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Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, later simply Andromeda, is a science fiction television series that aired from 2 October 2000 - 13 May 2005. The series combines elements of hard science fiction and drama, while dealing with social and political issues such as drug abuse, death, bribery, and intergalactic politics.
Andromeda is set thousands of years in the future, and centers on a fictional constitutional monarchy called the Systems Commonwealth, which is based in the governmental system of Tarn-Vedra. Humanity was discovered by the Systems Commonwealth, and soon became one of thousands of member species. The Systems Commonwealth has spread into three galaxies over the span of tens of thousands of years. The galaxies are: The Milky Way, Triangulum, and the Andromeda Galaxy. Large, sentient ships travel from one end of the Systems Commonwealth to the other via "Slipstream", riding the quantum strings that connect planets, solar systems and galaxies.
The Systems Commonwealth is a Utopian society, but is in a semi-state of war with the Magog, a humanoid species that is obsessed with war and that worship their god, the Spirit of the Abyss. Several years prior to the first episode of the series, the Systems Commonwealth ceded to the Magog a key world as part of a peace treaty. This planet is key to one of the Systems Commonwealth member species, the genetically engineered Nietzscheans, who follow the doctrine of the Earth philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, taking physical and mental superiority to extremes. This is the embodiment of their basic beliefs, as they see themselves as the race described as the "Übermensch" by Friedrich Nietzsche. The Nietzscheans are silently angry with this peace agreement with the Magog, as they believe that the Magog are inherently evil, and are playing the Systems Commonwealth for fools. They secretly plan to attempt to seize control of the Systems Commonwealth, because they perceive that the Systems Commonwealth has grown weak, and that it is only natural that they (as the strong) try and take over.
The Systems Commonwealth is defended by the High Guard, a military and diplomatic force which includes an armada of extremely powerful ships capable of destroying suns and depopulating entire planets in a matter of seconds. The protagonist of the series, Captain Dylan Hunt, is the captain of a capital Systems Commonwealth ship, the titular Andromeda Ascendant. The ship's computer, a powerful Artificial Intelligence, is another key character in the series.
The entire Systems Commonwealth, including Dylan Hunt, are caught totally by surprise by the opening ambush of The Fall of the Systems Commonwealth. Andromeda Ascendant's crew abandons ship on the captain's order, but the Andromeda Ascendant and Dylan Hunt get caught on the edge of the event horizon of a Black Hole, exponentially slowing down time for 300 years.
303 years after Andromeda Ascendant and Dylan Hunt are suspended, the crew of the old salvage ship, the Eureka Maru, locates the Andromeda Ascendant. In the three centuries that followed the uprising, the Commonwealth has completely fallen. After winning over the crew of the Eureka Maru, some reluctantly, Dylan Hunt recruits the salvage crew to join him in an attempt to restore the Systems Commonwealth and sign on new member worlds.
The salvage crew is made up of its leader, Beka Valentine, a continually relapsing con-artist and ace pilot; an engineer named Seamus Harper who can interact with computers via a neural port; Trance Gemini, a mysterious purple alien; and Rev Bem a converted Magog. "Rev" is short for Reverend, and he practices a pacifist religion called The Way and has become a Wayist priest. Along with the crew, the man that hired them to salvage the Andromeda brought along a Nietzschean mercenary named Tyr Anasazi. Tyr is the leader of a group of other mercenaries, of which he is the only one to survive the opening episodes. Tyr's Nietzschean propensity for self-preservation leads him to join Dylan's crew.
The first season of the series shows the devastating surprise attacks that destroyed the Systems Commonwealth, and Dylan Hunt assembling a crew and adjusting to the changed universe, while pursuing the creation of the New Systems Commonwealth. However, the idea of a new Commonwealth proves to be unpopular, because only 6 planets actually sign the Commonwealth charter in this season. Major social, military, and political powers like the Than Hegemony and the Nietzschean Sabra Pride and Jaguar Pride do not view Dylan Hunt seriously and do not really notice him. Dylan Hunt also makes several enemies, which include several powerful Nietzschean Prides.
