The Cynics Corner

Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda

"Bunker Hill"

by David E. Sluss

8 February 2002

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: Eighty minutes of story crammed into forty minutes of airtime, with little to show for it at the end.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 6.5 (D)

NOSTALGIA TRIP OF THE WEEK: If anything, this episode reminded me of those "Dominion Two-Parters" from Deep Space Nine's later years. In DS9, the Dominion conflict went on for years, but except during Sweeps it was generally ignored. Then a big two-parter would come along, battles would take place, and then earnest speeches would be given and the status quo would be restored by the end of the second show. It's kind of the same thing here, only there was only one episode in which to do it. Elsbett Bolivar returns to declare that her pride is going to war with the Drago-Kazov and insists that the Commonwealth Mutual Defense Pact compels Hunt and the Andromeda to join in. Of course, war was declared months ago, in "The Honey Offering," and Elsbett's husband said they were at war in "Into the Labyrinth," so what exactly has been going on in the interim? Baseball games in the holosuite? Oops, sorry. The Good Guys' fleet is beaten like a rented mule, but narrowly escapes. Fortunately for Hunt, the Mutual Defense Pact is so badly drafted that it lets the Commonwealth off the hook at the end of the hour. Meanwhile, Harper goes to Earth to help get rid of the Changelings -- excuse me, the Nietzscheans -- and ultimately fails, leaving Earth behind with barely a "Keep up the good work." And while all of this is portrayed as a great victory by Eternal Optimist Hunt, I don't imagine we'll be hearing anything about progress in the war or the uprisings on Drago-Kazov slave planets anytime soon (or ever, given what's been going on behind the scenes). Feels like a reset button to me…

TEMPORAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: Another big problem to me was the time frame in which this episode took place. It's never clear how long Harper was on Earth or how long the mostly off-screen space battle was. A lot of transitions make it seem as if this episode happens in mere days, but the events that actually seem to take place would require weeks or months. In particular, at one point, Andromeda and the fleet are scattered across an entire spiral arm of the galaxy by a clever Drago-Kazov trick. About a minute of airtime later, we're told that most of the fleet had been reassembled, with no indication of how long it took. Realistically, with no faster than light communications and no "subspace sensors" in Andromeda-land, that should have taken a very long time. It may be that a lot of things wound up on the cutting room floor, but in general, this story was too ambitious to be told in a single episode, and both parts of the episode really suffered as a result.

PRODUCTION VALUES OF THE WEEK: Most of the "Boston Revolution" scenes seemed noticeably phony to me. They never gave the impression that they were taking place anywhere but a soundstage, or that more than a couple of dozen humans and Nietzscheans were involved in this massive revolt. It doesn't help that we see most of the action by way of frowns on the faces of Harper and Rommie as they stare at a laptop screen. Some of the F/X shots seemed substandard as well. In particular, there was a shot just after the next-to-last commercial of the Andromeda going diagonally across the screen followed closely by a bunch of Nietzschean ships, a scene that looked like something from an old Speed Racer cartoon. After a marked improvement, things seem to have slipped a bit in this department recently. Maybe they should do more "bottle shows." And maybe I should, too...

CONTRIVANCE OF THE WEEK: Yeah, yeah, Beka's the greatest pilot in the Known Worlds, but come on. Navigating a completely hosed section of slipstream while trailing a fleet of ships behind her, like a tour cart at Universal Studios -- that's absurd, and it looked pretty silly, to boot. But if that's feasible, you'd think the genetically-engineered Drago-Kazov would have some pretty good pilots that might be able to do it too.

QUESTIONABLE COSTUMING OF THE WEEK: Why would I use up valuable space and bandwidth to blather about something trivial like Hunt's new Michael Jackson uniform? "'Cause this is filler, filler night!"
  

Previous: "The Prince"
Next: "Ouroboros"
NEXT WEEK: It's the end of the show as we know it, and I need wine.

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This review is copyright 2002 David E. Sluss
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