1.8 That Old Black Magic
||June 11, 1999
|A routine shopping trip to a commerce planet takes an ugly
turn when John is abducted by a malevolent entity named Maldis, and forced
to fight for his life against a kidnapped Captain Crais inside an
incorporeal realm. While the others attempt to reach him in the real world,
Zhaan faces her worst fears in order to help both him and the enslaved
denizens of the planet through the use of her psychic skills... and
long-buried killer instincts.
Maldis (as Igg the clown): Your mother's maiden name was MacDougal. *You* skipped third grade. And you lost your virginity to Karen Shore in the back of a minivan!
John: Uhh... it wasn't a minivan.... It was a four-by-four.
Liko: Are you afraid of Maldis? You can destroy him!
Zhaan: That's what terrifies me.
Crais: It changes nothing. Tauvo is dead. Struck down by a weak,
pathetic, inferior being. It must be avenged! I swear in Tauvo's name, you
will die in my hands.
Rygel: (to John's body) You certainly look dead to me. I don't know
your customs for these situations, but I'll give it a shot. Ahem. John
Crichton, valued friend --- now, wait a minute. That's a bit of a stretch.
John Crichton, unwelcome shipmate, may you have safe journey to our
hallowed realm.... Actually, not our hallowed realm, that's for Hynerians.
Go find your own hallowed realm. With the ceremony of passage complete, I
declare you officially dead, and claim all your possessions for myself.
John: It's not Kansas, and you're way too homely to be Auntie Em.
This is really the villains' and Zhaan's episode, and all three make the
most of it. Crais is just as nasty as we remembered from the premiere, but
with the added twist of having gone *completely* off the deep end. Even a
Klingon would think he was nuts! Most baddies rarely place revenge over
self-preservation, but Bialar "Inigo Montoya" Crais is perfectly willing to
kill John, even when a real threat is hanging over his shoulder, waiting
for the blood to flow. By the end of the ep, he's almost sympathetic in his
anger and single-mindedness... which disappears right after he snaps the
neck of someone who was willing to save *his*. shudder Nope, no
shades of gray on that front.|
And neither is there any gray to our guest villain. Major applause for this
week's monster: Maldis is intensely, horribly predatory and creepy, just
the kind of thing that skulks in your nightmares waiting to shout "boo!"
and rip out your throat when you're looking in the wrong direction. Far
scarier than any insectoid or fish-faced alien, as much for the chameleon
changeability to him as the bloodthirstiness. I'm glad he's not completely
dead--- another confrontation between him and John, or him and Zhaan, would be *wonderful* to watch. (Only with all the lights on, though.)
Pilot has next to nothing to do, Rygel gets one hysterical scene (I love
him trying to steal the boots; it's evil, but it made me laugh), and Aeryn
and D'Argo just provide befuddled and bull-headed back-up to Zhaan this
time out. John has a few great moments confronting Maldis and Crais, being
both smart and funny and most of the time staying in control of himself;
and then he gets to lose his temper in fine heroic fashion near the end of
the fight and hit the bad guy. Good stuff.
But it doesn't come close to matching all the changes we see in Zhaan in
this episode. She goes from horrified fear of the no-win situation to
sickened empathy and tears over the animal she's supposed to hurt; to
grimly feral hunter stalking Maldis --- and then is left with the aftermath
of instincts and emotions out of control. A nicely twisty turn by the
high-priest/shopkeeper helps along the uncertainty: is he a bad guy? Is he
doing this to help his people, or to undermine Zhaan? For a while there,
you can't tell if he might be another one of Maldis's masks --- something
resolved only when he dies. Watching him and Zhaan contact Maldis (and the bizarre slot-machine effect on her eyes!), you still can't be sure he's one
of the good guys. (Some of our friends are still convinced he *was* Maldis,
and that he's faking death again!) It all makes perfect sense without
resolving any of it. Why should Zhaan be able to re-establish that peace
with herself, if it took her years to master those impulses the first time?
I'm not sure I agree that she was repressing all her emotions, or simply
choking off those desires, but she clearly doesn't know which way is up,
and is having to fight her way back from the edge again. I am *really*
looking forward to seeing where they go with this. Much as I loved Zhaan's
cool reserve, but it's even more fun now that we know it isn't effortless.
