08:15:17 on February 26 2001
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: Reviews - Andromeda
Reviews Ex Deus
Written For TrekWeb by O. Deus
Summary: Amateur night continues as Andromeda puts on a production of Apocalypse Now set in an industrial basement, Captain Hunt is tortured by "The Great Protractor" and another Andromeda couple pairs up. And for want of a stun gun Dylan spends a half hour having horrific flashbacks. Welcome to another evening of contrived moral dilemmas and clueless character theater.
MIA Update: RevBem, Harper and Andromeda all go AWOL in this episode confirming Andromeda's recent trend of completely writing characters out of entire episodes possibly as a budget saving measure.
Forced Perspective is a dreary and confused muddle whose most exciting part involves a B-story that has Tyr and Beka bored out of their minds. Viewers can probably sympathize since FP's A-story involves ideals and consequences that plays out like Dan Quayle trying to make a speech about quantum physics. In other words long, clueless and very incoherent but at times so bad it's actually amusing. Beyond finally providing some backstory on Trance Gemini, Forced makes the horrifying revelation that Dylan got his command through a mission that involved the self-defense killings of a brutal dictator who was preparing to massacre billions of innocent people and two of his guards.
Doesn't seem very horrifying to you? Well Andromeda and Hunt seem to think it's very horrifying and spend a half hour exploring the moral considerations of whether killing brutal dictators in self-defense is a bad thing or not. As complex an issue as this might be for an episode of Sesame Street, Forced Perspective manages to completely bypass the obvious point in favor of assuming that it is a bad thing and then having Dylan mope about it for a while. While Andromeda has always been morally tone deaf, indeed so morally tone deaf that their basic moral premises could be logically taken apart by small children, Forced Perspective is still a real gem deserving of some sort of special award. Perhaps the 'Distinguished Janeway Pip for Courageous Moral Incomprehension in the Face of Obvious Facts Staring you Right in the Face' plaque.
In Let Loose the Fateful Lightning, Captain Hunt enlightened some frightened and terrorized children fighting for their survival on the idea that if they stop hating and wanting to kill the Magog and Nietzchians out to exterminate, rape and enslave them, everything will be alright, thereby essentially blaming the children for defending themselves and providing them with no solution whatsoever. In Angel Dark, Demon Bright Captain Hunt was brooding about the moral implications of fighting back against Nietzchian warships who are here to fight a battle with his own fleet. In Forced Perspective we are led through flashbacks on Hunt's first pre-Andromeda mission which involved kidnapping a ruthless and brutal dictator who would have massacred billions and bringing him to trial. Since the dictator has heavy security and comes out shooting at Dylan and Rahde, the dictator and two of his guards end up dead. Oh the Horror! Oh the Humanity!
Captain Hunt feels bad about this. Not so bad that he feels the need to return and check up on the place but bad enough that he broods about it. But then, Hunt seems to brood about everything. He probably spends hours brooding before deciding which breakfast to order. Brooding is his way of demonstrating that he has a moral dilemma he can't resolve without first brooding about it to show how much it tears him up inside. Of course his ideas of moral dilemmas involve ludacrous moral standards, which not even Janeway would subscribe to. And what those standards come down to is that Hunt is completely unfit for command or any job which would require making decisions or putting people's lives at risk. He's naive, pompously self-righteous and basically just plain stupid. One gets the feeling that the Commonwealth assembled him out of stock hero body parts but forgot to include a brain.
Indeed, essentially Forced Perspective's contrived moral dilemmas could have been entirely bypassed if on their mission to kidnap a dictator, Hunt and Rahde had bothered to pack a stun gun. Certainly stun gun technology is probably well within reach of the advanced and mighty Commonwealth. The followers of the Great Protractor seem to have them. Admittedly they don't work very well on Hunt, but then one has to allow for the conductivity problems involved in penetrating his 3 foot thick skull covered in internal layers of cement. Since they were there to take the dictator as an unwilling prisoner, they would have had to knock him unconscious anyway or deal with him kicking and screaming all the way back. A stun gun would have prevented both the dead guards and the dead dictator. So in a sense if Hunt has to blame himself for those deaths, he can blame his defective brain. Though if you actually asked Hunt about the subject, his reply would probably be that of Captain Harriman in Star Trek Generations, "The stun guns don't come in 'til Wednesday." Of course this makes you wonder who would win a starship battle between Captain Harriman and Captain Hunt or would they both just manage to crash their starships into a planet?
