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I only have to show up at work at noon tomorrow, which is why I'm still here, up at past 2 am, procrastinating, sipping tea with orange & rum...

Felt sick today, tired, stressed and annoyed enough to decide not to be polite this year, but ditch the company Christmas party. If they show as little consideration as to schedule it on the 23rd, it's not exactly my problem if no one turns up.

'Shadows Cast by a Final Salute': thoughts on the Andromeda Season 3 finale

At least getting a lot closer to what Andromeda could and should be, though one might still wonder with a sense of exasperation why ever one was forced to suffer through so many banal cringe-worthy episodes when the producers are in fact capable of coming up with something like this, if they just chose to put their minds to it.

Great dialogue, great acting (great dubbing voice for KHC, for the matter). I’m still more than a little in awe of the central confrontation between Tyr and Dylan. In the course of three Seasons it’d become more and more obvious that those two are sharing a very complex symbiotic… friendship, for lack of a more suitable word, but until this episode it was shown in a very understated masculine show-don’t-tell way, which made it very intense to have everything suddenly bought in the open in such an emotional way. I hadn’t expected anything quite like that.

Nor anything so… ambiguous.

Starting with the betrayal, and I’m almost inclined to put that word between quotation marks. Contrary to what Harper says, Tyr hadn’t been waiting for three years to betray them in the sense that he’d merely been biding his time, waiting for the most opportune moment to spring his trap. He did, in fact, have a ‘plan B’ (and as early as ‘Double Helix’, if I remember correctly, Dylan was perfectly aware of the fact that Tyr always had one), but if things had turned out differently he'd probably have been more than happy never having to resort to it. And it’s really quite ironic that as often as the proverbial ‘plan B’ has been called for in this show up to and including this episode, no one apparently was aware that Tyr had one all the time.

Which begs the question, did Dylan (‘You have let me know you too well, Tyr’) Hunt really not know or at least suspect? I’ve read reviews about how Tyr managed to out-manoeuvre Dylan throughout this episode, but it never exactly felt like that to me. Already in ‘Day of Judgement, Day of Wrath’ their exchange before Tyr left the ship was strangely final and it felt like Dylan was perfectly aware he was being lied to and Tyr knew Dylan knew. Yet another of their polite lies. Right from the beginning of this episode Tyr doesn’t exactly bother to conceal there’s something on his mind; he radiates sadness, a sense of desperate urgency; an air of solitude surrounding him, setting him apart from the rest of the crew even while standing among them. Dylan gives him a hard, distrusting/knowing look on the bridge after the botched up rescue attempt, and again he obviously does not buy Tyr’s off-hand explanation about being attacked, nor does Tyr even try to lie convincingly.

During the whole subsequent course of events Dylan never seemed very surprised, and I’m inclined not to put that down to KS’s limited acting skills only. Beka is very obviously hurt, as a friend and as a woman, she really doesn’t understand why Tyr acted as he did; Harper too feels betrayed, probably because he’d been starting to really like Tyr despite himself, but understands a little better, because he’d been left in the lurch by Dylan in much the same way ('Bunker Hill'). Dylan looks and acts like something he’d long been dreading to happen without actually acknowledging his fear, was finally coming into the open: a mixture of sad and resigned, facing something inevitable.

It’s Rahde all over again, and Rhade had warned Dylan to put him under arrest, which Dylan had done, even if it was too late already. History comes round full circle and Dylan does… nothing. What he says to Tyr is ‘Try to stick around this time’. How fucked up exactly is this man? How driven by his past? How supremely arrogant?

Because Dylan is not stupid when he puts his mind to something, and has never been naïve, least of all when it comes to Tyr. He did know something was brewing, as implied by ‘the talk’ referred to at the end of ‘Deep Midnight's Voice’, but never mentioned later.

With Rahde at least one could argue he was indeed surprised, with Tyr it almost felt like he was walking into it open-eyed: fatalistic and arrogant to a fault. Partly refusing to believe that this was actually going to happen – to him, again - partly, on a subconscious level… maybe just not caring enough about the consequences, if it did indeed happen, because if he failed with this man on a personal level - again -, it didn’t much matter if they took the universe and everything they worked for down with them.

The crux is the strange friendship, this mutual need they share. This has been addressed once in ‘Exit Strategies’, but strategic need is only part of their relationship, though perhaps the one easiest to acknowledge. It goes much deeper than this; an insane mixture of politics, power games and emotions, and only the final rift showed just how deep the emotions ran. (Tyr’s outspoken admiration to Dylan’s candid admission 'I can’t! I’m not a Nietzschean! That why I always had you.'. Symbiotic indeed.)

Power, of course: Even after Tyr had stopped actively planning to take over the Andromeda it presumably was still a step up from his former existence as an assassin and hired soldier, a step closer to power, bringing him into a position where he might actually realise his goals.

At the same time I think he was intrigued by Dylan from the beginning; his determination to survive at first, his arrogance of trying to change the universe to suit his needs. The conflicting character traits of idealism and ruthlessness. Finding an unlikely equal, a connection to a more glorious past Tyr is attempting to re-capture for himself.

