|"Lava's a Many Splendored Thing"|
Same dren, different planet.
Click here to read the Farscape World synopsis for this episode.
"Hilarious!" would be my one word description of "Lava's a Many Splendored Thing". The episode goes back to the show's roots in providing a barrel of laughs during the fun romp, but if you're looking for plot development, save for the tag, you'd better look elsewhere.
At this stage in the series, I feel that an episode such as this couldn't have come at a better time, and I think the producers really latched on to that too. It's been what seems like forever since the show has done a true comedy episode, with no dark overtones at all, and since the last part-comedic episode, "Revenging Angel", aired, there's been so much drama, death, destruction and new discoveries to fuel seasons worth of storylines, that this episode's change of pace is most welcome.
Although not without its faults, "Lava's..." succeeds in what it sets out by firmly establishing exactly what it's going to be from the outset. Unlike, say, "Meltdown", which combined comedy and an attempt at something serious with farcical results, this episode opens with a series of hilarious moments and great one liners that clearly state this will be nothing more than a comedic episode. The problem that arises from an episode such as this though, from a reviewer's standpoint, is that it becomes difficult to find things to talk about. As such, this review will probably become something of a scene-by-scene breakdown, as opposed to a more overall analysis.
The opening scene, as previously mentioned, establishes the overall tone and humour for the episode extremely well. The crew are flying through space in D'Argo's ship, towing John's module. Everyone's starving, having not eaten in three days, except Sikozu who doesn't seem too bothered. Noranti helps by giving out some portions of Chilnak (which, incidentally, she spat out of her mouth), claiming it's restorative. John mentions that it tastes like chicken, but shortly after they land on a nearby planet and everyone vomits. And that's when it hits you; this episode will be devoid of plot but chock full of fun!
Shortly after the vomiting, D'Argo, Noranti and John follow Rygel down a hole, where he's about to steal some things. Instead, he sets off some booby-traps, and along come the enemies. Last episode, it was mentioned that the enemies were extremely stupid. This episode, they were again pretty silly, but they provided some fantastic comic relief, becoming cannon fodder for the head honcho of the baddies, the evil Raa'Keel. One thing that I found highly amusing about him was that he looked like he'd stepped straight out of Power Rangers (if anyone else remembers that show). No idea why exactly that image popped up, but he really did. I could just imagine the ridiculously bad dubbing in a stupid voice. But I digress. This bad guy is different from the rest (and in the end we find out why), in that he has something resembling intelligence. The others, as mentioned, become his cannon fodder, even provoking a "stop killing my men!" cry from the leader of the minions. So the Old Woman thinks she recognises who these people are – Tarkan freedom fighters. Instead, the "story" goes that they are actually robbing the Tarkans, and the crew just happened to stumble in to the middle of the event. The problem that drives the episode forward is two-fold. First, the booby traps that Rygel sets off trap the crew in the cave; second, Rygel gets held hostage by the bad guys, so D'Argo, Noranti and John must try to free Rygel while Sikozu and Chiana, who are both trapped outside, must work to open the entrance to the cave to free everyone.
There is some absolutely hilarious interaction in this episode between all of the groups of the crew (if you hadn't already gathered). D'Argo and John prove once again to make a hilarious combination, with their back and forth banter providing a significant number of laughs. But what makes their interaction all the more amusing is adding Granny into the mix. Both John and D'Argo bounce of each other with insult after insult, classic line after classic line, all aimed at poor old Noranti. Their running "burn her" jokes had me in fits, as did their constant shoving and rudeness towards her. It almost reminded me of when Jool first joined the crew and she was treated almost as if she wasn't there and no one cared. Of course, we all know deep down they do. Another couple of fantastic moments were John replying that he was "Lou Costello", and then reminding D'Argo that he'd told him about Abbot and Costello before, and also the whole kinetic energy explanation was amusing, and much of that can be attributed to the blank look on D'Argo's face throughout.
