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"Fractures"

Summary

On Moya, John-Green is green no more. Actually, he's shirtless and panicking over whether to wear the black T-shirt or the green one. (He picks black. Symbolic perhaps?). They've detected a Leviathan transport pod and they are near the point where the Talyn crew said to meet them, although there's no sign of Talyn. While D'Argo has his doubts it's even them, John wants to look his best just in case, as does Chiana, whom Jool is trying to loan outfits to. All the message from Talyn had said is that they defeated a retrieval squad, so D'Argo and John brace for bad news on the medical front while hoping for the best. All the worry and fuss is for naught though as the pod lands and instead of the Talyn crew, three weary escaped prisoners - a Scarran, a Nebari, and a Hynerian - step off the pod with an unconscious Peacekeeper in tow.

As the crew feed and tend to them, the prisoners explain that the pod was meant for weapons testing. They were placed aboard to see how different species responded to the new weapon. The Scarran says that he overpowered the tech, who was aboard doing a last minute systems check. Impressive, considering the Peacekeepers had removed the gland that regulates the Scarran's body heat; a protective measure for the Peacekeepers as it weakens the Scarrans.

Inspecting the pod with Chiana and John, Hubero - the Nebari prisoner - explains that the new weapon breaks down the bonding of metallic molecules, hence the odd damage to the pod. They're looking for a Boolite, another prisoner who would have been much more severely affected by the weapon. Fortunately for the Boolite, separate body parts can live independent for up to half a cycle. They do indeed stumble upon the mass of guts that was once a whole Boolite.

Elsewhere, and apparently not to far away, Talyn finds Moya and sets an intercept course. John goes to greet the Talyn crew and as expected, is a little over-excited about seeing them. He doesn't seem to notice that Rygel's joyful greeting sounds forced and fake. Crais' somber look doesn't phase him when he steps off the pod next. But when Aeryn comes out of the pod, somber and serious, and greets him with a rather cold and detached "Hello John," he knows something's wrong. Aeryn walks away and Crais says simply that the other Crichton is dead.

As John absorbs the news, Rygel sniffs the air, and senses another Hynerian - a female, to Rygel's delight. He finds her in his quarters. Her name is Orrhn Pak and she indeed recognizes Dominar Rygel XVI, expressing the courtesy expected towards royalty and surprised to find he's alive. She says she was arrested for refusing allegiance to his cousin, Dominar Bishan. This of course just endears Rygel to her even more.

D'Argo, with the Scarran in tow, checks in with Chiana. She's with Hubero, who's trying to draw up a picture of what the Boolite might look like so they can piece him back together. Without warning, Chiana panics and draws her gun. She says she heard a pulse blast but no one else heard it. She panics some more as she realizes it's her precognition kicking in again unannounced.

Walking slowly and methodically through the corridors, Aeryn happens upon the Peacekeeper Tech who's locked in his cell. He tells her there'll be a reward if she helps him, and doesn't she care that there are escaped prisoners aboard? No, she says. She doesn't care - anymore.

In his quarters, John-Green is going through John-Black's possessions, smelling his clothes, exchanging John-Black's pulse pistol for his own. When he handles Stark's mask though, an image of Stark appears above it, saying he has a message. Right before he can give it to him though, Pilot's voice comes over the comm, stopping the message. Pilot warns that a Peacekeeper distress call has just been broadcast - from within Moya!

Moya isn't going to give the Peacekeepers time to answer. She starbursts away with Talyn (unpiloted) close behind. The others meanwhile, try to deduce who could have sent the signal. The Tech is in a cell away from where the signal originated. Chiana thinks it's Naj Gil, the Scarran. D'Argo says impossible, that Naj Gil has been with him the whole time. What about the Nebari? Been with Chiana the whole time. Rygel jumps in to note that he and Orrhn have been at it like rabid bunnies since he came aboard. John suggests they get the transport pod fixed and send the three prisoners on their merry way, locking them up in the meantime. But D'Argo, Chiana, and Rygel will hear none of it and each take off with their respective charges. John doesn't seem to have the energy to argue it and just tells them all to be careful as they walk away. About this time, we also see that Aeryn has been in the room, but with her back turned, detached, seeming to stare at nothing. John looks like he wants to say something to her but thinks better of it.

