|Infinite Possibilities, Part 2:|
"Infinite Possibilities I: Daedalus Demands" left me, about 150+ Scapers at ScaperCon, and however many thousands across the country crying "No! They can't leave us like that!" But of course they can. That's why they call it a cliffhanger! And Aeryn, poised to put a pulse blast through John's head now that he's been taken over by the Scorpy clone was a pretty good spot to leave us hanging. In true Farscape tradition though, the moment passes quickly. Scorpy speaks of the waste of Zhaan giving her life for Aeryn. In their shared moment of pause, he knocks Aeryn and her gun away. She's quickly up and has drawn another pulse pistol on him though and he practically invites her to shoot him. The final blow is when he says that while John’s mind is gone, he’ll happily share his body with her. As she pulls the trigger though, Jack is up and knocks her arm aside, causing her to miss … barely. Jack says that John is there and the clone is dying. Sure enough, weakened, Scorpy tells Aeryn to be more decisive and shoot quicker next time, and that a soldier must not be weak, as weakness means defeat. He falls to the floor, gasps, and John emerges. Through tears of joy he says that Scorpy is gone. A stunned Aeryn goes to him.
On Talyn, Stark and Crais still can't get the comms back up. Though Crais is blinded, something else feels out of balance and he tells Stark to check the docking bays. Stark does find that one of the docking bays has had an atmospheric pressure change as if someone has recently docked, but it's not the bay they docked their transport pod in. Crais orders Talyn to seal all doors, but it's too late. A Scarran enters command. Crais tells the Scarran that they're commerce traders, but the Scarran really isn't buying it. He does his mind warp thing and asks Crais what his Peacekeeper rank is. Crais is able to tell him truthfully he is not a Peacekeeper and has no rank. Stark confirms it, saying that Crais was a Peacekeeper captain and is now a renegade, having stolen this ship. Stark goes on to say in a panicked rush that he's Crais' slave and that he hates him and wants the Scarran to kill him and make Stark his slave. Instead, the Scarran orders Crais to repair the ship in exchange for an easy death.
Planetside, John says it's like being in pain your whole life, then suddenly it's gone. Aeryn is just as happy for him as they take a few moments to just enjoy being in each other's presence. Jack says it's time to go to work if John's feeling up to it and John tells him he's never felt better. The wormhole information has been unlocked, but it will come to him gradually Jack says. The mortar fire is suddenly getting much closer, causing Aeryn and John to break from their embrace. Recall that in part I, Rygel took a hunk of shrapnel in the chest, leaving the one thing standing between the Charrids and Furlow's lab out for the count. While John and Jack start working on the module – with John's unlocked information starting to kick in – Aeryn checks out the situation outside. She finds the Charrids moving in but not quite there yet. She dispatches the one who is about to crawl into the gun turret where Rygel is stationed. She climbs into the turret to find Rygel has already bandaged his own wound. She offers to take over but in very un-Rygel fashion, he says no; that she's mobile and he should stay where he is. In very Rygel fashion, he tells her to bring him food and he'll keep going.
As more and more of the Ancients' implanted knowledge unfolds within John, his insight starts to get a little scary. It dawns on him that what they're building is a weapon of mass destruction well beyond what he and the others had envisioned. It also dawns on him that Jack won't want to leave any kind of a trail behind once this is all over; a trail such as allowing those involved to live. Jack hesitates and starts by assuring him that Aeryn poses no threat. Furlow? Uncertain. John? Jack hesitates again, before answering simply that he no longer doubts John's intentions.
Aeryn comes back to report that Rygel is keeping the Charrids at bay but barely. Jack tells them all that they'll need to clear the hangar for a quarter arn while he puts some finishing touches on the engine, which involves lethal levels of radiation. As John and Aeryn start another check of the perimeter, Aeryn notes that they only have 2 arns left. The Scarrans will send a scout force ahead, which could be a full squad or a one man scout. Guess that explains the Scarran on Talyn, eh? As comms are out and those on the planet have no knowledge of Talyn's status, only that blinded, he's vulnerable to the Scarran scout.
