|Infinite Possibilities, Part 1:|
John and Aeryn are lounging on John's bed as he's teaching her to read English. They're also discussing a sort of homing signal that has been driving Crichton lately. Though she suggests it could be another Scorpius trap, he is convinced it is the Ancients (see "A Human Reaction"). No sooner does Aeryn ask why he doesn't just ignore it, than they see a wormhole outside the porthole with what looks an awful lot like Earth on the other end of it. Though Crichton doesn't believe the Earth image is real, or even the wormhole for that matter, he does take it as a sign that the Ancients are definitely trying to contact him and he and Aeryn head to Command. There, they're met by Jack. No, not the real Jack Crichton, but the Ancient who takes his form. Like Jool, he has some really long barely-pronounceable name, so we just call him "Jack" for short.
Jack is way pissed off at Crichton and jumps into his head for a one-on-one. It seems the Ancients found the new home world they'd been looking for and settled there just fine. But along the way, they found Crichton's own Farscape One module being test piloted through a wormhole about a third of a cycle ago by an alien they're unfamiliar with. Jack shows him an image of the test flight and John says that he too is unfamiliar with the alien and his module was safe aboard Moya a third of a cycle ago. The logical explanation would be that what the Ancients saw was a duplicate. This module is outfitted with a phase stabilizer – a technology few can duplicate (see "Losing Time" and "Incubator" for Scorpy's unsuccessful attempts). As Jack hesitantly accepts that maybe Crichton didn't abuse the knowledge given to him, Crichton gets a quick visit from Harvey who plays a little game of let's-think-this-through. This particular Harvey setting; bumper cars at Coney Island. Is that really all that important? It becomes important later on. All that the real Scorpius had is what is absorbed from John's own brain (plus, recall that this John is not yet aware that Scorpius is still alive). Who else then has John's data and the expertise to build a duplicate of his module? Answer; Furlow (see "Til the Blood Runs Clear"). Jack is still hesitant, but believes him for now. He shows the test flight image to the rest of the crew. All are unfamiliar with the species except for Rygel.
The alien is a Charrid; a race that waged a costly and bloody war against the Hynerians 1,000 cycles ago. Over a billion Hynerians were killed before they fought back with suicide squads. As Rygel has nasty thoughts of wormhole technology allowing the Charrids to wipe out Hyneria for good, Crais comes in with even worse news. He's hacked an intel report and found that the Charrids and Scarrans have formed an alliance.
Jack updates Crichton further. The Charrid's test flight took him dangerously close to the Ancients' new homeworld. The journey made them weak and they aren't feeling up to fighting off a hostile species. Good news says Crichton. Furlow isn't at all hostile, just greedy. All they need to do is buy her out and they're home free.
They journey to Dam-ba-da, home of Furlow. When they get into orbit though, they find the spaceport has been leveled and signs of civilization are few. Solar flares from the sun make things tricky for Talyn. He'll have to wait for an opening then get into the planet's shadow and shut down exterior systems. Aeryn and Crichton meanwhile are arming themselves and headed for the transport pod. He light-heartedly apologizes for screwing up her life again with his wormhole preoccupation. She doesn't seem to mind. After all, it was a wormhole that brought him here in the first place. The subject of his going back to Earth weasels its way into the banter and Aeryn coolly says that she hasn't given the subject any thought. For the record though, Crichton says he wouldn't want to go home alone. They agree to discuss it some other time.
Everyone piles into the transport pod. And strangely enough, it really is everyone. Talyn is left with no one on board. Everyone is equipped with heavy duty goggles to protect their eyes from the solar flares – except Jack of course, who doesn't need them as this isn't his real body or his real eyes. Stark is unusually grateful to Aeryn in a creepy-weird Stark kind of way when she hands him his goggles. Does it mean something or is he just being Stark? Hard to say.
