[ANDR] Jammer's Review: "A Heart for Falsehood Framed"
- Warning: This review contains significant spoilers for Andromeda's "A Heart
for Falsehood Framed." If you haven't seen the episode yet, beware.
In brief: Derivative, derivative, derivative.
Plot description: When the Andromeda crew goes on a covert operation to
steal a valuable artifact that may prevent a violent confrontation, Beka
finds herself questioning her emerging feelings for a rival thief.
Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda: "A Heart for Falsehood Framed"
Airdate: 10/15/2001 (USA week-of)
Written by Ethlie Ann Vare
Directed by David Winning
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Rating out of 4: **
"Just do it like we practiced."
"When we practiced we messed up."
"Except that part."
-- Harper and Trance, master criminals
The storyline in "A Heart for Falsehood Framed" plays like an extended
cliche. Everything about it seems familiar, recycled from crime-movie plots.
Yes, I suppose it's watchable. But interesting? I think not.
Andromeda is docked at Pierpoint Drift, a space station where theft is a way
of life, and where the peaceful relations between this space station and a
nearby Than society is quickly breaking down. The administration at
Pierpoint Drift maintains ties with and has the protection of the FTA; if
the situation gets out of hand -- and it looks to be headed that way --
there could be erupting violence on a significant scale between the two
parties. Dylan, always the optimist, hopes to keep the peace and make new
friends that may be valuable down the line.
The Than want returned to them the Hegemon's Heart, a sacred artifact in
their culture that has been stolen. Mayor Doge Miskich (Peter Kelamis) has
the artifact on display and under heavy guard in his museum; to him it's
little more than a high-valued showpiece, one he's not planning to turn over
The Andromeda crew's mission is twofold: Dylan attempts to help Miskich and
the Than representative (Nicole Parker) come to an agreement that will avert
violence. If that fails, he has a card up his sleeve: Deliver the Heart to
the Than himself, which Beka & Co. will have stolen from Miskich's museum
and replaced with a fake. This is termed a "covert operation," which is a
semantic substitution for "grand larceny."
How exactly this plan would've worked is beyond me, since I'm not sure how
the crisis could be avoided in the first place by having an uninvolved third
party turn over an item the first party wants from the second. How is this
situation at all changed by the diplomatic situation turning more heated, at
which point Beka's orchestrated theft becomes moot? Maybe I missed
something, but maybe not. This is an engine to drive the A-story, in which
Beka must now return the stolen artifact to its proper place so that when
and if negotiations succeed, the real artifact will be returned.
The story's core arrives in Beka's emerging relationship with Leydon
Bryce-Hawkins (Anthony Lemke), a former Master Thief who has Gone Straight
and now works in Miskich's museum doing security. Beka herself is a Master
Thief Gone Straight, which is itself a cliche. (I suppose this mission
serves as her being reactivated for One Last Job before Retiring From the
Life.) The plot takes these two characters, initially mild adversaries, and
becomes a Tale of Rival Master Former Thieves Destined to Fall in Love. I'm
not sure how many individual cliches that counts as, but I'm sure it's
These two meet by falling on top of each other, prompting viewers across the
globe to roll their collective eyes. For the second week in a row, Beka
lands on the floor with a guy such that they are up close and horizontal,
staring awkwardly into each other's eyes (last week it was Dylan). This is a
cheap Meet Cute cliche, but twice in two weeks? Don't the writers compare
notes before doing things like this?
If you didn't already notice, "A Heart for Falsehood Framed" is heavy on
cliches. It might, in fact, make a good drinking game: Find the Familiar
Plot Elements In This Story. We have ourselves the Caper Scene, in which our
characters thwart high security to steal their big target; the Fruitless
Negotiation Scenes, in which two parties yell across a table, bickering and
slinging insults while Dylan wipes his face and lets out a weary sigh; and
the Accelerated Romance Scenes, in which Beka and Leydon fall for each other
(well, maybe not *really*) in 10 seconds flat, and spend the course of the
hour coming to terms with those feelings/cons, while sexual consummation
serves as the avenue to carry out more hidden agendas.
