2.15 Won't Get Fooled Again
|August 18, 2000
John's back on Earth again somehow--- well, Bizarro Earth. Or is it? Maybe he's just having that big psychotic breakdown we've all been waiting for. Or, maybe not...
[For those of you who forgot:
Aeryn = Dr. Bettina Lovechild
D'Argo = Gary Ragle, astronaut
Zhaan = Dr. Jean Kaminsky
Chiana = Jessica the groupie
Bialar Crais = Officer Crais
Rygel = Douglas Logan, IASA big-wig
Scorpius = Ringo the drumplayer. Hell on the skins.]
John: And you are a psychiatrist?
Dr. Jean: Mm-hmm.
John: Don't think so. On Earth, psychiatrists don't come in blue.
Dr. Jean: Do you have a problem with people of color?
John: I have a contextual problem. You're an alien.
Dr. Jean: Yes, that's true. But I do have a green card.
John: Interesting. Are you or are you not, blue?
Dr. Jean: Would it matter to you if I was?
John: Do you always answer a question with a question?
Dr. Jean:Does that bother you?
John: Stop it! Facts. You're a Delvian. A plant. 10th Level Pa'u. We shared Unity once.
Dr. Jean:'Shared Unity.' Interesting euphemism. No, Mr. Crichton, you and I have never had sex. I'm sure I'd remember it if we had.
John: Delvians. Mmm, yeah, Occam's Razor. Tahleen and her wacky bunch. 'Come out come out, wherever you are, and see the young man that fell from a star!'
Dr. Jean: Lian, cancel my three o'clock appointment. In fact, cancel the rest of my day.
John: You know that guy?
John: 'Kay, Ragle, has tentacles.
John: He looks normal to you?
D.K.:It's a lifestyle choice. Anyway his looks are the least of his problems, the guy's a jerk.
John: Beer? Keys.
Gary R.: My friend you have to learn. There is *always* --- time for beer!
John: Gary Ragle! Meet! Dr.! Bettina! Lovechild!
Bettina: Hi! [Bettina settles in and smooches Gary enthusiastically]
John: [somewhat stunned] You two know each other?
Gary: Never met before.
John:Strange. I miss Moya. A shipful of aliens becomes so normal...
Douglas Logan: Who the hell are you talking to?!
John: Oh, not you. You're not real. Mr. D. Logan.
John: So that's the play. The play, the play, the play is the thing. I re-enact my original mission. I show you how, I create the giant blue twister that sucks me down to Oz--- [plays with the model Farscape 1] aaggghhhhhhhhhh! Forget about it. Don't know how I did it.
John: The guy, the guy, the guy's a two-foot green slug on a golf cart!
Jack: What does a man's disability have to do with anything?
John: What? It ain't real. They made you up out of my memories! It's just annoying that you're reacting exactly like I thought you would. Look at you, D.K., you're crapping yourself because you think you're going to lose your job. And Dad, you're just pissed off that I'm not playing the game your way. It is *annoying*. Go away. Go home. Shoo!
Jessica: You're an astronaut too? Ooo. I like astronauts.
John: You're an astronaut groupie?
John: That so works for me.
John: Life sucks, nothing matters, let's parrrrtyyyy!
Gary: I am *so* there!
John's Mom (Leslie Crichton): Stay with me this time... be with me when I go?
John: No please, just... please... Oh, God, no... no, this is cruel... this is cruel....
Leslie: I need you. With me, please...
John: Please don't, don't do this to me... DON'T DO THIS TO ME!
Officer Crais: [Standing in front of Crichton with a cute little white Yorkie tucked under his arm] Have you any idea how much trouble you're in?
John:Yeah. Do you?
Officer Crais: I like your style, hombre. But this is no laughing matter. Assault on a police officer. Theft of police property. Illegal possession of a firearm. Five counts of attempted murder. That comes to--- $29.40! Cash, check or credit card? [hands off the citation] Toto! [walks out the door with his little dog, too]
John:This thing has gone completely off the rails. [Crumples the ticket] Or maybe I have.
Scorpius: The Scarrans aren't trying to fool you, John. They're trying to break you. This is a deliberate attempt to drive you into insanity, and it is working. Your mind is about to crack. And I can't allow that. I was here first.
