Farscape: Family Ties

Before Moya’s crew can use their newly acquired navigational charts to escape the asteroid field, Rygel steals a transport pod and surrenders himself to Scorpius and Crais intending to betray his shipmates in exchange for his freedom. When things don’t go as planned, the crew forges a surprising alliance and devises a desperate escape plan.

Wow. Just wow. My expectations for the season finale were high after the awesomeness of ‘Nerve’ and ‘The Hidden Memory,’ and ‘Family Ties’ did not disappoint. It was funny, poignant, and action-packed; chock full of unexpected twists and turns, shocking alliances, and not-so-shocking betrayals. Even better, the episode managed to give us an exciting, make-or-break escape attempt without sacrificing the quiet moments between characters --- moments built on character arcs and relationships developed over the entire season, which completely earned their emotional impact. And, oh yeah, it ended with a killer cliffhanger. In other words, quintessential Farscape.

What I love about this show is that it never forgets that the best stories are built on strong characters and relationships, and this hour was jam-packed with fantastic moments, large and small, that prove the point. I could easily spend the rest of this review discussing all the ones that made me smile, cry, or hoot with glee. John and Aeryn discussing their fathers. John and Zhaan saying goodbye. Chiana attempting to thank John with --- ahem --- favors. Aeryn and Crais on Talyn. Crais being deemed irrevocably contaminated. John and Aeryn refusing to say goodbye. John and D’Argo on the transport. Scorpius growling when he knew Crichton bested him. The Gammak Base exploding while Scorpius looking on in disgust. Aeryn pleading with Crais not to take Talyn away from his mother. And on and on ...

But my top three moments were Aeryn and Pilot in Pilot’s den, Crais’s arrival on Moya, and Crais and Crichton in the brig. All three of these scenes worked so wonderfully because of the character histories and their shared experience this season.

The scene between Aeryn and Pilot never fails to make me cry. I’m tempted to say I’m just a sucker for Claudia Black’s waterworks, but this moment so beautifully reflected their history and the bond they’ve developed, that I probably would have cried regardless. I was incredibly touched by Pilot hesitantly noting that Aeryn could easily save herself and her gentle reassurance that she wouldn’t abandon them, but when Pilot said that Moya “doesn’t want her son named by the Peacekeepers” --- wow. Such a simple statement, but one that says so much about how far they’ve come, especially Aeryn. Her response couldn’t have been more perfect. “Please tell Moya, that it remains my honor to name her son. It will be a good, strong name that he will bear proudly. In freedom. If I have anything to say about it.” So powerful. So deeply felt. OK, I’m crying again. Fantastic stuff.

Then there was Crais’s arrival --- what’s not to love about this scene? From “And please, whatever your reaction, don’t let it include weapons fire” to “By the goddess, that’s insane” to “There is much in life that is unfair. We are all proof of that,” the scene was impossibly tense, surprising, and funny. Plus, it included the shocking reveal that Crais knew D’Argo was falsely imprisoned and gave all of them the brief satisfaction of D’Argo’s “unarmed” vengeance. Hell, yeah.

As for the moment between Crichton and Crais, I loved it because it was so completely unexpected. After all they’ve been through, who would have thought we’d see Crichton and Crais calmly and earnestly discussing what brought them to this point and the terrible toll it’s taken? Or that we’d ever see Crais acknowledge his brother’s death was an accident and express a modicum of remorse for his actions? “I understand you didn’t mean to kill my brother. It was accident. I realize that now, as I look back and try to understand it all.” Scorpius really did a number on Crais. Nothing like “feeling your mortality” to put things into perspective. “I thought it was about my brother. It should have been about my brother. Somewhere along the way my priorities decayed. I realized, I’d become more concerned with my own image and career.” This is a very intriguing turn for the character, and despite his self-interested betrayal in the end, I look forward to seeing more of the new Crais.

Other Thoughts

Rygel can be such a little bastard. Not that we didn’t already know this, but damn, Sparky. Selling out Moya and your shipmates after all they’ve done for you? That’s cold. And he was so absolutely remorseless about it. “You bet your shiny blue ass, I did. But I didn’t. So make the most of it now.” At least until Crichton called him out and told him good intentions start at the beginning of the day, not after you’ve been caught. That seemed to give him a twinge of shame. And in the end he did refuse to leave when the going got rough. We’ll see how long this latest turn for the better lasts.

I loved the reference to the “alien girl” Scorpius adopted and his query about what happened to the security officer he detailed to her. Tee hee!

Scorpius apparently can read minds or body language. He definitely knew when Rygel was lying. Crais noted that Scorpius is a “Scarran half-breed.” Scarrans must be hella scary.

I liked that they returned, one last time, to Crichton recording notes in a bottle for his dad. “Why don’t I just start screaming and leave him a really happy memory?”

We finally got confirmation that Aeryn did meet “Jack” in ‘A Human Reaction.’

We also got some new tidbits about Aeryn’s history. She knows almost nothing about her parents, but she does know she was not the result of a genetic birthing to fill the ranks. Her parents cared for each other and chose to have her.

One look at Crais on Talyn, and it was obviously trouble. He perked right up and seemed much more the confident captain. He even tried to woo Aeryn into escaping with him. They should have known he’d try to steal the ship.

