|"Beware of Dog"|
Moya gets infested, and John starts tripping...
Click here to read the Farscape World synopsis for this episode.
I really enjoyed "Beware of Dog." It's a fun, heart-warming episode that manages to provide an interesting independent main story, some wonderful characterisation and bucketloads (and I do mean bucketloads) of foreshadowing. With this script, Naren Shankar really comes up trumps. And one of the things that enticed me to the episode the most had to be the main supporting character – the Vorc.
The thing about the Vorc was it was just so simple. Compared to many Creature Shop creations, it was simplistic in both design and implementation, and yet it had just the right amount of expressions to make it work. It couldn't speak properly, but its limited squeaks and noises made it all the more endearing. It was just so appealing and easy to connect with in its primitive ways and, dare I say it, cute! But what really made the Vorc work was the constant interaction with it by the rest of the crew. Aeryn gets some great scenes with it, and because of the touchy-feely nature of them it seems all the more real. The actors have always stressed that the best way to make the puppets come to life is to treat them like they're real, and touch them and interact with them like you would another actor. That has never been proved more right than here, as it really does make the Vorc all the more wonderful.
The Vorc definitely took an instant liking to Aeryn, and in their scenes together it provided much of the episode's comic relief. The scenes in which it annoyed her were just hilarious, from it humping her leg to it pooping in her quarters, it just made for some real fun scenes. Equally, her reactions to it were priceless, with her shoving it over and getting really pissed (well, she had just stood in its turd!), picking it up by the neck and looking very satisfied to have done so and so on.
The interaction with the Vorc also made me notice something else about Farscape, and that's how interactive the characters are in general. The actors, many of whom have theatre background, clearly grasp what is required to make things seem all the more real. Forgive me for bringing up Star Trek in a negative way, but one thing that always strikes me about it, taking The Next Generation as an example, is how cold the characters are. Even when they're in casual conversation, or sitting in Ten-Forward, there's a certain uneasiness and awkwardness that comes through; they look almost as if they shouldn't be speaking or sitting close. There's always a sort of distance, and you don't often see them touch each other or interact with each other much. I realise that it is in some of the characters natures, but it's one thing that makes Farscape stand out in the crowd. The actors are always touching each other, and getting close, but it's done so nonchalantly that you rarely think about it. But it's always there, and it really adds to the "real" nature of the show. The characters, like they would in real life, always interact with each other more so than in almost any other genre show I've seen before, and it pays off in making the relationships between characters seem so natural rather than forced. Take Chiana and D'Argo as a prime example; granted, because some scenes were cut from broadcast earlier in the season their relationship seems a bit rushed, but it doesn't feel forced, because of the way Gigi and Anthony interact. In every scene between Chiana and D'Argo, they're close, with Chiana sitting on top of him, touching his brow, snuggling up close behind him, that sort of thing. I've always taken it for granted, but when I was thinking about the interaction with the Vorc it really stood out in my mind.
As mentioned above, Chiana really showed in this episode how much she cares for D'Argo. She blamed herself for bringing the Vorc on board, and tried to do what she could to track it (even if it did mean nearly shooting it). She spent the majority of the episode just by his side, comforting him, and it was really sweet to see. D'Argo had some nice sentiments for her too (such as reassuring her that it was not her fault), and in all "Beware of Dog" went a fair way in advancing their relationship, or at least showing us that it's much more than just sex.
There was definitely a lot of intrigue with regards the main plot, what with everyone thinking the Vorc was the parasite and it turning out to be Rygel, but while it was good, and nicely layered in that you could have figured out it was Rygel if you'd been watching very closely, for me it took second stage to the main characterisation. There were some nice John-Aeryn moments, not so much advances in their relationship as just some fun exchanges. There are definitely some quality jokes back and forth between them throughout the episode, and their banter with the Vorc was both hilarious and touching at the same time. Plus, let's not forget the priceless "sorry about the mess" line, accompanied by a wonderfully timed sound!
The ending to the story was very touching, and it really showed Claudia Black's prowess that she could draw out emotions with the Vorc dying in her arms. I mentioned the interaction with the Vorc earlier, and it's highlighted in this death scene, as it touches Aeryn and she touches it back. Claudia's facial expression is quite mesmerising; certainly had me upset, even if it was just a simple puppet!
When people walk away from the episode though, the things that will stick in their heads are all those weird and wacky John/Scorpius goings on. Much foreshadowing is going on here – it's quite clear from Scorpius' words, repeatedly telling John that he will "never see it coming," that whatever it was that Scorpius left in his head (the "something to remember him by") is going to have some sort of profound effect on the series as a whole. Throughout the episode John is haunted by the visions of Scorpius, but now he's starting to see them when he's out and about, and he puts Aeryn in danger here. This is not good news for our crew. Later, Aeryn asks him why he shot at her, and he tells her of the visions. She plainly asks why he didn't kill Scorpius when he had the chance (at the end of "The Maltese Crichton"), and his reply is that he couldn't – something inside his head wouldn't let him. This is bad news, and quite disturbing, and despite him telling Aeryn that he won't lose his mind because it's all he has left, you walk away from "Beware of Dog" severely questioning John's mental state. What exactly is happening to him? Why is he seeing visions of Scorpius? What is this trap that John has already fallen into? This is great foreshadowing, as it's starting to become more and more layered as the episodes go on, and you get the feeling that it's all building to something big.
Despite the foreshadowing, it's true to say that "Beware of Dog" is more than a little fluffy. The story is predictable, and a little lightweight, but it still manages to layer in the characterisation and emotional attachment that really make it work. Don't watch this episode expecting something amazing. Watch it simply to sit back and enjoy. It's very well scripted, has some interesting directing, and leaves you with plenty of food for thought. It might not be one of the best episodes ever, but "Beware of Dog" is a damn fine effort and well worth your time. Just have fun watching 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?
The scene in which the bugs come crawling out of Rygel was inspired by the 90s remake of the film The Mummy.
Originally, the final scene with John and Scorpius at the chessboard occurred earlier in the script, however Ben Browder suggested moving it to the tag so it bracketed the episode.
Scorpius' appearances throughout the episode, in John's visions, is major foreshadowing for season two's main story arc.
Crackers Don't Matter
Look at the Princess, Part 1: A Kiss is But a Kiss
Look at the Princess, Part 2: I Do, I Think
Look at the Princess, Part 3: The Maltese Crichton
Chiana: "What the frell is that?"
John & Aeryn: "Sorry about the mess."
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|Season 2, Episode 14 - "Beware of Dog"|
|Writer: Naren Shankar|
Director: Tony Tilse
|Production number: 10213|
First UK Transmission: 9th Oct 2000
First US Transmission: 11th Aug 2000
Wayne Pygram (Scorpius); Virginia Weule (Voice of the Vorc)