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"I Shrink Therefore I Am"

Summary

Crichton and Noranti are in a transport pod headed back to Moya. Not getting a response on the comms, John figures they're just out of range. He also takes a strong whiff of laka - the temporary remedy Noranti gave him at the end of the last episode to help him forget about Aeryn. Sounding like a typical new drug user, he reminds her that he doesn't need it, it just takes the edge off.

From Moya, Pilot answers John's comms, but he's also got a strange metallic cuff on one of his arms and while we can barely make out the alien standing in front of him, the knife the alien wields and holds to Pilot's face is crystal clear. He reports to John that no one is available to help him unload the supplies he and Noranti are carrying. D'Argo is helping Rygel with his laundry, Aeryn is writing poetry, Sikozu and Chiana are getting along famously and preparing a meal for everyone but Rygel who isn't hungry. John acknowledges and tells Pilot to save him a plate. John, along with any of us who know the show, knows that these way-out-of-character descriptions must mean something's wrong. He wonders if Scorpius is loose on the ship or even if he's still trapped in the game (from last episode). He comes into view of Moya to find another ship secured to the side of her hull.

On Moya again, a wanted beacon from Grayza is playing, offering an "unprecedented" reward for the capture of Crichton and the rest aboard Moya. On the command deck, a cuffed Aeryn is also coming around. Pilot is instructed to open Bay 2 for Crichton and Crichton acknowledges. On the transport pod, Noranti is taking a mixture of herbs she says will put her in a vacuum coma for 3 arns so she can survive outside the ship. John straps on an EV suit. From the outside, we see the transport pod come in way too fast and collide with the alien ship on Moya's hull.

Aeryn and D'Argo, both in cuffs on the floor of command, aren't any more convinced than their captors are that Crichton died in the collision. The presumed leader orders all tiers searched. Meantime, he interrogates Aeryn and D'Argo. The cuffs are highly magnetic, allowing the captors to hold them wherever, depending on how they program the cuffs. They're also pain-inducing devices and the predictable zaps of pain come each time Aeryn and D'Argo give the predictable we're-not-going-to-help-you answers. John, now inside the ship, watches from a duct in the ceiling as the leader grabs one of the crew's comms and says that if he's out there and listening, to surrender. Otherwise, if he resists, his shipmates will bear the burden. He gives Aeryn another zap from the pain cuffs. He and some of his crew decide meanwhile they should eventually call Grayza for a lift, now that their transport is destroyed and Moya's transports are too slow for their needs. They won't call now though, not until they have Crichton. John takes another whiff of laka. In the temporary quiet, those on command can hear breathing - the aliens can apparently sense John's heartbeat through a device on their exoskeletons. D'Argo smells Crichton and suddenly tells Aeryn they should negotiate and she and Rygel both take the hint. They all start talking to the aliens loudly, giving Crichton a moment to escape to some other part of the ship in the moment before the alien captors silence the crew.

Crichton is gone for now, and the aliens decide better to draw him out than to search for him. Revealing another neat trick of their sensing device, the leader asks Rygel whom among the crew Crichton cares for the most. As Rygel outwardly says "Me of course," he doesn't know the alien can hear his thoughts - Aeryn first, probably Chiana next. And where will John likely go from here? "Center chamber for a nice hot raslak" He'll go to his quarters for weapons and the shield belt, then to Pilot's den. The leader comms his buddies to head for Crichton's quarters and secure Pilot's den. "Isn't that right Crichton?" Though Crichton still hasn't announced his presence, he's hearing everything.

In Pilot's den, Sikozu and Chiana are cuffed and sitting back-to-back. Bickering about escape, or the lack of ability to escape, Sikozu calls one of the guards over and tells Chiana to play along. Chiana is amused in a I've-got-to-see-this kind of way. She soon takes over and tries seducing the guard. At the least, it seems to get his attention.

Crichton makes his way through the ship and towards Scorpius' cell, only to find it empty. He narrowly misses running into one of the aliens and when he's clear, he wakes up 1812 (as he came from Elack, he's on a different frequency and not shut down like the other DRDs), and asks if he can try waking up a few of Moya's DRDs. Scorpius shows up and despite John's beliefs, assures him that he didn't sell out the crew. He escaped his cell because it was inadequate and he could have escaped it any time. He never had motive to until now. No time or way to escape, they need a plan and John already has one - take them down one by one the Die Hard way - start by luring one or two of them into an ambush. Scorpy wants to help and John hands him a pulse rifle.

