Farscape: Mind the Baby

While Moya attempts to find Talyn in the asteroid field, her scattered crew members cope with the aftermath of the attempted escape from Scorpius’s command carrier.

Ever have that experience where a show you love finishes up its season with a really strong run of episodes, but when it comes back from summer break, things just aren’t clicking like they were before? Yeah, that’s how I’m feeling about Farscape’s second season premiere. While the episode offered up good material --- including secret alliances, double crosses, and solid action --- I can’t shake the overall sense that something about it was off.

At first, I chalked up my vague discontent to the story being too plot-heavy and overly light on the character beats. But that’s not really true. ‘Mind the Baby’ certainly had its hands full resolving the cliffhanger, getting us caught up on everyone’s status, and finally allowing our heroes to escape the immediate Scorpius threat, but it didn’t accomplish these things at the expense of character moments. We had several nice moments with Moya’s crew bonding and reconnecting, or calling each other on their dren. I particularly enjoyed Crichton and D’Argo confronting Aeryn about her evasiveness, and Aeryn taking Zhaan to task for checking out on her friends.

Yet, something about the episode still felt off kilter. Ultimately, I think boils down to two key issues. First, we never got a clear indication of how much time had passed since Moya jumped away and Aeryn rescued Crichton and D’Argo, which left me suffering from some major temporal dissonance. Quite frankly, since D’Argo was just regaining consciousness, it didn’t seem like all that much time had passed. Crichton said he was out for “Days. I don’t know how many. I kind of lost track of time.” But my brain couldn’t wrap itself around the notion of Crichton sitting around for a week or so watching over an unconscious D’Argo while Aeryn scavenged for food, so I kept thinking it had only been a day or two since we saw them floating in space above the flaming skies near the Gammak Base.

As a result, I was kind of thrown when it became clear that Zhaan, Chiana, and Rygel had had enough time away for a side adventure involving some sort of trial on place called Litigara. Moreover, I found Talyn’s desire to bond with Crais rather jarring. Maybe if we had gotten to see more of Crais and Aeryn working with Talyn, the offer of “the hand of friendship” would have felt like the culmination of that developing relationship instead of a sudden and overly convenient turn of events that returned Aeryn to Moya and sent Crais and Talyn off in their own direction. Logically, I can see how Talyn would latch onto Crais, even after limited exposure, given his maturity level and psychological state at the time, but to me the moment when Crais became Talyn’s captain felt extremely abrupt. (Of course, maybe that’s how we’re supposed to feel given that it was such a shocking and devastating blow for Aeryn.)

Second, the episode felt off for me because several characters weren’t quite themselves --- notably Zhaan, Crichton, and D’Argo. Zhaan was the most overt casualty of the summer break, having retreated into her spirituality in an attempt to attain enlightenment and move on to next level of existence. Clearly this shift is supposed to be discomfiting, and we’ll likely get a flashback to her trial at some point to explore what happened to drive her to this emotionally distant place. Crichton and D’Argo, on the other hand, suffered from some less obvious and perhaps less intentional changes. Crichton frequently seemed like an overly exaggerated version of himself. He struck me as too manic or excessively quippy in several scenes, which made it harder for me to connect with him, even in his more intimate moments with Aeryn. And D’Argo just looked strange. The production team tweaked his makeup or prosthetics, but I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly was different. Was it his nose? Did he have less heavy prosthetics around his eyes? He kind of looked like he spent the summer in a tanning bed. Maybe the makeup artists made some adjustments to allow Anthony Simcoe to better use his face when acting. Not a bad thing, necessarily, but it’s going to take awhile for me to get used to the new look.

Overall, the combined effect of the character changes and my temporal dissonance made for an episode that didn’t quite gel for me as well as the final run of episodes in Season 1.

Other Thoughts

Our first look at Scorpius’s cooling rods was pretty gross. The tissue all over the cylinder that screws into his head was really nasty.

I’m glad that John and D’Argo quickly realized something was up with Aeryn, and I’m really happy that she didn’t look Crichton in the eye and lie to him after he confronted her. Plus, we finally got confirmation that Crichton and Aeryn slept together on Fake Earth! Yea! Of course, they still seem confused about what they are to each other, despite countless non-goodbyes and cuddly closeness in Pilot’s den (how weird was that?). Just freaking admit you are in love and be a couple already!