At this point we could again mention the complete lack of security that allows anyone who wants to board Andromeda or steal the Maru or board the Maru to just do it with no problems. We could bring up the complete lack of crew despite there being two Commonwealth member worlds or ask why the Captain has to go look for parts himself instead of sending Beka and why he takes Trance instead of Harper with him. We could ask why Trance doesn't send a distress signal to the Andromeda for help or advice when she discovers Dylan missing, why the Admiral sends a potential Starship Captain on an inteligence raid instead of using their inteligence division or why this episode not only became a script but was actually filmed and broadcast. But these would mostly be complaining about the perennial plot stupidities in Andromeda episodes, instead of the more unique and wonderful stupidities of this particular episode.
And of course no review of Forced Perspective would be complete without a mention of The Great Compass, or as the planetary insignia would suggest The Great Protractor. The Great Protractor is the sniveling British guy who decides to help the duo kidnap the dictator by leading them on a Heart of Darkness-like journey through an industrial basement. As in Apocalypse Now, they're going after Captain Kurtz but instead of going up the river, they're going down the hallway of an industrial basement. Why the palace of an interstellar dictator in the year 4000 AD (or whatever year the Andromeda future is set in) has a 20th century basement is best left to the lack of imagination and funding of the set designer. But The Great Protractor (though he has yet to assume this noble title) wants to turn the evil dictator in because he rejected one of his designs for a "Cathedral of Light." The Cathedral of Light appears to be different from ordinary medieval cathedrals in that it's really small and made out of plastic. The Great Protractor however does not want the dictator killed and when bloodshed ensues, he turns even more rabbity and babbles on about something or other. These things of course make him an ideal candidate to be left in charge of the planet which Dylan proceeds to do, and fails to check up on him or send someone from the Commonwealth to check up on him.
Now, shockingly enough, leaving the first guy you meet in charge of a planet turned out to be a bad idea. The Great Protractor clones himself for body parts and rules the planet for 300 years and after 300 years of being an absolute ruler doesn't snivel as much as he did before. So of course Dylan decides he must die. Now Dylan has opposed killing Magog who rape and eat human beings, he's opposed killing Nietzchians who enslave and murder human beings. He's opposed killing Harper and Trance who screech and annoy human beings. But he decides to murder The Great Protractor mainly for cloning himself for body parts and torturing Dylan. (Wonder who he would have left in charge of the planet this time, the Pizza delivery guy?) Now, obviously, making Dylan scream like a little girl is a terrible crime but Dylan barely has any idea where he is or what kind of state The Great Protractor has been running or how his people are treated. Dylan opposed killing the dictator who was about to butcher billions, yet The Great Protractor's government appears to feature a Senate which suggests that some form of democracy is already in place. Clearly Dylan has a shorted circuit somewhere in his decision making process and this is a shame since without the ability to make sane decisions, Captain Hunt is pretty much a mannequin with sun damaged skin.
And to cap off an evening of insanity, Captain Hunt leaves The Great Protractor in control of the planet... yet again taking his word for it that The Great Protractor will leave and turn over power to the Senate. So if The Great Protractor is evil enough to deserve to die, then taking his word for it is probably a bad idea. Furthermore, since Hunt doesn't have a clue who the Senators are and what they're likely to do when in power, telling The Great Protractor to turn over power to the Senate is a bit irresponsible and idiotic. Fortunately, Captain Hunt is not one of those captains who lets lack of information, lack of responsibility or lack of intelligence stand in the way of command decisions; and so Hunt once again leaves power in the hands of a man who has shown he will abuse it, makes no arrangements for an interim government and takes no role in guiding the planet towards democracy. As in Fateful Lightning and Rose in the Ashes, he walks away from the entire mess glibly assuming that everything will be all right, even though there's no possible reason for believing so.
Instead of actually taking responsibility for a mess he had no small role in creating, Hunt leaves to return to the Andromeda for another crucial week of exchanging witty repartee with Beka, learning about BhuddismLite from RevBem and having Tyr as his personal trainer. So once again with his mission botched and absolutely nothing accomplished, but his self-righteousness intact, Captain Stupidity rides off into the sunset...or the sunrise...or just in some random direction.
Unfortunately he just can't tell the difference.
Next week: Andromeda is boarded and attacked by someone or something. Lots of yelling and screaming ensues.