Once burned? Some people just never learn...
Click here to read the Farscape World synopsis for this episode.
After the string of past episodes, notably the stunning "Unrealized Reality" and the epic "Terra Firma", almost anything would be a let down for me, unless it matched the grand scale of its peers. "Twice Shy" definitely doesn't come close to those, but is a downright fun romp nonetheless, switching some interesting scenery for a mostly Moya-based adventure.
My biggest complaint about it though, would have to be that it has a somewhat "been there, done that" feel. I couldn't help but get a sense that I'd seen much of it before. And I'm not talking about one of Farscape's tricks – taking something seen in many sci-fi shows and running with it until it's completely whacked – rather many of the themes in this episode have been done before on Farscape, and often better. I could complain about the crew having interacted with shifty traders before, but that would be slightly unfair because, after all, they are new to Tormented Space, and naturally during space flight you'd come across some dodgy misfits.
But "crew's behaviour is affected by the alien critter-of-the-week"? Been done in the far zanier "Crackers Don't Matter", and was even referred to in this outing. On the other hand, the not-particularly-good "Meltdown" tried it, and was often unbelievable. It's far better than that here. "Monster/critter of the week comes on board and wreaks havoc on Moya"? Again, been done before in the fun, emotional ride "Beware of Dog", and was executed slightly better there.
It's not so much that there was anything particularly bad about the approach in "Twice Shy", in fact it was executed quite well. It just seemed to carry a bit of baggage that, for me at least, worked against it. Having said that, the tension it built up was good, and the atmosphere was well sustained. It was creepy, and the arachnid-vision when the characters were being stalked helped greatly in keeping the tension building. The CG, at least what we saw of it, was very good, and looked considerably realistic. The shot when spider-Talikaa looks up at Sikozu, just before she runs, was actually quite chilling.
Despite the plot being somewhat mundane, the characters held their own, and there were some fun and chilling moments that helped keep interest high. Chiana immediately jumping to save Talikaa was, well, Chiana, and it's somewhat telling that she is the only one to want to help her out; the rest of the crew have apparently learnt their lesson (to some extent), and do not tend to bring unknowns on board. Unfortunately for them, Talikaa seems to stir up some memories in Chiana of how she used to live, and so the Nebari takes it upon herself to be Talikaa's saviour.
Of course, Talikaa immediately runs around and touches everyone but Noranti (wisely staying well away) and Sikozu (who wasn't present - maybe she was in the bathroom, or something). This is what then allows her to hunt and track them, and ultimately leads to their harvesting (otherwise known as "face-sucking"). The changes it imposed on the crew led to some... interesting encounters. Chiana's sex drive goes into warp, and leads to some interesting provocative scenes with Talikaa, and then Aeryn. Chiana has always been quite sexually aggressive, but I was impressed with the way she seemed happy to do it with females, with no sense of taboo there. I often say it, but it really is great to have a reminder that these characters are aliens, and don't play by our rules. That is not meant as a dig at same-sex relationships at all, I just thought it was nice to see a different approach, especially in a science fiction show. She even tells Aeryn there's nothing wrong with it, and for her, that is true. Although Aeryn's line "This is excessive, even for you Chiana" gained a few laughs.
After the harvesting, things got even more amusing. Chiana loses her sex drive (so you know something's wrong), D'Argo, who got rather violent earlier with Rygel, becomes passive (sounding oddly reminiscent at times to when he was under Nebari control in "A Clockwork Nebari") and Rygel is no longer greedy. It all led to some hilarious moments. Hearing D'Argo say he'd like to find Talikaa and ask her to give the orbs back was hilarious, thanks to Anthony Simcoe's amusing comedic timing, and hearing Rygel tell the crew to give the traders whatever they want, anything, was funny just because it was Rygel saying it.
Chiana stomping on D'Argo's foot and kneeing him where it hurts was also good for a laugh, but then seeing anyone hit D'Argo and not get a reaction is often amusing in of itself. The ensuing hands-on-breasts and kiss rekindled some of the great chemistry the pair had for a few moments, with Chiana's line about losing her "tingle" just making me laugh out loud.
