Andromeda: S01E16: The Sum of its Parts
This show was great, it was funny and sad and silly all at the same time.
BETWEEN BIRTH AND
AND THIS IS THE SOURCE
Outcast Consensus 17,
“My entire existence,” Replies Rommie, “is for the benefit of the crew. From assisting Harper with the right tool to helping Tyr with manufacturing supplies to assisting with flight operations, even to allow you to use me as a mannequin. All of my functions are to designed to aid the smooth operations of this ship and it’s inhabitants.”
Beka is having a go at Rommie. She feels that the computer avatar is possibly a little vain. She continues as Rommie tries on another outfit (unfortunately out of camera shot – don’t you just hate it when that happens!), “Rommie, I can’t believe that what you’re actually saying, is that the reason you look like a walking heart attack, is for our benefit.” Says Beka. It has to be said that she looks a little jealous. Is the reason that she’s commenting on Rommie’s appearance because she’s got a nice ass and doesn’t appreciate the competition? I think so, and while I’m commenting on the rear end of the conversation, I also noticed another lady with a nice tail smiling sceptically at Rommie’s statement.
“I think you went overboard on the pouty lips.” Adds Beka tight lipped.
Rommie then tries to explain that she didn’t design her appearance. But in all honesty she did the next best thing. She chose her looks by using composite pictures of other women and fitting them together in what she considered, the most pleasing manner. It took her 170,894 attempts to come up with this avatar – and well worth the effort too!
Ok, so Rommie’s vain. But Beka and Trance are missing the point completely! Rommie has a female personality and by definition that means vain! What do you think all women do each morning for an hour in the bathroom? Yes, they put their face on! Then they prance around all day waggling their lovely rear ends at us unsuspecting geezers in the absolutely best outfit for the job. They do this for two reasons, firstly to turn mild mannered polite males into dogs on heat, and secondly, to let other women know how good they are at doing it (amply demonstrated by Beka’s reaction). Therefore, should we blame a feminine computer with almost infinite shape-changing and makeup capability for a job well done? If Beka and Trance had such resources would you like to bet against them improving muscle tone, luscious lips and/or maybe enhancing their own frontal assault?
Their conversation is interrupted however, when the Andromeda reports that they are encountering a series of mechanical objects floating in space in front of them. Rommie informs the captain on-screen (wearing her usual Rommie outfit that is just one size too small – but of course, now WE know she knows it).
The debris doesn’t just drift past Andromeda; it seems to cling to the spaceship. Gradually. The loose mechanical pieces slide their way along the ship to No. 4 hangar deck and breach the hull. It seems as though the ship is under attack. The crew – en-mass (all four of them) head for the hangar deck to confront the metal pieces and as they enter, the bits manifest themselves into a human looking shape. I say human-looking, it looks as human as you or me would look if we were made of bits of a diesel engine and the insides of TV’s and microwaves and I’m sure I saw a cylinder head gasket cover from a 1978 Mark I Ford Cortina in there somewhere too. The ‘it’ was a sorry state for a modern day android indeed.
All except for the face that is, now that was cool. It gradually changed shape from being flat and lifeless to having a nose and eyes and mouth and … looking lifeless, but a little less scary.
“Weirdness alert.” Commented Beka observantly.
Dylan orders them to open fire at the first sign of hostility, but the androidy thingy turns round and in a non-threatening voice says, “Please do not initiate hostile action. I am bio sentient contact unit HG1966HXCN5.” It says clearly demonstrating that it’s not just humans who can have silly names (Why couldn’t it just call itself Dave), “How do you humans say?” It continues, “Take me to your leader.”
HG1966HXCN5 tells them that it is an emissary from The Consensus of Parts. Beka informs the captain that The Consensus of Parts (is not the local Automart as one might suspect) but a big machine culture that lives in the empty space between star systems where no spaceship dares to tread. Harper adds that The Consensus also preys on the unwary.
The polite android however tried to set them straight, “No, we never prey. We seek consensus and understanding; we are the union of the machine, the silicone coalescence. From the castaway parts of organic societies we form sentients.”
