Space Ramblings

Andromeda review ‘Angel Dark Demon Bright’

Summary: We learn the perils of Drivers Ed in the distant future. Andromeda does Caretaker, half the crew considers murdering Trance, Dylan broods for 300 years. William Blake and Robert Oppenheimer join the cast. Everything goes back exactly to the way it was before.

Dear Abby. Is it okay if I blow up evil enemy warships that are at war with us and coming to attack me? Signed: Captain Weenie.

Lightning’s Nova bomb kid squadron may have been a controversial moral issue, but in Angel Dark, Hunt manages to outdo himself by spending hours brooding over whether he should destroy enemy warships which are coming to kill and destroy Commonwealth High Guard starships, including potentially his own. Hunt didn’t seem to have any trouble firing on the 10,000 ships attacking him in the pilot. Now he spends hours in the dark with the thing from black lagoon pondering if blowing up 10,000 ships of an enemy force which started the war and which are coming to destroy the Commonwealth fleet and slaughter Commonwealth citizens is the right thing to do or not.

Now I’m not an expert at these things but if Hunt finds it morally repugnant and against his pacifist nature to defend the Commonwealth against enemy warships coming to kill them, boy has he gotten himself into the wrong line of work or what? And boy is he on the wrong mission now. If Hunt represents a fair sample of the High Guard officer, then it’s not real surprising that the Commonwealth fell. Maybe it’s just a case of only the rats surviving the sinking ship but then again his friend is very ready to desert the Commonwealth fleet with very little proof and when she’s attacked, her ship goes down without a fight. It seems the High Guard may have been plagued by a very definite lack of backbone and a sense of duty, much as Hunt is. This is common enough in collapsing civilizations, it just makes for poor characters and poor drama.

Trance, Unsafe at any Speed. “Turn right, no turn left. Oh no… it’s the Past!”

When an accident hurls Andromeda back 300 years in time to the point of a pivotal battle between the Commonwealth and the Nietzchians it seems as if Andromeda is trying to produce its own version of Trek’s beloved episode City on the Edge of Forever, but instead ends up with Voyager’s series pilot Caretaker in which Janeway neglects an obvious opportunity to return home on doubtful grounds in order to preserve the series premise. The one link Angel does maintain with City on the Edge of Forever is that it manages to produce an even more ridiculous gimmick for taking the crew back in time. Where City featured a rewrite that had McCoy accidentally injecting himself with a terrible drug and running into the Guardian of Forever, Angel has Andromeda thrown back in time because the crew put Trance at the controls of the Slipstream drive even though she doesn’t know what she’s doing, and she ends up crashing the ship into the past.

This is after all the far distant post-apocalyptic future where life is so much harsher and nastier and so presumably, driver’s education on a Starship would be a lot harsher and nastier too. Still it would seem to any sane and drug free person that putting a neophyte who tends to forget to wear a helmet with her spacesuit at the controls of a massive starship and telling her to go through dangerous and risky procedures that normally only well trained pilots engage in, would be a bad idea in the insanely suicidal sense. Much as taking a nurse out of a hospital and putting her at the controls of an F-14 jet fighter in midair might possibly be predicted to have a negative outcome. Unfortunately, apparently with the fall of the Commonwealth not only have many lives and cultures been lost, so has the fabled 20th century art of simulations that might help teach people who do not know how to fly starships, to fly starships without actually putting them at the controls of a real starship in flight. Perhaps someday the Andromeda will go back in time to the golden age of the 20th century where they can learn of such wonders as seat belts, fuses, locks to prevent enemies from just walking onto your bridge and trying to kill you whenever they feel like it and simulation systems. Or if these are all unavailable, maybe some common sense, that tingling sensation in the back of your head that tells you it’s unsafe to put people who don’t know how to fly jet fighters or starships at the controls.

Time Travel for Dummies:

Still barring this piece of plot insanity that tops anything Voyager has been able to come up with in seven years of plot insanity (if Janeway ever puts Naomi in control of Voyager at warp speed, I’ll reconsider), Angel Dark gets off to a good start. By having Captain Hunt arrive too late to actually prevent the Nietzchian betrayal but at the moment of the final fall, Andromeda avoids a lot of plot problems and the complicated three way political situation between the Magog/Commonwealth/Nietzchians makes for a fairly interesting moral conflict for Dylan. Take on the Nietzchians and the Magog may gain even more power, take on the Commonwealth and you take part in the massacre of your own. Of course this is only a tough moral choice if you assume that these are the only two moral options available.

As Harper fairly accurately points out, the crew know the details of the next three hundred years of history and it’s a whole lot easier to rebuild the Commonwealth a year or two after it fell, rather than three hundred years after it fell. They don’t have to limit themselves to the eitheror options of joining the battle, but could have left to go anywhere else and continue the work of rebuilding the Commonwealth from a much stronger foundation. Or explored ways of going further back into the past. The history database could provide information about enemy force dispositions, battles, tactical strengths, foundations, hidden motivations and the future plans of just about all the powers involved. Hunt’s argument that they’re from the future and don’t belong here is ridiculous.

Hunt isn’t from the future, he’s just been to the future, but exactly from this time and place and so is Andromeda itself. They got to the future by also traveling through time by a somewhat unusual method. The rest of the misfits aren’t from this time period but the obsession with safeguarding time is a little silly. It made sense for Kirk to protect his timeline in City because the alternative was ironically an Andromeda-like timeline. Meanwhile Dylan is fighting to protect a horrible post-apocalyptic world from being changed, because of some vague unproven theories and some mumbo jumbo about fate. It sure is lucky Wolfe didn’t write the script for Terminator 2 or it would have featured Ahrnuld working with T1000 to keep the nuclear apocalypserobot genocide future on track and the end would have featured things remaining in the same nightmarish mess as they were in the beginning.

