|"Bringing Home the Beacon"|
The women of Moya get caught up in a dangerous power play between the Peacekeepers and the Scarrans, with torturous results...
Click here to read the Farscape World synopsis for this episode.
Thankfully, "Bringing Home the Beacon" is something of a return to form for the show. Much improved over "Mental as Anything", it was funny, intelligent, well plotted and tightly written. Not to mention it was Farscape again, with all the kinks and quirks that go with it. You want weird aliens? You've got them. You want advances in the Scarran/Peacekeeper plot? You've got them in spades. You want confusion? Well then, you're watching the right show (you'll have to bear with me if you want to know what I mean).
This week we see what the women of Moya got up to, and their adventure takes up the vast majority of screen time (sorry, girls that care – you had your fun last week). One of the first things that jumps out of the screen is how well the four of them – Sikozu, Aeryn, Chiana and Noranti – work together. None of them are really alike in any way, but they do, for the most part, seem to be on the same wavelength. There's something of an aura around them, as they wittily bounce off each other at every opportunity. All four actresses are on top form, and their comedic timing is spot on. From Aeryn and Sikozu's exchange -
"Do you have any plan of escape?"
"Anything more detailed, Aeryn?"
- To Noranti's "Ooh hello," to Aeryn's "Hey, gorgeous!", it was all so perfectly timed, coming off hilariously without detracting from the drama at hand. It really was wonderful to see some more running humour that worked well.
Having said that, for much of the episode the girls were paired off in two groups: Aeryn and Sikozu, and Chiana and Noranti. In a way, quite surprisingly, the former pairing worked extremely well. Initially, one could sense the distrust between the two, particularly coming from Aeryn, and it was subtly portrayed several times (like when Aeryn suggests someone may have betrayed their location to the Peacekeepers). And what made it better was that you could see them growing more and more comfortable with each other as they were watching the meeting, right down to the point where they started to work as a team (when they killed the commando).
By the time they came to infiltrate the Scarran ship, they both seemed to be on the same wavelength, and having captured Grayza and Braca, while waiting for Aeryn, Sikozu seemed extremely anxious and touchy, and there was a definite sense of some sort of camaraderie there. It wouldn't surprise me if Scorpius had asked her to keep a watchful eye on Aeryn for him, but nonetheless they seemed to become far more team-like as the episode went on. Sikozu's reaction in her final scene, to the fact that she wasn't captured, seemed like a genuine bout of compassion, on realising exactly what Aeryn is probably going through and what she is up against. Very well played, and nice to see.
Noranti certainly proved herself extremely useful in this episode, and I'm happy to see that she's being used as part of the story as opposed to simply being a comedic figure. Hopefully, those that took a disliking to Noranti early on will at least by this point realise that she is definitely a valuable asset to the crew. Her pairing with Chiana, particularly for the scene where Braca was scanning them, was hilarious and like so much in this episode, really clicked. Granted, their genetic modifications didn't really change them that much (but then, it would've been silly to go overboard so they were unrecognisable to new viewers switching over), but they looked good. Chiana, in particular, looked fantastic in blue, and it was a lovely change. Their behaviour was fantastic, and again called for some great lines (Noranti's ramblings about true love come to mind). In all, it was a fantastic episode for the female cast members to sink their teeth into, and they seemed to do just that.
One couldn't really talk about the episode without talking about the whole political situation. To say "turned on its head" would be something of an understatement. As a reminder, when Grayza first appeared in "Lambs to the Slaughter", she brought with her a Luxan ambassador, and announced the formation of a Luxan-Peacekeeper mutual defence pact. Here, Grayza is willing to give away the Luxan worlds in pursuit of a treaty and peace with the Scarrans, which she has stated was her goal all along. It's like watching a great game of chess (although, not quite that sophisticated, after all, it is political chess), as the two bargain for what they want, and keep making digs at each other throughout. While it was certainly expected that things would fall through, I have to admit I didn't think they'd even get as far as signing the treaty, and it nearly threw me. This aspect of the episode was nicely written so it had the right amount of dramatic tension thrown in, partly thanks to Aeryn and Sikozu's interjected commentary throughout.