I still want to know where the hell Stark is. They obviously weren’t all that far from the Gammak Base, so where did he get off to? Did he take a transport?

I loved the detonation effect when the transport hit the moon’s surface. “Ignition. Look at that mother burn! Woo hoo!”

I confess. I got teary when Rygel said “Goodbye,” as Moya starburst away.

I’m sad that Crichton’s good luck charm is gone! Wasn’t that his mother’s wedding ring?

Quotes

Damn, I just wanted to quote this whole freaking episode. I tried to limit myself to the choicest selections, but this section is still kind of long.

D’Argo (to Rygel): [Unintelligible threats in alien language.]
Crichton: “What the hell did you just say?”
Chiana: “Something about his corpse, and a ... bodily function.”
Crichton: “Oh, that’ll help.”

Crichton (re: Rygel’s plan): “Is it possible he’s just stalling for us?”
[Incredulous looks all around.]

Crichton: “Well, I can tell you this for free: I will not be taken alive. I’ve been in their goddamn chair and I’m not going back in it.”

Crichton: “If we’re gonna go down, I wanna go down swinging.”
D’Argo: “Then we shall do so together.”
Aeryn: “Oh. Just to be in the warm glow of all this testosterone.”

Chiana: “Don’t tell me how to lie. It’s one of the best things I do!”

Crichton: “Well, it’s a Jerry Springer kind of family. But for what it’s worth, Zhaan, you are family.”

Aeryn: “When I was very young, one night, a soldier appeared over my bunk. Battle-hardened. Scarred.”
Crichton: “Cool. Your father.”
Aeryn: “My mother.”

Aeryn: “So. Is there anything you want to say to me?”
Crais: “I think we covered it all when you left me for dead in the Aurora Chair.”
Aeryn: “Good.”

Zhaan (disgusted): “So you decided to take pity on poor, Captain Crais.”
Rygel: “I don’t take pity on orphans, much less that butcher.”

D’Argo: “I thought I would live much longer.”
Aeryn: “I never thought I would live this long.”

Chiana: “You saved my life.”
Crichton: “Pass it on.”
Chiana: “What?”
Crichton: “When someone else needs it, return the favor. You pass it on.”

Crais: “Your intelligence would qualify significantly for promotion.”
Aeryn: “Pity. I don’t think a referral from you would mean anything now.”

Crichton: “Sparky, Spanky, Fluffy, Buckwheat the Sixteenth ... you tried to sell us out.”
Rygel: “But I didn’t, did I?”
Crichton: “They weren’t buying. Were they?”

D’Argo (re: Zhaan’s pre-battle blessing): “I hate this stuff.”
Crichton: “Chicks love it.”

Crichton: “How you doing?”
D’Argo: “I have to pee.”
This quote would be funny all on its own, but I recently re-watched The Right Stuff, so I found it even funnier.

Braca: “What should we do?”
Scorpius: “Admire Crichton his strategy. [...] I cannot risk killing the knowledge that he possesses. [Voice lowers to a scary grumble] And he knows that.”

Crichton: “How come I’m not afraid?”
D’Argo: “Fear accompanies the possibility of death. Calm shepherds its certainty.”
Crichton: “I love hanging with you, man.”

Aeryn: “You cannot take a child from its mother!”
Crais: “You forget. It was done to me, and it was done to you.”

Crichton: “Rygel, this is not the time to give up selfishness. Starburst!”

Final Analysis: Despite a cliffhanger ending that left me teary and mentally screaming “Noooo!!!” this season finale satisfied on nearly every level.

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

5 comments:

TVNerd said...

Great review, you made me realize how much more I liked this episode then after I just re-watched it. There were so many great moments, both large and small that were in this. From the "I love hanging with you man." to the passing of the torch from Crais to Scorpy.

Thank you for framing why this episode was so good, it made me consider the parts as well as the whole. Also if this was my first time around, I would be seriously upset by that Cliffy. In fact, while reading this an instance of flashback occurred to the moment of "NOOOO! you bastards!!!" I had when this episode first aired.

Anyway keep up the wonderful reviews,

TVNerd

Iago said...

This episode was pretty darn close to perfect: it had comedy, action, wonderful character notes, lots of resolution and plenty of new threads opened up.

I loved Chiana's gifts, both the one Crichton wouldn't accept and the one for the rest of the crew. She's a great addition to the cast and really works.

Crichton making one last message for his dad worked really well as a way of framing the episode and recapping the series so far. Beautifully acted by Browder too.

The shots of the moon set aflame, with D'Argo and Crichton floating in front were superb and the music throughout the episode was lovely, a really simple melody but very powerful.

Thanks for getting me to rewatch these Jess and reminding me just how good Farscape got.

Jess Lynde said...

Thanks so much for the comments, guys. I'm very glad you are enjoying the reviews and the re-watching experience! And I love hearing what struck a chord with other fans, so thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Definitely loved this series and have watched this episode a million times. Thanks for the GREAT recap!

Suzanne said...

As usual, Jess, thanks for a great review. Your comments really remind me of how much I loved these last several episodes of the first season, and why I decided to stick with Farscape. I am stalled right now in Season 3 (this is a first watch for me that started a little before you began writing about the rewatch), but when I read your comments, it makes me want to keep watching.