John: [chortling] You're Harvey! Or is it Clarence? Hmm, guardian angel, invisible rabbit... Harvey... hmmm--- Harvey!
Zhaan: Admit it, you've had sexual thoughts about all of us. Haven't you?
John: Not me.
Chiana: Oh come on. You're a male!
Zhaan: It's just the way you are wired.
Aeryn: Nothing to be ashamed of, not when females are willing.
Zhaan: Nothing to be ashamed of, boss.
Aeryn: I'm a doctor. Just relax.
Zhaan: I can wear a Freudian slip!
Aeryn: I found new places to take your temperature.
Chiana: I can teach you left and teen tat-latao torture!
Rygel: [wearing a truly disturbing leather bondage outfit] All you bitches get out of here! Crichton is mine! [gets out a whip, snaps it as he yells] This is for calling me Sparky! This is for calling me Fluffy! And this is for Buckwheat, whatever that means!
Officer Crais: Freeze! You're under arrest! [points a gun at John; for some reason, he's wearing red pumps] You have the right to the remainder of the day to find an attorney. If you can't find one, then tough noogies! You can make one phone call! I recommend 976-triple 5-LUV! Do you understand these rights as I have explained them to you? Well, do you, punk!?
Officer Crais: Then I can't arrest you! [WHAP!]
D'Argo: [lisping effeminately, and with many fluffy hand gestures] John, I just really feel the need to unburden myself on you.
D'Argo:Well. Lately, I have been thinking about you in a very different way.
John: [stunned] Uh-hunh.
D'Argo:Well, I was wondering if you wouldn't mind participating with me in a little Luxan bonding ritual. Here's the thing, here's what we need: some chains, my Qualta blade, just a squirt of Luctra oil, and ohh!! Chiana.
John: Chiana. [pretty much giggling in disbelief]
D'Argo:Yeahhh. [happy smile]She wants to watch.
John: Oh no.
Leslie Crichton: The Oedipus Complex. I'm not sure I understand this. Could you explain it to me, Johnny?
John: Don't get too comfortable. I'm going to get that chip out of my head no matter what.
Scorpius: There's no chip in your head, John.
John: Yeah there is. You told me. There's a ummm..... Mmm...
Scorpius: You were saying?
John: Mental chip!... mmm....
Scorpius: As you were saying?
John: What am I saying? Hunh? [gazes blankly at Scorpius, totally confused]
Scorpius:[smiles in satisfaction] As it should be. I won't trouble you again--- until I need to. There's an exit it to the left that shall no doubt take you back to the surface of this commerce planet. I leave you to your shipmates, John. But rest assured, I'll be with you always... keeping you safe.
Oh, *holy* cow. No, forget I mentioned cows. Bringing anything like livestock into this would just make it weirder.
Richard Manning was either doing the sleep-deprivation caffiene-inspiration dance, or the man is deeply twisted. In a roller-coaster psychedelic funhouse way! (Except for Rygel in leather. That was just... really really wrong! In every way! All wrong!) Every cliche of mind-game gas-light episodes gets stood on its head with its tongue sticking out in this one. Forget John's confusion, the audience is completely lost by the half-point wondering what the hell the motivation for this delirium is, or what reality is, or where it's going to end, or exactly *who* is on drugs here.
We start out in a scenario that, as John points out, could be made to work, if he hadn't been there before. The Scarrans are good at what they do--- but since they don't plan on staying convincing, we have the lovely oddity of Zhaan in a suit to make our heads hurt within fifteen minutes of getting into the ep. It looks sooo wrong. And the phrasing during this part of the episode remains oblique enough that we're not convinced John isn't the one who's nuts around here, for a little while. D.K. and Jack being earnest as all get-out (and wonderful guest turns by Kent McCord and Murray Bartlett; hi guys! Good to see you!) don't help the sense of unreality any, either. So, we have twenty minutes of steadily escalating insanity, while we're left wondering if John is losing it or if the people messing with his head just aren't very good at it.
