Andromeda: S01E17: The Devil Take the Hindmost
This was a whoppingly good episode. There wasn’t much in the way of mind shattering computer graphics, and to be honest, seeing the Magog (who to me, look like vicious monkeys) always makes me laugh. But the actual story was thought provoking and powerful. Most of the time we see Sci Fi regurgitate other sci fi shows, but this was unique, disturbing and very entertaining!
The show opens with a hectic Andromeda, Beka and Rommie are trying to help a planet that has been terraformed by Nightsiders. The resultant destruction has caused the atmosphere of the planet to be shrouded in dust. The Andromeda is there to try and ferry much needed supplies to the suffering inhabitants.
Rommie interrupts Rev Bem’s prayer to tell him that there is a message from another Wayist called Brother Thaddeus Blake.
The message is important enough to interrupt Dylan and show him. We see a hologramatic monk telling Rev Bem that he Hygera (presumably the people he is preaching to) are being systematically hunted by slavers and Blake pleads for Rev Bem (and his powerful new friends) to come to their aid.
Rev Bem and Dylan land on a beautiful Planet and meet up with Thaddeus and his flock. They seem friendly enough and are especially taken with the Magog. Dylan tells them that he hasn’t come with an army, that he hasn’t brought the Andromeda but he does have weapons and he will gladly show them how they can defend themselves.
The Hygera seem encouraged and eager to learn. Unfortunately, this isn’t quite what Thaddeus Blake had in mind.
On the Andromeda, Beka is in command of a ship full of mercenaries and Tyr. She’s surprisingly board though and asks Rommie to tell her what, if anything is going on. Rommie tells her that Tyr and his pals are stealing form the relief supplies.
Back on Hygera, Rev Bem chats with one of the young men, Arun. The man explains why his people are so enthralled at meting a Magog. This is unusual for Rev Bem, most people fear his kind, for good reason.
But Arun eagerly tells of how they are so interested to meet someone of the same species as the Anointed, the founder of Wayism. Rev Bem agrees reluctantly that being the same species could be considered a blessing, but he is more interested in hearing the young mans interpretation of his understanding of the Anointed one, the founder of Wayism.
Arun explains that Wayism began when The Anointed one, a Magog came to Earth. There he met a Holy man . The Holy man later became a host for the Anointed’s Progeny. While they hatched and grew strong, the man taught the Anointed about Humanities great teachers like Saint Jesus, and Saint Buda, Saint Loutsee etc. The Anointed listened and the Way was revealed to him and his children.
Rev Bem listened, he seemed a little disturbed by the story but eventually said, “that is one interpretation.” They go outside to continue their conversation. There, they see Dylan teaching the natives how to use a Force Lance …. as a pike. The young man tells Rev Bem that his people have a sort of genetic memory. They are able to remember the thoughts and deeds of their ancestors (a dozen generations back). Rev Bem is surprised to find this out form the young man. He wonders why his colleague, Thaddeus did not reveal this to him.
All becomes clear later when Thaddeus asks that Dylan try an alternative to teaching his flock to fight. Rev Bem reveals that the Hygera have a genetic memory and that if they teach the Hygera to read and write, they will be more literate. If, on the other hand, they teach the Hygera to fight, each of them, for generations to come, will know what it is like to murder.
Later that evening, Dylan walks over to Rev Bem, he notices that the Magog is looking at a picture of an attractive middle aged woman…. Tenderly. He asks if she is a friend, but Rev Bem replies, “You could say that she’s my mother, she gave me life. But you could say that I took it from her.” And we all know what that means. The Magog have the scariest respect for their mothers (male or female).
“But you’ve made it count for something.” Says Dylan encouragingly, “That’s why we’re here.”
But Rev Bem is inconsolable. He tries to explain his terrible dilemma to his Captain, “My Magog parent committed a terrible crime against this woman.” He says, “No matter how blameless a life I lead now, my soul will always be tainted by the circumstances of my birth. And here, surrounded by such innocence, I realise how deep the stain runs.”
Their conversation is interrupted however, by the sound of exploding Force Lances. Thaddeus Blake gathered the weapons up in the dark of the night and burned them. Dylan is incensed. He feels that the Hygera are now doomed to slavery. By Blake is adamant that he has saved their souls, “Our faith will protect us.” (said the fly to the spider).
Dylan rightly asks why Blake had requested their help in the first place. But the answer is pretty obvious. I guess Blake wanted someone else to fight the slave traders, not the Hygera. It’s a fairly arrogant but understandable request – but not from a Wayist! No mater how desperate you are, surely getting someone else to die for your cause is not a solution.
Rev Bem cut short the debate however. “Do not underestimate the strength of Faith Dylan.” He said. Then he told everyone how his faith was the only thing that was keeping the inhabitants of the village alive, that his faith was the only thing stopping him from carrying out his instinct to kill everyone for food or to give life to his progeny.
