1.11 'Til the Blood Runs Clear
|Doug Heyes, Jr.
|July 9, 1999
Crichton's attempt to create another wormhole during a solar flare storm causes damage to the Farscape, forcing him and Aeryn to land the module on a nearby planet. While they wait for the local mechanics to finish repairs, a pair of bounty hunters make life interesting --- especially when an impatient D'Argo comes down to the planet to see what's keeping Aeryn and John.
Tracker: We are Volkarian Blood trackers. The best!
Crichton: Second best. I'm Butch, this is Sundance.
Crichton: How good are you two? Because I might be willing to cut you in. You help me capture the prisoners, I'll split the bounty. Seventy - thirty.
Tracker: Seventy... forty!
Crichton: Eighty - forty. You in or out?
Rygel: Don't insult my eyes with your naked blue extremities.
Zhaan: Which ones is particular don't you like? Show them to me.
Rygel: No, thank you.... Help! Help! A mad Delvian exhibitionist is forcing herself on me! Visually!
John: This isn't going to work, is it? We're never going to be friends.
D'Argo: Friendship is a lot to ask.
John: Then how 'bout respect? We can be allies. [Offers his hand] Warriors on Earth did this to show they weren't holding weapons. [They shake hands, after D'Argo switches the Qualta blade to his other hand]
John: D'Argo, I have to get back to Furlow's before the flares stop---
Zhaan: No, John, they've stopped already.
John: Are you sure?
Zhaan: If they hadn't, I'd, uh... well... I'd still be indisposed.
John: Well, if you knew the offer was bogus, why did you even listen?
Aeryn: Because it was nice, even for just a moment, to believe that it was genuine. That I could go back.
John: Hey, Furlow -- five years from now? I'll be waiting for you at the other end of that wormhole.
Where to start? This week's was a much more low-key ep than the last few have been --- for which we give thanks --- but it was by no means pure fluff. The continuity of this show is now so firmly established, and so constantly referred to, that pure fluff and pure popcorn don't happen anymore. Even the slighter episodes have resonance. (Or maybe I mean a spicy aftertaste?)
Yay, John's got a plan to get back to Earth! He's being smart about it, and it's cool to see that it's theoretically possible, if not easy. Having the wormhole home be an impossible dream would be as frustrating for us to watch as it would be for Crichton to deal with; but knowing that it's not a cakewalk is good too. A neat possible ending to the show would be for him to catch one of that sun's flares and make it home in another 4.8 cycles. Plus, the fact that his discovery could be profitable for someone *else* also opens up some interesting plotlines, especially if they want to steal his research the way Furlow coerced him out of his data.
Thanks to the hysterical rejects from the last "Road Warrior" movie (Virgina Hey *had* to be having flashbacks; the music and the costumes, even more than the setting, just screamed Mad Max [a movie I enjoyed, by the way, so don't think I'm trashing this week's set-up. It just made me laugh to see the similarities]), D'Argo and John finally had the confrontation they've both been working up to for months now. D'Argo *so* needs to be in charge, Crichton won't let anyone be in charge of him --- something had to blow. They hit every button each of them has, brought up every grievance, and they managed to finally settle this without *too* much bloodshed. By lowering their expectations and admitting that they weren't perfect, maybe they can, eventually, be friends. A really satisfying way of bringing that conflict out into the open and temporarily resolving it, since with these two, a permanent solution is still a long ways away. (And super, end of paragraph, no need for more parentheses!)
Speaking of this week's "bad guys" - yeeesh! Giggles for the pack attitude and inability to add; yelps of surprise at their automatic attack on Aeryn; and a "cooooooool" watching John pretend to be a bad-ass to keep them in line (not to mention the Butch & Sundance reference. ). The Volkarians were never a huge threat, not with John constantly yanking on their collars, although I'd say the actors were having fun making like wolfhounds --- they certainly got into the slavering, sniffing, scene-chewing spirit of the hunt. Ben Browder is getting more and more fun out of these occasional forays into the dark side of John Crichton, and it's giving a character who started out as a gee-whiz-gosh-can't-we-all-get-along guy a *lot* more shadows and shadings. Like when he was both hurting and saving D'Argo at the same time, saying stuff that John was no doubt enjoying being able to finally yell at the big guy. (That I find Crichton more appealing while he's pretending to be bad dude probably says more about my dark side than his, so we'll just leave it there.)