Dylan is quietly impressed and is flattered to learn that HG1966HXCN5 (good grief, that’s awful to have to type – I’m going to call him Dave the Android from now on ok?) was created by The Consensus to meet with them. In fact, they didn’t actually know WHERE the Andromeda was headed, so they extrapolated a number of different courses from it’s last known flight path and created hundreds of ‘contact units’ to meet them (one at each point) in the hope of being right at least once. Dave the Android was the lucky winner.
Beka and Tyr try to advice Dylan against contact. The Consensus has a reputation for being ruthless adversaries. Worse still, they don’t usually mix with organic life forms, preferring instead to kill them and take their machinery to add to their… erm…. other machinery.
But Dylan is on a mission. He spots the opportunity of expansion of the Commonwealth. As far as he’s concerned, this is a first contact situation and should be handled diplomatically. He agrees that Dave the Android should be watched in case he tries anything subversive; but essentially, Dylan’s mind is made up. They are off to The Consensus, weather the rest of the crew like it or not.
Dylan briefs Rommie (but not without commenting on her new outfit); he is concerned that they do not have a full task force as backup (as they would have done in first contact situation in the old days) and tells her that at the first sign of trouble, she should be ready to do a runner.
Harper and Trance are entertaining Dave the Android. Harper is keen to understand how it works while Trance is simply excited at meeting a new thing, a sentient thing. Dylan reluctantly agrees to let Dave the Android interface with the Andromeda computer so that it can provide directions and other information (I guess it’s more complicated that ‘turn left at the next planet). Rommie is confident that she can handle such coupling and confidently tells the fussing Dylan that the intrusion may even help them find out if Dave the Android’s intensions are honourable (that’s like saying, ‘I’ll let him go to bed with me and maybe I’ll find out if he’s a nice guy or not’). Their fears are mildly subdued however, when they both noticed Dave the Android trying to chat with a viewing monitor.
The two machines (beauty and the beast), prepare to exchange bodily information in front of the others on the Bridge (good grief, get a room!). Rommie has her firewalls up (a wise precaution), and Harper plugs his neck in as a sort of chaperone just to make sure nothing untoward happens – the pervert.
They plug themselves in and become fully coupled. “You… care.” Says Dave the Android surprised, “So… do you.” Says Rommie equally taken aback. The interface continues, foreplay is initiated. Dave the Android looks Rommie in the eyes and adds, “transmitting data.” Then he rolls his eyes back and thrusts as much of the stuff inside Rommie as it possibly can. I can’t really tell if Rommie was enjoying the experience, she certainly looked like she could take all he was giving her. Even Harper was impressed. “Wow.” He said, “This is the fastest transfer rate I’ve ever seen.” (I can’t see why that should be a complement?!).
Then, almost as quickly as it began, the coupling is over. There was some pillow talk, stuff like, “exchange proceeding,” and “systems nominal,” and “beginning navigational interface,” but the whole thing was all pretty mechanical.
When the exchange was complete, Rommie lifted her hand sharply from the console and was clearly dizzy. She stumbled her way over to Dylan and collapsed in his arms (aww sweet). “I apologize for any residual echo, it should fade soon.” Said Dave the Android apologetically, not quite realising how powerful the climax of their embrace had been (the big brute). But instead of handing Rommie a towel, Beka simply said, “Now data’s online.”
I think they realised that Rommie was simply a little inexperienced and innocent. It could also be argued that it wasn’t the full monty either! For, as Harper pointed out, “Rommie’s firewall appears to be intact.”
Beka takes them into slipstream. The trip is going to take a couple of hours before they reach The Consensus and Dave the Android attempts to learn more about the Andromeda and it’s crew. He’s a very excited little android, and his inquisitive nature and seemingly childlike naivety is both disarming and annoying. For instance, as Trance takes him/it on a tour of the ship, Dave the Android calls Harper a slow directing intelligence, meaning someone who assembles mechanical parts …. slowly. Harper takes it as a complement, but he was mildly miffed too.
