|"Coup By Clam"|
When the crew eat mollusks and become linked, only a doctor and drag can save them...
Click here to read the Farscape World synopsis for this episode.
To be blunt, in my eyes "Coup by Clam" is by far the worst episode to grace our screens this season. Is it dreadful? No, but there were so many elements that simply didn't grab me at all that I simply can't find it in myself to give this episode a high score. Wait, perhaps I should back up a little, after all, this is supposed to be a review so I should probably explain why I didn't like it.
One of the recurring themes of this episode was what I've decided to name the "icky" moments. There was an extremely high ick factor running throughout. But unlike "Lava's a Many Splendored Thing", which used similarly disgusting themes like vomit and bodily fluids to a great comedic effect, which in turn served the episode's plot, in "Coup by Clam" much of this sort of thing was simply overused to the point of gratuity. I want to make it clear before I continue, that it wasn't the fact that some of the scenes were disgusting that put me off, indeed, I'll happily embrace such things when I think there's a point (as in the aforementioned episode), but here I was really left thinking in the end that it'd all become a bit tiresome and pointless. After the continuous farting, stomach rumbling, spitting and the like we'd received pretty much from the get go, it just really didn't let up. So much so that by the time it got to the point where Rygel bit off the doctor's nose I was pretty immune to the ick factor and just found it pointless.
That was really the thing that made me realise how silly and needless much of these disgusting points had become. While Sikozu having her finger cut off actually served a purpose to the plot, in that it made sense for the women to do something like that to reveal the people Sikozu and Aeryn were linked with, and it made sense for it to be Sikozu as she can attach her limbs, there seemed little reason why Rygel would just bite off Tumii's nose and pretty much eat it, when he could just have easily headbutted him and had the same effect (especially since the headbutt has become something of a Rygel trademark). Likewise, was there a real need to see Noranti pee in the bucket? I mean, we all knew it was urine, and it was pretty disgusting to know that's what the crew were supposed to be drinking, but did we really need to see the pee to have that rammed home? Again I can go back to "Lava's", in which all the crew vomited and indeed Chiana and Sikozu had to rub their hands in it. The point there was that it served a purpose, in that it was a way to get D'Argo's DNA to operate his ship. Was it really necessary to see Noranti pee? On the other hand, I had no problem at all seeing Scorpius vomit at the end of "Coup by Clam" because it showed, along with his general convulsing, what he had endured for the rest of the crew.
In short, I guess I just got a bit tired of seeing the needless, gratuitous use of icky things like vomit and so forth when it got to the point where I was wondering, "are they doing this just to try and shock me, and make me go 'eww!', or is there supposed to be a point to this?" To an extent, yes, I can see the point in using a fair amount of farting and so forth to demonstrate how the different crewmembers were linked, but did we really need it rammed home quite so much as it was? In that way it felt like a show that wasn't Farscape, but more akin to something like Lexx (in terms of gratuity as opposed to content). Farscape usually uses things like this for a purpose; here I couldn't really find that purpose.
Which all leads me to another point: was it supposed to be funny? The episode had a rather dark tone to it, and yet these shocking things are usually associated with laughter. Was I supposed to laugh at the pee? (OK, so I did laugh at the pee, I admit, but was that the idea?) The problem I found was that much of the premise was dark and evil, and yet there was a whole lot of ridiculousness thrown in. For instance, the doctor was a pretty funny character, with his evil intentions, yet he had snot hanging from his nose. Then we see John and Rygel dressed up as women, which should have been funny, and to a degree was, yet it was an integral part of the plot that really needed to be taken seriously as it was a necessity to get the mollusks. Maybe I was having an off day when I watched "Coup by Clam", and in subsequent viewings I just couldn't get into it, but I was honestly left wondering exactly what this episode was trying to accomplish. Funny? Witty? Serious? What? I really wasn't sure how to take the different elements of the episode, especially when they were jumping around as much as they were, and it really effected my overall enjoyment.
Then of course, in addition, was one of the biggest blunders I've seen on Farscape. The mechanic was supposed to be a man. She was pretending to be a man. The shocking revelation was she was actually a woman! Then why was I more shocked when Chiana suggested she was a woman masquerading as a man? Quite simply, I had assumed she was a woman the whole time, so when Chiana said she was masquerading as a man, I was surprised that anyone could have been foolish enough to be convinced. I don't know who was at fault; the make-up team, costume department, whoever, but there is no doubt in my mind they could have made her a far more convincing man than they did. This is a fantastic team who have managed to make some of the most believable aliens around, and yet I knew this woman was a woman straight away. That pretty much made that aspect of the plot ridiculous to me, as I couldn't help but wonder why the guard who arrived on Moya with her thought she was a woman at all. I was relieved that Chiana knew, sure, but still, it was so implausible. Not to mention predictable. Raise your hand if you just knew Scorpius would come down the ladder to the rescue. Yep, mines up and I'm sure most of yours are too. The one little bit of that I did like was Chiana looking up and saying "C'mon" as an apparent signal to Scorpius.
I wouldn't say I hated the episode though, not entirely. It definitely had some redeeming features, most memorable of which was the sub-plot that the planet's females were plotting a rise to power. I liked that aspect and the way it played out, but given what we got I only wished it had been explored further. I suppose having the crew help in a major way would be quite clichéd, ending up as a bit of a rehash, but still I liked a lot of the ideas presented in the story as a whole, it's just how it played out that didn't entice me. The women weren't stupid, which is one of the best things about Farscape – the enemies can be intelligent too. The women weren't about to let Sikozu and Aeryn go, and they certainly weren't just going to let them walk in and offer money for the cause. That's fishy no matter how you look at it, and it was good that they didn't blindly accept, a trap many other shows would've fallen into. Also, as I mentioned earlier the cutting off of Sikozu's finger was a bit ruthless but definitely served the plot to try to reveal John and Rygel as the linked partners.
Much of "Coup" just didn't sit well with me. It's difficult to try and put into words exactly what it was, but I've tried. The gratuitous nature of the icky stuff just got to me, and I wanted perhaps a bit more substance to the plot. I did enjoy certain aspects, such as the use of Scorpius to save the crew, Rygel and Sikozu in prominent roles, the use of Chiana, Noranti getting some decent screen-time and being paired with D'Argo. Indeed, I liked the way certain parts of the plot played out, too. The whole clam idea was pretty nicely executed. But as a whole I was just left sorely disappointed by this episode. I often like the icky things, and the way Farscape tries to be different, but here, in my eyes, a lot of it just fell flat on its face. While I wouldn't class it in anywhere near the league of last season's poorest offering "Meltdown", I will say that this episode is by far and away my least enjoyed episode in this season that, thus far, I have enjoyed immensely.
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 "Coup By Clam", click here.
Did You Know?
Moya has been upgraded to filter out the radiation that lurks in Tormented Space.
Leviathans are apparently not well known in this region of space.
John: [dressed as a woman] "Over here, keep your head down."
Rygel: "We need to blend in."
John: "Blend in? Hell, we got here the clock stopped. We couldn't blend in on butt-ugly night."
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