08:37:45 on February 18 2001
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By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: Reviews - Andromeda
Reviews Ex Deus
Written for TrekWeb by 'O. Deus'
Summary: Simply awful. Harper gets a huge library database downloaded into his brain which makes him run around like a chicken without a head for most of the episode. Also there's a smirking Schwartzenegger wannabe in aluminum foil hunting after him.
Basing an episode around Andromeda's most annoying character was probably not a very smart idea to begin with but it always helps to have some grain of an original idea or plot twist in the episode. Fortunately, Andromeda compensates by making the annoying character twice as annoying and by having him speak twice as fast and in different languages. Now having him speak in different languages is helpful since it prevents us from understanding much of his dialogue and therefore leaves a certain amount of doubt as to just how awful said dialogue is. Still, even filming this entire episode with all the dialogue dubbed in French wouldn't have helped, it would have just made the experience less nauseating--like wearing a blindfold to a showing of Battlefield Earth.
The plot here has a fugitive researcher stowing a whole lot of data in Harper's brain effectively upgrading him to Harper 2.0. The result is a Harper on caffeine who yammers on twice as fast, does nothing useful and occasionally curls up and moans in a fetal position. The episode is mostly reminiscent of The Next Generation's "Nth Degree" in which Barclay is turned into the smartest man who ever lived by an energy surge from an alien probe. Except that as annoying and mediocre as that episode was, at least Barclay accomplished something useful there while Harper mainly rambles on about modifying nanobots and screeches in different languages as if he were possessed by the demonic spirit of Linda Blair. But then this is a character who combines the worst qualities of Wesley Crusher and Tom Paris in one WB reject body and an actor whose idea of acting involves mugging for the camera like a demented chimp.
And since Harper is an idiot, it's only appropriate enough that an episode dedicated to him should revolve around an idiot plot. It takes the crew about ten times as long as needed to figure out the obvious about what happened to Barclay. Despite continuing bizarre behavior by Harper no one bothers to confine him to sickbay and despite a bounty hunter who can melt through walls being on his tail, no one bothers to keep an eye on him. This of course allows for a predictable "steal the ship and try to draw the bad guy away" finale which could be seen coming from a mile away. Unfortunately it appears to be as easy to steal the Maru as it is to steal one of Voyager's shuttlecraft. Though considering that the Andromeda's crew could be crammed into a phone booth with room to spare, you would think that some way could be found to prevent crew members from stealing and launching the Maru into space, especially since the last time a crew member stole the Maru... was last week.
Of course there's the bounty hunter who's here to cut open Harper's head; he's big and speaks with a Teutonic accent and seems really mean. According to Andromeda's Joe Reinkemeyer, "Jeger is a very interesting character, He's about 6'7 and speaks with a German accent." I'm not really sure which part of this is the interesting part, but it certainly is a good description of the character since you need know nothing else about him and you never will anyway. He's an all purpose baddie who makes Voyager's most trite alien of the week look startlingly innovative and original. He's working for an entity which looks a bit like Earth: Final Conflict's Taelons and was responsible for directing the Magog attack on a human planet. But we don't learn anything about the entity-- that's Andromeda clearly setting up some revelations for the future. Too bad since this episode could have used some revelations or dancing clowns or lots of static.
There is one nice scene with RevBem only partially marred by spiritualistic babble and having Harper convert to RevBem's BhuddismLite religion. And it is confusing as to why Harper would suddenly turn against RevBem because of some third part video footage and not his own personal experiences related in Let Loose the Fateful Lightning. Still, it's ironic that in an episode dedicated to Harper, RevBem gets more character development in a few lonely Harper-centric scenes than Harper does in the entire episode. But then there are characters who are interesting, characters who are bland and characters who are just plain annoying. Unfortunately Andromeda has mostly sidelined RevBem in favor of Harper; this is as if Star Trek had sidelined Spock in favor of Wesley Crusher. Not a smart decision except as an attempt to appeal to some transient young adult demographic, the same demographic which loathed Wesley and Jonathan Brandis's character on SeaQuest and all the other prototypes all of whom come off as positively benign in relation to Harper.
In that Harper 2.0 is reminiscent of Windows 95, it doesn't fix the problem; it just expands it on a grand scale.
Next week: Captain Hunt is put on trial and torture... shirtless of course.