What happens when Aeryn finally meets Mummy? Tragedy ensues...
Click here to read the Farscape World synopsis for this episode.
"Relativity" is a superb episode, and one that, for me at least, packed a huge emotional punch – probably the biggest since Wait for the Wheel or Die Me, Dichotomy. The performances in this episode were just outstanding, with Claudia Black once again coming to the fore, but this time she brought along her on-screen mother. Not only was it emotional, but the return of series creator Rockne O'Bannon to the writing table brings along a number of plot revelations, that pretty much tie up a number of arcs that have been left open since as far back as season one.
Probably the biggest reaction to this episode was from the shippers, who finally had it all spelled out to them. Because following the hilarious opening scenes with Rygel and Stark exchanging banter about the "bouts" going on in the next room (as Crais was left looking rather unhappy in command), we finally see John and Aeryn in bed together. Naked. Kissing. Obviously the night before they had been going at it, and they both look very happy. Aeryn even cracks the joke about John being loud. But in true Farscape tradition, with John and Aeryn's emotional bliss comes true tragedy. That's right, mother's here, and she's out to get Talyn and Crais back.
Throughout the episode, Aeryn and Xhalax squared off a number of times, and it's hard to say much more about those scenes than "they were superb". They had so much tension, so much meaning, and dare I say it, so much love. Aeryn clearly showed it subtly, but I also found myself thinking that Xhalax actually loved Aeryn, but she just couldn't admit it, probably feeling cold from killing Talyn (Aeryn's father) because of Aeryn. But like I say, the scenes were just so well done, and really need to be seen to be believed. The dialogue was wonderful, in that both characters stayed true to themselves, and hid their true feelings behind hard words, yet the true meaning was there. There was just a lot of subtext to what was going on between the two, and it's a testament to Claudia Black's acting skills (I have no doubt that she is by far the best actress on television), and also Linda Cropper's. The two had superb chemistry, and played off of each other perfectly. As I mentioned before, Linda Cropper could quite plausibly be Claudia Black's mother, and is yet another superb guest star. Farscape either have the most amazing casting people, or have some endless pool of extremely talented guest stars that they delve into week in, week out, and they never seem to run out. Superb.
Back to the Aeryn-Xhalax relationship, as I said there was a lot of subtext, but eventually Aeryn just broke down. There's always been a weak spot in Aeryn's character for the memories of both her mother and father, and although she managed to keep the hard face on when it was required, she did at times just bow down to her emotions, most notably her final scene with Xhalax, in which she seemingly begs her mother to do what she did (leave the Peacekeepers) and join them. Unfortunately, Xhalax is clearly a dedicated Peacekeeper, much like Aeryn, but the difference seemed to be Xhalax's history. The effects of what she had to do (killing Talyn) all seemed to just build to her hardness, and it would seem she knew this was the path she chose, and probably longed for the day she died. At least that's the impression I got from her character just this episode, but there are probably hundreds of other interpretations.
In the end though, Xhalax was killed, even though Aeryn was about to run back (presumably to stop it), and Aeryn was left to look for comfort in John's arms. It was a very powerful scene, highlighted by both Claudia Black and Ben Browder's expressions. But now, as Aeryn tells John, her ties to the Peacekeepers are severed. Knowing her father is dead, and now Xhalax is dead, all she has left is John and the rest of the crew. In the most literal way, they are now all she has in terms of family.
Of course, the question that then arises is "Is Xhalax really dead?" Obviously, I don't have the answer, but I don't really want to guess either. Saying that, there were a number of hints that this may not be the case (and we all know that the writers love to use things planted way back in episodes past). For one, there was Rygel. He was revived by the healing vines, just like Talyn was healed. Then there was the not-so-subtle healing of the stabbed Colarta, who was left dying on the floor of the jungle, but soon got up and had the strength to battle John and Crais. So it's not implausible that, even if shot, Xhalax may be revived by her surroundings (unless her body was disposed of in some way). Of course, she could have been a Colarta in disguise, but her conversations with them implied otherwise. I think the shooting off screen was more for dramatic effect than to imply this though. On the other hand, there's a big reason why my gut feels that Xhalax won't return – simply because too many people have been revived or come out unscathed from near-death experiences. I think the writers would be well aware of what fans have had to say about this, and would be wary of bringing Xhalax back. I wouldn't complain though, as I'd love to see more from her.
