2.21 Liars, Guns and Money 3: Plan B
||January 19, 2001
With John in Scorpius's hands, the crew and the mercenaries put everything they have into saving him. But even with help from an unexpected quarter, they may not get there in time to save John's sanity....
We're still calling the neural clone Harvey. Even if it isn't a Mel Brooks movie reference. |
John: Awright, Fronkenstein, let's get it on. Get your property out of my head.
Bekhesh: Nobody brought me here, I volunteered. I am the Holy Warrior of Taru!
D'Argo: < choke >
Scorpius: Try not to move so much. One flinch at the wrong time, and this will paralyze you.
John: It's kinda hard not to flinch here, Scorpy, with Frau Blucher tickling my prostate.
John: See, Flavius Scorpus here wants to visit foreign lands, meet foreign people and conquer them.
Scorpius: You overestimate me, John. I have no desire to dominate the universe. Know this: the wormhole technology in your brain could swing the balance of power. Imagine the ability to move an army in an instant. The power... to make hostile planets disappear.
Crais: There's always a reason for violence, Aeryn. Thousands of people die for the most virtuous reasons.
Aeryn: You don't have to lecture me.
Crais: I believe I do. You have lectured me, countless times. How long has Scorpius held Crichton?
Aeryn: Four aerns.
Crais: Then I recommend that you bring down a basket without any holes, so that Crichton's liquid remains are not lost. He's already dead.
John: Oh, don't stop now, Scorpy. Roll me over and baste the other side!
Rorf: What are you doing with that head?
Rygel: [gesturing with the Durka head] He's an old enemy. I like that he doesn't talk back.
D'Argo: Who did this to you? Who mutilated you?
Jothee: You did.... In a way, you've done everything that ever happened to me.
D'Argo: Jothee... son. I had to send you away, after your uncle accused me of murdering your mother---
Jothee: I'm not angry with you. But what's going on on the ship--- you don't expect me to help you save Crichton, do you?
D'Argo: I thought you would want to.
Jothee: Listen, I'm interested in saving myself. For ten cycles I've been running, trying to save myself.
D'Argo: I realize that, I want to know everything--
Jothee: [vehemently] No, no you don't want to know! Believe me, you don't want to know. I've done things. Things that I'm not proud of, to survive. I only just got my freedom back. I'm not going to risk losing it again... I don't want to shame you. But I'm not going back to that planet.
[Inside John's mind:]
Scorpius: When we reach my ship and I remove my neural clone, your death will be painless.
John: Screw this. [Scorpy stabs John in the neck, and Crichton falls to the ground, unable to move]
Aeryn: You can have anything you want, anything.
Crais: Aeryn Sun... are you offering yourself? Crichton, if he's alive, must mean a great deal to you.
Aeryn: Take what you want and I won't stop you.
Akkor: What if Crichton's worse, and won't be rescued?
Aeryn: Well, that's easy. I put a bullet in Crichton's head, and end it.
Natira: I've never seen Scorpius worry about anyone as much as you.
John: Don't be jealous, Frau Blucher. He only loves me for my mind. You should come in and visit.
Natira: Why would I ever want to go inside you?
John: So the Scorpy in my head can tell you how he's going to kill you.
Natira: Well, I can tell you--- you're about to taste blood. [whap!]
John: [flinches, recovers] Was that good for you?
Natira: Yessss. [licks her fingers]
[screeeeching as Moya descends]
Natira: What the frell is that?!
John:[smiling happily] That's Moya.
John: Whoa, do do do, what has Moya done here? You are so screwed, Medusa! I tell you what, you get me out of here, I'll help you stay ali-ive!
Aeryn: Good shot.
D'Argo: I was aiming for between his eyes.
Teurac: Good-bye, Zhaan. This is not your fault. I always knew it had to end like this... [BOOM!]
Scorpius: You'll never get away from me, John.
John: Go AWAY, Scorp-i-us!
Scorpius: Leave him, John. Leave him, and come to me.
