|"Green Eyed Monster"|
There are still a few episodes between mid-season 1 and mid-season 2 that I've yet to see. So feel free to correct me if I'm wrong here, but I believe this is the first Farscape episode which deals only with about half the regular cast (I hope the other half got a little vacation?). As you recall from "Thanks for Sharing," Chiana, Jool, D'Argo, and John-green wound up on Moya while Aeryn, Crais, Rygel, Stark, and John-black wound up on a still-wounded Talyn. (If you haven't read the scifi.com journey logs, Pilot differentiates the two Johns by the green t-shirt Aeryn gave to one of them and the black t-shirt the other was already wearing). "Green Eyed Monster" deals exclusively with the Talyn crew, and even then, Rygel and Stark are out on a transport pod having just been out a reconnaissance mission and while they do get a few scenes, the episode focus and certainly the plot and sub-plot is almost exclusively on Crais, Aeryn, John-black, and of course, Talyn.
John just doesn't seem to have it too easy on Talyn. His showers are always cold, DRDs are constantly in his way, Wynnona - his pulse pistol - has gone missing, and doors don't always open. Conspicuously, the latter seems to always be when Crais is alone with Aeryn. Even we the audience only get vague snippets of their conversations in which the overall mood is the focus more than the conversation itself. Crais comes off as determined, persuasive, calculated, trying to convince Aeryn of something or other, Aeryn comes off as leery, part of her wanting to trust him, part of her wanting to keep a certain distance, and both seem as if they have something to hide from John. Add to that Crais' neural link with Talyn and Aeryn's natural intuitive sense of Talyn's needs, and John's looking like odd man out. Bigger problems threaten to overshadow this power struggle though. Literally bigger, in the form of a giant budong that swallows Talyn whole. (See "Home on the Remains" for 101 creative uses for a dead budong.)
When Talyn panics and starts wildly firing weapons and propulsion systems every which way, it's Aeryn who calms him down. As they're still traveling presumably down the digestive tract of this budong, it's John who thinks of the most obvious short-term solution; drop anchor. Aeryn and John fire a couple disarmed taks - handheld torpedoes designed to grab into a target like a fishing barb - outside the ship, through flesh, into the beast's bone. Despite John's alienation aboard Talyn, he and Aeryn continue to be an efficient team under pressure. Crais though, is still having difficulty controlling Talyn these days and seems to be losing patience with the process.
Rygel and Stark meanwhile arrive at the rendezvous point to meet Talyn only to find he's not there. Rygel of course thinks they've been left behind. But Stark soon recognizes the lump on the horizon just peeking over the ice rings of the planet they're orbiting as a live budong. Stark also seems to have a certain amount of firsthand knowledge of budongs. He starts to shut all power down in the pod, explaining that the power output makes them electromagnetic candy to the budong. Rygel panics and tries powering everything up to fly away. The budong strikes, but misses. Barely.
Back on Talyn, now anchored somewhere deep inside the budong, Crais wastes no time in grabbing another opportunity for a private meeting with Aeryn, speaking ambiguously of past histories and current offers. When John tries to join them in command, the door won't open and Crais' voice comes over the comms asking Crichton to meet Crais in his quarters. Crais isn't there, but a PK video chip is conspicuously sitting on the table. John watches the vid, which appears to be a surveillance chip of activities aboard Talyn. Specifically, it contains Aeryn's offer to Crais of "anything he wants" during the "Liars, Guns, and Money" trilogy and Crais' confirmation that "anything" includes Aeryn herself. This is followed by a hazy video of Crais … having sex … with Aeryn!
In command, Crais wants Aeryn to "see him as he is" and unzips his tunic. Quick cut to John who comes toward the entrance to command, but before trying to open the door it opens for him, just in time to see Aeryn flushed and flustered and Crais quickly buttoning up his suit. Stumbling over their words a little, Aeryn and Crais explain that they were just discussing how to best resolve their budong predicament. According to Talyn's scans, the best way to fly out is straight through the digestive tract and out the backside. John is unconvinced that Talyn is up to the task without freaking out again but Aeryn assures him Talyn will have some extra help this time. Aeryn is planning to take a second neural interface with Talyn. This would essentially link Aeryn, Crais and Talyn in something of a psychological three way, leaving Crichton out of the loop … again.
