This was the emotional center to the Guns, Liars and Money trilogy. But it wasn't sweet at all. Quite the contrary, it was an awfully bitter turn as pretty much everything that could go wrong went wrong.
On the bright side though, we got to see some characters from the past, including a really oddly paced ending to one of the reoccurring villains. Durka's death felt almost like an afterthought. Hey, here's Durka... let's kill him. For a character that had been built up like Durka, I would've expected his end to have a bit more emotional... umph. Still, it was at least a bit satisfying watching Rygel throw around Durka's head. It made Moya's crew, and Rygel in particular, feel badass, even if it was pretty gruesome.
Everyone else also had good moments recruiting the raiding group as well. Aeryn went more diplomatic as she used money as an enticement, but mostly she tricked the Sheyang into believing he had to prove himself worthy of the opportunity. It wasn't the most engaging of the recruitment scenes, but it was at least a nice character moment for Aeryn.
Crichton ended up going in a very different direction from Aeryn, taunting and threatening Bekhesh to give him the gauntlet. It almost felt like what Aeryn would've done last season, which is an interesting choice for Crichton as a character. He's definitely gotten more and more aggressive in this world, partially because he has to because everyone and everything is out to get him, and partially because he's grown tough from all the chaos and tragedy he's had to endure. Scorpy's neural chip is just the icing on the cake of crazy baking his mind into a tough spongy mess.
D'Argo had probably the most compelling scenes, with the Vorcarian blood-tracker couple as they ran from Peacekeepers. He had to play it cool when it was clear all he wanted to do was kill everything to get his son back. In fact, all of D'Argo's scenes were well done. D'Argo has been making some pretty irrational choices in the last few episodes, but at least his motivations make total sense. Here he is shown being relatively calm in the face of yet another setback. Which is yet another really good character moment.
My favorite stuff in this episode, though, was Chiana, as she tried to figure out the mystery of the metal eating spiders. She had some goofy moments with Rygel, got to go totally silly with a goo-gun, and then had some great emotional moments with Pilot as they burned out part of the ship. Talk about heavy -- hurting Moya was really painful. Pilot has always been the voice of Moya, and his pain was palpable and difficult to watch. All that for a puppet and an elaborate set and CG ship.
Of course the stinger for the episode was Crichton's sacrifice, and it worked on many levels. It was totally within character for John to do that for D'Argo. It fit with his mental state, which is less than stable. Motivation-wise, Crichton wanting to face Scorpius and get the chip out of his head makes sense. Plus there is this massive plan already in place that he knows the crew will use to rescue him. It also puts the danger on his shoulders instead of Jothee's. Scorpius can't use D'Argo's son as leverage, which is yet another good reason to make the exchange. But poor Aeryn. She is so clearly in love with John and hasn't even said it to him.
There were a couple of Moya-sized plot holes, though. First, it is possible that Scorpius might've back traced Stark's hack and discovered where Moya was. But did Stark really have all the information about the job in one place? Like, sensitive information about which slave lot they were going to buy? That is either a giant plot point that they just glossed over, or Stark is an utter idiot. Probably a little of both. Second, why did Scorpius just kill all those Banik slaves? Did I miss someone giving a reason there? I thought he was just going to give/sell them off to Natira? Killing them does give Stark the right motivation to behave so rashly, but it doesn't make a lot of sense.
I am a bit disappointed that John didn't react to the information that Scorpius was alive, since so much of the drama from the end of the last episode hinged on John believing he killed Scorpius. Ah well.
It was really smart to use the actor playing Jothee in a hallucination sequence with D'Argo before he shows up to have that conversation with Scorpius. First, it establishes the connection with D'Argo. Second, since D'Argo's guilt about Jothee is so great, it sells the next scene where Scorpius tries to turn Jothee against his father.
This is not the first critter episode, but it was definitely the most consequential. Moya getting hurt this badly means no starburst, and no starburst means the ship is basically defenseless. That's good set up for the third part of the trilogy.
John managed to conjure up the neural clone, which is something he shouldn't be able to do. Does that mean that John's mind is stronger than the clone? Or does that mean something is wrong with his mind? Did the knowledge that the Ancients put in John's mind alter him somehow?
Harvey: "It wasn't easy. There are vast regions of your brain that are filled with nothing but gibberish."
Crichton: "That would be high school."
Natira: "He's not a Scarran. You wouldn't waste your hatred on anything else?"
Scorpius: "This is why I can't have you around. You know me too well."
Natira: "Without me, you'd still be the same angry, hotheaded young creature I took in so many cycles ago."
Scorpius: "Without me your head, among other things, would be a trophy on the wall of Peacekeeper Command."
Natira: "See? We were made for each other."
Chiana: "Our money's alive!"
Rygel: "You realize what that means?"
Chiana: "They're eating the ship!"
Rygel: "Yes, but... we're poor."
Crichton: "What about your great reformation?"
Bekhesh: "It's easier to reform when you're rich."
Crichton: "You want the wormhole technology? I want your implant out of my head. So, finally the rift between us is not so great. You do what you gotta do. You win."
Scorpius: "As if there was ever any doubt."
The episode was a bit uneven, and the plot didn't really go anywhere. Of course that plot issue is common for the middle chapter of any trilogy.
2 1/2 out of 4 Old familiar alien faces
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.