D'Argo, John, Jool, Aeryn and Stark are on a planet visiting a peace memorial. They're killing time while Pilot does some repairs on Moya. The main feature of the memorial is that through a set of special goggles, you can look through a tear in time to the point where events happened. In this case, a battle followed by a truce which brought peace to this planet 500 cycles ago. Bonus for Aeryn; said battle is a rather famous one in Peacekeeper history as its key Peacekeeper figure, sub-officer Dacon, is remembered as a great hero among her people.
Zhaan hasn't been forgotten though. On Moya, Chiana comes upon Rygel sifting through Zhaan's quarters. At first, they both claim to be there to steal leftover possessions. It doesn't take long though for both to admit they have no interest in taking Zhaan's things. On the planet, Stark is lamenting over Zhaan and less than enjoying himself. Crichton tries to cheer him up by giving him a pair of the goggles and pointing him to a scene of the truce - a pleasant, peaceful image for Stark to wrap his mind around. Instead, Stark sees the battle and goes hysterical over all the death and carnage. When he does, his mask comes loose, his energy is released, and they are all thrown through the tear into the beginning of the battle as flaming arrows come down all around them. Jool is hit through the arm, but they otherwise make it to temporary cover and realize what's happened. John and D'argo are immediately concerned that they do nothing to change the battle and possibly alter the future. Aeryn cares a whole lot less about altering the future than she does about their immediate survival. There isn't much time to discuss it as they're confronted by the Peacekeeper officer in charge. Being in very familiar territory, Aeryn wastes no time in assuming leadership of the crew. After excitedly asking if he's Dacon only to find that he's not - Dacon is the timid one in the background who immediately seems to be more naïve boy than soldier - she tells Officer Tarn that they are reinforcements who've come to help. They do help with the ensuing battle, but do their best to stay on the defensive and not to kill anyone who wasn't supposed to die or otherwise change the outcome of the battle.
Yet it seems their presence has already had an effect. On Moya, in present time, Pilot notices that the signal broadcasts coming from the planet are no longer in Jocation - the language of the people who settled on the planet following the truce. They're now in Venik. The Veniks were the ones attacking the Jocations and, after the truce, abandoned the planet.
Post-battle, D'Argo, Aeryn, and Crichton are reviewing the recording device in the goggles they brought from the memorial to see what if anything is different. According to the recording, all but one of the Peacekeepers were killed in the battle (there weren't many there to begin with when the crew arrived). The surviving Peacekeeper, Dacon, is due to die at dawn when he gets on the top of the monastery and sends a cease-fire initiative to the Veniks. The Venik general sees that there are only women and children civilians left - mostly the nurses who inhabit the monastery - and the peace process is initiated. So far so good, except for the presence of the crew, so they get Stark to start looking for the time tear. The nurses meanwhile have given Jool a drink - fellip urine to be exact - to dull the pain of the arrow puncture in her arm. Though not happy about having just drank piss, it has an outstanding effect on Jool who is instantly stoned and in zero pain.
Problems with keeping the timeline straight set in quickly. In a chat with Dacon, Aeryn discovers that her great Peacekeeper hero is just the unit cook with no desire to be a soldier and certainly no soldier's instinct. When she asks him about various heroic deeds (supposedly attached to him), he brushes it off, saying that his commander often gave credit away. He also tells her how glad he is that she showed up, otherwise, he'd be the ranking officer (which, according to history, he's supposed to be). As Aeryn tries to convince him that he should still take command of the situation, Crichton tends to a wounded Venik; the general who's supposed to have escaped the monastery unharmed. Crichton does his best to talk to the general about compassion and peace and truces without coming right out and saying why he needs to call a truce. On another side of the monastery, Stark finds and opens a time tear and D'Argo shoves Jool through. Problem is, the memorial on the other side has changed, giving the crew stuck in the past their first hint that things haven't gone right. Stark sees millions of deaths through the tear that shouldn't have happened. Indeed, by the time Jool makes it back to Moya, Pilot and Chiana find that the situation on the planet is even worse; no broadcast signal and only a sparse amount of the population that was there before.
Aeryn continues to talk to Dacon, trying to set things right, but she has her work cut out for her as he's as young and inept as she is experienced. John meanwhile continues talking to the Venik general who tells John that a cease-fire would likely happen if there weren't any soldiers there (Dacon and the Moya crew). John assures him that they'll be gone by the time the Venik hordes arrive and that he can get the general out of the monastery safely. D'Argo and Stark get aquatinted with some of the nurses, especially Kelsa, who seems to be the lead nurse, and her daughter Cyntrina. Talking with them, they get a better handle a better handle on the situation. The nurses were on a healing convoy when they were attacked by the Venik horde and were defended by a passing detachment of Peacekeepers. The monastery sits at the entrance of a precious water supply that the hordes want for themselves.