By now, Aeryn can see that John is agitated. More so than usual anyway. When he walks out of command in a huff Aeryn goes after him, saying that she wants him there when she takes the interface. He only gets angrier, speaking in vague terms that stretch increasingly further from the current situation. "Do what you want to do but don't sugar coat it for me … You're going to do things the way you want to, when you want to, with who you want to … It's always about what you want … You and Crais; you can finally rejoin that Peacekeeper family you've been pining for from the moment we met." After his tirade, a bewildered Aeryn simply tells him she doesn't want him there after all.
Aeryn enters command where a very pleased Crais is waiting to help her take the interface. John follows close behind but once again the door is locked and won't open for him. Nothing left for him to do but to sit outside the door, regretting any number of things. In the command, Crais warns Aeryn it will be painful and disorienting and not to try to control Talyn's systems right away but just see and accept him. He also tells her, "This is a moment we have long waited for." Talyn's "Hand of Friendship" strikes, quickly and violently implanting the interface into the back of Aeryn's neck. She screams, but as promised the pain passes, and she is joined with Talyn, describing him as "beyond beautiful." Crais welcomes her into their world. Outside command, a dejected Crichton heads down a corridor, followed by a DRD who seems to underscore the attitude of, "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out."
Crais wastes no time in instructing Aeryn in the control of Talyn's systems. After trying some simple exercises like moving through corridors and opening doors, she tries the comm systems. In doing so, she opens a channel with Stark and Rygel. On the transport pod, Stark has bound and gagged Rygel in order to keep him from making another stupid and deadly move. It doesn't last long though. Rygel coerces Stark into removing the gag, promptly vomits on him, and manages to get loose while Stark is off cleaning himself.
By the time Aeryn opens a channel to them it is Rygel who answers. Upon hearing that they're trapped inside the budong and planning to pass through it like a kidney stone, Stark panics. He tells them the stomach is an inferno and nothing comes out less than liquid ore. He describes this in way too great of detail with way too much panic and fear in his voice, screaming that they're dead already. Talyn really didn't need to hear any of this and starts to panic, trying to release himself from the anchors. As Crais and Aeryn try to control him, a high pitched whine emits and Crais falls to the floor in agony as Aeryn is frantically asking Talyn what he's done to Crais.
Aeryn calls for John to join her in command. By the time he gets there, Crais has disappeared while Aeryn was busy with the controls. Using the neural interface to locate him, Aeryn finds Crais at the mooring controls, trying to release the two anchor cables. She gives John her gun - reluctantly - and sends him after Crais while she works in command. Crais looks weary and a little crazed. He tells John that Talyn won't let him away from the mooring controls and John will have to shoot him to stop him. John instead shoots the wall next to Crais, letting the ricochet of the pulse knock Crais to the floor. Crais starts to go into convulsions, begging John to kill him and ripping off his tunic to reveal a mass of sores and lesions. Back in command, Aeryn is again calling for Talyn to stop what he's doing, appearing to be in some pain herself but not nearly as bad as Crais. She rips some cables from the floor and asks Talyn once more to stop. In response, Talyn aims a gun at her. She thrusts the cables into the ceiling and short-circuits Talyn, effectively knocking him out.
Having moved Crais to his quarters, John wakes him up. With Talyn out cold and Aeryn still patching things up in command, he takes the opportunity to have a chit-chat with Crais. Question; what's the deal between Crais and Talyn? Answer; cybernetic bleedback. In essence, Talyn has gained a degree of control over Crais and the sores are a physical manifestation of that. He assures John that Aeryn's interface is less powerful and she shouldn't have the same problem, but it does little to warm John up to Crais. Aeryn joins them and tends to Crais while John goes off to check the moorings.
Aeryn soon joins John at the mooring controls demanding to know what his problem is. He avoids the question and before she can get anything out of him, Stark's voice comes over the comms. Vomit. What a very Stark thing to shout into a comm in a time of crisis. He quickly expands on that, saying that vomit is how they'll get out of the budong. Stark can lure the budong along the ice rings, getting it to swallow large amounts of the ice. If they dump some cesum fuel - which reacts to water - and ignite it, the blast should make the budong vomit and they can literally get puked to safety. Biggest catch is that they need an ignition source and, with Talyn's cannons out of commission, that leaves the torpedo acting as an anchor.
