|"Thanks for Sharing"|
Let’s see, it seems that the last episode, “Eat Me,” left us with something to kick around for two months while we wait for “Thanks for Sharing.” Ahh yes, Talyn and Crais have been badly injured by some unknown source and Moya can barely handle one John Crichton, much less two. According to Kaarvok (the baddie who did the twinning) and emphasized by voiceovers and a short prologue to this episode, there is no original and clone, but rather, both Crichtons are “original and equal.” Of course, the two Johns are having as much trouble buying this as some of the scifi.com bulletin board community. While Jool – who apparently has a smattering of medical know-how – is tending to an unconscious Crais, the two Johns are bickering over who’s the original and who’s the clone. They look to Aeryn to decide, but she can’t tell them apart either. Plus, she reminds them, there are bigger problems at the moment as they are in orbit above a planet which may hold lifesaving medicine for Talyn. The best she can do is give them each something to do to shut them up, sending one John to keep an eye on Crais (which he felt needed to be done anyway) and the other John to help Stark on Talyn.
Planetside, D’Argo, Rygel and Chiana are trying to secure a rather large amount of chromextin to save Talyn. They’re told the trade will have to be cleared with the Security Director, which won’t be easy considering the reputation of the Moya crew as criminals. It’s made impossible when D’Argo and Chiana get into a barroom brawl with, you guessed it, the Security Director.
On Talyn, Stark informs his assigned Crichton that the neural link between Crais and Talyn may be the only thing keeping Talyn alive. On Moya, the other Crichton approaches Jool for a little DNA testing to see who is the real Crichton and who is the clone. Before she can get started though, Crais wakes up; confused and rather violent at first as he’s never met Jool, coming around a bit when he sees Crichton, then jaw-dropped when Aeryn walks in. Last time he saw Aeryn was at her funeral and no one got a chance to tell him she was revived. He informs them that he and Talyn were attacked by Peacekeepers, who want Talyn back.
Rygel tries negotiating with the planet’s leader. The Security Director is his son and his daughter is also present, in some apparent position of influence as well, confirming that her brother started the fight in the bar. They’re wary of Rygel et al partially because of their criminal reputations and partially because Moya and Talyn are concealed in a dense layer of atmosphere where the planet’s scans can’t penetrate them to see if they are armed (which of course, Talyn is). Though Rygel assures them he just wants the chromextin and he’ll be on his way, the leader denies the transaction, giving Rygel an arn to leave the planet. Rygel of course heads straight for the transport pod to do so, but D’Argo of course has rigged the pod so Rygel can’t leave until he and Chiana have found some other way to secure the chromextin.
Showing Crichton and Aeryn the ship’s logs, Crais warns them that the retrieval squad that attacked them will not let up until they have captured Talyn. He urges them to leave him on Talyn so Moya can get away, but Aeryn reminds him that Moya won’t leave Talyn in this condition and neither will the crew. When Crichton leaves the maintenance bay, Crais tells Aeryn there’s much, much more to the story. Talyn was designed with intelligence-gathering capabilities, giving Crais a peek at Peacekeeper Central Database. Including Aeryn’s personnel files. Anyone remember the mysterious chip from “Die me Dichotomy?” The one Crais said would make Aeryn “the happiest soul among us?” Well, the chip contains a rather interesting bit from Aeryn’s personnel file, a survey video showing a late night visit to a Peacekeeper barracks. The visitee; Aeryn, as a small child. The visitor; Xhalax Sun, Aeryn’s mother. Telling her not to be afraid but not to speak of this visit to anyone, Xhalax tells young Aeryn that her conception was not an accident and not assigned. She was a wanted child conceived in love. This is apparently a very, very big and unusual deal in Peacekeeper society. Matter-of-factly, she also tells young Aeryn her father’s name; Talyn. Back in the present, a somewhat speechless Aeryn, not sure how to react, says she was never sure growing up if she dreamt that or if it was real. Crais says that the chip was on both hers and her mother’s files, but he could find no information on her father. Aeryn asks if her mother was court-martialed. Crais says there are gaps in her service record, but the last entry was a promotion into an elite battle group. She is now Senior Officer in charge of the retrieval squad after Talyn.
