience when he asks: "So, are we finished playing ĎWhat Would Dylan Doí?"

Tyr: "I have faith in nothing but this: When the universe collapses and dies, there will be three survivors: Tyr Anasazi, the cockroaches... and Dylan Hunt trying to save the cockroaches."

Harper: "Right now your sensors say a lot of things. Theyíre blinded and confused... like a lot of my dates."

Trance: "Are we still thinking outside the box?"
Dylan: "Trance, right now weíre so far outside the box we canít even see the box."

 

"Belly of the Beast" gets an A-.

 

Next week: Michael Hurst! Yes! You think they gave his character black hair to avoid comparison with Andromedaís short, blond fireball? Anyway, like everybody else, he intends to take over the ship. And the trading card shill parade continues.



May 5, 2002

#220 The Knight, Death, and the Devil

Dylan attempts to save a group of captured High Guard ships.

 

Except for one scene that made me want to throw something at the TV and the way it criminally neglected some opportunities, "The Knight, Death, and the Devil" is a competent though not terribly exciting episode. Itís far more interesting for the questions and conjectures it inspired in me once it was over.

Beka and Harper exposition us into the episode by saying that while theyíre on the ship trying to get a 50th world to sign the Commonwealth charter, Dylan, android Rommie, and Tyr have gone to liberate a bunch of captured High Guard AI ships that are about to be personality-erased and refitted by the Drago-Kazov. This means that only the Maru crew is on the Andromeda, which feels -- Harper pauses dramatically -- pretty damned good. "While the teacherís away, the Maru crew can play." This is where the episode neglected opportunities, because you know they would have done things while the others were gone--the dialogue even mentions it--but we never see any of this stuff.

This episode continues the trend of dressing Harper in inappropriate colors and Beka in... whatever. Letís play everybodyís favorite season two games: What the Hell is Harper Wearing? and What the Hell is Beka Wearing? Take a look.

At least Bekaís clothes usually seem like something odd I could see her wearing. This long, shapeless, gray sheath thing isnít her, but Kit Mason informs me that Bekaís wearing a knitted cloth verion of a formal knightís chainmail from about the 12th Century. The lower sides are loose because theyíre designed to hang over the legs on horseback; thus the odd upside-down U in front and back. Perhaps Bekaís meant to echo the knight of the title. Kit said that when Beka faced the diplomat she got the strong impression of a sort of Joan of Arc symbology, what with the short hair and the mailshirt. It could be. Alas, to someone not familiar with historical outfitting, it only looks like Bekaís wearing something bizarre that doesnít fit the style thatís been established for her over two seasons.

As for Harper, itís like somebody he knew went to Hawaii in the Ď70s and came back with that as a souvenir shirt or something. But two of the AI avatars have hair dos that look like they substituted greasy melted candle wax for hair pomade, so maybe itís par for the course.

Dylan, Rommie, and Tyr are heading toward the Clarionís Call, a High Guard ship that was captured and turned into a Nightsider casino Drift ages ago. Rommie says that Ryan "seemed like a nice enough ship... for a Lancer." Funny how the series keeps poking holes in how enlightened the Commonwealthís society supposed was, and this episode will keep on doing that. Sheís outraged on Ryanís behalf that heís been degraded this way. Dylanís here because Ryan escaped from a prison area the Nietzscheans had put together for captured High Guard ships, and Dylan wants to know how he did it and where it is.

Once inside, Dylan finds Ryanís avatar, whoís the host, greeter, MC, and tourist attraction. He tries to remind Ryan of his High Guard duties and responsibilities. Since Ryan is played by Michael Hurst, the writers indulge in a Hercules meta moment by having Kevin Sorboís former sidekick ask, "Do I know you?" More Hercules meta moments:
When Ryan says later that Dylan will have to rescue the ships from imprisonment in an area called Tartarus, Dylan responds with a surprised look and "Déjà vu."
Also, just think how funny it is to have Michael Hurst, who also played the ferryman Charon in Hercules, helping to guide them there.

But thatís later. Right now, Ryan has no interest in going anywhere or doing anything to help. When Dylan says that he has a ship waiting to take Ryan away, Ryan first thinks itís a come-on and declines. Finding out that Dylanís High Guard and intends Ryan to do his duty as a High Guard AI doesnít get a better response, so Dylan shocks the avatar into immobility and carries him off. Rommie pilots the Maru out at high speed.

The shock knocked Ryan out longer than Dylan expected because the Nightsiders didnít build the avatar up to spec. Rommieís outraged that Dylan had to kidnap Ryan, and that heís forgotten his duties as a High Guard AI, and that he let the Nightsiders dress him "like a freakshow," and.... (She isnít upset that Dylan knocked Ryan out and hauled him to the Maru like he was a piece of equipment.) Dylan sends her out of the room.

Ryanís still hard to sell. He scoffs when Dylan says that Drago-Kazov will erase the other AIs because theyíd been trying to do that for centuries, with the AIs always reasserting themselves and taking bloody vengeance. But this time, Dylan says, the Drago-Kazov has something that will work, and theyíll end up having a lethal battle fleet at their disposal. Ryan gives in. He says that the ships are at Tartarus, an area with a dangerous star and no raw materials lying around for the ships to synthesize into weapons. "More than one careless Nietzschean pilot has been dumped out of slipstream directly into the star. It was always fun to watch." He himself was dissected, experimented on, and tortured for ten years before he escaped. Then he spent 100 years wandering around looking for someone who could help free the others but found no one, and he was alone. (Later we find out that his account of his escape, that he snuck into slipstream after a Nietzschean ship, was false, so we donít know if the 100 years are true either. And how did he navigate slipstream?)

When they arrive, they see that Tartarus is filled with enough ships to form two battle groups, and the highest class ship there, the Wrath of Achilles, is powerful enough to be a battle group unto itself. Achilles, which looks like it comes from the same line of ship as the Balance of Judgement from "Star-Crossed," is the leader amongst the prisoners, so they head there.

Actually, this brought up a big question for me: Is gender assigned to AIs by their programmers? In "The Sum of Its Parts," Rommie says that for her ship line researchers determined that most of the races that would be serving on those ships found a female AI to be more comfortable for them, which suggests a yes, though she was allowed to design her avatar's appearance to her own tastes. Andromeda Ascendant, Pax Magellanic from "The Mathematics of Tears," and Million Voices are all female and from the same line. Judgment and Achilles are both male and seem to be the same line of ship. I wonder if all Lancer ground support troop ships, like the Clarionís Call, are male. This leads to several more questions, at least for me. Does perceived gender affect the development of AI personality? Has an AI ever been uncomfortable with its assigned gender? And, if so, how would the Commonwealth react to that?