The Andromeda crew may not be the family he’d have consciously chosen, but for a time at least, until he finds he has a son, a real family, they’re family nevertheless. All those easy, normal things, people to joke with, people with who he doesn’t have to watch his back all the time... As Rommie correctly points out in ‘Lava and Rockets’, the thought of being alone again is hard to bear.

On the other hand, Dylan: he’s a man of habit, and instinctively looking for connections to his past, a past, which to him of course isn’t distant at all. Rhade may have died three hundred years ago, but for Dylan his body was barely cold in his grave (so to speak) when Tyr turned up, stepping easily into his place. Rhade subsequently continues to be very much an unresolved, but very important issue for Dylan – he keeps the body on board for more than two years, he still has a picture of the two of them in his quarters (I forget which episode). (Though admittedly he’s somewhat less psychotic about it than ‘The Unconquerable Man’ AU Rhade, who has a holographic image of Dylan created to converse and play Go with. Extremely chilling.)

One might wonder to what extent Rhade’s actions and death influenced Dylan’s attitude towards Tyr; caution obviously, but maybe tempered by a lingering guilt, a wish for a second chance to get things right?

Whatever the reasons or echoes of emotions from the past, he’s to all appearances very unwilling to give up this (friendship): the one time Tyr really takes things too far instead of ditching him on the next convenient planet, as he should have done if he had the safety of his ship and commonwealth foremost in mind, he practically blackmails him into staying ('Una Salus Victus'). In ‘Exit Strategies’ it’s enough for Tyr to say that he needs him to make matters right again. (' Whether I like it or not, I need you – sir. And I shall be so bold as to say you need me, as well.') Tyr's offer (If you would like me to leave – sir – you have but to ask.) goes ignored. This is about strategic need only on the surface, because whatever Tyr’s fighting skills, he is only one man and Dylan presumably could easily have found as competent an officer and one with less inclinations for, quote, 'extracurricular activities' anytime he wanted.

On some level he must have known he was playing an extremely dangerous game, and that might even have been part of the attraction, a heady, addictive mixture of power games, friendship, need, arrogance and adrenaline.

After playing this game for three years, had he simply grown over-confident and used to winning?

A bird and a fish can fall in love but where will they live? (Metaphorically speaking, not touching upon the slashiness for the moment) Their personalities are at once too different and too similar; both having a large enough ego to believe right unto the end they can bring the other around to their side. Dylan, I think, believes he’s won when Tyr decides to come back with him and save the Andromeda, that he could make Tyr stay simply because he was Dylan Hunt, on the basis of their emotional bond. The moment Tyr tells him how deeply he admires – wants to admire – him, you see something shifting within him and suddenly he's convinced again he can talk Tyr around. In the end he is, if not actually surprised, though a little of that too, IMO, then at least slightly offended that Tyr does in fact walk out on him; that he would chose an uncertain future and his son over him. He’s offended that Tyr does have other options.

And Tyr at least at first still talks in terms of ‘we’ and ‘our collective sight’ when he tells Dylan about his plan to eliminate the Drago-Kazov. I don't even think he really intended to betray Dylan as such, rather to force his hand, give him a reason (an excuse, even) to put aside his (in Tyr's opinion) superfluous and harmful scruples. A chance for him to be a better man.

The germs of this fiasco had been planted at the end of Season 2, when Tyr learned about the existence of his son and the child being the ‘Nietzschean messiah’, and Dylan refused to become Triumvir of the new Commonwealth.

Dylan’s crucial fault was that he didn’t take serious enough how much being a father (even leaving aside the messianic issue) would have changed Tyr’s perspective and priorities; a dangerously careless misjudgement, knowing as he does Nietzscheans generally and Tyr’s past in particular, even more so as he was perfectly aware that Tyr had been lying about his son’s death. Mere negligence or subconscious refusal to acknowledge that through the existence of this child he had already lost Tyr? But hardly anyone can altogether escape the mistake of generalising from their own experience and judging others accordingly, and Dylan, for whom relationships and family are always secondary to his ‘mission’ (‘The Banks of the Lethe’, ‘The Things We Cannot Change’) if not incompatible with it, seriously underestimates just how strong a driving force this could be for another man, especially a Nietzschean, especially one who has lost his whole family in a war. He’s got a huge blind spot in this respect; but things generally don’t go away if you ignore them, however much you might wish, even if your name is Dylan Hunt.

Tyr’s fault is a similar miscalculation of Dylan’s character. Friendship, admiration and Dylan’s occasional more ruthless moments blind him to the fact that despite his quite monumental ego deep down Dylan isn’t a leader with a vision - he’s a soldier, a man very much entangled in his past. Finding himself removed from the world he knew he goes about re-creating it, not so much for political or ethical reasons, but because it’s easier for him than adapting to this new world he finds himself in; easier to change the universe than himself. It's a mixture of arrogance, habit, determination and lack of imagination.

He’s brilliant enough, but can’t focus this brilliancy on any long-term aims or plans. Dylan is one of those people who when they reach a goal never quite know what to do with it. At the end of Season 2 he has more or less achieved his earlier status quo, commands a war-ship in a somewhat lack-lustre new Commonwealth, and apparently is content to step back into the second rank, despite the fact that he occasionally chaffs under the new authority.