Kiki is right, this is definitely the episode of the villains For the
record, I'm one of the ones who thinks Liko was Maldis in another disguise
-- he was doing way too much damage to Zhaan (and, I'm sorry, enjoying it)
for me not to believe he was a bad guy. Besides, he had the same yellow-eye
thing going as Maldis. And Maldis himself... yeesh. Anyone else having
major LaCroix flashbacks (Maldis the Interstellar Vampire, Q-Tip hair and
all!)? But a seriously creepsome villain that somehow puts Crais in his
place in the hierarchy of villains. Crais is dangerous, but crazy enough
that he doesn't stand much of a change of winning. Maldis? He's in
control, and likes it that way. Ick. I'm betting he shows up further down
the line, which is very cool.|
As far as Crais goes, though, I was actually feeling quite sympathetic for
the man, right up until he snapped his second's neck. And, well, when he
was beating up on Crichton because he couldn't handle his own guilt over
his brother (who was deeply neat for the three or so seconds we got to see
him). But he's definitively gone over the edge now, and has made himself a
renegade from his own people, which is going to make the dynamics of any
other meetings interesting.
Our good guys had very little to do -- John got to be reasonable and heroic
and altogether cute, Rygel was obnoxious as hell even for Rygel (although
the "Get your own hallowed realm" line is a classic!) and Zhaan... wow.
Zhaan has spent about a century repressing most of her emotions, and is now
being forced to pay the piper. Guess what -- repressing doesn't count, you
have to deal with them. And it's going to be a struggle for her to
do that. Makes her lots more interesting -- and even more wigsome.
1.9 DNA Mad Scientist
||June 18, 1999
|In order to obtain maps that would take them to their
homeworlds, the crew of the Moya enter into desperate bargain with NamTar, a
genetic scientist with a sinister secret agenda. Tensions arise, dividing
Moya's crew and turning them against each other as Aeryn's life is
endangered and John tries to save her.
Aeryn: You all turned on one of your own. Would you do the same to
the rest of us?
D'Argo: Of course.
Pilot: It appears your crystal is useless. Lucky for you, you didn't
trade anything of real value to get it.
Aeryn: I wanted him to find me a place where I could belong. I
didn't want to get left behind.... I'm so scared.
John: We don't have a lot of time, in fact, we have no time. We need
Pilot: Without hesitation.
D'Argo: You understand why I did what I did?
Pilot: Your motivations were perfectly clear.
D'Argo: And you understand that, if faced with the same choice, my
decision would be exactly the same.
Pilot: I have no doubt whatsoever. I also know that Luxans are not
given to apologies.
HEY! Who put the vinegar and cayenne pepper on my popcorn show!? |
Okay, more coherently: um, no, not that much more coherently. One of our
buds pointed out that this is the first time that the crew of the Moya has
to deal with a problem among themselves, not an outside threat, and let's
say that not everyone passes the test, to the trauma of the audience and
themselves. It made your Obnoxiously Cheerful Tour Guides extremely aghast the first time around.
NamTar is an ICK. Of the baddies they've faced so far, this one is the one
Most Likely to Make You Feel Helpless and Revolted by both his attitude and
the inability of those around him to stop him until it's almost too late.
Appearance-wise, he's utterly alien (a *very* nice job of costuming, makeup
and CGI here), and that soothing, superior voice just makes you want to
kill him. It's the attitude that gave me the shakes, though. Having him
de-evolve into a lab rat at the end was _intensely_ satisfying. A terribly
scary take on DNA manipulation that you can completely ignore in favor of
the bad guy plot. Kudos to the writers.
Especially considering that NamTar is *not* the biggest ick about this
episode: the behavior of our heroic crew is. Shock after shock after *ick*.
I couldn't believe they took Pilot's arm. They took his _arm_. Holy
mother... ahem. Rygel we would expect this from (in fact, he's in fine form
this week. I shouldn't laugh when he does bad things, but I do). D'Argo, we
would *almost* expect it from --- he's a warrior, he has that caste system
of worker-warrior-servitor stuck in his head, he's very young and his
impulse control sucks. Given five minutes to think about it and another
option, I don't think he wouldn't have done this (no matter what he says
later). That musical instrument he made, by the way, now becomes another
Luxan artifact I Must Have. (And I think the scene where he plays for
Pilot, without apologizing, is one of his best yet.)
Zhaan, though... oh, Zhaan. She's stuck in a dark, dark place; having
fallen off the wagon of non-violence last week, and then being offered the
one thing she wants most in the universe --- to return home --- she's now
operating with no brakes on her instincts at all. This. Is Bad. One word:
earbrow touching. Eeeeuuuw! Although, it gives a whole new meaning to
D'Argo's grabbing and twisting them a few episodes ago. Zhaan pretty much
consigns anyone in her path to Hell during this ep. I am *hoping* that she
can crawl back from this, and become the person who helped the young Tavlek
kick his habit, the person who's been so kind and understanding with John
for the last eight eps; but I don't think it's going to be easy. This ep
only makes sense in the context of last week's, and I'm really glad they
aired these in order.