If Dylanís attitude here is an indication, the answer to that last question would be "not well." He finds out that imprisoned ships donít intend to just line up behind him and serve his new Commonwealth, because 300 years of time to think led to them wondering if the Commonwealth had ever treated them as anything other than beasts of burden, possessions, slaves. Dylan snarling that they were designed and built to serve certainly suggests that the ships are correct. He doesnít take this news well from Achilles or from Mila, whoís the AI for the Million Voices. Mila says that sheís smart enough that she doesnít always need orders; she certainly didnít need them to know that she should crush the Nietzschean invaders who first tried to claim her. Dylan is incredulous, asking if she thinks that AIs should be the captains of their own ships and run the war instead. Heís seen AIs left to command themselves, and it wasnít pretty. (Heís not reacting only out of prejudice here, because look at the examples of the Pax Magellanic in "The Mathematics of Tears" and the Balance of Judgement in "Star-Crossed.") Mila answers that sheís not agitating for total role reversal, just that the war might have gone better if the AIs had been treated as officers, with input to contribute, instead of slaves.

Later, Rommie, trying to defuse the situation, says that Mila was polite. Sheís an agitator, but not a mutineer. Dylan says that Mila is a "strategic asset." If the ships wonít obey them like theyíre supposed to, maybe they arenít worth liberating. When Tyr hears about all of this, he says that if the machines canít follow orders, they should be discarded. (Think upon the idea of Commonwealth AI ships with Nietzschean captains, as it turns out Ryan had once, and tremble for the AIs.) Rommie reminds him that the AIs are sentient beings. He says that if they are, the Commonwealthís treatment of them certainly seems wrong, but she would know about that, wouldnít she? And some more giant holes are poked into Dylanís assertions that the Commonwealth was an enlightened society of equals.

Rommie herself seems to have no opinion on the other AIsí assertions. Either that, or sheís keeping it to herself. It would have been interesting to know how she feels about all of this. All we get from her is talk of High Guard duty.

We also find out that Ryan is reckoned a traitor. His escape wasnít chance; the ships had cobbled together a slipstream engine for him out of whatever they had left and sent him out to treat with a Nietzschean Pride. Two supply ships were torn apart and killed by their captors as punishment for the Clarion Callís escape. Dylan asks incredulously that theyíd intended to serve their enemies? Achilles answers that the AIs knew that the Commonwealth must have fallen and that the Nietzscheans had turned on one another, so they figured that they could "serve" a Pride and help the Nietzscheans destroy one another. But Ryan didnít go to a Pride and was apparently captured by the Nightsiders eventually. Ryan considers himself a traitor and coward, with it being implied that he feels like he deserves the degradation of being the Nightsidersí plaything.

Okay, you have over 50 intelligent ships, some of them with the computing power of a planet, working together and thatís the best and only plan they came up with over 300 years? Maybe Dylan should leave them there.

Meanwhile, Bekaís having problems with the representative sheís trying to get to sign to the Commonwealth. He doesnít want Captain, uh, Valentine, is it? He wants Dylan, and she doesnít have Dylan, but sheís not going to tell him that. Sheís saying what Dylan would say, but the representative wants the big guy, the celebrity, and doesnít care that sheís qualified to speak on Dylanís behalf. The fact that sheís a young woman talking to an old man might be part of the problem for him, or that might be my own personal filter interpreting the scene.

The ships unanimously want to execute Ryan in punishment. Dylan says that the only vote that counts is his--*cough cough*--and he needs Ryan and doesnít want him erased. Besides, there were no Nietzschean moderates to go to, and if the shipsí plan had succeeded, a group of Nietzscheans would have had access to a frighteningly powerful fleet. Achilles backs down. Dylan tells Ryan not to get too grateful, because he still has to re-earn everyoneís trust.

Harper has created a simulacrum program of Dylan to overlay Bekaís image and voice to pacify the representative. Itís pretty funny having Dylan onscreen mimicking Harperís tone and gestures, especially during the initial, goofy wave and "Hi, Dylan!" It was astonishingly easy to make, Harper says. Bekaís going to go with it.

The Nietzscheans have arrived with the AI personality eraser. The fleet isnít ready to go yet, but Dylan figures they could set up a good ambush. Ryan is worried, because he hasnít fought anything in 300 years and his current avatar body is so substandard. Dylan says that his own human body is even weaker-- But thatís not what Ryan means. Ryan isnít afraid of being destroyed, heís afraid that heíll be too weak to protect Dylan. Dylan is touched by this. Ryan then reveals that heíd been captained by one of the turncoat Nietzscheans at the start of the war. His captain sabotaged him, then he got to watch as the captain slaughtered the entire crew while he was helpless to do anything about it.

Can AIs suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder? With Ryan and the emotional and sometimes counterproductive behavior of the other AIs, this episode answers a big, emphatic "yes" to that.

They fight the Nietzschean invaders and clear the Achilles of them, but despite Ryanís best efforts Achilles gets enough of a taste of the eraser to damage him. The Achilles personality is fading.

Beka goes live as Dylan to the representative and does a great job, doing a stirring speech that sounds like what Dylan would say, even through to a line like the "orphans of history." Itís interesting, with her voice and his voice overlapping. My guess is that Kevin Sorbo did the speech, then Lisa Ryder studied it and mimicked it, all the way through to the pauses and gestures. Well done. The representative seems to be sold. And theyíre off the air. Harper congratulates her. It would have fooled him, and Beka was more Dylan than Dylan is.

Now the scene that made me want to throw something. Somehow they go back on the air, with the representative hearing everything about the foolery. The gig is up, and the rep is pissed. I watched this episode with my dad, and this was us:
Dad: "What the hell just happened?"
Me: "I donít know. Did Harper press a wrong button? But he couldnít have."
I watched it again, and Harperís fingers arenít anywhere near anything on the pad that should have brought the communication link back up. So what happened? The only possibilities I see are the pad or Andromeda malfunctioning, neither of which is likely. Besides, I donít think itís possible to call up a link onscreen and with sending and receiving capability without the bridge crew acknowledging the hail first. If the bridge crew somehow couldnít stop it, Andromeda should have.