Jack finishes sealing the radioactive bits in the new engine. He calls Furlow in for some last minute parts, noting that the case on the engine could be stronger, but it'll do. Just in case something goes wrong once the partanium reaction is initiated, Furlow asks Jack where the emergency shutdown is. There isn't one, he tells her. She starts asking what he's building. A bomb? Not at all, he says, but he doesn't clarify other than to say that once the reaction begins, the device self-destructs in 1.4 arns. He tells Furlow to open the hangar doors once John and Aeryn give the all clear from outside. He's flying the module. That's Furlow's cue, as she's not about to let something this valuable – even if she's not quite sure what it is – slip away. She pulls a pulse pistol on him. Jack tries the diplomacy thing again, saying they have to stop the Scarrans. Not when the Scarrans are about to pay her loads of cash for this thing Furlow says. Jack smirks and turns to walk away and Furlow promptly shoots him in the back.
She whistles and on cue, two Charrids rappel from the ceiling and they start talking business, kinda like she and the Charrids have been working together all along. They confront her about killing Jack but she assures them he never would have cooperated with them. The real prize is the displacement engine. Though she isn't exactly sure how it works or what it is, she does know that Jack was confident it could kill a dreadnought. All agree it's time to leave with the goods but the Charrids pull guns on Furlow, saying they don't trust her as she's allowed too many of them to die in the ruse to fool the Talyn crew.
John and Aeryn are returning when they hear gunfire coming from the hangar. They rush in to find Furlow on the floor but unhurt. She says two Charrids broke in and she got them, but not before they killed Jack. John rushes to him. Jack comes around for a moment but isn't able to tell John anything before he morphs into his real form and dies. Aeryn asks if John can finish the job. John thinks so. "Thinks."
Stark's plan to delay the Scarran (or was it a plan? This is Stark after all) is working. He assures Crais that Talyn is recovering and once his sensors are working he can target and shoot the Scarran. Crais notes that it would take prolonged fire to bring down a Scarran, right before the angry Scarran walks in to question them about this Leviathan's lack of a pilot. No need, Stark tells him. He goes on to explain the neural transponder and of course, the Scarran wants one for himself. Stark says he'll have Talyn construct one right away. When the Scarran leaves, Crais tells Stark to have Talyn build two; one for the Scarran and one to replace Crais' damaged transponder.
John's got it. He's about done building the device and it's all come clear to him now what it does. Not only can it destroy a dreadnought he tells Aeryn, it can destroy a planet. Furlow comes back and reports that she's found a ruptured sewage conduit, which must be how the Charrids got in. Aeryn asks if she's sealed it. With what? Exasperated, Aeryn says she'll go seal it – which conveniently leaves Furlow alone with John. She's still trying to get him to go in with her on selling the thing. Charge others not to have it used against them? Find a peaceful application? Is it always about the money, John asks? Of course it is, she says. "After all, how much sex can you have?"
"I don't know. I haven't maxed out yet." Besides, this device has a one time use and right now, that use has to be to destroy the dreadnought along with the data they stole. After that, he says he'll help her. "Says." Furlow seems to bite. She tells him he'd better eyeball the hangar exit as the doors don't open all the way and they'll barely accommodate the module.
Aeryn checks in on Rygel in the gun turret. She's also highly suspicious of what the Charrids might really be up to, as there are enough of them out there to squeeze them but they just stay on the perimeter. Inside, John comes back to the module to find Furlow and the engine gone. In the distance, he hears a revving engine and Furlow calling to him. He gets to the ground vehicle she's in to find a pulse pistol aimed at him. She has him drop his pulse pistol and drop and destroy his goggles. He tells her this is a mistake, but she's set on meeting the Scarrans and trying to cut a deal. Beats trying to cross them she says. She opens the hangar doors and drives away.