Tonight on Hunt’s Creek: Is the position of ship’s Janitor taken?

In Caretaker, Captain Janeway was given a choice between making sure the Caretaker’s array didn’t possibly fall into the wrong hands and possibly cause harm and stranding her crew 70,000 light years from home or taking any number of alternative possible options and chose to most irrational one, which would also serve as the basis for the series premise. In Angel Dark, Captain Hunt has to choose between trying to actually change history for the better in any of a large number of ways or stumble around the post-apocalyptic future and spending the next few years bumping into people who want to take over his ship week after week. Like Janeway he makes the most irrational choice and the one that would keep the series premise on track. The problem of course is that the series premise for both Voyager and Andromeda depended on a no way out clause and both shows made a mockery of that clause early on and tainted the validity of the entire situation. And while Janeway’s behavior was foolish, at least the act of sacrificing one ship to possibly protect several species has logical rationales, Hunt has no such protection.

So of course in order to avoid any rational examination of events, Andromeda falls back on mumbo jumbo about fate and destiny. Rather than simply make a decision Hunt spends hours brooding about fate and destiny. Like Janeway, Hunt seems to have forgotten that he isn’t a messiah or a superhuman deity but a officer in the service of a fleet and a government whose orders he is supposed to follow. When in doubt of orders there are regulations to follow and superiors or fellow officers that can be contacted. If he has information about a threat, he is bounded by orders to convey that information to his fellow officers. His own personal angst on the issue is irrelevant because as long as he considers himself a Captain in the service and exercises the privilege of command the use of Commonwealth and High Guard titles, privileges and equipment such as the Andromeda itself; he is bound to take actions only within the context of the wishes of the Commonwealth and the High Guard. Angel Dark meanwhile displays no interest in actually following orders, looking up regulations or submitting to the authority of the service. Instead Dylan closets himself with RevBem while they discuss Dylan finding God. As nice as this is for religious believers (and once again demonstrating that the Roddenberry name on the show’s title is worth as much as a Miami ballot), it would be nicer if Hunt brooded less and did his job more. If he held strategy sessions with his crew in an open forum to determine options, followed regulations, made rational decisions instead of sitting in the dark and stroking his disturbingly sun bleached face while pondering joining RevBem’s cult of the 80’s vampire movie Halloween mask.

Right now Hunt has brooded his way through episode after episode, stumbling into preventable disaster after preventable disaster and getting out by the skin of his teeth or by a sudden case of enemy stupidity. He’s shown very little indication that he was indeed part of a disciplined elite military force, instead he’s acted like an adolescent stuck in a teenage drama. He doesn’t know what he wants, he doesn’t how to get it and he doesn’t seem much interested in anybody’s input or in actually looking to High Guard regulations. He thinks that his angst is more important than everything else in the universe and the show expects us to think so too. Where even the worst Trek Captains like Janeway have taken a stab at doing the job and being in command, Hunt has spent the show so far in desperate need of Prozac and whatever other combination of medications will let him play a Starship Captain on TV. Pervasive indecision and the kind of manic depressive states Hunt has displayed are symptomatic of mental disorders, not strong leading man characters. He’s incapable of command and needs to find a job more appropriate to his condition. Andromeda currently has several thousand positions open, he should pick one and go with it.

Hey Kids! Want to learn how to Sabotage Andromeda? Send $3.95 to Annoying Idiot Plot, Box 787, Jeri Taylor Drv, Rick Berman City:

Meanwhile the painfully overused and ridiculous plot theme of “Everybody Sabotage Andromeda Now!” continues. Star Trek security was bad but even Voyager wasn’t sabotaged 6 out of 7 episodes. You’d think that after this happening week after week and with just last week’s episode demonstrating to Hunt that he can’t trust Tyr, there would be some sort of security measures in place. Instead the crew’s only protection against Tyr and Harper’s sabotage is the watchful eye of Trance who wrecked everybody in the past in the first place. Of course to heighten plot plausibility, within this episode Trance and Harper separately pull off two technological miracles apparently beyond the conception of the Commonwealth’s best and brightest. Harper comes up with a way to destroy the entire Nietzchian fleet that the Commonwealth itself has never thought of, yet he has trouble knocking out or restraining Trance. Trance manages to achieve time travel, which again appears to be something also beyond the ability of the mankind. Wesley and Kes save the day again.

Back at the bridge, Andromeda proclaims that she’s in tip top fighting shape. You have to wonder exactly how this was achieved. Magic? Crazy glue? A team of superinteligent chimps? Sure Harper may be a genius who can do anything with enough technobabble, but can he really do the job of a thousand men maintaining and repairing Andromeda using nothing but thin air and wisecracks. Because unlike Voyager, Andromeda apparently doesn’t need to look and trade for supplies.

Now all we have to do is go hide in the Nebula…:

And in its fearsome drive for quality Andromeda picks up another plot resolution we haven’t seen enough times on Trek. Igniting stellar gases so that they burn and explode thereby wrecking enemy ships. The irony is that Trek did this years and years ago and the special effects still looked better. Along the way they’ve also borrowed Trek’s forehead makeup division circa 1993. Admittedly it’s an improvement over the Bug Suit or the Night Cream but like all of Andromeda’s production values, it works best over a compact video monitor with shaky reception.

Tonight on Andromeda, When Literary References Attack!

Tonight William Blake’s most obvious quotation makes an appearance and the most obvious Robert Oppenheimer quotation. Now if only as much work had been done on the plot.

Next week on Andromeda: A plot you can never get tried of. People board and try to sabotage Andromeda again…but this time, they’re family.

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