Arn is up. Daddy’s favorite Security Director takes great pleasure in firing concussion missiles in the general direction of Talyn and Moya (still unable to scan them clearly). Talyn can’t fire, but can enable targeting, so both Johns more or less get the same bright idea to take the two ships down to city level and point Talyn’s guns at whatever government building they can find. Of course, that building just happens to be the one where the leader and his kiddies are working. Calling off the attack, the John on Talyn agrees to come to the planet to reopen negotiations. There, he formally meets the Security Director, Rinic Tolven, and the daughter, Rinic Sarova, Services Director. The presidential family breaks out a new character, a strannat, a creature which latches itself onto the head of whomever and can detect if whomever is lying (and will kill whomever in an instant if he/she is indeed lying). Sicking the thing onto Crichton, they are finally satisfied that he and the rest of the Moya crew just want to buy the chromextin and leave peacefully.
As Aeryn and Crais inspect Talyn, he asks her to join them once Talyn is healed. With Aeryn on board, he hopes her mother won’t be so lethal if she catches up with them again.
Planetside Crichton informs D’Argo and the others that he’s secured a deal for the chromextin, but it will take several arns – possibly more time than Talyn has – to get the amount they require. Meanwhile, Rinic Sarvoa asks to meet with Crichton alone, telling him she thinks the deal may be a fake. Though her father is fine with the deal, Tolven is not and will try to block it. Same old story; brother wants to seize power, using the Moya crew as an excuse to flex his muscle, while sister wants to keep planetary politics happy. As they’re speaking, someone or something – all we get to see is a menacing, slimy, red hand that just has to belong to a bad guy – lets off a bomb that nearly kills them both. D’Argo and Chiana, who stayed nearby just in case something like this happened, retrieve Crichton and, at Sarova’s urging, take him back to the transport pod as no one else can know this meeting took place. After they leave though, a figure, off camera, hovers over Sarova. She asks, “Come to finish the task, brother?”
Back on Moya, the wounded Crichton needs a blood transfusion and the other Crichton offers to donate to everyone’s surprise, considering that John hasn’t been getting along with himself at all. As he recovers, Jool gives him the result of the DNA test. Both Johns are identical. No difference between the two. As the healthy John says though, the show must go on, and he gets the scoop on what the wounded John was up to on the planet and takes his place. Good thing too. Tolven is questioning his sister, who is denying the secret meeting. The key to Tolven’s suspicion is that witnesses saw a wounded Crichton being carried from the scene. His accusations lose ground when the healthy Crichton walks in. His accusations completely crumble when Crichton boldly slaps the strannat on his own head, able to tell them in all honesty that he never had a secret meeting with Sarova.
Aeryn and wounded John have a talk, John still not trusting Crais and Aeryn saying she does – at least this time – believing that Crais is sincerely trying to protect Talyn and really is on their side. Meanwhile 1/3 of the chromextin is ready to go and the rest of the crew starts to medicate Talyn with it. Doesn’t take long though before adverse effects show up. It’s been laced with clorium, an element which numbs Leviathans. In other words, someone mixed uppers with downers. Pilot thinks Moya can filter out and absorb the clorium herself safely. As they continue with this modified method for medicating Talyn, Aeryn and the wounded Crichton head to Talyn – with bags packed.
On the planet, in the family office, healthy John backed by D’Argo puts Tolven under the strannat. Surprisingly, it doesn’t react when Tolven says he didn’t poison the chromextin and doesn’t know who did. But when Crichton offhandedly says, “Ain’t you the good and loyal son,” it blinks. After some struggling not to have to answer, Tolven says he’s loyal to his family and the strannat kills him instantly. Pralanoth lets Crichton and D’Argo go. As soon as they leave though, Sarova shows her true colors by killing her father and ordering an attack on Talyn and Moya.
