Space Ramblings

Andromeda ‘Star Crossed’ Review

Summary: A competently handled and well acted, if unexceptional, episode that recycles standard Andromeda material.

MIA Index: RevBem is missing again. If this pattern continues, he may end up not appearing in more episodes than he appears in. Which would be a shame. Oh well more room for Trance’s mugging and Harper’s pathetic geek spewing twentieth century slang “Mata Hari, Phone Home?”. Glad the producers know quality when they see it. Sigh.

How many Commonwealth starships with insane AI’s who have their crews and must be destroyed are out there? Apparently at least two. It’s starting to look as if AI’s have become the holodeck of Andromeda. An unnecessary piece of technology that opens up a lot of storylines because of its malfunctions. The opening quote attempts to justify it with a sentimental defense about AI’s needing to be loyal but it’s not clear why anyone needs an AI with that much personality and intellectual capacity that it can choose to be loyal or not. There’s little use for such a thing and little ethics in creating such a being. At least Voyager’s EMH became sentient by accident, and what personality he had was purely artificial.

Andromeda claims that during the Commonwealth, AI’s were considered citizens with full rights but Pax’s treatment in Mathematics of Tears suggests otherwise. After all you can’t just casually blow up a full citizen and full citizens aren’t built and made to order and full citizens can resign their posts. Anyone capable of loyalty is also equally capable of disloyalty and worse, insanity, which seems to be an occupational hazard among ship AI’s. Even more bizarrely, apparently you can’t just switch off a rogue AI by remote control, much like the holodecks. Why would anyone want this kind of messy and dangerous technology, but that’s a lot like asking why Andromeda’s avatar features cleavage. There’s no logical explanation, it’s just meant to be entertaining.

Meanwhile, Dylan appears to have learned very little from either Mathematics of Tears or Sum of All Parts. Once again rogue cybernetics are allowed to roam the ship with no supervision, leading to bad results. Once again he fails to recognize a ship AI disguised as something else. Another continuity breach occurs when the rogue AI can apparently go where it likes even though Sum of all Parts stated that Slipstream requires biological pilots.

So too most of the script is full of some rather large holes but then this is not an episode that depends on the script (which is pretty fortunate considering that this one comes from the writer behind A Rose in the Ashes and The Pearls That Were His Eye) but on the acting since after all it’s driven by Andromeda’s emotional state. On that score the episode is quite fortunate since Lexa Doig is one of the three people on the show who can actually act. Michael Shanks turns in a good performance but rather than being ambiguous or in any way complex, his character is very one note and two-dimensional. We’re supposed to believe that Andromeda falls in love with him at first sight but there’s little in his performance to support such a response.

It might have been a better idea to focus on the actual avatar, instead of an android body which is essentially the PseudoBorg from Sum of All Parts reincarnated. Namely, he’s good and decent but being used by the evil AI core to do bad things to Andromeda, which inevitably ends in his death. Like the PseudoBorg, he infiltrates the ship’s systems and disables portions of the ship. And like the PseudoBorg he really can’t be blamed for anything he does, which makes him a simplistic and not particularly interesting character. The script attempts to set him up as a tragic hero through his classical literature fixation and his doomed romance with Andromeda but tragic heroes are complex and he is just a series of witty catch phrases delivered while constantly brooding in a corner. He has no willing part in the action and therefore no real contribution to make. Where the actual AI might have defended his actions and argued his case, he can only look around mournfully and keep apologizing over and over again. And this stops being interesting very quickly.

The plot such at it is hinges on the ecoterrorists who go around in starships blowing up starships. If this wasn’t enough of a contradiction in and of itself, they were apparently founded by a starship who thinks starships are the root of all evil. The easy solution would seem to involve blowing himself up for being evil. He claims to justify this using the principles of the Commonwealth; one wonders how he interprets Commonwealth principles to oppose interspecies contacts and space travel. It’s a question Dylan might have put to him, since here unlike in Mathematics of Tears, arguing the issue might have been somewhat constructive. The ecoterrorists as an enemy are a joke and he isn’t that much better since we barely see him. Instead as in Sum of Parts, we’re saddled with the cuddly mech who wants to turn his life around but can’t quite seem to manage it and messes up things royally along the way.

It wasn’t interesting then and it isn’t very interesting now.

Next week: Commonwealth Phone Home.

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