|Self Inflicted Wounds, Part 1:|
"Could'a, Would'a, Should'a"
Post "Suns and Lovers," the crew is regrouping and getting ready to continue their search for a planet where Zhaan might recuperate. She's looking worse and the worse she gets the more determined Stark is to make sure she doesn't die.
As Moya is about ready to go, a wormhole appears. Even before it does, Pilot seems to sense that things aren't right with the universe (sorry, bad pun) as he sounds very strained and uncomfortable. John wants to investigate the wormhole as fast and as thoroughly as possible, but before you can say "This week's disaster…" a ship coalesces from within the mouth of the wormhole, seeming to drag the wormhole with it, and promptly collides with Moya. It doesn't seem to impale her so much as it seemed to come together inside and through her.
Moya's crew is scattered about the ship and begin to get their bearings. Aeryn joins Crichton in command where the core of the alien ship seems to be centered. The aliens step out and a certain amount of confusion ensues as they don't have translator microbes (we can understand them but they can't understand us) and no one is sure if this was an accident or an attack. A DRD injects one of the aliens with translator microbes and, while neither she nor her companion are too thrilled with the idea of her brain being frelled with, at least she can understand us now.
With two-way communication established, things settle down and the two sides begin to work together - more or less. None of the other aliens will take the microbes as they have understandable rules and fears regarding alien "exposure." So Pathfinder Neeyala - also her ship's commander - acts as translator between her crew and Moya's. Luckily, she also seems to be the most understanding and trusting one of her crew. Aeryn plays diplomat and takes Neeyala's companion, Kreetago, (her second-in-command?) on a whirlwind tour of Moya while Neeyala explains to Crichton that they're inside the wormhole. More specifically, they're in a distorted region of the wormhole between the wormhole itself and normal space-time. She also explains that wormholes gravitate toward each other and they are jumping between gaps from one wormhole to the next. Once their phaztillon generator is repaired (presumably the device that causes their ship to disperse and re-coagulate) Neeyala hopes she can separate her ship from Moya as they pass through one of these gaps.
As for the state of Moya, it isn't good. Components are damaged, entire tiers are trashed. Stark and D'argo tend to Pilot who is ill and disoriented. He explains that the wormhole's stimuli is too much for he and Moya to handle. The containment nexus circuitry must be disconnected in order to turn down the volume so to speak. As D'argo gets to work on the circuitry, Stark checks in on Zhaan. Zhaan's just seen a vision of a serpent outside her window which she takes as an omen that she is to die soon. At every reminder of her impending death though, Stark only seems to fall more deeply in love with her. He tells her that he carries a darkness - built up from absorbing bits of the dying souls he's assisted over the cycles - and that she in turn gives his life meaning.
The crew begin to do what repairs and preparations they can prior to separating the ships. They decide that Moya should try to starburst at the next gap between wormholes. Coincidentally,
D'argo needs a hand and the only one free to give it to him is Chiana. She wants to talk. He doesn't. He tells her that they have no relationship. She confesses to him that when cornered, she doesn't think clearly. He acknowledges that at least she's being honest, but their conversation ends there.
John enters the cargo bay to find Rygel with a cryopod - the one with the living Interon - and the pod is opening. Rygel claims ignorance/accident, but with him it's hard to tell. In any case, the pod opens and out pops Jool, looking quite retro in her classic 60's, leather, studded, not-too-functional-but-certainly-pleasing-to-the-male-eye space chick outfit. Actually, it's Joolushko Tunai Fenta Hovalis, but John quickly decides to call her Jool for short. Not sure if she's destined to die as quickly as the last one, he wastes no time in questioning her about whether she has any knowledge of humans or Earth. She doesn't, assuming he's a Sebacean and making it known early on what little she thinks of them and pretty much every other species for that matter (calling Rygel an animal). Upon discovering she's been frozen for 22 cycles, she emits an ear-piercing scream that starts to melt some of the components on the cryopod (a possible weapon?). Fortunately for John, Rygel, and us, the jump to Starburst knocks her out and shuts her up. The starburst attempt doesn't work though and must be aborted. Back to square one with the alien ship skewering Moya. Only now, Pilot is unconscious and Moya is even worse off than she was before.
The two crews regroup, going back to the focus of fine-tuning the aliens' phaztillon generator. Neeyala needs more information on the wormhole they're in than what can be provided from their current position and John agrees - against Aeryn's wishes and better judgement - to go for a rather dangerous data-collecting drive in his module. Zhaan tends to a wounded alien and while doing so gets another strange omen in the form of a wind coming from nowhere. Stark and Aeryn have a strange moment in Pilot's chamber where Aeryn is operating Pilot's console. Aeryn senses Stark's distress over Zhaan and assures him that they'll get out of this and find a planet on which Zhaan can heal.
