|"Picture if You Will"|
When Chiana receives a painting that portrays the future, all hell breaks loose...
Click here to read the Farscape World synopsis for this episode.
"Picture if You Will" is sadly, one of those episodes. You know the ones; they have good potential but ultimately end up coming across as a bit of a snorefest. Okay, so maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but even some good characterisation for Chiana and Zhaan doesn't stop this episode being more than a trite boring. Still, it's not the very worst episode this season so far ("Vita Mortis" anyone?), but it's really not up to much.
The story started off nice and intriguing, with the painting of Chiana apparently portraying the future. It started with a simple thing like Chiana's lost necklace, then her broken leg, and then her burning in flames. Of course, the necklace was found, she did break her leg and then she did burn in flames (in the freezer no less!), and we're left wondering what in the world could be causing all of this. The others are all wondering what the heck is happening, Zhaan's freaking out and hearing voices, and they try to get rid of the picture. But the picture comes back, and shows D'Argo impaled. Sure enough, D'Argo is impaled... and from here the episode starts to slip.
We find out that Chiana wasn't killed, just transported to another place, where D'Argo is also taken. This place is apparently inside the painting. For me, this was where the tension started to slip and the episode started to go downhill. While we also had a great setup from Zhaan, where she tells John that a time will come when she'll need him and the others to follow her instructions exactly and without fail, the tension still dissolved. In the meantime, Aeryn and Rygel return to Kyvan to get information, and they find out that the person behind the portrait is... Maldis. Yes, returning from his last adventure "That Old Black Magic", Maldis has reconstituted himself and wants revenge on the one who dispersed him – Zhaan.
Maldis' return was, I suppose, the biggest problem I had with this episode. While things started out promising but started to slip after the first act (when Chiana was burned), when Maldis returns the episode just takes a nosedive in the interest level. I found it to be rather pointless to have him return in this manner. It may have been more interesting to me had he started to attack Zhaan (directly or otherwise) from the outset, as opposed to beating around the bush and picking off her shipmates. Surely he could have found something more devastating for Zhaan than that, because the whole time she knew it was Maldis, and so her reaction wasn't really what he was aiming for anyway. I can understand the motive behind his return and wanting to inflict pain upon Zhaan, I just think the writer could have made a more interesting way for him to go about it. Additionally, Zhaan's confrontation with him left a lot to be desired. This supposedly powerful being became rather easy to pick off in the end. Sure, he was weakened by the "destruction" of Kyvan, but nonetheless in the end after a bit of a beating, it ended up taking a few shots from the DRDs to destroy him altogether. And what on Earth was with that big hand? I have to say that it came off as one of the most awful effects I've ever seen on Farscape in its entire run. It just looked so unreal I found myself laughing at it, and it looked all the worse because the visual effects on Farscape are usually nothing less than awesome.
Of course, there were some things to like in this episode. For one, there was some great character building and interactions. We had some rare scenes between Rygel and Aeryn, which were great to see, and also some indications of a growing relationship between Chiana and D'Argo. First, D'Argo showed plenty of concern for Chiana when she was upset about the picture, definitely caring in a little more than a friendly way what happens to her, and she reciprocated saying she likes that he cares what happens to her. Then there was the less-than-hidden almost-kissing scene, when they fall out of the portrait on the wall and Chiana just happens to end up on top of D'Argo, almost in a kissing predicament. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book at hinting something between characters, and so it wouldn't surprise me if there's a little more than meets the eye here.
The way Zhaan was cryptic with John over the whole Maldis situation was handled well, and I liked that he agreed to help her regardless of what she wanted, as did evidently the rest of the crew. It's nice to see things like the Unity that John and Zhaan share from "Rhapsody in Blue" are not just forgotten once the episode airs. Zhaan's interactions with Rygel were also nice to see. I like the way that, much like with the rest of the crew, Zhaan is like a motherly figure to Rygel, but in a different way. Since he's old and wise anyway, and she recognises this, she acts as more of a conscience for Rygel, and it's again evident in their scenes together here. Not only that, but I've noticed that Rygel seems to let Zhaan poke and prod him a little more than anyone else without much complaint. But anyway...
Rygel's sentiments about Chiana were also nice; they are quite similar in many ways and they both know it, and I think because of that there's an essence of friendship between them, although they'd never admit it. Still, there's definitely a bond there. There was also some great tension between John and Aeryn building, when Aeryn mentioned who she'd like to throw of the ship (i.e. almost everyone). John wasn't too happy, and you got a sense of distance between the two of them. This episode comes prior to "The Way We Weren't" in production order, and I think this episode works better coming first (it's usually aired after), because the tension here is explained in the other episode and the characters evolve beyond it to a certain degree after that episode's events.
One final thing I liked was seeing Zhaan kicking ass! Often, she's unfortunately pushed to the back of some stories, but luckily she's pushed heavily in this story, as is Chiana to a certain degree. Unfortunately, while this is very much Zhaan's episode, much like the Chiana focused story and the D'Argo story before it, this episode falls a little flat on its face.
In all, sad though it may be, "Picture of You Will" doesn't stand up very well against the Farscape that has come before it, and it certainly does not hold up well to repeated viewings. Though things start off well, the tension soon dies and we're left with some rather boring revelations and the character development goes a little haywire. The season so far has been very iffy, with some good and some bad, and unfortunately, "Picture if You Will" can only be classed in the "bad" category, and not even a great performance from Virginia Hey and an inspired showing from Gigi Edgley can save it.
I love to hear your views, whether you agree or disagree, so feel free to e-mail me your feedback. Review by Dani Moure.
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Did You Know?
Zhaan has the ability to talk to John via their mental link, which they share since Unity (in Rhapsody in Blue).
It would appear that there is more to the Chiana/D'Argo friendship than there first appeared. They clearly have feelings for each other beyond friendship.
Maldis returned from his dispersal at the hands of Zhaan (in That Old Black Magic), to seek revenge. He reforms himself partly as the being he calls Kyvan, as well as his usual Maldis body. When Kyvan is destroyed, Maldis is weakened.
This episode was broadcast after The Way We Weren't, yet it should come before it in production order. Aeryn and John's scene here makes more sense if it is shown first.
That Old Black Magic
Rhapsody in Blue
John: "I say we lock all of Moya's doors, we don't let anybody in, we don't let anybody out. That way we get no alien critters, no shape-shifting bugs, no mind-altering viruses, no freaky-deaky artefacts."
Aeryn: "If I had my way I'd throw Rygel off the ship. Chiana too, maybe."
John: "Huh? Rygel I can sorta understand, but Chiana?"
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|Season 2, Episode 6 - "Picture if You Will"|
|Writer: Peter Neale|
Director: Andrew Prowse
|Production number: 10206|
First UK Transmission: 31st Jul 2000
First US Transmission: 21st Apr 2000
Chris Haywood (Maldis / Kyvan)