In any case, they all make it down to the planet and land a short way outside Furlow's compound. As Jack, Rygel, and Stark stay in the pod, Crais, Aeryn, and John move in. As their scans suggested, there's little or no sign of civilization and the entrance to Furlow's compound is open. As they approach though, they are fired upon by a massive stationary gun turret. They take cover amongst the remains of what was probably once a building as Charrids start pouring over the hills behind them and out of the compound in front of them. They do their best to hold the Charrids back, but they're surrounded and outnumbered. Against Crais' orders, Talyn comes to the rescue, but he's hit with a solar flare. When the flare damages Talyn, it injures Crais as well, blinding him. With most of the outdoor troops taken care of by Talyn, Aeryn comms Stark who retrieves Crais while Aeryn and John go in to the compound with all guns firing. They make their way through Furlow's compound in a rather spectacular array of gunfire and sure enough, they meet Furlow along the way, strung up in chains but relatively unhurt. She helps them take out all but one of the Charrids, leaving one for questioning. He isn't talking now, but they decide to hang on to him anyway. Furlow informs them all entries but the main door are booby trapped and some of the automatic gun turrets are still working.
Aeryn secures their Charrid hostage and comms the transport pod. Rygel offers to take Crais back to Talyn so they can get him working again and kill more Charrids – Rygel's clear motive for sticking with this mission. Crais notes that Stark is the better choice to go with him since he knows Talyn better. Aeryn agrees and Stark takes the opportunity to tell Rygel, "She likes me more than she likes you."
John gets reacquainted with Furlow as he inspects the duplicate of his module that she built. It was a success, she tells him. She hired the Charrids for security and after they did some test flights for her, Furlow flew through an unstable wormhole 4 times without problem. A couple of days ago though, the Charrids double-crossed her, killed all her techs, and tried to torture the remaining data out of her. "Tried" being the operative word. All the damage to the surface and lack of civilization? Increased solar flare activity. Furlow had told John during their first meeting (See "Til the Blood Runs Clear") that there wouldn't be any more solar flares – key to creating a wormhole – for over 4 cycles. It was a lie to keep him out of her way. Jack soon joins them, eager to get a look inside the module that Furlow has designed. John gives Furlow the trailer to the movie version as to what Jack is all about. Aeryn expresses her distrust of Furlow, but it's left at that. She does mention however that the Charrids are regrouping and won't stay away for long.
While Jack and the others are doing the meet, greet, and inspection thing at the module, Rygel baby-sits the hostage, all ready to take out his general hatred of Charrids on this one. The Charrid reminds Rygel that the others want him alive. Rygel reminds the Charrid that he doesn't give a dren what the others want. By the time the Charrid screams loud enough for Aeryn to hear and check out the situation, he's dead. Rygel, with bloody knife in hand, a wicked grin and mock concern, says he thought the Charrid would last much longer than that. He did get a little intel out of him though; a Scarran dreadnought is due to arrive in 6 arns. Even if Talyn were in top shape, he's no match for a Scarran dreadnought.
The Charrids are firing mortar shells at the compound. Aeryn takes Rygel out to help play guard duty so Jack and John can work on the module, which Jack isn't about to let fall into the wrong hands. Yes Furlow, they plan to destroy your baby if it comes down to it. Aeryn leads Rygel to one of the gun turrets and shows him how to operate it manually. He doesn't want to work alone, but Aeryn reminds him he did just fine working alone on the Charrid hostage, then pulls a guilt card on him, mentioning the millions of Hynerian suicide squad attacks against the Charrids. It actually works and Rygel reluctantly takes his post. Inside the compound, Furlow pulls a gun on Jack and John. She could care less that the wormhole knowledge can be used to build a weapon of mass destruction. She just wants to profit from it. It's hard to say what convinced her to put her gun down; the somewhat shocking sight of Jack temporarily turning into his real self, Jack's talk of diplomacy and doing the right thing, or the fact that John and Aeryn by that point both had guns aimed at Furlow. I'd have to guess it's the latter.
Aeryn starts setting explosive charges around the lab. Furlow gets John off to the side and tries in vain to convince him to go in the module with her down a wormhole somewhere where they can sell the technology – to peaceful races of course – and walk away rich. Meanwhile, her main computer starts acting up. Someone's tapped in and is stealing all her data. She can't shut the computer down, so John and Aeryn blast the thing. Not before most of the crucial data was stolen though. Furlow says that the Charrids are too stupid to have pulled it off, so it must be the Scarrans. She reminds them all though, the dreadnought will still arrive. The Scarrans won't want anyone else getting the data.