It was even better that he couldn't carry it off indefinitely, and that his attitude fell through just when he thought he had it taped. Better save it for when you've got your hands on the arsenal to back up your mouth, John. Nice continuity on his offer to take Aeryn with him when he goes home, too--- and it's good that the issue of go-or-stay is still up in the air between them, in spite of Aeryn's apparent rejection of the idea.
Aeryn, amazingly, did not kill Crichton for his presumption in playing alpha male this week. Sure, it was a justified maneuver, but that never stopped her from kicking his butt before. But everything she did do was even more interesting than what she *didn't* do. A cool kick-boxing match; a short and scary bout with helpless blindness (well-acted by Claudia Black; blindness is tricky, and she didn't hit a false note); and the inner conflict of being offered amnesty by Crais. I didn't really think she was going to take him up on it, but I had no idea where she was going with the re-programming on the "Wanted" beacon, so there were a few bad seconds there. The absolute pure glee in her smile when her idea panned out was a wonderful sight, especially in contrast to her shaky horror at being blinded. I don't think I've ever seen Aeryn look that happy before, but I hope it's not for the last time.
Rygel was amusing in his prudery, and also had one fun moment at the beginning, where he helped Crichton undercut D'Argo by telling him the name of the mechanic they needed to see on the planet. He may be short, but that doesn't mean you can discount him. Ever. And watching Zhaan be in a Happy Place was downright giggle-inducing, even though it made me worried about what might happen because of her total lack of with-it during the flares. I'm not going to relax about Zhaan until we really get the results of "DNA Mad Scientist" and "That Old Black Magic" handled, but for now, it was a silly bit of fun watching her bliss out on sunshine. Pilot had next to nothing to do, but it was sweet to see him worrying about Moya and her baby--- everything's going to be affected by her pregnancy for as long as that lasts, clearly. And Crais, even in the cool "Wanted" beacon, made me just want to take that silly hat off his head and jump up and down on it. No change there.
Lastly, Furlow deserves a salute for getting the better of John so easily and without having to throw a punch. A true mercenary, I can admire that. It's reassuring to see that no matter where you go in the universe, the mechanics still have total power over what happens to your vehicle. Which doesn't mean I don't want John to solve the wormhole question before she does--- I'm hoping he gets to fulfill that promise to beat her to the other side of the galaxy, and gloat mercilessly when she finally shows up.
Well, I think Kiki covered just about everything. < g > I'm extremely proud of John for actually working to get home instead of sitting around sulking, as many castaways are known to do, and getting Farscape 1 working again was a great start. So nice to see the baby out of the cargo bay. D'Argo... < sigh > Well, know we know what the whole hyperrage thing was about, and why Rygel didn't get targetted -- testosterone overload, D'Argo tried to assert dominance over John, John flat refused to allow it (he's easygoing, but no one's carpet) and finally worked it out by getting laid. Jeeez. Well, they haven't bonded, but they've got some stuff hashed out, so that's something.
Stand-out performance from Claudia Black (lovely job playing blind, and the grin when she out-thought the problem was marvelous!) and Ben Browder (almost died laughing when he started in with the Southern accent. God, I went to high school with guys like that). Serious sympathy for Aeryn -- the others at least have some hope of going home, however slim; she knows she can't, no m atter how much she'd like to believe it. I can't beleive she wasn't at least tempted to turn the others in and take her chances, but unlike some people we could mention, she doesn't. And she lets John live even when he goes Redneck on her. Impressive. More fun with the Zhaan and Rygel show, of course, and fun with the guest stars as well. Very nice, non-traumatic ep, for once.
1.12 The Flax
|July 16, 1999
A basic beginner pod-piloting lesson for John goes wonky when the pod runs into the Flax, a space-trap set by local pirates. Aeryn and John fight for their lives on the pod, Rygel plays crystal-electric chess with the leader of the pirates in question, and D'Argo's side trip with a scavenger could save his shipmates or furnish him with a way home--- but probably not both.
Aeryn: My microbes had to have translated that one wrong.
Pilot: [massive electronic screeching] So sorry. I appear to have hit the wrong com.
Rygel: Where are your... um... your....
