Andromeda: S01E06: Angel Dark Demon Bright
This was another cracking show. We learned much more about Trance, Harper and Tyr, we began to understand what happened in the closing months of the War – and Andromeda’s part in it, and we saw the very real relationships between the Andromeda Ascendant crew-members develop….
THE HEAVENS BURNED, THE STARS
This episode opened with the lovely and apprehensive Trance Gemini learning to pilot the Andromeda through Slipstream under the watchful eyes of Beka Valentine and Tyr Anasazi. “You must let your instincts guide you. Slipstream piloting isn’t a skill, it’s an art. You have to feel your way to your destination.” Instructs Tyr.
Trance protests that she doesn’t need to learn how to pilot the Andromeda. However, with only six crewmembers on board, Tyr sharply disagrees. Trance then suggests that Rommie could pilot the ship if needed, but Beka points out that sentient non-organic life-forms are unable to pilot through slipstream. Rommie explains (in a classic piece of ‘Star Trek non-science’) that early travelers suggested it had to do with “the interaction of organic observers with the collapsing probability waves.”
They blast of into subspace and Trance completely cock’s it up. “I don’t think I’m doing this right” she says, and everyone glances at her nervously. “Don’t fight the strings!” says Tyr as the ship jostles and bumps. “It started it!” she replies, defiantly. The ship suddenly jumps out of slipstream to the great relief of Trance Gemini and everyone else.
Beka reports that they are not where they are supposed to be and that the Slipstream Drive engines are ‘fried‘. Dylan Hunt then enters bellowing, “What the hell are you people doing to my ship?!” Trance disentangles herself from the pilot cockpit and runs past him muttering tearfully, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.“
Later, Dylan catches up with Trance who is hiding in the hydroponics area . He tries to tell her that she isn’t stupid (as she insists she is), but that she is simply inexperienced. Dylan points out that the Slipstream engines were close to breaking down in any case and it might have happened while they were at full speed (killing everyone on board). Trance (correctly I think) says, “You’re just being nice.”
She tells him how easy it is for her to manage organic things like plants and people, but when it comes to machines and space/time and stuff, things get far too complicated. The ship judders again and Dylan leaves whispering, “Now who’s driving?“
On the bridge, he learns that they are in the middle of a minefield. They learn that they are in the middle of the WhitchHead Nebula, the scene of the last great battle between the Nietzschean’s and the Systems Commonwealth. Dylan asks them to explain. Humans call it the Nietzschean Rebellion – Nietzschean’s call it the Nietzschean Tactical Offensive.
Harpers version: ‘100 high Guard ship faced 500 Nietzschean warships commanded by Teddy Roosevelt (why did he have such a name – why couldn’t he have been called Bob Smith!) who commanded a ship called the Thermopolii and faced 500 Nietzschean ships lead by Ho Chi Min of the Gung a Din Pride (oh good grief!) who commanded the ship called Shining Path. The battle lasted for 40 days and 40 nights (give or take an hour or so) and came down to a face-off between the two command ships. Roosevelt, in one last act of defiance, rammed the Shining Path and therefore saved Earth from the marauding Nietzschean’s.’
Rommie points out that Earth was then invaded by the Magog…. In fact much of Harpers story was based on his own flowery imagination rather than fact. It was left to Tyr to translate.
“The Nietzschean’s ambushed the remnants of the High Guard Fleet,” he reports dispassionately, “They had 500 ships, the High Guard had less than a hundred. Eventually the High Guard forces were completely destroyed, but not before they had inflicted heavy casualties on the Nietzschean fleet, particularly on the ships of the ruling Drago Katsoff Pride consequently leaving them vulnerable. In the aftermath, Pride Jaguar and their allies launched a surprise attack. The ensuing civil war shattered the entire Nietzschean alliance.“
“Which is why,” adds Beka, “the Nietzschean’s didn’t take over after the war.“
“All hope for a United Nietzschean Alliance after the war died here. The battle of WhitchHead was an unmitigated disaster for both sides.” Concluded Tyr bitterly.
Dylan accepts Tyr’s version of the events, which is more than Andromeda does, she reports that there are no traces of ship wreckage to be seen anywhere in the Nebula. Dylan tells her that they can analyse the surrounding space later, for now he asks Beka to steer the ship ahead… slowly.
Yet worse still, they find that they have somehow managed to travel back in time to a few days BEFORE the epic battle and that they are not only likely t get caught up in it, but they know exactly how it will turn out! (or so they think).
Suddenly a new Andromeda class spaceship jumps out of Slipstream it’s an Azguard class warship called the Renewed Valour, captained by his old pal Gar. She was of course, supposed to have died 300 years ago. Dylan makes contact (with Tyr concealed) to find out what is going on. It turns out that they have somehow managed to jump back in time to the point just before the battle (?!?). Gar tells him that Admiral Stark ordered every remaining High Guard spaceship, to assemble at WhitchHead and from there they were to go to Fountainhead where they would ‘take out’ the Nietzschean home world.