New plan. Jack needs John's help to convert the phase stabilizer into … something else. He starts telling John about the wormhole knowledge the Ancients put in his subconscious. It was not meant to be accessed consciously, but unconsciously as a boost to take time off John's own research. John correctly assesses that if the rest of the Ancients knew that Jack was helping him access the knowledge now, they'd kill them both. Like Crichton really needs the Ancients after him now too. But, he'll help anyway. As they send Furlow to gather some tools and supplies – she's happier now that they aren't destroying the module at the moment – John confesses to Jack that he already knew about the implanted wormhole knowledge and tells him about Scorpius. Since they can't very well unlock the information in front of Harvey, Jack offers a most happy solution; kill Harvey. His confidence isn't great, but it's the best offer John's had yet.
Before they have much time to think about it though, a bomb goes off nearby and a small group of Charrids breaks in. John is knocked out by the blast and, as Aeryn fights off the Charrids, Harvey takes the opportunity for a chit-chat. He tells John that their minds are intertwined and he won't go easily. John just wants him gone more than ever now. He comes around just as Aeryn dispatches the Charrids. The idea of Jack helping John get rid of Harvey sounds too risky. She asks if she can be mentally linked as well to help out. Jack says no, that John already has her strength anyway. Outside, Rygel is holding his own against the Charrids, but they just keep on coming and he's running out of ammo. Aeryn goes to re-supply him and asks John and Jack to wait until she gets back.
On Talyn, Stark and Crais continue to try and calm the ship. Not an easy task with both Crais and Talyn blinded and Talyn severely damaged. They do manage to get the comms working briefly, but not long enough to be of any use other than to indicate to the others that they're alive and holding up. Aeryn gets to Rygel, complaining that he let two through. Doesn't deter Rygel's spirit though. He's getting the hang of the gun turret and is happily racking up a Charrid body count. Impressed, Aeryn says they'll make a soldier out of him yet.
Aeryn rushes back into the compound where John and Jack are ready to begin. A prolonged good-luck-and-try-not-to-die kiss from Aeryn and we're back in John's mind. He's sitting in the front seat of a roller coaster next to a very worried Harvey who is trying to cut all sorts of deals, try all sorts of tactics to get John to let him live. Nope, time for you to go John says. In a last ditch effort, Harvey gives John one last bit of insight; Jack is using him, and once John has done Jack's dirty work, Jack will kill them all. Furthermore, Harvey tells him once again that he and John are linked. Flash forward and John is holding on to the roller coaster track, dangling way too high up in the air with Harvey hanging on to his legs, panicked and refusing to be shaken. "I warned you" Harvey says, and they both fall.
Outside, Rygel is still having way too much fun firing shells at the Charrids. That is, until a mortar shell finds its way into the gun turret and he takes a piece of shrapnel in the chest, stopping him cold. Inside, both Jack and John fall unconscious. John isn't breathing and Aeryn starts to resuscitate him. He coughs and comes around, gives Aeryn a wicked grin, and in Scorpy's voice, addresses her as "Officer Sun" before grabbing her by the throat. She asks through choked breath where John is. "Gambled and lost" he says, not letting up his grip on her throat. In response, Aeryn pulls a pulse pistol and puts it to John's head.
To be continued…
During ScaperCon last weekend, I had the privilege of meeting scores of people I've only known as nicks on a bulletin board or chat room. One of those was CrystalMoon, whom I spoke with at great length right before this episode aired and during the commercial breaks about how I flesh out my reviews. Now, I sincerely wish I could remember what I said to her because I've been at a loss all week as to where to even begin. What I can start by saying though is how wild it was to see this episode with about 150 other Scapers on a giant projection screen TV!