Until his mom shows up. gulp Okay, this was just... very unsettling, to begin with. Kudos to Ben Browder for flipping from flippant exasperation with the funhouse, to horrified fear and pain when it starts hitting his pain-triggers. It's obvious John loved his mom very much, and misses her like hell. It's equally obvious that he's got issues with the way she died; whether he didn't stay with her 'til the end, or couldn't for some reason, or just hurt horribly while it was happening--- with the Scarrans picking up those memories and exaggerating them--- the joke's not funny any more, and John's on the run. Carmen Duncan does a good, painful job in portraying anxious love and fear, and there is no way you can watch this scene without wincing. (And we've *finally* got a name for John's mom, too!)
Which makes the possibility that John is having a psychotic break seem all the more likely, whether it's induced by Scorpius's mind-games or more recent events. Trying to get a baseline on reality here is just about impossible. Especially when we flip back into the silliness in Logan's office, and the discussion of the take-out order while John tries to end the hallucination, and is horrified to find he can't. Ohhh, we're in so much trouble! Ohhhh, there has to be a way to make it stop---
And oh gee, there is. Scorpius is SCUM. Glad as I am to know exactly what he did to John at this point-- and I have to wonder if that little chip is a homing device, too --- I am also extremely furious with the guy. Which is great; we need to be able to hate the villain. It's not just how he does it; it's his utterly cool smug happiness with his little plan. I don't know of any other villain, aside from Bester on Babylon 5, who ever managed to be this ruthless, and Scorpy's even got him beat. I want to hurt him. I want to replace his Energizer-freezer-coolant batteries with radioactive Maglites. I want him to meet up with Maldis! Wheeeeeeeee! Okay? Got that? Good. 'Cause I don't want any whining when he gets offed and gets his and curls up and dies! (Except that I don't think they'll manage to come up with someone else this hate-able easily. Maybe we should let him live. And keep poking him with a sharp stick.)
The fun part after the plot is revealed is that despite knowing how everything is a trick--- it doesn't help. At all. The following sequences would be as disorienting and disturbing to experience as they are hysterical to watch. Not to mention utterly believable in their ability to break down John's defenses. You've got total illogic, and fantasy moments, followed by pure fear. Followed by fun. Followed by utter silliness. Followed by a Freudian's worst nightmare. Followed by *more* silliness... That dissociation thing is lookin' good, here.
*Everyone* in the cast gets to have fun in this ep, both in playing different characters and saying the silliest lines Ricky could come up with, and in playing themselves as seen through a very, very warped looking-glass. Anthony's California duuuude and Virginia's Dr. Jean are standouts, of course, but the reactions everyone has to them (and Rygel, and Chiana) as if they're perfectly normal are even funnier. Although, I think that little U-turn in Dr. Jean's office with John's mom was just a little more than we needed to see, though. *eep* Ben Browder deserves some kind of medal for keeping a straight face through *any* of this craziness, not to mention doing a great job of incremental deterioration before our eyes. And Rowan Woods manages to make you sea-sick from your couch without any nausea; just the whiplash of too much input working to unbalance the watcher along with John. Applause all around.
The denouement with the projected-Aeryn is good enough to *almost* fool the audience along with John, except for the Scarran's impatience in wanting info about Scorpy. I don't think we have to be one tiny bit grateful to Scorpius for saving John's hide as a matter of self-and-information-preservation, of course. But I do find it cool that John expects and wants Aeryn to be the one to come in blasting and save his butt. Damn, that's the way it *should've* happened, in an ideal universe. But that has no relationship at all to the Farscape universe most of the time, sooo....
Our Scarran adversary is scarier and more impressive in the shadows than his colleague was in the bright light of the Royal Planet. But how *dumb* was it to leave John armed? Arghhh. That's an amateur mistake. Really bad. Well, try to ignore it, it's the one plot hole in an otherwise excellent episode, and it ends up with a nice CGI BOOM! to boot. Too bad that kind of surgery won't work on the chip in John's head.
(And. Scorpius. SUCKS. Have I mentioned that?)
