The Cynics Corner

Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda

"The Ties That Blind"

by David E. Sluss

21 November 2000

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: There are a few good bits here, but this is largely a sloppy, badly-acted mess.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 5.0 (F+)

GOOD THINGS OF THE WEEK: The Tyr/Trance interaction this week was sort of fun. Continuity seems to be becoming a bit more important, as this episode resolves the mystery of who the attackers from "D Minus Zero" were (it would also appear that next week's episode ties in with the mention in "Angel Dark, Demon Bright" of Sarah's attempt to rescue Hunt from the black hole).

ANDROMEDA CLICHE OF THE WEEK: Again with the Super-Slo-Mo? As if the internal defense system, manifesting as sparks flying all over the place, didn't look silly enough at full speed...

LETDOWN OF THE WEEK: The bad guys in this episode, and retroactively in "D Minus Zero," even though Beka and the others never mentioned "restors" as a possibility at the time, turn out to be glorified tree-huggers. Tree-huggers who hate space travel, but have an entire fleet of state-of-the-art vessels, who have incredible technology such as nanobot collectives, and who have infiltrated the Way and apparently the FTA as well. This seems a bit far-fetched as well as a letdown; if the Restorians are going to be a major threat in this series, I certainly hope there's more to them than meets the eye.

CONTRIVANCE OF THE WEEK: The Swami imposter turns out to be some sort of nanobot collective. This idea doesn't really hold up under any scrutiny at all, unless you assign some really outlandish properties to the nanobots. Unless the nanobots are magical, or incredibly advanced for a group of tree-huggers, how can we explain the nanobot collective mimicking heart function and respiration and fooling Andromeda's medical sensors into mistaking him for a human being (then, of course, you have to wonder why the "Swami" would fake injuries at all, since doing so would subject him to scans that might have revealed his true nature)? Or the nanobot collective exhibiting intelligence by engaging in philosophical discussions with Tyr and Rev (although most of what he said was pap that could have been pre-programmed, I suppose)? Or the nanobot collective, lacking a solid body, drinking tea without leaking? The whole concept seems ludicrous, and seems to reflect sloppy thinking on the part of the writers.

STORYTELLING CHEAT OF THE WEEK: At the end of the next to last act, after Beka shoots down Rafe, Rev spews his "eternal life" blather, and he and Hunt fret about the fact that Rafe broadcast the Andromeda's access codes before he was destroyed. Now unless we're supposed to believe that they still had a channel open to the enemy as they're standing on the bridge and talking, then that's bullshit, since of course Rev and Hunt knew that Rafe wasn't dead, and that the codes had been doctored up with a virus.

STRATEGIC ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: When Trance and Tyr first try to get through the intimidating shower of sparks put out by the automated defenses, Tyr's goal is to vent parts of the ship's atmosphere to get rid of half of the invading nanobots. There are a few problems here, again reflecting a bit of sloppiness:

  1. The nanobots are inside Andromeda's machinery. Since they're not running around loose in the hallways, there's no good reason to figure that they will be sucked out of the ship.
  2. If they were sucked out, then Andromeda's defensive nanobots would be sucked out as well.
  3. In any case, at no point do Trance and Tyr every actually try to do this.
  4. At some point the goal mysteriously switches from getting to life support to getting to engineering and restoring the engines.

TEMPORAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: The mysteriously absent Harper is surfing on some planet somewhere, and Beka is watching coverage on television. One problem, though: In the Andromeda universe, where there appears to be no "subspace" communication, live coverage of sporting events, or even coverage from "last Tuesday," would be impossible. Even if the surfing contest were taking place in the "nearest star system," it would take years for the broadcast to reach the Andromeda at light speed. That means that the laws of physics were seriously mangled, or we're to believe that GBC taped the surfing competition, and then slipstreamed the tape to a TV station in Andromeda's sector, something which seems a bit too organized, given the supposed state of the universe. Speaking of which...

SOCIOLOGICAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: I have to wonder if we weren't sold a bill of goods in "An Affirming Flame," when Hunt bemoaned the total chaos running rampant in what used to be the Commonwealth. In this episode, we not only have organized sporting events being broadcast (somehow) throughout the galaxy, but we also learn that there is a Free Trade Alliance that monitors commerce and collects taxes. In short, while things may not be as peachy as they used to be, this episode seems to portray the state of the universe in a significantly more organized light than any other episode to date. So much so that I'd almost regard it as a continuity glitch.

INFORMATIONAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: I've harped before about how convenient it is that the Andromeda and/or the Maru have databases containing every bit of minutiae the writers need a character to find, and I'll harp again. Here we have Hunt perusing accounts of past Restorian attacks and Rev digging out footage of Rafe at a Restorian rally. Why would the Andromeda or the Maru have this sort of information at hand, considering that Andromeda is a ship alone, with a database that at best is 300 years out of date, and the Maru is a rattletrap salvage vessel with presumably limited resources.

FOUL LANGUAGE OF THE WEEK: I'm not offended, but I was surprised by the use of "Goddamn" in this episode, particularly with all the religious claptrap being spouted here.

LOOSE ENDS OF THE WEEK: So did Rafe know Beka was on the Andromeda or not? Based on the conversation Rafe had with his contact at the monastery, it would seem the answer is yes; if so, itt begs the question, how would he, or the Restorians, know that she was even on the Andromeda? What happened to the EMP gizmo that Rafe's contact gave him to bomb the Andromeda? Is it possible that he did actually plant it on the ship? Why exactly is it that Rafe is now off the hook with the FTA, as he claims in his holographic farewell? How could Beka's ancient CD collection still play, when she mishandles them horribly, getting her fingers all over the playing surface?
  

Previous: "Angel Dark, Demon Bright"
Next: "The Banks
of the Lethe
"
NEXT WEEK: Time travel again? Twice in three weeks (or even eight) is pushing it, even by Star Trek standards...

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This review is copyright 2000 David E. Sluss
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