4.9 A Prefect Murder
||August 9, 2002
Finding the real truth behind the escalating murders on a small planet with a very suspicious population, becomes imperative as Moya's crew is drawn into a conflict being fought using proxy mind-control.
Aeryn: I'm getting a really bad bribe here.|
John: Oh God, she's talking English. < snorts forgetting-drugs >
Chiana: So, is it true what they say about priests? They give great religious experience?
Dude: And if she acted on anyone's behalf, we'll catch her, and torture her until she tells us.
John: Damn, how come I didn't think of that before?
Prefect: Your scabberflies failed!
E'Alet : They have no attraction to this particular alien species.
Chiana: Everybody likes me!
Aeryn: I don't think I have the strength... to miss again.
John: I think I'm just a really bad shot.... You know, I really think the coin toss ended badly.
Aeryn: It did.
Prefect: (about Aeryn) Seems a bit... moody.|
John: You should have met her mother.
How would John know? This John never met her. Unless Crais or Aeryn talked about her, or Rygel, there's no way he could know what Xhalax was like. That's possible--- in fact, knowing Rygel, it's quite probable. But it's still weird. And unless he got more from Stark's little last message for John from John, then this is still a glitch. Not that we blame John. We have trouble keeping track of which one of him did what too.
I think this one wins the award for most annoying directorial opening. The cubist, overlapping points of view irritated most of the people I discussed this one with. First time through, it's just confusing. Second time through, it's clearer that it's different angles on what happened. Aeryn's viewpoint, then D'Argo's and Chiana's, then John's, with some overlap between versions. As a storytelling device, it's interesting, but there are two big problems with it: we're too used to there being *reasons* for this kind of frelled viewpoint, so most of the audience was looking for an explanation that wasn't going to be forthcoming. We're so used to people messing with the crew's heads, or jumping around in time, or other weirdness, that a simple distortion in story angle is enough to throw the whole thing off. Which is good because it mimics the way Aeryn and the crew are feeling; but it's bad, because you still don't know exactly what's going on by the time you're through the ep. Secondly, it goes on too long -- it doesn't let up until half-way through and you're still uncertain if the cubist version is over until another ten minutes have passed. Because of this, most of the sense of the episode is lost.|
For instance: that guy with the white hair? Was the previous Prefect. He wanted to keep his job, so he conspired with the off-worlder dude with the hive in his head to assasinate other clan leaders, hoping to start a war that would leave him in power by default. In case you were wondering. If you got that the first time through, you were paying closer attention than *we* were.
But, to be fair, the second time watching this it works better, and it certainly livens up an otherwise fairly straightforward ep. I did feel cheated because given Aeryn's reaction to the mention of Tormented Space last week, I suspected that whatever she did while she was gone would come up in this episode. It probably would've been more interesting if it had. But I'll blame that on trailers and teasers more than anything else. A show should never be afraid to experiment with their directorial options; but some of them will work better than others. This is... one of the others.
We've got more memorably creepy villains this time out. Hivehead and the previous Prefect are nicely callous, and I have to admit that they've got a pretty good plan going. That said, I'm not sorry they're gone; they're too limited to make a reappearance. Good contrast of types here, with the tough-guy very different from the intellectual, and the actors certainly had fun chewing up the scenery. The prefect-to-be seems like a good guy, and it's fun watching him bond wth D'Argo, although one or two weird angles make you wonder if he knows what's going on with Aeryn. Since he doesn't, we'll just have to assume he was being suspicious of all offworlders again.
Starting with Chiana, Ambassador of Good Will to the Willing Everywhere. *sigh* And she's *not* a whore, thank you. She's a tralk. Enthusiastic amateur, not pro. Try to get these things clear, people. This is a great Chiana ep, actually; she gets to smart off, be smart, scared, defiant, flirtatious and brave in turns. All while seeming *alien* -- Gigi Edgley's ability to communicate altered body-language is a consistent tip-off that she isn't human, and Chi's mood swings are never so wide that you think she's crazy -- just moody and adolescent. Her neat little trick of altered perspective comes in handy again, and yay for her for not being afraid to use it. She *should* be, though. The consequences (permanent blindness seems like a possibility) are usually outweighed by the life-or-death situations she finds herself in, but it makes me nervous every time she goes there.
Jonathan Hardy as someone other than Rygel is still immediately recognizable. The creepy little priest has a sense of authority in common with Sparky, too, and with the priest, it's more authentic. And you *gotta* love his little revolving blade. Bet Rygel would love one of those. Maybe Chi will pick him up one at the next market they get to.
