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[ANDR] Jammer's Review: "A Heart for Falsehood Framed"

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  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    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:
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 25, 2001
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      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
      anytime soon.

      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
      several.

      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
      of those.

      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
      it's derivative.

      --
      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.

      Star Trek: Hypertext - http://www.st-hypertext.com/
      Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...
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