Farscape: Nerve

When Crichton discovers “Larraq’s” attack on Aeryn caused life threatening nerve damage, he devises a daring (and foolhardy) plan to infiltrate the top secret Gammak Base and find her a cure.

Perhaps if you are new to Farscape, ‘Nerve’ doesn’t seem terribly monumental. Maybe it just seems like a tense and reasonably engaging hour featuring the return of some familiar faces and the introduction of some disturbing new characters. Or maybe it merely seems like a decent (though at times choppy) tale of another Crichton plan gone awry.

But if you are a long-time fan revisiting the series, you can’t help but feel the episode that introduces us to Scorpius, his Aurora Chair, and Crichton’s secret wormhole knowledge is positively epic. My instant reaction after re-watching the episode? That’s how you kick off a two-parter and take your series mythology to a whole new level! Between Aeryn knocking on death’s door, Crichton and Chiana doing the covert ops thing, and the introduction of the leather-clad freak show that is Scorpius, ‘Nerve’ was already an intense and engaging episode (despite the unwanted return of Gilina). But then, what appeared to be a sci-fi variation on the clip show suddenly took a hard right turn with the stunning revelation that the Fake Earth aliens from ‘A Human Reaction’ secretly implanted Crichton with the knowledge he needs to create another wormhole. The catch is, he can’t directly access the knowledge, on account of the old “if you aren’t smart enough to figure it out yourself, you aren’t smart enough to use it wisely” chestnut. So, if Crichton wants to get home again, he has to figure out the equations with only subconscious guidance from the implanted knowledge.

This is a fantastic twist. Not only does it breathe new life into Crichton’s search for a way home, but it completely changes the game for Moya and her crew. Now it isn’t just an off-the-grid Peacekeeper commander relentlessly pursuing them out of some misplaced sense of vengeance. Now --- assuming they get Crichton out of his current dire circumstances --- they are on the run from a seemingly super-powerful and scary ass Peacekeeper that wants to use the knowledge in Crichton’s head to create an all-powerful weapon. They aren’t just wanted for being escaped convicts or by a borderline psychotic with a personal axe to grind; they are wanted to further a high-priority interest of a very powerful Peacekeeper. That’s going to be a hell of a lot harder to escape.

As noted, one of the best things about ‘Nerve’ is that it introduces us to our newest enemy, Scorpius. What an entrance he got, too. I love how the bustling bar suddenly became eerily silent as he appeared in the threshold. Not only did he look unnerving, but he seemed to instill a general unease (or possibly fear) in the Peacekeeper masses. Yikes! I wish I could remember what I thought of Scorpius the first time I saw this episode. Did I think he was just a freaky-looking dude in leather? Did I think he was a completely awesome new villain? Did I fully appreciate the transition from Crais’s hot fury to Scorpius’s cold, calculating intellect?

I certainly appreciated the terror of his preferred tool of interrogation, the Aurora Chair --- an intensely painful mind-raping device that exposes all your hidden truths and the secrets you hold most dear. Unless you try to resist, which only makes it all the more painful. Kudos to Ben Browder for his work in the chair scenes. He completely sold the unbearable agony and confusion of the experience, and made us see how quickly the thing could turn you as bat guano crazy as Stark. It also served as a nice counterpoint to Scorpius’s dispassionate calm during the chair sessions, underscoring just how terrifying and evil he is.

Other Thoughts

Scorpius sounded really weird at various points throughout the episode. He didn’t quite sound like himself at first. But once he had Crichton in the chair, Scorpy seemed to settle into his lilting and deliciously evil tone.

Peacekeeper Barbie! I can’t remember when Crichton dubs her that, but as soon as I laid eyes on the tall redhead in leather, the moniker popped into my head.

This episode is just chock full of engaging new characters and returning favorites. I got excited just watching the guest cast scroll by!