I suppose the best way to go through "Infinite Possibilities: Daedalus Demands" is to do a Dani and go scene by scene, starting with that oh-so-shippy opener. John teaching Aeryn to read English while they cuddle in their undies; how frelling sweet can you get? This also goes a long way towards confirming what most have concluded about how translator microbes work. I say something to Aeryn in English. She hears it in English, but the microbes help her mentally translate the meaning. She doesn't consciously match specific words to meanings because she has no need to learn the language – all she does is reply in Sebacean and my microbes reverse the process. If she chooses to learn English though, all she needs to do is pay attention to the sounds I make. But who can think so much about all the technobabble in the glow of all that John-Aeryn chemistry? The big worry when two leads hop in the sack is that the magic was all in the will-they-won't-they tension and fizzles out as soon as they do the deed. Not so here, at least not yet. These two look at each other and we the viewers get all goose-bumpy. Well, this viewer does anyway. Might I also add that the writers, directors, and actors really know how to turn up the sexiness in a show that can only show so much skin and action. I believe I've said it before, but I'll say it again; Farscape usually manages to beat any HBO/Showtime soft-porn just by virtue of suggestion. And of course, the aforementioned chemistry.
The return of Jack. Kent McCord has a subtle but very centered presence of power and a confidence that commands attention. This alien apparently shows little or no outward emotion, which can't be easy to play in such an emotional episode. Kent plays this through that presence of power and does so quite well. I have to say, I thought the distorted voice when Jack gave his real name was kind of hokey, but forgivable this once.
John and Aeryn's talk in the corridor where he speaks of not wanting to go to Earth alone. They kiss and he gives her a grin that just screams, "I've got it all going for me now and I know it!" Though I'm not the biggest Crichton fan, I melted as much as Aeryn did at the sight of that grin. I also thought, as I have during so many of these shippy scenes, "This John is so going to be the one that dies."
Stark and Aeryn. What is up with that? These scenes of Stark being creepy-smitten with Aeryn are very few and very downplayed, which makes me wonder; is it actually leading somewhere or is it just tossed in to make us go "hmm"? Either way, I think it's brilliant. If it means nothing, it's yet another of those subtle elements thrown into the mix that brings a richness and realism to Farscape. Too many shows lack this kind of B-element that has nothing to do with furthering any story lines, it's just there for the sake of being there. If it is a buildup to something, it's wonderfully sneaky! The two actors play it off beautifully too. Paul Goddard really embodies this character such that you just don't know if he's being weird or if he's truly dangerous. Claudia's reactions are just so … Aeryn. Not at all threatened, just vaguely weirded out. Again, it's that subtlety that makes this element flow so nicely and makes it so enjoyable. Stark in general is getting so much wonderfully weirder as the season progresses. And yet, as strange as his behavior gets, he still has a solid style about him. Again, hats off to Paul Goddard for that one.
The first of too many fantastic action sequences. As much as I tune in to Farscape for the drama, sometimes I just need my fix of way cool kick-ass violence. So ok, to have 3, then later on 2 of our lead heroes blast their way past a couple of dozen Charrids, especially with the way the Charrids are supposed to be these highly efficient meanies, does stretch my suspension of disbelief. It gets a little tiring after a while to see the good guys walk through mortar fire without singing a hair while the bad guys are magnets for every mortar and pulse blast that flies through the air. This detracted somewhat from the action sequences for me, but only somewhat.
The characters of Aeryn and Crichton are written as such an awesome action team. Too often in guy-girl action teams, the guy leads and the girl gets one or two lucky shots in. And of course, we're supposed to be all proud that the girl got those one or two shots because women aren't supposed to be capable of doing even that. In Farscape, this guy-girl team works as true equals. Most of that comes from the fact that Aeryn has been written and developed as a soldier, not a girl-soldier. She's supposed to be the hardened front-line marine and as such, the other characters actually trust her in this department as they'd trust any guy. She has no crutch or superpower and the show doesn't demand exceptional praise for her actions just because she's female. This in turn reflects in the other characters, who treat her as a soldier versus a girl-soldier. Bringing that full circle, it's what makes the Crichton-Aeryn action team so great to watch. Especially this critic, who's really, really tired of the Hollywood attitude that reduces women to mere eye-candy and/or embellishes their every action as if they start out with a handicap.
