Moya gets caught in... umm... sorry, what was I saying?
Click here to read the Farscape World synopsis for this episode.
"The Locket" has some nice character moments – it's really nice in that respect. On the other hand, it has a pretty weak story, at least in this reviewer's opinion. In the end, they kind of balance each other out and make this a fairly average episode of Farscape. Having said that, this story is resolved with what I consider the single most annoying thing in television: the dreaded "reset."
OK, so here we are with this super-contrived plot, in which Moya is stuck in some stellar anomaly that exists outside of time, and Aeryn goes out ahead to scout, gets stuck outside the stellar mist and ends up returning to Moya in what they perceive to be one solar day, but she is now 165 cycles. No one believes her, she runs away, John follows, and ends up getting stuck outside time and wasting away with her. It all smells suspiciously like a Star Trek plot (no offence intended), and really it plays out like one, even with the ending. But what shines through is the aforementioned character goodness (although it's not all good), with the main focus being the big couple, John and Aeryn.
With John and Aeryn stranded on the planet, you get a nice sense of what it would be like if they were to spend their lives together. They're both old, John is still haunted by Scorpius and talking to him in visions, and Aeryn's getting pains in her chest, and they're planting trees. The thing is, Aeryn has already been married (her husband is dead now), she's had three sons (also dead), and she's got her granddaughter. John finds their life boring, whereas she, like a Peacekeeper, has adjusted to her surroundings and while she misses space, she has accepted her fate. John keeps plodding along, and Aeryn kind of wonders if it might be because he's unhappy being with her. He admits she has kept him alive (without her, he would've likely committed suicide), and it's clear that they both love each other. And yet they still haven't admitted it. John questions the contents of the titular locket, thinking inside it's a picture of him. She denies it, and in a bit of reverse psychology tells him to open it if he doesn't believe her, knowing full well he won't. She does reveal that the picture is of the one man she truly loved. We all know that really, it has to be John. Or if we don't know it, that's what we all want. We let the shippers rejoice, because inside, it turns out that it really was John inside, but the time he finds out he's kissing her lifeless body.
When a new window in the mist finally appeared, John and Aeryn returned to Moya, but on the way Aeryn died. John felt lost and alone, and gave a wonderful little "I miss you" speech before he opened the locket and saw his picture, and from the look on his face you know he knew he was right all along. Throughout, the interaction between old John and old Aeryn is rather beautiful, and you just know this couple is made for each other, at least eventually!
One relationship that didn't fare well in my eyes was Zhaan and Stark. Who? Stark. Yes, he's back from beyond, and he is spending a lot of time with Zhaan. Now, that's all well and good, and I think they do make a nice pair, sharing similar beliefs and all, yet I just felt it all seemed a little forced. They only briefly met in "The Hidden Memory" once John was rescued, and quite frankly we saw little interaction between them other than in the final few scenes. Yet here, he returns when Zhaan is meditating, waiting to tell her something important. It's kind of that D'Argo/Chiana syndrome all over again, where the relationship seems to have developed out of pretty much nowhere. Like I said, they're good together, it just may have been nice to see a little more between them first. Having said that, a very nice touch was how Zhaan was meditating nude, and Stark just walked in, and nothing was made of it. Neither said anything or acted awkward, it literally was that she just happened to be nude. Since it's obviously part of Delvian culture, I really liked the way it was handled.
Anyway, it was nice to see Zhaan involved heavily in the resolution of the plot. Interesting and highly convenient that Stark just happened to come back out of the blue, with absolutely no hint he would ever return, and he just happened to be able to join with Zhaan and help solve the problem. Interestingly convenient. But never mind, because Zhaan got some good screen time, and a relationship is starting to bloom between her and Stark. However, the very resolution is what leads me to my main problem with the episode.
The story was flawed. Whereas Farscape often takes a tired sci-fi story and turns it on its head, that's not the case here, as we get your fairly standard story with no surprises. The technobabble from Stark was all very impressive, except it meant nothing in the realm of Farscape. The fact that Stark and Zhaan could together keep time going for John while everyone else froze, just so he could manually initiate a reverse StarBurst was just contrived and implausible. I suppose I was just disappointed that nothing new was done, and the plot was resolved through what came across to me as a number of conveniences. But what I hated most, and as strong a word as hate is that's exactly the way I feel, was that they hit the dreaded reset button. I despise that; it's exactly the opposite of what Farscape really thrives on. Perhaps the show's biggest strength is that the characters grow and evolve week-in, week-out. The characters feel the consequences of their actions, and we like seeing it. But in "The Locket," everything is forgotten. Life is back to pre-mist, and the whole relationship between John and Aeryn bites the dust. As if they were trying to appease people who might feel this way, Stark and Zhaan can remember it all, for some convenient reason. But for me, that didn't make up for the reset in any way. The point is, that in the end, other than a quick look at what life could be like should they grow old together, the episode just becomes pointless. Except for one thing.
Stark also brought with him a picture of a Luxan male being sold in a slave auction, and that Luxan just happens to be Jothee, D'Argo's long-lost son. This is an extremely surprising and welcome turn of events. It would appear that now, the crew will embark on some kind of rescue event, so it looks like we're leading up to an action-packed end to the season. I was particularly surprised because you would have thought that D'Argo's driving story would have probably been saved for the last season when all the plot threads are getting tied up, but then being Farscape, it's thrown at us already, and that I like.
So, I liked it as a character piece, and many of the interactions between them (D'Argo/Chiana and Aeryn/Ennixx also shared some short but nice scenes), but for me the backbone of the story just failed. If it was solely a character piece, I would have given it a solid 4, but the bog-standard story would've scored a 2, so I settled for a compromise and chalked it up as an average episode of Farscape, that had potential to be more.
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?
To make Ben Browder and Claudia Black look old, the makeup department used Hot Flesh, the same thing used on Scorpius' makeup.
This episode marks the return of Stark to Moya for the first time since season one's Nerve and The Hidden Memory.
Though it initially appears that everyone but Stark and Zhaan forget the events of the episode, and they're never mentioned again, this is slightly appeased in season 3's The Choice, when Aeryn remembers some of the events from here in that episode, also written by Justin Monjo.
They've Got a Secret
The Hidden Memory
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
John: "I don't think it's him in there, I think you got my picture."
Aeryn "Don't flatter yourself."
John: "Yeah, my picture. Surrounded by roses and hearts and yotz..."
Aeryn: "Open it then."
Aeryn: "Take a look inside, you'll see his image, the only love of my life."
John: "No, no... I don't want to see his ugly face."
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