Aeryn is back on Moya, but she's brought an old enemy with her. Tensions mount as oaths of silence reign over emotions...
Click here to read the Farscape World synopsis for this episode.
Emotions without words. That's one of the ways that "Promises" could be described. Straight off, the acting from all parties in this episode is truly sublime. Claudia Black's emotive face is something to savour, Ben Browder showing how John really feels about Scorpius is quite chilling, Wayne Pygram's hesitance and reluctance is truly believable. Truthfully, the acting is just amazing, and it would be accurate to say you will not find a better ensemble that react with such realism in any other show. Anthony, Gigi, Raelee, the puppeteers, and even Melissa Jaffer who barely pokes her nose into this episode; the entire ensemble cast on Moya is just fantastic. The way they react to each other so naturally is just joyous. The way that, shortly after the opening credits, Chiana is holding Aeryn up as they are about to leave the bay, with the two being in contact for the first time in months, and Aeryn strokes Chiana's face, it's an example of the amazing subtlety that Farscape so often displays, and makes the relationships truly believable.
The animosity between the crewmembers was out in full force here. Tensions between John and Aeryn, the animosity between John and D'Argo and Scorpius, Chiana and Sikozu, were at a high, and again, you could see this clear as crystal just from the way each character reacted to what others were saying and doing. Many other shows, especially in this genre, would not delve so deeply into the characters so these kinds of reactions wouldn't be there. But in Farscape, and especially "Promises," they're all around at they really help enhance the atmosphere. You know how John feels about Scorpius just from his facial expression and the way he holds his gun to Scorpius' face. John doesn't need to say something like "we've been enemies for so long, and now you have a hold over Aeryn I want to kill you right here, but I can't because if I do Aeryn will leave," because you can tell that just by looking at him.
Of course, before this episode aired, thanks to a wonderful teaser from SciFi, we knew this would be the long-awaited reunion. It's only been four episodes without Aeryn but already a lot of fans were missing her. Personally, I felt the time without her was used extremely well and only served to heighten anticipation for her return, and what a dramatic entrance it is. John steps of the transport wondering if something's wrong with Moya, and Aeryn is standing there. They come together, Aeryn is visibly happy at his return, but there's something wrong. It's not long before we find out that Aeryn has caught heat delirium, and was saved by Scorpius, who in return wants asylum.
The focus of the episode in terms of John and Aeryn's relationship centres heavily around what Aeryn can't say. He questions her multiple times during the episode about what happened to her while she was away from Moya, what went on with this alien that's breathing down her neck, but her response is that she can't say. She seems to have made many promises – oaths of silence – and she clearly feels she really can't say. At one point, when John asks if Scorpius harmed her she assures John that he didn't, saying that she needs him to believe that, and in response to another question that if he loves her he'll say nothing. This is not the sort of behaviour one would generally expect from Aeryn. She may not be inclined to spill the beans all the time, but she is unusually clammed up, and there's clearly something hanging over her head. While part of that is addressed during the episode, in that she took part in the assassination of the Prime Hokothian, it is far from clear that this was the only reason behind her silence. Clearly she had good reason to stay silent; she was willing to take her own life if it meant the silence was not broken. But the question is why? What happened to Aeryn during her time away as an assassin? What is worth dying for? There is definitely more to this than what was revealed during "Promises."
At the end of the episode, Aeryn tells John that there are no more promises of silence. She tells him she wants to stay on Moya. She wants to be there. But her words prompt him to ask, "So you can tell me if you were pregnant..." Clearly, it's a difficult question for him. But despite her saying there were no more oaths of silence, Aeryn stays silent. Her smile turns to a look of not knowing what to say, and she says nothing, causing John to leave looking rather upset. It seemed to me that he was upset because she wouldn't tell him, although I have seen other theories thrown about. But clearly, all that happened to Aeryn had a serious effect on her character, and will have serious repercussions. Her return was bittersweet.