After last week's climatic events between John and Aeryn, the relationship issues continue here. I've never been a "shipper", but I've always said that I've enjoyed the prominent relationship because of a) the amazing and totally believable chemistry and acting between Ben Browder and Claudia Black and b) just how well the relationship is generally written. As such, I was a little disappointed that, for the most part, the issues were addressed under the behavioural influence of Talikaa. While this led to some pretty funny scenes, I would've preferred a little more before her appearance, like at the very beginning when Aeryn brushes John off saying nothing is bothering her.
Having said that, the encounter just after leaving Talikaa was excellent. Aeryn gives John a hard punch to the face and storms off. He follows her, and brings up that while he didn't tell her about the drugs, she didn't tell him about the baby, which really does kind of even out, when you think about it. Of course, Aeryn's not exactly in the mind to think about it, and seeing John get on his knees saying how much he wants her was good, even more so because of her nonchalant reaction. I loved it when John said he's not scared of her, and immediately backed down after a quick glare.
Nevertheless, the two work together. Things got even better when they were harvested, and things went the other way. Suddenly Aeryn is falling apart emotionally, running around like a fool. Claudia Black was pretty good there, conveying the part rather well. It was hilarious to see Aeryn, of all people, run off of Command like she was about to cry, and later coming in to the cargo bay and starting on Chiana because it was all her fault. John suddenly deciding they're never going to win and that they should give up was the complete opposite of what he usually does, the anti-Crichton, if you will, made all the more amusing if you remember all he was saying about hope and not giving up last week.
This just led to all the more issues between the pair, as John opens up, in a way, when he thinks they're about to die. He tells her, stroking her hair, that the saddest part about them is that they never could work things out. Despite losing their biggest traits (Aeryn losing her composure and John losing his willpower), this still seemed to be an honest revelation. After everything that's happened (and come on, they've been through the grinder a thousand times), it's quite normal for him to feel that way. They never have been able to work things out fully, and every time they seem to be getting there something bad happens. Such is the way of things (especially in television), but his point does ring home. It's great to see Aeryn helping him shortly after that, and then having to leave him. Another scene played extremely well by the pair (who still, three and a half seasons on, continue to amaze me with their skills).
Then, of course, we get to the eventual tag scene. And it's a corker. I was ecstatic when I saw the final John/Aeryn scene, although probably for a different reason to most. Aeryn confronts John, and he repeatedly tells her its over. She is totally adamant however, that he won't get his way, and tells him he will stop taking the drugs. John's behaviour seems a little different, as he's being rather blunt in telling her to move on. He gets Pilot to check the comms and reveals that he thinks Scorpius has been using the comms to spy on him. As most people probably gathered, he's on board Moya for a reason, and it's not to make friends with John. Since his other methods (the Aurora Chair, neural clone and threatening Earth) didn't work, now he wants to find out what really makes John tick, and what he can really use to get to John.
In what probably made many people go ga-ga, and many others say "I knew it!", John tells Aeryn it's her; she is the key, and John's been using the drug to help forget her so that Scorpius doesn't realise this, and can't use her and the baby to his advantage. She is most sceptical, until the comms come back online and Scorpius immediately asks Pilot if there was some problem with the comms, and Pilot explains it away. So Aeryn realises there is something to what John says, and happily plays along pretending it's over, while secretly it's almost like a reconciliation between the two and they kiss to end the show.
Firstly, I have a bit of a problem with John's explanation. It seemed somewhat... exaggerated. Or rather, as if he'd realised what Scorpius was doing after taking the drug, and just continued to do it and acted even more off towards Aeryn because of what he now knew. Whether that's what was intended or not, I can't say. But that's certainly how it seemed. There was little evidence in past episodes to suggest he was taking the drug for any other reason than it really hurt to be around Aeryn. After all, he already had his spat in "Natural Election" with her when he found out she didn't know who the father was, before he started sniffing the drug in "John Quixote". Although it's almost possible his reaction was based on what he knew about Scorpius (if indeed he knew at this time), it's very, very unlikely that said earlier scene was anything other than a natural reaction.
As such, I really felt he used Scorpius as a bit of an excuse, because he was really hurt over what Aeryn did and the way she went about it, but decided that it was a good thing to blame the drug on in retrospect. But the reason he gives for Scorpius being on board makes total sense, and with John knowing we have an interesting game of chess on our hands between Scorpius and John. It is highly unlikely that, despite the acting, Scorpius hasn't realised that Aeryn is the key to John. He has already used her once, to get on Moya in the first place ("Promises"), and there is little doubt to me that he hasn't just been able to observe their behaviour and hasn't figured it out already. In fact, I'd be surprised if he hadn't orchestrated some sort of plan already.