What always gets me about caper scenes is that a room that is supposedly as
secure as a vault is always actually vulnerable. Would it be so hard to hire
living, breathing people to watch the valuable items 24/7 and make them
promise not to fall asleep? I suppose that would render the high-tech caper
obsolete, in which our hero thieves use their cunning technical acumen (and
Trance's tail) to pull off an audacious crime. Or maybe a not-so-audacious
crime, seeing as Trance is able to hide inside a museum exhibit and come out
after closing time. Uh-huh.
If the story is assembled off the shelf, then the emotional depth is of only
slight consolation. These two characters are not remotely near the concept
of love, because there's virtually no foundation for it. This is a
relationship built on mutual admiration for former careers they both once
lived, and present scheming convenience. That's it. Nothing wrong with a
little casual nookie between two single people who are attracted to each
other and have common interests, but to even hint that this is "love" is a
stretch. Since it's not, there's no emotional depth to be found. It's just
two people playing con games. The story is thus only as good as the games,
and unfortunately the games are convoluted rather than complex and skillful,
and they too often drag.
There's very little to be found in terms of warmth or chemistry, which is
maybe the point, but makes for an hour where it's hard to care about the
characters. Anthony Lemke plays Leydon as cocky but otherwise bland. In some
ways this episode reminds me of Voyager's "Counterpoint," which was also
about a con game posing as a would-be relationship. But in "Counterpoint"
the con games were more interesting. Here they stall.
Instead the story gives us sex and a marriage proposal, and we're left
wondering where the true motivators are. The sexual aspect is used -- not
exclusively, I hope -- as a typical device to allow Beka to search Leydon's
apartment after he's fallen asleep, at which point he of course wakes up and
she's caught. Leydon's own trickery reveals that the real Hegemon's Heart
was never in the museum when Beka stole it in the first place; he stole it
for himself long ago. He proposes marriage as a matter of mutual scheming
convenience -- his plan is that he and Beka can escape with Heart and live
the life of thieves happily ever after. Assuming, of course, he's not about
to pull a fast one.
There's more maneuvering and double-crossing when the Heart is finally
turned over to the Than. The use of multiple Hearts and the elusiveness of
Beka and Leydon is more confusing than it is interesting. Apparently, the
Heart contains a treasure map (?), which Beka is crafty enough to copy and
save in the computer before turning over the Heart. Meanwhile Leydon rats
out Beka to save his own neck.
I dunno. None of this has spark or originality to it. It's a plot that
clicks through the usual cliches of the crime-and-caper genre without the
genuine emotion, wit, or energy required to turn it into a compelling story
instead of a cold, convoluted assemblage. Beka's dilemma is not permitted to
turn into a crisis of conscience, emotion, loyalty, or anything else. The
ambiguity of the story, surprisingly enough, doesn't make it more effective.
The best moments are when Beka is questioning herself (Harper: "He reminds
you of you." Beka: "And I know I can't trust me."), and there are only a few
In the background we've got Tyr sneaking around in a largely unnecessary
peripheral plot to fill screen time and provide superfluous fight scenes,
and Dylan enduring an obnoxious bureaucrat arguing with an angry bug (an
overacting one at that), whose design, alas, still resembles little more
than a pricey Halloween costume.
"Falsehood" is a disappointment coming after the entertaining first two
episodes of the season, both of which had engaging plots and revealed
interesting new information and character insights. This latest outing is
more like tried-and-true filler, substituting generic archetypal
characterization for the distinctive personalities and individuality we
need. Too often this doesn't really even feel like a Beka show, but more
like a plot using Beka as a template for a character amalgam. It drags, and
Next week: Cigarette-Smoking Man interrogates Trance in an intergalactic
plot to cover up the remaining 831 keys to the X-Files.
Copyright 2001 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.
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Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...