So, with the treaty signed, Grayza and Braca are both captured by Ahkna, who incidentally was marvellously portrayed by Francesca Buller. She has now had one major guest appearance in each of Farscape's four seasons, and she commands the screen and is quite riveting in her role. She portrays the pizzazz and nobility of the Scarran ruling class extremely well, and throughout the negotiations it is always clear that she means business. An excellent guest appearance, by all accounts. Not to mention that Rebecca Riggs was great, too, with her snotty and supercilious tones coming through to make Grayza seem far more confident than she probably was.
Anyhow, Ahkna captures Grayza and Braca; her primary reason seemingly is to extract the extent of the Peacekeeper wormhole capabilities from her mind, even if she and the crew are conditioned to resist Scarran mind probing. Apparently, their facilities are so much better on Katratzi (like we won't find out for ourselves). However, Aeryn, Sikozu and Noranti concoct a plan and free Grayza and Braca, and Aeryn leaves Sikozu and Noranti to guard the two while she attempts to take down the remaining Scarrans, Ahkna included.
You just know at that point, that Bad Things Are About To Happen. And sure enough, Grayza and Braca escape, and Aeryn is left in the hands of the Scarrans. Of course, she makes it to the transport pod. Well, sort of.
The Aeryn that escaped was a bioloid. Scarrans have the technology to replicate living flesh, making almost perfect copies of the subject. So the Aeryn that made it back to Moya wasn't our Aeryn, who is left with the Scarrans. This, of course, is not good news for our crew. I can almost smell a rescue attempt.
The bioloid Aeryn swerve was played out well, with only a few subtle hints initially (personally, I thought Aeryn's comment aimed at Sikozu possibly having a beacon was one of them, considering how well they worked together here), and then her sudden inability to even be able to say "baby", let alone talk about it, was the clincher. Nicely done, I must say, as was John's way of confirming his suspicions by quickly interchanging the words "beacon" and "baby". Nice to see John has regained some intelligence. So he is left to mull over the dead bioloid's body, after shooting her face, and we're all left to wonder what the Scarrans will do to the real Aeryn, especially given that she's pregnant. She knows an awful lot about John and his predicament, the extent of his wormhole knowledge and so forth, so if the Scarrans find out about it, Even More Bad Things will happen.
It wouldn't be a really good episode of Farscape, though, without some sort of confusion. In this case, personally, I missed part of the ending on first view, and completely did an about-face on my opinion when I watched it again, as I came to my conclusion. I'm talking about whether the real Grayza (and Braca) remains in custody and it was a bioloid that escaped, or whether it was the real Grayza and Braca that got away. Before I say anything more, I will list a transcript of the final scene's dialogue (from my synopsis), to put things in perspective.
Sikozu finds the homing device in what's left of its neural processor. She comments that the device confining Grayza was not meant to transport her.
"No," Scorpius chimes in, "It replicates living flesh. We've known about it for some time, but never encountered the result."
"Effective technique," D'Argo says, "No rescue attempt, while they're at their leisure to torture Grayza."
"And now," Chiana adds, "Her duplicate spies on the Peacekeepers."
"Then why did they take Aeryn?" Noranti asks.
"I got away..." Sikozu comments, visibly distressed. "She got caught."
"Maybe they thought this... creature would bring back Grayza," Noranti suggests.
"Or Crichton," Scorpius remarks.
"Sikozu," D'Argo says, wanting a moment alone. She leaves Command. "You OK?" he asks John.
"No," John answers.
"You know, it's not Aeryn."
"It was never Aeryn."
"We're not going to give up on her, John. Sikozu said the Scarrans are taking Grayza to a place called Katratzi. Maybe that's where Aeryn is now."
"She could be anywhere out there."
"But we're not going to let her go. I give you my word."
With that said, D'Argo leaves John to mull over bioloid Aeryn's body.
Given the dialogue, it's clear to me that Grayza was in fact copied, and it was a bioloid that escaped, with the real Grayza remaining in custody. D'Argo's "Effective technique. No rescue attempt, while they're at their leisure to torture Grayza," and Chiana's "And now, her duplicate spies on the Peacekeepers," seem to confirm that. She is on her way to Katratzi, as Ahkna planned, and presumably Aeryn with her. They will certainly make interesting companions.