It's also worth mentioning that the (recently Emmy-nominated!) costuming department, as well as the makeup department, went full-speed ahead here. Not only did Aeryn have a slightly different hairstyle, her hair is also now much longer - another Farscape-type subtlety that indicates the passage of time. But costume wise, Aeryn was fantastic. Starting in the leather get-up, the coolant suit without the helmet, she looked different, but in full Scorpius outfit she looked quite chilling. Not as chilling as when Harvey took over and projected an image of himself as Aeryn – Aeryn-Scorpius looked truly frightening (in the best sense of the word). An excellent job done on Aeryn for this episode.
Another thread still dangling, and one that will likely loom for a good portion of the season, is what happened to Moya? At the end of "Dog with two Bones" Moya, along with Pilot, Jool and Noranti, who were on board, was sucked down a wormhole. Noranti later said in "Sacrifice" that Pilot knew what had happened. But Pilot was mysteriously coy, only saying Moya was examined, and he remembers nothing more than that. Again I have to praise the puppeteers here, because they really managed to make it look as though there was something not quite right about what Pilot was saying.
In fact, there were plenty of other questions raised in this episode; how did Scorpius survive on Arnessk (other than "with foresight and preparation")? The aforementioned what happened to Moya? What happened to Aeryn? Where is all this leading? Who is Scorpius' mole on the Command Carrier? There's already plenty of mystery to drive this season, and I can't wait to see the mysteries unravel.
Speaking of Scorpius, he was interesting here, as he was going all out to earn John's, and therefore the rest of the crew's, trust. He and Sikozu, after their first meeting on Arnessk, have a great chemistry between them, in that they seem to have a lot of common ground. In particular, Sikozu seems somewhat fascinated by the hybrid, and so it's interesting to watch them talk, and the way they interact. Sikozu is still being treated as something of a black sheep on the crew (as anyone who crashes in on a family is treated), and yet seems to have a lot in common with Scorpius; they seem to think along similar lines. As such, Scorpius already has something of an ally among the crew (even if it is Sikozu, who, for all intents and purposes isn't exactly integrated herself yet), as well as his hold over Aeryn.
Scorpius also has other ways to help John, such as by informing him of the plot on the Command Carrier to disable Moya with a prototype missile. He reveals to John that he has a spy on the Carrier, another interesting revelation. There are a number of possibilities of who it could be, with the Peacekeeper pilot, who is seen peeking around corners at crucial times, being the most obvious choice, but I'd hope for someone more creative, like Braca. As far-fetched as that sounds given what has gone on this season so far, it's interesting to remember that when last we saw them in season three, Scorpius was dragging Braca off the Command Carrier with him, apparently with plans in mind. Could he have planned much of what has happened so far? It's possible, although Grayza's allure seems to negate that possibility, as combined with the Aurora Chair she could probably stop that.
In fact, Grayza is only shown as more ruthless in the glimpses we get of her here. She still wants John, and she wants him badly, and when the missile mission fails it's blamed on the female project leader, whom Grayza sends to the Aurora Chair. Certainly that, combined with the way she demands results from Braca, shows that she is not willing to tolerate many mistakes, certainly when it means John alludes her again.
Getting back to Scorpius building John's trust, the main way he does so is by doing something John has wanted for a long time – getting rid of Harvey. From here on in, there'll be no more hallucinations with Harvey, no more amusing scenes with John and Harvey in John's mind, because Harvey is killed. The thing that makes this interesting is how it plays out, akin to an execution. In his mind, despite Harvey's manipulative pleas, John puts a gun to Harvey and shoots him. I really thought the way it played out was extremely fitting. Although I've enjoyed having Harvey around immensely, there's no doubt that something had to be done before it became stale. As Farscape so often does, it's dealt with sooner rather than later, going out on a "high" so to speak. I also felt Harvey's death scene was extremely appropriate. Although we've seen plenty of scenes of Harvey giving John advice, acting somewhat playfully and often demonstrating some of John's personality traits, acting as his conscience, Harvey has always been out for his own survival. He goes out of his way to keep John alive because it means he stays alive. When it comes down to it, Harvey was still the one that killed Aeryn, and John has never really gotten past that. He's let it go because he's had to live with Harvey, but he's never forgotten it, and he's always wanted Harvey gone. It's rather fitting that, as Harvey tries to manipulate John here into killing Scorpius, it's Scorpius who ends up prompting Harvey's death.
