What Child Is This
"Immaculate Perception" Plot Summary:
Tyr shows Dylan a recording of the Knights of Genetic Purity killing Nietzscheans in their quest for a universe consisting only of pure Humans. When Dylan asks Tyr why he cares so much about the Genite massacre, since his own pride has been exterminated by other Nietzscheans, Tyr evades the question and reminds Dylan that of the promise of an inclusive Commonwealth where Nietzscheans as well as non-humans will be welcome. 'I hate it when he's right,' the captain grumbles. Privately, Tyr watches another recording -- this one from Freya, his wife, begging him to rescue the Orca Pride before the Genites slaughter them. Though Beka as well as Dylan has doubts about Tyr's motives, Dylan knows the Genites represent a threat to everyone on his crew except Harper -- the only one with no genetic enhancements. A brief conversation with the Genite captain Gorace reinforces his belief that there is no point in negotiating with this powerful new threat.
The crew sets a trap for the Genites in which Harper pretends to defect, getting Gorace to lower his defenses just as Andromeda opens fire. Meanwhile Tyr takes the Maru and goes to the Orca pride. He tracks and makes love with Freya, then learns that she has given birth to his son, Tamerlane. But Dimitri, who now leads the pride, has treated Freya and the child badly because of the suffering Tyr caused the Orca. Tyr believes that he can escape with just Freya and Tamerlane, leaving the rest of the Orca to the Genites. After a struggle that proves fatal to Dimitri, the matriarch Olma asks Tyr to become the new Alpha and help them all escape. Otherwise, they will not let him hold his son, whom they believe is the prophesied genetic reincarnation of Drago Museveni -- the Nietzschean messiah.
Gorace releases hundreds of parasitic drones that try to punch through Andromeda's hull, forcing Dylan to order a dangerous flight through a planet's atmosphere to clean them off. Once free, he sets course for the region where the Orca pride are hiding. The explanation that he believes Tyr has gone to find his wife shocks Harper and Beka. Meanwhile Tyr discovers that Olma has sent a message containing Tamerlane's DNA pattern in an attempt to determine the likelihood of a match with that of Drago Museveni, though she cannot prove her beliefs; she is unaware that Tyr has hidden the Progenitor's remains aboard Andromeda. Tyr is furious about this breach of security, for he is certain that the Genites intercepted the message and attacked the prides to prevent the foretold reunification of the Nietzscheans.
Dylan sends Tyr a message warning him that the Genites have arrived in the system. He is surprised when Tyr acknowledges, giving away his position to the enemy as well as to Andromeda. Tyr sends the Orca to transports and tells Olma that she may go with them, but he plans to take Tamerlane, and she opts to stay beside him. Freya sacrifices her life to make certain Tyr and Olma get away with the child. A furious Gorace hails Dylan with reports of the Nietzschean Messiah as his ships attack the Orca transports. Andromeda watches helplessly as the pride is destroyed. Dylan insists on searching for survivors for five days, long after Harper suggests giving up. When eventually they find Tyr, the Nietzschean tearfully relates the story of how Olma and his son were killed, but Dylan wonders whether he has hidden the child safely on a planet to grow up. Tyr denies it, but in private he tests Tamerlane's DNA versus Drago Museveni's and discovers a perfect match, while on an unknown world, Olma sings to the infant.
This episode had me engrossed until the very end, when we got onscreen confirmation of the reincarnation of Kahless, the Klingon messiah -- oops, I mean the reincarnation of Drago, the Nietzschean messiah. I'd have an easier time believing in a virgin birth than in a clone born without cloning out of Freya by Tyr. Hopefully later on, we'll discover that Tyr mixed up his samples or that the Orca somehow got ahold of some of Drago Museveni's genetic material, created an embryo from it, and implanted that embryo in Freya just before Tyr married and made love with her. Otherwise, I'll feel like I've been Phantom Menaced. I'm just not capable of believing in a 'genetic reincarnation' created from the DNA even of two closely-related individuals. It's scientifically preposterous; parthenogenesis must be statistically just as likely, creation by midi-chlorians or randomly mutated gametes or whatnot. I don't have a problem with Tyr believing in something he's been taught his entire life, but asking the rest of us to believe in it is like asking the non-Christians among us to believe that Jesus is the messiah. Television shows just shouldn’t go there.
