|We're So Screwed, Part 3:|
Trapped on Katratzi, the crew are caught up in a deadly power struggle that could spell their end...
Click here to read the Farscape World synopsis for this episode.
Disappointed. There's no other way to really express my feelings about "La Bomba." It's not that the episode is bad; in fact it's quite good. But it's disappointing, and not just because it follows the excellent "Hot to Katratzi," either. It just feels like an easy way out. Like a bit of a re-treading. And dare I say it, predictable?
I think for the most part, a lot of my disappointment comes because I so wanted to love these episodes. Really love them. I wanted them to be some of my favourite episodes ever. And a couple have been, but not this one. It's like when you want to love something so much and it's not as good as you hoped and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Not because it's bad, but because you don't like it as much as you wanted. It had the awesome set up, but it just didn't seem to follow through. It tied things up so neatly. It was convenient.
For a start, the constantly changing revelations were a little overused this episode. Yes, I mentioned predictability above, and these do add unpredictability. It just pushes the boundaries of believability when almost everything we've been told or led to believe these past two episodes were altered in "La Bomba." Should we trust anything we hear, wondering if it will be changed in the next episode? This does seem to link to another problem I had with the trilogy though, and that's the writing inconsistencies. Purposeful or not, the dialogue has often times been totally confusing, and difficult to interpret. Last episode, Sikozu asked Zukash "Are there any other bioloids here?" She had just rolled her eye around in her socket. There is no question in my mind that said dialogue infers she is a bioloid. If not, she'd have dropped the "other" from the sentence. There would be no need to ask if there are any "others" if she's not one herself. Alas, this episode it turns out she's merely genetically enhanced. Either that or she's lying to the crew (which is probably quite likely). It's all very well being vague, and I've quite liked that at times this season, but things like this just seem more inconsistent than anything. It sounds nit-picky, but Sikozu likely being a bioloid was a major development, and it's not even mentioned here. It reminds me of the way, in the same episode, there is no mention of the possibility of Grayza and/or Braca being a bioloid, even though the dialogue at the end of "Bringing Home the Beacon" suggested it.
This episode also presented several conveniently easy ways out, at least in my eyes. Scorpius is not, in fact, receiving transmissions from Harvey. Harvey was lying to John to get him to rescue Scorpius, and Scorpius really knows nothing. It does actually make sense from a storyline standpoint, but nevertheless, it's an easier way out than the show would often take. Scorpius having the wormhole technology itself would have presented such an interesting situation, and indeed is what drove the crew to rescue him. But no, he has not a trace. Likewise, Scorpius trades John's real knowledge (bargained in "A Constellation of Doubt") for the destruction of the flowers. That's a nice easy way to get past John's debt, no?
One could talk about the overall episode story as being convenient, too. The Emperor initially needs John alive, so John and crew are safe, albeit under guard. Scorpius doesn't really want to do anything to John, just to keep him on the base - an easy way to solve the cliffhanger. How convenient was it that the elevator's drill could get them anywhere on the base? That just seemed far too "plot device" for my tastes. They need to get back to the surface from the flowerbed; a simple elevator wouldn't work as Scarrans would be waiting, so we'll stick a drill on the bottom. We need to somehow create a diversion and get off the base, so we'll fall back to the bomb and blow it up. Shades of past season-enders were a little too apparent in that regard.
Stark, who was re-introduced as a vengeful person out to torture Scorpius, is in fact a bioloid. Nice, regular Stark is in fact stored in the bioloid replicator. This seemed like one heck of a cop-out, to me. There was every good reason that Stark would want revenge on Scorpius. It was really why he returned in season two with a plan to rescue Jothee anyway – to get his revenge. We saw him being tortured by Scorpius, and the effect on him, in "Nerve." His motives for revenge make sense. But no, the torture was to fool Ahkna. The bioloid was evil; Stark is normal. Scorpius' excuse of how he knew also made no sense to me. He says that Stark could never torture him. Why, exactly? His animosity towards Scorpius has been made quite clear throughout the entire series, but he can't torture him? Stark has a dark side, we know that. So why wouldn't he use it for against torturer? Unless Scorpius implemented some chip, or other method, to physically stop Stark (which I find hard to believe), the reasoning made no sense. It all seemed like a forced method to get Stark back on Moya. Personally, instead of this bait-and-switch, I'd rather he just walked in the front door. Still, we did get to see Noranti in a cool killing sequence, if nothing else.
The flowers are the key to Scarran evolution. They eat them and it makes them intelligent. Without them, they'd be set back hundreds of cycles. This was interesting, but more than a little rushed. They were introduced nicely, with mystery, in the last episode, and then given how their importance is so escalated here, it seemed rushed. It would have been nice to have a bit more of a build up to the actual significance, and therefore importance of said flowers. Also, again with the convenience in that they can only be grown in scant few places. Granted, it's nitpicking, but it does seem convenient that this is the case, and Katratzi just happens to be one of those. Granted, television in general is often all about coincidence, and you're required to suspend your disbelief slightly to accept them. But when there are so many, it becomes difficult. I'd have been more interested in the flowers not being destroyed this episode, but rather the crew getting away without it, and then maybe coming back just to eradicate the flowers, or something similar. The flowers and their importance just seemed a little rushed.
