3.19 I-Yensch, You-Yensch
|April 5, 2002
In the first stages of an attempt to destroy the Peacekeeper wormhole project, Rygel and D'Argo meet with Scorpius and Braca at a little out-of-the-way cafe to negotiate a tenuous alliance.... but an ordinary hold-up may end any plans before they start. Meanwhile, Talyn is becoming more and more unstable.
Pilot: "I think it best to leave Moya alone. She knows what we do is necessary, but still... she is heartbroken."
Aeryn: "She's not the only one."
D'Argo: (shaking a semi-conscious Braca) "No sleep, no sleep, no sleep!" (Slaps Braca, and they both flinch) "Aaaagghhh!"
Robber: "You said this one was more valuable."
Rygel: "That was a microt ago."
Crais: "We are all here with you. You have not disappointed me. I do not hold you responsible. Neither does Moya." (burbles from Talyn) "No, no. On the contrary, Talyn. You are very brave." (burbles) "As you wish."(Crais solemnly pulls the lever to shut down Talyn)
Rygel: "Sorry I had to shoot you, but you know how it goes."
Scorpius: "How did you know I was wearing body armor?"
Rygel: "I wasn't sure, but 131 cycles in Peacekeeper captivity teaches you a few things."
Scorpius: "And what if you were wrong?"
Rygel: "Hmm. Not so bad for me, either way."
Robber: "Why so difficult?!"
Rygel: "Because you didn't think it through, fekek. You didn't have a plan!"
John: "Yeah, some things - you die for."
Aeryn: "I just can't watch that happen... again. It was perfect, we were so--- perfect, and you're just like him, I mean, you *are* him---"
John: "No, I'm me. I was here..... I missed that dance. Aeryn, don't come with us."
Aeryn: "No, we started this together Crichton. That's how we'll end it."
The joy of this episode is getting Rygel and Scorpius in the same room, haggling, scheming and lying, then ganging up on the same side to defeat the "Pulp Fiction" rejects. Kind of like watching the World Wrestling Federation champs take on two out of Three Stooges. This is a set-up episode for the season-ending arc, and it shows, but not so badly that you don't enjoy it; the sad little C-plot with the restraunteurs is easily forgotten in all the tension-building hints of what's to come in the last three eps--- except as a reminder that bystanders and civilians always get it the worst in any conflict that our heroes (and villains) get involved in.
I lost track of how many times Rygel and Scorpy double-crossed (or seemingly double-crossed) each other in the cafe about twenty minutes into the episode. Which is as it should be: you don't second-guess Grand Master finagling like this by trying to plot the moves. Final outcomes are all that matter to these two, and in this case, they both win, since they both get what they want: Scorpius gets John working on the wormholes, Rygel gets Moya's crew on board the command carrier. That each of them has five other moves hidden under the agreed-upon limits is something they're both aware of and neither is going to mention. I wouldn't say they *admire* each other, or have anything like respect for each other either-- there's too much mutual antipathy for that. But they do appreciate each other's straightforward throat-cutting ruthlessness and intelligence, and enjoy the bargaining session as only those who are often too smart for (and easily bored by) the rest of the room can.
The Two Stooges --- stupid, loud, impulsive, trigger-happy, short-sighted, easily manipulated, and violent--- only stay alive as long as they do because Scorpy and Rygel use them in their bargaining session as a way to try and get the advantage over each other. Our over-weaponed monkey-rats were always going to go down, but it's delightful that Scorpius and Rygel are forced to get along long enough to take them down, if only because it's the last thing either of them wants. D'Argo and Braca being used as guinea pigs for the iyensch bracelets on the sidelines is both way funny (I giggled insanely through D'Argo simultaneously slapping Braca around and wincing) and a good indicator of how much trouble those things can be; Rygel's little deal may not look so sweet to John tomorrow. But it was good to see him protecting the waitress from the hold-up guys. Of such small saving graces are the differences between Dominars and PK research scientists made.
John and Aeryn continue to be the Angst King and Queen of any galactic quadrant. John's quest to stop Scorpius's wormhole research is completely understandable, but that doesn't make the risks he's taking any less deadly. On the other hand, if their plans succeed, it might buy everyone in the galaxy time to get ready for the inevitable Nebari-Scarran-Peacekeeper conflicts, so it's not like they've got much to lose. And watching John take the fight to his enemies is something that's *long* overdue. It does heighten the already painful tension between John and Aeryn, who are still working out a shaky detente' in the wake of TalynJohn's death. the levels of weird that Aeryn is experiencing are only topped by the levels of weird that John is having to endure here, but it *is* encouraging that they can always work together, no matter how bizarre their personal issues. The ache of watching Aeryn and John now is in knowing that there may be no way for them not to hurt each other even by the simplest, tiniest gestures any more.
The B-plot with Talyn's deterioration is also, clearly, another set-up for the next couple weeks, but there are little poignant touches that keep it from seeming contrived. Talyn's always had a hair-trigger, and he's made deadly mistakes in self and Moya-defense before--- but he's never threatened his mom before. The more we see of this, the clearer it is that Crais didn't quite think all of his design work through when he came up with the idea for a Leviathan gunship. Moya's sadness, as relayed through Pilot, the little earthquakes on board ship as she grieves for her son's shutdown; Chi's keening mourning (we forget, sometimes, that she helped deliver him); Aeryn's pleas with Talyn to allow them to help him; Crais's reassurance, and Talyn's responses to him, are all sad and heartfelt. How can we feel pain for a character who's never said a word beyond a few electronic bibblings? Because the other characters care; the same perception that makes us love Moya makes us hurt for Talyn. You *want* them to be able to cure him, you want this to have a happy ending--- even while all indications are that there can be no completely happy solution here.
All the players are in place, all the ploys have been set up, all the objectives are clear: now it's time for everything to go to Hezmana. Hang on for the next few totally unforeseen twists and turns, because with a Farscape season-ender, nobody gets any mercy--- including the audience.
...that she's still way frelling behind on Buffy reviews, and is trying to catch up. Have patience!
3.20 Into the Lion's Den 1: Lambs to the Slaughter
|April 12, 2002
Moya's crew put themselves in the hands of the Peacekeepers in the hopes of finding a way to destroy the wormhole project -- if they can survive their enemies' hospitality, and the usual intra-Peacekeeper backstabbing.
Crais: "Lt. Braca, I predicted your rise in this organization. I stand by that prediction. You are a consummate Peacekeeper."
Henta: "You could have come back."
Aeryn: "It was too late then."
Henta: "You think you didn't have a choice?"
Aeryn: "I didn't want to come back."
Henta: "Then you are a traitor."
Aeryn: "A deserter, perhaps."
Henta: (voice breaking) "Can you tell me why?"
Aeryn: "If you really want to know..."
John: "Have we met?"
Grayza: "Commandant Mele-On Grayza. And you must be the infamous John Crichton."
John: "Infamous.... Two points, Commandant. One: your boy here has made a lot of promises which you should keep, because, two: when my friends are threatened, I am infamous for making really stupid moves. Yes?" (checks with Aeryn)
Grayza: "Point two is clearly correct. But I can not accept point one."
Grayza: (to Scorpius) "I'll return with a full council sanction. You shouldn't have made me into an enemy." (to John) "And you shouldn't have pointed a weapon at me."
John: (muttering) "I gotta stop pointing guns at people."
Scorpius: "I hoped you'd see reason."
John: "What do you think I see, hunh? I'm here on a big stinking command carrier, Dick Tracy's neuro-bracelet linking me to Bram Stoker's nightmare, what more do you want from me?"
Scorpius: (calling up a hologram of Earth) "Cooperation."
Scorpius: "The Earth is reachable, John, even without wormholes. At top speed? Just over sixty cycles.... You give me what I want, or I swear: I will keep you alive just long enough to watch the destruction of your homeworld."
Buckle up, children, and hang on for the ride to the top of the roller-coaster. The real dive doesn't happen 'til the beginning of the next ep, but you can see the drop-off from here. Like any set-up for a two-parter, this ep has its slow spots, but they're mostly covered up by the fun shoot-'em-ups and face-offs that fill in the time while the tension climbs.
I have to admit, I was with Jool and Chiana when they asked why they'd come along -- because it actually looks like a dumb, dumb idea to have anyone but John go (because he has to) and maybe Aeryn (to watch his back). As it turns out, Rygel and D'Argo both have legitimate reasons to go -- part of the price for John working with Scorpy was for each of them to get a personal wish granted. Rygel gets intel on his homeworld, and D'Argo gets information on Macton Tal, *and* his nifty bone-rings removed. Jool and Chi? Um, I think they went along because they couldn't take the suspense any better than the audience. Silly girls. Jool's hair stays red through the whole ep, a sure sign that she should've stayed home and gone for the hot-oil treatment instead.
Just for the record, this *does* look like one of John's dumber plans to begin with, never mind the i-yensch insurance bracelet. The opening scene of Moya's crew walking a gauntlet of PK's would've been enough to send me screaming back to the transport pod if I were any of them. But John's obsessed, Crais is out to prove... something, and Aeryn is deadly determined not to see another Crichton get killed, so.... You can pick out Sgt. Troublemaker (Lt. Reljik) in the first seconds of that gauntlet walk, as well as Crais's old flame, eyes forward except for when they're yearning after Crais. Or spitting flames at him. Hard to tell, Larell doesn't give much away. Scorpy being avuncular and welcoming gives me the heebie-jeebies. So finding out that John actually *did* have a plan is a wonderful relief for the three whole seconds until we find out how badly those proto-plans are going. The antidote of Harvey and John in the black-and-white WWII trenches is the only thing that makes this whole scenario look -- well, not *totally* like a stupid idea.
(Except for the meta-moment when the audience sees that Richard Manning wrote and Ian Watson directed, which lead to a spontaneous simultaneous "Oh, *frell*" from your Tour Guides. "Go home, John!" screams the Audience. "Richard and Ian have teamed up to get you! Ruuuuuuuun!")
The overwhelming antipathy of the PK crew, for a variety of reasons -- Aeryn and Crais's perceived desertion and treachery, John's troublemaker past, D'Argo being a Luxan, and, well, PKs being PKs -- is amply demonstrated long before the first attack by Reljik's buddy with the Evil Dead Arm Attachment.The fight breaks up the setting-up hissing-and-insulting scenes nicely, and ends predictably but satisfyingly with the PK being responsible for his own death by not knowing when to quit. Yay, D'Argo, for offering an arm to safety, but not dying stupidly, like the PK did.
The scenes with Lt. Henta are particularly well-played, especially since we get to see Aeryn remembering happier times Before Everything, and her later discussion with Henta about PK ideals -- order, loyalty, sacrifice -- make it clear that it wasn't all like what we saw in "The Way We Weren't." There had to have been *someone* besides Velorek that she missed; Henta seems willing to listen, just not willing to risk ostracization in front of everyone else (and you can't blame her a bit). Crais's old memories keep coming up too, in the form of the obsequious Braca. And isn't it nice to see the boy *can* be taught? There's no way he's going to try to throw down with John again, not after getting his head kicked in twice. Braca gets put in his place *beautifully* -- this is a guy who can never grow beyond what he is.
The same may or may not be said of the ambivalent Larell. That they were close is obvious, and isn't any surprise: Crais had the loyalty of his crew and officers before he let obsession get out of hand. That she has ample reason to hate his guts is also clear. But who is she lying to, Crais or Braca? PKs have let personal emotions get in the way before, but I just can't trust this chick. I have no idea why; maybe because the protestations to both sides of her loyalty, come just a little too easy.
Reljik is predictable, bullying, and boring; he deserves his little *paft* ending on a power rod, although he gives us a niiiice fight in the power grid. The rocket-packs, the one-second-and-then-you-explode grid, Scorpy reacting to John's physical pain -- all great stuff. My fave part may be John yelling for Aeryn. We all have our little habits: John screeches for Aeryn to save his life when he's in a power grid, and I laugh.
Grayza is loathsome. I'm going to have *fun* hating this chick! Smart, arrogant, cold, calculating, doesn't lose her temper, but clearly holds grudges well. With that edge of PK condescension and the ability to think on her feet and improvise when outflanked that will make her eminently hateable and a joy to watch -- especially if there are any more confrontations with Scorpius in the future. Kudos to Rebecca Riggs for hitting the ground running as our newest villain. Who knew you could prefer *Scorpy* to anyone? But we're familiar with him, and he had a bad childhood. You can almost like him, compared to Commandant Kleavage and her plans for selling out to the Scarrans----
Hmm. No, I still wanna see him die painfully.
Mostly for messing with John's head. Scorpy humbles himself, bribes John, lets him play with his toys, treats him with respect; and of course it's all a lie. He's John's match in obsession, after all, and his is destroying the Scarrans.The only edge John has against Scorpy is Harvey (and that little trick of normalizing John's life signs? Awesome. Heh. I'd totally forgotten Scorpy was a human lie detector). Which should be enough, but he's not just fighting Scorpius and the Peacekeepers: he's fighting his own doubts, his fears about being the one responsible for tipping the balance of power yet again. The Ancients didn't do him any favors with their little going-away present, not at all. There's the sheer joy of solving the wormhole problem with the fellow scientist-guy Co-Kura working on him too. Not to mention the totally healthy realization that this kind of messing around is what got TalynJohn killed. All great stuff, well-played by Ben Browder; it's subtle, but it's all along the lines of John's obsessive streak, so you can start to worry about him along with Aeryn, watching it. If Scorpy had left well enough alone, John might have backed off and *not* done anything -- but since that was exactly what he was afraid of, he just had to push it.
And now John knows Earth's in danger if Scorpius has enough time on his hands to send someone there. Yeah, *that* was a smart thing to tell him, Scorpy. Hoo boy.
Pack your shades (for the explosions), your popcorn (to throw at Grayza), hang onto the roll bar and take a deep breath: we may achieve zero-gravity with the drop off this cliff.