The Cynics Corner

Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda

"Lava and Rockets"

by David E. Sluss

17 February 2002

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: Though this episode is salvaged somewhat by engaging B- and C-stories, its A-story could be the prototype for the "New Andromeda," with plenty of mindless "action" for Hunt, supported by idiotic banter masquerading as characterization.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 6.25 (D)

CONTINUITY OF THE WEEK: Enjoy it while you can, because it sounds like it'll be going out the door faster than Kenneth Lay's Enron stock. I definitely appreciated and was surprised by the immediate follow-up to the introduction of New Trance last week in "Ouroboros." Harper's reaction to the situation is perfectly understandable, and Beka's pragmatic attitude, even if she is also rattled by Trance, is in character as well. And I can't help but wonder if Beka's "You don't have to like New Trance..." line wasn't a subtle dig at the folks who insisted on Trance's transformation in the first place – subtle enough that the targets didn't get it, of course...

The odd couple of Tyr and Rommie also worked pretty well, and it briefly addressed Hunt's confiscation of Drago Museveni's remains in "Una Salus Victus." It also gave more evidence supporting the theory that Tyr has been going soft of late. Rommie's dismissal of Tyr's manifesto as a "massive rationalization" may indeed be on target, if Tyr's barely subdued celebration when Hunt survived the explosion of the tourist barge is any indication. The Tyr/Rommie story degenerates into Action Hour stuff about midway through, but overall it's worthwhile material.

LAUGH LINE OF THE WEEK: Most any line from Hunt's A-story could qualify. The dialog consisted almost entirely of phony, cliched, "action movie" banter, none of which was remotely convincing. Molly comes across as an unlikable smartass, and Hunt as a man incapable of any kind of high-level reasoning ("Me good guy. Them bad guys. You girl. Arr!"). This is not characterization, it's character assassination. Unfortunately, this seems to be the level of writing the New Andromeda is aiming for, and it looks as if it will succeed.

NEW COSTUMING OF THE WEEK: Rommie's new costume, apparently yet another variant of the High Guard break-dancer from hell uniform, looked a bit "busy," and seems contrary to Andromeda's increasingly enforced policy of "If it's not popping out, why isn't it?" Mixed messages...

ACTION HOUR ACTION OF THE WEEK: There are two major Action sequences this week. The first has Hunt going Kung Fu on several abusive security personnel. This sequence features the usual Andromeda suspects of Super-Slo-Mo and a casual disregard for consequences; some of the officers seemed to be seriously injured, possibly killed, and that can't be good for Hunt's Commonwealth Crusade, even if they were corrupt. But then, how did he think he was going to get his force lance through the checkpoint? On the other hand, in this "post-September 11th" era in which a lot of TV and movie scripts are being sanitized, perhaps Andromeda should be praised for its unapologetic portrayal of a hero beating up airport security guards and then running with his weapon through a beeping X-ray machine. Maybe not...

The second Action scene has Tyr and Rommie facing several Origami goons. The Origami, like the Magog and Kalderans before them, are tailor-made as Andromeda villains: faceless, nonverbal, cartoonish cannon fodder for the writers and characters. The ensuing Action has Rommie doing the Matrix thing again, as in "All Too Human," and the usual freewheeling carnage. One Origami is even thrown through a plate glass window! Tyr then acts like an idiot, not bothering to roll the bodies of the apparently dead Origami, and only survives because of the sacrifice of his kludge associate, in a typical "final shot by the seemingly dead goon, only someone else stepped in front of it," sequence, a shtick coincidently (?) seen in this week's Enterprise, "Shadows of P'Jem," as well.

COMMONWEALTH SCANDAL OF THE WEEK: Hunt was thinking from somewhere "south of the border" when he arranged for Molly's entry into the new High Guard Academy. It seems to set a bad precedent for a man of Hunt's position in the New Commonwealth (i.e. God) to grease the bureaucratic wheels for a girl he's banging. It only reinforces the series' fairly consistent, if unintended, portrayal of the Commonwealth as arrogant, slothful, and corrupt. Frankly, most evidence to date suggests that the Commonwealth got what it deserved, and that the galaxies are better off without it.

CONTRIVANCE OF THE WEEK: Hunt and Molly escape from the Origami for a while by flying into the atmosphere of a volcanic planet called Hauken Venya (or was it "How Convenient?"), and luring the enemy vessels over an erupting volcano. They subsequently crash mere meters away from a lava pit with no apparent effect on the ship. Pretty tough for a tour vessel. And a damn good air conditioner, apparently.

RECYCLING OF THE WEEK: "A mysterious enemy is trying to get us"; "We'll be hearing from them again, I just know it." Wasn't this the Restorian plot from last year?

CLICHE OF THE WEEK: She's unconscious and needs mouth-to-mouth! Why not a vigorous chest massage while you're at it...
  

Previous: "Ouroboros"
Next: "Be All My
Sins Remembered
"
NEXT WEEK: Beka's Borg Boyfriend's Back. Bleah...

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This review is copyright 2002 David E. Sluss
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