Having said that, it definitely made me recall, in "Hot to Katratzi," John tasting one of the flowers in front of Staleek and Ahkna, and mentioning that they're all over the place on Earth. There's a distinct feeling that could now catch up with John, as the Scarrans will probably be looking for new sources for the flower, and John's provided them the reason for a possible invasion. That would be very interesting to see. For sure, we haven't seen the end of the Scarran conflict.
Getting past the conveniences and contrivances in the plot, there were a few interesting points raised and, assuming they're final, some revelations that could prove interesting.
First, what did Aeryn do on the Command Carrier? She went to a medical area to take care of some unfinished business, and didn't want Braca, or anyone else watching. This will probably come up in the next episode. Could she have extracted the foetus? Or perhaps she has sped up gestation to give birth sooner? Or maybe she's somehow altered the child's DNA for some unknown purpose. Then again, it was probably a curveball and she was probably just checking to see what gender it was.
A major revelation is that we presumably learn the truth about Sikozu. She tells the crew she's genetically engineered, and part of the Kalish resistance dedicated to overthrowing Scarran domination. She can emit radiation that destroys Scarran heat producing glands, hence killing them. She uses it to get out of the pickle the crew are in this episode, which is not really surprising. But it was different, and interesting, and perhaps I'm biased, but I liked it. It could take the character in an interesting direction. We now know her motives, and probably why she is so close to Scorpius. The raising from the floor and glowing was a little... over the top, but I thought Raelee Hill presented the character conflict well, and during the pre-glow talk, the discussion made sense and also confirmed her integration into the crew.
I won't go into great detail again about John and how he has totally snapped, and is so emotionally detached that he doesn't seem to care about anything anymore. However, his lack of consideration for everyone else when he reactivated and dropped the bomb was probably the most disturbing thing he has done this trilogy so far. After the fact, he realises they should have voted, and indeed the bomb would have been dropped anyway, nevertheless it is disturbing that he doesn't even seem to care too much. It's quite apt that it's Scorpius who points out how well John is learning to use people.
I still can't help but wonder about Aeryn though. She has just stood by and let this all happen. Likewise, Chiana and D'Argo have raised no objections. They've supported him in full, and let him take the leader role. Surely, as friends, they should have pointed out what he was doing. John is only concerned about Aeryn, that we know. But he has Aeryn, and really doesn't seem to grasp the consequences of what he's doing. He's not thinking; just acting. This is the time I'd expect Aeryn, Chiana or D'Argo to speak up, but they don't. Even Rygel and Noranti are barely vocal about what John is doing, and seem to be gleefully going along with it. Sikozu and Scorpius have their own agendas and reasons for doing so, so I can accept them. John's actions make total sense with regard to where the character has being going this season - all the way down. But the main three, I just can't help but wonder where the objections were. They barely say anything about him dropping the bomb. Granted, it was done and they couldn't change it, but still.
There was a glimmer of hope for John at the end of the episode, though. In what was one of the best scenes in the trilogy, John reflects on what he has done, and why it was wrong. He shows remorse. He wore a nuclear bomb. He killed people. He talks about having a bigger bomb and killing more people, maybe innocent people. Finally John shows that humanity. He puts his head in his arms and cries. He's disturbed by what he's done. While it's unlikely that, at this point, John would reform within a few episodes, it's a start. This man is the polar opposite to the John Crichton that was shot through the wormhole. He is frightening. But, at least he now realises that.
One couldn't not mention the two other relationships that surface at the end of the episode. Oddly enough, D'Argo and Chiana have rekindled their relationship after almost two seasons. This has definitely been hinted at earlier, with their digs at each other earlier in the season clearly the signs of affection (see "Terra Firma" for one example). The pair sleeping together straight away though... it just didn't feel right. After all this death and destruction, they just have sex. Yes, they're aliens. But still, it seemed wrong.
Scorpius and Sikozu, though, is the one that a lot of people have been waiting for. Would they or wouldn't they? Had they already? Well, we see them at it for sure, here. This was well played by Wayne Pygram and Raelee Hill - at first, Scorpius isn't forthcoming, but gradually kisses back. It's been building all season, and we knew they valued each other greatly, but it should be interesting to see where this goes, even if just in the next episode. I don't foresee them as a couple in the same sense as John and Aeryn, but they make an intelligent and logical pair, and it's a shame we may not get to see it develop further.
There were two things in "La Bomba" that I really enjoyed, and the episode is worth watching for those alone. The first being War Minister Ahkna. She is a wonderful character played expertly by Francesca Buller, whose ambition and arrogance shine through at every opportunity. She has a frightening, commanding presence and a complexity that surpasses many of the other characters here. Her ambition is clear, and she is more than willing to undermine the Emperor to get what she wants. She is one character that could really add to the show greatly, if only we were to receive more past the end of season four.
