"Music of a Distant Drum"
Week of February 11, 2001
by Michelle Erica Green

Tyr Fights His Dragons

"Music of a Distant Drum" Plot Summary:

Yvaine and her stepson Breyon return from fishing, complaining about the Nietzschean Dragans who control their livelihood. They see a ship crash nearby. Checking for survivors, Yvaine finds the Eureka Maru carrying Tyr, who has no memory of his identity. Although they know he is a Nietzschean, she and Breyon feed him and obey his wishes not to contact the ruling Dragans, whom he is certain are not his own pride. Because Tyr cannot remember who he is, Yvaine dubs him Nemo -- the Latin word for "no one," the name of vengeful captain from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Tyr tries to open a package he has secured on the Maru but can't recall the voice command. Both the ship and his body have been infested with nanobots designed to disrupt electrical systems both mechanical and biological. Back at Yvaine's house, freedom fighter Hanno demands food and suggests that he'd like sex from her in payment for fighting the Dragans. Tyr threatens to kill him, but Yvaine insists that she will be murdered in vengeance if he does. She explains that the Dragans dropped an atomic warhead on her home city, which makes Tyr remember that something similar happened to his parents. An incoming Dragan ship interrupts their growing intimacy.

On Andromeda, Beka tells Dylan she had a dream in which he was King Arthur, she was Guinevere, and they lost the Round Table because they failed to tax the kingdom. Though Dylan jokes that it means she has erotic feelings for him, Beka insists that they need to do something to make money -- carry cargo, mine minerals, transport passengers. When they realize Tyr is missing, Beka worries about her ship, but Dylan frets about his crewmember. Andromeda heads to a local spaceport to try to trace Tyr's whereabouts. The crew learns he went to the Dragan homeworld, which launched their entire fleet soon after his visit.

Yvaine suggests that Tyr turn over the crate, since he doesn't even know its contents. He replies that whatever is inside is his, and it's important. Dragans board the Maru, but Tyr kills one of them and takes another hostage so he has someone to carry the heavy container. Arjun says he doesn't cooperate with enemies of his Dragan pride, but Tyr points out that as a husband and father, the Nietzschean has an obligation to stay alive for his family. Arjun guesses that Tyr is Kodiak, which gives him an inkling what's inside the case. Tyr recalls telling his mate Freya that the Kodiak pride were entrusted with the remains of the Nietzschean progenitor until the Dragans betrayed them. "Voice code: Retribution," he says when he is alone, and opens the case to see the mummified corpse of the first Nietzschean.

Tyr successfully fights his way past many Dragan, but when Yvaine tries to rescue him, she and Breyon are taken hostage by Nietzscheans who demand that Tyr lead them to the remains. Meanwhile, Dylan and Rommie confront Beka with the knowledge that she hacked into the space station's database, downloading files on shipping and archaeology that had nothing to do with finding Tyr. She says she likes the idea of the Commonwealth, but that's not the only reason she's on Andromeda; she wants to raise money. Rev Bem wants to spread his faith, Harper wants to fool around with Rommie, and Beka's afraid to think what Trance wants, but none of them are as altruistic as High Guard officers. Rommie complains that they are all only concerned with getting ahead in the present, but Beka points out that the present may be all they have.

Arjun asks Tyr why he cares about "kludges," unmodified humans like Yvaine and Breyon. He says they deserve respect for feeding and clothing the Dragans, who are dependent and weak. Tyr has set explosives in the cave where he hid the coffin, but when he tries to break free, his memories distract him. Finally he recalls that he is Tyr Anasazi, son of Victoria by Barbarossa. He and the woman and child are trapped, but Dylan and Beka rescue them and get the Maru up and running. Tyr invites Yvaine to travel with them but she says she's had enough adventure to last a lifetime. When Beka asks Tyr what is in the container, he says it's something that has belonged to him all along.


What starts out as a dreaded amnesia episode ends up telling a fascinating Tyr Anasazi story. He recovers a crucial piece of his identity, only to lose all memory of who he is, and when he regains it, it's not clear what role the founding father of the Nietzscheans will play in his self-definition. Tyr is very different from Gaheris Rhade and the few other Nietzscheans we've seen up close and personal on Andromeda, because he's been a lone wolf for much of his life, without the tribal connection on which the others seem to depend. In the end, Tyr acknowledges Dylan and Beka as his friends, but he seems to realize -- as Beka does not -- that the motley crew of the Andromeda Ascendant are the closest thing to family he's likely to find, and that counts for quite a bit more than the comfortable beds and growth opportunities the others seek.

This gives him a unique role on the ship. On the one hand, Tyr's probably the least likely member of Hunt's crew to support a restored Commonwealth or even believe that such a thing can last. On the other hand, Tyr has been wronged by Nietzscheans over misguided pride (in both senses), and as a result, he seems to need a cause in life other than finding a woman and having children -- if that were his first priority, he'd have done it already. Betrayal like he's suffered at the hands of his own kind is something he never has to fear from kludges like Dylan Hunt, no matter how misguided the High Guard captain's nostalgia for military hierarchy and one-track career paths.

It's hard to decide how much to admire Dylan's single-minded devotion to the ideals of his past versus how much to want to slap him into the present. Captain Hunt could never become Captain Nemo...and though he might think otherwise at times, neither could Tyr. His instincts are gentle. He may put survival first like all Nietzscheans, but he doesn't like to kill even people who richly deserve it, which includes pretty much every other Nietzschean he encounters. He stole the founder's corpse; he didn't launch a Nova bomb at the Dragans' sun. Beka asked what was in the box, but Dylan either didn't feel the need to know or decided Tyr was entitled to a brief flake-out like the rest of the crew.

Beka seems capable of both admiring Dylan and wanting to slap him, without getting snippy about either. Two weeks ago, coming home from Uncle Sid's treachery, she seemed very grateful to have Dylan in her life and afraid of letting him down, but now she's back to wanting to make some profit and carve out her own niche. Her Camelot dream sounds hilarious. Dylan doesn't seem to mind if she's flirting, and dishes it right back -- she says she kept dreaming about him and wants to know what's the opposite of sleep-inducing, he says, "Arousing." I am dying to know who plays Lancelot in Beka's dreams while Tyr is out slaying Dragans. Since we're supposed to suspect that she made it all up, I wonder if the Lancelot reference is supposed to be a veiled threat that she'll look elsewhere for prospects if Dylan continues to cling to his outmoded chivalric ideas. She says the dream was disturbing to her, but he's the one who seems troubled when he realizes the extent of her restlessness.

It's nice to see an episode planetside -- a GOOD episode planetside, I should add, since "A Rose From the Ashes" doesn't count. The fight sequences are much better choreographed, maybe because the stunningly gorgeous Keith Hamilton Cobb is up for the demands of the role. The guest castmembers give stronger performances than those in several previous episodes. There are some lovely shots of the scenery and a few breathtaking images like Tyr leaping over a cliff into a waterfall. Overall, "Music of a Distant Drum" leaves one of the strongest impressions of any Andromeda episode.

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