From inside a large ventilation chamber, Crichton finally talks to the bounty hunters (confirming to the rest of the crew that he is indeed alive and kicking). Threats, weak attempts at negotiation, and an insult or two are exchanged as the leader determines where Crichton is and sends a man down to take him. When he gets there Scorpius comes out with pulse rifle aimed. Nothing. No ammo. He thanks John and is promptly shot by the alien. John comes out sporting what is quite possibly the largest hand-held bazooka-like weapon we've seen on Farscape to date. It takes several shots to take down the alien. Scorpy, saved by his body armor gets up to help John inspect the alien. The outer armor is bio-engineered. The alien is, well, as John puts it, "crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside." One down, Five to go, and the bazooka's out of ammo. John tells Scorpy he can have it. John takes inventory; 2 pulse pistols, 2 pulse rifles, 2 DRDs, maybe 4. Scorpy says it's not nearly enough. As we have seen that Scorpy never, ever gives up, it's reasonable to assume that he's just not hot on John's plan (or lack thereof). John decides a pulse chamber overload might do the trick and asks 1812 for some help.

The leader is a little peeved that one of his men is dead and Aeryn, D'Argo and Rygel do the we-told-you-so routine. The leader orders initiation of a "containment plan." The plan starts with Sikozu in Pilot's den. She's ordered to stand up and as one of the bounty hunters starts to operate a keypad device on his arm, Chiana's uber-perception kicks in. She watches as if in slow motion the sequence of keys punched in, and watches as he aims the weapon at a rather frightened Sikozu, fires, and she is shrunk to a few inches tall.

On command, the leader of the bounty hunters orders D'Argo up. Rygel starts talking to the leader, distracting him, and Aeryn tries to hit him. With these distractions, D'Argo is able to tongue a comm badge one of the others left on the console without the leader seeing him. With the cuffs, Aeryn is quickly subdued. The bounty hunter aims his device at D'Argo and shrinks him. He puts D'Argo in a container with magnetized walls, such that D'Argo's magnetic cuffs hold him to the side of the container. He puts the container inside his armor and, holding another comm badge, he tells Aeryn to tell Crichton what she just witnessed. A little unbelieving, she does, and the leader adds to it that harming him or another of his men means risk of harming or killing one of Crichton's crewmates. As he prepares to shrink Aeryn, she quickly tells Crichton over the comms that the device appears to be controlled by a keypunch handset. She gets no further than that before being shrunk. The leader tells Crichton that he knows he cares for Aeryn. "Stop fighting, and you'll save her life."

Scorpius is starting to overheat, but isn't out of the game, just uncomfortable. John wonders if the bounty hunters are bluffing and forcing Aeryn to go along, but Scorpy doesn't think so. He recalls a Peacekeeper file on a species called the Coreeshi who can construct organic outer shells and were rumored to possess reduction technology. He does have doubts though about not being able to hurt the Coreeshi without hurting the prisoners. To keep the prisoners alive, the containers must be solid to a point at least.

Sikozu and Rygel are in one container and Rygel is just coming around. As she calls him "Hynerian" and he corrects her, saying that isn't his name and she may call him "Dominar," she is convinced this can't be happening. If they were reduced by number of atoms, their brains would be left too simple to function. If all their atoms were made smaller, they wouldn't be able to breathe normal sized air molecules. Rygel offers a little wisdom of his own; that she's learned but she hasn't experienced and there's a lot yet she doesn't know.

As Crichton and the few working DRDs set up the ambush, he notes that Scorpy's head is smoking. Scorpy says that the replacement cooling rods that Sikozu designed for him don't work as well in times of stress as the real things. John tells Scorpy to go ahead and rest. Scorpy wonders how John has made it this far. Trap set, Scorpius, John, and 1812 take their hiding positions. One of the Coreeshi has been sent to investigate the movement detected in that area. Though he doesn't see Crichton, he knows he's around somewhere and he tells him that he's got Aeryn and Chiana. "Hurt me, you hurt them. And you certainly won't hurt me with that." He knows instantly why there's a pulse pistol sitting in the middle of the corridor and he shrinks it, right before it overloads in a tiny "poof." John yells to 1812 who cuts a cable on the side of the wall, releasing spike that rams the Coreeshi through the throat. One more down. John gets the container holding Chiana and Aeryn and runs just as two more Coreeshi get there. Scorpy stays behind to hold them off and let Crichton get away. The two of them quickly overpower Scorpius. They don't know who he is.