In the gun turret Aeryn scans the terrain, now devoid of Charrids, and knows now that they're missing something. She gets her answer a moment later when a vehicle comes from the direction of the compound with John running after it. He hops into a vehicle of his own as Aeryn runs out after him and joins him. They go after Furlow as Aeryn notes the time that is quickly running out. She also notes that with this new knowledge in John's head he can finally get home. "Let's do what we have to do here and then we'll go" she says. They only get a second to enjoy the moment though as gunfire comes at them from behind. A Charrid is chasing them in another ground vehicle. John swerves to try and avoid the gunfire while Aeryn tries the gun on their vehicle – which of course turns out to be non-functional. She's got a plan though and tells John to drive straight and fast after Furlow – she's got his back. She tosses something out of the buggy, they exchange a couple of hurried "I love you's" and John doesn't miss the opportunity to smack her ass as she jumps out of the car.
As planned, this puts Aeryn between John and the Charrid, who has come to a stop – presumably to figure out what John and Aeryn are doing? He decides of course to head straight for Aeryn. As he does, Aeryn aims her pulse pistol at the device she tossed out of the buggy, fires at it as soon as the Charrid is about to drive over it, and the explosion overturns the vehicle. She approaches it as the Charrid is crawling out from under the wreckage. She mumbles under her breath for him to be smart and run away. As he reaches for his gun she says "run away" even louder. As he pulls his gun on her she pulls hers and shoots him. "Should have run."
John fires a couple of shots at Furlow's vehicle, disabling it and it overturns. Furlow crawls out and they both pull guns on each other. She says that he should have run while he had the chance. He says she should have done the right thing. She's less than thrilled about dealing with the Scarrans though, she tells him. They really did send in the Charrids, who really did slaughter her crew and torture her. This is all about survival and profit now. If she runs, she's got nothing and she's too old to start over. A solar flare comes and, with John's eyes unprotected, Furlow moves in on him, gets him on the ground, and positions her pulse pistol to the back of his head. Then they both notice the casing on the displacement engine has come off and the partanium device is exposed, aiming all that lethal radiation up and away from them, but in a specific path nonetheless.
Checking up on Talyn, the Scarran is getting impatient for the transponder. "Then you shall have it" Crais tells him. Talyn pops the thing in the back of the Scarran's head, which apparently allows Talyn to target the Scarran. A sustained array of gunfire and the Scarran is dead.
"Don't be the hero John. Always be the one to walk away while the hero dies." And with that, Furlow rushes off to John's vehicle to drive away. Now that the casing is off the engine and the reaction has started, it will self-destruct and is no longer of any use to her. John does ponder the device for a moment. It has the power to destroy a planet and is now malfunctioning, plus it's still the only thing around which can take out the dreadnought. He studies the pattern of the emitted radiation for a moment, calculates the right moment to move in, moves in and seals the case. He screams in … pain? Frustration? Stress? Really hard to tell from our perspective if it was a good or bad scream, but he does seem unusually serious and introspective. Aeryn comes by to pick him up and they head back to the hangar.
Crais and Stark get the comms working and they reach Rygel. Crais has some of his sight back and Talyn is feeling up to starburst. "Pick me up and let's go" Rygel commands. Crichton and Aeryn agree with him for once, saying they only get one shot at taking out the Scarrans and Talyn shouldn't be around when they do. Crais, Stark and Talyn waste no time deciding to stay in orbit and do what they can to help. Lure the dreadnought towards the wormhole, John tells them. What wormhole? The one John's about to create. Crais wishes him luck.
It looks like he'll need it too. John has a sudden moment of physical weakness and Aeryn isn't buying it when he says he's fine. "Massive radiation" he tells her. "Couldn't help it." She tells him he's done here and she'll fly the mission while he gets help but John angrily tells her it won't work. It's half intuition and half feel and not something he can coach her through. She's not ready to accept that it's his life for everyone else's. She's different how? She's different because she loves him, she says. All the more reason why she should know that he has to do this. John promises to come back. Crais does manage to get the dreadnought's attention and sure enough, John conjures up a wormhole. Talyn flies in closer to lure the dreadnought. John activates the displacement engine and the wormhole starts sucking in energy from the sun. As the dreadnought gets closer, John aims the mouth of the wormhole towards the dreadnought, which is pulled in to the sun's energy / has an amount of the sun’s energy pulled into it, and is destroyed. A way tense moment later and John checks in with Aeryn to say he's all right. We can see though that he is weakening fast from the radiation.