I love the absolute over-the-top insanity of Stark. “Your side, my side! Your side, my side!” I especially love the little moment when he retreats to his dark corner after berating Crichton, hunkers down, and then leans to the side and “peaks around the corner” of the sliver of light. Hilarious.

And then there’s Gilina. Poor, lovestruck Gilina. I’ve got to think she didn’t really buy Chiana’s line about Aeryn just being a shipmate to Crichton. It seemed more like she was just letting herself believe it in the moment because she couldn’t face the truth. Crichton does care about her --- they had that doe-eyed insta-connection and all that --- but he loves Aeryn. “Would sacrifice his own life to make sure that she lives” loves her. You’re cute and all, Gilina, but you just can’t compete with that. And you know it.

Chiana was great this week. Not only did she seemingly prove her worth as one of Moya’s crew, Gigi Edgley gave a phenomenal physical performance. I love the way she moves her body and holds her head. Plus, the moment when Chiana torched the base commander was a fabulous reminder that she’s not just a self-interested trollop looking to turn any and every situation to her own advantage, she’s also a stone-cold killer, who’ll do whatever it takes to defend herself.

I also really enjoyed the short scenes between Aeryn and D’Argo. If she had died, those moments would have been a beautiful coda to their relationship, but as things stood, it wonderfully underscored the evolution of their friendship. I especially loved the way he held her hand when watching over her, and she not only returned the gesture, she thanked him for all he had done.

Quotes

Chiana: “Hey. Gotta love a man in a uniform.”
Crichton: “Yeah? Well I love a girl in grey.”

Crichton: “You acting like a trollop was not part of the plan.”
Chiana: “[Grabs his ass.] They bought it, didn’t they?”
Crichton: “You’re drawing a lot of attention.”
Chiana: “The more they look at me, the less they look at you.”

Crichton: “New weapons. In Peacekeeper hands. Yeah, just what this galaxy needs.”

Aeryn: “If a warrior cannot die in battle, she can at least die alone.”

Crichton (to Scorpius): “For the ninth time, Nosferatu, I’m not a spy.”

D’Argo: “As a warrior, I should respect her wishes and not interfere.”
Zhaan: “You did a good thing. You may have saved her life. Despite her words, she really didn’t want to die.”
D’Argo: “I do not even believe that she wants to die alone.”

Scorpius: “Who triggered it?”
Security Officer: “We don’t know, sir. We’re still checking.”
[Aurora Chair starts up.]
Scorpius: “Crichton will tell us.”
[Crichton begins screaming.]

Final Analysis: ‘Nerve’ features terrific character moments, the return of some familiar faces, wonderfully memorable new characters, and a fantastic new twist in the series mythology. Great stuff.

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

8 comments:

Billie Doux said...

I gotta say that I'm enjoying my Farscape rewatch a lot more than when I watched it originally air. The wormhole story makes more sense to me now and I sort of get Scorpius now, too. (The first time through, I kept wishing they'd gone with another villain.) I absolutely agree that everyone was terrific in this episode -- especially Ben Browder.

Remco said...

I loved Scorpius from the first moment! I never really liked first-season Crais. He seemed way too hot-tempered to be commanding anything. More like an annoying troublemaker than a scary enemy. Scorpius however, evokes a sense of absolute power. The coolest part: when he takes one look at Chrichton and immediately knows that he's an impostor.

Jess Lynde said...

I don't think I've rewatched the series since The Peacekeeper Wars aired, so part of the fun of watching it now is that I only vaguely remember where the story is going. Some moments stick out in my mind clearly, others come back to me as I'm watching, and some I just can't remember at all. For instance, I do not remember what becomes of Stark. I remember him from these early episodes and a few moments in Season 3, but other than that, my mind has a hole in it regarding his part in the series. So I'm looking forward to rediscovering him. For now, I'm liking him. But maybe that will change over time.

TVNerd said...