Crichton wants to start with trying to get Chiana and Aeryn free from their "beer can" prison (they're still held fast to the walls with magnetic cuffs), and restore their size. But Aeryn says they can wait and number one priority should be to rescue the others. John agrees and takes another whiff of laka to get his mind off of Aeryn. The lead bounty hunter comms John to congratulate his small victory but reminds John that he can't restore his crewmates' size without his help. He offers to help Aeryn and Chiana if John turns himself in. No deal, John tells him. Meantime, Chiana lets John know that she used her freeze-frame vision. She tells him how to operate the shrinking device and how to get the cuffs off. That's all she knows. She's also more and more freaked out by it each time she uses this vision and is temporarily blinded, worried that her vision won't come back this time.

The lead bounty hunter sends one of his remaining henchmen off to find Crichton. They know now that he's been hit in the leg so he should be easier to catch. "Should be." When the henchman leaves, the leader turns his attention to Scorpius, calling him by name whereas the others didn't know who he was. Scorpy in turn tells him he knows who he is, that the Correshi exoskeleton isn't fooling him. Indeed, the bounty hunter leader is a Scarran, and one of the Ruling Order at that. Scorpius knows he's not after Crichton for the bounty, he's after Crichton for his knowledge. The Scarran confirms this, saying they're interested in why both Scorpius and Commandant Grayza are so interested in Crichton. But that capturing Scorpius is a bonus beyond measure. He shrinks Scorpius.

Crichton's set his next trap; laser the bounty hunters' heads off when they come in the room. He messes with Aeryn and Chiana a bit, breathing into the can and asking them to comment on his breath, rocking it back and forth while telling Aeryn not to be so small minded, and rolling it off the table only to catch it. "Sorry about that." The two women are less than amused.

Scorpius and D'Argo share a beer can of their own and D'Argo is just now waking up. He spits out the comm he'd grabbed (tongued) earlier, but wants answers from Scorpius before he does anything. Scorpius is listening in on his captor (the lead bounty hunter). He tells D'Argo the leader is a Scarran and is currently making Pilot signal for a Scarran dreadnought. Bounty hunters might have spared Moya and crew but the Scarrans won't. D'Argo comms John with the news. John thinks this twist in events may actually be useful.

Outside the cargo bay, John's been detected but the remaining bounty hunters on their way are a little more careful this time, agreeing to enter from opposite ends. They do. John and the DRDs do their thing. No effect. One hard punch and John is on the floor. With the remaining 3 henchmen standing over John now, he tells them their leader is really a Scarran. They don't believe him but he asks what it'll cost to check it out? No loss if he's lying, big change of their agenda if he isn't. He suggests they go to Pilot's den, have Pilot play back the message, and find out why their leader is speaking in Scarran.

One of them does leave to confront the leader - Axikor. He asks him to remove his armor to prove he's a Coreeshi and not a Scarran. Axikor responds by hitting a code on his armor that doesn't remove it, but kills the rest of the bounty hunters - some kind of a remote-control sorry-to-blow-you-up-and-turn-you-into-goo kind of deal. He also gets a message back from the dreadnought - that they don't want to risk meeting him where he is with a Peacekeeper command carrier in the area. He's been ordered to make his own way off Moya and rendezvous with them elsewhere.

In the cargo bay, John removes the armpiece off one of the Coreeshi and frees Chiana and Aeryn as Chiana tells him the codes for releasing the cuffs. He also gets out the beer can holding Sikozu and Rygel. D'Argo comms that the Scarran's been ordered to make a run for it. If he wants something fast, he's probably headed for Aeryn's prowler. John heads out to cut him off but Aeryn figures he'll never beat the Scarran to the transport hangar. Besides, she's not about to lose another prowler now, is she? Actually, John gets there just moments after the Scarran does. Followed by Aeryn, riding atop 1812. She yells to him that she'll disable the prowler if he can take care of the Scarran. She does, ordering 1812 to fire on the prowler (we hope in a way that doesn't destroy, just temporarily disable), but the jolting throws her off the DRD and knocks her out. That leaves just John and Axikor.

John manages to sneak up on the Scarran and get the first few blows in. As Axikor is out for the moment, John frees D'Argo and Scorpius. Axikor quickly comes around though and the inevitable fight ensues, although this time, each has shrinking technology on their arms and try to out-shrink the other. First, they manage to shrink each other at the same time. Axikor gets the drop on John and shrinks him again. John figures it's as good a time as any to take an educated guess as to the codes for size restoration and tries it out. The codes work and he restores himself, leveling out the playing field. More shrinking/restoring/fistfighting until finally, John gets the upper hand as he's normal size and Axikor is shrunk. One small step for John and Axikor is a goo-stain on the floor.

