In the first episode of The Andromeda Breakthrough, Fleming was very much the master of his own destiny, on the run with Andromeda and successfully evading capture, even foiling the plans of gunmen who arrived at the hermit’s cottage where they were hiding out. Gale Warning is quite a contrast, because Fleming and Andromeda are swept up by events, captured twice and at the mercy of two different factions.
The action moves first to London, from Fleming and Andromeda’s point of view, and it’s a far less interesting choice of location than the atmospheric old cottage on the remote Scottish island. It was disappointing to see that location left behind. Meanwhile there is a lot of scheming and wrangling going on elsewhere, and this is much more of a globe-trotting episode, including a conference in Geneva, and altogether too much of the action taking place in airports. The reason Fleming and Andromeda end up in London is that they have been captured by British troops and are being questioned by officials. It’s all a bit tedious, with a simple restatement of the opinions and fears of Fleming and the British government, but the episode springs to life when Kaufman arrives at the apartment where Fleming and Andromeda are staying. It’s their second capture of the episode, and Kaufman murders a government minister as they leave.
Kaufman is a fascinating character. John Hollis played these kinds of sinister German or Austrian roles effortlessly, but the quality of the writing from Fred Hoyle and John Elliot allows him more depth of characterisation than the usual villains he was accustomed to portraying. The best moment of the episode is his explanation of how he fell into a life of crime, and his insistence that he isn’t, or at least wasn’t, a bad person.
“Unfortunately, when I was younger I wanted to get on. I have struggled to live but I am honourable. Then one day they come with that little thing, something not too bad, they always do this.”
“And you’re glad to accept their money.”
“Yes, and after that it is something a little more shady and you think perhaps you say no, but you cannot… and after that you do it more and sometimes it’s something very bad.”
It’s a perfect summary of how one thing leads to another. Somebody compromises on their principles in a way that seems insignificant, and well worth bending the rules, and before they know it they are firmly on the wrong side of the law. There must be so much truth in that.
Kaufman takes Fleming and Andromeda to Azaran, land of the generic shifty Arabs (1960s, natch), and they arrive to a compilation of stock footage, some of which is so blurry as to be almost indecipherable. Once we get to the actual filmed footage it is very well directed, including a very impressive moment where the camera pans up to the sky from one location and pans back down to another. The scenes with blackface-makeup-Barry as Shifty Salim continue to try the patience, but the cliffhanger ending is a good one, with Andromeda coming face to face with the other computer, and somehow communicating with it.
“It speaks to me.”
It feels like the end of the first season and the first two episodes of the second season have been something of a runaround, with escapes and captures eventually bringing us right back to where we were before: Andromeda in a room with an alien computer. Let’s hope this time we find out a little more about the aliens who sent instructions for its construction. Revisiting the lives of Fleming and Andromeda has been a lot of fun, but it’s time this show did something new. RP
Read next in the Junkyard… The Andromeda Breakthrough: Azaran Forecast
Points for a sci-fi show to do something new are certainly noticeable when the story potential, even at a comfortingly steady pace, gets much more complex. Assuming that revisiting circumstances as in Gale Warning will have a point for us makes sense for a sci-fi show that seems very sophisticated for its time like A For Andromeda. Thanks, RP.
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