John: Aeryn, umm... I'm gonna go to Scorpius.
Aeryn: Frell you are. [WHAP!]
Rygel: Mine mine mine! Can I have this? Can this be mine? We can all have anything we want now. Any food, any female, right? Right?
Crais: Talyn came to free Moya, himself.
Aeryn: You didn't command him?
Crais: No, he acted alone. As much as any of us would want, he has the instincts of a warrior and does exactly as he pleases.
Harvey: [echoing] John John John John...
John: Shhhhhh!... He's here. He's here, and he, um... he blames me. He blames me for killing Scorpius.... I been trying to, but, I can't....
D'Argo: You can't what, John? [grabs John's face, forcing him to focus on him, and painfully, John does, looking desperate]
John: D'Argo, kill me. D'Argo, please.... kill me.
You know, it used to be *easy* to write these reviews. It used to be, we'd whip them off, three, four at time. Even the harder ones wouldn't take more than an hour. But that was before we knew these characters so well, before we had so much emotion invested in a hypothetical happy ending for Moya and her crew, and before Justin Monjo and Tony Tilse decided to torture us. For fun. There are dolphins in the Pacific that know how heart-wrenching the end of the last episode was, because when one of the California Flunkies called me after this ep she could only articulate high-pitched meeping, audible only to bats and sea-going mammals. ("Really? Crichton's gone crazy? Oh, no! Flipper, what are they gonna do?")|
We *should* be celebrating now, shouldn't we? As Rygel oh-so-jovially pointed out, everyone's safe, they're rich, D'Argo has Jothee back, the Shadow Depository is no more, and Scorpy is at least under some rubble and delayed, if not dead (he's not dead. They wouldn't *dare* kill him where we couldn't watch. Although I'm beginning to wonder how many times they're gonna almost-kill him this year. Sheesh). But nooooo. Moya *is* still sick. And John... John's mental death-match with Harvey has gone ker-blooie, and he can't even concede the game. Wynonna was lying in the middle of the chessboard because John couldn't use her on himself. As if listening to him sing "Daisy" like the HAL2000 wasn't creepy enough, having him beg D'Argo to end it all pretty much left your Tour Guides in a non-verbal state. (Justin Monjo doesn't want us to survive the season finale. That's all there is to it. He wants us to *die*!)
You just know that this last episode of the season finale arc will leave the audience in little tiny bite-sized pieces of suspense, if John is the only problem they have to focus on. You know it. Why do we love this show? Why do we do this to ourselves? (Why? Anyone? Ideas?)
< sigh > So many reasons.... for instance: the explosions. Check out how many I had to reference above, in the Best Lines section, as Moya's crew took out large sections (and then the whole flaming totality) of the Depository. Lots and lots of collateral damage in this episode, more than we got to see in the destruction of the Gammak Base last year, since that sucker was blown from space. Sure we watch for character stuff, and funny lines, and cool scenery and costumes, but sci-fi would not be sci-fi without some horrendous fireballs and collapsing scenery. Candy to the F/X crew on an *excellent* job.
Of special note has to be the hallway black-out scene, done mostly from Aeryn's POV, of flashing lights and explosions illuminating the enemy while the music builds, and builds, and we'reallgonnadieIcantell and THEN--- they get through it without a scratch, and the enemy is obliterated. Original filming and very, very cool; Tony Tilse loves us. Yes, he does. That's why he gives us such *awesome* stuff to watch. Moya's dive-bombing of the depository ranks way up there as well, especially for Chiana's valkyrie war-cry of glee as the windows shatter and Natira cowers! Heheheh. Wonderful.