The whole Sikozu and what'shisface thing isn't clear at all. Mostly because I don't see the attraction on either side. She's a pill, he's a doofus. And it goes on too long, all things considered. Sikozu isn't staying because... why? Scorpius? The wish to see the galaxy? Some other reason? Well, maybe she just knows she'd never really be accepted. In the xenophobic culture they're in, that would be enough. Plus, Zabatt is... annoying. I admire him for trying hard, but he's so *young* he gives me a pain in the neck. I do like him giving the old Prefect a choice on which way to go, though. I still think he deserved a nastier death than he got, especially with that taunting exit line about the kid's father, but it was an awesome shot, and at least he stayed true to his father's principles.
Weird moment: Chiana and Sikozu almost bonding at the end, when Chiana jokes about staying and Sikozu does nothing except give her a warning look and help her up. Up until then, they'd been at each other's necks all episode, and nothing specific enough happened (that we saw) to make up the quarrel they were having when Sikozu was playing kissy-face with Zabatt. What's that about? Are they friends now? It doesn't seem likely, but it was awfully sweet, and I wouldn't mind seeing more of that.
Poor Aeryn. Aiyiyi, they've messed with John's head to the point where they can barely scramble it any more, so they have to start in on her? That's *deeply* unfair. Especially for someone who's always looked on herself as a protector, finding out she killed 17 people while in a fugue state is going to mess with her head as badly as any trippiness the Scarrans or Peacekeepers ever inflicted on John.
But John and Aeryn held hands! And we are so terribly pathetic that this teeny step forward was met with happy "awwww!"s! Which just shows how starved for J/A interaction we are, that this makes us so happy. Please powers that be, John hopefully won't be snorting forget-her-drugs as often as he has been. I thought that was a fairly sketchy bit of business anyway -- he's been through a lot of things he's want to forget more than the heartache Aeryn's been inflicting on him. Still, he didn't have the opportunity to develop a crutch for dealing with those feelings before now, since Zhaan and Jool wouldn't have put up with it, and Noranti wasn't on the ship then. Anyway, doesn't matter: they held hands. She leaned against him for support later. They finally had a stare-down and *almost* a conversation about the damn coin toss. That last face-down between John and Aeryn... wooo! Eeeee! Wheeeee! And thank god they have such good friends that they'll tackle and knock them out when they need to be!
D'Argo is actually doing a pretty good job as captain here; he's of the same type as the Prefect, so they get along. And he's focusing on the here-and-now at all times, not the possibilities of more trouble. That his crew mates don't *quite* take him seriously in the role yet doesn't negate that he's coping fairly well with the responsibility.
Extra things.... John's little singing of "High Road, Low Road" gets echoed by the soundtrack. Cool, and unexpected. Aeryn's hair is clearly an extension, and I can't figure out why. Except if it's supposed to tell us how much time has passed while she was off Moya. But I wish they'd ditch it. The whirling viewpoint as Aeryn and John are attacked by the bugs is trippy -- but not as trippy as the guy with the bugs coming out of his head. Ick. Yes, we're watching Farscape, people: we give you at least two excuses to gag per episode, or we don't air the show!
In contrast to that, we get some absolutely gorgeous visuals out of this ep; the sets and mattes are the vividly reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, with the same sweeping sense of scope. That painful, silent last scene, at the graves, with the little boy there, and Aeryn mourning. The staircase, the tower, the swamps. All awesome.
A decent but very weird ep, overshadowed by the weirdness of the Picasso opening. If you're into technique, you'll love it. If not... give it a miss, and skip to the end, where John and Aeryn are holding hands. *siiigh!*
4.10 Coup by Clam
||August 16, 2002
Moya stops by a planet for repairs, and the crew samples the local cuisine. Big mistake. Food poisoning hits in a big, big way, and the only cure lies with a blackmailing doctor and in the middle of a sexual revolution.
Rygel: "Their food is under-cooked, over-cooked, and not worth cooking. Makes Noranti's food look edible."|
D'Argo: "If you'd have held your scream off one more microt, I'd have won the pool."
Doc Snot: "The problem is, you are not mollusks."
D'Argo: "It's never been a problem for us before."
Crichton: "No, no, no! Don't come near me when you're feeling like that!"
Crichton: "I'm afraid the boy might be ruined for life."
Aeryn: "I'm almost jealous. And if this doesn't work, you're dead."
Dr. Snot: "With all respect, so are you."
Rygel: "Would you rather die than drink it?"
D'Argo: //long, hard thought, heavy sigh// "Okay...."
D'Argo: "John, the cure seems to be working."
Crichton: "That's great news, D, I hate you even more."
Aeryn: "Sikozu, we have a mission."
Crichton: "I'm happy to go."