Dylan Hunt also encounters many remnants of the old High Guard and witnesses the consequences of his own actions from 300 years before. He finally realizes that the old Commonwealth had made mistakes, which as a result, he would like to avoid.
A major theme of this season is the unification of the Andromeda Ascendant's new crew. Dylan Hunt's new crew does not really believe or value in the ideas and philosophy of the New Systems Commonwealth, and they join him only for personal gain. To their surprise, they find that having something to fight for is fulfilling. They like the idea so much, that Beka, Dylan's first officer, even promises to continue his mission if he dies.
In the season finale, the Andromeda Ascendant encounters the Magog World Ship, a huge megastructure consisting of twenty connected planets and an Artificial star. The World ship contains trillions of Magog. It is also equipped with an extremely powerful weapon — a Point Singularity Projector, which creates miniature black holes and fires them. In the ensuing battle, the Andromeda Ascendant is heavily damaged, Tyr Anasazi and Seamus Harper are kidnapped and taken to the world ship, and the rest of the crew are badly injured.
Season two begins with the crew of Andromeda in a hopeless situation. An injured Dylan is treated by Trance and goes to the Magog World ship with Rommie in order to recover Tyr, Harper and Rev Bem from certain death. Harper is implanted with Magog larvae, and Rev's loyalty is tested when he sees his species god, the Spirit of the Abyss. Although Tyr and Harper are recovered from the world ship, Andromeda is badly damaged, there is no way to extract the Magog larvae from Harper. A powerful drug will prevent them from hatching for a time, but it only delays the inevitable.
The season shows the crew reacting to the sudden need of a powerful government in order to organize species to defeat the Magog, and the New Systems Commonwealth that can fill that need. Many worlds became very willing to sign the New Systems Commonwealth charter after learning of the Worldship, and Dylan becomes a more ruthless person as well. However, by the end of the season the New Systems Commonwealth gains a new powerful war fleet and a total of fifty charter worlds.
Andromeda's Nietzschean crewman, Tyr Anasazi, is revealed to have a son, Tamerlane Anasazi, who is a genetic reincarnation of Drago Museveni, Founder and Progenitor of the entire Nietzschean Race. Since all the Nietzschean Prides believe that Drago Musevini's genetic reincarnation will be a great leader and prophet, and Tyr Anasazi has a unique opportunity to unite all the Nietzschean Prides. He does not use it yet, biding his time.
Several episodes of season three explore Trance and her role. One episode (The Dark Backward) is filmed completely from Trance's viewpoint, showing that she "lives" through all possible alternate futures before choosing the right one.
Nietzschean crewman Tyr Anasazi makes his move at the end of the season. He implants his son Tamerlane Anasazi's DNA into his own body, and reunites most of the Nietzschean Prides. They secede from the New Systems Commonwealth. The Season ends with Tyr betraying the New Systems Commonwealth.
In season four, Dylan is nearly arrested by the New Systems Commonwealth. The Collectors, who were originally keepers of historical information, had broken into 2 factions. The first faction had remained loyal to the Commonwealth's charter, while the second faction had been using the Collector library for illegal activities. The corrupt faction had also allied with the Spirit of the Abyss, and manipulated the fragile government of the New Commonwealth in order to portray Dylan Hunt as a rogue officer who had gone renegede. The Abyss infiltrates the Commonwealth using many other agents as well.
Eventually the Collectors unite with Tyr and his newly united Nietzschean Prides. Tyr mistrusts the Spirit of the Abyss, but hopes to defeat it by working with it and discovering it's weaknesses. He tries to find a map to the Route of Ages — a portal connecting all the universes together. It is possible to weaken the Abyss by passing through it, but Dylan gets the map instead and allows Tyr to follow Andromeda through the Route of Ages because Tyr knows more about the Abyss. He kills Tyr, because he tries to make a deal with the Spirit of the Abyss.
Since the Route of Ages closes before the Andromeda can get back, Dylan has to use Trance's help. She reveals to him that she is Avatar of a Sun. Trance destroys the Andromeda and re-creates it in the right universe.