John takes torpedo duty outside the ship. Aeryn talks him through re-arming the warhead, but warns that he can't be outside the ship when it explodes. Stark starts luring the budong through the ice rings while Aeryn and Crais - now recovered somewhat - go to command. When they try to wake Talyn though, they find he's already awake, just not communicating with them. Comms are on such that John can hear Stark but Aeryn and Crais can't communicate with John or Stark. So, when Aeryn tells them to hold everything until they can figure out what's up with Talyn, neither Stark nor John get the message and John sets the warhead for 500 microts and releases the cable. Talyn quickly starts to move away, leaving John behind. He manages to grab the released cable, the other end of which is still attached to Talyn, but the door back into the ship closes on him. By this point, Crais and Aeryn realize that Talyn isn't letting John back in. John has also done some reasoning: Though John isn't the one Aeryn's getting cozy with these days, she certainly doesn't want him dead. Crais isn't too stupid to realize that Aeryn wouldn't be eager to share a bed with him if he killed John. That leaves one suspect; Talyn.
Communicating with Talyn, Crais says that Talyn is trying to protect Aeryn, that he doesn't trust Crichton because he isn't Sebacean. Aeryn points out though that Crais has taught Talyn everything he knows, including his prejudice. She knows this is somehow about her, Crais, and John. Crais effectively says too bad, too sad, sorry to see Crichton die but time to move on. Aeryn isn't going to give up so easily. She runs to the door that leads into the airlock where John is on the other side, still outside the ship. Aeryn tries to open the door and reason with Talyn via the interface. Crais even suggests to Talyn to do as Aeryn asks, albeit half-heartedly. But Talyn resists her. Finally, with time almost gone, a certain calm washes over Aeryn and she tells Talyn she wants to share something with him before John dies. "Something denied to Peacekeepers. Something you will never know." Calmly focusing herself into Talyn, and with visions of John outside the ship, Aeryn tells Talyn, "That is what it is to need someone. You don't need me. You never will." And with that, she removes the neural interface. A few more tense microts go by, and Talyn opens the door for John.
The warhead goes off, the budong vomits, Talyn rides ahead of the vomit and into open space, but Aeryn's only visible, calm concern is that John is alive.
Post escape: Aeryn has joined Crais in command long enough to give back the neural interface. Crais asks her to reconsider but she says while she's spent a lifetime doing what others think is right for her, giving up the interface what she wants for herself for now. In return, Crais gives her the vid chip, telling her that he believes Talyn showed it to Crichton, "creative" entries and all. Upon viewing it, Aeryn confronts John in his quarters where he's sitting on the edge of his bed, writing in his notebook, withdrawn into himself. With calculated calm, she asks if he's seen the vid chip. Not doing a very good job at pretending not to be bugged by the reminder, he says that he's not her boyfriend, she can do as she pleases. Aeryn then informs him matter-of-factly that the image wasn't real but rather it was altered by Talyn. She never "recreated" with Crais. She goes on to tell him it shouldn't matter, it never mattered before in this comfortable, rule-bound life she had. Then he comes along and frells it up, ruining everything for her, yet she keeps coming back. Having lost some of her calm and now visibly upset, a surprised John shares something with her; his notebook. It's a star chart. Whatever system they're in, he draws out a chart and gives the stars names of his own. The brightest star always becomes the center of his chart, his constant, his guide. He always names it "Aeryn." With that, he invites her to name stars with him and the kiss that too many of us have been waiting for ever since "Season of Death," punctuates the end of "Green Eyed Monster."
"Ben Browder wrote the script for 'Green Eyed Monster.'" Why should that statement mean anything more than saying "Tom Blomquist wrote 'DNA Mad Scientist'" or "Justin Monjo wrote 'Crackers don't matter?'" It shouldn't. People are people in this reviewer's opinion and the genius of any given writer shouldn't be devalued because he isn't the hunky lead actor of the show. For that reason, I was dying to give "Green Eyed Monster" a bad review. While everyone and their brother would automatically love it just because Ben Browder wrote it, I heroically step in as the voice of objectivity. In doing my best to fulfill that dream, I'll start with the criticism.