Zhaan: For an anthropoid biped, there appears to be--- something missing.
Staantz: Yeah, I know. Well, I'm a Zemetan. We're not exactly cut from the standard mold.
Aeryn: Can you hand me that axe?
John: Yeah.... what are you going to do with it?
Aeryn: Hack my foot up.
John: Oh, in that case, let me.
John: Well, I guess we just wait for D'Argo and the others to come rescue us.
[A pause; they exchange a panicky look]
Aeryn & John together: I'll deal with the environmentals/piloting.
Aeryn: Are you comfortable? Can I get you a pillow?
Staantz: You've got to be looking forward to seeing your son.
D'Argo: Yes. But when I do, I want to be able to look him in the eye.
Zhaan: You lost to Krceckic on purpose!?
Rygel: You think it was easy? He's an abominable player! A switched-off DRD would have given a better showing for itself! [off her look] Oh, please! Bluffing's what the game's all about.
Staantz: I'm lonely. Everybody needs a mate, Ka D'Argo. Even you.
John: A mate?
Staantz: I am the female of my species. You know that, don't you? In fact, false modesty aside, I'm considered quite the Zemetan beauty.
John: You know big guy, I think I better give you a little time alone here, because I know that in a universe this vast, when two hearts collide---
D'Argo: Shut up!
John: Anyway, one thing's for sure. It'll never, never happen again.
John: One thing. Just to be absolutely certain--- you are the female of your species, right? [Aeryn mock-glares at him as he starts to grin] I'll take that as a yes.
Massive giggling over many, many things this week. This is an episode where the timing makes it work; they packed so much in here, that if it had dragged at any point, it wouldn't have clicked. Fortunately that's not a problem with this show.
First off, I'm betting this is going to be known as the One With The Kiss for a long time to come. I was nearly incoherent watching this bit, trying to figure out whether I wanted to cheer that Aeryn and John's liplock was finally happening or boo-hisss that it was happening as a result of heat-of-the-moment! Close call, but I was cheering by the end. If they'd gone all weird and awkward afterward, I would've been peeved, but that is *not* the way the writers decided it would happen, so yay! It's too soon for John and Aeryn to be seriously involved, but this is nice groundwork for later. The pretty-but-cheesy "now we're gonna *kiss*" music made me laugh even while I was fanning myself; Claudia Black and Ben Browder have excellent chemistry. Loved the discussion of the possible afterlife and the teamwork in trying to save each other's lives, plus the silly bits between them. Super dramatic stuff, and an open door for more romance stuff. Kudos all around.
D'Argo's adventures with the garbologist ended up proving that D'Argo could give Duncan MacLeod from "Highlander" a run for his money in the angst sweepstakes. Which is saying something. (Give yourself a break, dude. No harm, no foul, 'kay?) Some of Anthony Simcoe's expressions here are simply priceless --- especially after he walks in on Crichton and Aeryn (oh, he knew what they'd been up to, bet on it) and during the hysterical "female of the species" conversation. Excuse me while I burst a spleen. (chortle!) Staantz and his bad teeth got on my nerves, although not as badly as he did on Perri's --- I appreciated the incinerated outer-space Cabbage Patch dolls and one or two other touches. I wouldn't be caught dead in Staantz's ship, although the Zemetans' is pretty snazzy; the graphics and F/X on the Flax worked well, and the Luxan ship looks cooooool. I also have to admit, that when Staantz said "mate", the Aussie accent made me think of 'g'day, mate' --- not the meaning that s/he was implying. So I was probably as stunned as D'Argo was for a second. Fun little extra touch.
Many, many cheers and much applause for my favorite evil person in the galaxy, Rygel XVI! I'm joining the Committee to free him today. Watching him use his evil powers for good was a trip, and while I was pretty sure he was using them for good, I wasn't positive about *how* until the very end. I was right there with Zhaan, wanting to kill him earlier (I was threatening to grab that little hockey stick and shove it through his ears sideways; man, can he be annoying!) but I wanted pat him on the head by the end. Our guest villain, the Zemetan captain, had a certain believable thug-like dangerousness to him, and Rygel knew exactly how to play to him in spite of it. Food cube!
