John gets stranded for 3 months, and when the others return he's rather bitter...
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Okay, so Farscape's been on quite a role, but unfortunately that comes to a blistering halt with this episode, because it's my sad duty to inform you that this is the very worst episode of the season. It's not the worst concept ever, but after the first fifteen minutes or so the whole mystery of what would happen is solved, and from there the story pretty much falls apart. Or at least it falls into the "been there, done that" format, and this one's been done billions of times before. Sadly, many of those times it was done better than this.
The best thing about this episode was the first quarter or so. We began with John bickering with everyone on board because he's fed up, and he goes for a "drive" to cool his head. But Moya needs to compensate for the extra pressure of a blocked vent to maintain her baby's health, which means starburst. So away Moya goes, leaving John behind. Great right? Yes, this left me hoping for a great story. So we then cut down to the planet, Acquara, where John has spent the past three months growing a ferret on his face. Okay, okay, so maybe not but it sure looks that way. Anyhow, he seems to have something of a love interest down on the planet with a woman named Lishala, who is clearly a little attracted to ferret-face, uh, I mean, John. Then along comes Mr. Muscle, or rather Rokon, who tells her that her father, the Grondeer (leader) wants to speak to her, and when she goes he gets a few digs in at John.
Up to here it's all good. But then it starts to go down hill, as we see everyone on Moya is searching for John. Fine, since there's a bit of guilt within the crew, and then we return to the planet. John is with the Grondeer, and Rokon is very jealous, with his mother, Neera, in his ear convincing him that John's stole the heart of Lishala. Ooh, this is going to get juicy. But then, less than fifteen minutes into the episode, and D'Argo and Rygel land on the planet, and have found the pod. Great, so the episode's solved, right? Well, no, because there's more to come. Unfortunately it's just not very good.
The next few scenes are well played, because when D'Argo saves John from Rokon and the Grondeer's guards, John is less than ecstatic to see him. In fact, he's rather pissed. He's under the impression that Moya's crew just stranded him out there, and he's had to fend for himself all alone for three months, so he has good reason to be. He's equally unimpressed when he sees Rygel, but our Dominar puts him straight. It was partly his fault, since he caused the problem that Moya had to compensate for, and D'Argo explains that they've been looking for him for three months. Now I know that's the truth, and that John's a good, trustworthy person, but really, I was expecting a bit more of a harsh reaction. I expected him to storm off or something, and D'Argo and Rygel would have had to convince him, but I thought it would take longer than this. But alas, it didn't, and from here, the episode gets caught in a downward spiral.
You see, Lishala says that John has to convince her father that D'Argo's no threat, but on the way they are again ambushed. Back at the village, they're charged with assaulting the Grondeer's guards and sentenced to banishment, until Rygel steps out of a bag and the think he is their god. Of course, he is no god but rather the Hynerians sent out the Acquaran's ancestors as colonists, to spread the name of the Rygel family, but they were abandoned and placed the power-draining device on the planet so they would worship the Rygel family forever. So, in this short space of time, the episode has descended from being about John and his abandonment into a story that a suppressed people think Rygel is god, when he clearly isn't, and this sort of story has been done to death.
I have to say that Rygel is excellent, and really shines in this role, but his amusing performance is the only thing that saves this episode from being a complete disaster. The rest of the episode is generally about him, and how he can convince the people that they can be more than what they think. They have been suppressed by the priestons, who are the only ones who can read the sacred text – the Timbala. The priestons manipulated the stories to elevate themselves, because the texts reveal that really it was all the Hynerian's doings, and the Masata rising up and leading them to the light is just a metaphor.
Power hungry Neera won't give him a chance to explain, and so he's seized to be killed. John and D'Argo find a projectile that contains a map from Moya. The whole time D'Argo and Rygel were on the planet, Aeryn and Zhaan worked to send something down that would be of use to the others. Well it gives John the hint, and he explains it all. Neera still is having none of it, proving she is only really out for herself and just wants to have power when her son becomes Grondeer. So she gets Rokon to fight John, but he notices hand holes in the statue, and gets Rygel to touch it, which reveals a light and stops the power drain, so his sled now works and he can rise up. Neera was an interesting character, but sadly the clichéd selfish character, with the Grondeer being the nice leader that is blind to the true colours of everyone around him. As mentioned, Rygel is great though, and it's nice to see him tell them that he's just a worthy being like all of them. It brings a sense of dignity and honour to his character, further developing him past the comedy act. He still gets some of the best lines though. In the end, everything's happy ever after, and will probably be forgotten.
Every show has a stinker, and while this episode isn't quite that, since it does have some redeeming features, it is still the worst episode of Farscape's first season. It's a shame because for the first ten minutes or so, it shows great potential to explore John's anger and the crew's remorse. Instead, it's all solved within a few minutes and the rest are spent on the same old story. Of course, Rygel posts a star performance, but other than that there's little reason to watch this story.
I love to hear your views, whether you agree or disagree, so feel free to e-mail me your feedback. Review by Dani Moure.
Did You Know?
This episode was inspired by Ben Browder's favourite movie – Jeremiah Johnson.
The episode's filming was hit with problems: a hail storm hit and threatened to destroy the sets, with stones the size of cricket balls coming through the creature shop windows and roof.
This episode gives us our first real insight into Hynerian society, and it's not as wonderful as Rygel makes out.
John: "I'm sick of it Aeryn. I'm sick of Napoleon the fourteenth. I'm sick of blue, I'm sick of tentacle-man and guess what? I'm sick of you."
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