While Jool and Crais are diligently trying to put the Boolite back together, John and Aeryn are fixing the prisoners' transport pod. John tries to get Aeryn to talk, but she's basically acting like he's not there, no reaction. So John talks. Judging by how everyone's acting, he assumes that Aeryn and John-Black were … close. He says he's sorry and seems to want to say more, but chokes up and says maybe they shouldn't talk. Aeryn leaves without a word just as D'Argo comes in. D'Argo wants to talk to John, give him some advice, but is at something of a loss for words. John inadvertently supplies the words when he tries to absorb the situation. "The other guy died. The copy." D'Argo notes that in Aeryn's eyes, he is now the copy.

With the prisoners' transport pod repaired, stocked, and nearly ready to go, John sneaks into Rygel's quarters as he and Orrhn are sleeping between bouts. John quietly wakes Rygel to tell him he's got half an arn. Rygel is reluctant to see Orrhn go as he says he's falling in love with her. John reminds him that's the best reason of all to see she gets away safely. As soon as John leaves, Orrhn tells Rygel she heard the whole conversation and is more than flattered. Only half an arn left, so they get right to making the most of it.

Chiana, looking out for Hubero, doesn't seem much more eager to see her newfound species-mate leave the ship. She nervously tries to make small talk with her, asking why she's imprisoned by the Peacekeepers. Turns out, the Peacekeepers tried to give her back to Nebari Prime, but the Nebari didn't want her either. She's an androgen. Not quite male, not quite female. An even more tongue-tied Chiana says she's heard of androgens, but heard they were always taken at birth and had never met one. Hubero corrects her. At least, you never think you ever met one.

Elsewhere, Jool and Crais have been making progress piecing the Boolite back together. John comes in to see what's up and they note the Boolite is talking, saying "traitor" over and over again. Though he can't remember who the traitor is (apparently, that part of his brain hasn't been reattached yet). As if on cue, Pilot reports shots fired. Quick cut to a corridor in Moya where we find Naj Gil down. D'Argo has, by now grown a little protective of Naj Gil and when the others show up to see what's happened, he immediately grabs Hubero with one hand and Orrhn with the other, hoping to get one of them to talk. Chiana rushes to Hubero's defense and Rygel to Orrhn's. John agrees that at the least, D'Argo's impromptu interrogation isn't helping and D'Argo reluctantly lets them go. Chiana meanwhile is mildly freaked that she knew someone would get shot. As all this is going on, another signal is sent out. This time, with Moya's coordinates. And Moya can't starburst for another arn.

Pilot and the DRDs track down the signaling device. It's been constructed of parts easily found on Moya, but requires solid technical knowledge to assemble. John checks on the Tech and the DRD watching him. The Tech hasn't moved. John then comms the others to say the Tech is definitely eliminated as a suspect, so the traitor must be Naj, Hubero, or Orrhn. He announces that they're going to put them all on the repaired transport pod and send them on their merry way. D'Argo, Chiana, and Rygel all fail to respond, each thinking their respective charge is innocent and taking measures to hide them. Well, Chiana and Rygel anyway; Chiana and Hubero hide out in the cargo bay and Rygel and Orrhn are in the narrow too-small-for-anyone-else passageways. Naj is healing in the medical bay from the pulse blast. Jool and Crais note that a Scarran's skin is hard to penetrate with pulse blasts. Naj was shot in his wound from where they removed the heat gland. Someone knew where to aim.