Of course, things can't stay headed in the right direction forever. When Crichton tries to sneak the general out, Kelsa spots them, kills the general, and Crichton is tied up in the center of the compound as a traitor. While the nurses are hardly soldiers, they do outnumber and outgun Aeryn, D'Argo and Stark, so the three are quick to confirm that Crichton acted alone. They do this partly - one would assume - because it does no good for all of them to be tied up, but also because it's true. Aeryn is especially angry with Crichton for not telling her that he had the general in the monastery the entire time. As tensions heat up, a message is delivered from the Venik hordes and it's not good. They plan to slaughter everyone in the compound at dawn. Worse, Stark can no longer find the time tear, indicating that the timeline is way off track.
With the crew playing along and allowing Crichton to remain tied up (yet otherwise unharmed), he summons Harvey the Scorpy Clone for a little advice on timelines. Harvey says that that events have a way of restructuring themselves; if the participants, venue, and motivations are the same, the outcome is likely to be the same. What they lack, is a way to trigger the peace process in lieu of the horde's newfound vengeance trip. Aeryn proposes they simply send a message back offering a surrender. Crichton says that's a start but isn't quite enough to set the timeline straight. According to history, Dacon sent the message and died doing it, making him the hero of the whole ordeal. Aeryn insists that Dacon doesn't have to die. She seems to have grown protective of him now that his hero image is shattered and he turns out to be a non-key player who just happened to take an arrow at a crucial moment. Crichton reminds her that Dacon and the rest of them - save for the nurses - will be killed anyway. Either way, he dies. Might as well die the way history remembered. Aeryn doesn't like it at all, but can't argue with the basic logic of Crichton's plan.
Aeryn gets Dacon to record the message even though he still sees her as the ranking officer on duty. But when it comes time to fire the message beacon over the wall, she says she'll do it herself. She knows that doing so will expose the shooter to snipers, especially if the shooter is just the camp cook versus an experienced soldier. She also seems to be having a last-minute change of heart about Crichton's advice to let Dacon die as destiny would have happen. However, Dacon insists on firing the message off himself, saying innocently that he'd rather put be the one in the danger zone than see Aeryn get hurt. In this small way, he becomes a hero in her eyes after all. As dictated, he is fatally wounded by a sniper's arrow the instant he fires off the message beacon, dying brutally, swiftly, and never knowing that his death might some day have meaning. Worse, it didn't help. The time tear fails to appear, the Veniks begin their attack, and on Moya, they're now looking at a lifeless planet. No people, no animals, no plants, nothing. Completely destroyed.
Aeryn has a heated exchange with Crichton about Dacon dying for nothing. Crichton still asserts that whatever they do to fix the timeline, Dacon was still supposed to die, but that doesn't comfort Aeryn. She asks him if he's finally to put his full trust in whatever plan she comes up with and he agrees. Aeryn's plan of course is to fight the Veniks, win, and hope that convinces them to seek out a truce. Where they hadn't used their superior pulse weapons before, they use them now to take out as many Veniks as they can crashing through the monastery entrance. Between their pulse pistols and the nurses just as determined to defend their own territory, they manage to drive back the Veniks. A delighted Stark announces that the time tear has reappeared and the millions of deaths that shouldn't have happened over the past 500 cycles, didn't. They leave through the tear, but not without some poignant good-byes to those each has grown attached to; Crichton nurse Kelsa, D'Argo to Cyntrina, and Aeryn to the now dead but not forgotten Dacon.
They return safely to the present, but not without some disturbing news of what happened after they left, as documented by the memorial. As Crichton had promised Kelsa, the Veniks eventually offered a truce upon finding that the monastery was relatively defenseless. But the hordes wanted revenge for the lost battle. Specifically, they wanted the blood of Crichton and the Moya crew. With the crew gone, they took their revenge on a number of the nurses and children, starting with Kelsa and Cyntrina. The recording at the memorial shows Kelsa screaming for Crichton to return and help them. They did try, but Stark was unable to re-open the tear. They're left knowing that the overall timeline was maintained, but not without very specific loss of life caused by their presence.
A final note which I couldn't put at the start of the summary, as it would have shown up on the front page of the news section spoiling things for those who don't want spoilers: Not only did Zhaan not return this episode as many had hoped, she is no longer in the credits. Virginia Hey told us the night this episode aired that even she doesn't know what's happening with Zhaan. That gives me some hope, as The Powers That Be haven't outright told her she's out of a job, but her absence from the credits was a sting none of us Zhaan fans wanted to feel.
So time-travel has been done on a million other sci-fi shows a million times before. So Farscape hasn't put any new twist on the theme. In fact, the Moya crew seems to be even more nonchalant about traveling back in time than the most seasoned time-ship Captain on this week's episode of Voyager. Yet, it all seemed to work. The whole nonchalant-about-traveling-through-time thing really did bother me. The first time watching it, I gave it a lower score because of this. It would have been so much more consistent with the general theme and wonder of Farscape had they been just a little more freaked out by time-travel. But everything else around the episode was so well done, it was fairly easy to set that flaw aside and by the second time around, it just didn't seem to matter in light of the outstanding nature of the rest of the episode. Then again, perhaps it was just my relief that we seem to be out of the epic-of-the-week trend.
