Ok, people. The Farscape blog is back! But please don’t make me review “Taking the Stone” and “Visitas Mortis.” Or “Picture if you Will” for that matter. Ok, also, “Dream a Little Dream.” Ain’t nobody got time for that.
So, we’ll be hitting the highlights of early season 2. Because while there are some … unfortunate one-offs, when season 2 scores a win, it’s usually a solid win. In the interest of full disclosure, my watching got a little ahead of my blogging. I know the next few episodes deserve more reflection than I will give them. But, hang in with me. If I don’t breeze through this set and move on, I’ll never catch up with the blog. I’ll pick up the in-depth commentary with the Princess Trilogy and push on from there.
CRACKERS DON’T MATTER
Crackers Don’t Matter might be THE definitive episode of Farscape. I will admit, though, that I more appreciate why this is such a good episode than that it’s one of my personal favourites. Admittedly, there are some truly amazing moments, as for example:
–“When I’m old and fat [beat] When I’m old, there is one thing I will look back on with tremendous pride and that is killing you.”
–“What do you mean? I’ve got great eyes … they’re better than 20/20 and they’re BLUE!”
–“Shoot her, John. Then we’ll have pizza … and margarita shooters!”
–John humming the Ride of the ValKyrie while dressed in his hodge-podge armour, punctuated by Aeryn’s “We are going to die.”
One also has to applaud a genre show with an ensemble cast for actually having the gumption to explore all the emotions simmering away in the back of these characters’ minds. Crichton and Chiana’s latent sexual attraction. The hint of frustration that underscore’s John and Aeryn’s otherwise positive chemistry. D’Argo’s aggression that leads him to force-feed Rygel crackers. Not to mention the clever play with the title of the episode. Crackers do not, in fact, matter at all. And yet they manage to be the catalyst for so much of the underlying tension of the episode. At the end of the day, the crew cannot just walk away from everything that was said and done while under the influence of T’Raltax’s light. The feelings were true, even if they are able to keep them in check from day to day. All they can do is try their best to move forward.
All that said, despite the truly hilarious moments in the episode, the brilliant directing, and the gutsy writing … I think I prefer my Moya crew when they are benignly dysfunctional. I appreciate going dark, but the meanness just keeps this from being an episode I full-out love. I admit that might make me a scaper heretic. But so it goes.
THE WAY WE WEREN’T
Now, this on the other hand, is without a doubt in my top 10 (if not top 5) Farscape episodes. First off, let us acknowledge the elephant in the room. “The Way we Weren’t” is a classic example of Farscape ret-conning. I am quite sure none of this was in the works when the character of Aeryn (or Pilot, for that matter) was conceived. Yet, at the same time, the episode doesn’t feel forced, as if the writers are trying to shoehorn in a backstory that makes no sense given the history of the show to date. Rather, the “ret-conning” (for lack of a better word) enriches the characters we have already come to know.
It is a credit to Claudia Black that this episode is as successful as it is. From her first scenes with Aeryn (when she confesses to hate the concept of “compassion”), Black was able to invest her character with a soulfulness and depth that seemed at odds with her cold warrior exterior. The key is in her conversation with John when she confesses that Peacekeepers could have as many “recreational” encounters as they liked:
–Aeryn: But you never connected with anyone openly and never with any longevity. I guess what I’m trying to say is my relationships back then were very … ” John: “Shallow?” Aeryn: “Painful.”
Aeryn the hardened soldier is not devoid of emotions. She is afraid of emotions. She is afraid of pain. She feels acutely and that is precisely why she hates her emotions so much. Was her turning on Valorek just about getting back on prowler detail? Or was it about needing to push back from feelings that had become too deep? At any rate, by this point both the writers and Claudia Black have earned the vulnerability they allow Aeryn to show. Aeryn is a “strong female character” in that 90s girl-power kind of way. But, even more than that, she is allowed weaknesses and flaws. I love Aeryn, and her journey here has a good deal to do with it.
It has to be said, I also appreciate what this episode brings to the John/Aeryn relationship. You just know in John’s mind he’s been thinking that he will be the alpha male who finally teaches the ice queen Aeryn the power of love. Only … she has already experienced love. She is not “virginal” in that sense.
As for the Pilot story–it perhaps does not flow as naturally as Aeryn’s arch in the episode. At the same time, I appreciate that the writers were attempting to build on the beautiful bond that had developed between Aeryn and Pilot. And the conflict is worth if for their touching reconciliation.
Out of Their Minds
I honestly don’t even know what to say about this. Greatest comedic hour of TV ever? If you live inside my mind it it! I feel adding excessive commentary would cheapen the pure delightfulness of Claudia Black, as Crichton, trying to tell Ben Browder, as Rygel, how to use his “equipment.”
Allow me merely to point out that, again, Farscape goes above the bar in what could be a very formulaic sci-fi body swap episode. We actually explore the complexity of what it means for one person to inhabit another person’s body. Sexually … kinda sketchy. Psychologically … disorienting. It works. Really, what more is there to say that:
–“It’s ok. You were in my shoes. I was in your pants …”