Later, the crew talk about their options. Rommie points out that they have 2 days before the epic battle. Beka feels that they shouldn’t mess with time travel and that they shouldn’t get involved. Harper believes that they have a great opportunity to corner a whole number of product markets.
Dylan suggests that they have a marvelous opportunity to warn the High Guard fleet of the ambush and overt a disaster. Tyr obviously disagrees. He argues, quite logically, that the Systems Commonwealth (by this time) is already dead, by now, the Vedran home world is cut off from the slipstream. “….and the Vedran Empress is dead,” he continues, “warlords and opportunists are about their business as we speak and in just a few weeks, the Magog will begin their invasion.”
Rev Bem confirms that the Magog were poised to invade a whole number of systems by this time ‘like vultures’. “And,” continues Tyr, “The only ones that will be able to slow them down are the Nietzschean’s…… If you want to save lives, you have one choice. Help the Nietzschean’s.“
Dylan listens to the arguments and goes to his quarters to think on the matter. He is joined by Rev Bem who injects a predictable air of mysticism. He believes that their appearance in this timeline is for a reason, as if there is some sort of divine order directing them towards their destiny. Dylan is dismissive, he explains that helping the Nietzschean’s to restore some form of order to help future planets defend against the onslaught of the Magog would not be an option. He mentions how the Nietzschean’s were no angels. They had oppressed, and murdered whole civilizations. He did not care to make a choice between two evils.
He makes a decision and decides to leave without doing anything. His theories are sound however. He, with Rommie’s help, explains that their effect on this timeline could have catastrophic consequences on their own predicament (i.e. that changing the timeline by getting involve in the war may result in say, Tyr not being born or the Andromeda not being rescued from the black hole, or that no matter what they did, they would not be able to change anything because it had already happened.) The only clear way out therefore, would be to do a runner!
Tyr considers the argument, and decides (reluctantly) to agree. Harper on the other hand, wants to take matters into his own hand. He decides to modify key systems on the Andromeda to produce a weapon which will somehow ignite some of the gasses in the nebula and cause a massive – and I mean HUGE explosion. If timed right, this would destroy most, if not all of the Nietzschean armada.
While Harper is secretly building his weapon, Beka and Rommie are on the bridge making ready to depart. Rommie is very upset that they have to leave. She knows of the many lives that will be lost in the aftermath of the great war and feels helpless that they must leave and not stay and fight. She is a warship and ‘doing a runner’ isn’t what she was built for.
Harper is putting the final touches to his gizmo when he is interrupted by the delightful Trance. She holds out Harpers firing control gadget and asks what it is for. She clearly knows and even briefly attempts to listen to Harpers reasoning about his doomsday device before running off to tell the Captain. The tell-tale Trance tells all.
Harper was placed under some sort of arrest and escorted, by a very angry Rommie, to his quarters. She was particularly miffed because Harper was disobeying the Captain when she obviously couldn’t. As they walked through the corridor she comically makes the ship give Harper a short blast of electricity fired at his bum. “Don’t be like this, I was only trying to stop the Nietzschean’s from conquering Earth.” He says in his defense.”
“If I tried to re-arrange your internal organs, tried to force you to violate your most important moral imperatives, how would you feel?” asks Rommie indignantly.
“It actually sounds like fun,” Harper says trying to make her smile. But Rommie is in no mood for humour and gently pushed him into his quarters telling him that he must remain there until further notice. “Feel free to re-arrange the furniture to your hearts content.” She adds sarcastically.
Dylan contacts his old buddy Gar on the High Guard ship, Renewed Valour. He tells her, without explaining why he is there, that she should abandon her orders and follow him out of the battle zone. At first she disagrees, but because she trusts Dylan, she eventually agrees to follow him.
They are about to leave when suddenly a swarm of Nietzschean ships attack the Renewed Valour. The crew of the Andromeda all watch helplessly as the Renewed Valour is destroyed completely. Dylan pauses to remember his friend before asking Beka to move off slowly and prepare for Slipstream.
Rev Bem tells Dylan that there is a problem. He has fond that the Nietzschean armada doesn’t have 500 ships but close to 1500. The Andromeda hides in the nebula’s cloud while Dylan and his crew try to work out why the historical records are different.
Eventually they must conclude that the reason there were 500 ships in the final battle at WhitchHead was because they, or more specifically Harper, had let loose a weapon that destroyed 1000 of the ships. The only way that the can preserve history and prevent the rise of a Nietzschean empire and ensure that their timeline remains intact, is to destroy over 1000 Nietzschean ships.
