Farscape: PK Tech Girl

When Moya’s crew attempts to scavenge the derelict Zelbinion --- a legendary Peacekeeper ship that went missing in battle over 100 cycles ago --- they are surprised to find a support tech from Crais’s command carrier hiding on board. Soon after, a dangerous scavenger race returns to claim the Zelbinion’s defense shield, and Zhaan and D’Argo must stall for time while Crichton, Aeryn, and Gilina (the young tech) work to restore the shield to protect Moya. Meanwhile, Rygel confronts demons from his time spent being tortured aboard the Zelbinion.

True confession time: I revile Gilina, and I hated, hated, hated all the romantic dreck between her and Crichton. I hated the way they clicked, I hated the flirty movie talk, I hated their “cute” dual eye injuries, I hated the swelling romantic music, I hated their sad, longing gazes and their tragic parting embrace. Blech, blech, blech. And might I add, gag.

Now, my reaction doesn’t have overmuch to do with Gilina as a person. She ended up being a real stand up gal for Moya’s crew. My visceral negative reaction to her stems entirely from my investment in John and Aeryn as a couple. The last thing I want to see is a tiny doe-eyed blond interfering in their developing relationship.

I hope that doesn’t sound like a spoiler to anyone who’s new to the series. I think we’ve gotten enough hints to this point to know that John and Aeryn are meant for each other (they even got the romantic background music during the awkward post-kiss confrontation in the corridor). There hasn’t been a ton of overt sexual attraction between them yet, but they definitely click. John obviously cares for her (remember how hard he fought to save her in ‘Exodus from Genesis’?), and I get the feeling from their conversation in this episode that he’s been holding back on whatever he feels because they are shipmates and because she’s still getting in touch with her softer side and coping with a massive loss. Or maybe it’s because he didn’t think she was interested in him until she accidentally confessed here. “In the beginning, I found you … interesting.” “Me?” He seemed not only surprised to hear this, but pleased. I’m hoping that “it’s good to be on even terms” means they are both now aware of their mutual interest and can move closer to an actual relationship. I’m taking it as a positive sign that the episode ended not with the sad parting of John and Gilina (woo hoo!), but with a potent bonding moment between John and Aeryn.

All that said, the Zelbinion and Gilina’s presence on it really led to some interesting character exploration for Aeryn and Rygel. Aeryn was finally starting to come to grips with her exile, and in the last episode she even discovered that, yes, she can be more than simply a Peacekeeper commando. She was starting to seem less angry about her fate, and more comfortable as a member of Moya’s crew, but the arrival of Gilina tore open the not-so-old wounds and served as a painful reminder that even though she may desperately want to, Aeryn really can’t go home again. I think part of her may have been holding out hope that it was possible to return, and when she learned from Gilina what had become of her former comrades, it really tore the rug out from under her. “Your whole unit was demoted after your defection. They can only be reinstated upon your death.” She really seemed quite stunned and devastated by this news, and by the end of the episode she seemed hollowed out and --- beneath her largely impassive fa├žade --- profoundly sad. “I hope you will only ever imagine how horrible it is to never return to the life that you love.” So the grieving process begins anew.

Rygel also got put through the emotional wringer this week, as we learned that he spent many cycles being brutally tortured by the Zelbinion’s commander, Durka. I loved the short flashbacks to the time immediately following his imprisonment. They provided some wonderful insight into just what makes him such a nasty little piece of work, and also point to why he clings so strongly to his identity as “dominar to over 600 billion subjects.” Given that he hasn’t been dominar for over 130 cycles, a large part of his demeanor is likely a front to cover the truth that, deep down, he knows he’s nothing. His cousin took away his throne, but Durka stripped him of his identity and exposed him as a small, frightened, worthless being. “Somehow, I expected the ‘dominar’ of Hyneria to be more … dominating.” He literally tries to hide from that truth on Moya, but with Zhaan’s prodding returns to the Zelbinion to face his fears. Ultimately, he is rewarded with the chance to essentially piss in the dead skull of his enemy and reclaim the dignity Durka stole from him. “You once told me I would never leave your ship alive. You robbed me of so many cycles. But no matter what you did to me, I’ll always remember one thing: you lose.” A great moment, but I’m a little concerned that a Rygel with renewed self-esteem is going to become downright unbearable!

Other Thoughts

The episode also featured some fun material with D’Argo and Zhaan attempting to hold the Sheyang at bay. I loved when Zhaan was feeding D’Argo lines off screen, and he got all irritated. Although I had trouble believing D’Argo felt so strongly about lying to the Sheyang. It was a matter of life and death! Get over yourself and off your high horse.

Loved, loved, loved the fire-spitting toads. They were a bit goofy looking, and I didn’t actually enjoy much of the strategizing and in-fighting on their own ship, but they spit fire! I got a big kick out of the one-toad assault on the Zelbinion. “Perhaps, one day they will sing songs of your early death.” They certainly should. Aeryn dropping down from the ceiling on chains and blowing him to hell with her massive gun was quite the death scene. “Sorry for the mess.” I love Aeryn. She is so badass.

Unless my ears deceived me, Crichton actually said “shit” when the Sheyang first walked through the melted door. I’m guessing that wasn’t scripted.

Just how old is Rygel? He was imprisoned over 130 cycles ago! I’m really beginning to understand why he feels such passionate hatred for the Peacekeepers.