I really liked the reveal that the only reason Aeryn was able to save D’Argo and Crichton was because Scorpius let it happen. For some reason, it is much more satisfying to know that it wasn’t a convenient last minute rescue despite overwhelming odds, but rather one that was allowed to happen for a specific purpose. (Even if, in the ultimate resolution, things did rather conveniently work out at the last minute.)

The sexually charged scenes between Crais and Aeryn were creeping me out. No. Just no. I’ll assume any attraction is all from Crais’s direction, and that Aeryn was grudgingly humoring him to stay close to Talyn and protect her friends.

Chiana’s “welcome home” jump was rather over-the-top. I get that she was overjoyed to see Crichton, but the leap looked kind of ridiculous. Rygel’s choking on strong emotion was more effective. “I didn’t know you had strong emotions in you, Sparky!”

As noted above, I was a little put off by how quickly Aeryn got booted off Talyn. The writers got us all worked up with another big non-goodbye for Aeryn and Crichton, only to reverse it in a matter of minutes. The quick resolution felt like it cheapened the power of her decision to leave with Crais in the first place. Ah, well. I am glad she’s back, and at least the experience left her dealing with the sting of failure for letting Talyn fall under Crais’s sway, so it wasn’t just about giving us another emotional parting for Crichton and Aeryn.

I loved Crais telling Scorpius that Crichton was dead just to screw with him. “As for Crichton, he is dead. I killed him with my bare hands. My brother is avenged.” I actually believed he’d realigned himself with Scorpius until that moment. Maybe there is hope for Crais yet. Or not. As D’Argo said, he’s only loyal to himself now, which makes him more dangerous, not less.

Quotes

D’Argo: “As John once said, I would rather go down on a swing!”
Crichton: “Swinging. You wanna go down swinging.”

Crichton (to Aeryn): “Whatever our relationship is, we should be at a place where we can trust one another.”

D’Argo: “I owe Crais.”
Crichton: “You think I don’t owe him?”

Scorpius: “My patience is formidable, Crais, but it is not infinite.”

Crichton: “You’re asking me if I’ve harmed Aeryn? That’s a winner, Crais. Do Sebaceans have a word for chutzpah?”

Chiana: “We can’t ditch. We have to stick.”
Rygel: “Stupid though it may be.”

Rygel: “May your afterlife be almost as pleasant as mine.”

Zhaan: “Worldly concerns do not interest me now.”
Aeryn: “Oh really? Well then don’t give me any dren about how much you love me.”

Aeryn: “I’m just an ignorant warrior who believes that love means you’re willing to fight and die for your fellow living beings.”

Scorpius: “Crichton is alive. [Growling] And I will find him.”

Aeryn (re: Crais): “Maybe he’s changed. Well, you do believe people can change. Don’t you, John? [He laughs.] Well?”
Crichton: “Well ... you have. I have. But Crais?”

Final Analysis: While a decent enough resolution to the cliffhanger and the extended engagement with Scorpius, this episode didn’t sit quite right and left me feeling vaguely dissatisfied.

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

3 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Just saw it and you have a lot of good points, Jess. The time issues are sort of weird, and D'Argo doesn't look like himself. Of course, when it aired, an entire summer had passed. I really liked that John and Aeryn have made something of a romantic leap, because it gets so tiring when you know a couple are into each other but unrealistically nothing happens between them because it's television and tension has to be maintained.

Alex said...

I just started watching Farscape for the first time (on Netflix), and I love your blog posts. I'm so sad that I'm about to pass you (we're watching an episode almost every night). I'll definitely be checking back, though!

Jess Lynde said...

Thanks so much, Alex! I'm glad you've been enjoying them and that you plan to check back. For Farscape, I just can't post more than one review a week (and sometimes I can't meet that standard). I don't really have that much time to write these days. Sometimes I get extraordinarily productive, but only if I neglect my family, sleep, and all other responsibilities. And after such a binge, I usually need to step back for awhile, so I don't like to burn through the backlog too quickly. It is certainly a lot easier to watch them quickly than to write about them, which is hard with this show, because I just want to keep watching!