Everyone makes it back to Talyn, but not everyone's all right. John is clearly dying. Crais suggests radiation sickness treatments from the emergency kits, but John knows it would be useless and only prolong things. Crais notes John's sacrifice and John tells Crais to find the better part of himself and take care of the crew. He says goodbye to Rygel next, reminding him jokingly he can't have his stuff. Then saying not so jokingly he's going to miss him. As Rygel leaves, John weakens further and Stark moves in to do his thing. Their goodbye is silent and Stark leaves Aeryn alone with John.
Aeryn says she's very angry, but her expression and body language is of pure sorrow. Still, she forces reasonable strength and even finds several smiles to flash at John through her obvious angst. When he says she made him a better person, she manages a weak laugh and says it wasn't hard. He’s sorry she never got to meet his real dad, but he says he’s at peace; Scorpy is gone, he’s proud of his life, and he’s with Aeryn. A kiss later, he tells her he’s never felt better, and dies in her arms.
On the action/plausibility axis, I had some real problems with “Icarus Abides" (as well as with “Daedalus Demands”). But on the drama side, this arc embodies pretty much all of why I signed up for Mr. Kemper’s Wild Ride. In that regard, this episode definitely swings me between two extremes.
Let’s start with those action/plausibility problems. Now, I qualify this all the time; especially when it comes to the action and the science, I know that disbelief must be suspended to a degree. But “Icarus Abides” went too far in too many arenas. I’ve watched that destroying-the-dreadnought scene a few times now. Call me anal, but I have a real hard time believing that if someone dragged our sun out of it's current position then made it disappear, the planet I am sitting on would be unaffected. I skirted around this in my summary only because I can’t believe that this show would be that wildly off the quasi-believable science track. I must assume that the CGI staff were going for some other effect and didn't quite get there. Otherwise though, the CGI was great!
Then there are the Charrids. Yes, the line in “Daedalus Demands” to Aeryn about, “Bring any sisters? You won’t be enough to pleasure all of us,” was classically creepy, but there’s absolutely nothing else about these guys that makes me cringe in terror, or even be a little bit concerned for our heroes. Aside from one lucky shot, they can’t hit the broad side of a gun turret – or anything else for that matter. They have no sense of strategy. The one who came to a complete stop when Aeryn jumped from the buggy, what was up with that? I realize they couldn’t very well have him keep driving and just plow over her (which is what any moron would do in such a situation), since Claudia’s contract isn’t up and they haven’t twinned Aeryn (yet), but come on! Find some believable way to achieve the end result you need to achieve! The Charrids remind me of the puttys in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which I used to watch occasionally a few years back (hey, don’t laugh … recapturing a little bit of lost childhood here. Plus, Green Ranger was really hot). They come at you in droves, but they’re no real threat, just a bit of an annoyance. If the Charrids are supposed to be amongst the next wave of Farscape baddies, I’m less than convinced.
Next we have people who turn their backs on people with guns who are threatening to kill them. First Jack turns his back on Furlow. We saw how well that went. Then Furlow turned her back on John. While she lucked out and turned her back on the right person, she should have known way, way better. This element really kills believability for me.
Picture this; you’ve just jumped into the passenger seat of a dune buggy being driven by your lover. Ok, maybe just a friend, or someone you like a little bit. Hell, you could hate the guy, but the point is, he has no sun goggles and this planet is pretty damn sunny even without the blinding solar flares that come up without warning. Since your life is in this guy’s hands so long as he’s driving the dune buggy at full speed, wouldn’t it be in your best interest to give him your goggles? Now, say that your lover – or someone you hate, doesn’t really matter – is going to fly a mission to destroy the bad guys who threaten to destroy you. Again, wouldn’t it be in your best interest to give him your goggles, thereby giving him that much greater chance of success?
