2.1 Mind the Baby
|March 17, 2000
Some time after John & D'Argo's bail-out from the transport pod, Aeryn has managed to find a hiding spot for the three of them in the asteroid belt. Moya (along with Chiana, Rygel, and Zhaan) is back in the asteroid field after an interesting adventure elsewhere; and Scorpius is still hanging out, scowling and searching. And did we forget to mention that Crais and Talyn are bonding splendidly in the near vicinity?
D'Argo: As John once said, I would rather go down in a swing!
John: Swinging. You want to go out swinging.
D'Argo: Oh, paper can not possibly beat rock.
John: It does, paper beats rock.
D'Argo: Rock rips through paper.
John: D'Argo, paper beats rock!
D'Argo: That's unrealistic!
John: Well, that's the rules! It's not supposed to be realistic, it's supposed to be entertaining.
D'Argo: My coma was more entertaining.
John: I have a question. How many times have we saved each other's lives?
Aeryn: I've lost count.
John: Safe to say more than once?
John: Right. And how many times have we been close?
Aeryn: [glances at D'Argo, looks away and whispers] Just the once.
John: No, no no no, not that kind of close.
Aeryn: Oh, friend-close! [much louder]
Aeryn: Uh, ummm, more than once....
John: Whatever our relationship is, we should be in a place where we can trust one another.
John: You want to have a mid-life crisis?! Fine. That, just... Ditch the firm, head off to Maui, shack up with a supermodel, but you do not get to keep the Porsche!
[Preparing to get killed:]
Chiana: It's been a thrill, Your Frogness.
Rygel: I hope your afterlife is almost as pleasant as mine.
Aeryn: Crichton said you were chanting. Um... Are you finished yet?
Zhaan: [making a bell across the room chime throughout the conversation] I'll never be finished. This is a different phase of the Seek.
Aeryn; Right. Well, I just wanted to see how you, uh....
Zhaan: I love you.
Aeryn: You what?
Zhaan: I love you.
Aeryn: Oh, yes, I did hear it the first time. And you know what, I, I... I--
Zhaan: I love all living beings. The Seek has re-opened my eyes to the wonder of the spirit. I am now going to devote my life to enlightenment.
Aeryn: Oh. Well, I think that's.... really selfish, actually. You know, before you bliss off completely into oblivion, you might want to have a little look around you. Because Moya and Talyn are in danger.
Zhaan: Worldly concerns do not interest me.
Aeryn: Oh really? Then don't give me any dren about how much you love me.
Zhaan: Love in its most rarefied sense.
Aeryn: Too rarefied for me. I'm just an ignorant warrior that believes love means you're willing to fight and die for your fellow living beings!
[As she leaves, Zhaan's chiming becomes discordant, and she stops in frustration]
John: Last time we stood here, we didn't say good-bye.
Aeryn: And it wasn't good-bye, as it turned out.
John: [twining his fingers with hers] Here's hoping history repeats itself.
Crais: The gunship is secure, and I am resigning my Peacekeeper commission, effective immediately.
Scorpius: Crais, cease this ridiculous nonsense.
Crais: As for Crichton--- he is dead. I killed him with my bare hands. My brother is avenged. Here ends my report-- Captain.
Scorpius: (snarling) Fire upon both Leviathans!
Aeryn: You do believe people can change, don't you? [John laughs a little. Aeryn looks at him] Well?
John: Well, you have. I have.... But Crais...?
First off, Chiana and Perri are related. Really. Our mutual friend Val pointed out that she's seen Perri do that pounce-hug when greeting people in airports. Perri's part Nebari. Who knew?
It's good to be back! Especially given some of the twisty twists and cool bits that kicked off this season. And this ep, while not one of the best, does get things going with a bang. But hey, it's a season premiere, they're never flawless, by their nature, coming back after two to three months of dead space.
While the excision of "Re: Union" from the airing schedule (the episode filmed prior to this one, which also occurs first chronologically) did leave me feeling like I walked in during the middle of the picture, at least it didn't take more than ten minutes to figure out where we were. Everyone's still alive, everyone's still free, everyone's still in danger (well, not Scorpius and the PK's, unfortunately), and Zhaan was evidently put on trial right before this, inspiring her attempts to re-start her Delvian Seek. Not that any of us expected anyone to die or anything, but it felt like only five minutes passed since last season.
