Farscape: Throne for a Loss

When Rygel is kidnapped for ransom, the crew discovers he has a vital component of Moya’s control circuitry in his possession and they are forced to stage a rescue. Meanwhile, Zhaan attempts to help one of the kidnappers detox from a gauntlet weapon that injects the user with a powerful stimulant.

‘Throne for a Loss’ was pretty much all about the smack down. We saw our crew alternately suffering and doling out beatings, interspersed with a whole lot of in-fighting. Rygel was kidnapped, beaten, trapped in mud, suffocated by a boot to the neck, revived, stuck in bag, and then repeatedly kicked and battered. Crichton, Aeryn, and D’Argo battled each other and the Tavlek kidnappers, leading to several knockout punches and D’Argo getting shot. Even “Am I the only species in creation that doesn’t thrive on conflict?” Zhaan went several rounds with the young Tavlek male she was attempting to help through gauntlet withdrawal. Lessons learned?

--- D’Argo is very angry and wants to be in charge. “This ship needs a leader, and none of you have what it takes!”

--- Aeryn really is a ruthless force, who thrives on battle and slaughter. “I am going to take out every last Tavlek. No survivors, no mercy.”

--- Crichton prefers negotiation to guns blazing. “You didn’t kill ‘em.” “Guess I’m not that kind of guy.”

--- Everyone hates Rygel, and he knows it. “Won’t they ransom you?” “They couldn’t if they wanted to. And they don’t want to because they hate me! Ha, ha, ha, ha!”

And most importantly …

--- Don’t frell with Zhaan. She’s way scarier than our supposed warriors. “How would you like your arm torn off?! […] Hear me. I could rip you apart right now! Ka’Lenn help me, I’d enjoy it!” Plus, she didn’t even flinch when the Tavlek punctured her wrist! Damn, Blue.

In spite of all the fighting --- or should I say because of it? --- this was a very funny episode (that chilling moment with Bekhesh killing Rygel, notwithstanding). I was pretty much laughing throughout, from everyone amped up under the influence of the gauntlet, to the running gag with Crichton calling the Tavleks “Tavloids,” to Crichton and Aeryn bickering about each other’s plans, to Crichton overloading the pulse rifle, to Rygel being repeatedly battered about during the rescue. Even the hard, driving action music was funny. Plus, we ended with that hilarious and gross parting shot from Rygel after “purging” the control crystal: “I did wash it. [Aeryn hesitates, but then takes the crystal.] Well, I think I did.”

Other Thoughts

Apparently this episode was aired out of sequence, too. After ‘Back and Back and Back to the Future’ instead of before. I wonder if the change was the result of production issues or some kind of network interference.

Lots of Aeryn and Crichton in very close quarters this week. During the D’Argo attack alone, he was grabbing her and holding her against him every time they turned the corner (literally!). Combine that with all the fighting, and I’m starting to get the Sam-and-Diane romantic vibe coming off them.

Even though he’s becoming more helpful, Rygel is still a “royal pain” that most of the crew would have been all too happy to leave behind. Crichton initially wanted to retrieve him simply because he was part of the team, but by the episode’s end, I think even he was sorely tempted to leave “the little hairball” behind.

Rygel: “Which means you’re gonna have to take me back as I am, or disembowel me here.”
Crichton: “Don’t you tempt me, Fluffy!”

Zhaan really set herself a thankless task in trying to help the Tavlek. And a fruitless one, at that. It’s pretty hard to help someone who doesn’t want your help. And an addict that doesn’t think he has a problem isn’t going to quit.

I’m amused by Crichton clinging to his pop culture references even though no one understands them. It makes for a fun parallel with the others using cultural references that mean nothing to the audience. (I’d stick in D’Argo’s quote about his head pounding like a something, something day parade (?), but even though I played it back several times, I still can’t understand what he’s saying.)

The head and torso makeup for the Tavleks was pretty good, but the hands didn’t look very made up at all. It was a bit disconcerting to see human hands paired with such an alien face. Come to think of it, D’Argo has the same issue.

Rygel claimed to just be goading the Tavleks by raging on about being buried in mud, but after what we learned in ‘I, E.T.’ I imagine it actually was tantamount to an act of war!

What was with the foliage on the planet? Is there really foliage like that in Australia, or did they spray paint a bunch of leaves neon blue?

We got another fun “bonding” moment with D’Argo and Aeryn while she was recovering from the gauntlet. Yet again finding common ground in their estimate of Crichton’s utter uselessness.

Aeryn: “Imagine. Somewhere out there there’s a whole world full of Crichtons. And how useless that must be. […] Who would’ve thought there’d be a race more clumsy and pathetic than the Luxans?”
[D’Argo pulls his arm away and her head hits the ground.]
Aeryn: “Ow!”
D’Argo: “I’m sorry. You know how clumsy we Luxans can be.”

World-building bits: Fire snakes, razor grass, Moylian death spiders, oculars, D’Argo’s very impressive Qualta blade (“It is more than just a sword”), and Luxan healing processes (“Bleeding freely is the only thing that will help heal the Luxan. The wound isn’t cleansed until the blood flows clear”).

I especially enjoyed that last one. My husband and I often joke about “until the blood runs clear” if one of us has a small wound. Plus, Aeryn beating on D’Argo to facilitate healing was just hilarious. I love the look on her face when she gives him that two-handed pounding after he baits her by calling her a barbarian.

