Deadly negotiations with Scorpius begin, but as always things don't go according to plan...
Click here to read the Farscape World synopsis for this episode.
Get ready for a change of pace! "I - Yensch, You - Yensch" is definitely not the follow-up to "Fractures" I was expecting. Rather than going straight into the story of John and friends going to Scorpius' Command Carrier, this episode serves as a prelude. The "first act", if you will. It's a good episode, no doubt about it, but I have to admit there's just something missing that holds it back a little.
To get the negative out the way first, as nasty as I feel saying it, the story does drag in places. Mainly in the storyline in the diner, there were places where I found myself just thinking "come on, what's going to happen next?" It's quite possible that's just a result of how Farscape conditions us, cramming so much story into 44 minutes each week that when the pace slows it seems jarring, but really it probably just was that a couple of the scenes could've done with being chopped. It's not as thought the whole episode drags, it's just a few times during this part of the story I felt it was just running on a bit too much.
Then there were the aliens. Sko and Wa. For me, they were just OK. They were very well designed (I particularly liked the dribbling effect of the older one, which I think was Sko, but since they only mentioned names once I couldn't be too sure), but the performances just didn't sit wonderfully with me. Some of their traits, obviously designed to be different, were annoying, particularly when they felt the need to grunt and make strange sounds mid-sentence. Of course, they were meant to come across as bumbling oafs, who lacked a certain degree of intelligence, and in that sense they worked; they certainly seemed rather primordial to me.
Then there were the two workers in the diner – the cook, Voodi, and the waitress, Essk. Now what I didn't like about these two is that they weren't easy to sympathise with. I think the problem here was that they were somewhat rammed down our throats. Having never met these characters before, our first scene with them shows them in mid-conversation, arguing. It's not exactly the best way to introduce them, and it didn't help that the majority of their (admittedly few) scenes were the same. If they were meant to come across as your typical, argumentative young couple, then yes, that worked. But to then kill one of them off, and from the scripting and direction suggest that we should be sympathetic towards Essk because she's just lost her lover, well no, that didn't work. Saying that, it's quite possible that was just a trick, and how it was intended to appear, because there's definitely more to Essk than meets the eye. She did seem to get over Voodi's death rather promptly, and the last time we saw her, just after the whole situation had been resolved, she had lingering, menacing close-up. So I wouldn't be surprised to see her return in the very near future.
So, with the negatives out of the way, we can concentrate on what I did like about this episode, and I'll admit there was a lot of it. For starters, while the secondary characters in the planet-side diner plot weren't the most interesting, this aspect of the plot provided a good basis for some interplay and "trust" building to take place between the two sides (Scorpius being one, Moya's crew being the other).
It was most interesting to see that the main focus of the episode was the diner plot, with Scorpius and Rygel being the central characters, with a bit of D'Argo and Braca to back them up. I felt this was actually a very good move. Thinking about it in retrospect, I could see one possible complaint with season three being that the main focus, more so than before has been John and Aeryn. I realise they are the lead characters, and with the twinning of John naturally Ben Browder got the most screen time, but it's possible some people may have felt that there weren't enough stories focusing on the rest of Moya's crew. It's not that they didn't appear, but they often seemed to make up the b-plot of an episode. So, the unexpected mix-up of central characters was extremely refreshing, and worked really, really well. Particularly, it's been a while since we've had an episode that centred a lot around Rygel, so that just added to the experience for me, since he's easily one of my favourite characters (and with Scorpius being another, you've got a real match for me!).
Scorpius' interplay with Rygel throughout the episode was a real high point, as both characters are as devious as each other, and understand perfectly what each of them intends to do (such as Rygel knowing Scorpius would kill Braca in an instant, and Scorpius knowing what Rygel was trying to do in implying he was valuable, that sort of thing). They played off each other perfectly, Wayne Pygram deserves praise for an outstanding performance – he manages to play the cool, calm, reserved yet menacing bad-guy all too well. But the puppeteers for Rygel need a mention too, as he also came to life in this episode, and they must've been having oodles of fun, because it really came through on screen. The two characters have always had great chemistry, because not only do they both know what each other is thinking, they also try and one-up each other. I've been longing for another face-to-face confrontation ever since the first season finale ("Family Ties"), and I got more than I'd wished for here. Their interactions also really worked well in building a foundation for the new developments in the storyline and showed some of their true intentions, particularly that Scorpius realises he needs to get the wormhole technology before the Scarran/Charrid alliance. He didn't show it, but he wouldn't have agreed to the terms unless he thought he was running out of time.
What the Rygel-Scorpius interplay also managed extremely well was the maintenance of a balance between seriousness, and a bit of comic relief. I loved Rygel's fart and Scorpius' helium voice! That was just hilarious, even more so because the two just carried on as they were. I also loved D'Argo knocking out the Peacekeepers as he walked towards Scorpius – that was just classic D'Argo!
Yet regardless of what you thought of their interactions, no one can deny that Rygel and Scorpius are a perfect team, if only because they're so alike. Both characters, being such skilled and practiced negotiators, managed to play to their strengths, with neither really backing down (witness Rygel continuing to eat while a pulse blaster is aimed at his head, and Scorpius' nonchalant attitude throughout the story). Their little chats were great, and both characters were very well scripted for this outing. I got the impression that a lot of effort went into their scenes, and it more than paid off.
