When Talyn is lured to fly into a sun, the crew start to go a bit mad...
Click here to read the Farscape World synopsis for this episode.
So here we are, with "Meltdown". It caused quite a stir among the fans, with either love it or hate it being the most popular opinions, with few in between. Whilst I didn't hate it, I do recognise its fundamental flaws, and at this point I must call into question what exactly script editor Matt Ford was trying to accomplish with this episode. His only other writing credit was the spot-on "Eat Me", but this episode is extremely out of place.
The episode begins with a great opening scene, apparently picking up the plot thread from "Relativity", with Crais trying to strike a deal with Xhalax Sun, to be reinstated as a Peacekeeper. It appears as though the writers read everyone's minds, and expected this scenario to be one that would be suggested by many of the people that didn't believe Xhalax was really dead. It caught me hook, line and sinker; I was shocked and thinking, "so they were right!" Of course, then came the magical twist, as Crais looks into the camera and asks, "Is that what you think happened?" I was laughing very loudly at this point, realising I had been fooled by this, and it was just a re-enactment of what John thought had happened. It was a superb twist, and a great scene, even if Crais looking at the camera did seem a bit out of place in Farscape, I'm willing to let it slide because it was just so good.
Unfortunately, the rest of the episode doesn't fare so well. I did like how Aeryn continues to not grieve for Xhalax, given that she is a hardened soldier, and realistically it would be out of character for her to get very emotional in this situation. She's been trained by the Peacekeepers in how to deal with death, and so even though she has become somewhat softer emotionally over the course of the series, she wouldn't show her feelings. However, that's not to say Aeryn has forgotten her mother, and I don't think she ever will. I hope this continues, as it shows how different Aeryn is compared to what the typical human reaction would be.
The remainder of the episode, following the opening, concerned the main "plot," as Talyn is drawn towards the centre of a sun. Everyone scrambles to stop him and repair the damage he sustained, after he pulls away of his free will. From there, the story develops into a ridiculous tale of mist, which turns out to be Drexim (Talyn's equivalent of adrenalin), seemingly enhancing certain personality traits of all the crewmembers. In amongst this, we have a female alien who is being held against her will by another alien, and she appeals to Stark to set her free. Sounds like it could be good, but on screen it most definitely wasn't.
The Drexim made John and Aeryn's attraction come to the fore, as they couldn't keep their hands off each other. Yes, it seemed as if it was just a poor excuse to have a sex-fest, but I have to admit that I found these scenes, and indeed most of the others, absolutely hilarious. However, that's not necessarily a good thing. I seemed to be laughing because of how stupid the whole thing was, and how everything they were saying was absolutely ridiculous. I assume (although it wasn't really explained) that that was down to the Drexim. What can't have been down to the Drexim though, was the awful dialogue in some of their exchanges. Some of it was great, and yet some was so preposterous I just didn't see the point (most notably their constant declarations of "I love you," and the "I don't want to lose you either" exchanges just got a bit too much). However, most of the moments had the usual remarkable chemistry between the two characters, but it still didn't seem right.
The problem seemed to stem from the scenes being wonderful and hilarious on their own, but absolutely pointless in amongst the rest of the episode. I have to wonder if Matt Ford's intention was to actually make the Sierjna/Mu-Quillus aspect of the plot somewhat emotional, because if it was it didn't work. In the context of the episode, I couldn't take a single word of their tired and clichéd story seriously at all. Even Crichton remarked that Mu-Quillus' lines seemed to come from some kind of book of bad guy's lines, and I have to agree. Perhaps this was meant to be the case, but it seemed as though this part of the plot was trying to be serious, but given the ridiculousness of everything else it just seemed hilarious to me.
Rygel was suitably funny in his constant eating, and I found myself laughing again during the scene with him and Crais. Crais by this time had transformed into "I am your Captain!" mode, and this scene with him trying to order Rygel was just so funny. I mean, as if Rygel's ever going to take orders. I also laughed when Aeryn laughed in Crais' face and then ran off.
So I did enjoy the episode in the sense that I found it very funny first time round, but then I watched it again. During this time, I found myself asking questions about it, mainly "what's the point?" And I think that's actually a very valid question here. What was the point? Stark now knows Talyn's feelings about Crais? If so, then they managed to get to that point at the end, but the rest was absolutely pointless. The John and Aeryn sex-fest got highly repetitive, although I did like the blue movie-esque jazzy type music every time they started making out, but that too got repetitive.
Another thing that really threw me off was Stark as a pilot. This seemed to throw away everything we've learned about how pilots are bonded to Leviathans. Supposedly, even a non-natural bond, like Moya's Pilot had at first, supposedly took a while to do, but here Stark is suddenly bonded to Talyn within seconds. He suddenly starts floating around, presumably held up by the tendrils (although it wasn't explained), and has almost instant control. Also, were we really expected to believe that a room the size of the "rudimentary pilot's den" had never been seen before. There may only be five of them on board, and Talyn may have grown a lot, but I just can't believe that no-one would have noticed that a pilot's den had formed. But then, it was given no explanation as to why they may not have noticed, just that they didn't. Why didn't anyone ask Crais why he hadn't detected it before? Was it supposed to have just been developed in a day or less? Like a lot of the plot, it wasn't really explained, and what was explained wasn't done so well. I have no problem with making the viewer think about things, without explicitly stating everything, but when things are this incoherent and convoluted it's very difficult to draw any conclusions at all.
Like I mentioned earlier, the problem with this episode seemed to be this: if you watch it once, you'll laugh at it, enjoy it and won't think too much about it. Watch it again, and you'll notice a number of fundamental flaws. When I originally thought about the score for this episode, I thought of a three or a four. On second viewing, I considered a two, or possibly a three. In this situation, I decided to go by my own score guide. For an episode to score a three, "It's either just an average run-of-the-mill episode, with a few good moments, or perhaps a great episode with some fairly major niggles that keep it from a "4". It will be entertaining, and fun to watch. Definitely worth your time." However, "Meltdown" probably is only just worth your time, is nowhere near a four, and not even a run-of-the-mill episode. So I moved down to two, and found the most fitting description. The key points that describe "Meltdown" are, "It is not particularly good, but contains perhaps a few redeeming scenes," and "It is probably worth your time, but if you miss it don't be too worried."
The dark season of death takes something of a break this week on Talyn, leading up to what promises to be a hard-hitting two-part story. Unfortunately, this week's instalment of "Farscape lite" isn't all that successful. Fun for a while, but soon repetitive, "Meltdown" is saved somewhat by the amusing aspect of many scenes, but the plot is almost non-existent, and doesn't really make that much sense. Let's hope they do a better job over on Moya...
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?
It appears as though any race can be bonded with a Leviathan as a pilot, since Stark is bonded to Talyn in this episode.
Talyn now has the facility for a pilot, something that was supposed to be removed during the breeding.
This is season 3's script editor Matt Ford's second script, his first being the great Eat Me.
Green Eyed Monster
Aeryn: (as she finishes fixing the conduit) "Last one... finished!" (she and John start to make out) "Frell!"
Aeryn: "No, no, no. I mean bad frell!"
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