The Cynics Corner

Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda

"Double Helix"

by David E. Sluss

6 November 2000

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: It shouldn't really add up, except perhaps as Nietzscheans = (Klingons + Kazon)/Yawn, but somehow it does.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 8.0 (B-)

GOOD THINGS OF THE WEEK: Tyr has been perhaps the thinnest character of all up to this point, but this time out he finally gelled. Instead of being a big, unfriendly dude with some good one-liners, he gets to be a big, unfriendly dude with some good one-liners and some actual personality and motivation. The material here is certainly not innovative, but Tyr, if not watered down in the future, could be a driving force for a lot of conflict and drama. The F/X seemed a lot sharper this time, though the scenes of the Than ships being attacked were a bit ridiculous; the ships are hit, bounce down and then back up as if attached to a rubber band -- why use CGI, if you're going to make the ships look like models on strings? The Than's costume this time was a lot better, though anything would be an improvement on that K-Mart Special that was used in "Under the Night." Hunt shows some sign of brain activity, though as Tyr rightfully notes, he is still an insufferable sap. And I'm starting to wonder if Hunt is deliberately being written as a nut; his initial attempt to convince the Nietzschean pirates to "join the Commonwealth," a society that at present consists of six people and an AI, struck me as being just barely on this side of delusional.

ANDROMEDA CLICHES OF THE WEEK: No Super-Slo-Mo this week, but we did have exploding consoles, a Star Trek staple that is rapidly becoming even more common on this series. And of course we have yet another Janeway maneuver, as the ship has been invaded yet again. Hunt is now four for five, in case anyone's counting. And despite all the advanced technology Andromeda seems to have, she can't lock the doors or otherwise impede the invaders one iota. Fortunately for the crew, the Nietzschean leader was uncharacteristically merciful in not killing them off one by one in the corridors.

CONTRIVANCE OF THE WEEK: It's awfully convenient timing for Hunt to have started the anti-proton overflow so that the ship would go critical only minutes after the Nietzscheans boarded the ship. Actually, now that I think about it, the real contrivance, given the frequency with which the ship is boarded by enemies, is the fact that Hunt had to give the order at all -- you'd think the ship would have the self-destruct armed on a perpetual basis...

RETROCHARACTERIZATION OF THE WEEK: Though Tyr's character crystallized pretty well this week, the others are obviously still in flux. Dylan's hatred of the Nietzscheans, while perhaps justified, doesn't seem to square with his behavior towards Tyr, with whom he played a little one on one just last week. It's similar to Harper's hatred of the Magog in "To Loose the Fateful Lightning" -- the attitude may be understandable, but it doesn't seem consistent with the character's past behavior. I will say though that Hunt's memories of Rhade, interspersed with Tyr's interactions with the Nietzscheans on the asteroid, was a very well executed sequence, so much so that I won't take a cheap shot at the money-saving use of clip show footage in only the fifth episode or nominate Steve Bacic for enrollment Andromeda's Welfare Program.

BIOLOGICAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: Outside of providing a means for Rhade to escape the guards in "Under the Night," do the Nietzschean forearm spikes serve any purpose? Being incredibly fake- and flimsy-looking, they have the virtue of making most of Andromeda's other makeup and costuming look really good, though the director this week had to think a little bit during the sex scenes to prevent any closeups of the actors' arms. Of course, it's just a cheapo posthetic used to suggest "alien-ness" -- instead of Star Trek's Forehead Aliens we get Forearm Aliens -- but still you have to wonder: with the genetic manipulation that the Nietzscheans obviously underwent, that was the only enhancement they could think of?

SOCIOLOGICAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: For such an advanced people, the Nietzscheans seem to have some rather primitive rituals. Some of the scenes on the asteroid, particularly the one which showed one of them beating on a big drum, seemed silly and served to undermine the notion that these are Galactic Badasses. On the other hand, making the Nietzscheans a society apparently run in large measure by women puts a somewhat refreshing spin on the typical sci-fi "warrior race" schtick.

LOOSE ENDS OF THE WEEK: Presumably Tyr's wife and the rest of the Oprah Pride will return at some point to torment him, which is fine if the various soap-opera-type pranks are avoided. I was actually a little more intrigued by the quickie recognition that the Than gave Hunt's "Commonwealth." It occurs to me that this happened a bit too easily to be entirely on the level, but if it is kosher, the Andromeda's supply issues should be alleviated somewhat. Either way, some followup would seem to be warranted.
  

Previous: "D Minus Zero"
Next: "Angel Dark,
Demon Bright
"
NEXT WEEK: Playing the time travel and the "temporal prime directive" cards already? Sounds like a low pair to me...

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This review is copyright 2000 David E. Sluss
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