Return of the Repressed
"Be All My Sins Remembered" Plot Summary:
When Beka is summoned to Cascada to identify the body of her onetime crewmate and boyfriend Robert Jensen, Dylan and Harper insist on accompanying her -- Dylan to offer support, Harper to exorcise his memories. The Maru comes out of slipstream in a minefield, forcing the crew to shut down all power. While they wait for rescue, Beka and Harper reminisce about Bobby.
Harper never trusted their former crewmate, though Bobby helped Harper escape from Earth. Beka's lover planned to ditch Harper, but after the engineer helped smuggle supplies for the Muganis -- the native population of Cascada, enslaved by colonists to dig radioactive Thorium 232 in the mines -- Beka stuck up for him. Though Dylan concedes that he might have liked Bobby's devotion to the cause of freeing the Muganis, he shares Harper's distaste the discovery that Bobby was smuggling missiles, not computers...a fact about which he lied to Beka, causing her to dismiss him from her crew.
Unknown assailants board the powerless Maru. Beka is shocked to be taken prisoner by Bobby. Reports of his death have been exaggerated -- or manufactured -- yet he is now part-cyborg. Bobby's new girlfriend Margot and a Mugani named Lem overpower the Maru crew and take Captain Hunt hostage in the hope of forcing Andromeda to help them fight the Cascada colonists. Dylan says he's always willing to help a worthy cause, but when he insists that negotiations between the Mugani and colonists would be preferable to a devastating war, Bobby orders him to lure Andromeda to the system or die. Though he follows Bobby's script, Dylan uses a form of Morse code by blinking his eyelids while communicating with his ship; he silently tells Andromeda to prepare to fire on his position. Tyr, who is in command, asks Rommie for other options.
Imprisoned, Dylan asks Lem about his people, then allows the Mugani to overhear a conversation with Margot in which she calls Lem a 'mugwamp' and brags that soon she will be their queen. Andromeda arrives and tries to grapple the Maru, but Bobby sets the ship to explode in 20 minutes. After Beka fights off Margot and throws her off a railing, Lem passes Dylan to key to escape his prison. Bobby refuses to believe Beka's offer to join his cause and fights first her, then Dylan, but Beka electrocutes him with a loose cable. Dylan sends Lem to rescue Harper and stop the explosion. Beka says she thinks Bobby lost his humanity when he received cybernetic parts, but Dylan insists that nothing can take one's humanity away.
Let me start by noting that I will enjoy just about any episode that centers on Beka Valentine, particularly if that episode begins with Beka and Tyr getting sweaty on the floor together. My opinion will only improve if Dylan acts just a bit jealous and decides to offer emotional succor upon learning of the death of one of Beka's former lovers. Thus I can enjoy 'Be All My Sins Remembered' in a way that I'm just not as interested in 'Lava and Rockets,' because I'd rather watch a Beka romance than a Dylan romance. It's also nice to get some backstory on how Harper hooked up with Beka, though he comes across rather less cowardly than we've been led to expect (not that this is a bad thing).
Here's my thing. If Andromeda's writers are going to toss around sci-fi clichés in which a Borg-Terminator clone stands for Instant Bad Guy and his dominatrix girlfriend dreams of ruling a planet, I say we may as well get some screen time for Beka character in the package. If they're going to write imperialist scenarios where the white-bread hero must tell the oppressed that they're oppressed and save them from their own unsophisticated expectations, we may as well get some meaty character dilemma for other characters in the process. If they're going to give us gratuitous sex scenes, I'd rather those scenes feature Lisa Ryder and Costas Mandylor (or Anthony Lemke, or Keith Hamilton Cobb) than Kevin Sorbo and whoever the younger blonder Beka-type was from last week. I am sure others will have different preferences, particularly those who are more flexible about appreciating Rommie's new blue 'do, and that's fine; there's room for gratuitous sex scenes featuring just about everybody, now that Rev Bem's not around to make us squeamish about his desires.
