[ANDR] Jammer's Review: "The Sum of its Parts"
- Warning: This review contains significant spoilers for Andromeda's "The
Sum of its Parts." If you haven't seen the episode yet, beware.
In brief: Andromeda to Star Trek: "Resistance is futile. Your storyline
will adapt to service us."
Plot description: An artificial intelligence that forms itself from many
smaller computerized entities makes contact with the Andromeda but finds
that it does not want to dismantle itself once it has experienced being
Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda: "The Sum of its Parts"
Airdate: 2/26/2001 (USA week-of)
Teleplay by Steven Barnes
Story by Celeste Chan Wolfe
Directed by David Winning
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Rating out of 4: **
"In my experience, Devils very rarely wear horns and carry pitchforks." --
I almost hate to say it, but sometimes it can be pretty hard to take
Andromeda seriously. I suppose it's a good thing that "The Sum of its
Parts" has a science-fiction ring to it, but it's not at all good that
just about everything contained in the story is glaringly derivative. Do
the writers think they're telling a remotely original story? I hope not.
What might have been interesting in a parallel universe where I'd never
seen Star Trek is what the Andromeda encounters here -- a culture of
machines calling itself the "Consensus of Parts." They look like scrap
metal floating dead in space but exist as independently intelligent
components; when they come together, they can form a powerful
consciousness. As rip-offs go, this is about as blatantly close to the
Borg you can get without actually inserting the line "resistance is
futile" (though it nearly comes to that before it's over, with a
collective-like voice stating its intentions).
Dylan and his crew first encounter the Consensus through an
ambassador-like scout machine, which assembles itself on cue and is called
HG (Matt Smith). As special-effects creatures go, HG is another in an
unfortunately long line of Andromeda creations that seem oddly dated and
clunky, looking too obviously like a guy in a suit rather than a
convincing sci-fi presence. HG has an androgynous persona and an innocent
voice, undoubtedly so the crew will not perceive him as a threat.
HG invites Dylan & Co. to the Consensus' domain of space, where it is
hoped a mutual understanding between the Consensus and the would-be
Commonwealth can be struck. Dylan, of course, dares to deal with the
Consensus even though it is widely known that avoiding them is generally
the best course of action. Dylan's quest to make friendly ties on behalf
of a new Commonwealth resides on one side of the line separating "brave"
and "stupid"; the jury's still out on which side of the line that is.
While interacting with the Andromeda crew, HG begins developing a fully
sentient consciousness and expresses an interest in a continued existence.
In short, HG has become alive and aware, and does not want to dismantle
himself, something he begins to understand as death. Helping HG through
this journey of existence is Trance, who plays cute and emotive to the
hilt here, with sometimes annoying results.
I for one don't need every emotion cued for me; I'd rather think about an
argument on its merits than be spoon-fed my predetermined emotional
response. No such luck here, as we have sweet little Trance getting
misty-eyed while HG talks about his forthcoming death. Matthew McCauley's
score goes for the jugular -- using excessive sappiness as the assault
HG is selfless, too. The reason he intends to dismantle himself rather
than go on living is because the Consensus does not tolerate unified parts
existing beyond their given function. To do so would apparently invite
individuality and destructive chaos into the Borg collective -- er, I mean
Consensus -- and the larger presence of the Consensus will not permit
that. The Consensus would sooner destroy the Andromeda than allow HG to
To complicate matters, we have another assembled Consensus entity, VX
(Kevin Durand), who comes aboard the Andromeda to personify the Consensus
threat and, thus, anti-individuality. He's the inverse-HG, with a growling
voice and a threatening demeanor. As a side-note to up the ante of the
plot, VX also requests that the Andromeda, as an intelligent machine
herself, join the Consensus of Parts. No points for guessing VX won't take
no for an answer.
Meanwhile, HG goes through on his intent to dismantle himself, in a
goodbye scene where the entire Andromeda crew sees HG off as he gives them
parts of himself to remember him by. (No tears allowed.) Strangely, it
felt almost like the show was ending here, but then it starts up again
when it turns out HG's independent parts don't take no for an answer and
implant themselves throughout Andromeda's systems, effectively taking over
(assimilating?) the ship.
Once HG merges with Andromeda, parts of the plot feel like a cheesy
supernatural/possession thriller. Dylan communicates with HG by talking to
Andromeda. Rommie talks back in a combined HG/Rommie voice. HG, by the
way, still doesn't mean any harm; he just wants to find a way to exist, if
Of course, we still have the Consensus to deal with, of which HG is
officially no longer affiliated. In short, if the Consensus cannot have
the Andromeda, no one will (bwahahaha). Meanwhile, this new HG-Andromeda
amalgam could be a threat to Consensus interests. This leads to our
requisite chase scene and weapons fire. The depiction of the Consensus
space vessel is actually one of the episode's higher points, showing a
massive ship -- assembled seemingly out of millions of smaller chunks of
metal -- that dwarfs the Andromeda. Of course, the similarity to the Borg
concept is still all too evident, and VX's machine-like mandates for
surrender have that Borg-like ring of an authority that cannot be
The resolution is mildly interesting, as HG, eventually separated from the
Andromeda, combines its consciousness with an outcast set of parts to form
another super robot-vessel that attacks and destroys the Consensus'
massive spaceship. HG no longer exists as an individual but as a part of a
new collective that may choose not to employ the oppressive ways of the
Consensus. That's actually covering a decent amount of ground in the last
act; thematically, I find myself strongly reminded of the Voyager episode
"Unity," where former Borg drones willingly reconnected themselves to one
Still, I'm left cold by the lack of originality. Once again, we too often
have ourselves the argument stressing the wonders of individuality
(HG/humanity) over the collective drone-like consciousness
(Consensus/Borg). When was the last time this theme was new?
In my opinion, Andromeda hasn't yet paid its dues in using its own
material to be going out and plundering the existing sci-fi archive.
Copyright 2001 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.
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Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...