I would kill to spend a day on the set of Farscape while they're filming one of these gunfights. I somehow imagine an entire day of; "Ok Ben. Put on these funky goggles, hang on to your 2 pound fake plastic gun like it was 15 pounds and real, peek around this corner and shake the gun like it just fired (which of course it doesn't – the pulse blast will be added in by the CGI folks later on)." I imagine that each shot is no more than about 3 seconds long and they do about 6,000 of these 3 second shots, which are later pasted together to make a coherent scene. The actors must have absolutely no clue what the finished sequence is supposed to look like, they just dutifully spend the day peering around corners and pretending that their fake guns just fired, and probably feeling really foolish in those goggles. Nonetheless, it all works. I just think it would be absolutely amazing to watch a day's worth of these out-of-sequence 3 second shots being filmed, then see the finished product later and ponder the awesome journey from there to here. I've heard actors say that there is no acting in such action sequences. Their job is basically "Run from point A to point B and try not to get hit by the exploding props." The directors, the editors, the cinematography people, the CGI folks at Animalogic, these guys are the ones who make or break an action sequence.
The return of Furlow. She is easily one of the most popular guest characters in Farscape and I'm sure that's the main reason she's back. Farscape has such a great track record going with guest roles and the actors who play them. Let's not forget, Chiana and Stark were supposed to be one time guest spots. Furlow is such a wonderfully written character, but she's even more wonderfully played by Magda Szubanski. As with the regular cast, I have to wonder how often Farscape gives a guest role a loose outline, then waits to cast the role and write the specifics around the actor. The spark and personality infused into Furlow by Magda is what really makes the character and it looks like she's having way too much fun playing her! Furlow grabs a fair amount of the spotlight here but without forcing it or being reduced to class clown. We can still take her very seriously as a crack mechanic and a shrewd businesswoman. As with so much of Farscape's humor, Furlow's wit is often straight and dry. Magda's outstanding comedic timing and her rhythm with the rest of the cast is a large part of what makes her so very … Furlow.
Rygel. Is it me or have they upgraded Rygel's animatronics to allow more movement and more expression? With the possible exception of Furlow, Rygel is the most amazing character to watch in "Daedalus Demands." I don't recall his character ever looking so alive and animated as in this episode – and he usually looks pretty alive and animated anyway. His torturing the Charrid to death reminds us yet again not to romanticize this character. Plus, I have to say again how much I love that what would otherwise be the cutesy, adorable little puppet is the meanest, nastiest good guy on the show. That evil grin as he approaches the Charrid is priceless, as is the scene where he tells Aeryn "I thought he'd last much longer than that…" Jonathan Hardy has just the right amount of wicked pleasure in his voice!
The CGI shots of the Scarran dreadnought. I recall seeing that while surrounded by 150 or so Scapers and couldn't help but to say under my breath, "Frelling cool man!" (substituting the English version of "frelling"). I got a lot of stunned expressions of agreement from the people around me. The art department and Animalogic continue to outdo themselves. When a shot makes me forget that I'm looking at CGI and I momentarily believe that I'm seeing a full-scale spaceship, what is there to say but, "Frelling cool man!"
The Aeryn-Rygel scenes. The chemistry between Claudia Black and Ben Browder is rivaled only by the chemistry between Claudia Black and the animatronics. She and the puppeteers must absolutely love working together. I can't imagine how else they get such a smooth and precise dialogue flow going. The show's producers have to have recognized this, as some of the best written scenes are Aeryn-Pilot and Aeryn-Rygel. Here, it's enhanced by what still seems to me to be increased movement and expression in Rygel. Again, he's never looked so alive and he and Aeryn make a fantastic comedic team. Their banter is sharp, but it's very natural and not forced, which is what leads me to believe that these scenes are amongst the most fun for both Claudia and the puppeteers to shoot.
The CGI shot of Jack morphing into his real self, then back into Jack again. Yet another round of applause for Animalogic.