Zhaan is acting jumpier. This never reassures me. Zhaan nervous = Kiki nervous. The threat level with her just doesn't go away, nope. And Moya's pregnancy sounds like it's not much fun for the crew right now. Plus, the Zemetan pirates gave a very plausible explanation for the Peacekeeper's contraceptive implant: can you imagine what she would have done to a crew who she was actively hostile toward, if she'd gotten pregnant while in custody? Yeeks. Inconvenient, *and* dangerous. Our guys had enough trouble, and Moya was probably only mad at them about Pilot's arm at the time. Any PKs who'd been on board during her conception period would have been toast. Pilot seems to be picking up even *more* attitude because of it, too; which I approve of.
Summing up: Rygel being his worst best self; D'Argo almost getting... uh, lucky? .. again; the Kiss, and all the cool angst-fear-hurt-comfort that led up to the Kiss and the giggles after it, making for another great if not ultra-intense ep.
Oh, dear. Someone's seen The Abyss lately. < G > Not that I'm complaining -- the 'one lifeboat' routine is a classic, and used really, really well here. Remember, children, the Red Cross offers CPR lessons -- you never know when you're going to need it. < snerk > All of the scenes of John and Aeryn on the pod were outstandingly well done, on damn near every level. Claudia Black and Ben Browder rocked (the chemistry between those two just keeps getting better), their performances in turn hilariously funny (I think Aeryn took driving instructor lessons from my mother; hi, Mom!) and quite heartwrenchingly angst-ridden. And need I say how much I loved the kiss, and the aftermath? And, as usual, John handles it perfectly -- making her laugh probably kept them from spending the next month actively avoiding each other from sheer embarrassment. And leaves the door open for those "Never"'s to become "Well... maybe"'s.
The rest of the ship came off well, too. D'Argo's fight to get a clue home versus saving John and Aeryn was obvious and poignant, and the interplay between the three of them when he finally arrives is high comedy -- no one's commenting on anything! I want to smack him soundly for taking so long to make an obvious decision (possible shot home versus certain death of two shipmates. Hello!?!), but I guess it wasn't so obvious to him. < sigh > Poor D'Argo. Meanwhile, Zhaan mostly gets to play hostess and yell at Rygel (her fuse is much shorter these days; either that, or Rygel is getting more annoying, which I don't think is possible). Pilot's few lines are delivered with attitude, our favorite way.
And Rygel? Rygel gets to be a hero. Not in any blood-flying, muscles pumping kind of way, but in his own sneaky, underhanded fashion. I had no clue he was actually allowing himself to get his butt kicked, and deliberately leaking that they had, infact, has Staanz aboard, but I was shrieking something about "give him the wrong frequency!" to Pilot -- little knowing that Rygel had beaten me to the punch! Self-preservation? Oh, certainly. But Rygel also knew he'd saved the day, and he was pretty smug about it. Hopefully, he'll like it enough to continue doing so.
I really, really wanted to hurt Staanz after the first ten seconds (and this is another neighborhood Mad Max has driven through, apparently) but he was an entertaining contrast to the usual crew, and the high moment of the ep? Staanz propositioning D'Argo as Crichton struggles to keep a straight face, D'Argo looks horrified and Aeryn, safely out of D'Argo's view, snickers herself to death in the background. Truly a lovely, unexpected twist played out beautifully!
Nice continuity, entertaining bad guys, nice concept (Flypaper in Space!). Definitely not the heaviest episode they've ever done, but it still falls somewhere higher than popcorn.
1.13 Rhapsody in Blue
|July 23, 1999
A faked distress call turns out to be coming not from a Leviathan in danger,
but from a Delvian religious sect in exile, seeking Zhaan. The members of
the temple wish to know Zhaan's secret in coping with the madness that the
search for spiritual enlightenment can often inflict on Delvians ---
especially their leader, the ambitious Tahleen. Memories and fantasies are
triggered by the priests in the other members of Moya's crew while Zhaan
struggles with her choice and its consequences --- and the possibility of
repeating the crime for which she was imprisoned.
John: It's a little early for a Starburst---
Rygel: Hail, Prince of the Obvious.
Rygel: I like my wives pregnant and my ships cold to the touch. That way my
feet stay warm and my sleep stays uninterrupted.
John: Wives, plural? (slaps Rygel's palm) Big fellaaaa!
John: That's my underwear!