I don't love Natira. No one loves Natira, not Scorpy, not anyone. But she has moved up to the secondary ranking of Most Hated Diva with her sadistic eye-gobbling and lip-smacking never-ending gloating over our poor Hero. (I couldn't watch the bit with Rorg, I just.. I'm sorry, it was --- eeeep. This show has a thing about eyes. << shudder >> ) What a piece of work she is; maybe we can feed her to Rorg and the puppies, now that Rorf is gone. I do love that we have someone else to hate and look out for, now that Crais has (sorta) mellowed and Durka's dead, and the Nebari are busy. Gotta keep those Evil Villain numbers up, or we won't have anyone to chew on the scenery and keep it from growing out of control. Since she's just had her first Villainous Almost-Death, we can look forward to future sadistic weirdness with total security. Much applause to Claudia Karvan for making us hate her so fast (and okay, to Justin M., for making her such a wicked pleasure).
Of course the plan goes wrong in the middle, you knew it could *never* be so easy as land, grab, go! with this crowd. But they did a good job of giving each merc an individual, in-character death scene, no matter how short, that made all of this more meaningful and gave the regulars great stuff to work off --- especially Zhann, with her reactions to Teurac's death, and to Bekhesh's thank-you for helping him find the Way of Violence again.
No-one gets neglected on this show, not in the season finales. There are the above small smart bits from Virginia that almost get lost, along with Stark's manic planning and pretending-to-be nuts, in the larger picture. Chiana got to kill that double-crossing Akkor (and Gigi actually had me worried about her there for a second--- kudos), D'Argo got to angst and then go Mediaevel Klingon on the amassed might of the Depository, and Rygel... well, Rygel got to play with a Meat Puppet. A Muppet, with a puppet. I couldn't look at it directly but I was still giggling. (Leonard's comment: "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a DurkaPop?" << crunch >> "The world... may never know." Sick, sick, puppy, Leonard.)
Talyn and Crais returned! Which is never, ever a bad thing. For someone who never got any verbal lines, Talyn has gone through a *lot* of character development this year (and possibly puberty, as well, if that hammering-into-the-ground of the Depository is any indication of how his arsenal has grown). He's not the scared, confused little kid who ran away from home a year ago. He's almost grown-up, and he's got his own agenda, and the only thing you can count on is that he loves his mom. (Awwww.) Crais is even more ambiguous than he used to be. It's clear that he and Talyn are equal partners now, but how he feels about that remains murky, hedged about by his absolute pragmatism and need to never give anything (information, power, control) away. But he's not quite the outright villain he used to be. (Man, did you ever think you'd hear me say that? Things were so *simple* a year ago....) Would I trust him with anything I cared about? Hell no. Would I want him watching my back, if I'd made sure he'd only get paid *after* I got out alive? Count on it.
Jothee already shows signs of being an unpredictable, likable, and generally cool person. Bitter, adolescent, intense, just as loyal as his dad, and with what sounds like a long list of grievances piled up over the last ten years. I was wincing during the scene with D'Argo, and if I'm wincing, they're hitting the right buttons. Welcome aboard, kid. It only gets stranger from here.
Aeryn is just ... awesome. She and John have lost track of how many times they've saved each other's lives, but it's always enjoyable when a character looks at impossible odds and says, 'Hmm. Tricky. Where's my gun?' Not many women can simultaneously ride herd on the motley crew recruited here, offer themselves to a guy they despise (with a flat voice that only shows how badly Aeryn wants Crais's help) , all while hard-headedly facing the possibility that the guy they're doing it for might be too far gone to save. My fave bit has to be her knocking out a delusional John in the middle of the hallway, and the appalled/angry look on Scorpy's face when he realizes the connection is broken. I don't think he's going to underestimate her (or D'Argo, dragging John away) again. Officer Sun is a woman of action, not stupid words or plans; in a bad sitch, pinned down and trapped, she comes up with an alternative escape in 30 microts flat, and makes it work. Sometimes quick thinking and a cool head is all it takes to win. < sigh > If only the next phase were going to be that simple. Claudia Black was so tense, to such good effect, that I wanted to offer Aeryn a Valium... and I have a feeling OFex-Commando is going to need it next week.