Pause from the praise now for just a moment while I vent another plausibility complaint about "Daedalus Demands." Furlow is obviously interested only in profit. She's already shown herself to be dangerous enough to hold back the Charrids. How could Aeryn be the only one bright enough to at least suggest tying Furlow back up or at least keeping a much closer eye on her? Again, my suspension of disbelief is stretched a little too far. And again, it's only because the rest of the episode was so good that I was able to set it aside. With lots of effort though.
And finally, the whole wormhole info / Harvey plot. I love the idea of driving your lead character to near insanity, but I've always found Harvey to be rather silly at times and often have to struggle to make myself believe that he's causing John any real anguish rather than just whimsical comic relief. So I for one was even happier than John was when Jack suggested getting rid of Harvey. Of course, unlocking the wormhole information went yet another step towards numbering John-Black's days in my opinion, but by this point, I just wanted to see him get rid of Harvey.
I must admit that I was a little disappointed in the process. The tossing of Harvey in the dumpster in "Season of Death" had more impact for me and just the right combination of comedic value and seriousness. John's line, "Pray for your soul Scorpy, if you have one. And pray for the soul of Aeryn Sun!" was one of the best line deliveries in the series and still hits me hard every time I think of it. This roller coaster scene however just struck me as too silly and took away from any real emotion on John’s part. Plus, the fall from the roller coaster would have had a whole lot more impact if they just fell towards solid ground rather than into really cheesy John and Scorpy images cut-and-pasted against the backdrop of the wormhole. Still, I didn't see it coming when John comes around, flashes Aeryn that evil grin that you just know isn't his, and addresses her as "Officer Sun" in a voice that still sends chills down my spine! It's times like these that I wish Ben Browder played a bad guy instead of a good guy on the show. That man can do creepy-evil! Actually, I take that back. Part of what makes him such a fantastic bad guy in such scenes is that the rest of the time, he's such the sweet, goofy, pseudo-hero. The contrast is outstanding and the impact just knocks you out. Which begs the question, why have Ben remain in full Scorpy regalia? Yes, I realize it's an artistic effect so that we the audience know that he's in Scorpy mode versus Crichton mode. If Ben were less of an actor, I'd say this is necessary. But I knew the instant I saw Ben's eyes when he came to that he'd become Scorpy. An occasional flash of him as Scorpy would have sufficed, but then keep him looking like John Crichton. The climax and cliffhanger here is Aeryn putting the gun to her lover's head. As deep as that image was, it would have been 1,000 times deeper if John looked like John, the way we know Aeryn was physically seeing him.
Once more, I must say how fun it was to watch “Daedalus Demands” in a room full of Scapers from all over the country. We all knew as Aeryn pulled her pulse pistol that would be the cliffhanger. Still, to see so many people literally on the edge of their seats, with eyes literally twice as wide as normal, all muttering “No … no … no … AHHHHHH!!!” that alone was worth the airfare to Cincinnati! Yes, I have a few plausibility issues with “Daedalus Demands” and I think keeping John in his Scorpy outfit at the end was way unnecessary and one of Farscape’s biggest missed opportunities. This episode was still lots of fun though. It satisfied my need for kick-ass action and it gave me a week to wonder how that cliffhanger would resolve. Personally, I think that Aeryn being forced to kill John would be cooler than all hezmana, but it looks enough like John in the trailers for part two that my wish won’t be fulfilled. Yet.
Agree? Disagree? Comments? Questions? Email me! Written by Mary Wood.
Best line: A couple actually…
Rygel: "What happens if they fire in a mortar shell?"
Aeryn: "Well that's simple. You'll die. So keep them back."
Crais: "Talyn, I'm taking control. I will get you stable so you can calm down and heal your senses."
Stark: "It's working, working!"
Crais: "Is the communication console responding?"
Stark: "No. But I'm feeling better!"
Blooper: The wound on Furlow’s face is a different shape from scene-to-scene. Just a small smack on the back of the continuity department’s hand!
Another blooper: At the end of the first Aeryn-Rygel scene in the gun turret, Claudia's lips and voice don't quite match when she tells him, “good-bye!” I’m actually rather amazed though at how often this doesn’t happen, considering that 70-90% of their dialogue is re-recorded in post (actual percentage depends on who you ask).
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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