Aeryn: What does this say?
Aeryn: Then it's not yours.
John: It's so perfect my teeth ache.
Aeryn: That's from all the sincerity.
Tahleen: Preoccupy them all as you would children! Attack them with their
own hopes and fears. (she leaves)
Hasko: Is that how you would treat your children, Lorana?
Zhaan: I do respect your teachings, Pa'u Tuzak.
Tuzak: And I respect your choice of murder victims.
John: The part of Tahleen in tonight's Unity will be played by John
John: It's like Disney on acid and ten years of great sex all at the same
John: This tree--- it's the center of your existence, right? Source of your
goodness, spiritual flame... Well, burn down the temple, sister, 'cuz you're
a bastard sect in any religion!
Zhaan: We all live at the precipice. We must all find our own way down.
Okay, I lied about the review going up fast. I could make some comparison here, about how Rhapsody starts out with a lie too, and how we totally intended this kind of symmetry --- but you're all too bright to buy that. (Or this sucking up routine. But hey, a girl's gotta try!)
"Zhaan and the Blue People," as John says, has got a lot going for it, including: another gripping villain in Tahleen, interesting guest performances from the other Delvians, some fun mind-messing with Crichton and the others (and Perri wins her bet that John was in a long-term relationship at some point. Collect those credits you laid out back during "Thank God It's Friday Again", partner) and finally, enough background on Zhaan for her character to make consistent sense. Plus some of the most gorgeous art direction and sets yet!
Zhaan's always been an enigma, and in recent weeks, she's become a riddle as well; a priest who was once savage, an on-the-edge fugitive who often helps others, someone who is just as likely to reach out and ease your pain as inflict it on you. Now, you can say "Dark Side" all you want, but the writers have finally given us the key to understanding what pushes and pulls Zhaan towards good *and* evil. She deeply loved her planet, her people, her father--- all of which were betrayed by someone she loved, someone she then betrayed in turn. Who hasn't wanted vengeance, especially for people we care about even more than ourselves? It's exactly that kind of emotion that can save a person or destroy them. I don't think anyone watching was shocked at Zhaan's crime, not after the hints we've been given; horrified, sure, surprised, no. Popcorn for the writers on this perfectly executed explanation!
What we saw of Alexandra through the prism of John's memories and Lorana's distortions isn't enough to tell us much about the real her, but what we get is both interesting and neat. Very smart, as ambitious as John, someone who promised to always be there for him who had to leave to pursue her own dreams. Not the happiest of endings, but a lot of relationships go this route. The really fun part of this is wondering what would it have been like if she had come with him: Would a co-pilot have helped John avoid the crash with Tauvo? Would Aeryn have been as likely to listen to two non-Peacekeepers during the prison break, if it had come to that, instead of just John? What would have happened at other times, if Alex had been there with John, instead of leaving him on his own? Stuff like this will probably keep Crichton awake at night for a while. A very nice acting turn by the guest actress as both Alex, Lorana, and Lorana-as-Alex. I didn't hate her at the end of the show, which was cool, even if she was warping John's brain, which wasn't.
D'Argo's dream/fear about Jothee is predictable, if fairly grim; seeing him again, only to have a Peacekeeper grab him, has to be one of his recurring nightmares. Rygel's shrinking like Alice gives you an insight into how he *hates* not having his stature match his image of himself; much as I love his little flying throne, he is pretty damn vulnerable to getting squashed. Aeryn's competency fears are predictable and almost Captain Kirk-like. She puts all her value on herself through her ability to *do* things, so of course she doesn't want to be stupid and helpless.
Two interesting points in the mind-clouding, though: Pilot doesn't ever fall victim to it, even when Moya does. So, is it a species thing, is he just not vulnerable to it? Or did the Delvians not sense him as a separate entity? And two: the only person on Moya besides Pilot who did not have a fun little memory-dream of the last person they loved was Aeryn. In Pilot's case, I'm not going to speculate. Maybe being with Moya *is* the equivalent of that for him. But Aeryn... has she never been in love? The more I see of the lack of PK culture --- no verbal metaphors, their apparent disinterest in culture or the arts, no afterlife myths, even little stuff like the way Aeryn's picking up on John's slang --- the more I think that she's just been emotionally starved in a *lot* of ways, and not just with regard to relationships. No wonder she went for John's "you can be more" in the premiere.