In the cargo bay, Jool is talking to Rygel and he's not into holding back any information. Chiana breaks in before he can tell Jool that one of her cousins died an organ donor for Crichton. Crichton comes in, sees what's going on, and decides Rygel should join him on his data-collecting drive. While flying through the wormhole, Crichton suddenly and unexpectedly gets the hang of it. As he says, "In the F-in' zone" and he apparently didn't even know until then that one could have so much control over navigating a wormhole. Obviously, this boosts his hopes a hundred fold. Rygel offhandedly tells Crichton that all the alien's data-collecting device seems to be doing is collecting images each time they pass from wormhole to wormhole. Rygel says he'd just as soon escape through the next gap, blowing off the injured Moya, the crew, everyone. He jerks the controls, sending them out a gap and into normal space-time ever so briefly before Crichton beats Rygel senseless and steers them back into the wormhole. Rygel vows that Crichton has beaten him up for the last time.
In the neural cluster, Aeryn finds D'argo still been ripping out circuitry even though it's apparently not helping. She has a very short but poignant heart-to-heart with him about the Chiana-Jothee situation. He quickly turns it into a very short but poignant heart-to-heart about her and John. While there, they see the serpent that Zhaan described. Should they be able to see her personal omen?
In Pilot's chamber, Stark is more than impressed with the way Zhaan comforts Pilot. Zhaan implores Stark to take over the ministering of the Moya crew when she is gone. Again, this only cuts him deeper. He tells her he loves her. She tells him that because she feels the same, is why she asks him to take her place.
On the alien ship, Aeryn and Zhaan question Neeyala about the serpent they've seen. Aeryn especially doesn't quite trust these aliens. Neeyala tells them the serpents are beings which live only inside wormholes, that they are harmless and probably are unaware of their very presence.
Once back on Moya, Rygel seems serious about his promise to Crichton and is ready to kill him - literally. Zhaan stops him and in a rare moment for him, he tells Zhaan that he appreciates her counsel. In Pilot's chamber, Crichton is watching the parade of images collected by the alien device. "Thousands of cultures." He's doing so while having a casual conversation with the Scorpy clone in his brain speculating on whether or not the real Scorpy is really dead and if not, what he'll do with the wormhole information. Yes, the clone is there but John seems to have complete control over it now, calling him up at will.
Decision time. When the ships separate, one will be destroyed while the other has a chance of surviving. Logistically, Moya is by far in the weaker position. Zhaan reminds everyone though that Moya and Pilot are living beings, negating the logistics and demanding that they give Moya every opportunity to survive. It is decided to do a final check of Moya to see if there's any way to save her and Pilot. As they all disperse to check the ship, Rygel decides to take his revenge on Crichton by telling Jool what really happened to the third Interon; that he was killed to save Crichton. As Rygel had apparently hoped, Jool shows up in the cargo bay to kill Crichton. D'argo tongues her unconscious before she succeeds, but notices that one of the blasts from her weapon hit the shield of the ship they'd brought on board from the commerce station at their last stop. It opens a gap in the shield which may allow them access to the ship.
On Neeyala's ship, the generator is leaking lethal ions. Neeyala calmly sends the rest of her crew to repair it knowing it will kill her. They have an ominous discussion, hinting that their "research" is more important than they've let on to the Moya crew and that there's another agenda at work here. This lends a little more curiosity to the next scene where Chiana notes that a panel she just checked was fine until she opened it, then it shorted out for no apparent reason. While the crew doesn't seem to think anything of this, we the viewers now have reason to.
Tag scenes: D'argo tells a distraught Chiana he won't take her back, but won't leave her alone in pain either. Neeyala informs Aeryn that her crew died repairing the generator. She asks Aeryn innocently if she's ever been responsible for another's death, if she knows what that's like. In Pilot's chamber, John is saying his goodbys and I'm-sorrys to Pilot while mindlessly watching the images collected while he was flying through the wormhole. Suddenly, a single image catches his eye; the Three Stooges. John had flown past Earth. Before he can absorb this though, one of the serpents attacks him. Yes, the serpent that Neeyala had promised was harmless and didn't even know they were there. The rest, we have to wait until next week when the preview has promised that someone will die for good.
Did that summary sound way cut-and-pasted together? If so, it's because this episode was very cut-and-pasted together. It's a shame too because the basic storyline was very imaginative and several of the scenes - in and of themselves - are classically written and played out. It is kind of like when a radio deejay plays a number of songs back to back that just don't go with each other. Like, say, The B-52's, Pink Floyd, and some random boy band. You might like each song individually, but string them all together and it makes you go "huh?" I don't know if it's part of this problem or a result thereof, but a lot of key plot points get missed and/or buried in this cut-and-paste episode. For instance, I didn't get the first time around that the images John was seeing were the ones he himself had recorded. It came off to me like a little viewfinder the aliens had given him. It wasn't until I was picking the episode apart for the summary and watching with closed-captioning that I caught Rygel saying "All this thing's doing is picking up images…" Maybe it's just me, but a lot of key points seemed to just fly right by like that.