John vs. Scorpy (with Harvey in the outfield) in a death-match... and I think John lost. Ow. Ow, ow. Ow! He was doing so well, snarking at Natira, negotiating his escape, protecting Rorf, resisting Scorpy down to the last... final ... inch...! But it was just never a fair match. Two on one is *cheating*. He could take Harvey, or Scorpy, but not both. < whimper > Ben Browder is far too good at portraying mental suffering for my peace of mind. Visceral vicarious emotional pain is horrible to empathize with, okay? What are we gonna do? What are they going to do? What... how... eeeeee!
42 hours. God help us. I *can* last that long. I can. Even without fingernails to type with.... but I'm really recommending that chocolate and Kleenex, campers. Your Tour Guide isn't psychic, but she doesn't have to be to know that we're standing on that last *huge* dive on the roller-coaster before we head into the darkened tunnel. Hang on and get ready to scream for your life.
First off, sorry for the delay in posting this review -- Real Life ganged up on me and I've had a helluva time escaping its evil clutches. And I've got the bruises to prove it! On the other hand, my bruises don't come close to those accumulated by our jolly crew. And can I just say what a huge surprise it is not that their 'plan' backfires so spectacularly? They pull off their raid through a combination of blind luck and sheer cussed stubbornness; the absolute refusal to give up can go a long way, fortunately.|
I'm actually very happy with the performance of our guest crew throughout -- the betrayal of the Zenetans goes a long way towards mitigating the string of 'coincidences' behind their recruitment, and they were dealt with handily. Tuerac gets to go out with style, which was why he signed on for this in the first place, as near as I can tell. Like many a member of other military species, he wanted to die with honor, actually fighting. He got his wish -- although his desire for that, when his ability to deliver was more than questionable, almost bolluxed up the whole plan, which would have screwed up the honor thing. Still, he came through, so he wins big posthumous points.
As does Rorf, actually; he makes no bones about being in this for the money, but he holds out against Natira and Scorpius longer than anyone could have been expected to. < shudder > What is it with these writers and eyes, people? Like we need this? And he's another one who dies valiantly, giving his life to try to save John, when he had no reason to other than sheer courage. Man, do I feel sorry for Rorg and those puppies, but they've sure as hell got good genes. Oddly enough, I do trust Bekesh to deliver her share of the spoils, though; he's turning out to be that kind of cool dude. Another one you really aren't going to trust further than you can throw him, but he'll probably do what you pay him to do. He's always had an odd kind of honor, even back when they were in the hostage business. I really hope he turns up again; he's turning into a character who is too interesting to lose.
The temp-to-perm crew members have a slightly less impressive showing. Stark needs to catch a grip of reality -- her overcomplicates everything. Luckily, D'Argo and Aeryn are aware of this; their 'plan' may not be subtle, but it has the virtue of much more simplicity, which if the best possible way to go with this lot. Actually, Stark is seriously beginning to work my nerves. :P As for Jothee, the kid in incredibly hard to read. I'm inclined to chalk him up as Bitter, rather than pissed or out for revenge, and I can understand his initial reluctance to have anything to do with the insanity that is Crichton's rescue. Which doesn't mean I wasn't disappointed in him, but.... I am sympathetic as hell. The boy needs therapy in the worst possible way, and having D'Argo desperately wanting him to be this perfect little Luxan son right off the bat isn't helping anything. Not that D'Argo's pushing all that much, he's being very well-behaved, actually. But the pressure just sort of glows off of him....
For everything else, of course, D'Argo is in his element; this kind of straight-up fight against overwhelming odds on a matter of honor is what the man lives for. He and Aeryn continue to be an unbeatable team throughout the assault; that classic scene of losing the Q'ualta's charge, and then throwing it just rocked. And everyone else backs them up to the limits of their abilities -- Rygel is a lousy pilot, but he gets the job done; Moya and Pilot are right in there playing distraction despite their crippling injuries (and Pilot delivering the news of the pirates' death was outstanding); Zhaan stays cool under pressure to lead her branch of the attack; aboard Moya, Chiana is cheering section and backup and I loved that warcry, too -- and wow, did the pirate captain regret underestimating our little girl!
