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Into the Lion's Den, Part 1:
"Lambs to the Slaughter"

The deadly game begins, as the crew arrive on Scorpius' Command Carrier...

Click here to read the Farscape World synopsis for this episode.

No doubt about it, "Lambs to the Slaughter" is a great episode. While it starts of slow, and relatively subtle, Ricky Manning's script builds up to some fantastic events, where plot points unravel at a stunning pace. It manages to sustain a constant feel of anxiety at the present situation the crew are in, and keeps you on the edge of your seat.

I'll start this week's foray off by saying that I couldn't find too many faults with this episode. The biggest gripe I think one could have is that it does start off a little slow. It kind of introduces the situation, and some of the characters, and then once all the other scenarios and people are in place, things really kick into high gear. And let me say this: when it kicks in, it really kicks in, as the plot begins to unravel, and things start to become clear. Of course, as they do, a million other questions come up, and it makes for some gripping viewing.

Throughout the episode, one of the key points that becomes clear is that Scorpius' control is seriously waning. He no longer has such a hold over his crew as we've previously seen. Yes, Braca and some others are still loyal to him, but many seem dismayed by his pursuit of wormholes, and more importantly his decision to cooperate with prisoners just to get the technology. I think it's also important to note that Scorpius obviously knows this, and it's a sacrifice he made because he realises just how pivotal wormhole technology could be in dealing with the Scarrans. Indeed, I'm sure that reason alone is what's driven him to pursue John for so long.

It has also become ever more apparent that Scorpius may not be the biggest, true threat here. He clearly has a lot to deal with himself, and has to fight for what he believes in (the Gammak project to perfect wormholes) and with others who oppose him. It would appear that many don't quite see the big picture here, and I for one am tempted to believe Scorpius when he says that the Peacekeepers trying to make peace with the Scarrans will only lead to their downfall.

That leads me to one of those people who don't share Scorpius' ideals – Commandant Mele-On Grayza. She gets a fantastic introduction here, and she could very well become the biggest threat to John and the crew yet. She came off as very sinister, quite ruthless, yet willing to concede when the time is right so she can return stronger. She commanded the few scenes she appeared in, and had instant chemistry with both John and Scorpius. Her arguments with Scorpius were indicative of the aforementioned problems he has with his fellow officers, and when it came to John she certainly pulled no punches. She wants him captured, and the Peacekeeper's embarrassments at his hands kept to a minimum, and she will likely go to great lengths to ensure that John does not get one over on her. I really think she could be a major problem; indeed, anyone who can cause a revolt and get Scorpius' soldiers to turn against him (even if she was just taking advantage of an icy situation) is a major force to be reckoned with. I for one can't wait to see her return, and what she will bring with her. She's one sneaky lady, and when she tells Scorpius he shouldn't have made her an enemy, you have to believe she's telling the truth!

One of my favourite aspects of the episode was of course the multiple plot threads left dangling here, not least of which being the exposition of the current political situation. It's rare that we get a good few scenes in an episode dedicated to politics, but we got some great ones here. The Luxans have now formed a defence agreement with the Peacekeepers, in opposition to the Scarrans. The Peacekeepers are trying to get as many worlds in the Uncharted Territories as possible to join them, so their defence is strengthened, and hence their bargaining position with the Scarrans. Much to Scorpius' dismay, the Peacekeepers no longer feel it's the right time to provoke the Scarrans, which is what the existence of his Gammak project does, and they are seeking to sign a peace treaty with the Scarrans. Although Scorpius' authority gives him the opportunity to stall her, by sending her away to get official orders, this turn of events is something of a bombshell and severely ups the stakes, particularly for Scorpius. His time is now severely limited; he has to master wormholes soon, very soon. And John will now be forced to quickly decide whether he's for or against Scorpius, or it could mean big trouble for him and the crew, because at the moment, they are relying solely on his protection. This is a great plot device, as now we get the feeling of haste that comes with it, and it all becomes much more tense. If initially the cooperation with Moya's crew seemed a little too comfortable, that is all about to change.

This week we were once again privy to some great one-on-one interaction, but whereas it was Scorpius and Rygel last time, it's Scorpius and John this time. Their interplay has always been fascinating to me, and I enjoy watching each and every exchange between the two, and that did not change here. John appears to realise the dire situation he's in, and just how much this plan of his could cost him. He even begins to believe that the right, and only thing to do may be to give Scorpius what he wants – help him instead of sabotage him. He recognises that the Scarrans may be a threat to everyone, not just Peacekeepers. Subconsciously he seems to begin to trust Scorpius, despite continuing to plan the sabotage behind his back.

Of course, just when it seems that Scorpius has built up John's trust, and after him keeping up his end of the agreement, the situation with the Commandant and the new lack of time forces Scorpius to pull the rug out from under John's feet, and drop one of the biggest bombshells in the series so far. Scorpius knows that John is likely stalling him, and with time against him, he decides to give John an ultimatum. To aid with persuasion, he brings up a visual of a planet – Scorpius has located Earth! Not only that, but the Peacekeepers could get there at top speed in just over sixty cycles, and he tells John that if he refuses to cooperate, he will keep him alive long enough so he can watch his planet's destruction! This is it, the big one. Scorpius now has a hold on John. He knows Earth means so much to him, and he knows John will do anything to protect it, but it's almost catch 22. He can either refuse to help Scorpius and watch Earth be destroyed, or help him develop wormhole technology which in effect would bring him closer to Earth, but presumably rely on Scorpius' word that he would leave Earth alone. The introduction of this story is a bit of a surprise, as this is more like final season stuff. Or at least, most shows would use this as their end of series trump card storyline. But much like D'Argo completing his quest at the end of last season, the writers pull no punches in exploring these storylines sooner than anticipated. This is quite possibly one of Farscape's most evil cliffhangers yet, ranking up there with Aeryn's death on the "must see next episode" scale. It's so well set up, and even more poignant because you know Scorpius means everything he says. I just can't wait to see what happens next.

