With Crichton in a coma, we take a look inside his Looney Toon mind...
Click here to read the Farscape World synopsis for this episode.
"Revenging Angel" is this season's real deep look inside John Crichton's head. What is he thinking? What is driving him to live at the moment? In this episode, we find out. What's more, it also contains some great scenes that really advance some of the relationships on Moya, particularly where Jool is concerned. But as the icing on the cake, we also get some fantastic animation thrown in. Yes, it's as close as we're going to get to Farscape: The Animated Series. And for the most part, it's all good.
From the moment John is knocked unconscious, and young Harvey, the Scorpius clone, comes to visit, you just know it's going to be one of those episodes where we find out how John is feeling. It's D'Argo's fault that he's on his death bed, and he doesn't really know what to do to hold on, he needs to find a reason for living. One of the episode's running themes is Harvey's attempts at convincing John that revenge on D'Argo is the way to go, and undoubtedly this is the route the real Scorpius would take in such a situation. After all, we have learned that what really drives Scorpius is getting revenge on the Scarrans. Of course, this is not John's way, so he consults the rest of the crew.
As Harvey is trying to convince John the first time, John takes control and turns him into a Looney Toons style animated version of Scorpius, and it looks absolutely hilarious! It's and idea that's way out there, and there's no way any other sci-fi show would even try to mix animation with real-life, and yet here Farscape succeeds extremely well. Why? Simply because it's exactly what you'd expect from John. Deep within his mind John uses the style of cartoons to escape from the "real" world and make sense of everything, to figure it all out. The cartoon renditions of the characters are just wonderful. Scorpius looks hilarious, D'Argo as sinister as you'd expect from him in the "villain" role, the brief look at Aeryn was fantastic, and John looks... as you'd expect. The great thing about the animation is that it's clearly not there simply for the sake of it; rather it's there to drive the plot to its conclusion.
As John seeks advice from the crew, and gets some odd answers from them, we see his attempts at carrying out the advice in the aforementioned animated form. Whilst they generally work extremely well, there are a few niggles. For one, the chase scenes between D'Argo and John did get a little repetitive, but being so used to watching Looney Toons as a kid I'm kind of used to it, but mileage may vary here. Another thing is that animation is expensive, and whether it's a result of this, or David Kemper's attempt to be different, some of the cartoon-style scenes are carried out in live action. Unfortunately, at least for me, they seemed quite out of place, and didn't work that well. The last scene with D'Argo getting "blown" up by the stuffed doll in the chair was the prime example; it was a pretty good scene, but probably would have come off better animated.
Nonetheless, the animation generally worked well, particularly in the scene with Aeryn. John spends the whole episode wondering if his love for Aeryn is enough of a reason to live, and at one point he walks past Aeryn's quarters. Animated though she is, she's only wearing a nightgown since her clothes are on Talyn. So she gets John to erase her and redraw her. Typically, she's redrawn with a big bust and a skimpy dress. From here, she proceeds to go through a number of other characters, including Marilyn Monroe and Madonna, before she finds her real look. The dialog in this scene is perfectly delivered by Claudia Black, and had me laughing out loud. Then, when D'Argo appears round the corner and starts chasing John, in a perfect accent she shouts "Run Forrest, run!" That just topped of this hilarious scene.
Anyway, besides the animated sequences, what I liked most about this episode was the character development at its core. Jool in particular gets plenty to do, and even saves the day (even if she did cause the problem in the first place). She starts off concerned for John, tending to him, yet still being bratty with everyone else, and has a typical scene with Chiana (who is still having premonitions) in which they argue. It's here that it occurred to me that these two are just like sisters; whilst they argue, shout, talk over each other and are quite bitchy to each other all the time, there's definitely an underlying friendship between the two. During this shouting match, Jool reveals that what happened to D'Argo's ship is actually her fault, so Chiana tells her never to tell D'Argo. Obviously, this would be the route Chiana would take herself, and it could be either good or bad (depending on whether D'Argo was to find out later or not), but Jool chooses to tell him anyway.