And so what does it all mean? John's got more enemies now in the Scarrans, yay. And they're just as much fun as Scorpius. Scorpy has done a number unlike any other on John's head--- and at some point, he's going to want to download that chip. John, poor guy, has got to be even closer to the edge than before-- and he was already tap-dancing on the Cliffs of Insanity without a rope as it was! And weird as it may sound--- Moya is home to him now. His shipmates are his family; they showed up more in this little nightmare than his real family did. Let's hope they can back him in the weirdness that is to come.... Hilarious, painful, and trippy; this is a psychedelic mushroom pizza of an ep. Please pass the parmesan and a six-pack of Diet Pepsi.
Okaaaaay.... Richard Manning's been hitting the monkey crack again, and he's not sharing. You don't have to be on drugs to watch and enjoy this episode, but they may be necessary to understand it. But, of course, understanding wasn't the point -- the point was to drive John insane. Taking us along for the ride is just a perk.
Every sf show winds up doing 'Through the Looking Glass' episodes, and I'm not talking about three Moya's. I'm talking episodes where everything anyone thought they knew is turned on its head, shaken up, and set back down any ol' way. Sometimes it's more successful than others, depending on whether or not the basic plot demands anything resembling coherency, or if there is, indeed, a plot at all. The various incarnations of Star Trek try it periodically, usually with a notable lack of success; Joss Whedon went to town with it in his season finale of Buffy (and claims every bit of free-falling lunacy had an actual point, except the guy with the cheese; we'll see). Farscape's turn at bat benefits greatly from having a plot that demands the maximum possible incoherency; anything goes, and goes, and goes....
It helps that everyone on this show is a lunatic! Don't try to tell me Gary Ragle didn't owe at least us much to Anthony Simcoe's real personality as it did to any writing or directing. And as astonishing as it is the amount of subtle and dramatic acting Anthony manages under that latex, the amount of sheer lunacy and energy he projects when allowed to is even more astonishing. This man could fuel Sydney just on vibes. And don't try to tell me Claudia and Gigi weren't having the times of their lives crawling all over the guys and doing everything that Aeryn, at least, is never ever gonna get to do. The crews behind Pilot and Moya were also having just a bit too much fun (we'll go into reason why Rygel was just wrong later), Lani does a lovely American accent (and his cop had flawless taste in shoes), and Scorpy happily doing his weirdo drummer (or is that redundant?) routine is at least as disturbing as Scorpy in a Hawaiian shirt. These people scare me. Lots.
And, of course, the fact that none of this needed to be even remotely plausible made it even easier for them to do things that were just wrong (as I was saying). Zhaan in a suit... mind-tripping but acceptable; it's not possible to make Virginia look bad. Rygel in a suit begins to be deeply disturbing. Rygel in leather is wrong on so many levels that I can't begin to list them. I'm so glad this was a product of the Scarren's twisted little mind, and not John's; if he'd had this kind of stuff in his head naturally, there is no therapy good enough.
And, of course, the weirdest thing of all was that no one noticed anything weird. A little slimy gray guy in a suit is normal. A hairless blue lady in a suit is normal. An astronaut with tentacles is... not normal, but accepted as Another Weirdo Jet Jock, and therefore, well, normal. I do have to take my hat off to the Scarren for strategy, if not subtlety; if you're going to seriously, consciously attempt to drive someone insane, there's no better way to do it then to gaslight them -- make them wander around in a world gone totally insane, constantly repeating the words, "Is it everyone else who's nuts? Or are they all sane and I've lost it?"
Not that we could blame John for losing it; the man is long overdue for a serious nervous breakdown; in fact, going into the episode, that was the big question -- is it real, is it Memorex, or is John finally heading for the Prozac? Ben Browder does his usual awesome job of clinging to sanity with his fingertips, gleefully jumping over the edge and enjoying the ride, and sheer, gut-wrenching pain when he's confronted with his mother's doppleganger. Ouch. And can I just say, ouch? No like Scarrens. Mean, nasty ickies that hit below the belt in big, huge ways. They are so banned from the TGUT offices for, like, ever. But Kiki's right; they really have to work on that overconfident streak and oh, say, disarm their prisoners.