I have a list pulled from the web; 100 rules to being an effective evil overlord. It is my personal bible. But apparently, neither the Scarrans nor the Peacekeepers have read this list. Otherwise, the Peacekeepers would have long since devised a gun that would kill their greatest enemy – a Scarran – with a single shot. Don’t tell me they don’t have the technology to do it. Had the Scarrans read this list, the one aboard Talyn would not have been so wildly stupid as to turn his back on Crais and Stark and leave them alone – several times. Plus, when you aggressively invade a ship, take over its crew, and make it clear to them that the best you’re going to offer them is an easy death, you should probably not be so eager to accept their offer to stick a neural-electrical device in the base of your brain.
My biggest pet peeve though has to be the ever popular sight of two people who each have good reason to kill the other, just holding guns on each other and tossing off one-liners. The John-Furlow scene after the buggy chase embodies this. Put yourself in one of their positions for a moment. Doesn’t matter which one. You have your pulse pistol aimed at a person who you know is a threat to you and your plans for long-term survival. You don’t need that person alive. Likewise, that person doesn’t need you alive and he/she has a pulse pistol aimed at you. Why exactly are you not pulling the trigger? Are you waiting to see if he/she kills you first? Yes, I realize that wasn’t the way they wanted John to die and they’re probably wanting to keep Furlow alive for possible future guest spots. Still, there has to be some other means to the end here that involves a little realism.
One last point. Did you see “Broken Arrow?” Do you remember John Travolta and his henchman chasing the truck with the bomb on it and Travolta’s rebuke to his henchman, “Do not shoot your gun at the thermonuclear weapon”? I look at that scene of Crichton shooting his pulse pistol at Furlow’s buggy … the buggy that also carries a device capable of destroying a planet … a device with a crappy casing to begin with …
If you haven't surmised by now, these kinds of peeves really grate on my nerves. It takes a whole hell of a lot, something way beyond exceptional, to divert my attention away from them enough to really enjoy the episode, much less to love the episode.
I loved this episode!
That something-beyond-exceptional was the drama and the core story being told here. Not just John-Black's death, but the ramifications of that death. All over the scifi.com bulletin board, fans are crying, "Reset button! Reset button!" I want to know which show these folks are watching because it certainly isn't the episode I saw. A reset button is "The Locket" if Zhaan and Stark didn't retain memory of what had happened. John-Black's death on the other hand has impacted the show. It has impacted the Talyn crew. It will impact the Moya crew – especially John-Green – when they meet up. Most of all, it has impacted Aeryn and the whole John-Aeryn dynamic.
The other complaint from too many of the fans is too much darkness. "Why can't Farscape have more happy endings? Why does this John, the one we've become so emotionally attached to, have to be the one to die?" Because that's drama folks. I cover this in much more depth in my essay "The Essence of Dark," found elsewhere on this site, but the basic gist is, there is no light without the dark, and the darker it gets, the harder the light will hit you. Would we have cried as hard if it was John-Green that died? If he died without Aeryn at his side watching helplessly as her friend/partner/lover slips away? Rewind a moment. Twinning John snatched away that can't-kill-off-your-lead-character safety net. How much more power and passion did that lend to the Aeryn-John relationship knowing he could very well die or go away at any time? Yes, there are other ways to break up an onscreen relationship, but all within certain limits. Farscape pushed us over those limits and by doing so, made us appreciate the moment so much more knowing that moment could end in a flash.
It is this same darkness, the fact that these people lead very difficult lives with little luxury and little to celebrate, that also makes us appreciate lighter moments that would be otherwise taken for granted. A Scarran dreadnought is on the way, the Charrids' mortar fire is edging closer, who knows if Talyn is dead or alive, and yet for a moment, John and Aeryn are simply held in each other's gaze, in each other's arms, in each other’s presence. Harvey is gone and John and Aeryn are together, now, in this immediate moment, which they know will pass all too quickly. All the darkness that surrounds that moment serves as a stark contrast, breathing an essence into it which would be lost if this moment were an everyday, matter-of-fact occurrence. This concept is summed up I believe when Aeryn tells a dying John, "We had good times." The reality is, their lives on board Moya and Talyn haven't been all that good. They've gone without proper food and medical care, they've lost their homes, their lives, and everything and everyone else they've ever known, their lives are under constant threat and they are literally followed by death wherever they go. Yet Aeryn, the most cynical and hard of all the crew, finds the light within the dark. That statement would have meant nothing if their lives actually were made up of mostly good times.