Except for the machinations going on about Talyn's custody. Whatever maneuvers Crais pulled to get Aeryn to help him, it's clear that Talyn has the taste of your average four-year-old. At that age, most kids like Barney and think Mr. Rogers is *cool*. Much as I'd like to shake Talyn until his non-existent teeth rattle for making that choice, I can see that Crais, at least, was probably being more consistent (and reassuring, if not truthful) than Moya and Aeryn were. They had to think of John, D'Argo, and the rest of the crew, as well as Talyn---and sometimes they wouldn't have time to explain what was going on to him. Crais, playing both ends against the middle and getting dispensations from Aeryn and Scorpius, every hair in place and his sanity back where he can use it, simply had more time to get a grip on the kid's psyche. Sneaky, sneaky rat...
I also appreciated the heck out of that snarky good-bye to the PK's: Crais may have been down for a while, but he's definitely making the most of being on top now! I admire him, even as I want to squish him; he's done horrible things, but he's so blasted ambiguous, that even while he's playing mind games with D'Argo and Aeryn, I almost wonder if he's sincere. The creep.... Hopefully Crais will have bit off more than he can chew by becoming Talyn's Pilot. If Talyn doesn't realize what kind of person Crais is, there's still the possibility that the ex-PK could find himself a puppet on a very long string. Who do you think would win a fight for a tug-of-war on his neurons, hmm? Crais is older and more treacherous, but... Talyn is a lot bigger. And more stubborn. I plan on selling tickets for the first *real* fight these two have.
But I still feel bad for Moya. She really got a raw deal from the PK's with respect to her little boy. First they modify him, then they kidnap and alienate him--- and Moya has always struck me as a teenager, anyway. A lot of her behavior in this ep makes more sense if you think of it as a seventeen-year-old trying to convince their kid that they know what's best for them, and doing it all wrong. And Pilot's trying so hard to play reassuring daddy, even while figuratively throwing up his hands and knowing he can't stop her from overreacting. Poor Mommy Moya.
Despite not knowing what happened to Zhaan in "Re:Union" exactly, it's clear that it was upsetting or intense enough to kick her back into priest mode at a very bad time. Both scenes with John and Aeryn were very, very funny, and in Aeryn's case, very pointy. I respect where Zhaan's going with that spiritual quest, but I'm also *quite* glad that she snapped out of it by the end. Zhaan chanting is no use to anyone but herself, while Zhaan kicking butt and being diplomatic is much, much more fun for all concerned.
Not a lot going on with Rygel and Chiana and D'Argo, but what little there was, was fun. Loved Rygel's little asthma attack at John and D'Argo's return, and that gravity-defying hug of Chiana's was priceless. My fave bit might be that "we who are about to die salute you" fatalism right before the Prowler docks. Those two facing death aren't any less themselves: still snarky, cynical and funny. < snerk > D'Argo swings between sweet (with Zhaan and Aeryn), cynical (with Crais) and just hysterical (any moment when he's bored or John's in the vicinity). Doesn't look like the break made any dent in the cast's chemistry, which is considerable. Yay.
Sooooooo... John and Aeryn have been 'close', have they? Which 'close' was she referring to? The close in "The Flax", or the close in "A Human Reaction"? Does this answer the question of did they or didn't they, back on the false Earth? Does it matter? Probably not. The sweet hand-holding when they *didn't* say goodbye, and the hugging and hair-tangling at the end of the ep, are more typical of their relationship right now than anything else they may have done. They're friends; best friends, even. They do trust each other, bad moments when they have to lie to save one another's skin aside. But it's wonderful to finally see them admit it to themselves and each other. Aeryn especially, although they're getting close enough to equal in the communications department that I expect John to back off any second now.
Thank you, O writers of Farscape, for *never* going the typical route with these two; and thank you, Claudia Black and Ben Browder for having lovely chemistry and being so believable together. Perri covered everything else these two actors did in the ep already, so let's just say: welcome back! We missed you.
