Summary: The Andromeda season finale features the ship coming under attack by Magog as an accidentally revived personality backup program leads them on a repeat of the mission that got the last ship’s crew killed.
…Its Hour Come Round At Last is certainly impressive. Not so much for the script or acting but for the carnage. This script written by DS9 veteran and Andromeda creator Robert Wolfe is better than average for the series, defining and patching up crew relationships. But the real action is the, well… action. The Andromeda crew kill what looks like a few hundred Magog over forty minutes during which the Magog chase them around the ship like a pack of rabid hyenas and the issue isn’t resolved by some meaningless ploy or technobabble or speech by Dylan. Indeed it isn’t resolved at all.
Since Andromeda has a two year commitment and a drooping audience, its finale has been written as a cliffhanger with the usual crew in jeopardy and Captain out of commission bit. Attempting to duplicate TNG and Voyager’s use of the Borg in cliffhangers like Best of Both Worlds, which generated audience interest and suspense, Andromeda has brought out the Magog as its unstoppable insatiable enemy. The series has reserved them for an entire season (barring a few cameo appearances) and now introduces them as the horrific unstoppable enemy.
And there are similarities. The Magog are powerful, dangerous and keep on coming no matter what. They’re also unarmed and their strategy involves lots of screaming, leaping and clawing. Which is why the crew can kill hundreds of them without great difficulty. Basically they’re B Movie monsters with their own spaceships. It’s hard to see why they would be a threat to anyone. From Roman times, battle has favored the prepared army fighting in a coordinated and disciplined manner, utilizing technology. British colonialism demonstrated quite comprehensively that screaming and leaping is no match for superior firepower and sound strategy. The Magog may be a problem when you only have a handful of crew and no control of your ship, but any well disciplined crew and sound defense system should hold them off easily. On a planet, killing an unarmed attack force, no matter how large, is a turkey shoot.
But the Magog are still intimidating and unpleasant and once they’ve landed a few thousand warriors on the ship whose internal defenses are non-functional, they actually can pose a threat. It would help though if the threat was not once again the product of the Andromeda crew’s incompetence and stupidity. Unfortunately it is. Harper tampers with systems he doesn’t understand, producing an old version of Andromeda on a mission. Like Voyager’s Warhead, this new version of Andromeda won’t recognize that times have changed and its mission no longer relevant. It treats the crew as intruders, even though Dylan is a valid Commonwealth officer with valid ID. It also behaves in a surprisingly brutal manner for the AI of a supposedly high-minded civilization.
You have to wonder if there wasn’t some way to kick off this plot without the cause being another screwup by the Andromeda crew and the peril coming simply from the Magog, instead of their own stupidity yet again. It might make it easier to take their plight seriously, instead of having to think once again, that if they had displayed a bit more intelligence, they wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with.
The steps to resolving this mess involve the usual technobabble and ladder climbing we’ve seen in all the Star Trek “ship disabled episodes” with lots of Magog howling along after them. RevBem’s poorly developed spiritual crisis mainly takes a back seat to Tyr-Harper and Dylan-Beka bonding. It probably should have gotten more screen time, especially since it looks set to play a major role in the resolution of the cliffhanger; but I suppose we should be happy, he got any screen time at all, let alone a storyline of his own. It would have made more sense if a Magog centered story which triggers a spiritual crisis, had worked around RevBem to begin with.
But instead we have more disposable scenes in which Dylan rebuilds the Commonwealth, while we weren’t watching. For a show supposedly dedicated to featuring the rebuilding of the Commonwealth, we get to see very little to none of this activity. Instead we have characters walk on stage and talk about how well the commonwealth rebuilding is going. This is somewhat akin to having a cop show whose characters never actually prevent crimes but come on stage talking about how they prevented some great crimes. How is anyone supposed to take Andromeda’s premise seriously, if the show won’t take its own premise seriously and would rather dedicate episodes to the personality problems of its half-wit crew, than its own premise?
Well, to distract from that issue, Andromeda’s season finale features more scenes of the shadow alien who’s directing the Magog and a cliffhanger that features the crew and ship taking severe damage. In comparison to the average Andromeda episode, …Its Hour Come Round At Last is more polished and better written but it still suffers from the same fundamental flaws this series continues to suffer from. Lack of originality, lack of content and lack of focus on its own series premise. As Voyager has shown, all the big bad aliens in the world will not make your show work, if you don’t maintain your premise and the reality of your situation.
Without a genuine accomplishment or threat, the Magog are just howling guys in furry suits.
Next week: Reruns and lots of ’em. Enjoy the summer.