The problem I can identify is Jool. As a rumored semi-regular character, there's always a chance she could improve somewhere on down the line. But as far as this episode goes I can honestly say that Jool not only has nothing to add to the show, she drags it into a mudpit. It's not just that she's whiny and self-important. Rygel is whiny and he and half the characters are self-important. But at least Rygel has depth and a smidgen of purpose. As someone pointed out to me today, as Dr. Smith is to "Lost in Space," Rygel is to "Farscape." He's interesting. You love to hate him. Just when you think he has no heart, he opens it up. Jool is just whiny and annoying with no depth, no purpose, and no promise of usefulness. Worse, she looks and acts like something off of "Black Scorpion" versus "Farscape." I've always loved that "Farscape" does not tend to stereotype its women. We are not expected to believe that spike heels and leather thongs are practical paramilitary wear for Aeryn. Gentle as Zhaan is, she holds her own; she doesn't screech and wait for a man to save her. Even Chiana, Moya's resident sex pot, is way more than the sum of her anatomy. The women of "Farscape" do not look, act, or move like runway models; they are true to the depth of their characters and it is indeed that depth which gives them sex appeal. Jool on the other hand comes off as pure eye-candy. Her outfit is beyond ridiculous. Yes, we've seen some pretty outrageous outfits on "Farscape," but they've always seemed in place for the character and not at all a cliché. Jool stepped straight out of a 1963 babes in outer space B-porno flick. It's really pretty insulting to the rest of the show.
Now, with that rant done and over with, what was good about "Could'a, Should'a, Would'a?"
Like I said, many of the self-contained scenes were fantastic (minus the ones with Jool thrusting her I-wish-I-was-Xena chest about, but don't get me started on her again). What we don't have is this week's John-Aeryn will-they-won't-they scene, which is good. It was very much time for the writers to slow down in that department. What we do have are a couple of very cool Aeryn-D'argo scenes which we don't get enough of in my opinion. John may have won over Aeryn's heart, but D'argo and Aeryn have definitely won each other over as warriors. There's a great connection there that has grown wonderfully over the course of the series. True to Aeryn's added depth since "Season of Death," she offers D'argo a shoulder to lean on and he returns the offer. Go back and watch the first few episodes and you'll see the seeds of this relationship that is now blossoming with full flora!
Also cool is that the John-Aeryn thing isn't ignored either as so many series tend to do ("This week we'll have some hot scene and next week it'll be like nothing happened"). Through an unspoken chemistry, Ben and Claudia keep the tensions there. In fact, there is a great deal of unspoken chemistry going on with nearly all the characters lately. While Zhaan and Stark have some beautiful dialogue, the things they don't say are just as powerful. Paul Goddard is especially good here. Gigi really shines both in her moving scenes with D'argo and with her sharp witted scenes elsewhere (yes, even with my new favorite … Jool). Rygel goes through some pretty deep shifts here as in one sentence he's ready to murder Crichton - no joke; knife in hand - and the next, he's giving in to Zhaan's counsel. On the DVD commentaries, I hear the actors speak often of the importance of getting their hands on the puppets and really interacting with them to bring them to life. Rygel has rarely looked so alive and real as he does in his scene with Zhaan. Kudos to both Virginia and the puppeteers for bringing it together.
Another element that's really driven home in this episode is that the crew is working as more of a team lately. The core premise of "Farscape" has always been "x number of people in a lifeboat forced to work together." However, it would lose its plausibility if by now the crew is still having the same power struggles and personality conflicts they were in the beginning. Just as the relationships have grown, so has their ability and willingness to work together. There are still power struggles and personality conflicts, but they have morphed and progressed. During the flight through the wormhole sequence though, we are reminded of that core premise via a short speech by Rygel. It's apparent that while the writers are progressing the synchronicity of the crew, they don't want us to forget where they came from and that they still have a long way to go.
As for the epic-of-the-week syndrome and cliffhanger at the end, I kind of feared it, but it's not quite as obnoxious as I thought it would be. Perhaps because compared to Jool, nothing is too obnoxious. Yes, the who's-going-to-almost-die-this-week thing is getting tiresome, but here it's given a different twist and it somehow fits with the events of the first 2 episodes. For that, I can forgive the writers. What is interesting though is that the preview for next week's conclusion pretty clearly states that someone will die next week and will stay dead "changing things forever." One of the regular cast members? I somehow doubt it since we surely would have heard some news bit by now about so-and-so leaving the show. Moya? Doubt it. Otherwise it wouldn't make much sense for John to be talking about a living ship in the intro. Rygel or Pilot? Possibly, though David Kemper himself said that Rygel was one of his best characters. I can almost see Pilot being the one and it would be interesting to see Aeryn take over his duties. But even then, it just seems a little extreme. Ah well, I suppose we'll have to wait until Friday to see who bites the big one. Let's just pray that it's S&M Barbie.
Agree? Disagree? Comments? Questions? Email me! Written by Mary Wood.
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