"Its Hour Come Round At Last"
Week of May 13, 2001
by Michelle Erica Green

Those Who Ignore The Past Are Doomed To Repeat It

"Its Hour Come Round At Last" Plot Summary:

Dylan: Do you regret it? Signing aboard with me?
Beka: You mean risking my life battling Nietzcheans and Resters and Magog and half the lunatics in the galaxy for a cause that's been dead for over 300 years? I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

While performing a check on Andromeda's systems, Harper interfaces with the computer core and discovers a backup copy of the AI personality. But when it becomes aware of the engineer's presence, the alternate AI overrides Andromeda's current programming. Treating all current crew -- including Rommie -- as intruders, the ship sets off on an unknown mission, citing orders from a Captain Perrim and refusing to acknowledge Dylan Hunt as a High Guard officer. This Andromeda has no knowledge of the fall of the Commonwealth, and demands that Trance navigate the slipstream into uncharted territory. Harper manages to shut down the ship's internal defense systems before they can kill the crew, but he soon wishes he hadn't, for Magog swarm ships attack the Andromeda Descendant. Hundreds of hungry killers cut through the hull and come aboard.

While Dylan and Beka fight their way toward the command center, Tyr tries to get a terrified Harper to the reactor core so he can integrate the AI's main memory. Using his dataport, he introduces the Andromeda currently running the ship to Rommie, who has no memory of the mission the duplicate AI is trying to carry out. Harper wonders if it might have been a drill of some sort, but Rommie hypothesizes that perhaps the events were wiped from her program to protect their covert nature. When her memories begin to merge with those of the other Andromeda, she realizes the truth is even more disturbing: the Andromeda Ascendant once went on a mission deep into Magog space and witnessed the massacre of her entire crew.

Now history seems to be repeating itself. Rev Bem fights the invaders, but their ritual chants have a powerful effect on him. A Magog leader named Bloodmist reminds the Wayist that his real name means "Red Plague" and that his destiny is to join with his people. Rev Bem speaks of the Divine, but Bloodmist scoffs that there is no Divine in Magog; they follow a different leader, which turns out to be the mysterious dark energy creature responsible for the massacre at Brandenburg Tor. Dylan and Beka reach the command center in time to help Andromeda identify a vast structure outside the ship; as she learned on her former covert mission, it's a group of hollow worlds inhabited by trillions of Magog.

On a lower deck, Harper begs Tyr to kill him if he's in danger of being infested. The Nietzschean insists that while there is any chance for survival, they must fight, but in the end they are both overwhelmed. Rommie begs Rev Bem to fight with her, but when Bloodmist impales her, damaging her circuits, Rev Bem follows the Magog taking Harper and Tyr from the ship. The vast enemy structure fires singularity weapons at Andromeda, disabling the ship and leaving the command crew unconscious. Though Rommie now has all the knowledge of both versions of her AI, she can only call Code Red as everyone aboard lies helpless.


"Its Hour Come Round At Last" assaults viewers with nonstop action and a staggering amount of violence. I can't think of a Star Trek installment that comes close, not even the Borg assault in First Contact. The series must have saved most of its effects budget for this finale; the Magog makeup looks great, there are dozens of explosions, we get to see an array of High Guard weapons in action. It's not an easy episode to watch -- Dylan, Harper, Tyr and Rommie are all severely wounded, with lots of onscreen blood. Yet it's extremely well-done, using wit and character moments to provide the only light in an unremittingly dark situation.

We've seen glimpses of the dark secrets in Harper's past, in Beka's past, in Tyr's past, in Dylan's past; now we know that Rommie may have the darkest secret of all, though Trance's casual knowledge of Magog space is more than a little unnerving. We still don't know whether Trance has a connection to the dark energy creature she was the first to notice in Harper's tapes when a bounty hunter threatened his life over the knowledge of the creature's existence; she seems as helpless as the others when Andromeda forces her to navigate the slipstream, she doesn't take them to Tarn-Vedra as I was half-expecting, she looks just as banged up as the rest of them when the singularities damage the ship. Hopefully we'll learn more in the second half of this episode, whenever it airs.