Talyn and Moya each starburst away, and Moya detects a Peacekeeper scan just before starbursting. On the planet, it would appear Sarova isn’t really herself these days as she morphs from her nearly Human/Sebacean looking self into the creature that set off the bomb earlier, evidenced by that slimy, red hand that just has to belong to a bad guy. The creature is immediately met by – drum roll please – Xhalax Sun, who is pleased to hear that Talyn only got 1/3 of the medicine he needed. She hopes this will make him slower to recover and easier to catch.
So, we’re split up onto the two ships; D’Argo, one John, Jool and Chiana on Moya and Rygel, Stark, Crais, Aeryn and the other John on Talyn. John number one is less than pleased that his counterpart got the girl. On Talyn, John number two suspects Aeryn isn’t telling him something. So, she lets him in on the bit about her mother commanding the retrieval squad. The whole episode, Aeryn’s appeared unusually emotionless and non-reactionary about the whole thing with her mother and now is no exception. She tells John that she assumes her mother’s presence is deliberate, that the Peacekeepers know of Aeryn’s relationship to Talyn and are hoping to divide her loyalties. She calmly tells John that her loyalty remains with Talyn, even if it means killing her mother.
Though there are still some mid-season one through mid-season two episodes that this relatively new fan hasn’t seen yet, I feel safe saying there’s a pattern here. We’re left to mull over a major cliffhanger between seasons or between new episode blocks. We deconstruct, we analyze, we do our damnedest to figure out how they’re going to resolve it. We’re usually wrong, the cliffhanger gets resolved or dealt with rather simply, and in that same new episode some all new and equally tantalizing issue emerges. It’s kind of like Disney World’s “Tower of Terror.” The Tower of Terror is supposed to simulate a broken freight elevator and the main part of the ride is a 13 story drop. But before this drop, you take a slow ride through the haunted hotel in such a way that you have no idea where the starting point to the ride itself is. It then lifts you up so fast, you think you’re falling and that was the ride, only to come out of the dark, into the daylight, and realize that the ride isn’t even half over yet … all that was just to get you to the top for the next phase of the ride. “Die me Dichotomy” is like this. So is “Thanks for Sharing.”
I had to watch this episode a couple of times to figure out how to review it. At first viewing, I was thinking that other than the new issue of Aeryn’s parents added to the mix, I couldn’t find any reason to jump up and down in joy over it. Yet, I couldn’t specifically point to anything being wrong with the episode either. On the 3rd viewing (oh, tell me you haven’t watched an episode that many times!), it struck me. I was looking for intense, sweeping drama over the two Johns and Aeryn’s parents thing, where there wasn’t. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. Here’s another pattern I’ve noticed; Aeryn Sun. Ever since “Die me Dichotomy,” she’s been different, withdrawn, guarded. I am absolutely loving that Farscape does this with its characters. There are too many shows where a character goes through some emotionally traumatic event and next episode it’s as if nothing ever happened. On Farscape, people are wounded – emotionally – and are scarred by it. Changed even. To that end, I can understand Aeryn’s non-reactionary attitude regarding the news of her mother. I can even relate to that guardedness. Here’s another advantage to being a TV series versus a film. If this were a movie, the critics would be all over it, griping about how Aeryn has no personality or Claudia is an awful actor, or both. Because in a film, you have the burden of introducing, developing, and giving us a full feel of a character in about 2 hours. In TV though, the character is already established, so we can have episodes like these which give us subtle nuances in character rather than sweeping melodrama. And subtle it is. I fear that even casual viewers might see this episode and ask, “Has Claudia lost her touch? She’s so flat here.” But she hasn’t and she isn’t. That guardedness she’s brought to the character has a deep effect on those of us who have come to know Aeryn. I personally believe that these shifts in Aeryn’s character this season are an even more deliberate buildup to something towards the end of the season. Something grand enough in scope and scale that it requires a whole season of conditioning us to this character. I hope I’m right. How cool would that be?
