The crew needs to elect a new Captain, but run into some flower power, while some of Aeryn's secrets are revealed...
Click here to read the Farscape World synopsis for this episode.
"Natural Election" is a tale of two halves. One half addresses the ongoing season four plot thread regarding Aeryn's baby, and all the speculation and revelations that go with it. Sadly, that half is the subplot of the episode, which is unfortunate since the other half, the main plot, is somewhat lacklustre. It involves Moya being surrounded by a plant, which then begins to eat the metal on her skin. Sounds a bit funky? Well it is... and unfortunately it's not as good as the usual Farscape funkiness.
So, lets get the main plot out of the way first. It's fun to watch D'Argo and John interact like buddies. They have really developed a great rapport and they bounce off each other magnificently (I seem to be saying that a lot lately). Gigi Edgley also puts in another blinding performance as Chiana. She really hits the nail on the head with her, for want of a better word, alien-ness. Her reaction to seeing the plant everywhere was different, yet somehow alien. Also interesting during this "plant plot" is that once again John and Chiana end up working together closely. Following her finally putting her love for John in words (in "Dog with Two Bones"), ever since she returned to Moya there's been something there, and they seem to have grown, subtly, all the closer. Again, Sikozu's fascination with Scorpius continues. She's definitely somewhat drawn to his intelligence and deviousness. In fact, Scorpius repelling the plant was an unusual way to bring him into the story but it was also rather funny. His hacking off Pilot's arm to save Rygel was quite disturbing though, even if it was glossed over in this episode. I really liked the way Rygel was used though, as the guilty Captain blaming himself. The little talk with D'Argo was a gem, and it's always nice to see Rygel pucker up and help out.
As for the actual story, well, it wasn't really my cup of tea. It was fun, and it kept things self-contained, with the primary crew only (and we haven't seen a Moya-bound episode like this for a while), but something was missing. It's hard to explain, but it all got a little dull racing after the plant the whole time. I suppose it had a "been there, done that" feel to it (it hasn't been done quite the same before, but it bears similarities to other stories). The point of the episode though, at least through the main plot, was to get to a point where they could elect the spokesperson for the crew.
Despite being constantly referred to as "Captain," I think it's important to note that it's likely to be used more as a name, and indication of status, as opposed to the usual indication of rank. I know some people are a little worried about using the word "Captain," but as I said to Mary, I firmly believe it won't be your standard Captain role, but will just be like a spokesperson. I'm sure there will be all the usual disagreements, and if anything, it'll only drive even more conflict which, as we have come to see on Farscape, is what drives all the greatest stories. Anyhow, the elected one is D'Argo, an interesting choice to say the least. He certainly has something resembling leadership skills, and of course has a decisive manner, but his volatile temper could cause problems. Still, it's good that they didn't go with the more obvious choices of John or Aeryn. The vote count is also something. It would appear that John, Aeryn, Chiana and D'Argo himself all voted for him, while Pilot went for Aeryn, Noranti voted for the "Divine Eternal" (which I thought was great!), Rygel voted for himself, Sikozu went for Scorpius and Pilot went for Aeryn, while Moya abstained. I must say I was surprised that Aeryn voted for D'Argo; I would've expected her to go with John more than D'Argo, but anyway, it'll be interesting to see how this latest venture affects the crew.
Now that all that is out the way, let's get to the meat and potatoes of the plot - the pregnancy revelations. At the start of the episode, Aeryn tries to talk to John. She has a lot of things she wants to tell him, presumably about the pregnancy. Unfortunately, those pesky wormholes get in the way once again, and the chat is deferred. But later, Aeryn spots a leak, and decides not to fix it because it lingers in one's bloodstream. She doesn't bank on Chiana coming along though, and when pressed on why she's not fixing the leak, she just blurts out that she's pregnant. This, to me, conveys an important message: Aeryn has really changed in her time away from Moya. This Aeryn is different to the one we knew. The changes are quite subtle, but they are there.
In "Promises", Claudia Black very subtly portrays Aeryn's feelings for John, in that it's clear that she really does want, does love him. This is unusual, as there was always some distance, some uncertainty, in her before, but when she came back it was different. The key problem Aeryn has always had, emotionally speaking, is that she's always bottled things up and found it very hard to open herself up and let people in on the way she feels, what she's thinking, and what's going on with her. It's always been a thorn in her relationship with John. Yet here, she opens up like never before, at a time when she might usually hide things. She tells Chiana nonchalantly that she's pregnant, which is something Chiana would have found out eventually anyway, but more surprising is that she also reveals that she is not sure who the father is. It's surprising for one thing that she actually openly told this to anyone, but Chiana is also an odd choice, although perhaps it has something to do with Chiana being the only other female that she really knows on the ship. It just says a lot about how much Aeryn has changed for her to let something like that out.