He refused to take over any kind of politic leadership; something that Tyr would have expected him to do (or at least hoped he’d do). Instead we see a series of more or less incompetent politician–types paraded throughout Season 3, making it rather painfully obvious that this commonwealth isn’t really going anywhere soon or would be any more effective dealing with the threat of the Magog (or whatever powers support them) than its predecessor. Seeing Dylan apparently willing to subordinate himself to that, it’s the logical next step for Tyr to at least start looking out for other options, especially now that he has both a strong motive and different courses of action open to him.
Meanwhile Dylan keeps entangling himself in one more or less idealistic, but ultimately pointless mission after another. For the greates part of Season 3 little moves forward in the greater scheme of things, at a time where for Tyr it becomes increasingly more urgent that things do start happening.

Towards the end of Season 3 the situation had become quite intolerable, even if neither openly acknowledges it. ‘Deep Midnight's Voice’, when Tyr in a gesture of helpless rebellion that is painful to watch continues to hit Gaiton after Dylan told him to stop, just to make a point (and failing) that he was not following orders. You still saw them acting in tandem, in some respects more in sync than ever and enjoying it on some level, but Tyr is no Will Riker, willing to put back his career in order to remain second-in-command to a man he admired.

But what he maybe only fully realises during that final confrontation is that Dylan really doesn’t think in the same terms and dimensions as Tyr does. He really doesn’t understand what Tyr finally accuses him of - that for Tyr there were higher aims involved that might even justify genocide. Or at any rate that the status quo, even when it meant being with people he liked, wasn't satisfactory when weighed against the greater concerns at stake. Whether this is a good thing is another matter entirely and personally I tend to go along with Dylan that the universe will never be perfect and forcibly removing millions of people, however unpleasant, from it is never a good start.

Dylan is very brittle in the end, shattered, as well he might be. In a sense he’d gambled the whole Commonwealth for friendship, miscalculated and lost everything all over again, only Tyr didn’t make it easy for him as Rhade did, forcing him to decide: to kill or be killed. He even refused to give an outright answer to Dylan’s question whether they would meet again as friends or enemies. He leaves him to consider his decisions and responsibilities, his mistakes and his carelessness.

On a more basic level it’s probably a blow to his ego, too. Insane as it sounds, he actually does look kind of insulted that Tyr would leave him to be with his son. Has anyone ever walked out on him like that? One wonders.

When Harper asks whether they should even care what happened to Tyr, Dylan replies that part of him thinks he shouldn’t ‘but part of me will hunt him forever’ (or at least that’s the literal translation of the German dubbed dialogue). A curious choice of words, especially seeing as his next action is to guarantee Tyr’s escape and continued survival. But that’s Dylan for you.

To sum up, it was quite surprising that a show that often enough made me wonder whether they'd stopped caring about plot arc or character development altogether would come up with a finale not only in character, but even managing to make the Season 3 lack of quality serve a purpose. Intentional or not, the sense of pointlessness, stagnation, the lack-lustre Commonwealth and loss of long-term aims ultimately made Tyr's decision more plausible and in character.

And this is slashy… why?

Usually I don’t bother trying to justify even to myself why a pairing appeals to me. I’ve read and enjoyed ‘ships I don’t even see in canon at all, others that I wouldn’t have noticed on my own, but make sense after I’d read the fic. With a few I see the subtext, the possibilities in canon, but there hardly ever has been a show where I mentally could make it fit in the actual canon story line so easily.

(Strange, too, because in the German dubbed version they were using the more formal ‘Sie’ right until the end)

The two major scenarios for slash fiction are either two characters moving from a more or less established friendship into a sexual relationship, or else they initially hate each other, so of course they must be secretly in love (or at least wanting to shag).

This is neither. The strange emotional bond based on mutual need they share defies easy description, for all it’s going as deep as it does. I’ve used ‘friendship’ throughout the text, but it’s never that in any conventional sense of the word. They are using each other, intrigue, out-manoeuvre, threaten and blackmail each other in deadly serious ways, yet fight together, trust each other with their lives, risk their lives for each other, and just understand each other on a very basic level.

These men are not what you’d traditionally call friends, even in the opposites-attract way. Yet their bond is the only thing to even keep them in the same place; without a fixed hierarchy of command, the crew, such as it is, is only held together by Dylan’s charisma.

It’s just too easy, too tempting to push the boundaries a little further in one’s mind, to supply another reason why they're drawn together as inexorably and irrationally as they are. Why Dylan is risking so much to keep this man near him (one is tempted to say, whatever he’s thinking with, it’s not his head.), why Tyr is willing to stay as long as he did, to compromise so much.

[:: headdesk :: It's glaringly obvious really that I got 1. no life & 2. a lot of ex-academic brain capacity doing the hamster-in-the-wheel thing.... Decided to sign up for 50bookchallenge next year, so that at least I maybe won't analyse crappy tv shows to death...]

ETA: :: exasperated sigh :: Here I am, trying to keep my mind out of the slashy gutter at least for the greater part of this post and then KHC puts this on his website.



solitary summer

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