D'Argo and Aeryn search the cargo bay. D'Argo tries to talk to Aeryn about Crichton but she very coldly tells him "don't." They fail to find Chiana and Hubero. Hubero and Chiana speak briefly and Hubero, not wanting to cause Chiana any trouble, decides to wait in the transport pod. Chiana matter-of-factly says that "Whoever shot you will be there." Hubero looks at her strangely, as she hasn't been shot. It takes Chiana a moment to realize she may be having another premonition.

Outside the Tech's holding cell, a pulse blast knocks out the DRD guarding him. Pilot promptly reports this to the others, adding that the cell door is now open. As John is about to run out of the medical bay, the Boolite says "she," further narrowing down the possible suspects. We the audience don't have to wait long to find out. After having gone yet another round of sex in the passageways, Orrhn pulls a knife on Rygel. Bargaining for her freedom, she had struck a deal with the tech. Rygel provided the perfect alibi; all Hynerians enjoy a nice, deep sleep after "pleasure," and the "pleasure" she says, was all Rygel's.

With Moya sabotaged so as to leave her immobile for the time being, the Tech confronts Crais and Jool in the medical bay and a firefight erupts. Orrhn is escaping on Rygel's throne sled with Rygel in tow as a hostage. En route to the transport pod, she runs into Chiana and Hubero and Hubero is shot. After helping the Tech get out of the medical bay, Orrhn and the Tech escape in the transport pod, still with Rygel as a hostage. Simultaneously, Crichton and Aeryn say "I have an idea" (followed immediately by that awkward we've-been-feeling-so-awkward awkwardness).

Aboard D'Argo's ship with D'Argo piloting, Aeryn and John are in space suits and D'Argo positions his ship directly above the escaping transport pod. As Aeryn and John are about to fire a tether to the transport pod, John asks if it will hold. "Of course it will, just like the Budong." When John quizzically asks what she's talking about, Aeryn realizes she's momentarily confused him with the other Crichton. "Just follow my lead." They fire, and the tether holds. They follow the tether to the hull of the transport pod, set a charge, and blast their way in. Aeryn takes out the Tech and the throne sled, with Orrhn and Rygel secure to it, starts to get sucked out the hatch. John grabs the sled and Rygel cuts Orrhn loose. Little time for one-liners though as the Tech's last hurrah was to overload the pod's systems so it would blow. John, Aeryn, and Rygel grab onto the tether and D'Argo gets them away just in time.

All is safe now on Moya and John-Green finally gets to finish the message left to him via Stark's mask. It's an message from John-Black, obviously recorded when he knew he was going to die. He tells John-Green that it's all on him now. Furlow is still out there and they can't let Scorpius crack the wormhole technology. He also tells him, "Don't push her. She takes time." He doesn't have to say who he's talking about. Finally, a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors (in which they tie with scissors), and the image fades away. Unbeknownst to John-Green, Aeryn was outside the door, listening the whole time.

Group meeting in Pilot's chamber, obviously called by John who is informing the rest that he's going after Scorpius. He says he's not specifically asking anyone to go along and this isn't an advice-seeking mission. He's going. Period. Moya and Pilot are against it and Talyn also resists. Chiana questions where John even expects to start looking, as they have no real leads as to where Scorpy is. Jool says she's out before John answers that he sees no other option. Can't let Scorpy shaft the universe with the wormhole knowledge. Aeryn, who has been distant the whole time (as she has been the whole episode) silently walks over to John to stand next to him and face the others with him. Crais follows. Chiana says almost matter-of-factly, "You're all going to die." John asks if she really sees that or if she's just guessing. Not waiting for her answer, he states that we all choose our own path, and stopping Scorpius is his.


Review

If you're in the US, I'm sure you've noticed this trend; the big trouble, the point of the one hour show where things look real bad and we wonder, "How will our heroes ever get out of this one?" That point heralds the X:30 commercial break. The first commercial break comes after the prologue and opening credits. The prologue sort of sets the backdrop for this week's episode. The next segment before the X:17 commercial break starts to brew the real conflict. In the next segment, right when things are looking really, really bad and the super-scary music starts, you know your clock says X:29, X:30, X:31, and it's time to break the mood momentarily to find out all about why your next car should be a Volkswagen. Often, this is also the part where the story turns and our heroes decide to "go for it," even though there's little or no hope.