Second, Grayza and Braca. Their scenes, and Grayza's ensuing downfall almost stole the show for me. Rebecca Riggs and David Franklin are absolutely stellar in their roles and play their scenes to perfection. Grayza's loss of control has been brewing since last episode, but really kicks in here, as we witness her fight for peace come to an end. Her ideal was honourable – she wanted peace. Her methods and actions inexcusable, but she had a motive. She just wanted peace for her people. I could do little but feel sorry for her as I watched her command slip through her fingers. In her conversation with John, alone, when she loses it and tells him that because of him her ideals are gone and she is... and John says "raped," and Grayza lifts her head, it says something about the character and how she stands by her actions because she felt the means were justified. She has been a far more straightforward villain than Scorpius and Crais, but I don't think she was being set up for a turn to join Moya and reform. She falls, and it's not pleasant, but there's not really anything else she can do. The only disappointment here was that, perhaps due to time, we don't get to see exactly what happened following Braca seizing command; perhaps we'll see more in the next episode. Braca finally showed that he can be far, far more than just a "yes" man, and took control of the situation, with great dignity. The scenes on the Command Carrier were just superb.
Finally, I feel the need again to mention what a great job the costume and makeup departments did. We see even more Scarrans in this episode, and they all look somewhat unique, and that is so refreshing in science fiction today, where one member of a race is often indistinguishable from another. Likewise, the sets were impressive and the CG good. The directing was great, and Rowan Woods proves again that he is a total pro.
With one episode left to go, this season and for the near future at least, the "We're So Screwed" trilogy just seemed uneven. "Fetal Attraction" and "La Bomba" both have their inherent flaws, and come off as disappointing, but thankfully, despite some rewriting of some plot points this episode, "Hot to Katratzi" is still an excellent episode in and of itself, and nothing should take away from that. I have tried to explain why I feel a little disappointed. I can't help that; perhaps I had my expectations too high. Perhaps I expected the trilogy to outclass anything that came before, whereas it didn't, in all honesty. "La Bomba" is by no means bad. I was disappointed with the aspects I outlined above, but there were plenty of good moments that helped the episode along, and it was good, and fun to watch. I have tried to look at these episodes recently purely for entertainment, as well as for reviewing. Forget about picking nits; just enjoy the ride. And I have. Immensely. But even so, I was disappointed, and my rating reflects that. These episodes are well worth anyone's time, and better than the vast majority of TV out there. But in my eyes, Farscape is on another level, and so when it's an episode as big as this, the disappointment is only exemplified.
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?
The title for this episode appears to be a play on words from the eighties hit song that any Spaniard (or most people, for that matter) will probably know – "La Bamba" by Ritchie Valens. There was also a film of the same name, about his life.
Captain Jenek tells Emperor Staleek early on in this episode that D'Argo's ship, Lo'La, is an "Eradicator."
Sikozu tells the crew that she's a genetically enhanced Kalish, empowered with the ability to emit radiation that destroys Scarran heat producing glands, killing them. Whether she is actually a bioloid and just not telling the crew the whole story, or she was never a bioloid in the first place is unclear.
Stark once lived on Katratzi, assisting the Scarran leadership class with their death rituals. Scorpius was torturing Stark in the Aurora Chair (see Nerve) to get information about Katratzi, and the location of the mother flowers.
D'Argo and Chiana are back together, as of this episode, where they're seen sharing a bed. Sikozu and Scorpius also share a kiss, indicating their romantic entanglement. Pennoch and Ahkna are also apparently lovers.
Braca has a first name! His full name is "Miklo Braca." In this episode, he removes command from Grayza and takes over, because she is acting so irrationally.
The line "If it were done when 'tis done..." when John is talking to Aeryn, is a quote from Shakespeare's Macbeth, spoken as Macbeth talks himself into killing King Duncan.
The Hidden Memory
Won't Get Fooled Again
Liars, Guns and Money, Part 3: Plan B
Into the Lion's Den, Part 1: Lambs to the Slaughter
Into the Lion's Den, Part 2: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
I Shrink Therefore I Am
Bringing Home the Beacon
A Constellation of Doubt
We're So Screwed, Part 1: Fetal Attraction
We're So Screwed, Part 2: Hot to Katratzi
John: "You used me."
Scorpius: "We used each other."
John: "You're better at it."
Scorpius: "Oh, you're learning. The bomb... Clever."
Noranti: "Who's Stark?"
Rygel: "Another lunatic with the wrong number of eyes."
Rygel: "But you're actually working for Staleek?"
Scorpius: "So he believes."
Noranti: "Oh, I do admire your compartmentalisation of duplicity."
John: [of Ahkna] "She scares the crap out of me."
Aeryn: "It's the hat."
John: "I can't believe it, I left a nuclear bomb in an elevator."
Chiana: "Well that's all right. You've done worse."
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