The Cynics Corner

Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda

"Its Hour Come 'Round at Last"

by David E. Sluss

3 June 2001

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: Plenty of kung fu, extras in bear costumes, and designer eyewear. Heads roll, eyeballs roll. No breasts. Cynic says check it out.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 7.5 (C)

BODY COUNT OF THE WEEK: Who knows? I'm sure some fanboy or -girl has done the counting, but suffice it to say that a record may have been set for SF television. While the Magog swarm was more convincing as a terrifying menace than it has ever been (better than, for instance, "The Devil Take the Hindmost"), with few exceptions (notably the takedown of Harper) they still didn't seem all that scary. Indeed, at times, the mayhem was nearly comical, like some old Spaghetti Western in which each of the hero's bullets took out five or six Indians. It's obvious why the Magog have to attack in large numbers, since individually they seem to be put down quite easily.

BODY COUNT OF THE WEEK RUNNER-UP: Lexa Doig fans undoubtedly rejoiced, as she got to portray five different Andromeda personalities this week. And all of them came across as truly distinct. Rare acting Kudos from The Cynic.

LAUGH LINE OF THE WEEK: One of the Andromedas says: "Automated defense systems are completely useless." Yeah, that's been pretty obvious for a long time, secure diagnostics mode or otherwise. Even Imperial Stormtroopers have a better record than the sparky effects of Andromeda's defense systems, and they look silly as all hell, to boot. And how about a secure diagnostics mode that no one can override, no matter what crisis might unfold in the intervening three hours? Now we know what really happened at Witchhead. The Commonwealth vessels were all in diagnostic mode when the Nietzscheans attacked. Tough break.

CONTINUITY OF THE WEEK: The two worlds added to the Commonwealth Backgammon Board were the two planets freed by the Sabra-Jaguar alliance in "The Horny Offering." I do appreciate such things.

NON-CONTINUITY OF THE WEEK: Trance seemed (operative word "seemed") to be sickened by extended Slipstream travel last week ("It Makes a Lovely Light"). This week it's no problem. Not necessarily a continuity glitch, but worth noting for the record as part of the on-on-ongoing Mystery of Trance. Another thing to toss into the mix. When Andromeda orders Trance to pilot in Slipstream, Trance replies "You know we can't navigate the Slipstream." "We?" Shouldn't that be "I?" Closed Captioning confirms; minor goof-up or aggravating hint about Trance's True Nature?

TECHNOLOGICAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: Aside from the fact that it's a kewl set, is there any reason why Andromeda's reactor core would be the one place on the ship from which Andromeda's AI defenses can be bypassed? It could be that Harper's overrides used in "It Makes a Lovely Light" were still in place, but Hunt and Andromeda almost surely would have insisted on their removal, and if they were still there, Harper could presumably have hijacked the Slipstream controls here as Beka did last week.

INSECURITY OF THE WEEK: Besides the sparkler defense system, there are plenty of other problems with Andromeda's security system. For instance, the doors to the command center seem to be the last ones sealed, since Trance made it in well after everyone else had been locked. And it looked like Hunt and Beka just strolled into the weapons locker without having to force the door.

DOPE OF THE WEEK: It took Hunt quite a while to remember to use his Commonwealth decoder ring, didn't it?

STYLIN' OF THE WEEK: Tyr's shades were pretty cool, but without any kind of seal, how effective could they be against Magog spittle?

ANDROMEDA CLICHE OF THE WEEK: Gasp! The ship's been boarded and taken over. Andromeda seems to have been boarded, hijacked, or otherwise compromised more often in one season than Star Trek's various vessels have been in 35 years.

ANDROMEDA CLICHE OF THE WEEK RUNNER-UP: The use of Super-Slo-Mo in the Flying Through the Air scenes after Andromeda was hit by the Point Singularity weapons. Powers That Be: Enough's enough.

GENERAL PURPOSE CLICHE OF THE WEEK: The enemy comes in waves, with enough pauses in between for Our Heroes to engage in Snappy Banter or have Meaningful Conversations; if the Magog had just shut up for a minute, they could have sneaked up on and eaten Beka and Hunt any number of times. In one meaningful conversation, Beka claims she wouldn't have missed her year with Andromeda for the world. It could have been B.S. on her part; I could see her saying "Let's see: I've been threatened, nearly killed on numerous occasions, betrayed by my brother, and turned into a Flash addict. Not the best year I've ever had." Truth is, it's hard to see why most of Hunt's ragtag crew would stick around. Are three hots and a cot worth all the trouble?

ONGOING TRENDS OF THE WEEK: Well, I called it in the review of "Star-Crossed": Commonwealth AI's are indeed Andromeda's version of the holodeck, a technology whose potential dangers outweigh its benefits, but which is used regardless. This year we've had one AI who murdered her entire crew, one that founded a wacko movement that terrorized the galaxies, and now we have one that's been reset to some kind of "Black Ops" persona and tried to kill her current crew. And why was that backup persona around in the first place? If all records of Andromeda's original mission were expunged, why was this version of the AI saved? We may find out next year, but this feels like something that could slip through the cracks, given everything else that needs to be resolved. Speaking of which...

PREDICTIONS OF THE WEEK: You know, I'm tired of these cliffhanger season finales. What's the point of pretending that Our Heroes are in real jeopardy when it's obvious that they aren't? Is anyone breathlessly waiting to see which principal characters die, or whether the Magog in fact eat all of Known Space? It seems to me to be a lack of faith in the viewers, or in their material, that leads the Powers That Be of various shows to pull this every year. Having said that, I'll play the speculation game. Is there any legitimate way out of Andromeda's dire situation? Let's look at the possibilities:

  • Deus Ex Machina: Enigma is a runaway child from a Super Energy Race; his parents show up, spank him, apologize for his screwing up Known Space, and take him away. Several variants of this are possible.
  • War of the Gods: Trance is in fact the anti-Enigma, big light-show battle ensues (c.f. Babylon 5's Kosh vs. Kosh bout, or DS9's Prophets vs. Pah-Wraiths battles). Trance wins, goes back to being cute pixie.
  • War of the Gods' Stooges: If the Magog are an Evil Race created by Enigma, hinted at by the civilized Magog Bloodmist, perhaps Trance is from a Good Race created by some anti-Enigma, and trillions of her kind show up to fight the Magog wig-to-wig.
  • Fatally Flawed Alien Vessel: The Magog solar system structure might look impressive, but fire a torpedo into one of the exhaust ports and the whole thing goes up.

Then again, Andromeda does have one Nova bomb, and conveniently there seems to be a sun at the Magog structure's center. Time will tell.
  

Previous: "It Makes
a Lovely Light
"
NEXT WEEK: No more next weeks for a while, but in the meantime, check out the Andromeda Season One Review.

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This review is copyright 2001 David E. Sluss
Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda is a trademark of Tribune Entertainment