2.9 Out of Their Minds
||July 7, 2000
|An attack by a Halosian ship has the crew switching bodies at random, making a dangerous situation... hysterical.|
|For the sake of this quote list, the quoted are listed by Personality/Body. Just so you know.|
John: Did you send the 'we're pathetic, so don't shoot us' message yet?
D'Argo: First thing.
John/Aeryn: Rygel, listen---
Rygel/John: I'm not listening to you, you're a figment! You're part of my imagination---
John/Aeryn: Oh, that's great! [smacks Rygel upside the head]
Rygel/John: That feels real.
John/Aeryn: It's the Three Freakin' Stooges, I'm hitting myself!
John/Aeryn: If this is some kind of sick experiment, I'm billing them for the therapy.
Rygel/John: Crichton, could you show me how to do this?
John/Aeryn: Oh my god...
Rygel/John: God, that is good! Yes, then I'll just put this away.... [ziiippp!] Ow! Yotz. Owww!
John/Aeryn: Put it away and be careful, Sparky. [death glares at his own body]
D'Argo/Pilot: I have memories of my son, of a wife... but you have seen the births of galaxies and the stars.
Pilot/Chiana: But I have no... no memories of love. Of friendship. None. You have the remarkable memories, D'Argo.
Chiana/D'Argo: What are you doing?
John/Aeryn: Oh, come on, man! They're here. They're right here. They've been here for a couple of aerns, and I just...
Aeryn/Rygel: You. Are. Mentally damaged.
John/Aeryn: No, I'm a guy! Guys dream about this sort of thing!
Aeryn/Rygel: I'll tell you one thing, Crichton. If I find you've been dreaming anything *else* in my body, I'll break your legs. Even if they are mine.
Rygel/John: Oh, that's allright, we do that sort of thing all the time here on Moya. I just peed in the maintenance bay.
Chiana/D'Argo: Do you know what you're doing, Crichton?
John/Aeryn: No, I have no idea, I'm making it up as I go.
John/Rygel: Yeah, Zhaan wants to hear it from you.
Rygel/Aeryn: I told you! You all think I'm paranoid, but it's true, no one ever frelling listens to me!
John/Rygel: Can it, furball!
Rygel/Aeryn: Great! now I'm getting yotz from my own body!
Rygel/Aeryn: Shoot the damn gun you blue-assed bitch! I'm sick of all this!
Aeryn/John: Yes, I'm sure, Zhaan. Just shoot it. Trust me. Everything will be all right. [gives her a thumbs-up]
Zhaan: If you say so, John.
Rygel/Aeryn: Disgusting. 'If you say so, John.' 'Trust me, it'll be allright.' And she believes it! Well yotz, if I said that, you'd all vomit!
John: Yotz, I'll just crawl back to my royal bedchamber, and... joke, Aeryn! I'm back.
Aeryn: You bastard! [immediately jumps on him]
Chiana: What? Why you lookin' at me like that?
D'Argo: It's nothing. It's just... My tonkas are sore. I was wondering what you were doing with them.
Chiana: Nothing! Have you been talking to Crichton?
D'Argo: No... I did want to say... I really, really enjoyed being inside your body. [off her look] No, oh, uh...! What I meant by that is that, uh...
Chiana: I know what you meant.
D'Argo: I, uh, I really like your body.
Chiana: You like my body? [smiles speculatively, and strolls away]
John: They say you have to walk a mile in someone's shoes to understand them.
Aeryn: Well, I certainly know what you were doing when you were in my shoes.
John: Gimme a break.
Aeryn: It's okay. It's okay, y'know? You were in my shoes, I was in your pants....
John: Excuse me?! [Aeryn grins evilly and starts to walk away] You!! [John makes a grab for her as we fade to black]
|It just doesn't get any sillier than this. God, I love this show.|
The whole body-switching schtick in scifi goes back to original Trek and probably earlier, and it's been done a dozen times since then to dramatic and comic effect. It's fun: walk a mile in someone else's shoes, see how much they chafe, and if you can rip a few tears in the seams. But this... this is just *nuts*. Mostly because Farscape maintains their record of never backing down, ever, so you get the full gross-out, weirdly sexual, bizarro results of having different minds in different bodies. I don't think the writers missed a trick here, and they've got talented enough actors to pull off just about every single riff they come up with. Every time I think they can't top the comedy on this show, they go one better.
