A strange combination of disaster film tropes and deep interpersonal drama, this episode was uneven at best, despite having a couple of strong character moments.
Things start off with Moya docked at a commerce station situated near a religiously important star system called the Twin Suns of Qell. Through exposition throughout the episode, we find out that there were originally three such stations and the other two were destroyed under mysterious circumstances, drumming up the idea that all three were cursed. Then the third station is damaged in a massive solar storm, and things go sideways for the crew.
The A-Plot primarily dealt with the fallout from the damage the storm inflicted on the station and Moya. Aeryn searches for children trapped in a part of the station, Zhaan and Stark try to help the bartender impaled by support beam, while Chiana, D'Argo and John spend a good chunk of the episode trying to free Moya from the docking lines she was tangled up in. On paper, all those things are fine, and even in execution some of them are well done (although the sets and special effects were a little underwhelming).
Even the mystery at the center of the story, dealing with the whys and hows the stations were all destroyed, was mildly interesting but not really engaging. I didn't really care for Borlik, the villain of the piece, but her religious motivations and strange gravity powers were kind of cool, and a little bizarre. What didn't really work for me was all of these pieces working together, because there was no real cohesive plot.
That being said, the real strength of this episode was in the B-plots, focusing on the developments between our two primary romances (John/Aeryn and D'Argo/Chiana). John and Aeryn are still kind of circling each other, unsure of how they can work as a couple or even if they want to pursue that kind of a relationship. Although a bit frustrating, given everything they have gone through recently, it is nice to have even a small step towards the two of them finally coming together, even if at the end of the episode it got delayed yet again.
On the other hand, there is the massive drama dealing with Jothee and Chiana having an affair. Both of their motivations made sense, and I never expected Chiana to simply marry D'Argo and go fulfill his dream of a quiet life on a farm. It was just the awful way she went about sabotaging the relationship that hurt the most. Anthony Simcoe had some pretty amazing scenes dealing with the emotional fallout from finding out about their tryst. From his drunk walk on the surface of Moya, to watching the two of them on the holoshell confess to each other why they slept together while quietly sobbing, it's hard to pull off that kind of emotion under that much makeup, but it honestly made the episode worth watching for me.
Thomas Holesgrove got to use his real voice for the first time as Moordil, the ill-fated bartender. He is a mainstay of the series, playing several characters throughout its run.
Borlik's makeup was probably the most interesting aspect of the character, with bright yellow eyes and patterns on her face that blended into her hair. It was a simple makeup, but effective.
I loved how Pilot was almost manically gleeful sending Borlik to her death. With that cackle of a laugh, he showed some of his inner darkness, which we rarely get to see.
Borlik: "You know, I heard he destroyed a Peacekeeper Gammak Base. Murdered an entire Nebari battalion, even laid waste to a shadow depository. Guy was a devil. He raped and pillaged, he popped eyeballs."
Zhaan: "Calm yourself, Stark. Please. You're the expert here. You've witnessed more death than anyone else. So many dissatisfied souls dying before they felt ready."
Stark: "Yes. I'm an expert on dying... I'm just not an expert on you dying."
While the A-plot was not super thrilling, the long term importance of the B-plots made up for some of it.
2 out of 4 relationships gone sideways
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.