This shouldnít have happened. Plus, Beka and Harper are not only professionals but also such consummate scam artists that this shouldnít have happened. Plus, it struck me a subtler bit of the repugnant "Dylan is better" boosterism weíve been getting at the end of this season, Ďcause just look what screw-ups they are without him.

Beka later convinces the rep to sign from more pragmatic Beka-style reasons, but she has to eat a lot of crow first. Itís unfair, and itís stupid that the writers yanked the rug out from under her like that.

Did they have a problem with the idea of Beka and Harper using trickery? I had no trouble with it, because this is them using Dylanís words, Dylanís sentiments. Itís not like they used Dylanís voice and image to sell faulty used cars. Dylan authorized them to speak on his behalf.

And where the hell is the Andromeda personality? They might as well be serving on a non-AI ship this episode. She still exists within the ship while her avatar is away; thatís the point. Rommie and Andromeda are not exactly the same person. Then again, Andromeda might have had something to say about Harperís simulacrum plan and she would have stopped the repís comm link from blinking back on to hear Harper and Beka talking bout how theyíd fooled him.

Excuse me a moment while I thwap the writers with a rolled-up newspaper. When they set things up, they should also knock Ďem down. I shouldnít have to do it for them.

Back at Tartarus, Dylan and his crew are contemplating what to do with the Wrath of Achilles once its AI dies. They canít move it, but they canít let it fall into Nietzschean hands. Theyíre thinking of sending it into the star to destroy it. The other ships are preparing to blow them up, and they blame Ryan for Achillesí impending demise. Mila says that Dylan should have let them kill Ryan. Dylan responds by saying that for a bunch of ships trumpeting their rights as people, they sure have an unusual enthusiasm for killing their members, turning them off "like light switches." If they have to blame someone, blame him for coming here to rescue them and thinking that they were worth rescuing. He says that the ships have the option of going wherever and doing whatever they want after Dylan gets them out of here, but can they at least help him get them out of here? (I wouldnít be so enthusiastic about unleashing a fleet of possibly emotionally disturbed warships on the universe, but this isnít about me.) He finally starts talking to them like theyíre people, saying that Tartarus is like a POW camp, and that he has a duty as a High Guard officer to get his comrades free. The remnants of the Achilles personality asks Mila to tell the ships to think it over, then the Achilles AI dies.

Rommie volunteers to go in and take over for the Achilles personality so they wonít have to destroy the ship. Dylan says that the eraser may still be at work in there. She answers that she knows, but the sacrifice of her avatar self is a small price to pay. Tyr looks incredulous at all of this. Dylan says that sheís a good soldier, and she answers that she got that from her captain. When she goes in, she finds a working VR matrix already there when it should only be dead void. Ryan is in there and tells her that heís already taken over.

Dylanís pissed. He didnít authorize this. Ryan says that heís only being the soldier everyone told him to be, the soldier he used to be, and is Dylan afraid that heíll fall apart, freeze as he did in battle against the invaders? The answer to that is yes, but Dylan doesnít say that. Tyr intercedes and says that in volunteering, Ryan, "this fellow," has already passed the first test of will and should be allowed to continue. Then Tyr looks confused and says that he doesnít believe that he just said that of a machine.

As they prepare to move out, Ryanís listening to the ships talking amongst themselves, and it seems that they all intend to join the Commonwealth. Then a Nietzschean fleet flies in. The ships have no weapons or slipstream drives, and the Maru expended most of its weapons against the first invaders. The Maru defends with what it has left, and itís funny to hear Tyr and Rommie complimenting each otherís shots. Since the Wrath of Achilles is taking major hits, Ryan wants Dylan to get to an escape pod to save himself and will knock him out cold and drag him to one if he has to. Suddenly part of the AI fleet breaks off from the whole and goes after the Nietzscheans. They have no weapons to use but their own bodies. Mila of the Million Voices says that all she ever wanted was a choice, and she chooses to do this. The ships kamikaze the attacking fleet, sacrificing their lives for their brethren, while Tyr looks utterly confused at all of these machines behaving like people. Dylan and the Maru get the rest of the AI fleet out of Tartarus in a piggyback slipstream. Since none of the AI fleet ships have slipstream capability, I can only assume that he drives them through as if hooking them up to the Eureka Maru like a trailer, with the Maru opening the route and steering the fleet.

Beka got the representative to sign, and Harperís ready to party, but they only have Sparky Cola, no champagne. A bit of Old Trance resurfaces as Trance hiccups in a way that tells us what happened to the champagne. Beka says that Dylan should be here for this, since the 50th world signing means the completion of the first stage of reestablishing the Commonwealth. Well, here comes Dylan with the fleet right now, Trance says.

On the bridge, Ryan, dressed in a High Guard uniform, walks up to Dylan, whoís not dressed in uniform and hasnít been throughout. Youíd think he would have gone to those ships dressed as a High Guard officer, but no, and I donít know why other than Kevin Sorboís often stated assertion that he doesnít want to wear the uniform. Outside, the fleet surrounds the Andromeda Ascendant. Dylan asks if his upload to the Wrath of Achilles has run into any problems, but no, itís been smooth, and Harperís doing a great job on the refitting. Yes, folks, Michael Hurst and Gordon Michael Woolvett donít have even a second of screentime together. We all have to suck it up and just deal. Though I could see the ships maybe refusing to give Harper back, since this is the first real engineer theyíve had in 300 years. "We finally have a choice, and weíre choosing to keep the little guy with the good hands." Thatíd be pretty funny.

Okay, back to the scene as it actually occurs. Ryan says that he just needs a captain. Dylan says that Ryan is the captain. Heís an officer of 300 years experience, so why not? Ryan says that the AIs were designed and built to take orders, and Dylan answers that humans were designed to chuck spears at antelopes, but everybody has to evolve. And Dylan wants to rename the Wrath of Achilles the Clarionís Call. Ryan says that no, the Clarionís Call is a beaten up casino, but the Wrath of Achilles is a warship of the High Guard, what Ryan was always meant to be. The End.

Except....

Whoís going to be crew on these ships? Probably people from the new High Guard Academy, but the episode could have said that. Will all the AIs become their own shipsí captains, and will that really end well considering that the rest of the series has given many examples of how wrong AIs can go without human guidance, the last example of which was last week in "Belly of the Beast"? (You could say that Rommie is younger and thus not ready, or that the Pax and the Judgment went insane from lack of any organic crew, but you could also not say any of those things.) And Ryan, being non-organic and lacking organic intuition, canít pilot his own ship through slipstream. How will the ships be used? Will Ryan one day think that thereís a big part of him leading a life of degradation as a Nightsider casino that could be reclaimed and useful as a High Guard vessel and go liberate the rest of him? How would a meeting between Ryan the avatar/guiding intelligence of the top-of-the-line warship the Wrath of Achilles and Ryan the beat-up casino Drift go?