The other storyline was of course the "Talyn is out of control" story, in which his behaviour has become so erratic and irrational that it's become impossible for him to function as he is, or he just gets paranoid at anything that moves and starts blasting. While some of the scenes in this story had their off-moments, particularly the scene where Aeryn talks to Moya, which didn't seem to come off quite as well as past talks with Moya have (although I think it's more a case of Moya's inability to respond being at fault than Claudia Black's attempts to pull it off), many of the scenes came off very well indeed. As opposed to her talk with Moya, Aeryn's talk with Talyn came off beautifully, and I think Talyn's ability to react and respond (be it with guns and sounds) helping a little. What got me during her speech though, and I think Claudia played it perfectly, was the emotional resonance between what she was saying to Talyn, and what she wishes could happen to her. As she was telling Talyn he would have the chance to "start over", and have his pain taken away, Claudia did that wonderful thing she does with her eyes, that really sad, deep gaze that just made it feel like there was a hole there, and she wishes she could start over and have her pain taken away.
A much smaller focus of the episode, yet still one that I enjoyed, was the continuing developments in the Chiana-Jool relationship. There's still that love/hate sisterly type thing going on, as despite their continuous arguments and insults, when it came down to it Chiana was worried about Jool dying if she went with Naj Gil, and had decided to do anything to stop her from leaving. In fact, Naj Gil and Jool seemed to develop something in the time since "Fractures", and it actually came off quite naturally, despite it clearly being forced to give Jool more reason to be angry at Chiana and Crais. I had, however, hoped we would see more of Naj Gil. I have to admit I was left feeling as if his character was a bit of a wasted opportunity. Although a full-time Scarran would probably stretch the budget a bit too far, it would've been nice to have had him fleshed out a bit more.
And then, there were the titular "I-Yensch" bracelets. I have to admit that the idea here is absolutely fantastic, as it presents some highly unusual aspects, which were actually well explored in just this episode. Not only can they be used, as they should be between John and Scorpius, as security, they can be used effectively as a weapon, as Braca and D'Argo showed in the final diner scene. Although it's not an original concept (that of one person feeling another's pain), the idea itself in this situation is quite inventive, and should present some interesting situations during the time John and Scorpius spend linked. I smell some serious trouble coming in the future.
The final scene was absolutely priceless – it's the scene we've been waiting for between this John and Aeryn, and it worked really well. Not only did it build up the suspense for next week, when John and co. really do go "Into the Lion's Den", but it also provided an outlet for Aeryn to express her feelings on the other John's death, and how it's affected her, and why she's being cold towards this John. It's not as if she bore all, but in the few lines she said, a lot of interesting emotions and ideas came out. Ben and Claudia also played the scene quite subtly, and again I think it worked well.
Actually, the episode was a lot subtler than expected all-round, particularly in themes and underlying arc-developments. The hostage storyline worked well in many ways but could have possibly been dealt with a little quicker, eliminating the few moments where it really dragged. On the other hand, although it sounds a bit like a contradiction, the Scorpius-Rygel scenes were handled perfectly. The diner set looked really good, and different, and the music was intriguing and fitted the situations well. Particularly good was the use of silence when Talyn had been shut down. It really gave the moment a different feel, and Lani's reaction to it was very nicely played. There were other nice touches to the episode too, such as Scorpius throwing the food in Rygel's mouth at the end.
Overall, I liked that it was different, and it built up to the few action scenes we got, but I felt it dragged a little too much with the hostage situation in a couple of places, so it gets a very solid 3, and I'd definitely say it's my "favourite" 3 of the season.
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 "I-Yensch, You-Yensch", click here.
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Did You Know?
Naj Gil, the Scarran who returned from "Fractures" is now dead.
Talyn has been shut down – his biologic functions have been placed in stasis, and his mechanical functions shut down, pending the repair of Talyn's character traits; a process which may mean that Talyn is no longer himself, but essentially a new being.
The waitress, Essk, was not killed, and the last we saw she had a menacing look on her face.
I–Yensch bracelets have synchronised nerve impulses, causing the two bearers to feel each other's pain. Now that Scorpius and Moya's crew have reason to trust each other, John will wear one and Scorpius the other when they go to the Command Carrier. However, John is still intent on his plan to kill Scorpius.
Something of a mysterious oversight in this episode is that Tammy MacIntosh is not credited anywhere on screen for her role guest starring as Jool.
Green Eyed Monster
Infinite Possibilities, Part 1: Daedalus Demands
Infinite Possibilities, Part 2: Icarus Abides
Aeryn: "I have a bad feeling... About the Command Carrier."
John: "Do you think we should go?"
Aeryn: "I don't think we have a choice... If Scorpius masters wormholes, then..."
John: "Yeah, some things... You die for"
Aeryn: "I just can't watch that happen again. It was perfect, we were so... perfect and you're just like him, I mean, you are him."
John: "No, I'm me. I was here. I missed that dance. Aeryn, don't come with us."
Aeryn: "No, we started this together, Crichton. That's how we'll end it..."
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