|Self Inflicted Wounds, Part 2:|
"Wait for the Wheel"
Part Two picks right up where Part One left off; with Crichton holding onto a walkway in Pilot’s chamber, dangling perilously over the edge of … what is up with that bottomless pit that the walkways cross over anyway? Oops, wait. This is the synopsis, not the review. The serpent – which Neeyala had assured us isn’t even aware of our presence, is very aware of John’s presence and poised to attack. John manages to pull out his pulse pistol and at least frighten the creature away, but the blood that’s found later – Zhaan tells us – clearly belongs to one of Neeyala’s people. As John insists that he, unconscious Pilot, and the serpent were the only beings in the chamber, Aeryn nails the only remaining explanation: The aliens are using their Phazitallon Generator – which alters the phase physicallity of an object – on themselves to move about the ship unseen. This notion that the aliens are less-than-good-guys quickly diffuses John’s excitement (for the moment anyway) over seeing an Earth TV transmission among the images captured in the wormhole. Zhaan and Aeryn were less than impressed by his obsession for getting home in the middle of a crisis anyway.
In the next scene, we get our conformation. Though Kreetago is weak from the deadly emissions of using their generator, Neeyala sends him out to continue sabotaging Moya’s systems, causing the crew to believe she is worse off than she is. When their two ships separate, Neeyala definitely wants hers to be the one that survives.
The crew regroups, though in two separate groups: Crichton, Rygel, and Chiana discuss how to proceed if Neeyala’s people are indeed sabotaging Moya. Stark, Zhaan, Aeryn and D’argo discuss the same. Though they all come to basically the same conclusions, the latter group has an added element; distrust of Crichton’s judgement in light of the wormholes – and Aeryn’s conviction that he’s still playing a few head games with the residual Scorpy clone. The respective groups decide to make another sweep of Moya; this time isolating systems and watching for patterns to see if someone really is tampering with them.
Crichton enters the cargo bay to find someone in the derelict ship they’d brought on board during “Suns and Lovers.” After a tense moment, he realizes it’s D’argo, but they’re both a little distrusting of each other at first. D’argo takes John inside the ship to show him what he’s found so far. It isn’t much, just the basics of a couple of the controls – doors, the force field. He tells John he’s formulating ideas and the ship feels somehow familiar to him. Unconvinced that’s the sole reason D’argo has chosen now to sit alone in this ship and tinker with its controls, they wind up in a short but sweet heart-to-heart about the Chiana-Jothee-D’argo triangle.
Rygel finds the remains of an alien below Pilot’s chamber, presumably attacked by the same serpent that was after John. Aeryn is exploring Neeyala’s ship when Rygel gives her the news. She tells him to get some of the gill needles these aliens shoot from their heads. She likes to know her enemy. She runs into Zhaan who is primed to punish the aliens for their betrayal. Aeryn convinces Zhaan this isn’t the time, they may still need Neeyala to separate the ships. Zhaan reluctantly agrees, but the confrontation triggers something in Aeryn and, for the first time that we know of since “Season of Death,” Aeryn confronts Zhaan about their unity, telling Zhaan it was not a good trade; Zhaan’s health for Aeryn’s. Another short but sweet heart-to-heart as Zhaan tells Aeryn not to undervalue, underestimate, or be afraid to understand herself.
In one of the corridors, Stark is inspecting a circuit while babysitting a tied-up Jool. Turns out, Jool was on a multi-civilization tour for her birthday when they were captured and frozen. She is acting quite the spoiled princess when Stark becomes fed up with her. He begins to go into one of his tirades a la “Nerve/Hidden Memory,” speaking of this ship of death and horrors. Not long into his rant however, the circuit blows; a sure sign of sabotage as it was offline.
Aeryn, John and Zhaan confront Neeyala who is surprisingly calm and cooperative. She says that she sabotaged Moya to convince the others to go with her. Zhaan asks why she didn’t just lie and tell them both ships could survive, allowing Moya and crew to perish. Neeyala tells them she didn’t initially mean for anyone to die. And there’s a problem: Kreetago is still wandering about Moya sabotaging systems. He has no communication device and is of course invisible, so there’s no way for Neeyala to call him off. D’argo and Chiana go after him with the help of some DRDs. Starting with the last known point of sabotage, DRDs sweep the area with lasers while D’argo and Chiana look for disruption in the beams – the only way they’ll be able to see Kreetago. They find and kill him, but not before Chiana is hit with one of his poison needles.