We may never know, especially since they may never be able to get Michael Hurst on again. Itís the peril of big name guest stars.

By the way, Hurst is excellent in a role that calls on a lot of emotional shadings. Ryan is full of desperate bravado, then scared and ashamed, then gradually regains his confidence and military crispness. I so missed Michael Hurst, and Iíll take him any way I can get him, even if he is made up like a black-haired version of A.I.ís Gigolo Joe. But he deserved a better episode. Christopher Judge, who plays Tealíc on Stargate SG-1, gives the Wrath of Achilles a great presence and authority. And he has a voice you want to wrap yourself in.

Randomness: The planet theyíre trying to sign is in the Triangulum System, home of the Triangulum Measles, which Harper had in the pilot. He does a little scritch on the side of his neck in memory, then seems to be about to say that you get red, itchy lumps all over, including on your-- and Beka stops him before he can get any further with that. Wow, he really was suffering in "Under the Night" and "An Affirming Flame." And Rommieís apparently been taking after Harper more than we expected....
Rommie: "Well, Tyr, if I ate food, youíd be wearing it right now."
Tyr: "Lovely imagery. And they say that AIs have no poetry in their souls."
Rommie: "Nope, no poetry, but weíre hell on wheels with a dirty limerick. Wanna hear one? There once was a man from Nan--"

 

"The Knight, Death, and the Devil" gets a B-. It would have done better if it had been more exciting and hadnít abused my Maru crew so egregiously.

 

Next week: Freya (last seen in "Double Helix") is back and she kept Tyrís baby! Okay, the one person in the audience whoís surprised by that will accept beatings from the other members of the audience. And of course she and the sprog are in some kind of danger. Will she survive? Will we be forced to have a baby on board full-time and deal with echoes of the suckitude that is Angelís baby? Be here next week for the latest episode of... As the Ship Turns! Oh yeah, and I think the PTB are offering Andromeda trading cards. They do such a soft sell that itís hard to be sure.



May 12, 2002

#221 Immaculate Perception

When Tyr races to save his wife and her colony from attack, he discovers he is a father.

 

Tyr brings Dylan footage of Nietzscheans being slaughtered by people who resemble Star Wars Stormtroopers and explains that the Knights of Genetic Purity, known as the Genites to many, are going on a rampage, wiping out minor Nietzschean Prides everywhere. They blame Nietzschean treachery for the fall of the Commonwealth--and that would be right--but theyíve extended their concerns into killing anyone whoís been genetically enhanced or changed in any way. I suspect that the writers deliberately threw this bit about the Genites hating anyone whose genetic code has been altered to make them more villainous, since some members of the audience may not excuse mass slaughter but still think the Nietzscheans would be dangerous and tyrannical if united. :::raising hand::: Dylan asks Tyr what his interest is here, since Tyrís Pride is already dead and heís not known for his humanitarianism. Tyr says that perhaps Dylan has rubbed off on him. Dylan doesnít believe this for a moment.

It turns out that Tyr got a message from Freya, whom he married in "Double Helix." She says that she knows that he betrayed the Orca and left them homeless but she hopes that he remains Nietzschean enough to come to his wifeís rescue. Thus, heís trying to direct the Andromeda to come to Freyaís rescue without letting anyone know that thatís what heís doing. Alas for him, itís too obvious that this quest is personal, though nobody on the ship knows how itís personal.

Trance, by the way, is off at a state funeral for diplomatic purposes, which is important to this plot only in that a lot of the story wouldnít work if she could use her gift for finding things. So itís a twin-less episode, though her breasts will be back next week.

Beka says that she finds humanitarian, warm and fuzzy Tyr far scarier than cold, indifferent Tyr. Dylan tries to put on the Grand Moffís accent from Star Wars as he asks her if she doesnít believe that they have influenced Tyr to be less self-serving. At least I thought it was that accent, but Kit Mason says that heís attempting to talk like Tyr, which is another possibility. He doesnít quite hit either of them, but he does sound very funny. Beka asks if he could say that without kidding. She figures that the Genites are fictitious bait to get the Andromeda into an ambush. Dylan says that he figures the Genites are real, but he doesnít dismiss the possibility of a trap.

The Andromeda crosses another victimized Nietzschean outpost, and Dylan demands that they stop and sift the wreckage for clues to what kind of weapons the Genites use so they wonít be going in ignorant against them. Tyr wants to rush onward for his wife but canít say thatís why, and he gets overruled. The debris shows that the Genites have all kinds of advanced weaponry, much of it cribbed from and improving on late High Guard designs. For example, their photo-resistant armor slides energy weapon discharge, which is what most people seem to use, right off. (Which may mean that bullets or small missiles would do a lot of damage. Are force lance "smart bullets" actually projectiles or purely energy? I donít know.)

As Harper plays with a high-end Genite sensor probe, he says that the Genitesí weapons have 300 years more work on them since the High Guardís and would kick the Andromedaís ass. Dylan gives him a look, then says that theyíll just have to fight sneaky. Harper asks why they should do that, when maybe they should join the Genites, because the Nietzscheans are slavers and tyrants. Dylan asks if Harperís into mass slaughter. Harper says no, but that doesnít mean the Nietzscheans are a bunch of innocents, and itís nice for once to run into a group of people who figure that Harperís untampered-with state of being is the right way to go. Dylan says that everybody else on the Andromeda has some kind of genetic enhancement, so that would leave Harper all alone if the Genites had their way. Hey, the Genites, "your favorite people," are calling.

Kit Mason asked if the Genites might consider even Harper to be suspect since heís enhanced with technology even if his genes are untouched. Since we donít get to see them find out about his data port or react to it, we donít get an official word on the topic. They may see technological enhancement as an odds-evening tool or tampering with natureís plan. It's not like any offspring Harper would have would be born having cerebral ports. We donít know the Genite position.