I realize that being swallowed by the budong was really just a vehicle for a piece which obviously focused on character development. Still, I would have liked to see more evidence, more of a feeling, that we really were inside a budong. The CGI and the effects we did get were fantastic. Yet, I never quite felt the claustrophobia that I should have. Just one more CGI token used, say, for a hollographic schematic or something might have done the trick.
Character development. Both this episode's strong point and weak point. Weak, because it almost went too far. It was simply way, way more character development in such a short time span than we're used to seeing. In short, this episode was obviously not written by the regular staff, and it shows. It shows almost to a fault as it's 0.02mph from being just too far out of pace with the rest of the series.
That same characterization that threatens to make "Green Eyed Monster" clash with the pace of the rest of the series like plaid with polka dots is also so incredible, you can forgive that downside. Just in case I haven't said it enough, let me say it again; characterization, characterization, characterization. Oh, my frelling goddess! Where to begin?
Let's begin with Talyn, who has been brought so wonderfully to life in episodes past. There should be no doubt in anyone's mind after this episode that Talyn is as much a member of the cast as Pilot or Rygel or Aeryn. The human cast is often asked what it's like working with the animatronics so as to make them seem so lifelike. The greater challenge I think is bringing Moya and Talyn to life. Sorry Moya, but so far your kid's got way more personality than you do. Lani Tupu and Claudia Black, combined of course with the wonderful dialogue they were given, made me feel for Talyn, made me feel Talyn through them. Never did it feel like they were rattling off lines to the air or an inanimate being. A large amount of credit for that also goes to the direction and sound people. Though Talyn has little to respond with other than beeps, shakes, and the occasional leveled weapon, his responses were believable. I could almost fill in his half of the conversation.
Crais: "Specifically vague" is the best way to describe him here. The more we glimpse into this guy, the less sure we are of his real motives or who's side he's on. Someone new to Farscape recently came on the bulletin board having seen the first two episodes and was disappointed with the stock characters, particularly Crais as a run-of-the-mill bad guy. A number of us replied to keep watching as the characters break their mold real fast. I believe Crais breaks the mold more so than anyone. He's not a typical bad guy anymore. He's also not a typical bad-guy-turned-good either. He remains an enigma and "Green Eyed Monster" really underscored that. I found myself feeling genuinely creeped out every time he leered at Aeryn, wondering what was really going on in that devious little mind of his!
John: Let me admit it right now. The character of John Crichton has always been among my least favorite. If Crais is the character that has progressed furthest from the stock, John is the one who's progressed the least. Not that the character hasn't progressed at all, but the progression has largely been predictable. The element I've been most disappointed with is his relationship to Aeryn. While the two actors have a fantastic chemistry, most of the sizzle and intrigue lies with Aeryn while John usually plays the typical, sweet, sensitive, grounded, guy-all-the-girls-dream-about, little hero. He also shows comparatively little real, solid emotion unless it's something larger than life, such as Aeryn's death. So it's great to see him in an everyday situation - boy likes girl, looks like girl is dating other boy - and see him truly feel through that situation; anger, jealousy, regret, withdrawal. This situation is also something of an epiphany for John Crichton. It's easy for him to be patient and take his time with Aeryn when there's no other competition (ok, some have suggested D'Argo as competition for Aeryn, but most of us realize the spark isn't there). Suddenly, there's competition in the form of John's own former arch enemy. It would have been very easy to script it that John gets all depressed and decides that Aeryn hates him, but John still sees enough reason to know this isn't true. I like that this episode did not take that way worn out path.
Aeryn: Aeryn Sun fans everywhere got a treat and half here, eh? Above and beyond all else for this character, she was written and acted as the alien that she is. There was something of a fan uprising when David Kemper reminded us recently that she is an alien and we can't always expect her to behave or think or feel in human terms. The tag scene at the end underscored this. She referred to him as this "strange human." She spoke of her alien life before meeting him. She does not act as if she's experienced with the human version of the heart-to-heart talk. I believe "Green Eyed Monster's" crown jewel is in taking a very human situation, with very human emotions, but reminding us that this woman is not human. Most of those reminders were implied rather than directly hitting us over the head. Ben Browder said in an interview that he would rather give the audience credit for intelligence and trust that they'll figure things out. I fear that some of the audience won't and are busy psycho-analyzing Aeryn's actions in human terms. I hope though that the rest of the audience picked up on her very Sebacean traits, emotions, reactions and attitudes.