As previously mentioned, despite the key revelations above, Richard Manning manages to balance a number of other plot threads masterfully. He really hit the nail on the head with this one – it's a tightly scripted and extremely well crafted episode.

We get yet more exposition on Aeryn's history, and her past life as a Peacekeeper. Although we don't see all that much, it's interesting to see just how much she appeared to love her life back then, and how a part of her surely misses it, or at least her friends. It was great to get to see some of her old friends, and how they react to her. This is a very interesting scenario, and with the droplets given here, it should be great to see how it plays out in the future.

Another person whose past finally catches up with him, as it well should being back on his old ship, is Crais. The introduction of his former lover was fun, but as with most Farscape characters (and especially Peacekeepers), she is definitely not what she at first appears to be. Despite her confession to Crais about being told to spy on him, it would appear from her short chat with Braca that this is nothing more than a fašade to lure him into a false sense of security. She has a hidden agenda for sure, and she appears to be gradually drawing Crais in. I am really looking forward to seeing what he has to say about her suggestion to give John to Scorpius.

D'Argo also gets some action here. He has the rings removed (which I believe indicate that he was a prisoner, but I'm not totally sure on that), and also gets what he's wanted for a long time – information on the whereabouts of Macton. Of course, Macton is his wife's brother, a Peacekeeper, and the one who killed her to frame D'Argo for murder. Where this story goes should be an exciting ride, as I'm left wondering just what D'Argo will do now. Then there's the Luxan pact, and how it may affect him. See, I was not lying when I said this episode is packed to the brim!

Wondering why the aliens last week didn't look the best? I think it's because they were saving their pennies! The sets in this episode were absolutely gorgeous and just huge in scope. It all looked great, and was wonderful to finally be aboard a Command Carrier properly. After the previous looks at the end of season 1, it's good to finally see how the PKs live, what they do, see inside their "home", as it were. The Peacekeeper training facility was interesting (good to get somewhere nice and sunny!), as was the generator room and the hangar where Talyn and Moya were brought aboard. The special effects in this episode were easily some of the best the series has seen so far, if only because of how seamlessly they were integrated.

The few set pieces were magnificent, particularly the final big fight scene with John and Aeryn. It came off really well, although the jet pack bit looked a little cheesy at times. Still, it was nice to see some ass kicking to round out the episode, which was again quite speech heavy (as opposed to action-orientated).

In all, I thought this was a great episode, and one that set up the second part extremely well. So many new plot threads and characters were introduced that it was hard to write about it all, but this episode was nothing short of compelling. It lures you in with a false sense of security with a relatively low-key start, only to turn everything upside down and throw so much at you that it becomes quite amazing. If it weren't for the slightly slow start, this would've been a 5, but as it is, it just misses out, but gets my stamp of approval as being one of the year's best episodes.




I love to hear your views, whether you agree or disagree, so feel free to e-mail me your feedback. Review by Dani Moure.

Second Opinion
To see Mary Wood's review of "Lambs to the Slaughter", click here.

Reader Reviews
Average Reader Score
4.5
2 readers have rated "Lambs to the Slaughter" with an average score of 4.5. Click here to see what they had to say, and add your own review!
Did You Know?
This episode introduces an entirely new Peacekeeper threat – Commandant Mele-On Grayza.

Scorpius appears to be losing control of his crew, as Lt. Reljik and many others seem quite willing to go against him, siding with the Commandant.

When Scorpius first says Grayza's name (when he orders Braca to get a security team to escort her), he incorrectly addresses her as Commodore Grayza.

Both Aeryn and Crais were reunited with old friends; Aeryn her friend and Crais his former lover, who seems to have a hidden agenda.

The Peacekeepers have signed a defence agreement with the Luxans, and are trying to unite as many worlds in the Uncharted Territories to improve their bargaining position with the Scarrans.

The Peacekeepers want to sign a truce with the Scarrans, but Scorpius' Gammak project imperils a truce.

The Hynerian political situation has swung in Rygel's favour; he believes if he returned he could lead a revolt and return to the throne.

D'Argo now has the whereabouts on his wife's true murderer – her brother, Macton.

Scorpius, with great effort, has visually identified Earth, and says Peacekeepers could get there in just over sixty cycles at top speed.


Related Episodes
They've Got a Secret
Losing Time
Incubator
Infinite Possibilities, Part 1: Daedalus Demands
Infinite Possibilities, Part 2: Icarus Abides
I-Yensch, You-Yensch

Favourite Quote
Grayza: (to Scorpius) "You shouldn't have made me into an enemy," (to John) "and you shouldn't have pointed a weapon at me."
John: "Damn! I've got to stop pointing guns at people!"


We have 166 images from Lambs to the Slaughter online.
To view the gallery click here.

Episode Credits
Season 3, Episode 20 - Into the Lion's Den, Part 1: "Lambs to the Slaughter" (Part 1 of 2)
Writer: Richard Manning
Director: Ian Watson
Production number: 10320
First UK Transmission: 24th Jan 2002
First US Transmission: 12th Apr 2002
Guest Stars:
Tammy MacIntosh (Jool); David Franklin (Lt. Braca); Rebecca Riggs (Commandant Mele-On Grayza); Sean Taylor (Lt. Reljik); Marta Dusseldorp (Officer Yal Henta); Lenore Smith (Lt. Darinta Larell); Lewis Fitz-Gerald (Kor Tosko); Danny Adcock (Co-Kura Strappa); Mark Mercedes (Officer Vonk); Paul Shedlowich (Plint); Royston Innes; Nick Frisina
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