|"Scratch 'n Sniff"|
The crew visit a pleasure planet, but as usual they end up in a whole lot of trouble...
Click here to read the Farscape World synopsis for this episode.
Weird, wacky and not for everyone. I think that just about sums up "Scratch 'n Sniff," another attempt at a light-hearted episode, this time for the crew on Moya, leading up to some hard-hitters making up the rest of the season. There's a slight problem with that though, in that the theme of drugging people to use them for whatever you wish doesn't exactly qualify as "light-hearted." But for the most part, knowing that everyone comes out OK, this episode is supposed to provide a bit of relief from the heavy arc that has been flowing through this season so far.
Probably the best scenes of the episode were the exchanges between Pilot and John. The story goes that (as can be seen in both "Losing Time" and "Incubator") Pilot and Moya have become increasingly annoyed at the constant bickering that D'Argo and John have been having, and so they drop the crew off on a pleasure planet for 10 days to have a break. The problem arises when they return after just two; the girls unconscious from what went on, and John and D'Argo beat up, intoxicated and with no money. Pilot is less than happy, so John attempts to explain what happened and why they are back 8 days early. And that's the episode that we get, John's story of what went on. This being the premise, we also get a number of exchanges between storyteller and listener, as there are a number of points that Pilot brings in to question. These were excellent scenes, and the puppeteers prove once again just how good they are, as the range of facial expressions and emotions displayed by Pilot are just amazing. Couple that with the fact that such a confrontation between Pilot and John/D'Argo has been building up in the aforementioned episodes, and these scenes are winners.
The problem a number of people had, or will have, with the episode though is partly due to its style. Whilst I liked it, in that it was trying to be a bit different, and definitely paid a nod to a number of films that work under such narrative style, it is not the sort of style that is to everyone's tastes, as it can cause a fair amount of confusion as to what was going on. I'm sure the constant repeats of certain clips and dialogue was quite jarring for some, and no doubt gave others a headache. But to that end, I thought the style played to the theme of the episode – the whole trippy nature. The story was quite out there, and so I found it fitting that the directing, music and editing fitted that well.
Another thing I really liked was the guest character, Raxil. The character was played wonderfully by Francesca Buller (Mrs. Ben Browder), who now has two great performances under her belt in my book. I liked the character of ro-NA in the "Look at the Princess" story, but I wasn't particularly fond of her character in "Bone to be Wild", whereas I took an immediate liking to her character here. The chemistry between her and Ben was apparent throughout the episode, and throwing in the comedic Anthony Simcoe you have a winning combination. They played off each other particularly well, and a number of exchanges were hilarious. I loved when Raxil called John an idiot, and also the scene in which she asked D'Argo not to hit her again, but he did anyway. Between D'Argo and John, there was also the superb scene in the teaser, where D'Argo tells John to get dressed. "I am dressed" John replies, before looking down, noticing he's wearing stockings, and runs off, before peeking back round the corner of the window – just a superb, priceless Farscape moment. The three of them were a real highpoint of the episode, and given the confusing nature of the episode they provided a good amount of relief. All round, their performances get a thumbs up.
Standing out above much of the rest of the episode was a short scene, when John and D'Argo take a look at the plans for Fe'Tor's residence. Because of the nature of the link, John, and so D'Argo too, gets a visit from Harvey, the resident Scorpius in John's head. This is the first time that anyone but John, Scorpius or Natira has seen the clone as it is, and Wayne Pygram played the scene to perfection. The sarcastic enthusiasm at meeting D'Argo was superb, as was his delivery of the hints for the pair of them. It was one of those rare gems you find occasionally, and I certainly savoured the scene, ranking it up there with the Pilot scenes for sheer enjoyment factor (it's probably best to bare in mind that I'm a big Scorpy fan though).
