The Cynics Corner

Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda

"A Heart for Falsehood Framed"

by David E. Sluss

27 October 2001

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: A contrived, cliched, and often incoherent "caper" episode.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 5.0 (F+)

CHARACTER ASSASSINATION OF THE WEEK: As I noted in the First Season Review, Beka's characterization has always been erratic at best. Last couple of episodes, Beka was the "Loyal, miracle-working first officer." But this week, because the story demanded it, we're in "Beka's still an unrepentant rogue" mode. I am not a big fan of Beka to begin with, but I don't see how anyone could think this "walking Pat Benetar song" portrayal serves the character well. The one bit of character continuity we do get comes near the end, when we discover that Beka's true agenda is getting a treasure map out of the Heart. She presumably thinks this is a map to the "Engine of Eternity" or whatever she thought would be on Tarn-Vedra in "It Makes a Lovely Light." If that leads anywhere, fine, but I don't think I care for the way we're getting there.

FASHION STATEMENTS OF THE WEEK: Is Hunt's dress uniform new? If so, I approve, as it's a vast improvement over both the Breakdancer from Hell and the Biker from Hell uniforms of the past. The baser side of me approves of Andromeda's dress uniform as well, though it's amusing that after Hunt tells her to wear something more official, she puts on something even more plunging than what she had on originally. I suppose it's consistent with the Commonwealth's somewhat kinko treatment of AIs (c.f. "The Mathematics of Tears"). On the downside, Than costuming continues to be just this side of pathetic. But it is Beka's Magical Mystery Dress that's got everyone's heads spinning, perhaps literally. When she first walks into the garden, the dress is sleeveless on her right side; as soon as she meets Tyr, the dress suddenly becomes sleeveless on her left side. Say, that's a neat trick...

PRODUCTION ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: Aside from the flipped dress, there was another thing that didn't seem quite right. Maybe I'm full of it, and it's probably not the first time, but while the Maru was shown to be stashed in Andromeda's shuttle bay, some of the script seemed written as if it were docked separately at the drift. Here's one sequence in particular that struck me as odd:

  • Beka telling Leydon to meet her on the Maru in one hour.
  • Cut to: Hunt in corridor asking Andromeda where Beka is. Andromeda says "Unknown."
  • Cut to: Stock footage of the Maru in Andromeda's shuttle bay.
  • Cut to: Beka and Leydon aboard the Maru.

Andromeda always knows when she's boarded, even if she can rarely prevent it, so how is it that she didn't notice when Beka came aboard?

ABSENTEEISM OF THE WEEK: Three episodes in, and the crew's already going AWOL. And Rev's out proselytizing, eh? I guess his crisis of faith passed pretty quickly.

CONTRIVANCE OF THE WEEK: Among so many, how do I decide? Well, I'll go with the much-vaunted museum security system, which even before being (partially) disabled by Harper, allows visitors to speak in a normal tone of voice about ripping the place off, lets Trance sneak into an artifact and stay there for hours, and fails to detect transmissions going into and out of the room. Besides, any identification system that can be cracked by rubber fingers (and not even five of them, which the human-centric device seemed to be set up for) and a saliva sample is a joke. There's no visual scan? No blood sample drawn? Most offices in America have better security than that, even before the terrorist attacks.

CONTRIVANCE OF THE WEEK FIRST RUNNER-UP: A close second would be the way the plot jerks us around by having Beka's people steal the rock, and then be put into a position where the have to return it. And the mechanism for this devious plot twist? The Doge forgot to pay his FTA dues? Right, a crooked pol whose very survival near Than space depends on FTA membership decides not to pay up. That's bull - no nicer way to put it, sorry.

CONTRIVANCE OF THE WEEK SECOND RUNNER-UP: So are we to assume that Beka had stuck Crest Whitening Strips all over herself, or was she just lucky that Leydon happened to grope her face in that particular spot?

FILLER OF THE WEEK: Tyr's mayhem this week seemed especially pointless, featuring demographically correct violence with no consequences. The cops were chasing Tyr, and he killed (or at least Seagal-ed) a few officers, but they seem to lose interest in finding him. And wouldn't Hunt be upset about that, even if his ethics have taken a beating lately?

CLICHES OF THE WEEK: Oh, forget it -- I don't even know where to begin. Bottom line: Dig up any caper movie, The Maltese Falcon, The Pink Panther, whatever, and you'll see story elements borrowed by this show.
  

Previous: "Exit Strategies"
Next: "Pitiless as the Sun"
NEXT WEEK: Minor-league stunt-casting with William B. Davis. How appropriate, considering that in typical X-Files fashion the episode probably won't really tell us anything about Trance.

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This review is copyright 2001 David E. Sluss
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