The Cynics Corner

Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda

"A Rose in the Ashes"

by David E. Sluss

4 December 2000

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: Boy, did that stink -- not a good way for the show to end its initial run of new episodes.


GOOD THINGS OF THE WEEK: Dylan finally getting jailed for delivering his annoying Commonwealth stump speech was sadly the high point of this show.

CONTRIVANCES OF THE WEEK: Where do we start? We have Dylan being out of sensor contact with the ship for at least a day and no one noticing; Andromeda doesn't bother reporting the fact until well after he was transferred off-world. We have a planet-wide defense network with missiles flying around constantly that Andromeda can't detect. We have a girl who manages to power a TV set and a swarm of remote-control mini-helicopters but has to mix up buckets of mud to create a battery. We have the Andromeda android weakened to the point that she can barely speak, but getting enough juice from that makeshift battery to catch up to Dylan and tackle the warden, crapping out completely only after literally blowing the warden's head off. We have curiously ineffective weaponry as part of the prison's security system; I love the scene in which Zax is trying to open the bunker door, standing there for several seconds while the doorjamb is shot repeatedly and only getting killed after he gets the door open. We have the incredible leap of logic that Dylan makes in figuring out that Jessa and Kaylee are sisters. There's really not much of a basis for that; sure, the viewer could figure that out because we know that Jessa and Kaylee are Main Characters in this seedy little drama, but Dylan didn't read the opening credits, and there are plenty of other women on this planet. We have the sudden reversal of characterization, in which the tough-as-nails, uncaring Kaylee is suddenly convinced by Dylan's sickening pap to rescue Jessa. But the ultimate contrivance is something that I've feared, namely the use of Trance as an all-purpose plot device:
       "Holy crap, there's hundreds of prison planets!"
       "I think it's this one!"
       "Hey, I think Trance nailed it!"
There's good material potentially in the "Trance is not what she seems" subplot, as we saw in "Angel Dark, Demon Bright," but this episode is a terrible example of how and when to use it. It's exploited here as simply a cheap way out of a contrived situation, and from now on we'll have to wonder why Trance doesn't make a "guess" every time someone is in danger.

LOOSE END OF THE WEEK: The prison planet is liberated. Hooray! But wait, won't the Corporation send in a replacement warden? The next time someone tries to deliver prisoners, they're bound to notice that the prison isn't functioning properly and complain to Customer Service, right? This is a bit like "To Loose the Fateful Lightning," in which Hunt left all those kids behind singing campfire songs, while the Magog presumably were plotting their next mating party on the Guard Station. Here, the newly-enlightened heart-of-gold cons who are left behind, despite Hunt's good intentions, are probably only weeks away from being re-incarcerated. On the other hand, if the prison really is liberated, Hunt hasn't entertained the possibility that a good portion of the population may well be violent, incorrigible criminals who actually deserved the punishment they got, and have now potentially been loosed upon society.

CHEAPO COSTUMING OF THE WEEK: Andromeda's budget was apparently a couple of bucks short of even noses and foreheads this week, so they had to settle for red sheets; even Rev Bem wasn't suited up for this week's game of Musical Lay-offs...

RESOURCE ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: With all the talk of food rationing at the prison, it seemed odd that no one mentioned water; it would seem, based on what we saw and were told about this planet, that water would have to be provided as well. Make-up for the women, on the other hand, seemed to be available in abundance...

TECHNOLOGICAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: This episode, if nothing else, proves conclusively that Andromeda's avatar is mechanical and not biological. And we also meet another AI avatar with similar capabilities, namely the warden, who is apparently standard issue at these prisons. If this technology is available, why was "super genius" Harper so astonished to find plans for building such a device in "To Loose the Fateful Lightning"; surely it could have been found in the Maru's Magical Mystery Database (which in this episode happened to have the location of every prison planet in the area, even though we saw that the prison system routinely uses fake signals to prevent people from finding those facilities).

BIOLOGICAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: The shock value of the warden casually snapping Kaylee's neck quickly gave way to laugh value as she survives long enough to turn her head and lift her hand(!) to stroke her grieving sister's hair. Come on...

LAUGH LINE OF THE WEEK: It struck me as funny, at any rate. Andromeda warns that she has detected "infrared plumes" on Arazia. Harper intones, "Infrared plumes?" and the crew concludes that they are being attacked. A good guess, but of course an "infrared plume" is not threatening per se, and could be caused by a lot of things, such as a campfire or a smokestack. It might have been better if Andromeda had simply said, "I've detected a missile launch." A very minor flaw amidst giant ones, I guess...

Previous: "The Banks
of the Lethe
Next: "All Great
Neptune's Ocean
NEXT WEEK: An alien dignitary dies from diabetes brought on by Hunt's speechifying.



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This review is copyright 2000 David E. Sluss
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