One of Farscape's funniest moments ever, at least in my book, was still to come. When D'Argo and John realise they need the bad guys' shields, which protect them from pulse blasts, they come up with the plan to hit them with rocks to break through the shields (and so comes the kinetic energy explanation mentioned previously). Noranti offers her help. As such, when next we see her she's blowing some powder all around a chamber, telling John and D'Argo not to inhale. And so in come the enemies, and with a "hey fellas..." she begins dancing. However, the powder makes the men see this blue-haired alien with a beautiful body and a bug-like face, and they begin to drool. The scene just reeks of awesomeness, and is one of the funniest moments in the show over the past season or so. As if seeing the cuts between Noranti and the blue girl weren't amusing enough, the dialogue is just hilarious. Imagine some cheesy techno dance-like music, and Noranti, as she dances and strips, muttering:
"I am the flower, you are the bee! ... I am the pod, you are the pea! ... I am the target, you are the gun!"
It might not sound it, but you really have to see and hear this to appreciate just how fantastic it really is. Then, to top it all off, once the men are knocked out by John and D'Argo's rocks, Noranti continues to strip anyway, and the reactions and looks on both D'Argo and John's faces are absolutely priceless. This one scene just really needs to be seen by all.
While all this business is going on, we have Chiana and Sikozu trying to figure out how to get D'Argo's ship's cannon to work, so they can re-open the hole. Their interaction is just as enthralling to watch as that mentioned above, with both girls bouncing off each other wonderfully. To get the ship working, they need D'Argo, or at least his DNA. So Chiana gets the idea to use his vomit (which for some inexplicable yet amusing reason she decides to take a bite of as well), which results in all the more hilarity, as Sikozu is later forced to also get her own vomit to copy D'Argo's sequences to get the ship working. Once again, it's the characters that shine through, as has been the case all season, and it's so fun to watch Sikozu and her somewhat arrogant, intellectually superior way get brought down a peg or two by the care-free Chiana.
Nevertheless, the plot continues on (still with many jibes and one-liners along the way), and after a couple of fights, and Rygel getting fully encased in the amber substance and dropped in lava, the crew win as all of the mercenaries are left dead. The simple fact with this episode is you'll have to forget, or at least overlook, the far-fetched things such as John dipping his finger in the lava when the shield is not active, and him just reacting in an "ooh, it's a bit hot manner" (when of course the lava would be ridiculously hot and burn his finger), and you'll also have to accept that the story ultimately goes nowhere and in the overall scheme of things it means nothing, ergo it's a little bit pointless. Of course, that is clearly the point (confused?). "Lava's" does exactly what it sets out to, provides a really funny stand-alone story that is just out to make us laugh and bring some relief to the series. Given what looks to be coming next week, it would appear we're in for more intense drama so this episode couldn't have come at a better time.
Speaking of the ending, it was another great scene with the whole crew together, and their reactions to hearing the news that Moya is waiting for them was really nice. From Rygel's spring to life to Chiana resting her head on D'Argo's shoulders, you could see the relief and happiness that Moya and Pilot were OK and they'll be meeting them soon. It was all very well played and it should be a reunion to remember.
So "Lava's" is a fun episode, really enjoyable and, at it's core, really Farscape. So while it is thin on plot, it's worth watching just for the hard laughs it supplies, and once again the characters (Noranti!) really come out on top.
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 "Lava's a Many Splendored Thing", click here.
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Did You Know?
John Adam, who plays Raa'Keel, also starred as Bekhesh in season one's Throne for a Loss and season two's With Friends Like These... and Plan B.
Sikozu can apparently go a fair amount of time without food, judging by her reaction that it had only been three days since Chiana had last eaten and she was already hungry.
The crew have received a transmission from Pilot containing Moya's location, where she is waiting for them.
What Was Lost, Part 1: Sacrifice
What Was Lost, Part 2: Resurrection
(There are just so many, see the synopsis and review for even more humour-laden quotes)
D'Argo: [kicks Noranti] "Oi!"
John: "This is unbelievable! Can't cook, won't bathe, and now she's narcoleptic! She's triple threat Grandma! Get up!"
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