Dylan returns to his cabin to consider the situation, he is joined by Rev Bem. The two discuss the destruction of 1000 spaceships carrying approximately 100 people on each ship. Dylan doesn’t want to consider such a huge loss of life because of his actions, but Rev Bem continues his philosophical argument that they are in this situation for some divine reason.
Meanwhile, Tyr is secretly fiddling around with some sort of machinery. The machine refuses to accept his override command. He thumps it (as you do) and it simply says, “Override command denied“. So Tyr gathers his considerable strength and boots the living daylights out of it. I have every sympathy with the geezer, I did this to my very own modem a few days ago (…. erm, sorry for the late posting of this review by the way).
He is suddenly joined by the lovely purple girl, Trance. She realises very quickly that she has stumbled onto some sort of covert activity and, her feelings aren’t quieted in the slightest when Tyr pulls out a very large looking laser pistol and points it at her. She responds with a nervous giggle and an attempt at a little wave (aww sweet). The fast talking Trance tries to persuade him that he shouldn’t kill her, as a friend it would be a very bad thing. It should be pointed out that Trance’s tail was most certainly straight, between her legs and definitely not wagging.
She nervously accuses Tyr of knowing that the actual size of the Nietzschean ambush armada was 1500 and not 500 and that he was on the Maru to try and leave to join the Nietzschean fleet. He backs her into a corner and insists that she tell him why he should not kill her and when things look their most ominous for Trance, she appears to mentally suggest to Tyr that his only option is to let her go. Something significant happened, she seemed to confuse his mind and therefore take away his reason for killing her. She quickly tells him that this is simply a hypothetical situation and she is in a hurry and must leave. Trance, is now a lot more confident and even coy, her tail wags slightly as Tyr scratches his head, moves out of the way, and lets her go.
Dylan meanwhile gets Rommie deploy the fusion catalyst. But Harper needs Dylan to ‘line up’ the enemy so that he can ‘point it’ at the Nietzschean’s. Dylan orders that the Andromeda Ascendant engages the Nietzschean hoard. He slices through the armada like a knife through butter. The graphics were wonderful! The Andromeda takes the Nietzschean’s by complete surprise and suffers only minor damage from counter attacks. The armada follows exactly where Harper wants them to and moments later, he is ordered to let loose the destructive might of the Fusion Catalyst.
Tyr had joined them on the bridge, but he doesn’t try to interfere. He tells Dylan of the Nietzschean legend of WhitchHead. “… They arrived here in overwhelming numbers. Victory seemed assured. But then, in the critical hour, the angel of death appeared summoning forth the fires of hell. The Nietzschean fleet were struck down, crippled. Their glorious victory turned to ashes….” He looks at Dylan Hunt. “I’ve never seen an angel before” He concludes pointedly.
Dylan orders Harper to initiate the fusion catalyst. Moments later Dylan Hunt throws the switch, “I have become death,” he says quietly, “Destroyer of worlds.”
A whoppingly huge explosion results and approximately 1000 Nietzschean ships are destroyed killing around 100,000 Nietzschean’s. Dylan suddenly seems to age 10 years, Tyr looks on tearfully, and even Harper face changes from elation to a sickening grimace. Personally I cheered, it could only have been better if the Magog had breakfasted on their entrails.
Tyr turns sadly to tell Dylan that he has succeeded, then leaves. Beka makes the jump into Slipstream and they reverse slipstream polarity as previously calculated, returning them to the year CY 10087. Rommie reports that they are back where they started. (That was easy?)
Later, Dylan joins Tyr in his quarters. The Nietzschean is tearful, he feels that not taking the opportunity to help his people was a selfish act and he feels guilty. Dylan tries to tell him that it was all for the better. But it seems that neither he nor Tyr really believes that.
The closing scene (and most poignant), is when the lovely Trance is seen pruning a Bonsai tree. It has three main branches. She picks up a small pruning sheer and while most of us expect her to trim a couple of tiny leaves, instead she viciously chops off one of the largest branches. “That’s better.” She says.
It bloody well wasn’t! It looked completely stupid! Instead of having a nice bushy Bonsai, she had a wonky looking little tree! The point here – I hope – is that pruning the tree is such a harsh way may make it look awful for a while, but eventually it would grow back stronger and better. Does that mean that the Nietzschean’s will eventually grow back bigger and stronger, the galaxy as a whole, or was it just that she was pissed off?
This whopping episode rates a huge 33,341 out of 10 in my book, how about yours?
The “Angel Dark, Demon Bright” episode review is © 2000 Tony Fawl.
Not for reproduction without the authors express permission
Screen captures were provided by Shauna’s Andromeda Dominion
if you want to use the pics – ASK HER FIRST. (All images from the show are © Tribune Entertainment. All rights reserved)
The names, characters and everything else associated with Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda TV series are the property of the Tribune Entertainment Company. All rights reserved.
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