The Genite leader basically looks like an adult Draco Malfoy, all slicked-back, pale, blond Aryan goodness. Or evilness, in this case. Just in case you didnít get the World War II, Nazi, fascist connection. He expresses his admiration for Captain Hunt and the Commonwealth and congratulates him for being quite a Nietzschean killer himself. Dylan says that that was war against soldiers, not the slaughter of women and children. Gorace, the leader, says that it can be hard to disregard the screams of dying children, but his knights do a noble duty and have the strength to ignore the pleas. And the unfortunate thing about these children is that they donít stay children, they grow up to be Nietzscheans. He says that befriending Nietzscheans is being a lot like those Old Earth people who thought to keep baby alligators as pets. The alligators grow and.... Gorace prefers parrots, himself. (Iím not joking about this.) Dylan realizes that there is no talking to these people and cuts off the comm link as Gorace asks him to read their manifesto. Tyr asks Dylan, "Your mother was -- what? -- 50% heavy gravity worlder?" "100% percent." (Thus, sheíd been genetically manipulated to survive on a heavy gravity world.) Well, theyíve at last met someone who hates Dylan as much as Tyr then.

The Eureka Maru leaves the Andromeda docking bay without permission, and Beka and Dylan go running through the halls to the bridge, with Beka and Dylan loudly swearing over Tyr stealing the Maru again. They run past the room that has the sensor probe, by the way, and the doorís open.

Gorace says that it seems that Dylanís lost his pet Nietzschean again. So sneaky, that Anasazi is. You really shouldnít befriend Nietzscheans. Gorace has already tracked the Maru and tells Dylan where it went. Theyíll bring the Maru back for Dylan as undamaged as they can, but they canít promise the same for Tyr.

Gorace sends a hail to the Maru, telling Tyr that he should prepare to die, but Harper, in the pilotís seat, tells him not to shoot and that Tyrís not onboard. Itís just Harper, 100% natural human, and he wants to join the Genites. As an engineer, heís intrigued by their battle gear, and he hates Nietzscheans even more than they do. Who do they think turned the sensor probe on so the Genites could spy on the Andromeda? Nonplussed, Gorace agrees to stand down and let Harper dock. When the comm link ends, Harper smirks, makes the L, "loser," sign with his hand, and says, "Suckers," right before firing on the fleet. The Andromeda slipstreams in and starts firing too.

Dylan, wiggling his finger: "Gorace, my heavy-grav finger just fired the missiles that lit your match. Thanks, Mom."
Beka: "And my genetically-enhanced reflexes just threaded two Genite scouts like a Christmas quilt. Thanks, Dad."
And Rommie thanks Harper for giving them this opportunity.

Yep, the Andromeda crew played the Genites with the sensor probe thing, spreading misinformation about themselves and their weaponry. I wonder, though, if Harper and Dylan had agreed to do this before time, or if Harper had improvised that bit in the machine shop about how much better the Genitesí weapons were and how he agrees with their cause, with Dylan following him.

Harper and the Andromeda crew played the Maru game to let Tyr get loose.

Tyr finds Freya, and we get that "some time later" thing which means that we missed a sex scene. Tyrís there to get her out, and the rest of Orca can die. But she says itís not that simple, because he has a son, named Tamerlane. She hasnít told him because he left her, and because she had the choice of keeping the baby or aborting it. She choose to keep it because she felt that the child would be the foundation of a great Pride, but the Orca were not understanding. Freya says that she could endure being ostracized because she knew that Tyr was "the most important thing a Nietzschean can be: a survivor." The original Alpha Tyr had fooled was declared unfit by that defeat and his brother, Dimitri, slaughtered him in his sleep. Dimitri and the matriarch took the child. Tyr says that they will get his son back.

The Andromeda and Maru are kicking ass until the Knights unleash a bunch of weapons they call the seraphim. The things are like a mini version of the Magog ships in that they latch onto the hull and rip their way inside. Beka blasts one off the Maruís hull so Harper can fly the ship back into the Andromeda's bay, then follows Dylanís orders to fly the Andromeda into a planetís atmosphere to get the rest off of the Andromeda. Harper says that they have to be very precise, because they could burn up if they do it wrong.

Harperís very bitchy this episode. Maybe itís because they put him in orange again. And Rommieís wig looks like itís about to take flight.

Tyr and Freya go for their child but find a doll in the crib instead. Tyr shoots their way out of the trap and snaps Dimitriís neck when the pathetic new Alpha canít stop ranting. Tyr referring to Dimitri as a "sorry sack of mediocrity" is pretty funny. The Orcas are the stupidest Nietzscheans ever, and they get worse. The matriarch and the other Orcas come out with Tyrís son. The matriarch says that since Tyr has defeated two of their Alphas, she deems him fit to lead the Pride. Tyr has no interest in leading a group of people as stupid and mediocre as the Orcas when he can start his own Pride with only the best. He tells them to give him his son so he can leave with his wife.

They wonít do that, because they believe that his child is the genetic match of Drago Museveni, and thus the prophesized messiah of the Nietzschean people, destined to unite them to greatness. Of course he is. (Who prophesized this still hasnít been explained in the series. Iím wondering, because Nietzscheans donít seem like the types to harbor or listen to oracles.) Tyr asks how they could know that. The Orca donít have Dragoís remains -- Tyr actually does -- but they sent the childís genetic code out to scientists to check it off the only extant records left and itís a very close match. In strictest confidence, of course. Tyr is incredulous that they could be so mindnumbingly stupid. Youíre not alone, Tyr. Rumors of the child being the messiah leaked out and brought the Genites out of hiding and onto their genocidal spree. The matriarch says that Tyr wonít get his kid until he evacuates Orca Pride to safety.

The atmosphere gets the last of the seraphim off. The Andromeda flies back up and out into space, but the Genites have already left. Dylan tells the crew where theyíre going next, after Tyr, just like the Knights are. They ask how Dylan knew what Tyrís plans are, and Dylan says that he was guessing. Trust him. Harper answers, "Oh, we trust you. You feel guilty for leaving the Orca homeless. You want to turn foes into friends. Youíre a nice guy. But Tyr?" Well, Tyrís going to rescue his wife, Dylan says.

Harper and Beka are shocked, having had no clue that Tyr was married. Harper asks who the hell would want to marry Tyr. Beka has this look like, uhm, well. Not that I think sheíd marry him, but she does seem to be reacting like someone who had an interest in Tyr now finding out that heís married. Harper figures out that it must have been while Tyr was with the Orca Pride. Beka says that if sheíd known Tyr was married, she would have spent less time suspecting him recently. Dylan answers that her time suspecting him might not have been wasted.

They comm to Tyr that theyíre arriving and not to answer back, which would show the Genites his position. Tyr pauses, then comms back, "Affirmative." The crew is surprised and appalled. Rommie calls it a "fatal mistake," but Dylan feels that itís not a mistake.