Tahleen is the flip side of what Zhaan could be, with the difference that all the good things that Zhaan wants to do in the wrong way, and usually for the right reasons, Tahleen wants to do just for herself. So she manages to entirely miss the point of what Zhaan learned the hard way: that you can't steal control, and you can't hijack experience, even through Unity, and that doing either just feeds what she's trying to avoid: bad craziness. ("Duh!" says Kiki, who saw Empire Strikes Back, unlike this chick, evidently.) Deeply creepy though, and she's just deferential enough that you *want* it to work out until she shreds Zhaan's brain. That red-eye effect gave me the shivers; a nicely bloody reminders of what's going on inside the victim of the madness. The actor playing Pa'u Tuzak does a good job of see-sawing between Cryptic Enlightened Guy and Not Playing in Our Reality, and I *really* wanted to kill Tahleen after she killed him. Horrible patricidal little wench. I hope she sees pink elephants and giant dancing weevils out of the corner of her eye for a long time to come as payback for that!
Lorana's defection and Hasko's getting fed up with Tahleen will have to do for now, though. That, and having John make like a landscape artist on the Unity Tree. Darn. Guess they'll have to get a new symbol. The visuals on Unity weren't as cool as I would have liked, but they were straightforward enough that the viewer wasn't confused; and the gorgeousness of the temple and the costumes made up for it. Tuzak's orchard was nicely creepy too --- a graveyard for hopes, with the temple in the background. I don't want to live in that Temple, but it would be really cool to wander through. As long as the inhabitants didn't notice me.
My only complaint -- and it's more of a comment than a complaint --- is that when we get mostly-Zhaan eps, they're always with her and John, or her and D'Argo. I want to see an episode with the some girl-bonding between Aeryn and Zhaan, okay? The only thing they have in common is their gender, the same way D'Argo and John don't have a lot in common outside of that. The two guys have reached a truce: I want to see the same with the two females, who've been short-changed on screen time together the most so far. Still, with these writers, doing such cool things with the characters, I think we'll eventually get it.
Yet another round of Fun With Mind Games, starring John Crichton. That man
gets his head messed with more often -- between him and D'Argo, they
should just set up a travelling sideshow. But at least I win my bet, John
did have a long-term relationship. I hate Alex on priciple, of course --
let me think, John versus different career.. John! Oy. He recovers in fine
form -- what Zhaan needs to learn from this guy isn't peace, it's when and
where to constructively lose your temper. And wasn't him chopping down that
damn Unity Tree a sight to see! And I adore that he took the time, as mad
and tired as he was, to reassure Lorana that there were no hard feelings on
his way out.
Zhaan's crime turns out to be, not unexpectedly, a mixture of truth and lies. Anarchy, indeed, that is generally what they call assassination. And her methods -- I'm with John, "you killed the guy you were having sex with?!" boggles my mind, too -- are more than a little questionable, whatever her motives. Which, admittedly, were considerable, and another check in the debit column against the Peacekeepers -- apparently they've made a habit of hiring out for political/theocratic coups. But still... Zhaan, dude, the praying mantis thing lacks class in a big way. Still, her motives in helping Taleen's sect were pure, if horribly midguided, and, with John's help (and weren't those lovely hurt/comfort scenes?), she did come through. So, this tenth level thing -- does that mean she's got control of her yuckier impulses back? Or that she's just stronger and able to do more damage along with the good? Time will tell, I suppose.
Wow, it's been a while since I wanted to do damage like I wanted to damage Taleen. Complete bitch, no redeeming virtues -- she may have started out wanted to help her people, but she wound up wanting to help herself. And her methods were uniformly sucky. :P Luckily, she chose her people well -- or poorly, for her purposes, since all of them appeared to be able to grow brains when necessary.
But what an incredible gift for low blows that merry little band showed. Hitting John with his lost girlfriend, D'Argo with his son, Aeryn with her Peacekeeper abilities -- although I admit to being amused at how they hit Rygel. < heroically repressing all size jokes >. I am curious as to why Pilot never got hit, although Moya obviously did. And did you notice Aeryn didn't actually answer about whether she'd dreamed? "I slept soundly" is not an answer. Or is it...?