Supporting the depth and drama of the ramifications of John-Black's death was the way in which it was portrayed. Again, the raw drama of this episode began not with death, but with the sheer joy John felt at finally being free of Scorpius. How many men can stir up such tears and expression of joy? This has me all the more convinced that the writer and/or director really shouldn't have put John in the Scorpy suit. There would be no doubt in anyone's mind when Harvey was there and when he was not and seeing John as Aeryn saw him would have been so much more powerful.
I loved that we weren't quite sure if he was hit with the radiation or not until he told Aeryn. It looked like he wasn't, yet he kind of acted like he was, and we just didn't know. Ben Browder's superb acting, spotlighted by Ian Watson's superb direction, lends a near-indescribable power to this scene. Too often, in times of trial, John Crichton comes off as either too hyperactive – flustered, frustrated, throwing things – or two withdrawn, as if doing the macho bit of forcefully hiding his feelings. This scene was one of profound introspection and the difference was clear. Same with the death scene. Denzel Washington in "The Bone Collector" is the only actor I can think of recently who has pulled off so much depth of emotion through minor facial movements and eyes alone. The output of emotion from Ben through those eyes of his is not something that can be acted. It has to be felt through. And when John Crichton died, we knew it. We saw it in his eyes before we noticed that his face was still. That was a rare treat for this fan of the craft!
Further deconstructing the drama of "Icarus Abides," Ben's outstanding performance was backed up by Claudia's. I would say the rest of the cast, but honestly, none of the other actors really impressed me here. I don't know if that was intentional to keep the focus on John and Aeryn or if the other performances really were that plain. Lani Tupu especially seemed to have little role here but to be something for Paul Goddard to play comedy off of. But, more on that later on down the line.
Claudia, as always, gives a stunning performance here. Although her character is technically a support role, between the writing and the acting she often steals the stage. But this time Claudia is a clear backup to Ben's spotlight. The profound peace in Ben's face during that death scene was beautifully framed by the helplessness and anguish in Claudia's. What I saw as the key to her performance in that scene was Aeryn's forced strength. To see that much loss and grief and frustration behind that much solid strength and unwillingness to lose it, if only for John's sake, is again something that can't be acted. It has to be felt. Going back to the scene in the beginning when Harvey is finally gone and Aeryn shares the moment with John, that too held a lot of power. There's simply following the direction in the script, "Aeryn and John gaze into each other's eyes," then there's truly connecting with that person. Claudia is not just mindlessly going through the motions of stage direction. Even though we really can't see her eyes in most of that scene, we can feel her gaze connect with his – and feel it through a television screen no less! Ben's performance would have been outstanding either way, but Claudia really lifted him that much higher into the spotlight.