Rommie seems to have had a past-life incident as traumatic as the one that pushed the Pax Magellanic over the edge, though in her case the memories were isolated and buried -- one wonders why any trace of them was left in her core for Harper to stumble over. It's fun to see a clear-headed, kick-ass Andromeda in command of the ship, refusing to take orders or sweet talk from Dylan or anyone else. And it's fun to see the various Andromedas arguing with one another, particularly when the android Rommie ignores and breezily walks through a holographic avatar.

But the timing for this schizophrenic incident couldn't be worse: just after Harper gets done congratulating himself for getting her internal weapons into diagnostic mode, the Magog attack, and the crew can't use the ship's defenses to protect them. Dylan and Beka break into a defense locker, which provides them (barely) with the equipment they need to ward off the Magog; Tyr and Harper must rely only on the former's strength and the latter's wits, which in the end are not enough to save them. Rommie offers a heartfelt apology in the end, but it doesn't look like that will be enough to save her crew. Given the pain of the human feelings she discovered in "Star-Crossed," it may take her a long time both to integrate her past memories and to recover from this latest assault.

Last week I said I wanted to see the women save Dylan for a change instead of vice versa, and I got my wish. We really get to see the strengths of Beka Valentine, who starts off congratulating her captain on his success thus far in rebuilding the Commonwealth and ends up promising to take over that task if necessary. She doesn't know what to make of his pessimism about their mission, which leads to a running joke about which of them is really the pessimist -- the idealistic but troubled leader or the cynical but determined captain who won't let anyone go down with the ship. Despite the fact that restoring the Commonwealth never really will be Beka's personal mission -- at least, that's what she tells Dylan, though she may just be bolstering his determination to stay alive -- she has rarely complained about the risks. She's faced the potential loss of the Maru, threats to her crew, assaults by Restorians, Magog, Nietzscheans, numerous other aliens. The comfortable bed and good food she gets as perks of being on Andromeda can't possibly make up for the hazards.

Yet she says she wouldn't have missed it for the world. So why does she do it? Beka's relationship with Dylan is extremely complicated, deep and intense. He's partly an ideal father-protector, partly a dream date who's too good to be true (Arthur to her Guinivere, as she suggested once), partly a friendly competitor who inspires her to strive for the best within her, partly an idealist whose peaceful fantasies are so extreme that she can't even admit she might harbor the same hopes for their galaxy. Dylan tries to pretend that Beka's someone he lucked across who has turned out to be a good pilot and a decent backup officer, but in "Its Hour Come Round At Last" he is forced to think about her as his partner, someone who could restore the Commonwealth in his absence -- and he seems to believe she's up to the task, at least as much as he is.

The tension between them is never completely going to dissipate because their goals and attitudes are so different. But that's probably going to keep feeding their mutual fascination rather than destroying it. Part of me hopes that they sort their feelings out before they become explosive, while another part of me thinks that an explosion would be better than trying to play it boring and safe. I am resisting the temptation to compare Hunt and Valentine to Janeway and Chakotay from the ancient days of Voyager because of how badly that relationship ended up -- not just the romantic potential, but the potential fireworks about command styles, the seeds of political dissent, the professional disagreements we should have seen far more often. Whether or not either one will admit it, Dylan and Beka met as equals and for the most part have managed to remain so. It's really sexy to watch a couple like that, particularly when they also have potent personal chemistry.

Rev Bem finally gives in to temptation and lets his dark side out -- oh, he manages not to eat or infest any of his crewmates as Bloodmist suggests, but he drops his Wayist symbols and follows his people to meet their demonic leader. We still don't know much about his background, how he came to the decision to become a Wayist and what Magog atrocities he witnessed that fed into that decision, so it's hard to predict how he will react when he meets the dark divinity of Bloodmist, who's certain to be a disappointment but that might not matter if Rev Bem has been secretly looking for an excuse to leave The Way and follow his most base instincts. How does a Commonwealth charter or a Prime Directive work around a species whose only means of reproduction entails slaughtering others? There's nothing like Magog in Star Trek's sanitized universe, and Andromeda's obviously failed utterly to deal with them the first time around. Perhaps only a Magog can change the Magog, but at the moment, Rev Bem doesn't appear to want the job.

Stay tuned.

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