D'Argo's visit to Fe'Tor's place was a blast, and provided probably the best character insight of the whole episode. The way he made his entrance was typical D'Argo, and he first spots Jool. After asking her if she's OK, he quickly asks where Chiana is. Once he knows, he leaves Jool quickly and rushes to her, expressing his worry and the like. She hits the nail on the head when she says she thinks he's jealous, because it's clear that he is. He denies it, but he clearly still feels for Chiana to the point where he does worry, more than he might for other crewmembers, and he does get jealous. The same thing happens later in the episode, when John is "caressing" Chiana during the auction, and it nearly costs them their position. He knew why John was getting close, to ask questions, and yet that didn't stop him from getting insanely jealous. It'll be interesting where the writers will take this aspect, as it's clear that D'Argo has not gotten over Chiana, although it looks as though she's moved on in relationship terms (even if she does still care for him).
The trouble with this episode was that Lily Taylor and Tony Tilse clearly wanted to do something different in terms of style and content with this episode, but as opposed to doing it by half (something that Farscape never does), they seemed to go a little too far, and in the process alienated a lot of people, and confused even more (myself included). The story was just downright weird, and although I liked the style, it perhaps didn't help in my understanding of the episode. It's taken three viewings in two days to make what sense of it I have, and then I'm still sure I don't understand it all. There were also the conflicting themes. Whilst the episode was of a light-hearted nature, it didn't stray too far from the darker themes – the characters getting drugged to be used by someone else is certainly dark. However I do not feel that the characters were written badly, as it was clear that when Jool and Chiana were acting weird it was either because they were intoxicated (the earlier scenes) or drugged (the later scenes), and they weren't just acting that way for the sake of it, or for the sake of being degraded. They were lured away using drugs and acting under the influence of those drugs.
Whilst I didn't have a problem with the theme of the episode in that respect, the conflicting nature of that theme and the comedy theme was jarring at times, and I did have a bit of a problem with the way the story was told. Having it told by John, with Pilot's questioning of some events and the apparent exaggeration of others, it was hard to make sense of it all. Just what really happened, and what did John exaggerate? It seemed as though some of the scenes were meant to be exaggerated to convince Pilot, but which exactly were these (bar a couple of obvious ones), and which aspects were told realistically? The dialogue between John and D'Argo in the last scene, where D'Argo makes mention of "slam-dunk," seemed to indicate, at least from D'Argo's delivery of the line, that John had made even more parts up. Whilst that's fine, and I'm sure it was the writer's intention, it may have made the episode less confusing had it been clearer just what really happened. In that sense things were very strange.
Despite the flaws, the main one (for me) being the confusing nature of the story, I did enjoy "Scratch 'n Sniff," I just couldn't make a lot of sense of it. In my opinion it's a good episode, and is definitely worth watching a few times, as you'll surely notice plot points and jokes that you missed. It's fun and enjoyable, even with the darker theme, and has a number of great scenes, so in my opinion, and I know a number of people will disagree, it's worth watching, and a better attempt at a break from the main arc than last week's "Meltdown".
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 "Scratch 'n Sniff", click here.
Did You Know?
D'Argo still gets jealous when Chiana cavorts with other males.
Raxil was played by Ben Browder's wife, Francesca Buller. She has previously appeared as M'Lee in Bone to be Wild and ro-NA in the Look at the Princess trilogy.
Chiana has apparently had a bit of a haircut prior to this episode.
This is the first episode in which the opening theme has not been used for the closing credits.
For the first time another member of the crew - D'Argo – gets to meet Harvey, the Scorpius-clone in John's brain.
John: "D'Argo, we're in a window – there are people watching."
D'Argo: "Uh-huh. I think they've been there for about seven arns, so why don't you just get dressed and give them a good show sweetheart."
John: "I am dressed." (looks down to see he's wearing stockings) "Aaaaaaaaahhhh!"
Raxil: (to John) "You're not very smart, are ya?" (looks at D'Argo) "Now he, he's got a brain. But you – you're a bit of an idiot." (pulls a face at John)
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