With all my complaints about the particulars of the action, the underlying tone of the action in this episode – and Farscape in general – further supports those moments of emotional drama. In particular, the way Aeryn and women in general tend to be portrayed as people first, ahead of gender. One thing I do find extraordinary about the otherwise ordinary-kind-of-guy character of John Crichton is his utter lack of sexism, both conscious and most importantly unconscious. Western society ingrains in us that women are inherently weak, fragile, less capable with the action and physical stuff. Women buy into this and play the part. Men buy into this and treat women accordingly. Sometimes, it's outright chauvinism, but often, it's an underlying attitude that a lot of guys aren't even aware they're playing into. If Bob and Ralph are going canoeing, Bob might unconsciously let Ralph take control of the trip because Ralph simply has a more natural leadership quality to him. If Bob and Julie are on the same trip, Bob will be more likely to unconsciously assume command even though Julie has the same leader personality as Ralph. It's unconsciously looking at gender over skills and personal qualities. All throughout the series of Farscape though, John sees Aeryn's skills independent of gender. She's the resident soldier and he has no problem seeing her as just that. Neither do any of the rest of the characters. This gives a certain freedom to the action and allows Farscape to explore the full range of all its characters. The action isn't being stymied because there's a girl on the team. John Crichton isn't overcompensating his own role in the action because he feels he has to protect the girl. It goes that much further towards portraying them as truly equal partners/friends/lovers. Plus, I just get really tired of watching one guy after another on screen do the equivalent of, "Stand back little girl, while I beat my mighty chest and protect you with my superior manliness…"
Of course, all this action and drama would in turn mean so little without the grand cinematography, the amazingly believable CGI shots (which almost made me believe for a moment that you can move the sun and make it disappear), and the emotion-driven music. I just have to sing Guy Gross' praises again and wonder once more if someone else did "Meltdown" and pawned the credit off on Guy (ok, ok, I'll shut up about "Meltdown" already). Admittedly, I was starting to get annoyed with the overbearing, overdramatic music during the Talyn scenes. I was really, really annoyed with the music as Crais started his speech, "Scarran dreadnought. This is Captain Bialar Crais. Peacekeeper. Approach any closer and you will be engaged and destroyed." Then the music stopped – fading smoothly rather than a sharp, screeching halt – and Paul Goddard pulled off, with the straightest possible face, the best comedic delivery of the season; "They must be terrified." Every bit of Talyn music up to that point lent power to that moment which had me laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. Well done Mr. Gross!
While the music is almost always fantastic, "Green Eyed Monster" was the first episode this season where it really jumped out at me. "Icarus Abides" does the same thing. Actually, the whole "Infinite Possibilities" arc is superior as far as the score, but especially part II. I usually notice Guy Gross' music as standing out more in the action sequences. He's best at lending a real suspense to the edge-of-your-seat moments. In "Green Eyed Monster", John's trapped outside Talyn and Aeryn is rushing against the clock to rescue him, with the music seeming to tell the story as much as the onscreen images. In "Daedalus Demands," the crew is all in the transport pod, headed towards the planet. The first solar flare reaches them in a blinding light, as if it’s a metaphor for their going to the planet blind not knowing what dangers they'll encounter. The score really underlined that. In "Icarus Abides," John and Aeryn are chasing Furlow in the buggy, Charrid hot on their tail, again racing against the clock. The score can exponentially increase the tension in such scenes and in this case, it does. When the music is done that well, a sudden dramatic pause in the music can be just as effective. I think that's when I really took note of the score, after John deployed the weapon and destroyed the dreadnought, there was a sudden moment of silence as the camera held on Aeryn, helpless, not knowing if John was dead or alive. It's one of those things where you don't really notice the music until it's gone. The moment felt much longer than it was and the music softly starting up again when the moment passed coincided with our collective sighs of relief.
Likewise, the music during the death scene seemed to reflect the characters' and viewers' emotions. It was dramatic but not at all overbearing. As Aeryn whispered, so did the music. As Claudia's performance so beautifully supported Ben's, the score beautifully supported this whole arc and significantly heightened its emotional power.
"Icarus Abides" held a lot of ups and downs for me. If only some of those action and science bits could have been more plausible, this would have been another 5. Hell, I'd have changed the scale and given it a 6. As mentioned before, I had a lot to complain about here, but with so much to enjoy, my complaints didn't hold up too well.
Agree? Disagree? Comments? Questions? Email me! Written by Mary Wood.
The best comedic line is the aforementioned speech from Crais and "They must be terrified" from Stark, but it means so little in writing. It has to be seen to be appreciated.
Also by virtue delivery, are Aeryn's first couple of lines to John when she is finally alone with him on his deathbed. How does this born-and-bred soldier, this woman-child, who is so new to emotion, verbalize what is going on inside her at this moment? Through body language and facial expressions that convey pure grief, she says to him, "I'm very angry" with no actual anger in her voice. That, and her line, "We had good times" in lieu of the darkness that has been their lives since they met.
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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