Look At The Princess (Parts 1-3)
Leeman here standing in for Rachel and it’s my turn to talk Farscape with you Yoketeers (I promise to R&D a better name) and I have only one question: What on Earth did I just watch? I will confess that I bounce in and out of Farscape but I feel that over the years I have a decent idea of just what the situation is even if the events are absolutely confounding but this… this has left me with a crick in my neck. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.
So this three-parter comes about halfway through the second season and it introduces a few key things, the explicit shenanigans between Chiana and D’Argo and also the Scarrans who are a nice, Muppety counterbalance to the completely un-Muppety Sebaceans but more on them later.
Our Plucky Heroes find themselves on the most Neutral planet in the history of Neutrality minus Zhaan whose actor was on a different filming schedule than everyone else so gets what we call in my role-playing games, a “magical adventure” largely on her lonesome.
What follows are three episodes where we get introduced to a bizarre cultural experiment in planned craziness where people use breath droplets and casual making out as a sort of moist OK Cupid to determine who they’re “compatible” with. The non-blue heroes get caught up in a succession crisis engineered by an evil prince against his easily-irritated sister. With his sinister, squamous Scarran ally, they’ve made her unable to mate with any of here fellow Neutralians who are as un-Muppety as Crichton and surprise surprise, Crichton is literally the only man on the planet who can give her babies. To make things more fun, everyone’s favourite sexy grandpa Scorpius shows up so we are set up for maximum hijinx.
There’s a lot going on so let’s break some of these things down. First off, Magical Adventures. When Scorpius shows up, Zhaan and Pilot hightail it out of there and find themselves being led by Moya to the great big cloud where all the space whales are made by what turns out to be puffy dudes in togas with Indian accents who may or may not be the actor who voices Rygel. He provides some narrative tension by saying that Moya’s capacity to make warships means she needs to die. Lots of righteous anger from Zhaan as she and Puffy have a philosophical duel over the sanctity of life for about three episodes until finally Zhaan sucks Puffy into Crichton’s ship which convinces him that Moya is surrounded by people who care about her so he spares all their lives so… violence is always the answer? Go team?
Back on the Neutral planet of make outs, we bounce from contrived scenario to the next as Crichton is forced to marry a princess, meets at least one Peacekeeper spy, acts opposite his actual wife who plays some sort of space lizard, goes to space, comes back from space, gets turned to metal, loses his head, gets dunked in acid, gets unmetalled, spares Scorpius, meets his future kid, and gets his own minty-fresh make out time and we’re off.
Oh, and meanwhile Chiana and D’Argo go at it like Tribbles while Aeryn goes on a series of awful dates.
This trilogy is super-busy, in case you haven’t noticed but there’s something joyfully crazy as it bounces from scene to scene like a ball of rubber bands in a dryer. I’m still not entirely sure what I saw but I’m glad I saw it because in the midst of the crazy, we do see a lot of work being done with the various relationships on the show and not just between our Plucky Heroes. The Peacekeepers in general and Scorpius in particular have a complicated relationship with the Scarrans and we get a good glimpse of that here which will have repercussions further down the line. (See, Rachel! I pay attention sometimes)
As for the interpersonal issues between our Plucky Heroes, man alive do these episodes provide. You have Chiana and D’Argo taking the Minty Fresh challenge only to fail and thus prove their “incompatibility” for however useful that is and the tension between Crichton and Aeryn is as palpable as a goiter!
All in all, while I hate this dumb neutral planet with its dumb empress and its dumb culture and traditions, they do provide a curious backdrop for these more thoughtful relationship issues to play out and while three episodes is a long time to have to suffer through all their diaphanous nonsense, it’s worth it to get to the good stuff.
Now back to watching Star Trek and complaining about Riker’s beard.
Well, I’m back
Thanks to Leeman for stepping into the gap as I’ve been up to my eyeballs in the proverbial care of souls. But I couldn’t let this trilogy pass without making some obligatory comments on the state of John and Aeryn.
Allegedly, showrunner David Kemper has said this whole three-parter is really all about the first and last scenes. Namely, J/A’s aborted attempt at some nookie at the start, contrasted with their “silent kiss test” at the end. It is fair to say that the state of things between John and Aeryn has a distinctly different feel after these episodes, even if we’re still a far cry from a mutually expressed relationship. A lot of that comes down to Aeryn’s journey at this point. John is darn sure that he needs Aeryn at this point and perhaps what he’s learned as a result of everything is that he is willing to give her the space she needs for them to come together. But there’s a lot more going on with Aeryn.
We can’t deny that our favourite ex-peacekeeper is not on her best behaviour here. She is prickly and abrasive to say the very least. It is Drogon, ironically, who hits the nail on the head. Aeryn is not devoid of emotions. Rather, she is afraid of them. That is an important distinction … one to remember when we move into season 3 and — whooo boy! — pain in store for Aeryn. One of the most interesting observations that occurred to me on this re-watch was actually how nurturing Aeryn is on her “date” with Drogon. She actually is *trying* to coach him through their adventures in the barren lands. Aeryn is, perhaps despite herself, a nurturer — a protector. We saw that in her relationship with Talyn and we see it here.
Finally, how can I resist squealing over that final scene, particularly from Aeryn’s perspective. Oh, Claudia Black! Why are you so awesome? Just look at the fear in Aeryn’s eyes. Is she more afraid that the test will be negative or positive? I doubt if even she knows. But she has taken a huge step toward making herself vulnerable to John Crichton and all the agony and ecstasy of heartache.