The double-crosses and lies as D'Argo and Zhaan and Rygel stab each other
in the back and fight over the crystal are hysterically funny (as good as
the stuff in the forest in "Throne for a Loss") and upsetting at the same
time. Anyone else have a pretty good idea where Rygel hid that crystal?
Pilot's snarking in the background is terrific; he may be born to serve,
but he never counted on being part of the "service", and he's not going to
forgive and forget, no way, no how.
Aeryn and John storyline--- more cool than I can say. Utterly subtle, no
explicit statements of emotion, just John supporting Aeryn while she goes
through hell, and Aeryn being scared out of her mind and fighting every
inch of the way. Their nearly-identical reactions of horror to what the
others were willing to do to Pilot --- and the way they bond with him over
it --- leave you with a safe place from which to watch the others lose
their sanity. Aeryn's terror as she starts mutating is wonderfully played,
some of Claudia Black's best work yet; and John is, as usual, the one
stable person in sight. If these two don't get together in the series, I'm
gonna *have* to write some serious fanfic about it just to resolve the
So, A+ for John, A- for Aeryn (for going back and getting herself zapped
without telling anyone), A++ for Pilot, C-- for D'Argo (for the music), D-
for Rygel (whose standards for achievement are lower), and F for ethics and
A for scariness for Zhaan. Oh, and an A for the costuming and sets ---
they've now mastered the art of creating new worlds.
Watch this ep with friends and the lights on.
Um.... What she said.< g >|
No, seriously. Zhaan's been seduced by the Dark Side of the Force, how much
fun is that? :P A crew of people that was just beginning to be able to work
together has now been forcefully splintered through basic selfishness and
serious impulse control problems. Fun for Pilot, huh -- the only people he
can trust onboard are the weirdo Human and the Peacekeeper. Poor Pilot. <
sniffle > Great job from all the performers on him, by the way -- he was
wonderfully snarky just when he needed to be, and came through the second
John and Aeryn needed him.
Awesome John and Aeryn stuff (both of these two just rock and rock) and
Kiki is right about the outstanding job on sets and costumes -- you've
come a long way, baby. And I formally withdraw my request to grow up and be
Zhaan -- Virginia was quite terrifying enough to make me ill, thank you
(helping D'Argo wrestle Pilot down while assuring him she'll take his pain
was one of the creepiest things I've ever seen, and I'm not easily creeped). I'm gonna have to smack D'Argo around a while for playing
follow the leader, and Rygel was... well, Rygel. He's a little bastard, but
at last he's upfront about it. And ya know... I'm starting to feel some
sympathy for the Peacekeepers here (aside from planetary enslavement and
shangai'd leviathans, I mean). We've been assuming all along that our jolly
band didn't belong in prison (well, okay, maybe Rygel) -- now we're
reminded that... oh, yeah, escaped prisoners. Maybe there was a
reason they got sentenced, huh? :P
1.10 They've Got a Secret
||June 25, 1999
A routine maintenance check for leftover Peacekeeper devices aboard Moya goes very, very wrong when D'Argo removes a PK shield, precipitating an explosion that effects Moya's and Pilot's systems as well as accidentally spacing himself. While D'Argo mentally wanders through past tragedies, the rest of the crew tries to determine the cause for the breakdowns aboard Moya that threaten their lives --- and begin to suspect that the cause is Moya herself.
John: How do you know what a few bacteria are doing inside you? No, you don't know until you get a symptom.|
Zhaan: My body carries no bacteria.
D'Argo: [to his memory of Lo'Lann] The more I know you, the more I love you... the less I understand. How could you give up everything to love someone like me?
D'Argo: Macton arrested me... he still had her dried blood on his hands.
Zhaan: Pilot, there must be other changes to come as the fetus develops. What can we be expecting?
John: Yeah, is there some kind of "What to Expect When You're Expecting a Baby Leviathan" book? By Dr. Spock... Mr. Spock....
D'Argo: Does it surprise you, that such a Sebacean woman could love me?
Aeryn: It's ingrained in Peacekeepers from birth that we must keep the bloodlines pure. That such unions are evil.
D'Argo: [shutting down the hologram of his family] Do you therefore think that my son is evil?
Aeryn: No.... Because in his eyes, I see you. D'Argo, no matter what happens to us, I swear: I will never tell anyone about your son.