Characterization is when you don't *need* to see the face of whoever is uttering a line to know who said it, and anyone who had the misfortune to channel Rygel proved this. Ben Browder and Claudia Black were having Too Much Fun. Rygel's gross enough in miniature, but put him in a normal-size body and the ick factor just doesn't stop rising. But his arrogance and frustration are even more memorable than his egregious realism--- of course he doesn't care if he's in a bigger, stronger body. It's not *his* body. That's what's important!
No one else on Moya has Pilot's detached, analytical, and yet still poignantly emotional take on his partnership with Moya. Not one line out of Gigi Edgley's mouth while she was playing Pilot could have been uttered by John, or Aeryn, or Zhaan. He is unique, and it's wonderful that a character that's usually portrayed by a Muppet and voiced by the man who plays *Crais* could be delineated so well that a 5'2" harlequin doll can play him equally convincingly. I firmly believe that given two more minutes, Zhaan would have realized who everyone was, and listened to Rygel--- but since we knew all the characters, we knew *exactly* why she wasn't listening to the Dominar, and wanted to know what John thought. Beautiful.
But I think that weird semi-seduction scene in the corridor is maybe the perfect example of what I'm talking about--- D'Argo would never, ever come on to anyone like that (and neither would Aeryn; Zhaan, well, maybe... but it's pretty unlikely). John would never stand still for it, from Chiana *or* anyone else. Two six-foot-plus actors enact an almost-lust scene between two completely different aliens, and because of excellent acting and blaster-fast writing, you buy it. Okay, you buy it while rolling on the floor laughing yourself sick, but... hey. It wouldn't be half as funny if we didn't know Chiana and Rygel so well, and if we couldn't see Chiana freaking out just like this, and Rygel being just this pig-headed. Plot-wise, the scene doesn't make perfect sense (would Chiana really want to run off with Rygel in John's body while she's stuck in D'Argo's? *Seriously*??) but again, who cares? You don't see us questioning the rest of the set-up, do you? Defense screen, offensive attack, whatever! Science, schmience. Don't bother me while I'm giggling.
For once, the B-plot with Zhaan on the Halosian ship managed to keep my interest too, because they stuffed in enough extra detail to keep you wondering exactly how the crew was going to get out of this one, and because Zhaan's character does her usual seamless flipping between concern and violence. Despite the worries about Talyn and the double-crossing vultures, nothing terribly surprising happened in this part of the story, but it was watchable and fun. And we've got that teasing bit of info about Crais and our wandering baby gunship to distract ourselves with; as usual, you end up questioning Crais's motives even when he's long gone.
Excellent little bits: Rygel finally getting his hands on John's boots while in Crichton's body, and alternately stuffing his face and being amusingly stiff and frustrated in Aeryn's. That one priceless, *guy* scene of John-in-Aeryn's body (Claudia Black is just ill. And we're so glad). Chiana's evident "experimentation" in D'Argo's body that she didn't want to talk about later. John and Aeryn's wonderfully warm and funny interaction at the end. Rygel's pouting every chance he gets (I almost said, awwww, poor Rygel. Then I remembered who I was talking about). John patting Chiana's shoulder while he's in Aeryn's body and Chi is in D'Argo's. And Pilot excitedly wanting to tell Moya *all* about his adventures while he was away from her.
