The Cynics Corner

Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda

"The Widening Gyre"

by David E. Sluss

9 October 2001

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: It's admirable that the cliffhanger wasn't resolved with a total reset, but this is pretty campy stuff, and there are some things that don't quite wash.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 7.0 (C-)

PAUSE BUTTON OF THE WEEK: So -- it's a stalemate. Well, I'll give Robert Wolfe credit for giving us what is probably the least objectionable conclusion possible to last year's thrilling finale, but there's something a little too convenient about the way the Magog onslaught was tabled for three years (just in time for Andromeda's planned final season). I get a similar feeling from the fact that Harper's infestation can now be treated for an unspecified period of time, even though we've never seen a hint that there was anything that could be done to help Magog hosts before. Harper's plight (like Beka's Flash addiction) concerns me, because it could potentially turn out to be a "shelved unless we feel like it" character point. On the other hand, it could lead to a logical (and much-needed) maturing of the character.

As the final scene makes abundantly clear, the Magog situation does create a little more urgency for Dylan and company to quit screwing around so much and get on with the Commonwealth Thing, and if we actually see that happening in upcoming episodes, it will do a lot to mitigate my sense of Contrived Pause. Otherwise we're looking at a possible X-Files' scenario, where our heroes know the invasion is coming, but are too busy with other crap most weeks to do anything about it.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR OF THE WEEK: I suppose I've no right to complain about the new opening credit sequence, since I denounced the old music pretty strongly in the First Season Review, but I will anyway. Actually, I don't mind the music so much, but that voiceover is just awful; you'd think this was an old Super-Friends episode. And speaking of Saturday morning TV...

POOR F/X OF THE WEEK: Tweedledee and Tweedledum would have been merely cartoonish, but the less-than-stellar digital rendering made them cartoony as well. The other problematic scene was the Maru landing in Andromeda's bay, which looked a little choppy, like a flip-book with every fifth page missing. On the bright side, the new Andromeda exterior shots looked great, and while we saw some black holes in M86, none of them seemed to be the one that appeared in every other episode last season.

EXPOSITIONAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: Andromeda says: "By the time the light from M86 reaches Earth, it's already 66 million years old." I applaud the scientific accuracy, but - Earth? Why in hell would Andromeda use that as a reference point? Earth doesn't seem to have been a big wheel in the Commonwealth, and it's nothing but a Magog restaurant now; Taran-Vedra would have made more sense. It's as if the Science Advisor's notes were copied and pasted into the script without any tweaking at all.

TECHNOLOGICAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: While we don't know exactly how Slipstream works, we do know that AI's can't navigate it without a biological pilot. We also know that her first encounter with the Magog world-ship took place some 60,000,000 light years from Known Space, and that her entire crew was killed. And yet it took only months for her to make it back to Known Space flying essentially blind? Seems very unlikely to me.

CONTRIVANCES OF THE WEEK: Well, there's some doozies here. Is there any legitimate reason for the Magog world-ship not to have finished off the Andromeda while it was crippled at the beginning of the show? Other than contractual obligations and stuff like that, I mean? It's typically stupid behavior for an Ultimate Villain like the "Spirit of the Abyss," especially since he had a chance here to destroy not only the only people who know anything about the Magog world-ship, but the Brandenburg Tor evidence from "Harper 2.0" to boot. Any reason for the Magog swarm to have largely left Andromeda when there were three more food sources on the ship (other than to sheepishly go back home to get their rayguns, which they somehow forgot in "Its Hour Come 'Round at Last")? I'd presume Andromeda was fully loaded with nova bombs when she first encountered the Magog hive; why didn't Captain Perseid lob a couple of dozen at the Magog array? And how could six people and an AI have had more success driving away the Magog swarm than Captain Perseid's full crew complement, which suffered 100% casualties?

MYSTERY OF THE WEEK: Okay: The Spirit of the Abyss sent an "advance force" of Magog to Known Space 300-odd years ago, and directed them to destabilize the Commonwealth, so that the Known Worlds would be easy pickings when the world-ship finally gets there. So has he been sending reinforcements over the centuries? Are the Magog now dining on Earth in contact with him? Did the Spirit order the Magog to menace those darn kids on Guard Station GS9? Or are all the Magog in the Known Worlds "lost brothers" like Rev Bem?
  

Next: "Exit Strategies" NEXT WEEK: Winter among the Terraforming Pines.

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This review is copyright 2001 David E. Sluss
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