The other thing to come to light is perhaps Scorpius' trump card. If John refuses to trust him and kill him, that's fine, but only Scorpius knows how to get to Earth, since he wiped all records of Earth's whereabouts. So John can either use Scorpius as an ally, and his knowledge to get home, or kill Scorpius and let the knowledge die with him. In many ways, it's a complete reversal of roles; throughout seasons two and three, Scorpius kept John alive because if John died, the wormhole knowledge died with him. And it's still wormholes that Scorpius is after, and undoubtedly from his comments he has a hidden agenda. What that is we can only wait to find out.
The final point would be an interesting development seemingly leading into next week's episode – the election of a spokesperson. Pilot and Moya have decided they want the crew to pick one person to be a spokesperson for the crew (remember, not a Captain, that's Chiana's analogy, but a spokesperson – one voice to communicate with Pilot and Moya). It's an interesting turn of events that I never thought would happen, but could lead to some great internal conflicts. I would hope though, that the Powers that Be chose not to go with the obvious choice (John), but rather decided to go with someone different. Chiana would be great for the role, since she has a good relationship with Pilot, likewise Rygel, as he now treats Pilot well and has great leadership skills. Sikozu is another logical, yet unlikely, choice, since she is clearly very knowledgeable. There's definitely going to be some kind of Farscape twist here, and I look forward to finding out what that is.
"Promises" is a great episode; a real "must-see." It's the best episode so far this season, and undoubtedly will be the one that will make many of the fans breathe a sigh of relief (those who were disappointed thus far). Given that it raises so many questions, and the way it plays out, a number of people will probably be turning off. Me? This is how I like my TV. This is how I like Farscape. It gets me talking, asking questions, thinking; all things that most shows nowadays don't do. In terms of a score, it's interesting because I rated "Lava's" a deserving 4, yet "Promises" does rate higher than that. As Mary said, if we did points scores "Lava's" would be a 4.0 while "Promises" would be closer to a 4.7 or 4.8. Alas, we only do one through five to make things simple, but rest assured it's a high 4 and a great episode.
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 "Promises", click here.
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Did You Know?
Aeryn has returned to Moya with Scorpius. He found her in the early stages of heat delirium, and brought her back to Moya to save her. Although it's revealed that she was inflicted with heat delirium by Ullom, the extent of what she did during her time away from Moya, as an assassin, is not clear.
Scorpius managed to survive his burial on Arnessk, through "foresight and preparation." Exactly what happened is not clear, however he does have a spy on the Command Carrier.
Pilot says that when Moya was sucked down the wormhole, she was not harmed, merely examined. He claims, however, not to know who by and says he remembers nothing else of importance, despite telling Noranti he knew what happened.
Harvey has finally been ejected from John's mind, using a device Scorpius and Sikozu made that is similar to the one Scorpius used to inject John with the neural chip.
When Ullom shoots Aeryn, she is shielded by the Tarkan body shield the crew were given at the end of Lava's a Many Splendored Thing.
Scorpius tells John that only he knows where Earth is, as he purged all other records, so John has the choice to either use that knowledge, or kill Scorpius and lose it.
Moya and Pilot have decided they can't serve properly with so many people giving them orders, so they want the crew to elect a spokesperson; a single voice they can follow.
Exodus from Genesis
Won't Get Fooled Again
Die Me, Dichotomy
Season of Death
Into the Lion's Den, Part 1: Lambs to the Slaughter
Dog with Two Bones
What Was Lost, Part 1: Sacrifice
What Was Lost, Part 2: Resurrection
Lava's a Many Splendored Thing
John: [to Scorpius] "Kryptonite, silver bullet, Buffy. What's it gonna take to keep you in the grave?"
D'Argo: "Perhaps we should just take your head off. Worked for Durka."
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