And, of course, in the middle of the free-flowing lunacy, there's the desperately important, desperately portentous plot point that, oh yeah, Scorpy has installed himself in John's head. Not that we're surprised, but that's worse than what Bester did to Garibaldi on Babylon 5! I figured no one was ever going to replace our Least Favorite Psi-Cop on the top of my hitlist, but Scorpy just zoomed up there to share the lead. You've got to wonder about someone who plans for the event of a prisoner escaping, instead of assuming it'll never happen. You've also gotta wonder how many of those daring and brilliant escapes were actually brilliant and daring unleashings by Scorpius. Has Scorpy gotten hold of the Evil Overlord Handbook? Does this mean more trouble for our intrepid astronaut further down the line? Does Scorpius have some dastardly overriding scheme to which our jolly crew is not privy? In a word: "Duh!". I hate this plotline for what it's going to do to John's teetering-on-the-brink-and-the-view-looks-fine psyche, but I can't wait to see where they're going with this.
In an entirely different direction, can I just say how delighted I was to see that they remembered the cute and talented and seriously yummy Murray Bartlett as DK this time around. < eg > Woo-hoo! Now figure out a way bring both him and Kent McCord back again, please! Lovely continuity on John all the way through, actually, and some great insight into the operations of IASA, for which I'm sure all of the fanfic writers are truly grateful. (We're also really glad that John's mom has a name and a cause of death. So much easier to make John angst that way, dontcha know?). Actually, the bows to continuity throughout the show were surprisingly excellent, for an episode that bore as little resemblance to reality (show or otherwise) as this. John's methodical listing of the many possible enemies responsible, all of the IASA stuff, the continuing fallout from A Human Reaction... awesome and deeply appreciated.
Acid-trip episodes are impossible to scale according to other episodes; the realities simply don't mesh and you can't judge them on the same standards. And I'm deeply annoyed that after 42 minutes of the hurt part, we never got any of the comfort part! (Fanfic writers, start your engines -- what was the rest of Moya's real crew doing while John was having his neurons folded, spindled, mutilated and hung out to dry, huh?) But as acid trips go, this one was one hell of a ride, performed with the appropriate complete lack of inhibitions by everyone involved. And I'm sure we'll be seeing more wonderful episodes from Richard Manning, as soon as they let him out of the straitjacket and padded cell...
2.16 The Locket
|August 25, 2000
Aeryn's no sooner gone missing in a stellar mist than she's back again --- 165 cycles older, and insisting she has to go back to the granddaughter she left on the planet below. In their efforts to rescue her (and later John), Moya's crew gets stuck in the mist, and it'll take both of Zhaan and a returned Stark's best efforts to prevent the irreversible.
John:You're wearing the locket, the locket that Chiana gave you. The one that says 'sorry I smashed your Prowler.' The one that she stole at the last commerce planet.
Aeryn:She stole it?
Aeryn:She told me she bought it!
John: Well, that's Chi.
Aeryn: Look at you... I'd forgotten how beautiful you were. You were so young. [sniffles, then gets mad] I'd also forgotten how *wrong* you could be!
Aeryn: I'm glad I got to see you again, one last time.
Pilot: What do you mean? I'll see you... again.
Aeryn: No, you won't. Good-bye.
Ennixx: Put the rifle down! NOW! You touch my grandmother again, and I will kill you!
Chiana: You're not gonna change me.
D'Argo: I'm only just beginning to realize that.
Chiana: You're pretty straight, hunh?
D'Argo: Yes I am.
Chiana: We're not going to make it, are we?
Aeryn:Do you regret this?
Aeryn:Spending the last fifty-five cycles here with me.
John: Aeryn, you are the one thing that's kept me from doing a kamikaze in the transport.
John: I got your locket. Who's uh, image you got in here anyway?
Aeryn:You know who's in there.
John: Your husband? He's been dead ninety cycles. Why would you have his image in there?
Aeryn:Oh, just to drive you crazy.
John: You know what I think?
John: I don't think its him in there. I think you got my picture.
Aeryn:Don't flatter yourself.
John: Yeah, my picture. Surrounded by roses and hearts and yotz...
Aeryn:Open it, then.
Aeryn:Take a look inside, you'll see whose image. The only love of my life.
John: No, no... I don't want to see his ugly face.
Aeryn: Ennixx, listen to me. I grew up a Peacekeeper. We are born in space, and we must die in space. Now I have spent most of my life with you, and it has been glorious --- but when I die, I belong up there.