In a stroke of tense timing, the aliens’ Phazitillon Generator reaches optimization and, according to Neeyala, must be allowed to continue its cycle and separate the ships. There won’t be another chance. She tells them they have maybe an arn. The crew decides to initiate Starburst when the separation occurs in hopes of turning Moya around and allowing her to be the ship that ends up remaining in the mouth of the wormhole and in one piece. For that, they’ll need to do some fast repairs and get Pilot awake and in on the plan. As John and Aeryn head off to put plans into action, they hear Jool screaming back in command/heart of the alien ship where they’d left her and Neeyala handcuffed. They rush back to find one of the serpents, fire at it, only this time it doesn’t fizzle out of existence like the last few serpent confrontations. Neeyala confirms John’s guess that with the Phazitillon Generator peaking, they now share a phase existence with the serpents. As John says, this just keeps getting better! What he doesn’t notice but Neeyala does is that Jool’s metal-melting scream has started to whittle away at Neeyala’s handcuffs.
In Zhaan’s lab, Zhaan makes an antibody for the poison in the alien’s needles using the needles that Rygel had collected earlier. Chiana is subsequently treated, but weak. Time for Zhaan and D’argo to have a heart-to-heart. Zhaan tells D’argo that when she’d first come aboard Moya as a prisoner, she’d heard there was a Luxan warrior aboard and prayed that he would go into a hyper-rage and kill her to spare her the punishment of imprisonment. They both muse the irony of that as D’argo takes his turn reminding Zhaan that they will find a planet where she can heal.
Crichton decides that with everyone else busy, he has no choice but to trust Jool to keep an eye on the generator. Jool starts to go into complaint mode about being subjected to one indignity after another. Crichton welcomes her to the Federation Starship SS Butcrack. Upon his leaving, Neeyala has caught on to Jool’s handy vocals. Seeing that Jool is all worked up now and not feeling any more at ease with multiple decompressions happening all over Moya, she shouts “serpent” and gets the desired hysterical scream out of Jool which melts her handcuffs even further.
Decompressions of various sections cut off access to Pilot’s chamber. There’s no way to know if his chamber is affected or if he’s even still alive. Aeryn goes through with an environmental suit. She finds the air in Pilot’s chamber thin but breathable. They go ahead with their plan to pump Pilot full of Moya’s adrenal secretions in an attempt to wake him up.
Enter the Scorpy clone, only this time, John didn’t summon him, he just pops up. He seems to be a sort of alter-ego of John’s at this point. He reminds John of the painful reality that they are about to destroy the alien ship along with all that precious wormhole technology. He also reminds John that Neeyala will do anything to protect it. John rushes back to command/heart of the alien ship to find Jool just waking up and Neeyala gone. He finds Neeyala in her command center and tries to reason with her (pulse pistol drawn of course). She’ll have none of it. Even if they do contact her people, she and her family will be executed if her ship and its data stores are destroyed. She also notes that the ions in the room will nuke them all if he fires his pistol. Final blow: She’s injected a beacon into Moya’s hull. Even if Moya is the surviving ship, her people will come after Moya for the data now integrated into her. The inevitable fight ensues, Crichton unarmed and Neeyala armed with her poison needles. Luckily for Crichton, Jool stumbles into the room and goes hysterical again, melting the tips of Neeyala’s needles. Neeyala is thrown against a wall of circuitry. Bye-bye Neeyala.
In Pilot’s chamber, Aeryn and the others have managed to wake him up. Just in time too as the Phazitillon Generator is about ready to do its thing. Zhaan, with some conformation from Jool, confirms the sequence Neeyala had used before to unleash the Generator. Pilot informs John that Starburst must be initialized seven microts after the Generator is unleashed. Aeryn comes in to command, reluctantly ready to try and fly Moya through the wormhole. John and Zhaan are arguing over who’s got some phase of the plan. Aeryn is a little confused until Jool rather bluntly points out that someone has to stay on Neeyala’s part of the ship to unleash the Generator. John’s ready to do it; he feels responsible for getting them into this mess. Aeryn pushes both John and Zhaan aside and positions herself at the Generator. Zhaan stops them both. She thanks them for their hope for her, but as she is dying, she is the reasonable choice to make this sacrifice. The rest of the crew is watching and listening over the comms and she says her good-byes, calling them all her children, teachers, and loves. Stark is especially distraught, but her essence reaches out to his and asks for his guidance; “To share my last moments with the man I love … always together, joined as one.” She successfully separates the two ships, and as expected, is whisked away onboard the alien ship. The ship immediately appears to disperse. Zhaan appears to do so a moment later.