This is one you have to rewatch just to catch everything--- and then rewatch again, because you can't believe they *did* some of this stuff. Bravo to everyone: the writer (brilliant work, Mr. Cassutt!), director (nice job, Ian), and every single actor, for taking advantage of being on cable in the best possible ways, and pushing the envelope until it breaks.
|Ohhhhh, dear. The writers have been snorting Coco Puff dust again, haven't they? < helpless giggling >While this ep doesn't quite achieve the free-flowing lunacy of Crackers Don't Matter, we're also not left with that nasty trauma hangover. Everyone recovers with sanity more or less intact, and we get to wander giggling off into the underbrush with John and Aeryn, and Chiana and D'Argo. All of whom get awarded the Michael Shanks "I Play My Castmates As Well as I Play Myself" Award for bodyswitching above and beyond the call of duty, by the way. I never thought I'd see anyone pull this off as well as the Shanksmeister periodically does on Stargate SG-1, but wow, does he now have competition.|
We start out right, with the funky voices to make it quite clear who is who [the nametags are a lovely and surreal touch (and at least as useful to the audience as to the characters, thank you; the actors probably needed them to keep it straight, too!)], and the insanity just takes off from there. It's not popcorn, though; they don't pull a single punch when it comes to the somewhat, um, down-and-dirty aspects of cross-gender and cross-species bodyswitching. The maintenance bay instruction scene alone is an instant classic (that took guts to do!)!
Claudia starts in on Crichton's body language instantly, doing the biting the thumb thing he always does, and never fumbles (except for the occasional lapse in accent, which is entirely forgivable given that she's an Australian trying to do a male Southern American). The physical traits and the phrasing are perfect; I particularly adore "It's the three freaking Stooges, I'm hitting myself!" And the checking-out-Aeryn's chest thing... I really thought they were going to chicken out. But they didn't and it was so wonderfully 'guy' that I stopped having any doubt that that wasn't Crichton in there. When she switches to Rygel, that first "Yotz!" is a treat, and she handles Rygel's physical traits wonderfully (although all of the gender switches are hampered by the male-female voice problems).
I think the vote goes to Ben as having the most fun this week. He's hysterical as Rygel, doing the backstabbing, self-centered, annoying little slug so well that, again, I never doubted who was really at home in that body. His scene in the corridor with Chiana-in-D'Argo (and don't get me started on that; some things I need therapy for) is a fantastic case in point; that level of menace is entirely believable coming from Rygel, but it takes a human actor to really do it justice. He's not nearly as entertaining as Aeryn, but in crisis mode, she and John are damn indistinguishable by anything other than slang and accent these days anyway. < snerk >
Rygel's team and Jonathan Hardy are badly hampered in playing Aeryn by the lack of body language available; they quite intelligently kept Rygel's body out of the action as much as possible, which wasn't great for Aeryn's character, in particular, but made suspension of disbelief lots easier. They did better as Crichton, when they didn't have to deal with the female aspect. The scene with Crichton, Rygel and Aeryn in each other's bodies, trying to explain everything to the entirely confused Zhaan, is truly hysterical.
Anthony Simcoe is too freaking hysterical as Chiana; her body language on a 7'1" Luxan is not only incredibly well-done, but utterly ridiculous. Definitely one of the best/worst juxtapositions of the switch, and Anthony carries it off beautifully.
Although not as beautifully as Chiana carries off Pilot -- the accent and phrasing never falter, she hits every physical note dead perfect, and the insight into Pilot's mental processes are wonderful, particularly the description of Pilot's interactions with Moya. His rising panic as he's separated from Moya, the inability to use Chiana's legs, the seizure as his mind tries to cope with a brain that was just not made for it, trying to comfort Chiana-in-D'Argo -- Gigi never misses a trick. Outstanding. She gets less time to be D'Argo, but is still eminently believable, if not quite as perfectly so as Pilot.
Lani really gets to be multiple personality boy this week, between a cameo as Crais, and playing D'Argo-in-Pilot and Chiana-in-Pilot. He's hampered, again, by the body language limitations of Pilot, but his D'Argo is damn near perfect. He and Gigi have a wonderful heart-to-heart comparing their situations -- the memory of love versus the contentment of Pilot's bond with Moya -- that made the question of who was in whose body entirely moot; it was simply Pilot and D'Argo, with anything physical completely irrelevant.