Other, small fun bits dropped into the mix of this ep: D'Argo unable to play R-S-P by himself (*snerk*), and using John's slang (Crichton's a really bad influence on everyone, you notice that?). John's fuse getting shorter and shorter with Crais, until I was sure he was going to shoot him, good idea or not, as he and Aeryn were about to leave. The DRD bonking (bonk! bonk! bonk!) Crais on the head when John dropped him in the maintenance bay. Scorpius's little Energizer ear-batteries, and the "oops" look on the face of the guy interrupting his maintenance (sort of like seeing your boss floss his teeth; eeeyuuch and whoa, don't fire me!). The awesome F/X on Talyn's Starburst.
It might be a rocky start, but there's enough hooks in it to power half the rest of the season--- and while the plot can hit a few snags, the actors and dialogue never stumble. < happy sigh > And still my favorite thing to watch while munching popcorn! So I'm settling in and letting the crew take me wherever Season 2 goes.
A trippy beginning to a new season, and I'm not entirely sure I approve. The whole in medias res thing gave me brainsprain in the first five minutes, trying to figure out who was dreaming, who was double-dealing whom and just what the hell we'd missed (not to mention the mental whiplash from the stuff we missed in Re: Union -- Zhaan's trial?!?). And the pacing never really settled back down, as four million things happened in space that would only have fit about two million comfortably. Which is not to say that the episode wasn't worth the wait. In the frantic rush of the premiere, we still got quite a few of the moments I was praying for (Chiana's welcoming hug, Rygel hyperventilating, D'Argo and John playing Rock, Paper, Scissors) and even more moments that made me scream (damn it, Talyn....). But it would have worked better (god help us) as another two-parter.
I really felt for Aeryn through the entire episode. Okay, no, I actually spent a lot of time yelling at her and Monday-morning quarterbacking. But I eventually had to sympathize -- she thought she was doing what she had to to help the boys and, particularly, Talyn. She was forced over and over to make decisions that she knew were bad -- decisions that broke her heart -- but every single alternative she was given was worse. And she's going to be killing herself with guilt for long enough that I no longer feel any inclination to add to it. Claudia Black delivered one of her best performances yet; Aeryn was by turns strong, conflicted, terrified, and horribly vulnerable, and occasionally all of the above simultaneously.
Actually, the guilt about Talyn can be spread pretty far and wide here. If Rygel hadn't brought Crais on-board; if everyone on Moya had kept Crais' butt in a cell in the first place; if Aeryn hadn't made the deal with Crais; if the boys hadn't gone off half-cocked, D'Argo hadn't knocked Aeryn out, and John hadn't kidnapped Crais alone, without leaving Aeryn there to reassure Talyn.... < sigh > The mistakes just kept mounting up, resulting in baby Talyn only finding one solid, reliable thing to depend on -- that happened to be the worst possibly thing for him to depend on. I hold out hope that Talyn will discover better taste, that he'll come back to his mother and Auntie Aeryn... but I'm not holding my breath. Poor Moya. She and Pilot are not going to be happy campers for a long time, and I don't blame Moya one bit. < sigh >
I hate Crais. I hate him completely and desperately. I'm going to find a truly creative way to kill him and daydream about carrying it out. He must die. That said, you almost have to admire the guy. He was in an impossible situation aboard his own ship (which was entirely his own fault, admittedly), and played the only card he had left. And the sneaky bastard pulled it off. He has his own ship, a ship which cannot be taken from him by anything short of death, he is free from the Peacekeepers and none of Moya's crew got to kill him. The question now, is -- will that neural link teach Talyn about what his friend really is? Will Talyn learn to be like Crais, looking out for Number One at all costs? Or will Crais learn to care about someone other than himself? We know he's capable of it at some level (witness Tauvo), and maybe he really will treat Talyn well, despite Aeryn's fears.
