Herc and Autolycus' Heirs Chase a Relic Hunter
"The Shards of Rimni" Plot Summary:
When the mail arrives, Dylan receives a package and immediately drags Harper aboard the Maru for a secret mission related to it. They travel to a rundown drift where Dylan discovers the dead body of the man who sent him the package. Almost immediately, Commonwealth Security arrives and arrests Dylan for the man's murder. A guard releases them, admitting upon Dylan's interrogation that he was paid to do so and feared being killed if he didn't. Back on the Maru, Dylan tells Harper not to contact Andromeda, which might get the rest of the crew in trouble with the authorities. Unbeknownst to him, Commonwealth Security has already demanded that the crew turn Dylan over to them, but Beka covers for the captain and reminds a curious Tyr that Dylan protected him when he was accused of murder. The big ship flees, trailing a small fleet of security vessels in pursuit.
Dylan explains to Harper that the dead man, Constantine, sent him a map and a shard from an object of which Dylan already had another piece. In a cave on a nearby planet, they track down a thug named Abelard, who offers them yet another fragment and shows them a disk on which they see Abelard's friend Peder being tortured. A man named Zeus is responsible; he was Abelard and Peder's partner in crime, but betrayed them. Abelard is willing to give up his shard to save Peder's life, but Dylan suspects that Zeus will take the shard, then kill all the men anyway. After crashing an intended rendezvous between Zeus and Abelard, Dylan makes contact with the ringleader and agrees to meet him in a café on another drift.
In the restaurant, Zeus gloats that he has brought Dylan into a trap and demands the shards. Dylan throws dessert into the face of a minion and flees, but by then, Abelard has gotten abducted by others working for Zeus. Via hologram, Zeus agrees to trade the lives of Peder and Abelard for all the shards and instructions for their use. On the way to the meeting, Dylan reveals to Harper that the shards come from the Vase of Rimni, which is reputed to grant its owner power and wealth beyond imagining. He was sent on a secret mission while the original Commonwealth existed and found the broken Vase, dividing the pieces among his crew to keep it safe from men like Zeus. But somehow Zeus learned of its fate and tracked the last shard to Andromeda's captain.
Dylan and Harper fight their way past Zeus' goons, but Peder is already dead when they arrive and Abelard has gone back to work for Zeus again. After a fight that leaves the ringleader unconscious, Abelard threatens to cut Harper's neck with one of the shards unless Dylan gives him the rest of them. But the vase doesn't bestow victory or riches once it's put back together, and Abelard begins to lament his fate aloud, recounting his cleverness in framing Dylan for Constantine's murder to get his piece of the puzzle. Andromeda, which has followed the Commonwealth ships tracking Dylan, puts the confession on audio for the entire fleet. Once Dylan and Harper have been retrieved, the captain gives the engineer a medal for courage and says that the vase still represents the faith that they hold in the Commonwealth -- thus, it is priceless, even if it won't give them money or power.
Throughout "The Shards of Rimni," I couldn't shake the feeling that I was watching Hercules and Autolycus in The Next Generation's "The Chase." With a villain named Zeus and a plot that involved chasing the fragments of an ancient relic, who could help it? And it was a lot of fun, despite some inexplicable silliness. This spirited episode allowed Dylan to play the scoundrel and elevated Harper -- the final crewmember in the Andromeda Nice Guys Finish Last Club -- to full kick-ass status alongside New Trance.
There's been a giant disconnect between Andromeda's second and third seasons, just as there is between Enterprise and the history of Star Trek as we knew it, so I'm trying to take things as they come and not ask questions like, "When in hell did the fledgling Commonwealth that didn't even have a triumvir develop an organized, mobilized security force, and since when do its members trust hired assassins more than the man who single-handedly reconstructed their governing body?" Even ignoring the issue of where the security force came from -- what ingratitude they show to their Progenitor of sorts! And yet it's entertaining to see Dylan playing renegade captain against the orders of evil admirals, a staple of many excellent Trek episodes (and Hercules episodes for that matter, where it was the demigod versus the evil forces of Olympus).
We get some lovely and consistent character details -- Harper air-surfing, Beka enjoying trashy holo-novels (hope they're better than Janeway's garbage), Tyr being reminded that Dylan had faith in him when he was accused of murder so he really owes Dylan the same courtesy. Beka does a fine job in command, using a perfect stalling strategy to let Dylan do whatever it is he needs to do. But this is really Harper's episode to shine, even if Dylan once again gets to play Captain Adventure. Harper's creative in a crunch, he's got a dataport that allows him to pick locks, he's obviously been working on his combat skills, he's no longer nervous about shooting to kill and he's so over his own fear of death that he offers to take a bullet for Dylan, even though this isn't a noble moment to die but a squalid end at the hands of a petty crook. Plus he's worth having along just for the one-liners.
I do admit that I wondered a bit why Dylan took him rather than Rommie on the top-secret jaunt -- Rommie was around in the era when the shards were first discovered, and can also do high-tech tricks, though I guess she can't tap into Commonwealth signals anymore, now that there's a new Commonwealth. But Harper proved himself the right guy for the job, which made Dylan look good as well as Harper himself. I figure Beka and Tyr should get a few weeks off from adventuring, though perhaps it's been much longer than a few weeks in Drom-time; it sure feels that way. Tyr's son could be going through puberty already.
The cinematography has some really nice moments (big moons over dark jungle planet, Feng Shui café with aliens and tabletop flowers) and some cheesy ones (the cave set! Nooooo!) Some of the lovely hilarious contemporary lines also remind me of things Hercules would have done. "You've got mail!" chirps Rommie in the same tone Kevin Sorbo used on his former show when he walked into a giant spider's lair and exclaimed, "This is one big web site!" Harper wonders aloud if the shards are like one of those McDonald's Happy Meal toys where you have to collect all the pieces to get the really good prize. Dylan starts a food fight. Abelard wails about wanting a benevolent deity to cut him some slack. And I'm sure it wasn't planned, but the end of the tag, followed by a MasterCard ad, had me in hysterics. "Force lance...a hundred and fifty credits. Systems Commonwealth warship...ten million credits. Putting together the Shards of Rimni...priceless!"