Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda
Air date: 5/6/2002
Written by Matt Kiene & Joe Reinkemeyer
Directed by J. Miles Dale
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Dylan: "You don't seem too happy to be back, Tyr."
Tyr: "I was a husband and a father. Now I'm neither."
n brief: A premise that holds some genuine interest and good nods to continuity, albeit with the usual liabilities of Andromeda action-cheese.
Tyr Anasazi, on a writer's good day, can be this series' most complex and interesting character. What motivates this guy? To call him self-serving would be accurate but not sufficient, because Tyr takes the concept of the self and elevates its importance through the use of self-righteous philosophy.
"Immaculate Perception" is the perfect example of this. The ending is one that proves that in Tyr's mind, Tyr and his interests must come first, perhaps because he can't bring himself to trust anyone else to do the job right. There's a lot of incompetence out there — a lot of "uncompromising inferiority."
The storyline we get here is another example of nigh-reckless abandon, in which the writers venture out on a limb. Unlike "Belly of the Beast," however, where the writers went out on a limb of unabashed silliness, here the writers go out on a limb of cosmic melodrama to bring us something that's stunning in its audacity and ambitious in its potential scope, even if we may find ourselves severely doubting the likelihood and enormity of the claims made.
Basically, the claim made here is that Tyr's wife Freya (Dylan Bierk; see "Double Helix" from season one) gave birth to a son, Tamerlane, who is possibly the much-discussed genetic reincarnation of Drago Museveni, i.e., the Nietzschean messiah who is destined to reunite the fragmented Nietzschean people. That's quite a claim. I must say that I'm almost glad restraint and common sense didn't get in the writers' way for bringing us this revelation.
Freya is still with the Orca pride, also last seen in "Double Helix," where they were forced into a retreat because of that show's events. The Orca pride is hiding out on a remote asteroid because of a renewed campaign of violence by the Knights of Genetic Purity, or "Genites," a ruthless organization that believes in killing all Nietzscheans on the basis of their being genetically modified. After receiving a transmission from Freya, Tyr goes on a mission to rescue her. This is before he even knows she bore his child, and before the Andromeda crew even knows Tyr has a wife. Meanwhile, Andromeda tries to deal with the Genites, who have superior weapons and technology. The Genites propose Andromeda join their cause. Captain Hunt refuses.
I suppose it's a good thing star ratings are based on the law of averages, because there's a scene so preposterously bad in "Immaculate Perception" that it warrants negative stars on the four-star scale. I'm referring to the scene where Orca leader Dimitri (Stuart O'Connell) rants and raves at Tyr in an inexplicably hammed-up voice that is plunged so deep into the chasm of bad acting that it threatens to pull the entire episode over the precipice with it. How, how, how does something like this get through the dailies without an automatic reshoot — to hell with the costs — upon initial viewing of the footage? It's startlingly bad.
So it plays like almost like an inside joke (or a mercy killing, with the mercy applied to the audience) when Tyr sneaks up behind Dimitri and swiftly snaps his neck. If only all characters so badly acted could meet their demise this quickly. I like the way the episode builds up Dimitri as if he's going to be a legitimate threat to Tyr, only to have Tyr snap his neck 30 seconds into the initial encounter. Amusing.
I also like Tyr being Tyr to the bone after he finds out about Tamerlane and the implications of Tamerlane's genetic code. He blasts the Orca for their incompetence and announces his plans to take Freya and Tamerlane and let the rest of the Orca rot on their own; after all, he has no responsibility to them. It's a harsh verdict, but it comes across as very Tyr-like given the stakes at hand. By inquiring into a DNA-record comparison with Drago Museveni, the Orcas have essentially broadcast the coming of the Nietzschean messiah to those who would do anything to prevent it, namely the Genites, hence their latest campaign.
This results in an eventual assault by the Genites on the Orca base, but how exactly this assault comes about is of particular interest, showing Tyr exercising the ultimate in calculated ruthlessness — equal parts pragmatism and preservation of himself and his family. Tyr sends off the entire remaining Orca pride to their pre-planned, unceremonious slaughter at the hands of the Genites; it's Tyr's distraction to protect the ostensible Greater Good, that being Tyr's messianic son.
Freya's death, alas but not surprisingly, comes about in such a way as to seem painfully preordained, as if the plot was marching on cue toward an unavoidable event mandated by the Gods of Tying Up Loose Story Ends. When the Andromeda finally rescues Tyr after the Genites blow up the Orca's asteroid, it's only after three days of searching and waiting (and somewhat oversold pathos) that Tyr turns up.
He turns up with a sad tale about the death of his wife and son, a tale that Keith Hamilton Cobb delivers with so much earnest seriousness that I'm honestly not sure whether it's moving or absurd. What I will say is that I found the speech intriguing in its melodramatic strokes, because when it comes down to it, this seems very consistent with Tyr and his quest for finding a family, which to him likely represents where he'd like to end up in finding his place in the universe.
Then, of course, there's the fact that the whole speech is a lie of grandiose proportions — that Tyr in those three days of supposed drifting did find a way to save Tamerlane and whisk him off to the safety of some obscure world, to be raised in the care of the sole Orca survivor. And, apparently, there Tamerlane will wait until he's ready to become the messiah.
There's a point where Dylan puts forward a (correct) theory that stops short of calling Tyr on this lie. Tyr doesn't drop the charade. And given the stakes we can understand why. Tamerlane's importance is supposedly of, well, biblical proportions. In this case, Tyr has a duty that probably goes well beyond Andromeda and, say, Captain Hunt potentially using Tamerlane as a political tool.
Though he's sometimes inclined to play the part of a team player, Tyr's first duty is clearly still not the Andromeda. I like that. This is an episode that gets into Tyr's head and tries to see what makes him tick: self-serving, but not merely so. It's one of the season's better offerings.
Next week: Massive alien invasion! (Season finale.)