On the Andromeda, Beka confronts Tyr who admits that his mercenaries are stealing supplies so that the rescue mission will be a profitable one. He tells Beka that she has no choice because she needs the assistance of the mercenaries to get the supplies to their destination. He then offers Beka a bribe in the form of a reasonable percentage, “Define reasonable.” She says.
Meanwhile, Blake is becoming a real pain in the bum. He argues with Rev Bem about Dylan building makeshift weapons for the Hygera. Rev Bem is in a difficult position. Thaddeus Blake was the person who recruited him into the religion. He has a great respect for the geezer, but has difficulty agreeing with him.
In a nearby tent, Dylan and Tiama discuss tactics. Suddenly she seems troubled and when Dylan asks why, she tells him it’s because they are about to go into battle. Dylan thinks it’s a natural fear but his encouraging words are cut short. She’s not worried about herself. She has many cousins and people who will remember her. But Dylan has no one.
Then, strangely she offers herself to Dylan. If he dies, then at least his children will remember him. But he rejects her offer (as diplomatically as he can). Then the monitor beeps as the slavers are spotted. They all watch the ship fly overhead.
As the slavers advance on the village, Dylan confronts them with his Force Lance at the ready. Just behind his is Tiama with a bow and arrow. The head slaver tries to discuss the situation reasonable. Maybe they could only take 50 of the villagers and no one would need to be hurt. Dylan is adamant however that non should be taken.
Then, just as the discussion looks like it might turn violent, Thaddeus Blake and Rev Bem arrive and ask everyone to put down their weapons. The Head slaver is apprehensive about opening hostilities with a Magog on the wrong side, so he and his crew decide that discretion is the better part of valour and leave quickly. Nobody however, assumes that they won’t be back.
On the Andromeda, Beka has clearly made a deal with Tyr and his pals and has told Rommie to turn off her sensors from Bay 11 and forget that any pilfering of supplies had taken place. Tyr leaves to tell his mercenaries to stash their ‘souvenirs’ in bay 11.
Rev Bem and Dylan discuss tactics in a village hut. Rev Bem implores Dylan that Faith is very powerful and that Thaddeus Blake’s words should be considered. He recounts the story of how Blake once entered a Magog horde and persuaded them not to kill him and in fact, recruited Rev himself. But Dylan just wants Rev to leave him to do his job. He tells the Magog, “If I had deployed one Nova Bomb, just one. I could have stopped the long night before it began. I was standing at the edge of the abyss and I blinked…… I paid the price for my hesitation. I wont make that same mistake twice.”
“Dylan, you erred on the side of hope and that is why you will win. There are no stronger weapons that mercy and hope.” Replied Rev Bem.
Their conversation is cut short when they hear laser fire. In the night sky, slavers battle with the villagers. As the battle rages, Blake tries to launch into some religious monologue and is killed by a slaver. The villagers (with Dylan’s help) manage to repel the slavers, but not without taking heavy casualties. The slavers vow to return.
Next day, the Hygera conduct a funeral for their dead, then they burn the bodies in a funeral pyre. Rev Bem speaks for Thaddeus Blake.
Rev is very upset by the death of his mentor, and continues his prayer tearfully when he is interrupted by Tiama. She tells Rev Bem that Blake was a good man. But he was not perfect. He failed to realize, she believes, that it was the Hygera who should decide their fate and not him.
Tiama tells him that her people want to be free. She believes that Rev Bem is all-powerful, that the slavers are afraid of him and that he has the power to save them – if they fight. But Rev points out that he managed to repel a few lightly armed men, but that no Magog can defeat an army. This upsets Tiama, “Then we’ll die.” She says as she storms out.
Back on the Andromeda, Rommie tells the crew that an orbital space station is in dire need of their help. If they don’t ferry people off the stricken ship, thousands will die. Unfortunately, this will mean that Dylan will be stranded for longer.
Rev Bem is still trying to come to terms with the death of his mentor and is praying quietly when he is injected with a drug and rendered unconscious. Next day, Dylan learns that Tiama and Rev Bem are missing and grows concerned. He goes to search for them alone.
Eventually he comes upon a cave and finds Rev Bem (disrobed) and chained to a wall. on a raised rocky outcrop, lies Tiama. Dylan releases Rev and runs over to see if he can help Tiama. Unfortunately, she is in a bad way. She’s sweating profusely and is slipping in and out of unconscious. Dylan reaches over to touch her (presumably to get her pulse) but is stopped violently by the still naked (I say, naked, he’s still covered by a big woolly coat) Rev Bem. He tells him that Tiama has been infested.
Tiama regains consciousness and says, “Not infested, blessed. He is our Anointed and I have made myself our host. I am mother to an army, an army of angels to protect us.” Dylan remains calm but is concerned that when the children (woolly haired vicious killing monsters) hatch they will eat right through her and kill them all!