Aeryn: "Jirl power."
Crichton: "Girl power. Girl power! Would you quit speaking English!"
Crichton: "When we got here, the clock stopped. We couldn't blend in here on Butt-Ugly Night."
Pilot: "Are you certain you can delay their deterioration?"
Scorpius: "Certain? No. Confident? Yes."
Chiana: "You're a frelling optimist."
Mechanic: "Hard to be a revolutionary if you're not."
Aeryn: "Why did you volunteer your finger?"
Sikozu: "Do your appendages re-attach?"
Crichton: "'Scuse me, ladies, can I have your attention? Do any of you have one of these under your skirt?" // pulls out guns, shoots up room// "Yeah! Girl power!"
Rygel: "That's it... just one more bite. Mm-mm. It's good! Oh, thank you for preparing the cures. I'll leave this mollusk in the garbage... outside."
Doc Snot: "But... it will be consumed by drozil flies! Or a wild flibisk! You can't do that to me!"
Rygel: "I risk to differ. Nice mollusk. What's that? One more mouthful?"
Noranti: "Isn't that amazing? Now that, we study."
D'Argo: "No, that we will throw away."
Crichton: "D, how long did it take?"
Noranti: "No time at all."
D'Argo: "Frelling forever."
Both: "Three arns."
You know the thing about this episode? It was funnier the first time we saw it -- just at the end of last season in I-Yentsch, You-Yentsch. D'Argo and Lt. Braca mind-melded was highly hilarious, but multiplying the gag (and adding more bodily functions) doesn't make it original again, and, sadly, doesn't make it funnier. The joke just isn't enough to sustain the episode, and neither is the extreme grossness factor.
Which isn't to say that the ep is a waste of time -- no Farscape episode ever is. Rygel in drag is worth the price of admission! But John in drag is just kinda creepy (as is the fact that the sleaze was so persistently hitting on him), and why did they bother to put Rygel in drag again? I fail to see how a female Hynerian is any more acceptable in a men's club than a male Hynerian -- and if she is, I really don't want the details. < shudder > This and many other plot holes (like the highly-improbable mollusks themselves) go whizzing by, hidden in silliness and grossness, like the writers were hoping we'd be too busy laughing (or being nauseated) to notice.
The culture itself is kind of interesting -- that many chauvinists in one planet... oh yeah, they're just begging for a sexual revolution, and the chicks seem more than ready to give it to them. Hey, if I had to wear silly headgear like that, I'd be rebelling, too. And the villain was quite hateable, yup. Doc Snot was running a very nice variation on the old protection racket -- "Pay me and you won't be declared sick." Loser. And his 'cure' was almost certainly the grossest thing we've seen yet on this show, which is saying something. It's impressive that there are no limits to what Farscape writers are willing to inflict on their characters... but maybe there should be? Blech. Spitting, farting, urinating, vomiting, biting and eating of people... there's pretty much nothing they didn't hit. All in one ep. Wow. If I wanted to see all of that at once, I'd go hang out at a sports bar or a bachelor party or something.
Still hating Aeryn's hair, by the way --- if Claudia cut it, let Aeryn cut it, for Pete's sake. It's not like it'll make her any less gorgeous, which the lousy hair extensions are in danger of doing. And Sikozu's certainly not getting any less annoying -- gotta love Pilot telling her where to get off. But I am reluctantly impressed with her willingness to be tortured in Aeryn's stead, just because it's more logical -- I'll hand it to the girl, she's as ruthlessly practical as it's possible to be, and sometimes uses it well. As opposed to Noranti, drinking when she's supposed to be researching... yeah, she's useful.
[Note on commercial: Pythons 2? There was a Pythons 1? And Sci-Fi is cancelling Farscape so they have more money for quality programming like this? Oh yeah, there's a fiscally sound decision for you. Whatever.]
Chiana had a good time with the mechanic subplot, which was surprisingly cool and subtle compared to the rest of the ep. That was another nice turn from a guest star, and definitely the best part of the episode (except for Rygel). The rest.... eh. D'Argo's sharing Noranti's , ah, "swell time" was pretty damn funny, I admit, if way beyond the bounds of TMI (and gratuitous as hell, not that the rest of the ep wasn't). Doc Rygel was hugely entertaining, quite useful, and gleefully malicious about it all -- you tend to forget just how dangerous he actually is. And such a sense of justice. And whee, Scorpius saves the day again. Whoopee. We're all so impressed with his selfless sacrifice.... NOT!!!
Far from Farscape's best outing, although not it's worst; I can think of better things to do on a Friday night. Or a Wednesday night. Or pretty much any night. And all of them will leave me with a much happier stomach. Yick.