Crais and Talyn are just messing with my head, now!!!! Obviously Crais is up to something, that's bloody obvious. I mean, when isn't he up to something? He equally obvious wants Aeryn, or wants something from her, and his methods are getting much more subtle. Combine that with Talyn's motives -- whatever they are, at least love of his mom is evidently hovering up near the top -- and there's just no way to tell which way these two are going to jump. Regardless of their motives though, both Crais and Talyn come through for the crew in the biggest way, and without any of the nasty aftertaste of their last 'rescue effort', way back in 'Mind the Baby'. And, I'm forced to admit with some embarrassment, the saner Crais gets... the more attractive he gets. There were more than a few moments during the Depository attack and destruction when he was standing all intense and focus and sane on Talyn's bridge, and Your Tour Guides were just going, "Yum!" And being very embarrassed about that moments later, but on a sheer biological imperatives level.... Man, there are some good genes in there. Strong, terrifyingly smart, and a survivor, if you could just winnow out the tendency towards, you know, going nuts under pressure. Lani seriously rocks throughout; his portrayal of Crais just keeps getting more and more complex.
And Aeryn.... We knew she cared about John, we've always known that. But we didn't know just how much she was willing to give up for him until that moment on Talyn's bridge when she offered herself to one of the two people she hates most in the world, on the off-chance that Crichton was still alive and could be rescued. She's a prime example of that obsessive persistence that I was talking about earlier; she decides early on that John is still alive, and that she will rescue him; everything else is just an obstacle to be gone around, or over, or through, if need be. And she was just as prepared to kill him when she found him, if it was the only way to save him -- something John himself wouldn't be able to do for her, I don't think. An enormously tough woman, being pushed to the absolute limits of her abilities -- then saying to hezmana with it and blowing right past those limits. Claudia's performance throughout is stunning.
The good news is that, when it comes to pathological persistence, Aeryn is matched by Crichton. Paralyzed, psychologically battered and raped, completely helpless, convinced he's going to die -- and surrender still never even occurs to him. With Harvey attacking him from the inside and Scorpius and Natira working him over from the outside, he's still working the angles, finding the weak link in Scorpius' operation -- Natira -- and playing her perfectly, from threatening her with Scorpius to playing off her panic at Moya's attack. He hangs in there until Aeryn and the rest come for him -- the question is, whether he's strong enough to continue fighting inside his head, when there's nothing they do for him? Evidence suggests this ain't gonna be pretty, and it's ain't gonna be fun.
Do I believe Scorpius is dead? Of course not; I believe I've stated TGUT's policy on Villain Deaths, Positive Proof Of, repeatedly. I want to see his head, and parade it around on a pulse rifle, like Rygel and his DurkaPop (Leonard, you really are sick, man). Come to that, I'd kinda like Natira's head on display, but not with the passion I want Scorpius's. Natira is merely a garden-variety psycho, way cool head tendrils aside (and props to the makeup and prosthetics departments for that little touch, by the way); she can be dealt with. Scorpius.... he's scary, and I want him a lot more dead that blown up off-camera before I'll believe he's dead.
Overall, the third part of LG&M is a triumph for everyone involved. Justin's writing is dead-on, Tony Tilse's direction keeps the torture and actions scenes moving seamlessly and breathlessly (that soldier burning in the background while everyone ignores him.... < shudder > Nice touch.); the FX and production crews come through in grand style, turning the Depository into a battleground worthy of the name (I'm going to repeat Kiki's kudos for the night-vision fight scene; visually stunning and damned hilarious). Moya's attack on the Depository, and Talyn's, for that matter, are things of absolute beauty; Your Tour Guides stood up and cheered right along with Chiana. And we wept when D'Argo tried to comfort John, and John begged him for death. < sob > And, of course, the season finale isn't going to do anything to make that better. So I'm just going to go cower in a corner of the tour station for a little while. In fact, I may just stay there until the season premiere....