John and Scorpius search for the location of the Scarran base, while Aeryn is tormented by her captors...
Click here to read the Farscape World synopsis for this episode.
Contrary to what appears to be popular opinion, I only liked "Prayer." It was a good episode, but not great for me. Something about it just didn't click; it didn't have that "umph" that defines an outstanding episode for me. Part of the problem seemed to be the lack of much new. The outcome of the episode saw John learn the location of Katratzi, and Aeryn deciding to do anything to save her child. But that's it.
When you sit back and think about it, we don't learn all that much. The strange thing is, it's not the first episode like that, to say the least. A previous Justin Monjo episode, "The Choice", which I loved, has the most wafer-thin plot, and was solely dedicated to the study of Aeryn's state of mind following Talyn-John's death. Also odd is that "Prayer" is very similar to that episode in many respects, as much of it is a look at Aeryn's character and what has happened to her, and the opening and closing scenes with her talking to the god Djancaz-Bru are a look at her state of mind, and how she feels. The rest of the episode is dedicated to John seeking out the location of Katratzi. It should have been great. It could have been. But it really didn't light me up. It didn't even have the emotional impact on me that I thought it would, especially considering Aeryn's ordeal. I have no idea why the episode didn't quite click for me, but it just didn't.
Aeryn is now at her wit's end, to say the least. In the opening, she finds a god; turns to Djancaz-Bru for help because she has no one else. She asks the god to get a message to "him," obviously Crichton, so he can rescue her. Throughout the episode she is tortured, but she always seems to be hoping for a rescue. But as the episode draws on, her child is put in danger. The Scarrans find out that she's pregnant, and think it may be John's. They want John's knowledge of wormholes, and think that if the baby is his, then they might be able to extract it from the foetal DNA. Despite doing her best to struggle, Aeryn is pretty helpless. Being pregnant, she is even more susceptible to the Scarrans and their heat probes. Her struggle with the Scarrans is pretty well done. When the nurse begins extracting fluid from her, you can feel how helpless Aeryn feels.
You can feel the struggle Aeryn has about revealing her intimacy with John. This aspect did play up to expectations quite nicely. Several people had cited Velorek as a possible father of Aeryn's baby, and others had speculated about other Peacekeepers, although as viewers, we knew it couldn't have been someone during the time away from Moya, since we already knew she was pregnant before she left. But seeing Aeryn struggle to lie under the immense pressure was quite saddening. She is struggling so hard to lie to protect her child, but eventually she has to admit it.
"Just Crichton. Only ever Crichton. Just him." It's been clear for a while how she felt, at least through her actions with Talyn-John in season three. She is in love with John. She has changed a lot emotionally since she left the Peacekeepers in season one, and it's probably safe to say that she's never had feelings like she has for Crichton for anyone else. She tries to hide the fact that she's pregnant, but it's soon revealed. She knows how bad this could be – the Scarrans could use the child in many ways, if it was John's. So she tries to hide who the father is. But, in one of the more hard-hitting scenes, she's frothing at the mouth, and she can't withstand the pain any longer. She has to admit it. She loves John. There was only ever John. She doesn't ever explicitly state that he's the father, but he is the man she loves.
Of course, the Scarrans think that they may have the chance to extract the wormhole knowledge from the foetal DNA, since they are assuming after her admission of love that it is John's baby. This is why they will be taking her to Katratzi. But knowing that her child is in danger, and that her prayers have not been answered – she's not been rescued – she really does come to that point where nothing else matters. All that matters is her child, and the chilling scene at the end of the episode was probably my favourite – it was extremely well played and sent a chill down my spine, in a similar way that John's speech at the end of last week did. She is left with no choice. "I am now willing to make a deal with anyone, with anything to save my child. Not because I can... but because I have to." She has to do whatever it takes to save her child. This is a different Aeryn. She's been broken, and she's at an emotional low again. But this is different to how she was in "The Choice". Now, she is acting out of desperation for her child.