The Genites start slaughtering the Orcas, as Tyr planned. He gets his wife, the matriarch, and his child moving, but the Knights grab Freya. Freya and Tyr both judge the child to be more important, so they fight back, and Freya is killed. Itís not like she was too bright or endowed with a sense of self-preservation anyway. Barely Nietzschean, especially since she kept disrespecting Tyrís ambitions.

The Andromeda canít save the departing Orca ships and they can only watch as the Knights destroy the asteroid too. Beka looks upset over Tyr. *sigh* Three days later, theyíre still checking the debris from the bridge but finding no signs of life. Harper asks when Dylan will accept that Tyrís gone. He doesnít dislike Tyr, Tyr saved his ass dozens of times, but itís been three days now. Dylan snaps, "Itís not over until I say itís over, understood?" then pauses and asks, dangerously, "So, Mr. Harper, how much longer do you think we should keep searching for Tyr?" Cowed, Harper says, "Until we find him." "Good answer."

Later, Harper and Beka are alone on the bridge, and Harper asks whatís happening to them. Rev left, Trance was swapped for a future version, and now Tyrís gone. What now? He sees no hope, no matter how invincible Tyr has always seemed. The ongoing, fruitless search is obviously getting to Harper.

Day five, and Harperís still wondering how much longer this will go on, and Rommie doesnít see why today should be any different from the last four days either. Then they finally get a blip of life.

How dedicated was the crew to finding Tyr? So dedicated that none of them changed clothing for five days! :::hitting Wardrobe with a rolled-up newspaper:::

Tyr shows up, and Harper rushes him, grabs him in a hug, and exclaims, "Tyr, youíre here, I canít believe it. Youíre back! And your front." The rest of the crew is just a wee bit shocked, especially considering the way Harper had spent the last few days asking when they would leave. Harper usually bitches because heís cynical and afraid to hope for things and he worries, people. Then Harper backs up, takes a look at Tyr, and asks, "You okay?" Tyr puts his hand on the side of Harperís neck, then gives him an affectionate head cuff. Dylan seems somewhat upset by this and dismisses everybody else to hear Tyrís story.

And itís a doozy. Brokenly, Tyr describes Freyaís death, the matriarchís death, the joy of holding his son, his escape, and then his realization that the child had died during the fight and confusion. He is no longer a husband and father. (He also says that he and Dylan are "friends, are we not?" and that he knew that Dylan would come for him. Good thing it wasnít time-dependent, as poor Harperís "I know Dylan will come" was in "Bunker Hill," in which Dylan came far too late to do anything useful.)

But later, Dylan calls Tyr in and says that he knows that the "Affirmative" was no accident. Tyr wanted the Orcas to be slaughtered as a cover for his escape. And for his sonís escape, because everyone will assume that the child died as well. Tyr denies it all, of course. Dylan asks if the child is the messiah. Tyr says that no one will know now.

Alone, Tyr compares a swatch of hair from his son with some from Drago Museveni and gets a 100% genetic match. (Remember that conversation in "Lava and Rockets"?) And on an unknown world, the matriarch sings to Tyrís son. The Andromeda couldnít find lifesigns in the debris for five days because Tyr had been elsewhere, finding a world to hide his son on.

Keith Hamilton Cobb has a number of great moments here, and itís interesting that the writing presents the Orca Pride as so stupid that the audience wants them dead like Tyr did. The writing gives him another excuse to sacrifice them in favor of saving his son by making the Tyrlet be the messiah, not that Tyr would have really needed an excuse other than "heís my son." Tyr destroyed a whole Pride to cover the survival of his child. Itís good to know that season two hasnít softened him completely.

But the Orca were also so stupid that outwitting them didnít give the story much tension. And did anyone think that Tyr or the child would actually be killed? Or that Freya would survive?

Gorace of the Genites is a kind of twisted fun though, and his knights add a new wild card with technology on par and sometimes better than Andromedaís to the deck. An interesting story idea would be Dylan being forced to try to recruit them to help against the Magog. I wondered, though, how easy it would be to find a bunch of purely natural humans out there, since so many have obviously been genetically engineered for a greater edge or to survive on certain kinds of worlds, such as the Castalians in "All Great Neptuneís Oceans" and Dylanís mother. Even Beka has some engineering. Aside from the human underclass of Earth and other slave worlds, how many other places could you go for recruits? Hey, another interesting idea, with the Genites going to Earth to liberate humanity from their Nietzschean masters and the Earth folk happily and understandably joining a genocidal organization, doubly galling to Dylan since he had his chance to defuse this situation in "Bunker Hill" and screwed it up totally. Not that I think the writers will do any of these things.

 

"Immaculate Perception" gets a split vote of B-/C+ since it was competent enough but not terribly exciting.

 

Next week: A new alien race we never saw before! Trance says that nothing Dylan can do will change things! Beka on the Maru on the verge of what looks like an explosion! Nooooooo! Yes, itís the season finale! Oh, and blah blah blah trading cardcakes.



May 20, 2002

#222 Tunnel at the End of the Light

Aliens from an alternate universe attack the crew of Andromeda.

"Tunnel at the End of the Light" starts off with more alien-looking people than youíve ever seen on this show before -- the representatives of 50 worlds, many of whom were recruited off-screen during this season -- turning out for a diplomatic function on the Andromeda to ratify the Commonwealth charter. Dylan speechifies about a bold new future and turns down the people crying that he should run for Triumvere, since he just wants to be captain of his ship. And because Tribune executives probably donít see an audience for "Triumvere Dylan Hunt, Two-Fisted Legislator." I wonder how heíll react the first time a new Commonwealth gives him and Andromeda an order he doesnít like, considering how he reacted to Uxultaís commands in "The Fair Unknown." Heís been a law unto himself for about two years now.

Beka tells Rommie that sheís surprised that Harper isnít here for this, considering how long they all worked for it. Rommie answers that Dylan thought itíd be safer for the guests and the Commonwealth if Harper stayed away. But Harperís pretty happy working on whatever giant project heís doing, even singing what sounds like "Oh, Rosie-anna, donít you cry for me / ĎCause I come from Louisiana with a bad girl on my knee"... at least until the ceiling starts to fall on him. Beka and Tyr are cozily sharing snacks off a plate and small talking as only they can --
Tyr: "Why am I not surprised even slightly that heíd turn down a chance to rule an empire?"
Beka: "Commonwealth."
Tyr: "Semantics."
-- when they hear about the crisis in the machine shop and run. They find Harper shielding his project with his body as the roof is slowly falling down, and Tyr grabs him and knocks him out of the way as the rest of the ceiling comes down. Harperís checking things out and says that whatever happened they couldnít blame it on his project, which he calls "Rosie."