Chiana and D'Argo seem to be turning into a remarkably effective team, judging by how quickly they got to work on bringing up the Defense Screen. (And whose good idea was it to wait on fixing the damage until the next time they needed it, hmm?) And it looks like that other, ah, partnership is taking off faster than we anticipated. < giggle > D'Argo is so damn cute when he stutters. Almost as cute as Aeryn and John getting into that wrestling match when they get their bodies back, and Aeryn's revenge for the vest incident earlier. Those two have really gotten comfortable with each other, and it shows. UCSBDad commented a long time ago that, for all we know, John and Aeryn have been lovers since the pilot, and this makes me believe it could actually be possible.
Rygel is his usual obnoxious self, intent on getting back to his body and the hell with anything else. I can see why, though; we forget that Rygel does have a driving force beyond simply surviving, and getting home. He wants his throne back, he desperately wants Cousin Bishaan dead, and he's not going to let anything get in between himself and revenge. There's a dangerous man hiding inside Rygel, and I wouldn't want to be Bishaan if he ever gets him hands on him. Although that's hard to remember when he's having his little snit-fit about no one trusting him....
These guys don't need alarm clocks, do they? Another morning, another attack, and what was Zhaan thinking, heading out to negotiate in person? Geez, there are easier ways to commit suicide, dude. Like walking onto the ship and telling everyone they're unarmed and therefore sitting ducks. < groan > She is the most schizo person, dodging from total paranoia to complete naivete. Oy. I did like the dragon thingies (although I kept having The Dark Crystal flashbacks to the Skeksis), even thought I knew how that little Klingon promotion was going to play out. Any villains here were entirely irrelevant, since their entire point was to be the Convenient Plot Devices, but they were still three-dimensional on their own merits. And personally, I think there really is some hope for Crais and Talyn -- they didn't destroy the ship that attacked them, which suggests that Crais is learning some self-control. Cool.
An outstanding entry for the Farscape team; Ian Watson's direction is dead-on, and the actors have now proven that they've become the kind of ensemble shows dream of having.
2.10 My Three Crichtons
|Grant McAloon (teleplay); Gabrielle Stanton & Harry Werksman, Jr. (story)
||July 14, 2000
|A mysterious ball of energy invades Moya, leaving the crew with two additional Crichtons -- sort of -- and a deadline for sending one of them to die.|
|So, according to this ep, the human race has the potential to evolve into a bunch of self-serving Vulcans with enormous squishy frontal lobes, perfect teeth, no hair, lesser attributes (ahem), and really annoying drawls. I'm with Crichton: if that's the future, I'd rather be in a tar pit in LaBrea. Personally I think that if the human race *was* going to go that route, that we'd all die out before we got to the point where we didn't need orthodonists any more. Smarts and self-control are things that keep increasing as we learn more about ourselves and manage to get a better handle on our surroundings; but the one thing that's kept the human race in the game thus far is the fact that we're the most social species on the planet, and we prize self-sacrifice and bravery as highly as we prize good chocolate and free tickets to the Superbowl. (Well, that, and opposable thumbs.) |
Crichton's a perfect Exhibit A for this. His smarts and ability to "widen his perception" may have made him a valuable crew mate aboard Moya, but his sweetness and willingness to do the stupid, cool thing, often risking his life for his friends, are the reasons why the others care about him, and is in part why they care about each other. John came on as the one character without an ax to grind or an image to uphold in the UT, and he's the one that has often seen past the other characters' obnoxiousness and given them second chances. Which is part of why he has such a hard time dealing with the other two versions of himself; seeing all your worst qualities exaggerated, so you look as dumb as you sometimes feel, or as mean as you sometimes wish you could be, is enough to give anyone the creeps. He can't believe the best of either of these guys--- he knows himself too well, and John never gives *himself* a break, never mind CaveJohn or FutureBoy.