Though the focus of the episode was Aeryn, and the apparent completion of the "parents" aspect of her character arc, another plot thread was tied up. Remember back, in a number of episodes, we've been wondering Crais' real reason for making off with Talyn, and it's revealed here. Obviously, knowing that Scorpius was out to finish his career (see Nerve to Family Ties), and in turn he had no choice to run, he used his "best assets", in the crew of Moya, and played of their emotional attachment to Talyn. A very clever move, and it's nice to finally know Crais' motivations, and it makes a lot of sense. But this leaves the question open as to what will happen now. I believe that Crais definitely has grown attached to the others himself, particularly Talyn and Aeryn, so I have a feeling that the crew will reluctantly stick with him.
There was also the irony in John being forced to keep Crais alive, even after finding out Crais' true motivations, which was used to great effect. The two characters have become quite a pair, and I love the way the story between the two has come back on itself. It truly is amazing to think that at the beginning of the series Crais vowed to hunt John down and kill him.
I found myself being drawn even more in to one more relationship that continued to develop in this episode – Rygel and Stark. They've also become quite the duo, as I mentioned previously, and it was wonderful to watch their interactions in this episode, from Stark's care and concern for a dying friend to Rygel's wonderful reaction to Stark's story of how he was revived, and for a while he was actually dead. The range of emotions expressed by the puppeteers were once again amazing, and I loved Rygel's wink at Stark – it was a typical Rygel way to express his thanks to Stark. I will also say that I was a little worried there for my favourite Hynerian – I was actually thinking that Rygel was going to die, and was getting quite worried!
Finally, I just have to mention not just how good the writing was, but once again the absolutely superb direction and use of music. The way the action would slow in certain scenes, with no dialogue, and little music, was used to great dramatic effect and really helped build up to the big moments, and helped with the emotional aspect too, particularly in the scene with John and Aeryn when Xhalax is being executed. The music was subtle yet expressive, and once again we were presented with an extremely well produced episode. This is the kind of episode that Farscape is so good at – high emotion, lots of impact and plenty of dark, gritty drama. It's definitely one of my favourites of the season so far, and what a fantastic season it has been. Superb.
In addition, it looks like next week we will see the origins of Scorpius, and I can't wait!
I love to hear your views, whether you agree or disagree, so feel free to e-mail me your feedback. Review by Dani Moure.
To see Mary Wood's review of "Relativity", click here.
Did You Know?
The jungle, in particular its vines, have healing properties, that may have been able to heal Xhalax Sun, depending on how Crais shot her and what they did with the body.
Crais' true motive is finally revealed – he commandeered Talyn in Family Ties because he knew the Peacekeepers would be after him and that his only chance for help was to use Talyn for leverage.
When Rygel was dead, Stark linked with him to bring him back, and met with Zhaan, who is watching over them.
The Scorpius clone still resides in the head of this John (John-black). Is it still in the head of the John on Moya?
Xhalax Sun was forced to kill her mate, Talyn (Aeryn's father) because of the visit to Aeryn while she was a child (that was on the vidchip).
Master alien guest star Thomas Holesgrove returns in this episode, playing the Colarta Vek.
Dominique Sweeney, who played the two Colartas Thek and Kek, played similar creatures in season two's Out of Their Minds.
Mind the Baby
The Way We Weren't
Die Me, Dichotomy
Season of Death
Green Eyed Monster
Aeryn: "I am right, aren't I? We let you live, and you come and you find us again."
Xhalax: "What, do you expect me to lie, to beg for my life? Crais is right. I will hunt you down and I will kill you."
Aeryn: "Goodbye mother."
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