While I did like the torture, and how Aeryn's state of mind changed from optimism to desperation, there was just something that didn't click. Claudia Black's performance was great, as usual, but something didn't fit. Perhaps it was that I felt it was bogged down a little by the inclusion of the distracting cellmate, who Aeryn seemed to figure out early on was a Scarran spy (when Morrock slips up with the numbers of children early on, Aeryn seems to double-check to confirm her suspicions). Maybe that aspect was a little too much, a little needless. Maybe it was just me.
But then, there were a few points where I felt that some of the scenes were just padding. Notably, when John and Scorpius first exit the wormhole, and John has to fix his module while they're spinning upside down. While it did provide the opportunity for Scorpius to joke with John about what he'd do with wormholes, the scene itself just reeked of padding. It was pointless, and meaningless. And also, it didn't make too much sense. John seemed to purposely exit the wormhole at that point, so presumably thought it was the right place. But then when he fixed his module, they went back in, he steered a bit more and they reached bizarro Moya. So, really, what was the point in that?
Since I'm nitpicking, I also took issue with John's sudden inability to pronounce "Katratzi" on cue; despite saying it easily every time in "A Constellation of Doubt", all of a sudden he is stumbling over the word and seemingly struggling with it. Either this was a lapse in continuity (which would probably have something to do with the last episode being filmed over seven months), or it was just a piece of inconsistent writing. Yes, it's a major nitpick. But still, it annoyed me.
Another confusing moment for me was the lack of Noranti. Well, not inherently the lack of her, more how she's suddenly forgotten. In the last episode, I noted how Noranti was conspicuous by her absence. She wasn't mentioned on Moya in real-time, despite appearing on the TV show. Here, when Sikozu is trying to convince D'Argo to vote on whether to leave without John, she mentions that Noranti is asleep, and they should wake her, and the six of them vote. This seems to suggest that the vote should include D'Argo, Sikozu, Rygel, Chiana, Noranti and presumably Pilot. Later in the episode, the crew do vote. This time, Noranti simply isn't mentioned. Granted, her vote wouldn't have made a difference, and they were limited in time, but still, a simple line from someone along the lines of "Shouldn't we wake Noranti," "There isn't time," would've been nice. I realise this is a TV show, and they have time constraints, but it was just another irksome point.
That actually brings up another point; just what is going on with Noranti? Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I did wonder if there might be some point behind her sleeping, or at least not appearing, for two episodes (as in, not appearing in the present on Moya). Of course, I'm probably just looking for hints now that aren't even there. But at least I'm not getting bored!
With the Moya story nitpicks out of the way, there was a fair bit I liked. The tension within the crew as they waited for John and Scorpius was pretty good, considering how they're pretty much ship-bound and useless during this episode (which is due to the nature of the story, more than anything). The Scorpius and John side of things played out quite nicely.
First, Scorpius makes a Scarran blood vow with John, to cement the fact that John will tell him everything about wormholes if they get Aeryn back. Most interesting that a man who detests Scarrans so much would make a blood vow. But then, this is also the same hybrid that referred to the Scarran language as "the mother tongue," in a non-detesting way in "Bringing Home the Beacon". Since I'm in the look-for-clues mode now, I can't help but think that Scorpius is up to far more than he's letting on. I'm still not sure exactly what, although several things (such as him being a spy) have crossed my mind. I haven't got a definitive theory, but I do know that Scorpius has more going on than we currently know; he has a definite agenda here. One would presume that we'll be finding out exactly what soon enough, since the three-parter coming up is likely to unravel the season. Something that I have pondered, though, is whether Sikozu is fully aware of his plans or not.
Back to the Scorpius and John plot; they finally take the trip to the unrealised reality to find Sikozu-Stark and get the location of Katratzi, the Scarran base that they assumed Aeryn was being taken to, and by the end of this episode, she is on her way to. Despite some possible inconsistencies that cropped up in this episode with the explanations given in "Unrealized Reality", this plot played out quite well. They arrive on bizarro Moya, and despite John's explanations, Scorpius isn't quite prepared for what he sees; his reactions to "Rygel" and "Stark" are exactly what one would expect.