And I've got this oceanfront property on Dambada to sell you. :P
John was just being excessively Southern this week, and I'm not only talking about the cute way his accent came in and out. He went redneck on us, doing his little 'let's kidnap Crais' without bothering to think about the consequences, and didn't really calm down until Chiana hugged him. < groan > But he also was great with Aeryn; letting her go with Crais almost killed him, but he did it, for Talyn's sake -- that's the human we know and love. But he also delivered that threat to Crais with real, serious, believable menace that the human we first met could never have pulled off. Ben Browder continues to do an incredible job of developing John's character (although he was a tad over the top here and there, mostly when in the same room with Crais). And do I really have to comment on how much I loved his cradling Aeryn in the tag? John's right, Aeryn had changed -- she would never have accepted that comfort -- giving or receiving before. A very cool, very understated scene that was a great way to end it.
Chiana was just wonderful welcoming John back, perfectly paranoid, then perfectly thrilled to see her best friend back onboard and alive. Gotta find out more about that Xena leap (was that cheesy or what?), but I didn't care since it was so cool to see her jump John (and Val and Kiki can just shut up. I couldn't jump that high on my best day! :P). Poor kid -- even without seeing Re: Union, I can be pretty sure that she's had one hell of a bad few days, and that she's been essentially keeping everything in Moya working for most of that time (although it looks like Rygel may have been slightly more help than one would expect). At least she's got her family back.
D'Argo, you can't play R, P, S alone, dear. And don't have conversations with Crais -- he specializes in the art of messing with your head. But you're very sweet (when you're not stupidly knocking Aeryn out) and we're very glad you're alive and compos menti this time around.
As opposed to Zhaan, who was really living in her own little world. Grrr... I was giggling when she was refusing to believe in John's reality, but I still wanted to smack the hell out of her. I sympathize, Believe me, but retreating from reality is not how we deal with it when people's lives are at stake, chica. But she figured it out, and it sounds like Virginia needed the break after Re: Union. Rygel also got short-shrift, but the little slug was so really and truly glad to see them he couldn't breathe! How cool! And he agreed with Chiana that they couldn't abandon Moya -- what a change from Through the Looking Glass. There is hope for His Lowness yet....
A strange, disjointed start to the season, but with enough outstanding moments and scream-worthy shocks that I'm not going to complain... much. And I've got four more words to add to my list of 'Most Comforting Thing to Hear Anyone Say' -- "Prepare for immediate Starburst." Hang on to your seats, boys and girls... we're ba-ack!
2.2 Vitas Mortis
|March 24, 2000
When a Luxan holy woman asks D'Argo to help her complete a death ritual, her surprise rejuvenation has destructive effects on Moya which only desperate measures can reverse.
D'Argo: This is *not* a trading expedition.
Rygel: Oh, I understand. This is one of your countrymen. You don't want to sully your relationship with commerce. Let me do that.
John: D'Argo... he might be a while. He's--- revitalizing.
Aeryn: Wonder if I've got any grenades left?
Chiana: She's kidding, right? Tell me that she was kidding.
John: Well, with Aeryn... you never know.
Chiana: (giggly) Y'know, until today, I never really realized how much I loved my feet.
Why did the translator microbes shut off when D'Argo and Nilaam started the Death Ritual? Aside from just sounding cooler in Luxan, there didn't seem to be a reason for the meaning behind the words to cut out just then. It could be: an older version of the language, one of those cultural things that doesn't translate, or a focusing chant, without any specific meaning. Whatever the reason, it's one more for the Microbe Follies Files.
And what was up with all of the linkages happening? D'Argo is apparently linked some way to Moya (or Nilaam's psychic aim was just really bad), and Chiana did a quick-cut double-take when the ritual kicked into gear -- was she sensing something happening to D'Argo? Or is she also linked to Moya (and if so, is everyone in the crew linked)? Or did her feet just freeze that fast? Enquiring minds want to know....
We're off to see the wizard(ess?)... at least that's the impression you get from the opening shot of that gorgeous fortress with the clouds whipping by. "Vitas Mortis" is a pretty good ep, as Perri points out below, but it's nothing we haven't seen before, except in execution and style. Fortunately there's more than enough of both to go around. (And yes, we are grateful that Vitas Mortis - Living Death, approximately - doesn't have anything to do with Sebacean Heat Death!).
