"The Fair Unknown"
by David E. Sluss
4 May 2002
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THE BOTTOM LINE: It has the usual silly violence and illogic, but this episode may be the last hurrah for Andromeda's original story arc, and on that level it's laudable.
CYNICS CORNER RATING: 7.5 (C)
MYSTERY OF THE WEEK: I've said it practically from the beginning: All of the evidence presented in this series to date suggests that the Commonwealth was an inept, slothful, corrupt, and elitist institution, one that the Known Worlds are better off without. As far as I'm concerned, this episode is the smoking gun. We learn, for instance, that Rev Bem was right back in "It Makes a Lovely Light": The Vedrans did in fact cut themselves off from the slipstream to save their own hides. And the reason for the Vedrans' gambit in this episode is not to help Hunt, protect former Commonwealth races, or even to prevent the deaths of the warders on Ral Parthia, but merely to rescue their version of Disneyland from the barbarians so that they can have it to themselves in their little pocket universe. Well, that's just great.
Hunt always talks as if the Commonwealth is like Star Trek's Federation. In fact, it's more like the Dominion, a point reinforced by the fact that Uxulta's voice, mannerisms, and attitudes here are not terribly dissimilar to Deep Space Nine's "Female Changeling." We already know, for instance, that much of the Commonwealth consisted of worlds conquered by the Vedrans and therefore people who didn't sign any charter or voluntarily put a symbol into a puzzleboard, and that the Vedrans did so to create order in the Known Worlds. It's also been implied that the Vedrans viewed the High Guard as stooges such as the Dominion's Jem'Hadar, and Uxulta articulates that sentiment pretty clearly here when she tells Hunt the story of the High Guard officer who trusted his Vedran masters enough to die in a suicide mission. High Guard or not, other races were quite obviously regarded as second-class citizens or worse in the Commonwealth; I don't recall the episode, but at one point last season, Hunt recalled growing up in the "human quarter" on Tarn-Vedra, a term which smacks of segregation at best and ghettoization at worst.
And Hunt wonders why so many forces in the Known Worlds resist his vision of a new Commonwealth? Then again, even Tyr, whose analysis of the Vedran situation vis a vis Hunt is classic Tyr, misses the big picture: The fact that the Vedrans may undermine Hunt's authority is not the issue; the fact that the Vedrans ran an evil empire that shouldn't be emulated in the first place is. Supposedly, Kevin Sorbo's Andromeda is going to be getting away from the notion of rebuilding the Commonwealth next season; if that arises from the unlikely realization by Hunt that the Commonwealth sucked, I could almost buy that. Doesn't mean I'd watch it...
QUESTIONABLE COSTUMING OF THE WEEK: The ongoing problems of Trance's breast makeup have apparently been solved, at least temporarily, by putting the character in an ugly poncho -- or is it a burlap sack? I don't image Tribune's demographic-watching suits are going to be happy with that development. On the other hand, you can't help but be amused by the fact that even the Vedran is "titted up" in this show...
LAUGH LINE OF THE WEEK: Some stunningly bad "as you know" exposition, as Hunt reminds Beka and Rommie, "Tarn-Vedra -- The seat of the Commonwealth, and my home!"
IMPERIAL STORMTROOPER MARKSMANSHIP OF THE WEEK: As usual, the turkey-shoot Kalderans were 0-for-50000 or so in hitting their targets during the Stock Andromeda Firefight. Whatever happened to smart bullets? If only terraforming pines were the Kalderans' blood enemy -- they're pretty good at hitting them...
ILLOGIC OF THE WEEK: Hunt destroys the Kalderan ship encountered in the teaser; inexplicably, he feels it would be disrespectful to the Kalderan dead to raid their ship for parts, but that it's okay to blow them to smithereens. Later, when Maia (who is somewhat more respectable than other recent Guest Chicks, even though she can't resist kissing Our Hero in the end) expresses concern about that ship, Hunt reassures her that "It was destroyed. No one else will come." And why is that? The Kalderan strip-mining operation on Ral Parthia has been going on for two years. Presumably, the Kalderan "high command" (or whatever) knows about it. So why does the destruction of that one vessel prevent the Kalderans from sending additional ships?
For that matter, if Ral Parthia was well-known within the Commonwealth as some kind of amusement park, why was it left alone for three centuries, before the Kalderans finally got around to raiding it? And why wouldn't Hunt have visited before, since there presumably was at least the possibility that some Vedrans may have been left behind there?
ILLOGIC OF THE WEEK RUNNER-UP: Hunt keeps asking Trance about the future she experienced. Come on: Her timeline has already been derailed because of Tyr's continued survival (when he supposedly died, in Trance's history, during "In Heaven Now Are Three") and probably other changes as well. Even if she would tell Hunt, which is unlikely, she probably can't.
INDECISION OF THE WEEK: While Hunt is having the tables turned on him -- getting speechified by Uxulta in sickbay -- Andromeda is under attack by Kalderan vessels, Beka insists that she needs a destination in order to go to slipstream. Low points for initiative, Beka; under the circumstances, just go anywhere and sort out the real destination later.
WEIRD SCIENCE OF THE WEEK: Could you really turn a planet into a sun without hosing the solar system in some way? I don't honestly know, but I do know the incident here didn't have any real point, other than to set up the scene in which Beka and Tyr have to explain themselves to "Daddy."
CONTRIVANCE OF THE WEEK: Hunt orders Rommie to fire on the Andromeda
Cave Set a few meters from his position. Naturally, the only part of the cave that
collapses is right above the hapless Kalderans' heads. Incidentally, the F/X clearly shows
the Maru's shots hitting two different points in the area above the cave.
We Cannot Change"
Next: "Belly of the Beast"
|NEXT WEEK: Oh, boy! A Space Monster Eats the Ship episode.|
since 31 January 1999
This review is copyright
© 2002 David E. Sluss