Post-adventure: John and D'Argo are discussing what to do about Scorpius. They apparently don't have a cage that will hold him, but on the other hand, if he could have gotten out at anytime, then he's shown himself to be on their side now. To some degree at least. They agree that at the very least, Scorpius is to be watched very, very closely. Meantime, Rygel reports with some confusion that Noranti is floating outside the ship. Oops, kinda forgot about her. John asks D'Argo if he can go haul her in. "Don't ask."

A short time later, John is in Pilot's den and he and Pilot comm Aeryn for some advice before bringing up an issue with the others. Considering that both the Peacekeepers and Scarrans are now looking for them harder than ever, they're considering leaving the Uncharted Territories and taking refuge in "Tormented Space." While Pilot seems to understand (and gotten through to John) that this is a pretty damn bad neighborhood, the mention of it stops Aeryn cold. She confirms that it's an area that neither Scarrans nor Peacekeepers will travel. Chances of survival and what they'll be facing are hard to gauge since few credible reports make it back. Most are simply never heard from again. But she agrees, it's their best option at the moment, which isn't saying great things about their current situation.


Review

Some time before "I Shrink..." aired, someone posted to SciFi to complain about the tired old sci-fi vehicle of shrinking people. I replied back, saying we don't know that "I Shrink" is a reference in the literal sense.

Hey, when did I ever claim to be right all of the time?

To my own credit though, I think (I hope) I qualified that reply by saying that if the title is literal, leave it to Farscape to put a new twist on the old.

Hey, when did I ever claim to be right all of the time?

Ok, it wasn't exactly tired and old, but there was no new twist on the theme here either. I did rather enjoy the out-shrinking-each-other battle between John and Axikor. We knew that John would just have to have some fun with his shrunken crewmates in their shrunken states. And the reactions to the technology were much more natural than I've been used to seeing on TV.

Too often on screen the characters seem just a little too nonchalant about the whole situation, or too macho about it, too surprised, too unsurprised, over-acted. It's about time I make a comparison that isn't Star Trek ... how about "The Bourne Identity." Great movie if you haven't seen it. The cool thing is, there's really no specific element, no outstanding stunt or effect or story twist, but it's just a really, really well done film that makes you feel like you're living out this adventure with the characters. You feel like part of the car chase, you can identify with the characters. Not clichéd, and not over-acted. Just right. Given what the crew has seen and been through, their reactions felt natural. Definite shock from characters like Aeryn and D'Argo, but kept in check by a dominant need to take whatever the situation hands them and do whatever needs to be done about it. This natural feel to character action and reaction is one of the many elements that sets Farscape apart.

I'd complain about the science and physics of it all, but the writers - through the characters of Sikozu and Rygel - have already pre-addressed that. How great when a show can mock itself like that! Fact is, there was a lot wrong with the science of it. Even if it were possible to shrink a whole person like that and keep her otherwise intact, the simple physics of sound would dictate that their voices wouldn't be "normal" and certainly not at a normal volume, which several scenes seemed to imply. Physical size of various body parts is a large part of what gives each of our voices their various tones. There's a reason that a Chihuahua's bark is higher-pitched and yappy compared to that of a German Shepard and literal size has a lot to do with it.

Sometimes, neglect of an element of Science 101 here and there can really distract me to the point of being unable to focus on the rest of the episode. Not here though. I found myself much more forgiving, maybe because I was getting into the more enjoyable elements of the episode. Crew interaction for one. It gets harder and harder to pick "best lines" when there are so many per episode! Those little quips that seem so rare in too many shows and films run amok in Farscape. The little quips the crew make at and about each other can speak volumes about characterization and ... whoa! The codeine I took a little while ago for my sore feet just kicked in! I think I'm going to have to finish this in the morning when I can concentrate on something a little more complex than how trippy the string-lights in my apartment suddenly look.

{Continuing the next morning...} How's that for a segue into John's continued use of the distillate of laka? I didn't make it up either. I really did dip into my stash of old codeine prescription last night for my ever-worsening heel spurs which threatened to not let me sleep. No doctor has prescribed painkillers for me for this. I just hoard them whenever I do get a prescription for something (take it sparingly at the time, talk the doc into that second refill). Would that make me a junkie? Codeine is addictive and in much lower doses than I get, though I've never taken it steadily for longer than is needed for physical pain. What are the ethics there? With John's use of laka, what are the ethics? Is this the traditional main-character-gets-hooked-on-drugs arc?