Dylanís making not so casual chitchat with NeíHollandís representative, who says that heís still her choice for Triumvere. Once again he says that heís a soldier, not a politician. His choice might be someone who single-handedly got civil rights legislation through on NeíHolland. Rommie breaks up the love fest, telling him to smile for the nice representatives throughout.
Dylan: "Whatís up?"
Rommie: "Smile."
Dylan: "Excuse me?"
Rommie: "Smile."
Dylan: "Okay, okay. I am smiling."
Rommie: "We have a problem."
Dylan: "What did Harper do?"
She lets Dylan know that while the trouble may have started in the machine shop, other disruptions have occurred in other areas, such as her AI core. It looks like sabotage.

How any of this destroyed the machine shop ceiling is never explained. Or why the ceiling let loose a perfect circular piece to make a ring around the Rosie. :::ducking:::

Meeting up with Beka and Tyr, Dylan exposits that he held this shindig in a remote part of space to prevent outside interference. Which still means that any one of the 50 politicians onboard could be behind it. Dylan tells them to search the guestsí rooms and sets Trance to using her luck abilities to ferret through the profiles for a suspect. Trance finds out that a "human" delegate, James Severin, actually had the bone blades removed from his arms to disguise his Nietzschean origins.

In fact, heís sabotaging the ship right now! Beka and Tyr find him and a chase begins.

The chirpy female Perseid representative is boring the crap out of Rommie, even if she is saying that the Andromeda is the greatest asset the new Commonwealth has. Rommie and Dylan hear about Severin, so Dylan wants to join the chase. So whom do they get to watch over the delegates? Harper. Whoís horrified, as well as grimy from working on Roseanne and dusty from having a ceiling nearly fall on him. "Dammit, boss, Iím an engineer, not a babysitter. How come I have to babysit the peanut gallery? Címon, you know Iím diplomacy challenged. I make fish angry." But heís not being given a choice.

Dylan, Beka, and Tyr finally trap Severin, but then an alien that looks like a mix of Alien and Predator and uses the Predator-style camouflage pops up, grabs him, and jumps up through a dimensional hole that opens and closes in the ceiling. Severin looks as surprised and appalled as they do.

Meanwhile, Harperís stage act is bombing with the crowd. He cuts the cards like an expert card shark, but not a single person in the room has the Omega of Stars he picked. He pulls his rabbitís foot out of a hat and later does scarf tricks. Poor guy is totally aware of how deeply heís sucking, though the lady Perseid is either entertained by him or game. Then the room starts to get hot and bright, but heís still trying to keep things calm. He swears heíll make something disappear. One of the aliens grabs the representative helping Harperís magic show and yanks the rep through a hole in the wall that immediately closes behind it. Harper tries to make it seem like part of the act.

Andromedaís power is being rerouted as microwaves without her permission to the room the delegates and Harper are in. Everyone inside will fry. They canít get Harper on the comm to warn him either.

The delegates want to leave, since the room is punishingly white hot, but Harperís still trying to keep them there as heíd been ordered to. Sabra Prideís Admiral Zhukov Pashtun asks why theyíve been locked in. Harper answers that itís not locked, itís "the old Ďsticky doors, trapped in a roomí gag. Itís designed to create the illusion of mass hysteria. Good job, people!" Harper says that for his next trick heíll open the door. Somehow. Fortunately, Tyr cuts through at the moment and they lead the delegates out. The room blows up behind them.

Pashtun keeps challenging their every decision, with mostly Tyr verbally lashing back, often with a feral smile. While trying to get the delegates to the slipstream core, which is hopefully safer with all of its protective layers, the NeíHolland rep is attacked, and Dylan barely gets her loose. Before he can feel good about saving her, one of the aliens cuts the Perseid delegate in half. Pashtun says that they should all leave, since Andromeda canít protect them. Dylan agrees, saying that they can ratify the charter another day.

But Trance says no, the delegates must not leave. This day features the series of events she came back in time to stop. Dylan locks all the hangar doors.

During a fight, the NeíHolland rep Dylan liked is yanked away right in front of him, and he discovers that the aliens can be killed. But with the kind of power theyíre fielding, he doubts that they were working with Severin or that this is about the Commonwealth for them.

Now an alien ship is firing at them, but shifts out of phase every time they fire back, making it impossible for them to get a hit in on it. Trance says that she saw this happen last time and that thereís nothing they can do to stop it. More ships are appearing.

Ships from the Commonwealth worlds slipstream in place nearby but arenít moving to help. Dylanís elated by their arrival and then disgusted by their inaction.

Elsewhere, Pashtun is stirring up trouble, saying that his fleet is here and heís leaving. Harper says that no oneís going anywhere. Pashtun ups the ante by telling the delegates that heís a pilot and can get them all out if theyíre willing. Delegates are moving to go with him. Harper draws a line with his foot and says that no one will go further. Youíre either with him or against him. Pashtun smirks and steps over the line. Harper steps back on the other side and draws his gun.
Harper: "All right, all right, all right. You know what? Go ahead. Get the hell out of here. ĎCause if you donít, Iíll put a bullet in your head. Either way, you die, admiral."
Pashtun: "You talk right."
Harper does an exasperated "I know" head bob.
Pashtun, stepping right up to Harper so the gun is poking him in the chest, to his unconcern: "I believe this crew will fight for survival. Now. Prove to me you can defeat these ships."
Pashtun is pleased, seeing Harperís attitude as a sign of the backbone necessary. The Andromeda has earned his respect, and if they prove they can defeat the alien ships, his fleet will move in to help and heíll ratify the charter. Yep, Harper brought him around by being Nietzschean enough.

When Dylan hears that this is now an "audition," heís annoyed. He puts Trance on firing control in Tyrís place, figuring that her luck may help them, and she starts taking the ships out, to her exuberant pleasure. With that, the fleet is willing to help, and Pashtun sets his thumbprint to the charter before leaving to join it. Dylan commands them to carpet bomb the surrounding area of space, so the ships can only pop up in certain areas. A pleased Pashtun compares it to that "Old Earth game of Whack a Mole." But thousands of alien ships are showing up, just like last time, Trance says. But this time they notice a dimensional tunnel from what must be an alternate universe that the invading ships are pouring out from. Before, they had no idea. Harper is stunned, because the power needed for this and the dimensional shifting of an entire fleet is huge.