The Magog evolve and become more intelligent, and cunning. In the season finale their Worldship is rediscovered. It is heading towards the Arkology, an old space station with very pacifist population. Dylan frantically tries to convince them that they have to defend themselves, but the people of the Arkology hope to create a peace treaty with the Magog.
They pay dearly for that mistake, as the Magog never make peace with anyone. Andromeda tries to defend the Arkology against the Worldship, but is overwhelmed. The Arkology is destroyed along with its millions of inhabitants, and Rhade, Beka, and Harper are left in no-win situations. Rommie explodes after being shot through her stomach while saving Harper from the Magog.
Season five starts with an unusual premise. Dylan finds himself transported into the Seefra System — 9 identical barren worlds with superstitious population and 2 suns. Technology (especially spaceflight) is shunned, and water is treasured because of constant drought. Flavin, a Paradine, meets Dylan here, giving him cryptic hints about Dylan's destiny and what Seefra is before disappearing.
Dylan eventually finds Nietzschean warrior Telemachus Rhade, pilot Beka Valentine and super-genius engineer Seamus Harper on Seefra, and to his amazement, they all arrived in Seefra at different times and locations. Harper, in particular, arrived three years earlier with the remains of the android Rommie. He tried to repair her but failed, eventually building another Android, Doyle, with some of Rommie's memories. Initially he convinces her that she is human, but later her true identity is revealed by a rebel android names Argent.
Trance is also found, but she is weakened by her attempt to transport Andromeda and its crew to Seefra. She does not quite remember who she is and what she is supposed to do. Trance underwent a metamorphosis yet again; she is still golden-skinned but appears younger, and her personality resembles her first purple incarnation.
Andromeda itself is transported to Seefra as well, but it has no power and no way to restore it. Trance partially recharges the ships generators, but Andromeda still cannot move, and the Andromeda Ascendant Artificial Intelligence requires reprogramming.
The first half of the season deals with three main themes: Dylan's conflict with his crew, his attempts to restore Andromeda's power and eventual discovery of the true role of Trance and the Seefra system.
Rhade, Beka and Harper are all angry at Dylan for leaving them behind in the Battle of Arkology and for throwing them to Seefra without any way to return to Known Space. Their loyalty is strained several times, but seems finally reaffirmed after the intervention by Prieus, a Paradine sent by Dylan from an alternate future.
Andromeda's power is eventually restored with ancient Vedran artifacts, but it is still unable to leave Seefra. Seefra seems to be located in a Pocket Universe, and the only way out is the Route of Ages. Although some characters come and leave through it, Dylan cannot use it.
Seefra 1 turns out to be Tarn-Vedra, long lost capital of the Commonwealth. But Vedrans themselves left it long ago, disillusioned with humans. Seefra 1 is the original Tarn-Vedra and Seefra 2 to Seefra 9 are copies of it. Tarn-Vedra's original sun was somehow replaced by two artificial constructs, Methus-1 and Methus-2. Methus-2 is now damaged and emits deadly flares, which are the reason for Seefra's drought.
Trance remembers her identity when she meets Ione, avatar of the Tarn-Vedra moon. She is the Tarn-Vedra sun. When she realizes this, her sun enters the Seefra system, and Dylan has to find a way to fix Methus-2 and evacuate eight doomed planets to Seefra 1.
Trance's "sisters" (who call themselves the "Lambent Kith Nebula"), however, try to persuade her to join them. In their opinion the fate of Dylan, Seefra, or Known Space is irrelevant. Trance stubbornly refuses, and the Nebula attempts to replace her (all Avatars of the Suns look alike). Real Trance is imprisoned inside Methus-2, and it takes some time for Dylan to realize the deception and rescue her.
Dylan proceeds with the evacuation of the Seefra planets, although his plans are hindered by General Burma, a religious leader from Seefra 5. Burma is later revealed to be under the control of the Spirit of the Abyss.