Actually, I'm a bit ambivalent about the possibility of Beka and Tyr getting sweaty together because Beka's judgment about the men in her life has apparently always been terrible. Her father was a loser, her brother was a creep, her father's best friend was a greedy megalomaniac, and the last guy she hooked up with was a self-centered would-be assassin. If I were Tyr, I would be fearful that I might even be considered a candidate for such ranks. Then again, if I were Tyr, I wouldn't be interested in Beka because she lacks selective Nietzschean genes for physical perfection, a trait Beka admits she craves in men. In close quarters with Dylan and Tyr, she must take a lot of cold showers.
But Tyr once again shows that deep down, he doesn't love Beka; he loves Dylan. While Tyr's fretting about what to do about his missing friends aboard the Maru -- whether to blow them up and save Andromeda or risk his life for them -- Dylan's the one he keeps talking about. Rommie's taunt at the end about Dylan being a better man of action comes off as a cheap attempt by the writers to remind us that Sorbo, not Cobb, is supposed to be the hunky hero of this show, yet it's completely unnecessary. Tyr's devotion to Dylan, along with Rommie's devotion to Dylan, Beka's ongoing scripting as in need of a man like Dylan to save her from a life of crime, drugs and bad men, and Harper and Trance's frequent dismissal to trivial supporting roles ensure that Captain Hunt is all anyone ever thinks about anyway.
I howled aloud when Rommie asked Tyr if he expected her to magically beam Dylan off the Maru. Steal a little Trek, mock a little Trek. But am I dwelling on the superficial titillation value of this episode? Perhaps that's because it doesn't stand up very well to deep analysis. While it's sweet of Dylan to head off with Beka to a funeral while he's supposed to be overseeing the evacuation of a planet, it also seems a bit foolhardy; he has to call Tyr back to remind him to play nice after Tyr hangs up on him, he sends Trance on an away mission and he lets Harper come with him and Beka as well, meaning that if anything happens to Andromeda's systems, the entire ship is in the hands of a Nietzschean whose progenitor's bones are hidden in her bowels.
The ease with which the three Maru crewmembers are overpowered by Jensen's ragtag team is a little embarrassing, particularly given the cheesiness of Bobby's Borgification -- his chest sounds hollow when struck and parts of him appear to be rusting. It's also not clear who performed the operation on him, nor whether he was telling the truth or lying about being hit by a mine -- late in the episode he suggests that he views the prosthetics as improvements, not a last-ditch method of saving his skin. The metal also gets in the way of the climactic action sequence, where Bobby and Dylan's kicks miss each other by several inches yet still manage to knock one another down.
'Be All My Sins Remembered' features a lot of neat interior shots of the Maru to make up for the bizarre sequence where the Maru escapes the Dragans by hiding in Saturn's rings -- one minute they're in orbit around Earth, then they're in what could be a ring or the asteroid belt, then it looks like they're just beyond Jupiter's Great Red Spot. This confusion troubles me less than my utter befuddlement about who colonized Cascada, and when, with all that presumably valuable radioactive material, and how come the Muganis are allowing an outsider with cybernetic implants to lead them, and oh please do we have to listen to another Dylan Hunt 'just listen to my canned speech and you'll be able to think freely, which means doing things my way' moment. Sometimes he reminds me of George W. Bush, and I do not mean that in a good way.
Yet the actors on this show rarely fail to rise to any occasion. In this case, Woolvett does an excellent job playing past-and-present Harper, and Ryder gives a subtle performance that refuses to cater to the over-the-top drama of the lost-love storyline. I'm sorry that Beka would call a man who claims her as property, lies to her and risks her ship 'the love of my life,' but her flaws make her a fascinating character. Dylan would be more interesting if he had complex flaws scripted as such, rather than near-imperviousness breached by bad scriptwriting. Plus Sorbo would have more to do as an actor and wouldn't need contrived moments intoning that one can ever take his humanity away.