I always liked Scorpy, what he does to Crichton over the course of the series is truly evil. Yet they have a very interesting and complex relationship. Zob after I read you're comment, I realized that you nailed my feelings towards Stark completely.

Maybe as I watch this time around, I'll try to displace that initial reaction to the character of Stark, and see if he really isn't just the creepy self-serving joker that I always thought he was. Jess, I know what it's like to have holes in you're memory for this show.

When it first aired, it felt like it was all over the place. I really had a hard time remembering what was going on, and who was doing what. They had long breaks between seasons, and split those seasons up with long breaks as well. Watching it now, I realize how much they put into the arcs for the entire series.

For example, they introduced Scarrens with Scorpius, but then didn't show them until season two or three. The worm-hole stuff just seems like a neat plot twist in that fake return to earth episode. But then it comes back with a vengeance here, in Nerve.

They spent a great deal of time working out character motivations, family building, and arc development as early as season one. And Season one was definitely the weakest of the four.

Thanks for the great review, I can't wait for you to finish up the season!

Suzanne said...

Thanks for the great reviews, Jess! I am a first-time watcher of Farscape. I was encouraged to watch it at the time it aired, but I never got around to it. When I saw that you would be rewatching it last summer, I decided to give it a try. I am on Season 3 now (watching with my husband and son).

We started sometime in the summer and have watched off an on since then. I remember this episode really hooking me, though. I liked some of the earlier episodes in Season 1, too, but with this episode, I could feel a change. So far, I do like Stark and Scorpius. I have to say, though, I don't love Scorpius as much as it seems many die-hard Farscape fans do, but I also don't hate Stark as much as some seem to. I look forward to watching more so I can see how I feel by the end of the series.
Your reviews help me to keep watching!

Jess Lynde said...

Really wonderful to hear so many are rewatching the series or enjoying it for the first time! I'm sorry for the recent long break in reviews, I just needed some time off from writing. And also a general apology that my review pace is a lot slower than a typical watching pace. I know if I was just watching and not writing we'd be burning through them a lot faster than one episode a week!

Suzanne said...

Jess, no apologies necessary! I just feel grateful that you are writing these reviews at all no matter how long they take. It is a lot of fun to have something to read that is current while I watch this for the first time. My watching schedule has been slowing down a bit any way since life gets in the way as I am sure it does for you and everyone else, too!

Diane C said...

After simmering on the back burner Season One finally finds its feet and moves up a level and starts cooking in the red zone (awful choice of metaphors but hey!)

Not only does “Nerve” click into gear with a really tight storyline, but we finally get to see some new and very welcome characters, along with one or two old faces in Crais and Gillina.

The whole wormhole story was exceptionally good, but the introduction of Scorpius was the icing on the cake. And to be honest when I saw this guy I thought he had come out of a gimp party – the kind of place where you would find previous bad leather guys from the show in Maldis and Durka. But then when Scorpius introduces Crighton to the Aurora Chair I soon realised Scorpius is nothing more than a calculating psychopath.

Actor Wayne Pygram understood the role completely, and his mannerisms really added a hint of menace to what you would be lead to believe was a fairly benign and well-spoken person. In fact he was polar opposites in terms of character temperament to the hot-headed short-tempered Crais – chalk and cheese personified in fact.

I must confess to not been overly impressed with Stark here, but over the remaining episodes of season 1 I began to understand and appreciate his confused state of mind.

Loved seeing Gillina again – shame she never ended up as a recurring character because she was certainly one of my favourite supporting characters, and could have made for an interesting tryst between Aeryn and Crighton. But alas it was not to be.

Another special mention for Gigi Edgley’s excellent Chiana here. A perfect femme fatale in this episode – beautifully seductive but also a growing force to be reckoned with. She is no Aeryn, but she is no longer the scared little woman looking for a way out of any awkward situation.

I could write more but I would be eulogising this episode to the point of despair and boredom. So I will shut the hell up while the going is good.

5/5