"Into the Labyrinth"
Week of November 25, 2001
by Michelle Erica Green

Dangerous Liaisons

"Into the Labyrinth" Plot Summary:

When Andromeda plays host to a gathering of diplomats, Harper meets Satrina -- a woman with an advanced dataport who can move through solid matter like the bounty hunter Jeger did. Though he is thrilled when she offers him sex, he realizes she wants far more after she offers to remove the Magog larvae inside him in exchange for the data of the All Systems University Library, which was once implanted in Harper's brain. Though he knows Satrina must work for the Spirit of the Abyss, Harper asks Trance to help him discover where he hid the library files. A hologram he created of himself warns that he should never attempt to find the information, but a button on the hologram's shirt that matches Trance's tattoo makes him realize he hid it in a sun.

Like Jeger, Satrina can appear and disappear at will and walk through walls, which Rommie guesses might be the result of a portable tesseract generator that lets her warp space across multiple dimensions. In addition to getting the library from Harper, she has another assignment: she and her cronies have been ordered to kill Dylan Hunt, as well as Charlemagne Bolivar of the Sabra-Jaguar Pride. The latter crashes the diplomatic party on Andromeda to tell Dylan that he wants to join the Commonwealth. He explains that his pride's huge fleet would make them a valuable ally, though they are also renowned for their treachery. Charlemagne thinks Tyr spends too much time striving for physical perfection, suggesting that deceptiveness and table manners matter more in the end. He suspects that Tyr stole the body of the Progenitor from the Drago-Kazov, and admires him for it.

Harper turns the library data over to Satrina, encoded with a trojan horse that lets him track her research and eventually destroys the files. Trance continues to discourage his research, particularly when she realizes he has researched her past and discovered that she once posed as a goddess. Satrina says that her employer would like to recruit Harper and give him health and power, but he steals her tesseract generator and puts it into his own data port. She calls her thugs to invade Andromeda and attack diplomats and crewmembers in an effort to destroy Hunt and Bolivar. Harper experiences heightened vision, but begins to hear the voice of the Spirit of the Abyss. He forces Satrina to return with him to her ship, where he creates a power surge that disables her thugs. She vanishes along with them.

In the end, Harper gives the library data to Trance, telling her to hide it or destroy it. Charlemagne signs the Commonwealth charter, promising to help Dylan fight the Magog, the Drago-Kazov, and the new enemy who attacked them.


Dylan and Harper both ponder dangerous alliances that will likely create more strife than comfort in the long run. Ironically, Harper seems to realize this more clearly than Dylan, who compares a potential Commonwealth-Nietzschean partnership to Churchill's pact with Stalin, yet grants membership to a pride led by a man who brags of his treachery. It's a classic enemy-of-my-enemy scenario, yet as Tyr points out, the Jaguar pride never came to the aid of the Kodiak against the Drago-Kazov; whether Dylan can actually trust Charlemagne to come to his aid against the Magog remains to be seen, especially if he's not directly in the line of fire. Dylan doesn't really have a thing to lose except honor. The Drago-Kazov were his enemies already, and he wouldn't have been able to trust Charlemagne Bolivar either way.

Charlemagne is great fun. He explains that his wife Elsbett couldn't come to Dylan with the Commonwealth proposal because she's pregnant, then adds that the child is his own -- he had a paternity test done to be sure (Rommie's gawk at Dylan upon hearing this is priceless). He practically drools over Tyr's magnificent physique even as he scoffs that his own people place more emphasis on treachery and good table manners. The two Nietzscheans laugh together about wanting their enemies to die in horrible accidents that can't be traced to them.

Then Charlemagne offers to marry off one of his sisters to Tyr in exchange for his friendship, suggesting that he knows Tyr stole the Progenitor's bones and he hopes the thief will get his just reward in the end. When Beka offers veiled threats should Charlemagne betray Dylan's trust -- as they lounge in someone's private rooms with the Nietzschean hunk in pyjamas -- Charlemagne seems pleased to find a kindred spirit. After one of Satrina's henchmen tries to kill him, he scoffs at the man's use of a sword and keeps a sense of humor about his odds in a firefight. Greatest line, to Tyr, after the latter saves Charlemagne's life: "Your timing is improbable."