It seems that Trance is just as enthralled by the mechanical dude as he/it is with them. She patiently explains how things work and is encouraged by his excitement to learn new things. She shows him the botanical garden. When she shows him/it a plant he comments that the plants are not only used to produce oxygen and fruit to sustain life, but also that they are pleasing to Trance and that’s why she has them. Dave the Android asks Trance if she could make a place for him – Wow, nothing wrong with this guy’s libido. Trance is a little taken aback, but she is saved from making a reply when The Consensus is spotted approaching the Andromeda.
The spaceship is HUGE, and its Captain (if it can be called that) makes contact with Dylan, “This is directing intelligence unit VX1583 in power to act directly for the central Consensus. Prepare to receive our drones.”
VX1583 (Malcolm the Robot doesn’t really seam appropriate, lets simply call him VX) is considerably more formidable that the mild mannered Dave the Android. VX is bigger for a start (that always helps) and nowhere near as practiced in the art of diplomacy. VX asks why Dave the Android is still on-board. Dave the Android explains that it was simply finishing it’s work but is then immediately told that it is ‘complete’.
Dave the Android leaves (head held low) and VX tells Dylan that it is ready to evaluate his ship. Dylan agrees. He’s perplexed by the attitude and request of his new guest, but decides to play along if and until things become dangerous.
Meanwhile, Dave the Android is approached by Trance. She notices that he is leaving and asks why. Dave the Android tells her that he/it has finished it’s work and that now it must ‘de-consensus’ or disassemble. Trance is appalled at the prospect of her new pal ending it’s existence. Dave the Android is clearly upset too. It perceives itself to be alive and now, because this is what happens to Android dudes when they have completed their tasks, it must break itself up and join other parts floating around in space.
Dylan meanwhile, learns that the intensions of The Consensus aren’t as honourable as he had hoped. VX tells him that they had considered joining his Commonwealth, but had decided against it because the whole idea seemed disastrous. He didn’t give any other reason; instead he presented a counter proposal. The Andromeda should join the Consensus and the biological life forms that are the crew could still exist.
Dylan was insulted but he said he would consider the idea. VX accused Dylan of lying and launched into a monologue about why machines were better at thinking, more objective, not limited by emotion, thousands and even millions of minds networked to consider a decision… that sort of thing. But Dylan wasn’t going to be outdone. He projected the alternative, organic minds thinking independently, not constrained, flexible etc. The two were at an impasse. Clearly the decision on if Andromeda should join the consensus was Rommie’s choice. And Dylan agreed to consult her.
There wasn’t a cat in hells chance of Rommie agreeing to such a proposal and she agreed to keep VX occupied while they made ready to leave… quickly.
Poor Dave the Android tried to explain his ‘ending’ to Dylan with Trance, and although Dylan wasn’t happy about it, he didn’t want to interfere with the un-natural order of things. He lets Dave the Android leave in peace and not put up a fight to defend him/it.
Dave the Android gives each of the Andromeda crew a piece of itself as a going away present. It had learned, from it’s coupling with Rommie, that it could do this as part of a wake. Must be a strange Canadian thing.
It then takes bits of itself and gives them ceremonially to each member of the Andromeda. It has to be said that these bits look pathetic. They are certainly not aesthetic or functional, but they are received with reverence by the crew and especially Trance.
Rommie of course, didn’t need anything since she already had Dave the Androids essence inside her. But Tyr absolutely refused to accept a part of the mechanical man, “I want no souvenir’s from a suicide.” But eventually he is pressed into accepting, “Fine,” he says, “But this is immensely foolish.” And to prove it, Dave the Android gives him a part of itself saying, “For Tyr, who taught me the value of honesty and courage.”
Later, Rommie, Dylan and Tyr tell VX that Rommie does not want to become a part of the collective, oops, I mean the Confederacy, erm… I mean the Consensus. She prefers to stay Andromeda’s computer. Tyr escorts VX off the ship (unceremoniously).
As Dylan orders Beka to manoeuvre to ready them for Slipstream, Rommie suddenly gets very queasy. She is suffering power fluctuations and can’t for the moment identify the problem. Tyr rushes to the Bridge passing two confused looking ships robots with breasts. Hey. If I was a robot with breasts, I’d be confused! However, I think this had more to do with the power fluctuations.