Man, did the end of "Fractures" ever feel like that half-hour commercial break! Only this is in the context of viewing the entire series as a single episode.

"Premiere" is sort of the pre-opening credits prologue. Season 1 and most of 2 felt like that first segment between the opening credits and the X:17 commercial break. The rest of Season 2 and up through Season 3 so far really does feel like the Season of Death. Things just keep going from bad to worse. Now, John-Black is dead, Aeryn is in emotional catatonia, Chiana and D'Argo are all weirded out around each other, they're all back to just plain being on the run from the Peacekeepers and that routine is probably feeling really old to them. Cats and dogs living together, and on top of it all, Scorpy has potential access to the wormhole technology, and now we all know just how dangerous that technology can be.

Then that moment at the end, where John-Green (with a little consultation from the ghostly holo-image of John-Black), says "enough." The hunted is now the hunter. How cool!

Of course, the less-than-cool thing about it is it really makes one feel like this is the midway point of the series, the novel, the hour-long episode. That means that Farscape might not have the 25 year run some of us are wishing for. But we won't lament about that now. We'll just bask in the coolness of how this whole series is so coming together!

Ben Browder pulls this off as magnificently as we've come to expect. His performance is subtle, matter-of-fact, and to the point. I'm sure that's how Rockne O'Bannon penned the script and how Tony Tilse directed Ben. I am constantly floored at the writing and directing staff's talent for utilization of resources. Especially utilization of the acting talent they have at their disposal. Everyone shone in this episode. Gigi and Anthony still show that strange tension between Chiana and D'Argo with a subtlety few actors can pull of and few directors will trust the audience to "get." I've seen the complaints of Aeryn's detachment. "They've pushed the reset button, she's back to Season 1 Aeryn, she's back to cold, Peacekeeper Aeryn." I have to wonder if these people are really watching the same show. I refuse to believe that Dani and I and however many others have such remarkable powers of super-perception. There is a lava flow of emotion under Aeryn's ice-cold front and Farscape is lucky enough to have an actress able to pull that off and writers and directors talented enough to use that rare tool to their greatest advantage.

As with Aeryn reacting to John-Black's death in "Icarus Abides," the hardest moment in "Fractures" was seeing John react to Aeryn's non-reaction. That point in the episode struck me as John-Green's rock bottom. Is it really so much bravery that enables him to so calmly decide to go after Scorpy, or is it because he's backed into a corner with nothing to lose? Some of the audience has judged John-Green rather harshly up until now. I think Huzzlewhat on the SciFi board put it best: "Rather than saying, 'John is a buffoon because he's acting this way,' say, 'what does it say about John's state of mind that he is acting this way?'" It's pretty obvious to me now (well, it was obvious to me before, but…) that the whole purpose of John-Green being the uncentered, ungrounded, "buffoon" that many have perceived him as, was all a build up for this moment at the end of "Fractures." As stated in my "Essence of Dark" essay, the darkness serves, if nothing else, to give so much more power and depth and contrast to the lighter, happier, or more heroic moments. Reactive becomes proactive. Hunted becomes hunter. This is where Ah-nold turns around slowly, crescendo of music, zoom in on his face, and he says something like "I'll be back."

And, for all the glory of this oh-so-pivotal episode, one thought kept running through my mind. "2 hand puppets getting it on???" Sorry to break the mood here, but, well, that's exactly what Orrhn did for me. Break the mood of this otherwise fantastic episode.