Pilot and Aeryn succeed in flying Moya through and out of the wormhole. But there is no celebrating. Rygel takes the opportunity to spend a rare moment with Pilot. Stark had told Rygel offhandedly earlier on, when Pilot wasn’t expected to make it, that Pilot liked him. Rygel was rather overtaken with this and seems excited to have found an actual friend. Well, in Rygel’s mind anyway. Pilot doesn’t seem to understand why Rygel’s being so nice to him all of a sudden.
Chiana is headed somewhere, still limping on the leg that took the poison needle. An annoyed Jool is following her, but already complaining about not being able to physically keep up (presumably not just with Chiana, but with the pace aboard Moya in general). Chiana effectively puts Jool in her place. “Get better shoes…” Jool indignantly asks if Chiana had any idea what those shoes costs. “For me, 3 sex acts. Probably double that for you. … You want someone to like you? Invest in a mirror.”
D’argo is sitting alone in the derelict ship which apparently does feel familiar to him. Aeryn is with Stark, having yet another heart-to-heart despite that he says there’s no need to hover over him. Hmm, she seems to be doing this a lot more often these days! Stark notes that unlike most, Zhaan was very much at peace with herself. She wanted the rest of them to carry on with positivity and hope. Aeryn asks if he can do that? “Not always. I wouldn’t mind you hovering over me then.”
Meanwhile, John sits in Zhaan’s quarters, having a talk with the Scorpy clone. The Scorpy clone seems to be taking on the new role of John’s conscience, asking him, “Why is it always the gentle ones who pay the price for everyone else’s ambition?”
Ok, so what is up with the long drop into wherever should you step off the edge of one of the walkways crossing Pilot’s chamber? Sorry. Just had to get that off my mind.
Part II flowed a whole lot better than Part I. Correction; the first 33 minutes of Part II flowed well. Though it further convinced me that this was a really, really bad time to introduce Jool. She added nothing to the story and had no effect on the plot that couldn’t have been worked around. Who knows? She may well be the next Chiana: Impish brat, eye-candy for the guys, comes aboard Moya distrusting everyone and everything and we soon fall in love with her as she merges with our little family. But so far, I really don’t see it. Maybe I just can’t hear over her outfit. It’s just plain a bad time to bring in someone new.
Two important elements were carried through from Part I to II; the crew working as more of a team and the emotional changes in Aeryn since her death-rebirth. The early scene where the crew splits into two groups reminds us both that they’re still not each entirely trusting of all the others, and that despite that distrust, they’re starting to see beyond personal agendas and work collectively toward the bigger picture. Note, I said “starting to.” On the scifi.com bulletin board today, a poster was troubled by everyone’s seeming distrust of John – especially Aeryn’s – and wondered why they don’t just sit him down and hash things out. Because they aren’t humans? Because this is not “The Waltons in Space?” The writers – unlike some of the fans – haven’t forgotten that everyone aboard Moya (except John the human and Jool the newcomer) is an ex-con, a warrior/soldier, or both. Even among humans, neither of those two groups of people are known for getting all 12-stepy and let’s-discuss-our-feelings when things get hot. Recall that in the Premiere, when John was escaping the commerce planet and Aeryn was reluctant to go, John’s solution was to talk to her. In “Liars, Guns and Money III,” when Aeryn was escaping the shadow depository and John was reluctant to go, Aeryn’s solution was to knock him out with one hard punch have D’argo carry him out. It may not be what we bleeding-heart humans may have done, but it works for Aeryn Sun; Sebacean, Peacekeeper, fugitive. Point is, we the viewers must remember where this crew started from. Coming from that angle, it’s great to see them working together as much as they are; sort of at the collective stage of, “I still hate you guys and I still hate being here, but at least I recognize that to survive, I’ll have to work with you.”
