Farscape: They've Got a Secret

During a search for hidden Peacekeeper devices on Moya, D’Argo destroys a mysterious shield and is subsequently ejected into space. Aeryn recovers his body and Zhaan is able to revive him, but the deep-space hypothermia leaves him unsteady and suffering from a form of dementia in which he believes the crew are people from his past. Meanwhile, when the DRDs begin sabotaging the life support systems and Pilot loses consciousness, the crew suspects that Moya is trying to kill them and must figure out why and how to stop her.

‘They’ve Got a Secret’ gives us some massively shocking backstory on D’Argo (including his “true crime”) and stuns us with the revelation that Moya is pregnant. Yet, for all that, it isn’t actually a very good episode. I’m finding it a bit hard to reconcile the notion that an episode with several major developments could somehow be bad, but the whole thing just felt “off” to me from the get go.

Why the sudden need to sweep for Peacekeeper devices? Pilot indicates that he conducts the sweeps routinely, but D’Argo acts like this is the first time he’s been involved. What happened to make Pilot think he needs to get the crew involved? The sweeps would have made perfect sense immediately following the events of ‘I, E.T.’ but all this time later? It felt oddly jarring. When combined with some dialogue that made it seem like Crichton just popped out of the wormhole, I started to wonder if the episode was out of sequence. It wasn’t until Crichton made a reference to Aeryn being injected with Pilot’s DNA that I realized it wasn’t.

Even without my confusion over the basic premise and timing of the episode, the character rhythms and interactions felt odd somehow. Of course, both D’Argo and Pilot were struggling with illness or mental instability and were intentionally out-of-character, but even the interactions between Crichton, Aeryn, and Zhaan felt a bit forced and awkward at times. Crichton and Aeryn sitting down during a crisis to have a drink and a casual discussion on disease, pestilence, and the wonders of Peacekeeper science seemed very strange. And the weird directing/editing choice to use swirling dissolves during the Crichton, Aeryn, and Zhaan discussion about the DRD revolt didn’t help matters. The scene didn’t quite mesh with the show’s usual visual style and ended up contributing to the overall “off” feeling.

Plus, Rygel was missing for nearly half the episode! I kept wondering where the heck he was. I mean, the ship was heaving to and fro and the air was getting stale, and he couldn’t even put in a comm call to find out what the “yotz” was going on? And once he did show up, he didn’t seem all that interested in Moya’s issues or their situation. It was weird.

I was also very let down by the big reveals about D’Argo’s past. Not by the information itself, mind you; I was astonished by the increasingly shocking revelations from his backstory. Learning he had a wife and child was fairly jaw-dropping, but then to learn his wife was killed by her brother because he didn’t approve of her union with D’Argo and that D’Argo was falsely charged with her murder was simply astounding. And then came the real stunner: D’Argo’s wife was Sebacean. Capped by the “wrenching” moment in which he unveils his hidden holo-image of his lost family, which, unfortunately, looked rather cheesy.

And that’s the crux of my problem --- while the revelations were staggering, the delivery lacked emotional punch. D’Argo’s story should have hit us with the same raw emotional power as his quietly poignant scene with Zhaan at the end of ‘Thank God It’s Friday … Again.’ But the way it all unfolded felt forced or stilted. I guess there’s only so much Anthony Simcoe can do under all that makeup. He has to try to convey a wide range of emotions with just his eyes, his line delivery, and some growling, and unfortunately, the makeup probably makes quietly mournful a lot easier to pull off than agonizing grief. The scene in which he first realizes that Zhaan is not Lo’Laan and the scene in which he recoils from ‘Machden’ in gut-wrenching grief following the reveal that Lo’Laan is dead felt very forced and a bit hammy. And the big revelation scene with Crichton, Zhaan, and Rygel largely fell flat. On the other hand, in his final scene with Aeryn, D’Argo’s quiet devastation was quite raw and real, and I actually got a little lump in my throat.

Aeryn: “D’Argo it’s ingrained in Peacekeepers from birth that we must keep the bloodlines pure. Such unions are evil.”
D’Argo: “Do you therefore think that my son is evil?”
Aeryn: “No. [Moves to look up at him.] Because in his eyes, I see you. D’Argo, no matter what happens to us, I will never tell anyone about your son.”

In addition to its emotional power, this scene emphasized exactly why D’Argo hates Peacekeepers so much and highlighted how much the relationship between D’Argo and Aeryn has changed. A great note on which to end a somewhat subpar episode.

Other Thoughts

Learning about Jothee certainly gave me new perspective on D’Argo’s actions in the last episode. I can now understand exactly why he was willing to attack Pilot, and would do so again, just to get a shot at returning home. “I can’t be sure that you have remained safe until I see you again. I can’t.” Truth be told, I would likely be willing to do the same to find my child.

So, by breaking the Peacekeeper shield, D’Argo basically inseminated Moya, right? I’m intrigued by the idea of a baby Leviathan, but also a bit worried. Isn’t it a bit early in the series to introduce the dreaded baby plot? Sure, a baby living ship is a good bit different than a baby humanoid, but given that Moya just tried to kill everyone to protect and nourish her baby, are we really that far afield from the not-so-melodious song stylings of Lost’s Claire (“They’re trying to hurt/take my baby!”) and Michael (“WAAAAAALT!”)? Sigh.

Aeryn indicates that Moya was likely called into service as a prisoner transport unexpectedly. I wonder what other plans the Peacekeepers had for her. Something to do with her pregnancy perhaps? Kind of a disturbing thought.

Even though I've seen it before, I was getting seriously stressed by Aeryn’s progress severing Moya’s higher functions. I knew she wouldn’t go through with the lobotomy, but I still found myself yelling at the TV, “Stop, Aeryn! For God’s sake, stop cutting! Somebody stop her!!!”

Luxans can survive in the vacuum of space, unprotected, for a short time. Interesting.

Zhaan was very kind to sweetly play along with D’Argo’s hallucinations, and Rygel was surprisingly cooperative as well. Maybe he didn’t have a choice given their size difference. “My size is never a matter for discussion.”

Quotes

Aeryn: “You know I’m gonna track down this little droid and rip off both his antennae!”
Crichton: “Happy place, Aeryn. Go to your happy place.”

Aeryn: “Creatures still die out here. And we find new ways to suffer, and to make others suffer.”
Crichton: “Well, I never said Earth had a monopoly on that.”
Aeryn: “But you say that you want to go back to this place, Earth. A place that you tell me has so much disease and suffering.”
Aeryn: “Well, you guys don’t have chocolate.”

D’Argo: “My son, no matter what happens, I will always love you.”

Crichton: “Our beloved ship may be trying to kill us.”

Crichton: “Do you know what a few bacteria are doing inside of you? No, you don’t know unless you get a symptom.”
Zhaan: “My body carries no bacteria.”

Crichton (as Machden): “You think yourself worthy of her when you cower from her memory?”
D’Argo: “Her memory burns in my very soul.”

D’Argo: “When Machden arrested me, he still had her dried blood on his hands.”
Crichton: “Machden? I thought you were arrested by a Peacekeeper.”
D’Argo: “It was quite a coup for him.”

Crichton: “Is there some kind of ‘what to expect when you’re expecting a baby leviathan’ book? Dr. Spock? Mr. Spock?”

Final Analysis: Despite some stunning revelations and discoveries, not a very strong episode.

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

No comments: