3.3 Self-Inflicted Wounds:
Could'a, Would'a, Should'a
||March 30, 2001
A sidetrip to investigate a wormhole leaves Moya trapped in it, hopelessly entangled with an alien ship -- and only one ship can escape.
D'Argo: "We're already destroyed, Aeryn. It's just that some of us don't know it yet."|
D'Argo: "I had no idea he could do that."
Stark: "I had no idea anyone could do that!"
Aeryn:"Do you understand those words?"
John:"Yeah, I watched all kinds of Star Trek. It's just the order they're in...."
John: "Hey, Sleeping Beauty. Wake up and die."
John: "You recognize my species?"
Jool: "Sebecean. Intellectually suited to carry weapons and die marching in formation."
Aeryn:"Do you trust her?"
John:"If we don't do something, we're gonna die."
Aeryn:"I'm worried you're a little too excited by all this."
John:"It's wormholes, that's what Scorpius wants."
Aeryn:"Scorpius is dead, that's what you want."
John:"Aeryn, it could be a tool or a weapon. Let's get there first."
Aeryn:"Let's get there alive, first."
D'Argo: "Is two of you bad?"
Chiana: "That so depends."
John:"This is Farscape 1! Y'all leave the light on for us."
Aeryn: "He trusts these aliens."
D'Argo: "We know nothing about them"
Aeryn: "I think wormholes blind him."
D'Argo: "Well, at least he has a hobby."
John:"If Scorpius masters the wormhole technology, what will he use it for?"
Harvey:"Faster delivery of pizzas."
Harvey:"How could you not choose science over a beast of burden? You disgust me, John!" [crosses arms and pouts] "I long for the Dumpster."
Hey. It was *not* Rylos, Perri. It was an intellectual journey to... oh, never mind. The point is, I have returned, and I have a few pointed comments to make: several positive and yup, a few negative. Let me get out the thumbtacks so I can nail those things down.|
First off: hurrah for a literal cliffhanger! I've been waiting for someone to fall off one of those catwalks since the first time I saw them. They're just made for the Errol Flynn moments--- and a CGI'd serpent may not have been what I had in mind, but it works, especially since we still don't know what that sucker is looking for: lunch, a way home, brain fluid, or just the next good wave out of the wormhole? Whatever it wants, we've already got John in mortal (okay, semi-mortal) danger in the first installment of the arc--- so we've got what we want.
Neeyala and crew, on the other hand, may or may not get what they want, especially if they still needed the Viewmaster John just let slip. You can't like them - the smarter-than-thou attitude, secret-keeping, hissing and poison ducts kind of guarantee that - but Neeyala, at least, is damn interesting to watch, and to wonder which way she's going to jump next in order to save her crew and ship, and how many members of Moya's crew are going to jump with her. Excellent make-up, good casting, and nicely mysterious hints of danger make them watchable if not likable. Quite cool, to not to have an outright villain front and center; especially since a boat-load of brassed-off explorers have managed to divide up Moya's crew without doing anything explicitly villainous (so far). This is going to be ... interesting....
Jool-what's-her-name, the supercargo from hezmana, sure isn't getting any happies out of life either. Not that said life doesn't suck at the moment, but this woman combines all the worst attributes of two-years-ago Aeryn (snobbery, rudeness, homicidal tendencies) and a year-ago Chiana (semi-feigned helplessness, self-absorption), plus, she has a scream to shatter bones and psychotic Mary Sue hair. We may have to space her. Except... that I'm getting the same kind of sadistic pleasure out of seeing Chi slap a hand over her mouth and D'Argo tongue-zap her that I do out of watching John beat up Rygel when he richly deserves it. This may not be a very *mature* reason for me to give her some latitude, but as long as she's entertainingly awful, she can stay. The second that scream-riff gets old, I vote we put her back in the coffin and send her Priority Express to Scorpy.
Will John get what he wants? Forget that, does John even *know* what he wants at this point? Wormhole tech to stop Scorpy, a way home, Aeryn back with together with him --- these are the kinds of things you can only have one of at time, at least the way he's handling it. He didn't want Moya and Pilot to die, and though I don't buy into their imminent demise for a microt (next week: Rygel gets an ear infection, and things will never be the same!), John's earlier obsessions are causing him some heartache now. He may want to go home, but somehow I don't think it's ever going to be as easy as finding the right exit off the water slide and just zooming back to Earth. Despite having home go past the window on the wormhole roller-coaster, and a cameo by the Stooges (which was enough to make me chortle with glee, since there is no *way* any other culture produced anything similar). He's got ties there now: to the crew, to Aeryn, and even to Scorpius, through shared responsibility, hate, and the echo of that creep still in his head. The only way going home will ever work will be if he manages to make all of his obsessions work in the same direction at once--- and I don't think he's quite there yet. But man, it's fun watching him try.
Aeryn's *so* not getting what she wants this week: John's doing that danger-flirting that gives her hives, Pilot and Moya are terminally injured, she's stuck with another crew of refugees with elitism problems (and this time they're not even PKs), and then there's this *annoying* nitwit with the scream factor in the background. And once again, I'm noticing how she's changed, just by comparing her to Jool and Neeyala, and this change for the better hasn't made her boring at all --- it's just made her more complex. Kudos to Claudia for the little bits, especially her scenes with Anthony Simcoe, which are nicely low-key and wryly self-aware.
D'Argo, of course, is not getting anything like what he wants, which is probably to hole up in his quarters with his Shilquen and a fifth of vodka for the duration. I keep underestimating the big guy; just when his stony-faced grudge-holding is verging on a cliche, he admits that he still wants to forgive Chi, and staying by her while things break up, I'm moved and saying "awww" about him all over again. Anthony Simcoe rocks (I must get this on a T-shirt). Chiana isn't getting what she wants, nor should she; while I sympathize with her motivations, I have a whole rant I'm saving up for her and Jothee and last week's shenanigans. I'm not in favor of literally turning the show into Springer in Space, but I am glad that actions still have consequences in the UT, just like they do in most versions of reality. And that Chiana is still honest enough about her emotions to give us that lovely scene with Zhaan; breaking up with D'Argo may have broken her heart, but I'm hoping Gigi Edgley gets even more cool stuff to play because of it.
Rygel--- oh, man. Rygel doesn't deserve to get what he wants, not until he gets that impulse control and never-ending me-me-me song out of his head. Why do I like him, sometimes? Not simply because he's occasionally cuddly (with a sweetly understanding and firm Zhaan), and dead practical (bonking Jool-- hm. I think everyone got to hurt that chick this week). I kind of admire his determination, and his ability to *say* what everyone else is thinking --- but not enough to forgive him for telling Jool about the brain fluid thing. Or being so dumb as to think that bailing in the Farscape was either likely or do-able. Argh. Complex little monster that he is, I still say that we space Jool first.
And then Stark. grrrrr Perri promised you a rant from me, and, well... I've mellowed a little since last week, and my first viewing. But not by much. Good points first: he handled Pilot and the crisis well. And they're giving him some depth. Hinky, bizarre, out-of-nowhere, unexpected-inexplicable depth, but... depth. He's still irritating the living hell out of me when he's with Zhaan, though. *Zhaan* irritates me when he's with Zhaan. These two are the Moo & Monotone (Roswell reference) of Farscape: the couple most likely to put you to sleep/ hit the mute / scream at the screen / pick one. Even sentiments that are noble and self-sacrificing and concerned sound like whining when they're in each others' presence! Gah! Gah! Nyahhh! Must! Throw! Popcorn!!!
pant, pant I don't know if it's because they're way too much alike, as characters; because we've been given next-to-no-development of them as a couple, and I feel cheated; because Zhaan's being so fatalistic about her 'upcoming death' and Stark's being so over-the-top... or maybe it's some Kiki-trigger, buried in my subconscious, some remnant of past bad dating experiences. Whatever. I will state here and now, that I am biased, and that these two *must* break up. I like them separately, I can watch Stark and give him slack at any other time, but together... nyahhhhgghh. < shudder > Put them together, and Stark is intensely killable. Got it? Good. End of rant. You can now come back from getting ice-cream. (And Paul Goddard and Virginia Hey are not to blame for dialogue and circumstances way beyond their control. Like my mental state, or lack thereof.)
Pilot and Moya... well, they won't die permanently. They're in the credits. At least, they *better* not die like this --- but if they come back from being abandoned, everything really *will* change, count on it.
This one was a set-up, a tease, a preview for coming adventures; Indiana Crichton and the Quest for the Wormhole. Wherever they decide to take this arc (and it could go in any one of six directions right now) the potential is there for some kick-ass character development, explosions, decisions, and revelations. Pass the popcorn and brace for impact.
Oh maaaan.... Are there any more horrible things they can do to poor Pilot and poor Moya. First the horrible burning thing, then getting impaled, then trapped in a wormhole wall to go completely insane. < sniffle > She's a nice ship and doesn't deserve that sort of treatment, any more than Pilot (who was damned cute alerting John to that wormhole) does. Although projectile vomiting on Stark was pretty damn hysterical....
Despite my continued annoyance with the whole Stark thing, and my severe lack of caring about the still incredibly vague fatal illness, I remembered again why I love Zhaan when she was so determined not to give up on Pilot or Moya until there was no other choice. Sometimes, you can really trust Zhaan to keep those priorities in order. (On the other hand, sometimes you can trust her mysticism to run away with her brain. Might've been nice if she'd told someone about the snake instead of going all Harbinger. But I was saying....) Knowledge is fine, Knowledge is good, but no amount of Knowledge outweighs Life. Start trying to plug numbers into that equation and you wind up with Namtar. Or Dr. Mengele. And yes, that's an extreme comparison, and it doesn't suit John, who is fighting guilt all the way, even through his obsession. But the more I watch, the less I'm certain it doesn't suit Neeyala and her jolly crew.
It doesn't suit ours, of course; no matter the personal problems running rampant, everyone rallies with enthusiasm and efficiency. They shout around to make sure everyone's safe, and that someone's dealing with everything that has to be dealt with. They divvy up chores without bickering and (mostly) get the job done. No real point to that observation, but I was really noticing it this week, and I liked it. (One of the main reasons I was hating Jothee so much, by the way, was his total inability to grasp this concept.)
As for Neeyala, and her crew... < sigh > Well, obviously they've got something at stake they're not sharing. This does not thrill me, since they're willing to sacrifice their own lives for whatever it is, and have no qualms about sacrificing someone else's. It's something to do with their families, obviously, given the emphasis on that throughout. Another group of Ancients, looking for a new home? Or a way to save their current home? I'll reserve sympathy until they decide to share... and get their nose slits out of the air. Geez. Think about someone else for five seconds, why don't you?
And wow, was I delighted at the lack of translator microbes among them, by the way!!! Every once in a while, we get a reminder about the incredible diversity of the crew in their languages alone, and the reaction of the new crew to the phenomenon rocked! When language difficulties are routinely ignored on many shows (*cough*Stargate*cough*) for a variety of good to terrible reasons, dealing with it almost as a throwaway here, just a normal, everyday problem, ranked as very cool on the Reality scale.
Aeryn's come a long way -- I know I keep saying that, but she proved it again on a different level this time around. She not only knows that D'Argo's hurting, but sympathizes and makes multiple efforts to get him to talk about it, to be a friend to the heartbroken Luxan she used to call a barbarian. And she was also there to administer one or two well-placed 'boot-to-the-head's to John (not that he was listening much, but that never hurts). John's stopped being as trusting as he was when he was first lost, but he's sure got his blind spots. Luckily, Aeryn balances that out with her rational, quite healthy, and usually justified paranoia. I'm also grateful, by the way, that they're addressing those trust issues I was complaining about a few episodes ago. Only in passing, yes, but at least they're out there.
sigh And John. One of the things I adore about this show is that even the hero can screw up, can get obsessed over something, focus on it to the extent of blocking everything else out. He understandably obsessed on the cryopods, guilt being a wonderful thing (and he's paying for it by putting up with Jool/Banshee Chick). And he got caught up in the wormholes -- he was trying to save Moya and everyone else initially, but he gradually got lost in the possibilities, instead of dealing with reality. I don't put all of the responsibility for the accident on him; he had no idea checking out a wormhole was going to raise so much cain, and Zhaan wouldn't have begrudged him the time -- but I am so not happy with how easily he seems to be adjusting to walking away from Pilot and Moya, that being... Well, that being far too close to everything we loathed about Future-Boy Cold-Blooded Reptile Crichton back in My Three Crichtons. He seemed to be snapping out of it (out of shame more than anything), but who knows what seeing that snatch of home is going to do to him. (And by the way, what the hell was that little device scanning for? Taking picture of the worlds or scanning signals, or what? 'Cause that's a weird thing for the doohickey to have picked up. Sorry, got distracted.) But seriously, what does it say that he went to Harvey to try to work out the whole 'separate the ships' thing -- he went to the one person who would agree with the emotions he was fighting, someone who he knew would tell him what he wants to hear, that he can "choose science over a beast of burden." Um, John? If you have to go to something you loathe to get validation for your emotions/desires, they're probably not something that should be validated, you know?
The Chiana and D'Argo show continues to be heartbreaking -- she's obviously hurting desperately, both from guilt, and from the loss of someone she loves deeply. I know she lost him by her own actions, but I still feel sorry for her. But she's not letting it get in the way of dealing with real life (much), which you have to give her credit for. And D'Argo... I catch myself wanting to be mad at him for not forgiving the kid, and then realizing why everything he says sounds familiar. Because I've said it. When someone you trust kicks you in the teeth, both of us have the same first reaction: make good and damn sure that person never, ever gets another chance. Forgiveness is one thing; self-preservation is something else entirely. D'Argo has to find the balance.
Kiki's upcoming riff on Stark is going to be much more scathing and far more entertaining than mine could be. I'll leave her to it. I will say that I'm impressed with his ability to function when Zhaan's not around (except for that lovely psychotic moment with Aeryn, of course).
Oh, please God, don't let Banshee Chick (as she has quickly become known) hang around!!!! I just don't think I have the patience to wait for them to housebreak her, and this crew really doesn't need any more psychological problems running loose (and yes, I did say that when Chiana joined, and yes, I was wrong, but unless they jettison Stark next week, I'm right this time!). She's mildly amusing for the sheer horribleness of her complete indifference and total self-centeredness, not to mention the amazing Mood Hair (and the dreadfully Biker Chick wardrobe), but she's not my idea of a fun crewmate. It was funny watching the rest of the crew deal with her (Rygel and Chiana in particular; you do have to adore Rygel's direct approach to some situations), but that scream would get really old, really fast.
And, of course, there are lots of situations you don't have to adore Rygel for at all. < sigh > I really thought we'd gotten past his knee-jerk 'every Dominar for himself' impulses, and I would love to know how he thought he was going to get John to go along with abandoning Aeryn, to say nothing of the others. In fact, the writing on Rygel was the weakest part of the episode. While it's nice to be reminded that he really can be a little toad sometimes, he was completely off the wall this time around, abandoning Moya without a second thought, and setting John up to be killed out of a petty grudge over a well-deserved ass-kicking. I loved his scene with Zhaan; it's nice for those two to get a moment (which they rarely do, despite their long relationship), and Rygel's calculated words -- he never said he appreciated her counsel; he just asks if he's ever told her. Nice moment, and hugely amusing, but the rest of the time, you're just left staring at Buckwheat going, "Who licked the red off your candy?"
Some damned gorgeous CGI in use, particularly on the opening sequence. The wormhole is always a lovely effect, and is used effectively throughout the episode, but that beautiful shot of the Pathfinder ship materializing in the wormhole and overtaking Moya, with the close-up of Neeyala screaming in the front window.... Wow. Just incredible. And the snake kicked some major heiney. Serious kudos to the FX department.
3.4 Self-Inflicted Wounds:
Wait for the Wheel
||April 6, 2001
Further developments reveal treachery on the part of Neeyala and her crew, and as the crew of Moya tries to save their ship and themselves, someone chooses to make an important sacrifice....
Coming Soon, just as soon as the Tour Guides know which way is up. Or even sideways. |
First Aeryn, then Moya & Pilot, now Zhaan... are they trying to kill us along with the characters? What did we ever do to them? Hunh? Anyone? Bueller? |
I don't know what's up, guys. We aren't the producers (even though we appreciate those of you who think we can do something to bring her back. If only!). Right now, I'm in the denial phase of viewer grief; partly because of the circumstances-- after three near-deaths in the last three weeks, I'm emotionally numb. (Not to mention regretting last week's crack about Rygel getting an ear infection...) Partly because I like Zhaan a lot, and don't want this to be the last we see of her. That flash of light is something to hope for.... Hey, if Stark can come back from something like that, I have to believe Zhaan can. Whether or not she will--- is something else entirely. So I am going to refrain from giving any eulogies until I'm convinced this is a long-term thing, even though all the signs point that way. [Ow.] I actually felt quite bad for Stark, quietly talking to Aeryn at the end. I didn't sniffle through any of the rest of it, but his awed description of her utterly calm state of mind just did me in --- *that* was the point at which I teared up; the idea of going on to something better, with the only regret leaving behind those she loved... oh, guys. This could be it. sigh Kudos to Paul Goddard for making me cry, damnit. I swear, I'll write about Zhaan if she's still dead in two weeks. Then you'll get a decent rundown of what she meant to the show from me.
In the meantime, the grief-and-guilt-stricken crew has other worries, although all of them (particularly John and Aeryn) are certainly not going to bounce back from this any time soon. A huge shift in dynamics without Zhaan's stabilizing (albeit erratic) influence is going to occur; and while it may suck for them, it may be good for the show. We'll see.
Speaking of guilt.... Everyone is way too harsh on John! Including John! Way! Jeeeeez! One stupid research-boy wormhole moment -- and okay, a bit longer trusting Neeyala than he should have --- and he (and Zhaan, and others) are all trying to make this his fault? *Not*! That was not his intention (and intentions do count), he wasn't that out of line in wanting to investigate, and he was willing to fix it in a fairly terminal way, so I say let the guy off the hook already! Zhaan sure didn't blame him by the end, but I'll bet someone - Rygel, or D'Argo, or *someone*--- will tell him it is his fault, later. Add Jool's justified anger at her cousin's death directed in entirely the wrong direction, and John's worry about Scorpy-and-the-wormhole knowledge, and it won't take Harvey regularly escaping from the Dumpster to have Crichton back on the road to a nervous breakdown again. Which, by the way, makes perfect sense--- that little bit of repression was too easy to last. That Harvey seems to be rifling John's memories for fun costumes entertains the heck out of me--- and BB looks awesome in a tux. I love the conceit, of having a way into John's head without having him make the tapes to his dad any more. (Although I miss those... and I don't think it's a good sign that it's been a *long* time since he's done that.)
With regard to our newest harpy-voiced comrade.... We did *not* book that multi-planet tour for her. So you can all quit asking about that. Hmph! When our customers get lost, they stay lost. Got it? Bueno. Despite how much some people hate her, I'm amazed to say that I won't mind if she stays for a while. She learns fast. She tries to cope, albeit under protest and with a *lot* of screaming (which actually came in handy). Her snotty attitude amuses me. She's still awful, but no worse than Rygel or Stark. Tammy MacIntosh's performance reminds me of Cordelia Chase on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a character I initially loathed and then grew to enjoy for her sheer outrageousness. If she continues to be this watchable, I won't be holding the cargo bay doors open for her. *If*... keep that in mind. She's still on probation.
I am sooo glad Neeyala and her sabotaging crewmen are dead. I should probably be feeling some ambiguity about this, given that they didn't whole-heartedly want to sabotage Moya, but although I had to admire Neeyala's determination, I'm just hugely relieved they're gone. And that the main wedge between John and the rest of the crew was removed when he and Chi figured out the truth at the same time the others did. I'm gonna try not to judge their people's policies--- who knows why that 'return or your family buys it' clause was instated --- but I can't like them, and only regret they're deaths on an intellectual level. On an emotional level, I feel like they deserve it, for lying and actively working against Moya's and Pilot's interests that way. That final homing beacon though--- I'm with John. *Another* species they've pissed off? Does anyone else get the feeling that Destiny and Chaos have decided to make Moya's crew the target in a game of interstellar Dodgeball? While I'm all for meeting new species, they've got the Nebari, Peacekeepers, and Scarrans all annoyed already. They couldn't have just walked away from this match? Or are they paying back John for getting so very lucky his first year, and undermining so many villains and walking away? Maybe it just *is* that Wheel turning...
There was entirely too much good acting going on in this episode, I just *know* I'm going to miss something. Claudia Black gave the best steely support I've seen from her yet during this episode: facing down Neeyala, forcing Pilot to come back, and carefully taking that knife away from Stark, Aeryn exhibited more strength than ever before. John may be bucking for Science Officer, but I swear our ex-PK is earning her stripes as First Officer in front of my eyes. Maybe even Captain; there are times when she and John switch off the leader role so fast that you can't tell which one of them has stronger nerves and better insight.
The scene between Rygel and Pilot -- a first, as Perri pointed out to me -- was a trip, both for the subtext that Pilot didn't get and for Rygel's newly-genial attitude. The technical virtuosity of pulling this off without human actors was such that it didn't even occur to me until later that it was all animatronics. Bravo to the actors and the crew for a wickedly funny and poignant little scene, perfectly executed.
Poor D'Argo. He's really having a hard time pulling out of this funk --- and losing Zhaan will only make it worse. Let's hope he gets to shoot something soon. Chiana did a great job of pulling it together in this ep, in the fun earlier scenes with John, and her moments with Jool made me hope that we get to see these two turned loose on a commerce planet. Merchants of the Uncharted Territories, tremble in your shops...
Lastly, although not finally--- a lovely performance by Virgina Hey, all the way through. Even in the moments where Zhaan's control slips -- coolly snarking at John about his obsession, and threatening Neeyala, even if it might cost her her hope of grace -- she remained focused on saving Pilot and Moya throughout, and Virginia conveyed her overwhelming need to save them no matter the cost. And thus her final actions were both logical and believable, and her peace in the face of death wholly characteristic, once her task was accomplished. If this the last we see of Zhaan for a while... then it was the kind of death she always wanted, and how can you really argue with that?
One to re-watch for all the small bits of good-bye, however impermanent they might be; for John's unravelling and Aeryn's resolve, Pilot's regrets and Rygel's farewell. Keep your fingers crossed that it's just not good-bye for always.
Coming as soon as she's done talking with our lawyers about that libel suit. The nerve of some customers!