I don't think any of us consider Noranti to be a doctor, so we can't say the laka is prescribed. Then again, Zhaan wasn't really a doctor either. Millions of people here on our humble planet take medication for depression, anxiety, or other such ailments caused by such things as relationship troubles. Some such medications or herbs are over-the-counter, like St. John's Wort. So in effect, we prescribe them to ourselves. We know that the laka is pretty powerful. Powerful enough to circumvent Grayza's little love drug (What was Lost: Resurrection). But how about "distillate" of laka? Is it addictive? There don't appear to be any side effects and it doesn't appear to negatively affect his performance, but do we know for sure? Once again, Farscape takes a traditional theme and deals with it in their own unique way. So far, that way is just to present us with these few facts and a whole lot of speculation. It's so easy to lead us 20th century Westerners down the path of crying, "drug addiction!" Question is, what's in your medicine chest and do we know if the distillate of laka is any worse? It could be a lot worse, it could turn out to be nothing. This is Farscape; we just have to wait and see ... if it ever gets answered for us at all.

We also continue to see the crew working together more and more cohesively. They have by no means lost that disfunctionality that pretty much defines the core drama of Farscape. But it's fun at this point to watch Season 1 episodes and see how far they've come in that you-still-annoy-me-but-I-can-work-with-you-anyway sense. The fact that Aeryn at least, if not D'Argo and Rygel, sensed that John was in the ducts before their captors with apparent super-hearing says something about how in tune with each other they've become. I don't blame that one on keystone cops bad guys, but instead I credit a crew becoming that much more connected.

The gross-out factor. Once again, just right in this episode! The X-Files got pretty gruesome with some of their creatures, but did Scully ever so readily slip her arm into the still-warm and gooey exoskeleton of her recently slain enemy?

Moya-John with Talyn-John's memories. I honestly don't recall if I've addressed this before, but if so I'll address it again. It's a cool element, but I don't see how it's so shocking or unbelievable to some folks. There are reported cases in the here and now of identical twins on other sides of the country and one feels what the other is feeling, or dreams something that happens to the other one. It's also quite subtle at this point - very dream like. I like it. It's very quick, not everyone will catch it right away, it just kind of makes you go "Whoa! Which ep was that 1/4 second clip from?" I like that a show will put stuff like that in the mix that they know not everyone will catch and not everyone necessarily needs to. It's an Easter Egg for those who happen to spot it.

John and Scorpius working together - priceless! And again, illustrating how far we've come. What's the saying? The enemy of my enemy is my friend? When Scorpy says he could have escaped his cell at any time, how creepy was that? We kind of expected something like that from him, but still, it's like someone saying they've had the keys to your home for a year, then wondering if and how often they've been creeping around your place and you didn't know it.

Finally - and I always have to find something to nit-pick - Mini-Aeryn on the DRD took some getting used to. Looked really hokey at first, but it's a shrinking episode, they had to have the obligatory shrunken-character-interacts-with-now-oversized-universe. Right? As such obligatory scenes go, it was, in the end, kind of cute.

But the real treat comes in the tag scene when they decide to travel into Tormented Space. I have to admit that it too struck me as a bit cheesy at first and just this side of an over-dramatic name. But on the other hand, it's always quite an effect to introduce an element that concerns the bravest among them - in this case, Aeryn. Just like introducing a new bad guy who mops the floor with the previous unstoppable bad guy (Scorpy over Crais, Grayza over Scorpy). We don't need to know anything about this part of space other than Aeryn's reaction, proving once more that Farscape is a true character drama at heart and how fortunate we are to have such talent driving this series.




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

Reader Reviews
Average Reader Score
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Fun Factoids
Best lines:

Chiana: "Can you make a break for it? ... Go hide in the neural cluster or something?"
Sikozu: "Not with these frelling cuffs on I can't."
Chiana: "These what cuffs? I am so glad we extended your vocabulary!"

Axikor: "Why are you here?"
Scorpius: "Because you captured me?"


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 4, Episode 8 - "I Shrink Therefore I Am"
Writer: Christopher Wheeler
Director: Rowan Woods
Production number: 10408
First UK Transmission: 18th Nov 2002
First US Transmission: 2nd Aug 2002
Guest Stars:
Raelee Hill (Sikozu); Melissa Jaffer (Noranti); Duncan Young (Axikor); John Schwarz (Bintog); Lee Jay Klump; Ashley Fairfield
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