"Different Destinations" achieves the character moments that "Self Inflicted Wounds" tried to, but the latter was just too crowded. They had tried to shove too much into too small a space. "Different Destinations" on the other hand felt open. There was room to breathe, and best of all room to properly enjoy some of the character exploration which is the true star of Farscape without feeling like those moments are being rushed or forced down our throats. Jool didn't even bother me so much this episode. In fact, I was laughing pretty hard during her "stoned" scenes. As I said before, "Self Inflicted Wounds" had too much going on and was so not the time to bring in someone new. "Different Destinations" did have room for Jool. Not a lot of room, but some. Jool was not the sole comic relief here, but she was definitely the biggest chunk of it. A great balance between humor and hard emotions was achieved this episode, adding to the ability to forgive the otherwise trite and cliché storyline.
For one thing, Jool has definitely replaced Chiana as Omega Dog. Jool really is emerging as the spoiled teenager and a little of that, combined with a lot of what's happened with D'Argo, has really forced Chiana to do a lot of growing up in a short amount of time. Gigi is really getting a chance to shine this season with the subtle nuances in her character. Any actor can pull off drastic change. Gigi, along with so many others on Farscape, show their true talent with the little stuff.
One interesting thing I noticed about this episode is that planetside, nearly all of the character moments come opposite people other than other the Moya crew. D'Argo's moments come with Cyntrina. It's an interesting contrast to the D'Argo we see in the first battle who seems to really be enjoying the thrill of battle way too much. To see that side of him, then turn around and see D'Argo's softer, more sensitive side, is a real treat. We get more glimpses into in his talking with Kelsa and Cyntrina. Yet with Stark, I've really noticed in this episode just how much interaction he has with characters we never see. Namely, the souls he hears and the events he sees throughout time. Paul Goddard does a wonderful job with this, bringing these unseen characters and events to vivid life.
Aeryn definitely got the most spotlight here though as we get another glimpse into her Peacekeeper roots. It's not nearly as harsh a reminder of who she is as "The Way We Weren't," but it's a colorful reminder. The hero-worship theme is played out very well; neither overdone nor underdone. In the opening scene, Aeryn is going on excitedly about the history of the events behind the memorial to a bored Jool. If that sounds a little out of character for Aeryn, it's because it is. It was a nice touch to recognize that we all get a little out of our guarded selves when we're that passionate about something. I also thought it interesting and very telling that Aeryn complimented the accuracy of the memorial as compared to what she was taught by the Peacekeepers. I.e.; it doesn't occur to her that her education could have been embellished or inaccurate despite that this memorial, with its direct link to the time tear, is the one of the two with little room for inaccuracies. It's great to see her meet the daring commander, ask with genuine hero-worship all over her face if he's Dacon, only to find that Dacon is the timid, naïve cook. It's even greater to see her go from romanticized hero-worship, to disappointment, to genuine admiration in his matter-of-fact moment of chivalry. It was both beautiful and heartbreaking to watch Aeryn watching Dacon climb up on the wall where she knew he would die a moment later. It was even more beautiful and heartbreaking to see her suck in her emotions and show him nothing but pride as she called this humble, barely-more-than-a-boy cook a soldier and a hero.
This episode also threw a much needed wedge between Crichton and Aeryn. We all know how dull the show would get if they were suddenly the happy couple. He gave her good reason here to be mad at him. Not the least of which was not fully trusting her plans to work until they were forced to put them into action - and in the end, it was an Aeryn plan that more or less restored the timeline. The confrontation between them was not the usual "your plans never work." There was genuine anger, hurt, and betrayal coming from Aeryn. It definitely sealed this episode as having the most spotlight on Aeryn.
But if Aeryn got the most spotlight, Crichton got the way-bright, intense, short burst at the end. It was absolutely gut-wrenching to see him watch the recording of Kelsa and Cyntrina being slaughtered, screaming out his name, begging him to return and help them. I sincerely hope the writers don't treat this as being self-contained and that it comes back to haunt him and/or affect him in future episodes. It's a character gem that deserves more attention.
Finally, if I were to hand out a best actor award for this episode, it goes without question to Dan Spielman for his portrayal of sub-officer Dacon. This was one of those roles that could just as well have been a small, 2-dimensional supporting role around which Claudia Black could do her thing, and she would have done a fine job with it. But Mr. Spielman filled this character with a subtle richness that really brought out the color in the episode. The chemistry between Dan and Claudia was fantastic and each one really made the other's performance shine that much brighter. Especially in the moments just before Dacon takes the arrow; we get a very real sense of his sweet innocence and that in turn lends so much more power to Aeryn's expression of pride towards him. We've grown spoiled on seeing these subtle nuances in the regular cast. It's so wonderful to see it in guest cast as well. It was beauty-in-simplicity at it's finest and I can only hope that Mr. Spielman is asked back for future guest spots.
Agree? Disagree? Comments? Questions? Email me! Written by Mary Wood.
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