The D'Argo-Naj Gill dynamic rocked. D'Argo views him as an enemy, but also respects him with an objectivity he really didn't seem to have in the beginning of the series. The Chiana-Hubero dynamic rocked as well. I am so holding out hope that she really didn't die at the end. Orrhn, well, for a series that prides itself on such fantastic animatronics, Orrhn really struck me as a cheap hand-puppet and while Rygel often looks so lifelike in scenes with live actors and better animatronics, he looked really bad next to Orrhn.

Alison Bechdel - writer of the cartoon "Dykes to Watch out for" - describes in one of her books her early frustration with cartoons. Female characters are often just exaggerated or modified versions of the male characters. Minnie Mouse for instance is basically Mickey Mouse with lipstick, a bustline, and a bow in her hair. Orrhn is basically Rygel in drag. Yes, I know that the Rygel animatronic is way expensive to make and they're not going to make a new one just for one guest spot, but surely they could have done more than just make her "Rygel in drag."

The love scene between them was the real kill shot. For one thing, just the shape of a Hynerian makes it really hard to believe that they do a ventral approach. For that matter, I'm disappointed that a show as creative as Farscape would even try and make 2 basically round puppets do a human-esque ventral approach. It ended up looking very much like me taking two Teletubbies and butting them together. I know there must have been a more realistic way to pull that off. Get creative guys! Find new forms of alien sex!

When it was revealed that Orrhn was the bad guy, I just couldn't make myself feel it. I know it isn't the limitation of the animatronics in general. Rygel has looked way scary and intimidating at times. But Orrhn? Nothing. Kermit the Frog in drag, doing a bad skit on "The Muppet Show."

I might have forgiven the extreme loss of basic laws of physics in the big action sequence in the end, but Orrhn gave me an excuse to generally complain about this episode. We all accept that when phasers and frag cannons go off, we'll hear cool, ray-gun sound effects. We've come to accept the loud, firey explosions when a ship blows up. But people talking to each other in space? Sorry. We're crossing a line here. Surely someone on the Farscape set remembers their 4th grade science. Surely someone said, "Wouldn't our above-60-IQ viewers be way impressed if we obeyed the laws of how sound works?" I imagine the other hundred and fifty people on the set taking this in for a second, then going on with the dialogue in space as if the guy hadn't suggested anything. Sigh.

Ok. Pet peeve expressed.

Just as Jar-Jar Binks didn't quite keep me from enjoying "Star Wars I," Orrhn didn't quite kill "Fractures" for me. That says a lot about the episode that it can survive an element that bad. I do my best to forget that Jar-Jar or Orrhn ever happened, and try to focus on the positive. This Roller Coaster ride is just now reaching its true speed!




Agree? Disagree? Comments? Questions? Email me! Written by Mary Wood.

Reader Reviews
Average Reader Score
4
1 readers have rated "Fractures" with an average score of 4. Click here to see what they had to say, and add your own review!
Fun Factoids
Best line:

Normally, I just say it, but this one deserves a qualifier. Months ago, Tammy MacIntosh canceled on a SciFi chat, citing a "personal emergency." I saw a number of folks dis her for canceling. "Emergency my butt. She obviously doesn't care about the fans or is too egotistical to chat with us." I've since heard a rumor that the emergency was an eye-injury from the makeup on set, preventing her from attending the chat and hence the eye patch at the end of this episode. Whether that's true or not, I'd like to think Jool's line applies to the naysayers who have such a hard time believing that actors are human and have human emergencies:

Rygel: "Why are you wearing an eye-patch?"
Jool: "Boolite in my eye. Why are you such a moron?"


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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Episode Credits
Season 3, Episode 18 - "Fractures"
Writer: Rockne S. O'Bannon
Director: Tony Tilse
Production number: 10318
First UK Transmission: 14th Jan 2002
First US Transmission: 24th Aug 2001
Guest Stars:
Tammy MacIntosh (Jool); Kate Beahan (Hubero); Matt Doran (Markir Tal); Nicholas McKay (Voice of Naj Gil); Alexandra Fowler (Voice of Orhnn); Thomas Holesgrove (Naj Gil –); not credited)
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