In the series finale, the Vedran sun is back in its place and people are safe on Seefra 1. Trance then contacts the Nebula — the Lambent Kith Nebula, supreme council of the galaxies which includes fifty Avatars. Trance was once the oldest member of the Nebula, but disagreed with their views of organic life as something insignificant and left long ago. Together with Dylan she appeals to the Nebula and its leader Maura, who plans to destroy the Abyss by expanding the All Forces Nullification Point until it consumes all galaxies. This incidentally will destroy everything alive in existence; only Seefra will survive.
Maura refuses to reconsider their plans, but allows Dylan and the Andromeda to return to Known Space. When the Andromeda slipstreams to Tarazed, Dylan finds out that only four days have passed since the Battle of Arkology, and the Magog World Ship is crippled but still operational. Rhade reunites with his wife, Jillian Rhade (only to return to the Andromeda shortly).
Andromeda visits Earth (where Harper secretly plans to stay), but as soon as the ship arrives in the system, the planet is promptly destroyed by the Abyss. A huge Nietzschean fleet emerges from behind the debris, and Andromeda barely escapes.
Dylan begins to suspect Maura's motives and soon realizes she is the Avatar of the Abyss and that all of the Nebula (with the exception of Trance) are under its control. Maura had destroyed all Paradines (except Dylan). Trance annihilates Maura in a fight.
After a massive battle with the Nietzscheans of the Drago-Kazov Pride, Dylan checks the Methus Diagram once again and discovers that Trance's sun is capable of destroying the Abyss. Andromeda returns to Seefra through the Route of Ages, followed by the Abyss. Trance manages to pull her sun closer and plunge it into the Abyss, burning it.
The Abyss is finally destroyed, and Dylan's battle is over. The Route of Ages transforms into a slipstream portal, allowing the Commonwealth fleet to return to Tarn-Vedra, meaning Dylan Hunt is finally home.
- The series started out with high hopes but a series of internal issues kept causing problems that prevented it from reaching the popularity that had been anticipated.
- There were issues with makeup and character appearance. K.H. Cobb did not want to wear the contact lens that were originally intended to mark Nietzscheans and the "bone blades" compromise on the arms never made much sense anatomically. He just looked like he was wearing some cast-off costume parts from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and even then he was unhappy. Trance's initial appearance was both expensive (CGI tail) and difficult to light (it is hard to make everyone look normal in a scene where one person is purple. Neither film nor lights are designed to handle purple people.) Brent Strait suffered due to both the adhesive holding facial prosthetics and hair onto his face being damaging to his skin and the hot suit (made of yak hair) which caused him to suffer from serious issues of heat exhaustion. His character also had to be redesigned to keep from killing the actor. (Farscape, another SF series made about the same time, had a character removed because the blue makeup she wore turned out to be toxic when used long term.)
- There were internal issues with the companies producing the series. The last year the episodes went from $1 million budget per episode to half that because one of the producing partners went bankrupt. The last season showed the almost painfully cheap production values with several episodes taking place on plain old back lots.
- There were also major reshuffling of show runners, producers, writers, etc. along the way, which caused other creative issues. At one point, the lead writers were fired abruptly in an effort to change course and improve the ratings. As usual in these situations, it made things worse.
- Keith Hamilton Cobb did not like working on a hour-long TV series in western Canada when his goal was more oriented to New York stage work. He left the series after some legal wrangling, which forced another major story line alteration.
- Gene Roddenberry actually had almost nothing to do with the series beside a few leftover ideas from earlier series. Although his widow was listed as an executive producer, Majel Barrett had no active involvement. Some hardcore ST fans felt Roddenberry's legacy was being exploited and reacted badly.
- The fandom even fractured early, with large numbers of early fans openly discussing how much they disliked the lead character and the lead actor to the point that they saw the evil Nietzscheans as "the good guys". It got nastier as Cobb was leaving. Rather than having a united fan base that supported the show, about half the so-called fans seemed to openly despise it.
- The character of Dylan Hunt and the storyline of “Andromeda” are similar to 3 previous television pilots.