John: Ah, baby... There are so many places that I wanted you to see. People.... There's this lake in Maine, we used to spend summers there when I was a kid. It had more mosquitos than a dog had fleas. Dad and I, we'd camp out there... and one night--- the astronauts landed on the moon. I remember looking up at the sky... I knew right then what I was going to do with rest of my life. I really wanted you to see that.
Zhaan: Are you saying that Ennix could still be alive?
Stark: Yes... and mourning the loss of her grandmother.
Who knew that some of the sweeter moments between John and Aeryn would be when they're both on the verge of dying--- of old age? Who ever thought we'd get to see that in the first place, the way they're living their lives now? And hey, maybe it all got erased by the Universal Reset Button, but it still leaves you feeling kinda hopeful about their prospects for the future, you know?
And terribly confused. We've been having discussions over the last couple days with friends who've been counting on their fingers, too, trying to figure out (a) exactly how old Aeryn was when she died -- and how old she is now (b) how many of those time windows she missed and why, and (c) uh, how did that locket get into the transport at the end, again, if Aeryn never got into it? Maybe Chiana put it in there? And the dust falling away was already in it when she stole it? Or, somehow, that locket crossed timestreams to decompose the picture in Aeryn's hand? Hey, maybe it knew the rules of dramatic irony, and slipped through a hole in the space-time continuum in order to fulfill its purpose.
But like I said, ignore all that, if you can. The important things are: stellar mists-- dangerous! Bad!; Chiana realized (and then forget) that she and D'Argo aren't really that compatible out of bed--- something which we saw coming, but not this soon; Stark + Zhaan = more power in one place than is really safe; Jothee is alive! And about to be sold into slavery! And can you say trap?
And finally, Stark is back. Yay! I always liked him, and he's fairly cool in this ep, even if he is acting as a plot device half the time. I only wish he hadn't gotten shoved into this plot with a crowbar, bringing up more questions of homing devices on that transport pod. His presence gives Zhaan more to do (and she's finally got a truly flattering dress this ep, another plus) and hopefully he won't vanish as fast as he appeared, but that whole circus of exposition at the beginning could've been done a little less jaggedly, I think. There was a lot of that in this ep, between made-up space anomalies and newly-invented ways of dealing with them, but you just have to keep your eye on the ball: in this case, John and Aeryn. The *really* important thing from this ep is that at some point in that 220 years, John's picture ended up in the locket, as the love of Aeryn's life.
"The Locket" is visually lovely, emotionally resonant, fairly entertaining, and a logic and pacing tangle. Try to go with it. Sink into the stellar mists, the Favored Planet, the time-tripping effects, and turn off the left side of your brain as Ian turns in a lovely production, Justin Monjo whales on your heartstrings (again), and Claudia Black and Ben Browder get to play cranky old versions of themselves, while still somehow being quite sweet.
Watch Aeryn say complimentary and affectionate things to John at the age of 200 that she's not going to say again for months in the regular timeline, if then. Watch her say a final good-bye to Pilot, and feel wistful. Watch John go back for her, determined to save her--- then realize a few minutes later that *he's* stuck. Watch Old John gloat to Scorpy, like Grumpy Old Man Walter Matthau to Jack Lemmon, about how he's finally beaten his personal hallucination. Watch Aeryn with her granddaughter (who's fairly cool in her own right), interacting in a way that we'd never have imagined our ex-PK non-family chick was capable of. Watch Old John and Really Old Aeryn still bicker under alien moons like they do now, and realize that in our universe, John is going to probably pre-decease Aeryn by a century, if they live that long. Watch a restored Aeryn and John watch the sparkly dust of the locket portrait float away, and obviously get some kind of mental time-echo of what they'd felt together in the mist, even though they don't know what it is. Feel the angst!
Then throw popcorn at the screen because it all gets erased after the cool reverse-Starburst. Arrrghh. I liked this ep, but these kinds of SF Reset Shows always leave me begging for more closure, afterwards. Aeryn and John with the locket don't quite cover my need for tying up loose ends, darnit. Not that it would be fair to inflict the truth or the memory of what happened on them; but still! < sigh > Ah, well. Let's just hope they get a chance to grow old together again, somewhere and in some way that won't have John dying decades and decades before Aeryn. I don't think she'd handle it as well as he did.