The pair take hold of Sikozu-Stark, and she explains that she can't tell them anything about Katratzi, because she said it when she was crossing someone over, and she retains no memory of what is said when she does that. Scorpius goes and grabs Noranti-Rygel, and ruthlessly kills her with no quibbles. As he says, they're on a timetable, and everyone is going to die when Crais overtakes them shortly anyway. John is obviously not happy, but this is not the season one John that would have completely flipped out. This John is far more emotionally detached. He wants Aeryn. This is a means to get Aeryn.
It's not long before the roles are reversed, and Scorpius and John have got a hold of Aeryn-Chiana (since Stark can only cross over someone she loves), and are confronted in the corridor by D'Argo-Jool. Scorpius' reaction to the gender confusion is excellent, but more importantly in this scene is John being forced to kill. D'Argo-Jool won't get out of their way, so with Scorpius egging him on, when D'Argo-Jool fires, John kills him. Again, this says a lot about John's state of mind. While he initially hesitates, he doesn't waste too much time before pulling the trigger. He is very emotionally detached, and will do anything to reach his goal of finding Aeryn.
Later still, interestingly enough John can't pull the trigger and kill Aeryn-Chiana, because she looks so much like Aeryn. While he wasted no time in killing bioloid Aeryn in "Bringing Home the Beacon" as soon as he realised she wasn't the real Aeryn, here he just can't do it. He knows things are different here, and while it's not Aeryn, this person is alive and looks just like her. It presents an interesting problem, and although he is very detached, he still can't do it. Predictably, Scorpius can and is quick to take the trigger and kill her. While John is initially angry, there's little left that he can do. Sikozu-Stark crosses her over, says Katratzi, gives Scorpius and John the location of the base, and they leave.
So now they know. It's easy to predict that this three-parter coming up will revolve around Aeryn's rescue from Katratzi, and the whole Scarran scheme. I'm really looking forward to seeing it play out, and I hope I'm not disappointed, and I hope we get to see the pieces of the puzzle fit together.
I did want to comment on the CG this episode. The new shots of the freighter, and the shots of John entering the wormhole looked very nice, and the visual effects team should be commended for bringing such high-quality CG to the show. I also liked the direction from Peter Andrikidis; I often find his episodes visually interesting, and this one was no different. The camera rarely stood still, with some interesting long shots and obscured views that helped keep me watching and interested in what were essentially static scenes, particularly those where Aeryn was being tortured.
In closing, I'll just say that I thought "Prayer" was a decent setup for the final four episodes, but it didn't go much beyond that. It was a good episode; I won't question that. But for me, it just didn't go any further. Perhaps it was me and not the episode. After all, it had many of the makings (torture, death, peril) of an episode I would have expected to adore. Yet I found it difficult at times to get emotionally attached, despite the excellent opening and closing monologues from Claudia Black. I did find myself feeling somewhat sympathetic after the deaths of the alternate crewmembers though, Aeryn-Chiana in particular, and Raelee Hill was wonderful as Stark. I can only say that, for whatever reason, this episode just didn't quite click with me. I've tried to explain it as best I can. For me, Justin Monjo's scripts have often been hit, miss, or something in between. "Prayer" was good, but I think it could've been better.
I love to hear your views, whether you agree or disagree, so feel free to e-mail me your feedback. Review by Dani Moure.
Did You Know?
Sandy Gore, who played the nurse in this episode, played the judge in Dream a Little Dream/Re:Union.
Noranti was absent from Moya in this episode; Sikozu mentions that she was asleep. She was also missing from A Constellation of Doubt.
Scorpius makes a Scarran blood vow with John, despite apparently despising all things Scarran.
John and Scorpius now know that Katratzi disguises its location by mimicking the orbit of one of the moons of Trilask.
The Scarrans are now taking Aeryn to Katratzi, believing that there's a chance they can learn the wormhole knowledge from Aeryn's baby's DNA.
Following her torture, and not being rescued, Aeryn has decided that she will now do make a deal with anyone or anything to save her child, because she has to.
The Way We Weren't
Infinite Possibilities, Part 2: Icarus Abides
Dog with Two Bones
Bringing Home the Beacon
Scorpius: [of D'Argo-Jool] "Shoot him."
John: "Technically, it's a she."
Scorpius: "Shoot it."
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