It was nice to see Crichton turning around and defending Aeryn, immediately after breaking up her attempt to strangle Gilina. “She’s not a traitor. Not by a long shot. Crais never gave her a chance. Not like the chance we’re giving you.”

Was there ever any doubt that they’d get the defense screen up in time? Still, that was a fairly intense cable connecting sequence.

Quotes

D’Argo: “This ship is legendary. Even in my culture. It was thought invincible.”
Crichton: “Yeah, well just ask Leonardo DiCaprio. Even the big ones go down.”

D’Argo (frustrated): “Such a large ship and nothing to salvage.”
Aeryn (deadpan): “How disappointing that other scavengers have robbed us of our glory.”

Zhaan: “Confront your demons, Rygel. Or they will chase you from the shadows to the pyre.”

Aeryn: “This is my world, John. Don’t interfere.”

Gilina: “Thank you for stopping her from killing me today.”
Crichton: “I try to save a life a day. Usually, it’s my own.”

Crichton: “Oh, man. If you guys only used your know-how to ---“
Aeryn: “To what? To fulfill your vision of who we should be?”

Aeryn: “We are Peacekeepers. Other cultures hire us to keep order. To keep harmony.”
Rygel: “As well as assassinations. Torture. Kidnap.”

Crichton: “They spit fire?! How come nobody tells me this stuff? How come nobody tells me they spit fire?!”

Crichton: “Listen, gashole. You kill us, you kill yourself!”

Sheyang: “You had nothing, but you used it well. Evron, there is no shame in losing to a clever opponent. And Ka D’Argo, I make it a point to someday kill my clever opponents.”

Zhaan: “You were magnificent, D’Argo.”
D’Argo: “With or without your assistance?”
Zhaan: “In spite of it.”

Aeryn: “There’s no way you can know how I feel.”
Crichton: “If I somehow, someday get a chance to return to my world, walk around my old neighborhood, see my old house, dad’s truck, best friend’s bike on the lawn […] and then I think, ‘What if everyone were dead?’ What if all my friends and family were lying there dead? What would it be like to go home then?”
Aeryn: “I stand corrected.”

Final Analysis: I really loathe parts of this episode, but it still has some very strong subplots with good character development. And maybe, just maybe, the events on the Zelbinion will push Crichton and Aeryn a little further along in their developing relationship.

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

3 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Jess, I totally get your complete and utter hatred of the out of left field Crichton romantic interest. I remember feeling the same way when I first saw the series. But I also agree that this is a terrific episode for Aeryn, who was always my favorite character on Farscape.

Anonymous said...

I'm probably in the minority, but I love Gilina. She is my favorite Peacekeeper.

The episode is not spectacular (the obvious holes in the plot, etc) and I hate what they did to Gilina afterwards, but there's good character material and it's interesting continuity-wise.

Diane C said...

I loved this episode, especially the first 15 minutes or so onboard the ghost ship Zelbinion.

With suitably moody lighting and the sense of eerie despair I was reminded of similar scenes from the classic 1979 film "Alien" and the alien ship that has crash-landed on some unknown planet, and then later back onboard the Nostromo with the crew hunting for the rogue alien in the bowels of the ship – the dripping rainwater, the loosely hanging chains were especially effective.

In fact those very same 15 minutes had my full interest locked and loaded compared to the entire snoozeville that was the previous episode "Thank God It’s Friday... Again"

I am also going to play the heretic by saying how much I enjoyed having Gilina on the scene to spice things up a little against the rather po-faced entrenchment of "Drill Sergeant" Aeryn. For me, Gilina was far more "human" and approachable compared to Aeryn, whom I was getting a little tired of up of up until this point. And I adored Gilina when she threw some bile back at Aeryn with regards what happened to her crew when Aeryn defected: the steely glare in Gilina’s brown eyes really ripped into Aeryn’s stoic determination giving her a massive guilt-trip.

So having Gilina enter the frame was a good touch as it helped smooth out a few more of Aeryn's brittle edges as the season progressed. And I enjoyed John’s flirtatiousness with Gilina, especially when he talked about the progressive power draw “so the fibre pattern has to be maintained in sequence!” – not only did it surprise the hell out of me that he should know such things, but also hit Aeryn a little hard when John gave Gilina a knowing smile afterwards.

As for their adversary: the Sheyang. Just men in suits again, which I know the same can be said for most of the alien encounters our guys face, but on this occasion the way everyone was ramping up how really badass these guys were when you actually see them first time round you think “meh!”

Going back to our little tryst again, it was good to see John and Aeryn have a relatively lucid moment together, especially when John asks her if she has ever been “attracted” to guys, and she confesses that she found him “interesting”, albeit for a moment.

I have to confess that I shed a tear or two when Gilina decided to leave at the end. More so that she couldn’t take John with her. Again, she looked so innocent and vulnerable that I just wanted to reach out and give her a big hug. But at least we get to see her again later on in the show.

The secondary storyline involving Rygel’s tortuous existence about the Zelbinion over 130 cycles ago, was well done, especially with the arrival of Durka, his old nemesis and torturer from back in the day. Durka makes one or two more appearances throughout the show, and although he was perhaps a little too camp at times (like some kind of pantomime villain), he was one of the more believable bad guys – a bit like a Hannibal Lecter in space!

Overall, a very enjoyable episode: not so much for the main storyline, but the fleshing out again of the character traits of our guys – especially Aeryn. My review here is decidedly not overly supportive of her, in fact she irritated me no end. But the timely arrival of Gilina helped me like Aeryn a little more by the end.

4/5