Farscape: Bone to be Wild

While hiding from Crais’s command carrier in an asteroid field, Moya receives a distress call from a nearby asteroid. Zhaan, D’Argo, and Crichton respond to the call and become potential prey for a very hungry predator. Meanwhile, Aeryn helps Moya to bond with her offspring, and Crais must contend with Scorpius’s efforts to undermine his command.

‘Bone to be Wild’ is a much better episode than I remembered. I thought it was a stand-alone episode featuring a seemingly helpless female creature who turned out to be a dangerous predator, but there was a lot more to it. The A-plot had way more twists and turns than I recalled, and I completely forgot that the episode also continued to build on the major events of the last several episodes. Even better, all three stories did a nice job tying into one of the series’ core themes --- identity.

Down on the asteroid, our understanding of Zhaan’s identity was completely reshaped with the revelation that she’s highly evolved plant life. Plants developing sentience and evolving into humanoid form is a really cool concept, and as Crichton points out, it certainly explains Zhaan’s photogasms. Although the episode briefly touches on the idea that Crichton inherently sees plants as a “lesser life form,” the reveal doesn’t really change his (or our) perceptions of Zhaan’s worth as a free and sentient being. Nonetheless, it does add a fascinating new layer to our beautiful blue priestess.

The ground-based story also toyed with our perceptions of M’Lee and Br’Nee, continually shifting our point of view regarding just whose side our heroes should be on. I really enjoyed the constant change ups, which resulted in a much more intriguing and complex situation than “tricksy native predator feasts on newcomers.” Although, Br’Nee miniaturizing Zhaan and turning her into one of his specimens did undercut the complexity a bit. Until then, you could maybe accept his arguments that the scientific value of his people’s research outweighed their callous treatment of M’Lee’s people. But once Zhaan’s life and freedom were at stake, he just became an evil bastard who deserved to be put down. No more moral ambiguity for Moya’s crew, and a nice snack to tide M’Lee over until the arrival of the tasty Peacekeepers.

The whole situation presents an interesting parallel to Scorpius’s wormhole research. It’s possible the “weapon” he’s supposedly devising serves a larger public benefit. Perhaps he believes it does. We don’t really know anything about it at this point. But if he’s willing to sacrifice Crichton’s life in pursuit of his larger scientific aims, then he’s nothing but a calculating, evil bastard as far as the audience is concerned.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate his manipulation of Crais. Call it schadenfreude or my sense of poetic justice, but I was practically gleeful watching Crais’s world and identity get slowly stripped away. It’s only right that he should suffer the same fate as Aeryn, but in a more insidious and demoralizing fashion. Aeryn was exiled; Crais is steadily being reduced to a powerless puppet, forced to sit by while Scorpius usurps his command. When he sat there at the end, reduced to an impotent shell of a man, telling his second-in-command “My orders … are do as he says,” I almost felt bad for him. Almost.

Meanwhile, Aeryn got to use her newly cemented sense of identity to help Moya’s offspring figure out his place in the world. They had a nice little bonding moment when she tried to gain his trust by telling him that though they may both come from the Peacekeepers, they are different. “Look, it’s true. In a perverse way, you do come from them. But so do I.” I was also quite moved by Aeryn’s reaction to Moya’s request that Aeryn choose a name for her son. This is obviously an incredible honor, and Claudia Black sold the moment beautifully. She can say so much with a slight smile and a simple welling of the eyes. Very poignant.

Other Thoughts

The offspring looks so tiny next to Moya!

Gigi Edgley is officially in the main cast! Woo hoo!

Welcome, Braca! (Crais’s second in command.)

Scorpius’s plan to panic Moya’s offspring was pretty damn smart and almost certainly would have worked. Crais made a critical error ignoring the suggestion.

I was surprised to see Crais still in command at the beginning of the episode. Scorpius seemed so powerful on the Gammak Base that I expected him to strip Crais’s command after what he saw in the Aurora Chair. Apparently he’s from a different “branch of the service,” and his special privileges don’t extend to removing command carrier captains without getting orders from higher up. I guess he just decided to see if he could control Crais before filing his report.

Scorpius’s cool calculation is pretty darn scary, but don’t make him angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. “Why must you force me to display my physical superiority to your kind as well?” What the heck is he?

D’Argo is such a whiny baby when he doesn’t feel well or things aren’t going his way. Man up, dude.

Zhaan can make herself invisible. Huh. Did we know that before? Is that something she’s always been able to do, or a power that comes with now being a tenth level Pa’u?

Crichton seems to be wearing Larraq’s commando uniform full-time now. All that leather probably offers better protection than his white t-shirt and tan cargo pants.

Where the heck was Stark? Did they drop him and Gilina’s body off somewhere after making their initial escape?

Rygel is exceedingly handsy with Chiana. She probably should snap off his hand and “use it as a good luck charm.”

M’Lee was played by Francesca Buller, Ben Browder’s real-life wife. (She’s also featured in a recurring role later in the series.) That must have been weird, given how crazy her costume was.

Quotes

Chiana: “Distress call? Directed at us?”
Crichton: “[Bursts out laughing.] How stupid is that?”

Scorpius: “I’ve never understood the need of some warriors to memorialize their conquests. Does displaying this … decaying flesh remind you of past instances, when you were powerful?”

Crais: “You have directly questioned my command.”
Scorpius: “Your command begs question.”

Crichton: “How did you survive? [She looks down in shame and sadness.] M’Lee?”
M’Lee: “In the end, we only had each other.”

Aeryn (on Moya’s offspring): “Amongst all these Peacekeeper systems, I feel quite at home.”
Rygel: “We couldn’t be happier, honestly. You deserve a home where you’re wanted.”
Ouch! That’s cold, Sparky.

Chiana: “[Smacks Rygel in the back of the head] You oughta keep one foot out of your mouth. You may need it to run.”

Zhaan: “… it may not be entirely unreasonable to ---“
Crichton: “To murder sentient beings in order to save a few stinking plants?”
Zhaan (stung): “How animal-centric of you, John.”
Crichton: “I’m sorry, Zhaan. I forgot. You’re …”
Zhaan (biting): “I am a ‘stinking plant.’”

Scorpius: “[Tosses something at Crais.] My report. To High Command.”
Crais: “Should I bother reading it?”
Scorpius: “To what end? You’ll hear it all multiple times at your inquest.”

Br’Nee: “She’s not dead, nor will any harm come to her.”
Crichton: “She’s in a test tube, Jack.”
Br’Nee: “Through her we might discover medical cures even our future dreamers dare not envision. Is that not a fair tradeoff?”
Crichton: “Not to her. And not to me.”

Final Analysis: A solid follow-up to ‘The Hidden Memory,’ with a lot more story and depth than I remembered.

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

2 comments:

Billie Doux said...

I loved the revelation that Zhaan was a plant because it was just so completely new and unexpected, and it suited her. Have we ever had a character turn out to be a plant in a sci-fi show? The Crais/Scorpius stuff was great, too. Not so sure about the bone eaters. The headgear was so weird it was hard to take her seriously.

TVNerd said...

I just checked, and Francesca Buller plays four different aliens on the series starting with this one shot, until she has a semi-frequent continuing role much later on.

I was surprised how much I liked this one this time around. When I first saw it, I was not impressed. But now, it feels to be a much more rounded character episode then I remember. It was also wonderful to witness the Zhaan is a plant revelation.

Great Review, looking forward to continuing to season 2.