Aeryn: "I don't know what you're talking about but there's never been anything we couldn't overcome together."
John: "Except each other."
From a first run perspective, this was a massively frustrating episode. It teased us with John and Aeryn, and took that romance away in the most permanent way possible. Not only that, but the reasons for this new wedge in their relationship were based on shaky character motivations, and a plot contrivance that bordered on nonsensical.
On subsequent viewings, I actually kind of like it, but it's still frustrating.
This is a complicated (read convoluted) episode. It is all set up for the other two parts, and it does a good job in some respects. We get to meet all the players. There's our crew, of course. John and Aeryn are having an argument about the state of their relationship when they come across a colony of Sebacean's (Aeryn's race) free from the Peacekeepers. From that set up we are thrown into a scene where so much happens that it's hard to track.
There is Cargn (a Scarran) who is plotting with Clavor and his girlfriend/fiancé Jenavian to take the throne from Clavor's sister Princess Katralla. Cargn has facilitated this bit of political machinations by poisoning Katralla's DNA somehow, so that she will no longer be biologically compatible to produce offspring with any Sebacean male. Katralla and Clavor's mother Empress Novia, and Counselor Tyno (who holds some sort of advisory position) have organized a party of sorts so that Katralla can test the waters with as many potential suitors as possible in an attempt to find a match for her before the coronation of the colony's new ruler (because she cannot ascend to the throne without a compatible mate). Confused? Welcome to Farscape.
I joke. Still, although I love Farscape, it frequently throws us into the deep end along with Crichton and expects us to swim for it.
So when Crichton sees this bizarre kissing ritual he thinks it's awesome, and ends up kissing Katralla. Of course he's her only shot at ascending to the throne, because he's not Sebacean and thus compatible with her somehow. Crichton initially says no, but when Scorpius shows up, he quickly changes his mind. On the surface this is an interesting three-way emotional choice, between survival (keeping his mind intact from Scorpius's desires to extract wormhole technology from his head), potential love with Aeryn who is currently rejecting him, and a lifelong commitment to a stranger who is offering him power, riches, and a family. Except he really only has one option. If he tries to run he could get everyone killed, if he gives in to Scorpy he could end up a vegetable. Yet if he marries Katralla he not only alienates Aeryn, he also has to spend 80 cycles (something like 100 years on Earth) as a conscious statue.
In other words, John is screwed. Add to that the political players who don't want the marriage to happen. Apparently the Scarrans want to create a treaty of some sort with these Breakaway Colonies (so dubbed because they broke away from the Peacekeepers 1900 cycles ago). The Peacekeepers want to bring them back into the fold, which is why Scorpy is there, to try and forge a treaty with the new ruler. The main gist is that Katralla believes in maintaining the long held neutrality, and her brother Clavor is obviously throwing in with the Scarrans. So Katralla is the only real hope for this society, and she is willing to do her duty and marry Crichton. Except, Crichton isn't Sebacean so that lie cannot get out. Also Katralla really wants to marry Tyno, who in turn seems to be a genuinely cool guy.
Okay, I've spent two pages explaining it, and even I feel a bit dizzy. To say this plot is convoluted and overly complex is an understatement, but thankfully they didn't even attempt to wrap it up in this episode. What I did like was how after the initial confusion, it settled into more of a character struggle. John is being pushed and pulled from all directions, and has to make this impossible choice. Ben Browder does a great job of conveying the conflict. So does Claudia Black; she does the best she can with material obviously written to prolong the will they/won't they dynamic. They make the emotions work, and that is what's ultimately important here.
Unfortunately, the main plot kind of overshadows a couple of really fun character beats from the rest of the crew. Chiana and D'Argo's relationship has finally come together, and they are frelling like bunny rabbits. Rygel is actually useful for once, and even sort of complements Crichton. Of course the plot that gets the least play is with Zhaan and Pilot who try to do the right thing and lead Scorpius away, and end up encountering Moya's god. Talk about getting sidetracked.
The DNA compatibility drop was an interesting plot gimmick. Of course, the instant I saw it I wanted to see John and Aeryn use it.
The re-introduction of Scorpius was interesting for a couple of reasons. He seems notably calmer, and his menacing smile and the casual glee in his voice makes him seem even more creepy than usual.
The scene where Crichton gets to see a holographic version of a son he probably thought he would never have was pretty cool. It also establishes that he can have children with Sebaceans, which is what I think this whole plot is about.
Scarrans have some pretty gnarly strength and a heat breath that can be used to interrogate or kill.
80 frelling cycles as a conscious statue... I think I'd rather run for it.
John: "If I do this, you have to be my best man."
D'Argo: "Uh... I'm with Chiana now, John."
Aeryn: "Personal indulgences can fracture a small crew."
John: "I would never tell them that you scented your hair."
Aeryn: "I will not be a slave to your hormones!"
John: "My hormones? Hey, I was lips, you were tongue!"
John: "You keep your mouth shut."
Rygel: "But I am our best negotiator."
John: "Our best self-serving, to-hell-with-everyone-else-iator."
D'Argo: "John, my life has been one crushing disappointment after the next, but with this girl I've managed to find moments of pleasure. Don't blow it for me."
John: "Never. It's cool, I'm happy for you."
John: "Good. Why am I always the last to know?"
Aeryn: "It's great, you know. It's a world designed for your rutting hormones."
Tyno: "Is this Crichton intelligent?"
Rygel: "Surprisingly, despite his appearance."
A bit uneven, and overly complicated, this wasn't a bad first part to a three parter. However, I'm withholding my rating until part 3.
An unknown number of DNA kissy drops out of 4.
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.