Also interesting was how Chiana immediately, at the first chance she got, told D'Argo. At first, I wondered if it was just because she was affected by the plant (since the plant's effects were really never made entirely clear), but then I realised it's just all part of the Chiana we know and love. One should never trust her with a secret because she's still young and is just not the sort of person who can keep things to herself, and I think Aeryn would normally be cautious for that very reason. It was actually funny to then watch Aeryn try and get Chiana to agree not to tell anyone, since she clearly regrets having said anything. The scene was yet another great one between Claudia and Gigi, with Gigi playing the part of the snitch very well, not really being able to hide the fact she'd already told someone.
Once again though, we are treated to a priceless final scene between John and Aeryn, which again only exemplifies how these characters have changed over the course of the show. Aeryn is now ready for John, and wants him. She explains that she didn't want to tell John about the pregnancy until she was sure. Only John knows that she's not sure who the father is, since D'Argo told him. Surprisingly, when John is told about this, he's not really phased and was half expecting it, and didn't seem surprised at all. In fact, it seemed to bother him more that others knew before him.
But then, this John is also a different one. He spent "some time" (presumably months) alone on a dying Leviathan. And even before that, he became rather emotionally detached. Although he's grown a much more battle-hardened, gung-ho character, he was still emotional when it came to Aeryn, but now he's changed. He is fed up of not being in control. He doesn't want to feel hurt and alone anymore. Aeryn tells him that there is no longer a distinction in her mind between the two Johns. That is a big change, and a big step to take, especially to tell him. But that doesn't hold up to him, since he feels she doesn't trust him, he doesn't know how to trust her. She feels she's earned his trust, but as he says "I would put my life in your hands, but not my heart." He obviously just can't take it anymore and wants to be in charge of his emotions. In an interesting response, Aeryn asks "So what do I have to do?" She seems to think that she can just easily make it right somehow, when of course, she can't. John tells her "Just come back when you have your story straight" and leaves. The look on Aeryn's face says a thousand words. She looks positively crushed, like she doesn't really fathom or understand his reaction. Like I say, this whole scene is so amazing when you not only take into account the amazing chemistry and sexual energy that encompasses every scene between the two actors, but when you consider how far the roles have been reversed. Back in "Look at the Princess", it was Aeryn who was blowing John off, and now the roles are reversed. It will be very interesting to see how this whole storyline continues to play out and affect the characters.
Of course, I didn't touch on who might be the father. As we know, it could literally be anyone from even long before Aeryn met John. We were told the pregnancy angle would be different, and even just in this revelation it is very different. All I hope is that the father is different too. If it's John, I will lose some of my faith in the series, simply because that would be too predictable. Same with Aeryn's lover from "The Way We Weren't", Velorek. I'd see that as too predictable. I really hope this one comes out of left field. It's also interesting of course to note that, despite being pregnant, a surgeon needs to release the foetus, and Aeryn said she never got that far... Makes me wonder how and when she will.
As I said at the start of the review, "Natural Election" really is a tale of two halves. The pregnancy storyline and all its revelations were masterfully pulled off, partly in how nonchalantly much of it came off. Unfortunately, I just couldn't get in to the plant plot. It seemed tired and old. Even if it was just a showcase to get to the election of the Captain, and to allow for the pregnancy story to take the subplot, it still didn't work particularly well, and in that regard I was disappointed. So if you put the two parts together, I think you're left with a good, solid episode that could've been a bit more.
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 "Natural Election", click here.
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Did You Know?
Sebacean females can retain an embryonic foetus for up to seven cycles. Only a surgeon can release the stasis to allow the foetus to grow. As such, Aeryn's baby could have been conceived up to seven cycles ago, long before she met John. Aeryn found out about it on the Command Carrier (see Into the Lion's Den), however, during her time away from Moya, Aeryn "did not get that far" to have the foetus released.
John can now successfully predict when a wormhole will form. His first attempt was off slightly, but his second was perfectly timed.
D'Argo has been elected as Moya's spokesperson/captain. He received four votes (Aeryn, John, Chiana, himself), while Pilot voted for Aeryn, Rygel voted for himself, Sikozu voted for Scorpius, Noranti voted for the "Divine Eternal," Moya abstained and Scorpius was not allowed to vote.
Noranti claims to know plenty of poisons.
Die Me, Dichotomy
Into the Lion's Den, Part 1: Lambs to the Slaughter
Into the Lion's Den, Part 2: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
Dog with Two Bones
D'Argo: "John, I'm going to tell you something I've never actually put into words before; I love shooting things."
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