I got spoiled on the big surprise going into this; darn TV Guide, anyway. But the rest of the revelations --- D'Argo's 'crime', that he had a wife and son, his brother-in-law's framing of him, and the fact that he was married to a Sebacean --- all packed the punch that makes you drop your Junior Mints and go "whooa!" I'm sure the fact that Moya is having a baby shuttlecraft would have been just as eep-worthy if I hadn't known it was coming. |
After "Back and Back and Back to the Future" and "Thank God It's Friday Again", I was thrilled that they finally gave D'Argo something to do other than follow his hormones. Anthony Simcoe *rocks* --- anyone who can give a performance like that from behind a layer of plastic is Emmy-contender class. And what a backstory! How did he and Lo'Lann meet? How did they ever get together? Where is Jothee? The poor kid's got to be going on 12 or 13 in human terms by now, and he could be thinking his father murdered his mom. Oh, do I hope we get to see D'Argo find his son again! This is the perfect explanation for sooo many things about OFLuxan, including his behavior of last week, as Perri points out. Anyone who keeps a hologram of their loved ones concealed beneath their skin has some serious stuff goin' on.
Pilot's arm is back, which is a relief (although it grew *awfully* fast) and Aeryn may be fully Sebacean again, but she's remembering stuff from last week's little foray into being a Pilot-copy, which is both convenient and cool. I am ticked that we didn't get any emotional continuity on Zhaan during this one; she's back to acting very cool and kind again, with no signs of the savage from the last two eps. Is that because her instincts for self-preservation aren't being threatened by working with the rest of the crew? Or is she starting to deal again? Impossible to say, which is, I guess, another convenient thing. But I'm not going to trust her completely until I'm sure she's back to full Delvian Pa'u normality....
All of the stuff with Moya and the DRD's is terrific, especially the scene with all the little DRD eyes --- eee! Like Crichton says, you don't know what's going on with the bacteria in your body until you get a symptom --- and your priorities may still not be the same. How big is the baby Leviathan going to get? And what's labor going to be like? This could be *really* dangerous and weird a ways down the line.
Rygel's amusing and almost actually helpful, for once, John's cool and smart and funny (and downright scary pretending to be Macton; he really knows just how to push D'Argo's buttons--- or he used to watch soap operas), and I'm very proud of Aeryn for promising not to ever tell the PK's about D'Argo's son, even if they get caught. She's come a long way in three months. Not to mention that little look she shot Crichton while they were getting the gunk off her hands, and his semi-embarrassed pulling away afterwards --- cooooool. Longstanding Peacekeeper prejudice or not, something's happening here.... Now, if only we didn't have to wait two weeks for a new episode to find out what!
Wow. Anthony Simcoe gets his first real chance to cut loose, and he blows
everyone else off the screen! Really wonderful job, and poor D'Argo! He is
forgiven for everything he pulled last week (not excused, mind you,
but forgiven). And I want to meet his son! It does really interesting
things to our concept of Sebaceans to know one of them married D'Argo (not
that I can blame her; if that voice said that stuff to me that sincerely,
I'd marry him to!); obviously she was not a Peacekeeper, but there's the
question of why some Peacekeeprs, like D'Argo's brother-in-law and Crais,
have families and others, like Aeryn, do not. I want to know more about
that lot, darn it! And we also have to teach D'Argo an approach to
maintenance other than the BFMI approach (Brute Force and Massive
Zhaan seems to be relatively back to normal, and Pilot's arm has grown back
-- these are good things. Rygel behaved himself quite well to help D'Argo,
surprisingly. John acquits himself very nicely (wanna bet he appoints
himself baby-Moya's goddaddy?) and he and Aeryn have some great scenes
together -- they are definitely much more at ease with each other after
last week's events; Aeryn is even invading his personal space a time or
two. And, on her own, Aeryn does really great -- lovely continuity from
last week with her ability to take over for Pilot, which is also a very
nice backup. And the scene with all three of them yelling at her to stop
cutting is priceless.
And Moya finally gets center stage!!!! I'm really looking forward to seeing
the results of her pregnancy, and the new baby -- going to be way fun to
see the effects of that on Pilot and the rest of the crew. Also a
fascinating look at how she functions -- obviously, she's probably not as
intelligent as Pilot or the others, but she is not dumb. She called the
DRDs back when John laid down his gun, which indicates fairly high-level
symbolic reasoning. Call it a little above dolphin level; I'm still trying
to figure out why she didn't just tell Pilot. But, in a way, she was faced
with a variation of the same choice D'Argo had last week -- choosing the
life of her child over the life of a friend/shipmate. And after last week's
events, I can't blame her for not trusting anyone aboard her, either
conciously or instinctively.