I must add though, that logically speaking, for Grayza to have been cloned, Braca surely must have been too. For one, he was in the room with Grayza, tied up, the entire time (at least, what we saw) she was in custody. Had he been taken away, I'm sure it would arouse his suspicions. In addition, Pennoch asks for confirmation that Braca is needed, and Ahkna says he is. I can only presume that they copied Braca, so that with a bioloid version of him, there is really no one that will outright question her orders. It does make sense, since surely Braca would eventually become aware that Grayza was not herself, especially given that some of her traits and quirks may not have been duplicated, and may then begin to question her command. Duplicating him removes that, and drastically reduces the chances she will be found out, since he would be the logical one to challenge her, unless he's on her side. Of course, this idea means that the crew would be aware that Grayza, at the very least, was copied, despite their unawareness during the "rescue", but the dialogue suggests they were.
My final point on this is that Noranti's dialogue seems to have caused much confusion (it did with me, at first). She says, "Maybe they thought this... creature would bring back Grayza." This, on first listen, seems to suggest she means that bioloid Aeryn would bring the real Grayza back to them. However, the way I interpret it is that she means that maybe they deployed bioloid Aeryn to bring back bioloid Grayza. After all, they weren't expecting the women to "rescue" Grayza and Braca, and so for all they knew, the two hadn't escaped to their Command Carrier but were in the custody of Moya's crew, and in a situation where they may have been found out. Hence they deploy a bioloid version of Aeryn to bring bioloid Grayza back to them, to be redeployed to the Peacekeepers, and possibly, as Scorpius suggests, bring back more, like Crichton (since they copied Aeryn, it's possible they learnt at the same time of her involvement with John).
That is the most logical explanation I can come up with, given the dialogue, and it makes sense to me. It also presents some very interesting possibilities: You have Grayza, Aeryn and, presumably, Braca on their way to be interrogated at Katratzi, the bioloid duplicates of Grayza (and Braca) back in Peacekeeper ranks, ready to uncover and reveal all their secrets, and the Moya crew know about all the copies, and will likely attempt to rescue Aeryn. I may be completely wrong, but this is what the dialogue suggests to me. Things are certainly heating up, no matter what happens, and where things go from here should be very interesting.
"Bringing Home the Beacon" was writer Carleton Eastlake's third credited script for Farscape, his previous two being both parts of "Infinite Possibilities", and like the earlier two, this one works very well, and shows a depth of knowledge of the characters that some episodes this season have lacked. It's tightly written, juggles the drama, comedy and plot well, and it pays off. Visually, the episode is fantastic, and director Rowan Woods deserves a round of applause for bringing the events to life; the direction was nicely paced and also worked well for the episode. This is the return to form I was hoping for, as things are really heating up in Tormented Space, and here's to the remaining six episodes getting even better than this.
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?
Francesca Buller stars in this episode as Scarran War Minister Ahkna. She has played a significant guest role in each season; M'Lee in season one's Bone to be Wild, Ro-NA in season two's Look at the Princess trilogy, and Raxil in season three's Scratch 'n Sniff.
Ahkna is the first female member of the Scarran ruling class we have seen; the first was the male, Axikor, in I Shrink Therefore I Am.
The destruction of the Dreadnought that Ahkna talks to Grayza about occurred in Icarus Abides. It was actually John that destroyed the Dreadnought using the wormhole weapon, but it would appear that Peacekeepers are taking credit for it.
Grayza was willing to sacrifice the Peacekeeper's mutual defence pact with the Luxans for the sake of peace, however, Ahkna was willing to betray the Peacekeepers, and apparently is far more interested in finding out the true capabilities of the Peacekeepers' wormhole weapons.
It would appear that Grayza has been cloned and captured by the Scarrans. Aeryn definitely has been, and it would appear they've been taken to a Scarran facility called Katratzi.
Katratzi was first mentioned by Sikozu-Stark in Unrealized Reality. When John is about to shoot him, he begins chanting and clearly says "Katratzi" twice.
The Nebari have a nerve which, when pressed at a certain spot, paralyses them from the neck down.
Into the Lion's Den, Part 1: Lambs to the Slaughter
Dog with Two Bones
I Shrink Therefore I Am
Mental as Anything
Sikozu: "Now that you know that I know what I'm talking about, I suggest you start taking us seriously."
Man: "I'd love to take you. Seriously."
Sikozu: "Do you have any plan of escape?"
Sikozu: "Anything more detailed, Aeryn?"
Aeryn: "Run quickly."
John: "D'Argo, tell her who the daddy is."
D'Argo: "We don't know who the daddy is."
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