But what I liked more than anything about the happy, sappy ending, is what it spells. Terrible Things Are About To Happen. There is no way, at least on Farscape, that John and Aeryn will get back together, resolving some of their issues, and stay that way. Trouble is always just seconds away when they get happy, so it's sure to spell trouble for them. Heck, last time they were happy, John died. Slap me down and call me morbid, but I can't wait to see what bad things happen in the upcoming episodes. This was definitely the calm before the storm.
Speaking of Scorpius, his relationship with Sikozu got even more interesting this week. There is definitely more going on between them than what we've seen on screen. When he finds her injured, he immediately tells her that he promises to kill her attacker. Scorpius doesn't promise things lightly, and his concern was definitely genuine. She seems like much more than an ally to him at this point. Likewise, she seems to be more than just intrigued with him. When Noranti thinks he's a threat to them, Sikozu quickly jumps to Scorpius' defence, claiming that she knows him, and even later the pair have a fantastic scene when she gives him the finger to wake him up. He grabs her by the throat initially, but she talks him round, and since he wants the arachnid dead, he helps by carrying her off in his arms. Admittedly, seeing Scorpius drowned in his saliva wasn't particularly nice, but it worked in the context of what happened, with Scorpius' Scarran side coming to the fore.
The final scene between the two was cryptic, and yet despite its extremely short length, the chemistry was clear. This seems to be another pairing that is working extremely well on the show. Sikozu says she wants in, but only if he is honest. It's interesting, as they both seem, at least on some platonic level, to care about each other, and it seems to go even deeper than that. I'm looking forward to seeing how Sikozu will factor in to any of Scorpius' upcoming plans.
It was great to see the pair in a really prominent role, after being somewhat out of things during the Earth trilogy, for obvious reasons. Likewise, I was happy to see Noranti in a prominent role where she was more than comic relief (not that I think her comic relief has become a problem yet, it's just nice to see her use her skills for more). She played an integral role in figuring things out, and continues to be mysterious, and yet extremely astute to her surroundings and other people's feelings. She also proved her worth as a negotiator, and that she can seemingly make a good meal out of anything, even spiders.
The final battle with Talikaa was decent, if nothing particularly special. It too, was fairly derivative and predictable, but it amounted to fun, and as I said earlier, the CG on the arachnid was well done. While I'd definitely hesitate to say I disliked "Twice Shy", I can't say I thought it was great, either. It was a good, fun episode, based mostly on Moya. While the whole episode was, in places, derivative of past episodes of the show itself, it was well executed and had some good character moments that made it well worth one's time. A definite nod goes to director Kate Woods, for keeping the creepy atmosphere sustained for most of the episode.
While it didn't rock my world, the episode was a fun romp that definitely served as something tamer before we build to the action-packed finale, that is sure to rip out even more heartstrings. For now, I just look forward to the Very Bad Things™ that are no doubt on their way.
I love to hear your views, whether you agree or disagree, so feel free to e-mail me your feedback. Review by Dani Moure.
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Did You Know?
At the start of the episode, D'Argo reminds Chiana, "You bought the Vorc on board." This refers to the season 2 episode Beware of Dog, in which a creature Chiana brings aboard Moya causes problems.
"You think Talikaa is doing a T'raltixx?" John asks Scorpius. This refers to Crackers Don't Matter, in which the alien T'raltixx comes aboard Moya and affects the behaviour of the entire crew.
John reveals that Scorpius' reason for being on board is to find out how he can get to John. Aeryn is his key, and John says he's been using the drug and been abrasive towards her to throw him off the track, so Scorpius won't use Aeryn or her baby to get to John.
John also reveals that Aeryn won the coin toss at the end of Dog with Two Bones.
Crackers Don't Matter
Beware of Dog
Into the Lion's Den, Part 1: Lambs to the Slaughter
Dog with Two Bones
John: [to Pilot] "You can do it, man. You're smart enough, you're good enough, and doggone it people like you."
Pilot: "Are you alright, Crichton?"
Scorpius: "I will kill your attacker. I promise."
Chiana: "No... No tingle. No... No nothing. That tralk has... has taken away my sex drive."
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