All philosophical muttering aside, this episode is light fun. Not as much fun as last week, even though it's based on a cliche just as old. The lack of extra zing has to be due to the lack of really top-notch character interaction. This ep just doesn't exploit all the possibilities of the set-up. All of the scenes between Chiana and CaveJohn are wonderful, and Chi shows an empathy for the underdog that she's never gotten to express before. He's not just a version of John, but a hurt, scared version of John, and that's what has her trying to protect and reassure him. But the script falls down after that.
Aeryn's annoyed interaction with FutureBoy is nice and believable, but not as interesting as it could be, given that she's dealing with a person who has most of what she consider John's most annoying qualities (know-it-all-ness, pushy-ness) in over-developed spades. D'Argo only deals with the real John, so we don't get his reaction to either of the others. Rygel is just being a pill again this week (and this is a trend I'm getting sick of; pretty soon I *will* be actively wanting them to space him, instead of just kind of wanting that). Zhaan is barely there at all! And Pilot's bit, while great for what it tells you about his feelings for Moya versus the rest of the crew, is limited to our John, again. Given another half hour, they could have really tweaked every single relationship here, and gotten in some good jokes about evolution of humanity but only the bare minimum gets addressed, so I ended up feeling mildly disappointed with this episode.
The best bits are John interacting with the other two versions of himself. Ben Browder goes to town on this, creating two completely separate guys starting from the same zero point as Crichton. But by the end of the hour, they're completely fleshed out and utterly different from the original. Plus, watching John's weirding-out about the other two, and the subtle similarities of thought between the three, is as much fun as cataloging the differences. The director gets kudos here for the figuring-out-the-DS bits, cutting back and forth between different Crichtons concentrating on the same thing at different rates and in different ways. Plus, that similiarity can fool you if you're not careful. Knowing Crichton the way we do, I was soooo sure that FutureBoy was going to sacrifice himself; but no! He's a jerk! He wasn't having angst about being a clone, he was just figuring out how to do in John and get a place for himself! Damn. It's worth it for that last confrontation with our John, though. They did a good job of nailing why Crichton is special, and it's got nothing to with brains. (It's called style, FutureBoy. Get some.) Meanwhile it turns out Chi was right about CaveJohn: he's a total sweetie. With a really good right hook. You know, the alien lab message never *said* the 'specimen' was going to die--- just that they needed one. It's not impossible CaveJohn is alive in some other dimension, interacting with another set of aliens... but maybe that's a thought we should save for another day.
Small perfect bits: John's take on everyone in the galaxy having his memories, and now his DNA; Aeryn defending and then taking care of John (not to mention her snarky comment to FutureBoy about why he *couldn't* be John); D'Argo backing John while they look for a solution; Chiana comforting John after the other two versions of him are gone. The F/X on the Green Jello Mold are cheesy, but enjoyable, and the frantic hurrying around and hooking up of the DS is nicely done--- although I hope they put that thing back in the closet for a few eps, since they've now hit saturation point of playing with that particular toy. Hook it up, don't hook it up, let it go! Sheesh. I *won't* inflict the anthropology lecture on all of you, about why it's unlikely that a version of humanity from 50,000 years in the future would look *that* different from us. It bugged me, but that wasn't the point. The point was to play My Evil Twin is a Vulcan Clone and My Good Twin is a Neanderthal, and see how far they could take it. Not quite far enough, it turns out, but they still got some good mileage out of it.
More soda pop than champagne, a medium-good entry with one or two classic bits, and hey: three Crichtons. You can't exactly object to that. At least not if you're me.
"Oh god, another critter." < giggle > That pretty much sums up this episode, which tries to be deeply philosophical, and, for some reason I can't quite pin down, doesn't get much beyond interesting. Which isn't bad, by any means, just... fluffy.|
I cannot give Ben Browder enough kudos -- the man was working his ass off in this episode (not that he isn't always, but still). All three of his characters were perfectly delineated -- admittedly the make-up helped, but I was unthreatened by Captain Cave-Crichton from the start, and hated Lizard Boy on sight. Our Crichton has been hanging out with D'Argo too long, by the way; once again, he's hating himself for not doing the right thing right away, but having to think about it. Yes, he did initially elect to take the easy way -- but in the end, he didn't. I really don't think he would have been able to go through with tossing CC-C into the cosmic Jell-O mold even if Chiana hadn't bought him time to think it through. Which is why we love him.
