"A Rose in the Ashes"
by David E. Sluss
4 December 2000
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THE BOTTOM LINE: Boy, did that stink -- not a good way for the show to end its initial run of new episodes.
CYNICS CORNER RATING: 2.5 (F-)
GOOD THINGS OF THE WEEK: Dylan finally getting jailed for delivering his annoying Commonwealth stump speech was sadly the high point of this show.
CONTRIVANCES OF THE WEEK: Where do we start? We have Dylan being out
of sensor contact with the ship for at least a day and no one noticing; Andromeda
doesn't bother reporting the fact until well after he was transferred off-world. We have a
planet-wide defense network with missiles flying around constantly that Andromeda
can't detect. We have a girl who manages to power a TV set and a swarm of remote-control
mini-helicopters but has to mix up buckets of mud to create a battery. We have the Andromeda
android weakened to the point that she can barely speak, but getting enough juice from
that makeshift battery to catch up to Dylan and tackle the warden, crapping out completely
only after literally blowing the warden's head off. We have curiously ineffective weaponry
as part of the prison's security system; I love the scene in which Zax is trying to open
the bunker door, standing there for several seconds while the doorjamb is shot repeatedly
and only getting killed after he gets the door open. We have the incredible leap of logic
that Dylan makes in figuring out that Jessa and Kaylee are sisters. There's really not
much of a basis for that; sure, the viewer could figure that out because we know that
Jessa and Kaylee are Main Characters in this seedy little drama, but Dylan didn't read the
opening credits, and there are plenty of other women on this planet. We have the sudden
reversal of characterization, in which the tough-as-nails, uncaring Kaylee is suddenly
convinced by Dylan's sickening pap to rescue Jessa. But the ultimate contrivance is
something that I've feared, namely the use of Trance as an all-purpose plot device:
LOOSE END OF THE WEEK: The prison planet is liberated. Hooray! But wait, won't the Corporation send in a replacement warden? The next time someone tries to deliver prisoners, they're bound to notice that the prison isn't functioning properly and complain to Customer Service, right? This is a bit like "To Loose the Fateful Lightning," in which Hunt left all those kids behind singing campfire songs, while the Magog presumably were plotting their next mating party on the Guard Station. Here, the newly-enlightened heart-of-gold cons who are left behind, despite Hunt's good intentions, are probably only weeks away from being re-incarcerated. On the other hand, if the prison really is liberated, Hunt hasn't entertained the possibility that a good portion of the population may well be violent, incorrigible criminals who actually deserved the punishment they got, and have now potentially been loosed upon society.
CHEAPO COSTUMING OF THE WEEK: Andromeda's budget was apparently a couple of bucks short of even noses and foreheads this week, so they had to settle for red sheets; even Rev Bem wasn't suited up for this week's game of Musical Lay-offs...
RESOURCE ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: With all the talk of food rationing at the prison, it seemed odd that no one mentioned water; it would seem, based on what we saw and were told about this planet, that water would have to be provided as well. Make-up for the women, on the other hand, seemed to be available in abundance...
TECHNOLOGICAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: This episode, if nothing else, proves conclusively that Andromeda's avatar is mechanical and not biological. And we also meet another AI avatar with similar capabilities, namely the warden, who is apparently standard issue at these prisons. If this technology is available, why was "super genius" Harper so astonished to find plans for building such a device in "To Loose the Fateful Lightning"; surely it could have been found in the Maru's Magical Mystery Database (which in this episode happened to have the location of every prison planet in the area, even though we saw that the prison system routinely uses fake signals to prevent people from finding those facilities).
BIOLOGICAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: The shock value of the warden casually snapping Kaylee's neck quickly gave way to laugh value as she survives long enough to turn her head and lift her hand(!) to stroke her grieving sister's hair. Come on...
LAUGH LINE OF THE WEEK: It struck me as funny, at any rate. Andromeda
warns that she has detected "infrared plumes" on Arazia. Harper intones, "Infrared
plumes?" and the crew concludes that they are being attacked. A good guess, but
of course an "infrared plume" is not threatening per se, and could be caused by
a lot of things, such as a campfire or a smokestack. It might have been better if Andromeda
had simply said, "I've detected a missile launch." A very minor flaw amidst
giant ones, I guess...
of the Lethe"
Next: "All Great
|NEXT WEEK: An alien dignitary dies from diabetes brought on by Hunt's speechifying.|
since 31 January 1999
This review is copyright
© 2000 David E. Sluss