And it's too bad, because until Tyr's DNA test, 'Immaculate Perception' is a fantastic episode. We meet a truly horrifying enemy -- horrifying because they are completely human, and represent something we suspect may need to be defended -- namely, people like Harper who by choice or chance haven't had their bodies amplified by technology, who therefore struggle as weaklings in a universe of Nietzscheans, Magog and slightly enhanced folk like Dylan who can best either in single combat. The Genites' terror has perverted them into something worse than either of the Commonwealth's worst enemies. They don't enslave those they consider inferior, like the Nietzscheans, or prey on them for survival, like the Magog. They slaughter them, and feel entirely justified because as far as they're concerned, anyone who isn't a pure human has no right to exist. They name their weapons after angels and massacre entire civilizations.
Take this enemy, throw them up against the Nietzscheans who at times have appeared to have a similar philosophy, only in reverse -- get rid of the weakling pure bloods, preserve the master race -- and Dylan and Tyr both have a powerful dilemma: take the ethical high road, or use one enemy to diminish the other? For Tyr, the choice is obvious when he learns that his wife is an immediate target, though it's interesting that Dylan immediately realizes his friend must have a personal stake in the struggle or he'd choose his own survival over that of other Nietzscheans. Dylan is at least willing to listen to what the Genites have to say, but their spokesperson Gorace comes across as deluded, insane and vicious, plus his people have apparently stolen secrets of the High Guard that Dylan is sworn to protect. The quandary isn't whose side to take, but whether to get involved at all; when Tyr makes it moot by taking the Maru and heading into the fray, Dylan and the rest of his crew don't waste any time arguing over the ethics of cleaning out the ethnic cleansers.
Tyr heads into a situation even more complicated than he knows. Freya believes he abandoned her and tried to destroy her people, but he is also her husband, to whom she is attracted both viscerally and intellectually with the knowledge that he represents survival for her son. Dimitri owes his position as Alpha to Tyr's humiliation of his brother, but obviously he can't show any weakness by asking for help evacuating -- nor would he trust Tyr enough to do so even if he could. Olma blames Tyr for decimating her pride, but she also believes him to be the father of the messiah, so she feels split loyalties. I did wonder a bit why she concluded that the baby might be the reincarnation of Drago; was he born on a special day, or did he exhibit some sign? The story really needed a bit more mythology to go along with the mystical birth, particularly since we're supposed to believe along with Tyr that the child is whom Olma says. It would have been more interesting to me had she been lying just to get herself or her people saved, and I don't think Tyr would feel any less attachment to his son were he just an ordinary pure-blood Nietzschean; if anything, his 'destiny' to reunite the prides might very seriously complicate their relationship when Tyr returns with goals that may ultimately be quite different.
Dylan takes the news of the birth of the Nietzschean messiah very well, but the grace he shows when he realizes Tyr probably betrayed the Orca to protect his son is something else. How much does he not-believe -- that Tyr's wife died? If Dylan believes that Tyr has a nuclear family stashed away someplace, and the Progenitor's remains hidden on Andromeda, how can he ever trust Tyr not to be scheming his own agenda? Beka apparently never trusted Tyr for a minute, despite the increasing fireworks between them; her initial shock that the guy had a wife he didn't even tell her about gives way to the cool-headed reaction that she would have wasted less time suspecting him had she known. The double meaning of that statement provides one of the few moments of true levity in an otherwise very dark episode, where one grimaces rather than smiles at Harper's pro-human jokes, not to mention his frustration at losing Rev Bem, then Purple Trance, and possibly Tyr as well.
I'm delighted to see Keith Hamilton Cobb get so much to do, but despite this revival of his core Nietzschean personality, a lot of unanswered questions remain about what he hopes to accomplish by remaining on the Commonwealth flagship (ironically enough, the Genites are quite pro-Commonwealth, perceiving it as a human accomplishment). If his plan is to survive, stay in the loop and prepare for the time when he can create his own pride, he's in a fine spot for it, but how exactly he plans to found a Nietzschean dynasty when he won't accept one handed to him on a platter is somewhat unclear to me. The Orca aren't the strongest, to be sure, and maybe he truly doesn't believe he can hope to save anyone but his son and a caretaker, but it still seems to me that some would be better than none. And exactly how seriously do we take his avowals of friendship to Dylan? On the one hand, Tyr is truly grieving at Freya's death and possibly from separation from the child he has barely gotten to hold. On the other, he doesn't trust Dylan enough to tell him the truth of the child's survival. Compared to that, Dylan keeping a few nova bombs a secret hardly seems like such a big deal.
I hope this storyline comes back sooner rather than later; I'm delighted the writers followed up on the pregnancy we learned of at the end of 'Double Helix,' but again we've gotten more questions than answers, and it's going to be hard to develop Tyr Anasazi without coming back to these enormous, character-defining issues. An infant messiah is an arc that could literally take years to grow to fruition, but in the meantime we need to understand how it happened and to see what effect his existence will have on anyone who has been touched by him.