Depending on how 'shippy you are, you'll either love or hate this one, and skip it if plotholes make you cranky. It's more fun for the might-have-beens and almost-were's than what actually happened, but it's a okay-to-pretty-good stand-alone that eases us into the two-week break. See y'all after Labor Day.
Okay, I'll say up front that this episode had some good things going for it. Unfortunately, almost all of those things were canceled out by something else, bringing the overall level of the episode down rather lower than the best of Farscape achieves.
The Good: it was very cool to see Stark come back; he was a neat character we didn't get enough of, and we never got a satisfactory explanation for his disappearance. The Bad: Can we say "massive convenient plot device?" Stark was there to... make Zhaan keeping time moving believable? To return the transport pod? To deliver the picture of Jothee? The last one is the only remotely believable part (and then, you've go the whole question of how Stark found them when a PK command carrier can't, and half the time they can't even find themselves).
The Good: an intriguing set-up of John and Aeryn doing the aging thing, actually living through all of those years and building lives away from Moya, aided and abetted by a great job by the makeup department. The Bad: Incredibly bad pacing which focused on the (technobabble-ridden and plot-hole swiss-cheesed) set-up, instead of focusing on the purpose of that set-up. We barely see any of John and Aeryn's lives off of Moya, just brief flashes from which we're supposed to infer everything before we move on and fix it with more (holey and impenetrable) technobabble. Yet we're expected to care about those lives, to feel the connection between John and Aeryn that comes from 55+ years together after one montage of walking. Sorry, did I nod off?
The Good: incredible casting of Allyson Standen as Aeryn's granddaughter Ennixx. The Bad: she was given almost no time or details to develop as a character (and apparently Sebaceans don't visibly age over 55 years, Aeryn's appearance to the contrary). The Good: The locket was a very cool bit of business; john finding his own picture (which either Aeryn put in right off, or Chiana put into mess with her head) was a very nice scene from Ben, and finding the remains of the picture later was also effective. The Bad: the locket appears from nowhere, blinking in huge letters along with Stark: "Hi, I'm a plot device; don't feel compelled to care about me!" It would have been very simple to have inserted the locket as a throwaway a few episode earlier, to make it pointy, something that we already accept as existing. (And by the way, the locket aged, but nothing else did? Huh?)
The Good: Zhaan gets to use her powers to save the day. The Bad: She requires the crutch of the CPD Stark, and how she saves the day doesn't make any sense. The Good: a cool plot device of an area of null-time and Brigadoon. The Bad: the absolutely inexplicable escape (leaving the cloud of null-time by going backwards sends them back to where they started? Despite the fact that the universe's chronometer has been going along happily without them? I'm sorry, they've been in there 150+ years; putting Moya into reverse isn't gonna take *that* mileage off.)
You get the idea. There was great character stuff scattered throughout -- D'Argo, in particular, makes the most of his on-screen time. His short scene with Chiana is very effective (yes, guys, until Chiana gains about 10 years of maturity, you are short-term), and his reaction to the picture of his son was outstanding. Anthony is a marvel, and I can't wait to see where this new development in his plot lines leads. Meanwhile, Gigi pulls off what little she's given with her usual flair, Wayne Pygram is enjoying his stint as a hallucination a little too much (< shudder >), and both Virginia and Paul Goddard are doing their best to make something essentially silly sound deep and intelligent.
And, of course, Claudia Black and Ben Browder are taking what they're given and running with it. I'm massively amused that John turns into his dad (and Old John's slo-mo run through the ship was worthy of a few giggles, and a couple ohmigods), and Aeryn is still drop-dead gorgeous as an old woman. But even those performances couldn't make me care about Old John and Old Aeryn nearly as much as I care about their younger counterparts. Between the misjudged pacing, the CPDs and the terribly unconvincing technobabble, it was actually hard to care about much of anything in this episode once the first two acts of "what the hell...?" confusion wore off.
Star Trek: TNG did this episode once with Picard growing old living another man's life, and did it incredibly effectively. For once, Farscape falls far short of their mark.