A lot of small fun things were slid into this plot --- like the details about D'Argo's impersonation of a General, which clears up a lot of the early contradictory information we got on that score. Somehow, I can *completely* see him volunteering to take his CO's place when they were captured, then being almost disappointed not to suffer the interrogation he expected. Taking on those tattoos seems to have left him with a lingering feeling of falseness about himself, one which probably wasn't made any easier when he left his people to go with Lo'laan.
D'Argo has no idea where his son is: he must have entrusted Jothee to someone he could ask to keep him safe, and now he hasn't a clue where to start looking for his son. Add this week's romance-gone-wrong plot on top of all that, and we once again see why D'Argo is Moya's King of Angst. < sigh > Which would almost be funny, or at least mock-worthy, if Anthony Simcoe weren't doing such an excellent job of making D'Argo's pain about having to harm Nilaam so real. I hate seeing the big guy cry, y'know?
Even though we didn't get any details about why Nilaam *was* that far away from the Luxan homeworld, I never doubted that she was who she claimed to be - which I attribute to both the talented actresses and an uncluttered script. This story was about how much dealing with Nilaam's necessary death would effect D'Argo and the others, nothing else. John and D'Argo get more like real brothers every day--- all John has to do is tell D'Argo what a bad idea something is, and the big guy thinks he has to do it. At least that standoff near the end cooled off to a nice stand-down without any more macho posing. They *do* learn from each other. (Eventually.)
Luxan rituals are a tad grittier than the Delvian ones, aren't they? More swords. More guts being re-arranged. More incomprehensible chanting. More black blood dripping to the floor --- that last shot of the blood drop exploding was both beautiful and effective. Not to mention that ice-cube effect on Aeryn and John, when they tried to interfere. I'm with John, here --- given his experience with Maldis and Tahleen, and now Nilaam, I can't blame him for being nervous about spiritual realms in the Uncharted Territories. So far everything we've seen kind of makes you miss easy Earth religions like fire-walking or televangelism.
The art design for all things Luxan is astoundingly detailed and gorgeous, and I envy Nilaam her interior decorator. Really. Plus, they gave us more about Moya's interior with that shot of the laundry and the cool screwdriver-down-the-hole shot. Okay, so, I didn't see an agitator in that wash basin either--- but maybe Chiana was just doing D'Argo's delicates. You could always hang them out to dry in some hot air vent, I'm sure....
Aeryn's attempt to skate on the laundry detail is a good reminder that she may have mellowed a bit, but that her arrogance still goes clear to the bone. A better (or at least, better-motivated) use for that arrogance comes up in her attempt to protect Pilot and Moya, and her willingness to use force against a shipmate to do it. Her priorities are still ship first, crewmates second -- with John see-sawing in between depending on her mood. D'Argo seems to understand this perfectly, so hopefully he'll apologize enough to keep her from killing him on sight when he gets back.
Now, was it just me, or was Chiana looking --- jealous, about D'Argo and Nilaam? Or was that a sisterly/daughterly worry going on there? Whatever it was, she was *so* much less than happy to see Nilaam on board. If her feet hadn't been glued to the laundry, I think she would've gone for the Orrican's throat. < g > Nicely subtle work from Gigi Edgley, and something I didn't expect; I'm looking forward to seeing where they take this.
The scenes of Pilot aging were just *disturbing* -- and more so, once we learned what he gave up to be bonded with Moya. Granted, he and Moya will probably outlive everyone on board, except Zhaan --- but Pilot always comes across as so vulnerable in his position as majordomo, that you hate to see anything threaten him. Lucky thing he has Aeryn looking out for his interests.
Zhaan has next to nothing to do, except model some gorgeous jewelry and a silly turtleneck. I would have liked some reaction to the situation with Nilaam from her, too, but Zhaan's priestly identification with her short-circuits any consideration of that angle. Rygel's had a makeover too, and his range of expression seems to have expanded as much as has been promised. (Then again, your range would expand too if someone used you as a hull plug! ) D'Argo got a tan. John's hair is --- a little scary. But maybe he just ran out of conditioner this week.
So, a slower-paced ep with lovely art design and F/X, and some intriguing character bits for all concerned. Even when we're seeing a simpler plot, they're doing a great job of creating their universe around the action. This is one to watch on slow-speed for the background details, and to wish that Home Shopping Network would start selling the jewelry collection from it.