It turns out that Tiama drugged Rev Bem and used Blake’s surgical kit to extract Rev’s genetic material and implant it in her own. I’m tempted to say that a little bit of S&M never did anyone any harm, but then that wouldn’t be true in this case would it. Tiama can now only look forward to a load of hairy monsters ripping her body open, eating her, then eating everyone else! Unless that is, her children remember who they are and where they came from. Could it be possible that Rev Bem’s kids could retain Tiama’s memories and reason that killing the villagers would be bad. At this point, it seems very unlikely. Tiama is under the impression that her offspring will become the army that stops the slavers from destroying their community. She’s either totally desperate or completely nuts, but you have to9 admire her courage!
Rev Bem confirms that Magog always retain a small amount of DNA from their hosts. If that happens in this case then what happens could be something that has never happened before. Dylan is in a terrible position. He lets Tiama live and save the rest of the villagers from the slavers only to be destroyed by a Magog hoard, or he kills Tiama and destroys the only hope of the villagers being able to defend themselves against the slavers.
Dylan goes off to prepare a defence. He can’t just kill Tiama, but he can possibly defend against the Magog children. A few days later, Tiama dies painfully with Rev Bem and her brother, Arun in attendance. Rev ushers the young Wayist out of the cave. “What follows,” says Rev Bem (i.e. watching little woolly haired monsters eat their way through his sister), “is not for your eyes.”
And sure enough, moments later, Rev Bem’s claws dig into Tiama’s stomach and lots of little Rev Bem’s are released.
Dylan is preparing for an attack when he hears a call on the communication from Rev Bem. “It is done.” Says the Magog. Dylan asks how long it takes for Magog children to grow big. Apparently it is very quick (dependant on food). Dylan asks Rev to take his children out to the hills where there are sheep. He also asks his colleague to see if the children have retained enough of Tiama’s memory to be useful in their fight against the slavers.
For a brief moment we saw Rev Bem cradling a baby Magog and I have to tell you it almost put me off my beer! That baby was so ugly I almost threw up! (as if this show wasn’t horrible enough). Strangely enough, Newkate though the baby looked cute (?!?!).
Days later, as the slavers arrive back on the planet. Dylan prepares the villagers for battle. They have booby-trapped their village in the hope of getting all the slavers with one huge explosion. But their plan is rumbled and although they kill some of his men, the slaver rejoices in telling Dylan that 50 slaves wont be enough.
Dylan asks if the Magog kiddies are ready for some action. Rev Bem tell shim that they are mature enough to kill, but as for their souls…. He doesn’t know. It’s too late however, Dylan draws the slavers into the cave where they are attacked and killed by the Magog children.
But just as the battle is won, Rev Bem calls out for Dylan’s help. It seems that the Magog kiddies aren’t just happy to kill the enemy, they want to kill the Hygera too. It looks as if a very messy battle is about to ensue when one of the Magog children speaks (seemingly with Tiama’s voice), “I don’t want to kill anyone.” It says, “I want to give my family the gift I was given. Life. All that Tiama was, I am.” The other Magog join her. “In us she lives.”
Dylan points out that this is wrong. But Arun admits that becoming a woolly monster is not such a bad thing. “But she’s right. Just like you are right. We’re like sheep trying to protect ourselves in a universe filled with predators.” Then Arun tenderly touches the face of the she Magog.
Dylan is appalled, but Rev Bem explains that Arun may be able to teach them to be protectors instead of killers.
“Which brings us back to faith, huh?” Says Dylan sceptically.
Wadda blast! The Hygera face a really weird dilemma. Sure they could simply teach the Magog to be pals and help defend the villagers against future attack, but what of Arun’s feelings about the Magog. It seems that he is unconcerned about becoming one. Hell, they’d sure be a lot safer. They would also retain their memories and life as a big woolly monster – I mean, its got to be attractive for a few seconds, but would YOU consider it?! I know I’m about as woolly as I ever want to be and going around scratching peoples eyes out is no fun at all. But if it were survival or death, would we consider such a transformation?
On the Andromeda, Beka has managed to double-cross all the mercenaries (without getting beaten up it seems). The contraband hidden away in Hangar Bay 11 was of course taken by the needy without the mercenaries’ knowledge.
When Dylan returns to the Andromeda he praises Beka for a job well done. But she notices that Dylan is troubled and asks if he wants to talk about it. Dylan agrees – a good idea.
In Rev Bem’s quarters, the Magog is interrupted from his reading by Tyr. “I’m given to understand that your genetic material has become the foundation for an entire race of warrior priests?”
“Mhum” Mumbles Rev Bem.
“I’m intrigued.” Says Tyr, “And perhaps a little jealous.”
“I can understand why a Nietzschean would say that.” Said Rev Bem (possibly a little smugly).
“How would a Wayist say it.” Enquired Tyr.
“That we saved paradise by introducing the serpent.” Concluded Rev Bem.
And the normally eloquent Tyr was at a loss for words.
In his room, Dylan sat with a worried expression on his face.
And there this amazing show ended. It was a real cracker and one of my favourite episodes to date.
I’d have to rate this a huge 44, 221 out of 10.
What did you think?
The “The Devil Take the Hindmost” 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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