The scene in the ship with D'Argo is just sublime. Once Jool reveals that the problem was her fault, D'Argo shouts at her. In typical Jool fashion, she gets upset, but then reveals her reason for doing so. As has become quite apparent, she's been extremely isolated on Moya since her arrival. No-one really listens to her, or wants to spend time with her. Since the crews split, she has bonded somewhat with Chiana, and considers D'Argo a friend. She knows that after everything that happened with Chiana and Jothee, he has isolated himself by choice, and spends a lot of time in this ship, so she just wanted to see why he spends time here so they would have something to talk about. This scene provided more characterisation for Jool than I've yet seen, as we finally realise how the crew's treatment of her is affecting her. In a nice touch, D'Argo starts speaking softly and thanks her for the sentiment. Another point is that in the end, her mishap (her hair got stuck in the controls) actually led to D'Argo discovering much more about the ship, so this could be another reason for D'Argo to thank her.
In terms of John and D'Argo, the key point of the episode, besides John realising his feelings for Aeryn are enough to live for, was an analysis of their friendship. They've been through a lot, but after a long while of D'Argo looking down on John and John antagonising D'Argo, they formed a great bond, together with their other shipmates, and usually the two of them pull through things together. Here, that is forever cemented. D'Argo's been pretty depressed for a long time after Chiana and Jothee betrayed him, and here lashes out at John without even checking whether it really was his fault. As he puts it, it's like an uncontrollable rage. It nearly kills John, and yet despite this, and despite Harvey's constant attempts to get John to take revenge on D'Argo, John doesn't give in to his brutal desires and refuses, because revenge simply isn't the answer. John coming close to death at his hands makes D'Argo aware that he must learn to control his rage, or such accidents can happen. The final scene, with John outside and D'Argo inside Moya was just wonderful, as they talk about their friendship and how they'll get through it, and how D'Argo must control himself. The way the two of them touched hands (with the window in the way) was just beautiful to watch, as despite neither of them being perfect, D'Argo and John are great friends at the core, and this is one of the most satisfying things for me to see after all this time.
Overall, I thought "Revenging Angel" was a great episode. A few aforementioned niggles keep it from being outstanding, but in the end David Kemper's script delivers, with great characterisation and a superb concept, which is definitely different but really pays off. The only other gripe I had was that we only got to see four characters animated (I particularly would've loved to see Pilot and Rygel), but obviously that wasn't relevant to the story and probably stretched way beyond the budget constraints. At its heart, "Revenging Angel" is all about the crew, and their relationships, and with great acting, great visuals, and fantastic character developments it's definitely up there with the best of this season's stories, and is also the most interesting of the Moya episodes. A big thumbs up!
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 "Revenging Angel", click here.
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Did You Know?
D'Argo finally knows how to fly his ship, which is actually an ancient Luxan vessel, and now has complete control of it.
Chiana is still having premonitions, something that began in Losing Time.
Jool is feeling isolated from the crew, but considers D'Argo a friend.
John's reason for living really is Aeryn.
As if you didn't know, this is Farscape's first story to contain cell-drawn animation.
A Human Reaction
Won't Get Fooled Again
Die Me, Dichotomy
Season of Death
Suns and Lovers
Self Inflicted Wounds, Part 1: Could'a, Would'a, Should'a
Self Inflicted Wounds, Part 2: Wait for the Wheel
Scratch 'n Sniff
John: "You're very wise."
Pilot: "I don't get out much, so I read."
D'Argo: "I am not Ancient Luxan, I do not speak Ancient Luxan and I do not read Ancient Luxan because I am not Ancient Luxan!"
Chiana: "What is your problem?"
Jool: "I did it."
Chiana: "You usually do."
Aeryn (as Madonna): "Hey Johnny, like a virgin?"
Aeryn: "D'Argo! D'Argo, could you just leave young Johnny alone, please?"
D'Argo: "Ummm... no!" (Chases John)
Aeryn: "Run Forrest! Run!"
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|Season 3, Episode 16 - "Revenging Angel"|
|Writer: David Kemper|
Director: Andrew Prowse
|Production number: 10316|
First UK Transmission: 17th Dec 2001
First US Transmission: 10th Aug 2001
Tammy MacIntosh (Jool)