New clothes for everyone! < g > Okay, maybe not the most important point of the episode, but wasn't the wardrobe rockin'? Loved D'Argo's cape and Zhaan's robe/collar combo (although I gotta go with Kiks on the turtleneck; that's alittle strange); I also liked Aeryn's new leather outfit, and I'm sure the guys appreciated it too, hmmm, UCSBDad? But John's new jacket, not to mention the long coat and gloves thing (did the man raid Crais' wardrobe or what?) are going to take some getting used to, and whoever was wielding the mousse in Ben Browder's direction must be stopped!
But this ep was about a lot more than clothes. D'Argo's luck with women continues to suck DRDs through a twisty straw. He gets more action than anyone on the show (unless John and Aeryn do have something going on they're not telling us about), and every single one ends... badly. (We're gonna put this guy in the Gabrielle Club of Black Widows -- the motto is "Sleep with us and die".) But seriously, it's impossible not to watch D'Argo and truly, sincerely feel for the guy. The first encounter with someone truly of his race, someone of a class he deeply respects and he's asked to perform something that's a great honor. Heady stuff; even if it does risk his life, it's a small price to pay for the connection to his own people. Then, he gets a miracle, and said old hag turns into young, insatiable hottie. He doesn't have to be alone anymore, he can be with someone of his kind -- and he has to give Moya's and Pilot's lives and the lives of his crewmates to keep it. And the thought of doing just that never even crosses his mind. In the end, he has to sacrifice his home once again to save his friends... and does it without a whimper, although no one watching him slumped in that chair, next to Nilaam's body, could doubt just how much doing it cost him.
And along the way, he lies his ass off to keep Chiana from worrying, which may have been the sweetest part of the episode. On the other hand, I could have lived without seeing quite that much about Luxan sex -- too much information, guys, in big, big ways! < eg >
John's attitude problem is returning in full force; he spends the entire episode being either loudly or quietly intense in D'Argo's general direction. Which is entirely understandable; John has lost an awful lot of people in his life lately, and come damned close to losing most of the rest. When D'Argo's life is threatened, followed by Moya's, it's not surprising that he starts losing it. Which is not to say that he's out of control -- he usually manages to keep his worry in check, does a lovely job of giving D'Argo the pep talk early on, and makes it obvious throughout that his only interest is in the well-being of his friends. Which is not to say that I didn't want to throw a bucket of water over his head and tell him to "Chill!'" upon occasion....
Nilaam is a deeply cool character as an old witch, and doesn't lose much as a young chick. Her conversation with John about the ritual is perfect -- deeply honest, very straightforward, both of them coming away with a reluctant respect for the other. As Young Chick (the actresses did this seamlessly, by the way; I didn't know it was two different actresses until I checked the credits), she's sexy and silly at first, but makes the transition back to Wise Woman in Young Body very nicely. I was fully prepared for the angsty "chick is evil and D'Argo must kill her for the good of his friends" plot, and she pleasantly surprised me by choosing to give it up instead of holding on to her youth. One helluva lady -- if nothing else, D'Argo's taste is improving. But did anyone else want to belt her for trying the damned "Ceremony of Renewal" in the first place? Sheesh....
Aeryn, Aeryn, Aeryn.... Chiana's not your servant, sweetie -- you got everything you deserved for treating her as such. Sometimes the woman's Peacekeeper roots are not very far beneath the surface, ya know? But at least the everlasting question of "How are they doing the laundry?" is finally answered. < g > And Chiana is lots of fun trapped in the frozen fluid, almost as much fun as Rygel with his backside hanging out in space. < giggle > Have you noticed these two are getting into trouble together more often than not these days? Pilot wasn't having a fun day at all, natch -- and it sheds even more light on that whole "life of service thing" to know he cut his lifespan to one-third by choosing to bond to Moya. Guess he thinks the trip will be worth it; I hope it is.
A good episode, nicely balanced between the silly and the sober. The pacing has settled down from last week's headlong rush, and Anthony Simcoe is, as usual, absolutely wonderful when given his chance in the spotlight. And if the plot is one that's been done before in many variations, it was done well, molded nicely into the Farscape universe.