Aeryn is the other major point of growth in this arc and in season 3. Her heart-to-hearts with D’argo in “Could’a, Would’a, Should’a” are expanded upon here as she reaches out to even more people. Namely, Zhaan and Stark. The pattern I see is this: Aeryn has some definite issues surrounding the life-altering events of “Season of Death.” Somewhere, somehow, those issues really need a vehicle but she isn’t about to, well, get all 12-steppy and let’s-discuss-my-feelings, so she finds other means of release. In “Suns and Lovers,” it was a offer of casual sex to Crichton. In “Self Inflicted Wounds,” it’s talking to other people about their problems. Or, in the case of Zhaan, it’s that same odd timing as in “Suns and Lovers:” We’re in a crisis situation, this is where Aeryn has been conditioned to feel the most comfortable, this is the time she picks to finally confront her own issues. This scene is pulled off wonderfully by both actresses. It’s another one of those scenes that, relative to the rest of the episode, is done quickly and matter-of-factly, but offers volumes of character insight which some shows feel they can’t do unless they dedicate an entire episode to it. This is yet another element which sets Farscape apart from its competition.
Where “Wait for the Wheel” falls apart though is Zhaan’s demise. It simply doesn’t carry anything close to the power of Aeryn’s death in “Die me Dichotomy.” Let me emphasize that: Nothing Close to the Power. The first of two elements I blame this on is the much talked about and dreaded epic-of-the-week syndrome. Starting with the “Liars, Guns, and Money” arc, every episode of Farscape has been on an epic, season-ending, cliffhanger level. Such episodes are great, we all love them, but not back to back like this. After Crichton sacrificing himself for Jothee, after Aeryn dying and being revived, after D’argo getting all suicidal, this reviewer was pretty desensitized to the whole who’s-going-to-die-this-week thing. Plus, I think it was way too early in the season to have any kind of a story big enough to require a two-parter. In short, there should not have been this many death themes in a row and the “Self Inflicted Wounds” two-parter should have aired much later in the season. The second element is that Zhaan’s demise was far too drawn out and not at all consistent with the pace of the rest of the episode. Self-contained, it’s a beautifully played out scene. It was just so, so out of place. One moment, John is screaming, “We’re out of time!!!” and indeed, we are put on the edge of our seats and given the feeling that seconds count. Next, Zhaan is giving a way over-dramatic, way over-priesty, I’m-going-to-go-off-and-sacrifice-myself-for-my-friends speech that lasts 4 solid minutes. The sense of urgency before and after her speech is completely destroyed and it in turn gives her speech a sense of way, way too much TV-death-scene melodrama. One reason I believe Aeryn’s death in “Die me Dichotomy” hit so much harder is that it was relatively short and blunt. The pace was completely consistent with everything else that was going on. Not so here. The pace is even, it is utterly interrupted, then they try to pick it back up again. What a pity, seeing as how if Zhaan really is gone (or even if she isn’t), she deserves so much better treatment than that.
Which begs the question, is Zhaan really gone? Only time will tell. On the one hand, she and the ship seemed to disperse pretty completely. On the other, she definitely dispersed after the ship did and in a burst of energy that is reminiscent of Stark’s. Recall that in “The Ugly Truth,” Stark was dispersed and managed to come back. I spent the day scouting the Internet, looking for any conformation from Ms. Hey’s website, Sci-fi channel, anyone. No news at all as to whether or not she’s truly leaving the show. If she is, too bad that her departure couldn’t carry more weight. The whole “Self Inflicted Wounds” arc has been a sad combination of awesome acting combined with really, really bad writing (and just as I’ve spent the last couple of weeks on the bulletin board defending the normally awesome writing of this show). Too bad too, as the plot was solid and it could have been so good. Paul Goddard is really starting to shine as Stark. He and Ms. Hey both deserved a better stage than this for such a well acted scene. It’s still early in the season though. One poorly written arc doesn’t doom the show to oblivion. Still, if Zhaan does come back, I have little hope that it will carry anything close to the power of Aeryn’s revival.
To end on a positive note, hats off to the Creature Shop and the puppeteers for the characters of Rygel and Pilot. There is a great scene between the two of them towards the end where I found myself forgetting that there are no live actors in the room. Throughout the DVD commentaries, the actors speak of interacting with the puppets, playing with them, touching them, and otherwise finding ways to bring them to life. Well, they have. So much so, that I don’t really notice when it’s two puppets interacting with each other. Pilot also has another fantastic scene with Aeryn where it seems he is as much a part of the cast as any live actor. Many kudos to the tireless people huddled under Pilot’s backside just out of camera range!
Agree? Disagree? Comments? Questions? Email me! Written by Mary Wood.
Click here to read Dani Moure's review for this episode.
Click here to read Dani Moure's synopsis for this episode.
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