And why I hated Lizard Boy on sight. The split actually makes a certain amount of sense -- CC-C was pure instinct and emotions, and whenever John goes with those, he winds up doing what's right (not necessarily intelligent -- witness the Gammack Base invasion -- but right). While Lizard Boy didn't have any of those pesky emotions or morals; he could operate purely by logic and self-interest (not even the enlightened kind). Yeah, he's got a better shot at surviving. But no one around him does. LB was slime, southern accent aside (and how the hell did Ben manage that around the teeth?), and creeped me out all the more thoroughly because he and Crichton *were* so much alike -- John with all of his compassion and, well, humanity sucked out. Wow, I hope that's not the future of humanity -- I wouldn't mind a race of Crichtons, but a race of Lizard Boys would be, um, grounds for resignation from the human race.
Kudos, by the way, to whoever decided who was going to wear what. Our John gets the current outfit, the one that is who he's grown into in the Uncharted Territories. CC-C gets the orange flightsuit, the one John wore way back when he was the clueless pacifist we knew and loved first season. And LB wears the Peacekeeper uniform, the uniform of the cold, calculating enemy. Pretty cool.
And of *course* Chiana figures out who Captain Cave-Crichton is right off; she's one of the only ones not equipped to blast on sight, so she had *time* to figure it out. And she has a tendency to follow her instincts and her heart instead of trying to think things out. And we love her for it, like we love her for standing up to everyone else in the crew to do what she thought was right. She is really growing in leaps and bounds (although, if it had been Captain Cave-Aeryn, I doubt she would have been quite so enthusiastic), and her fervent belief in Crichton as a Good Guy (can we say, hero worship?) will probably get him through his current angst.
Only D'Argo would try to punch a floating ball of energy. But then, only Aeryn would try to shoot it. < rolling eyes at our favorite hotheads > Aside from that, though, everyone but the 3 Crichtons and Chiana get left in the dust; I would loved to have seen more of Aeryn's reactions to the various incarnations of her best friend/partner/fill-in-the-blank, you know? At last we got the little bit of insight into Moya (who doesn't want to sacrifice an innocent, which is *really* high-level thinking) and Pilot (who's not going to let anything happen to Moya).
And small, pesky plot points kept raising their head -- what, precisely, was the DS doing to keep them out of the, ah, 'gravity hole'? And why did the cosmic Jell-O mold toss the three sample out in the first place, when it wanted to keep one -- did Aeryn's blaster do that much damage? And why was everyone so sure that going into the Jell-O mold again would kill them? The technobabble of the episode was almost inpenetrable; like "Out of Their Minds", it existed just to set up the situation. Unlike OoTM, the A plot and character interaction just weren't strong enough to carry us past the plot holes. The only uncertainty in the episode was the ultimate fate of CC-C -- we knew he wouldn't hang around the ship, and we knew John wouldn't actually toss him back into the Cosmic Jell-O mold. Personally, I knew Lizard Boy was toast from the get-go -- not much suspense there.
Not that there wasn't some good character stuff. Chiana and CC-C were very cute, D'Argo stomping around looking for answers was fun, and I loved Aeryn cradling John when he gets thrown out of the Jell-O mold and not letting go, even when she's fussing over him in Zhaan's lab. And I love that, despite their closeness, John and Aeryn never *do* stop bickering over the merits of their respective ships (implied death threats aside, I really can't elevate it above bickering). I love even more that John immediately drops all loyalty to the poor Farscape the second a real threat arises.
Other highlights: lovely FX on Moya's evasive maneuvers, good makeup effects throughout, and they mentioned DK! Good continuity on that and mentioning Alex when Crichton was quizzing Lizard Boy about his past. Overall, this is not the best of Farscape, by any means, but it ain't bad. Pass the popcorn, please....