This love quadrangle was more beautifully written, directed, and portrayed than I could have imagined. I sure didn't guess until about the time John did that it was Talyn who was trying to dump John! The budong plot didn't get in the way, which to many should be a welcome relief to the perception that this season has been about sacrificing character development in favor of cool explosions and life-and-death epics. Everyone's relationship got to reveal a little and progress a little; Crais-Aeryn, John-Crais, Talyn-everyone, and of course, John-Aeryn. The Powers that Be are still treading on thin ice when it comes to the John-Aeryn relationship. This is another major step towards that happy-couplehood that almost always dooms a series. On the other hand, it brings up some intriguing issues surrounding the other John. How jealous will John-green be of John-black? Will he find out? How will he find out? What if Aeryn and John-black have sex? Many have suggested that this can only mean that John-black will killed off. Could be. But in any case, more lines have been crossed and it will be interesting to see how the writers of future episodes advance from here. I somehow imagine the regular Farscape writing staff secretly wanting to beat the living crap out of Ben Browder for leaving them with such a challenge to follow up on!
Three more elements - not script related - that really stood out here in my opinion: The direction, the set designs, and especially the music. Tony Tilse did a marvelous job in bringing Mr. Browder's script to life. There was some great camera work in here. I particularly liked the various shots through uneven windows that distort the subject, or the shot of Aeryn as viewed in a reflection on the table when she gave the neural implant back to Crais. The Talyn sets seem to be recovering nicely from the fire that reportedly nearly destroyed them! While the feeling of being inside a giant space monster wasn't captured like it should have been, the feeling of Talyn being a young, and therefore small and relatively cramped leviathan, was. The original set designs and artwork conceived by Ricky Eyres have been done great justice by Tim Ferrier and team. The music? I can't decide which was the best element of "Green Eyed Monster," the script or the music. I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't noticed if Guy Gross is the regular composer, but if he is, he's outdone himself on this episode. If he isn't, he's outdone everyone else. Especially in that last action scene of Aeryn trying to save Crichton; exponentially more intense, suspenseful, and flowed with so much more beauty thanks largely to the fantastic score.
Claudia Black posted to the bulletin board to plug this episode a week before it aired. She stated that David Kemper would probably have paid her good money to say just once on the set, "Who wrote this [dren]???" But she just couldn't. I've discussed with a couple of people on the board about how this is to be expected as it would be extremely bad PR for her and for Farscape to say anything but warm and fuzzy things about the show. Now I know that she wasn't just putting on a good PR face (never thought she was, but I had to consider it for objectivity's sake!). I wanted so much, so very, very much to give "Green Eyed Monster" a bad review. I watched it over and over again, looking for the thing that just had to be there that makes it suck the big weenie. I couldn't find it. What few faults it had were just too wildly overshadowed by the edge-of-your-seat direction, the mood-grabbing score, and of course, an outstanding script.
Agree? Disagree? Comments? Questions? Email me! Written by Mary Wood.
The original working title for this episode was "Das Budong." Ben also joked that it could have been titled, "All About Aeryn."
[As Crais and John argue, Aeryn asks Talyn…]
"Talyn, you've seen them both naked. Perhaps you can tell us which one is bigger."
John Crichton's line, "Mooring control is totally buggered…" Sorry Ben, but you of all people should know better. "Buggered" is so, so, not an American slang term it isn't even funny. I'm sure Ben has picked it up living in Sydney, but there's been no indication so far that the character of John Crichton is anything but a good old American Southern boy. Such a guy would never use that word so matter-of-factly in casual conversation.
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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|Season 3, Episode 8 - "Green Eyed Monster"|
|Writer: Ben Browder|
Director: Tony Tilse
|Production number: 10308|
First UK Transmission: 22nd Oct 2001
First US Transmission: 22nd Jun 2001
None (credited cast only)