It turns out that the problems are caused by Dave the Androids bits. They have managed to sprout little wires and plug themselves into every socket they can. Tyr, Trance and Harper report that the bits are everywhere.
They all assume that VX and Dave the Android had planned this. But it seems that VX has no knowledge of it. The Consensus try one last time to persuade Rommie to join them before opening fire on the Andromeda.
Dave the Androids bits gradually spread further and further into Rommie’s systems until she/it is consumed. Eventually Dave the Android manages to communicate with the Andromeda and he/it tells them that it doesn’t want to die. This is its attempt to keep itself alive and that it’s parts are spreading throughout the ship uncontrollably.
To make things worse, VX has noticed that Dave the Android has joined with the Andromeda and he/it sees this as a threat to the consensus. VX tells them to stop it (which is about as much use as the proverbial bucket of cold water) or they will be destroyed.
Dylan is in a sticky situation, Dave the Androids bits are not only sneaking their way through Rommie’s systems, but the ship is almost completely disable and hot on their tails is VX and the daddy of all spaceships…. guns blazing. Drastic action is called for (and it doesn’t come more drastic than this). Dylan orders Rommie to give up! He tells her/it to give all control of the Andromeda to Dave the Android. Then he orders Dave the Android to initiate slipstream and get the hell outa there.
The manoeuvre is successful, but they don’t have long before VX and his bits catch up. VX enters slipstream too (VX’s ship is made up of mechanical bits but some of the systems have an organic neural interface (like brains in a bottle as Harper calls it0. As a result, VX and his bits are able to travel through Slipstream too.
Dylan decides to head back to the part of space where The Consensus is strongest. There are lots of spare parts floating around and Dylan believes that all they need is a purpose. He attempts to explain that Dave the Android must now become a leader. He tells him/it that he must try to get the spare parts to function as one and build a home of their own. He gives him/it a motive. It would also neatly solve the problem of how to get Rommie back.
Dave the Android agrees and begins an eloquent plea to all his spare part buddies floating around in space. “Greetings fellow parts,” It said comically, “forgotten ones, outcasts. once each of you served your function, had a purpose. But now you wait, hoping for the day when The Consensus will summon you, give you life and meaning until they are through with you … and it is time to die once again.”
His/Its plea works, lots and lots of spare parts join together and attach themselves to the Andromeda, strengthening it … The Dave the Android looks towards VX’s approaching ship. A short battle ensues. VX is not impressed with Dave the Android going it alone and attempts to blow him/it up. Unfortunately for VX, the parts that make up his ship know only too well that they will soon become spare parts also and from then on, VX’s battle is lost.
Dave the Android destroys VX and rebuilds itself independently using the spare parts erm… that are spare. Dave the sentient Android becomes Dave the sentient Spaceship, Rommie returns, VX is destroyed and everyone lives happily ever after. “One thing we will always remember,” Says Dave the Spaceship as it zooms off into the night sky, “is that we will know what it is to be a friend.”
Some friend! Dave the Android was a selfish despicable self-serving git! It encouraged the Andromeda to visit The Consensus knowing full well that the encounter wouldn’t end safely for Andromeda’s organic crew (it’s supposed friends).
Then, when it finds out that it’s to be disassembled, it selfishly and sneakily takes over Rommie and puts everyone in jeopardy again as VX attacks. With friends like this, who needs Nietzcheans!
Worse still, this wonderful show ends when we see that Trance still has a piece of Dave the Android and she is planting it in her garden. She talks to the spare part and tells it how beautiful and special it was. Dave the Android only lasted for one day “…. but in that one day, you managed to become a hero. Goodnight little hero.” She adds tearfully. For a purple girl with a long tail, Trance can be really silly sometimes.
And with that terribly corny ending, this excellent show ended.
I’d have to rate this a whopping 37,129 out of 10.
What did you think?
The “The Sum of it’s Parts” episode review is © 2001 Tony Fawl.
Not for reproduction without the authors express permission
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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