Quotes

Rygel: “I need them to look up to me.”
D’Argo: “Why? We don’t.”
Rygel: “Well you should.”

Crichton: “Pilot, get a tractor beam on that ship!”
Pilot: “Tractor beam? What’s that?”
Crichton: “Graviton field, retro-ray, super glue! Whatever it is you yanked me aboard with.”
Pilot: “You mean the docking web?”

Zhaan: “Soft, yes. Weak, no.”

Pilot: “Secure for acceleration. Crichton has an idea.”
Zhaan (groans): “Did you say Crichton?” [Exasperated grumbling commences.]
Man, even Zhaan is down on Crichton this week!

Jotheb: “The imperfection is yours.”

Crichton: “Oh, don’t *tisk* me! This is not over with. And when it is, you and I are gonna sit down and have a serious talk.”
Aeryn: “Sure. When this is over you and I will probably be dead.”

Zhaan: “Is nudity a taboo in your culture? Are you ashamed of your bodies?”
Boy: “Yeah, we would be, if we looked like you.”
Zhaan: “I doubt it.”
Wow! Did Virginia Hey have to get full body makeup for that scene? That must have taken forever for just that one simple shot.

Rygel: “I can’t eat this. I couldn’t eat this. I mustn’t eat this.”

Crichton (to Aeryn and D’Argo): “If the gauntlet brings out the real you, both of you, think long and hard about therapy.”

Crichton: “Hey! Check out the critter!”

Crichton: “Because, uh, he’s not really a king.”
Bekhesh: “He’s not?”
Rygel (in the bag): “I’m not?”
Crichton: “He’s an escaped mental patient. Delusions of royalty.”
Rygel: “You’re the mental patient if you expect anybody to believe that I’m --- oof!”

Crichton: “Rygel is an obnoxious gasbag, and who’s gonna shell out for that?”
Rygel: “He’s right. I’m unloved, unwanted, unpopular --- [Bekhesh kicks him] --- (gasps) unconscious.”

Bekhesh: “It’s been so long since anyone’s told me the truth, I don’t recognize it anymore.”

Final Analysis: Even though our fugitives spend most of the episode fighting and beating on each other, Rygel’s kidnapping and the gauntlet make for a funny and entertaining outing.

Jess Lynde is a highly engaged television viewer. Probably a bit too engaged.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

According to the DVD commentary, they got the blue leave by doing some kind of color treatment to the film after they shot. No hand painting 10,000 leaves. ;-)

Great review, Jess!

--Liam

Jess Lynde said...

Aha! Well, that's a relief. The neon blue spray paint probably wouldn't be too good for the local flora. Thanks for the info, Liam! I haven't been listening to the commentaries, because I didn't want to influence my take on the episodes. I'll get to them someday!

Mark Greig said...

These reviews have got me itching to watch the show again for the first time in years. Liked this episode, it’s not one of the show's best but a fun episode nevertheless.

I always feel sorry for Crichton during season one (more so in season two but I’ll not get into that now, spoilers!). Despite his best intentions he’s just the village idiot to everyone. They all consider him to be an utter imbecile, the product of a backwards civilization when he’s really no different than the rest of Moya’s dysfunctional residents.

I think it was a good thing that the writers didn’t make him some super cool Flash Gordon/Buck Rodgers hybrid. He gets things wrong, often makes mistakes (like blowing up the pulse riffle) all because he lacks the knowledge and experiences everyone else takes for granted. Although the non-stop pop culture references propably do make him sound like a complete loon.

Suzanne said...

I am really enjoying your reviews! One of the aspects of the show I enjoy most is the way John is portrayed as alien and an outsider. In so much of the Sci Fi on tv the humans become central as leaders or subjects of interest right away. This isn't realistic in a universe with so much alien diversity. Farscape gets this right.

Jess Lynde said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone. I absolutely agree that it was smart to play Crichton as the outsider/imbecile, even though he's the lead. The way he is treated and the way he constantly screws up feels a lot more "realistic."

I'm glad the reviews are bringing back memories of how much you all enjoyed the show and are inspiring you to want to watch again. I'm finding the most frustrating part of revisiting the show is that I want to barrel ahead and keep watching more and more, especially when I see all the comments with full-season perspective. But I just can't keep up with the reviews at that pace! I suppose stretching out the enjoyment isn't the worst thing in the world. :)

Billie Doux said...

This one feels like Farscape, too. I've always disliked Rygel and it was fun seeing him in a bag being literally kicked around. I liked Zhaan trying her best with the boy, too. At least she tried.

Diane C said...

Without doubt one of the funniest episodes in the entire FS franchise! The story was incidental to the humour, and as others have remarked here it is good to note that Crighton is no superhero. That is not to say he is not brave , but he is no fighter - and I guess given that he has been trained as an astronaut he wouldn't have much idea how to handle himself in fight conditions, especially when up against alien fiends such as the Tavleks.

Given that I am not a big fan of Rygel, I was more than pleased to seem him imprisoned and up to his neck in mud and god knows what else! And then to see him bundled into a sack and thrown around was also a delight.

Very much a standalone episode, but it was good to see a more light-hearted episode with plenty of gags and self-deprecation by the like of Aeryn, D'Argo and of course our very own Crighton who, quite frankly, doesn't have to try hard to be a complete jackass!

I think I will give this 4/5 - a very funny throwaway episode.