There’s also no deep, intense moments of angst from either of the Johns. He too has changed a lot since the first few episodes. He’s gone from a general sense of bewilderment to a general sense of “Can anything really surprise me anymore?” Again, if this were a movie, Ben and the writers would be criticized for lack of depth. But because this is an ever-evolving series, they can wander way further into the land of nuance than any film can dare tread. I must also note, I am always in awe of an actor playing dual roles in the same show. It must be even more difficult to play your own twin in a situation such as theirs. “Ok Ben, the two Johns are identical in every way, yet they converse and totally don’t get along and argue with each other. Can you do that?” I’m sure Ben is having a great time with this dual role! John’s increased lack of awe in this part of the universe would also appear to be responsible for his being much bolder in tense situations and having way too much fun with the Earth pop culture references. The much anticipated “who’s your daddy” scene was too good to be true! It’s a good sign of John and D’Argo’s friendship as D’Argo plays right into the Human’s strange sayings. Holding a pulse pistol to Tolven’s head, John tells him in no uncertain terms, “You’ve been lying to your daddy boy! D’Argo! Tell him who his daddy is!” Though the guys father is clearly in the room, D’Argo knows John well enough to know the game he’s playing and appropriately responds, “I’m your daddy!” To the trained ‘Scaper, this speaks volumes about their relationship.
So, what did I not like about “Thanks for Sharing?” Well, the political intrigue plot was a little tired. I’m not sure if it was really that bad or I’ve just come to expect more from Farscape. Daddy’s the good and loved leader. You have the evil son, who simply drips with evil and menacing intentions and you’re left wondering, “How can daddy not see this?” You have the sister, set to co-rule with her brother, who wants to keep peace in the land. At the very least, just once, can’t they at least switch the roles and have the sister be evil and power hungry while the brother wants to keep peace? Then there’s the presidential family, which I just couldn’t look at any of them without thinking, “Superman II.” I loved Superman II. I thought the look of the villains in that film was awesome. I’m just not sure I was ready to see them on an episode of Farscape. I’m not sure if the costume designing was a bad choice in and of itself, but personally, I found it a little distracting. If you’re too young to have seen Superman II, A) I don’t want to hear about it and B) you’ll probably will be fine with the baddies in this episode and think their look is just as cool as I found the baddies in Superman II to be.
So, in the end, “Thanks for Sharing” loses points for been-there-done-that bad guys, but gains lots of points for smooth handling of the two Crichtons and a speedy transition into the next nail-biting issue. Oh, and though I mentioned this in “Eat Me,” I just have to once again congratulate Tim Ferrier and crew (at least, I think he would be the guy in charge of this) for creative use of the damaged Talyn set. I can just see a number of producers saying, “Damn! The Talyn set has been nearly totaled by a fire!” while the writers are saying, “Cool, we’ll just write it into the script…”
Agree? Disagree? Comments? Questions? Email me! Written by Mary Wood.
John, being very John, asks Crais, “Who attacked you this time? The Plackavoids? The Skexies? The big bad wolf?” Plackavoids is a John Crichton mispronunciation of the Plokavians from “The Ugly Truth.” If you don’t recognize “the big bad wolf,” you aren’t from this planet. But the Skexies? Bonus points for you if you caught that one! They're the baddies from Henson’s movie, “The Dark Crystal.” The same puppets were modified and used as the alien guest stars in “Out of their Minds.”
[John Crichton meets the planet’s leader over a comm. channel]
John: “Who the hell are you?”
Pralanoth: “Rinic Pralanoth. Sovereign of Kanvia.”
John: “John Crichton. Wizard of Oz.”
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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