One is tempted to ask logical questions like why assassins with inter-dimensional transport capabilities would be carrying swords. One is also tempted to wonder why Charlemagne -- played by Buffy's Spike, the marvelous James Marsters -- receives little screen time compared to the busty vixen who tries to steal Harper's heart and his files. For awhile it seems like she plans to remove his Magog larvae by sticking her tongue all the way down his throat to his stomach. Just in case we don't realize that she's a gratuitous slut, we get to see her come on to Dylan too; it's a profound disappointment that he doesn't laugh in her face.

I am sure that viewers in the young male demographic may disagree, but like Harper, I'm more interested in the cool tech in her neck than in the cleavage from which the camera refused to turn. Satrina could have been a truly interesting character, but we never get a good explanation for why she's working for the Spirit of the Abyss (trippy tesseract technology that Harper resists in five minutes doesn't cut it). Nor is it possible to respect a femme fatale who gets tricked not once but twice by Harper's trojan horses.

This should be a character-defining episode for Harper, but it's never clear whether he's just playing along or going along with Satrina -- nor at what point he changes his mind, if, in fact, he does. No one could fault Harper for being willing to do whatever is necessary to get the Magog larvae out of his body, which makes Satrina's attempted seduction all the more ludicrous. Once he knows she can save him from his insides, he'd agree to be her sex slave whether she looked like a hot babe or a creature with tentacles. But would he work for the creature that almost corrupted Rev Bem? Mightn't he at least have asked Rev Bem about the temptation, which could have led to Rev Bem sharing his own experiences? But Rev Bem doesn't even appear in this episode, which feels like a gaping hole here rather than a small oversight during an action story.

Instead we get a too-fast sequence with a buzzed Harper realizing his crewmates are suffering and setting things right. We're not privy to his thought processes then or at the end when he gives the library data back to Trance. We do get a lot of hilarious lines about his own genius, particularly when the real Harper interacts with his holographic doppelganger (played superbly by Gordon Michael Woolvett with the obnoxious mannerisms from last season -- now Harper understands why people don't like him). But how close does he come to the dark side? It's impossible to see.

And then there's the powerful being everyone wants to know about but is afraid to ask. If the theme of 'Into the Labyrinth' can be reduced to making deals with the devil, one might ask at this time what the devil Trance is doing on Andromeda. After being worshipped as a goddess, how does being allied with Dylan and Beka's crew further her own agenda, whatever that might be? Naturally we don't get answers, just further conspiracy. Trance does have one wonderful moment when Harper mentions a mysterious purple babe with a tail and she defensively points out that she doesn't have a tail...any more. Her pleas with Harper to stay away from the library because he's her friend ring false to this viewer even if he buys them.

Those of us who grew up reading A Wrinkle In Time are sure to love the use of tesseracts. The glowing dataports and holographic effects create an enjoyable cyberpunk feel to 'Into the Labyrinth.' It's quite enjoyable on the action front, offering plenty of sex and violence, plus some appreciated continuity with both 'Harper 2.0' and 'The Honey Offering' in terms of the Spirit of the Abyss and the Jaguar Pride. Yet it feels uneven, like the writers couldn't decide where to focus. It's necessary for the script to provide brief synopses of the episodes from last season via speeches, and even though I consider myself a serious fan of this series, I appreciate the recap.

In retrospect, it's incredible that no one went looking for the All Systems Library before -- surely it contains information about surviving alien infestations and how to find the elusive Tarn-Vedra, in addition to tesseract technology and inter-dimensional cloaks. It would be interesting to see some of that knowledge put to use, yet, as Harper jokes, there are now secret librarians trying to keep it hidden from the enemies of the Commonwealth. Is that fair -- isn't part of the Commonwealth accepting that other worlds may not always vote for Commonwealth ideals -- wasn't that the whole point of 'Home Fires'? I'd like to see the show tackle questions like that, rather than spending so much time on makeout scenes and shooting.

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