There’s a lot that used to annoy me about Lost, not the least of which was its issue with pacing. You’d spend 90% of the season face-palming while characters refused to answer one another’s questions for no reason other than, well … plot. Then five minutes before the end of the season finale you’re still waiting for the climactic action to happen. Not so with Farscape. For all that Farscape can be a roller-coaster ride of crazy, one thing I’ve always appreciated about the series is that it’s not afraid to take time for quiet moments between characters. We witnessed the dramatic climax of season 1 in Nerve/A Hidden Memory. Scorpius was introduced, Moya’s baby was born, Crais and Aeryn had something of a confrontation, and John’s gradual decline into brokenness reached a peak. Yet two hours of series time remain unfilled. The show is not afraid to give us time to explore where our characters are and how far they have come together.
Bone to Be Wild
I’ve given this episode short shift–not really sure to pair it with the 2-parter it follows or precedes. It is an important breather between these two intense stories. At the very least we get to see how damaged Crichton is after his experience in Crichton’s Aurora chair–a new gun-wielding, shoot-first-ask-later kinda guy. And yet he is not defeated. That indomitable spirit defines Crichton more than anything else. He may not be a hero in the traditional sense of the word … but at the very least he refuses to allow himself ever truly to be beaten. Crichton is complicated, but there is something to admire in that.
It has to be said, I also love the moments Aeryn gets with Talyn. I’ve often said that Aeryn’s journey toward being a more emotionally mature and “human” (for lack of a better word) character has to do with a lot more than just her relationship with John. Aeryn’s quasi-maternal connection with Talyn is one of my favourite parts of her journey.
This might top the list of episodes that take the time to savour quiet character beats. As Farscape will do again in the future (season 3’s brilliant “Dog With Two Bones” comes to mind) here these quiet character beats are the real “A” plot of the episode, with Crichton’s plan to blow up Scorpius’s base as the background “B” plot.
I’ll just highlight some of my favourite moments:
–Aeryn and Zhaan: We don’t really get to see these women interact all that much. But it’s clear from Aeryn’s frustration and anger that Zhaan means something to her. Aeryn’s wants to understand the contradictions that exist within Zhaan, and to share some sense of Zhaan’s serenity and wisdom. I’ll mention here how much I also love Aeryn’s condemnation of Zhaan in Mind the Baby, as she moves from clear discomfort at Zhaan’s declaration of love to a bold statement about the courage and strength that love requires. Have I mentioned lately how much I love Aeryn Sun and that even at this point she has a lot more depth than she knows.
–Aeryn and John: The way Ben Browder rolls his eyes when Aeryn corrects him that the battle-hardened soldier that appears over her bed was her mother, not her father always delights me. Those two always nail the details in their performances.
–Aeryn and Pilot: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. At this point in the series, Pilot has as much to do with Aeryn’s emotional growth as John — if not more!
–John and D’Argo: In a moment of true vulnerability, John states to Crais his desire for “human, male to male friendship.” That desire is understandable, given especially that John and D’Argo have some ground to cover together before their friendship comes into its own. That said, the moments the pair share in the transport pod as they face somewhat certain death provides a glimpse into the deep bond these two will eventually share. “Kirk and Spock. Abbot and Costello. First Base.”
–John and Crais: There is little more evidence we need of John’s broken mental state than his moment of intimacy with the man who spent the better part of the last year hunting him down in vengeance. That Crais pales in comparison to the threat Moya et al. now face just emphasizes for John how far from home he is and how little power he has.
Also: “I am a Dominar of Action!
The decision to blow up Scorpius’s base merits mention. As I said before, John Crichton never stops fighting. Whether out of bravado, or optimism, or pure stubbornness, John Crichton is not defeated. There will be time enough for counting the bodies John leave in his wake–to heap guilt upon him and to watch John descend into his own PTSD and depression. For now, it is enough to see Crichton fight back in a way that is clearly insane and, it has to be said, perhaps not totally admirable.
Mind the Baby
While “Family Ties” reflected on the journey our characters have taken over the past season, “Mind the Baby” has the more difficult task of putting the pieces in place for next season. Crais runs off with Talyn (and, sigh, the “hand of friendship”). Moya & Co. are on the run now from Scorpius (conveniently allowing the second-season opening narration to remain unchanged. D’Argo has a vastly improved make-up job (which the writers half-joking attribute to “space burn”) and learns to play paper-rock-scissors.
Most importantly, Mind the Baby introduces us to CRAZY CRICHTON! Clearly, something has snapped in John’s brain. We’ve seen John as the comic relief whipping off pop culture references. But his actions throughout the episode speak to an instability we’ve not yet seen. His way of coping with what has been done to him? Something more sinister? I suppose it remains to be seen. That brings us to the joy of season 2, which others have dubbed “The Season of Insanity.” Good times will be had by all.