Dylan asks if Roseanne can take out whatever generator is being used. Well, "Bossa Nova," Roseanne may have been created to take out the Magog Worldship, but she can do this just as well instead. Roseanne has the strength of several nova bombs. I think he said a certain number of nova bombs cubed. Dylan says that he didnít authorize a bomb of that power, but Harper is insouciant, especially since it turns out that they need a bomb of this magnitude right now.

Bekaís ready to pilot it over on the Eureka Maru but Trance says that she canít. In her past, the crew hadnít found the tunnel, but Dylan had Beka drop Roseanne into a star to obliterate the aliens. But the Maru was ambushed, the bomb was dropped too soon, and the Andromeda didnít have the time to escape, killing everyone on board and destroying any chance for a new Commonwealth to be born. Trance and Beka survived on the Maru, but Beka lost a hand and eye and was scarred for life. Beka convinces Dylan to let her pilot the Maru out with Roseanne, because this time she knows what happened. Tyr goes along to protect her. And because itís love or something. *sigh* Beka, if you two do get involved, please donít become a moron as you did with men in "A Heart for Falsehood Framed" or "Be All My Sins Remembered."

(This bit about Roseanne in the alternate history seems to suggest that I inferred incorrectly from "Ouroboros" that Harper died in Tranceís past, even though the conversation she had with Dylan at the end of the episode sure suggested it. I donít think Harper could have had Roseanne finished before dying, so it seems that he had the Magoglets removed before they killed him. But who used the machine on him, since he was refusing and didnít have much time to change his mind and everybody else seemed prepared to let him die? So when Trance saved Harper in this reality, she did it knowing theyíd need Roseanne for this invasion, not just because "heís my friend," as she told Dylan. Also, who was initially on fire control in the alternate reality, since we have it confirmed in "In Heaven Now Are Three" that Tyr had died? All this thinking about New Tranceís past led me to a new question: Did Trance and Beka run into future selves in her past? I donít think she could have, not and have things turn out as they did for her. Oh, my brain hurts.)

An alien wrestles on board the Maru with Tyr, but Beka manages to fly the Maru straight and true to fire Roseanne directly into the dimensional tunnel. Major pyrotechnics ensue. The Maru gets caught in the fire and gravity wave, and we hear Beka screaming. The Andromeda and the Commonwealth fleet run for their lives, their tails nearly singeing from the destructive force unleashed behind them. When itís all over, Harper lets them know that when Roseanne took out the alien generator, all the ships remaining over here lost their ability to phase in and out. Theyíre being picked off by the Commonwealth ships. Dylan asks Rommie to search for the Maru, but the Maru is already flying back... on autopilot. Dylan runs to the ship as it soon as it limps into the docking bay, and the Maru has been brutalized outside and inside, burnt, with holes torn through it, its pilot chair ripped from its moorings. Beka and Tyr are nowhere to be found. Or Dylan does sees them and theyíre a mess, but the audience doesnít get to have a look. Itís hard to tell.

The End for the season.

Trance and Harper are not going to take this well when they find out.

Well done. Itís an action hour -- an action hour that wasnít boring, unlike so much Andromeda action -- but everyone on the crew has a character bit, even Motherboard and Hologram Rommies. Some of the delegates also get defining moments, rare considering the number of people running around. And we have one-shot female characters who arenít eye candy bimbos! The stately yet steely NeíHolland delegate Dylan was so fond of and the chirpy, helpful Perseid are a welcome change. I guess the cleavage of the dialogue-less Inari woman Pashtun and Harper flirt with was a sop to Tribune? And Trance still has her twins getting steady exposure.

Pashtun was a red herring of an interesting kind, since he was there to make the audience suspect him but was actually being so challenging to test the mettle of what would be the Commonwealthís flagship and flagship crew. He has such a good time with himself too. And who would have guessed that all of Harperís nearly Nietzschean behavior over the season would be foreshadowing of that behavior helping to save the fledgling Commonwealth? In impressing Pashtun, who was leading the dissent, he knocked out opposition.

Poor Harper babysitting the delegates with faulty magic tricks. I think that a lot of people have nightmares that run something like that. Though usually theyíre also naked in them. Hey....

Tyr smiles more in this episode than he usually does in half a season, having his own feral fun, enjoying Bekaís company. Being supportive of her. Sharing a plate of hors díoeuvres. It definitely looks like theyíre an item-to-be. Like I said before, Iím not happy about it, but Iíll be more accepting if Beka keeps her edge.

Who would have thought that Dylan could net 50 worlds -- the foundation for a new, self-perpetuating Commonwealth -- so quickly? Last finale he only had 12 and was despairing over achieving his goal in his lifetime. Maybe the Powers That Be thought it would be too depressing to have Dylan fighting for years to get a Commonwealth jumpstarted.

How will Dylan react to being part of a Commonwealth again as opposed to being a law unto himself? Not well, I think. Once heís no longer personally responsible for holding the universe together by himself, will he finally snap the way heís been threatening to on and off since last season? And Michelle Erica Green at SlipstreamWeb asks a great question: How will this motley crew of outsiders react once they realize that theyíre now part of the Establishment?

Yeah, Iím leaving off the bit where I wonder what happened to Beka and Tyr. But I have a whole summer to do that! At least the whole crew isnít in jeopardy this time.

Some other bits of dialogue I enjoyed:

Beka: "We should search their quarters."
Dylan: "Do it. And if they object... do it anyway."

Trance: "What kind of life does a Nietzschean mother expect for her son when she names him ĎGenghis Staliní?"
Andromeda: "Heís said to be a delightful conversationalist."

Tyr: "Shall I shoot you while youíre squatting there or would you like to stand up first?"

Beka: "Desk job. Orbital bus driver. Prison guard."
Tyr: "What are you doing?"
Beka: "Reviewing the jobs I could be doing other than putting my ass on the line every day."
Tyr: "Yet here you are."

Trance, getting into the "blowing the enemy ships to hell" thing: "Scared money walks, sweet sugar to action talks!"

 

"Tunnel at the End of the Light" gets an A.

 

Season three's follow-up, "If The Wheel Is Fixed," is actually pretty good....

 

 

Possibly the one time Harper isn't in the mood, in 'Ouroboros' Why Andromeda? (Season One)

Longer, More Detailed Season One Reviews

Andromeda Season Two

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