Farscape: Prayer

“Because I can.”

Farscape is not afraid to take big risks, it is not afraid to do horrible things to its characters... however, this might’ve been a bridge too far.

Aeryn doesn’t deserve this level of horror. She has already cast off her Peacekeeper crimes, become a hero in her corner of the universe and found the love of her life. I don’t quite understand the narrative reasons for bringing her to this point. Forget the fact that she’s pregnant, that’s a whole separate can of worms. I’m talking about agency, and character narrative. Does torturing Aeryn make narrative sense at this point in the series?

It’s an important question to ask this particular story, because Farscape doesn't do standard torture. No, you don't get your hero hung up by their hands and cut or stabbed like you would get in your typical espionage thriller. No, Farscape uses alien methods. This is a particularly insidious form of torture, involving the Sebacean genetic weakness to heat and playing on Aeryn’s emotions to get her to confess who is the father of her child. It is truly messed up. While the motivations for the Scarrans wanting the technology make sense, the scifi jargon excuse makes little sense. Somehow they want to extract the information from her unborn fetus?

The next possible factor to explore is the idea she could betray John. She conjures up a narrative that she had an affair while she was away from Moya during her time with those Peacekeeper commandos. Of course it's a lie, she would never consciously betray Crichton and to an equal but different extent Moya and the crew. While that is a good set up for the conflict, is there really enough there to validate this exercise in character? Perhaps, given the earlier parts of the season where John and Aeryn were still keeping each other at arm’s length, this was a good way to reinforce the truth of Aeryn’s love. Yet there are better and less tragic ways of doing this.

Perhaps it is the way she is treated, the utter lack of humanity, ethics and morals displayed by the Scarrans, is the whole point. The Scarrans using various alien species as brood mares is beyond appalling. On the other hand, is that even what is going on? Our primary victim Morrock turns out to be a Scarran plant trying to get knowledge from Aeryn using a different form of emotional manipulation. Sure there are other women there, but we never learn why they are there. It feels almost like an elaborate show, designed to... I'm stupid.

This isn’t a story about Aeryn, it has nothing to do with her character arc. So what is this about? Well it took me four paragraphs to figure it out, but it is pretty clear this is all a way of establishing the Scarrans as the greatest evil. After four seasons of building up the Peacekeepers as the ultimate villain, this pivot had to be extreme to make the Nazi-esque black clad bad guys we’ve come to know pretty well look like the better choice. I don’t buy Scorpius and his goals, but he is the devil we know.

Speaking of Scorpius, I wonder what will happen when John inevitably goes back on his word? John is absolutely sincere at this point, he is fully capable of giving up on his principles to save someone he loves. He wouldn’t be as emotional if it was D’Argo, but I bet he would do the same thing. Adaptation is his strongest attribute, and his ability to roll with anything that comes along. I did not like seeing him almost kill Chiana/Aeryn, even an alternate universe version of her that was about to die anyway. Plus the parallel to what was happening with our Aeryn was perhaps a bit too on the nose.

Bits:

Of course we had to have the unrealized reality come back. It was too good a visual to leave behind entirely.

Morrock was such an obvious plant that Aeryn guessed her true intentions right away. The ruse with the abortion was pretty convincing, though.

Quote:

John: “I got a hum in my head; I'm going to follow it.”
Chiana: “Well you got something in there. It's not a brain.”

Aeryn: "I want the truth. I know that these pills won't kill me. I know that you're their spy, so I want to know the truth. Have you even had one child? Have you ever given birth to one child? The truth."
Morrock: “No.”
Aeryn: "Then I orphan no one."

Scorpius: “Shoot him.”
Crichton: “Technically, it’s a she.”
Scorpius: “Shoot It!”

I honestly don't know how to rate this one. On one hand, it was difficult to watch, much less enjoy. On the other, it was well done and well written with good narrative parallels and great work making the Scarrans as evil as possible.

2 out of 4 Unrealized truths

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

1 comment:

Lynda said...

Agree this one is a difficult watch and Aeryn has been through so so much. That Aeryn our confident pragmatists resorts to prayer to a god she doesnt believe in over trusting that John will find her, we feel just how dire and hopeless the situation is.

The Scarrans using Aeryn and John's unborn child as bait to get Crichton is logical. But the weord idew that the baby would have inherited wormhole knowledge was nonsensical.

John can no longer afford to be the idealist he was, his sole focus is Aeryn and he lets Scorpius cross the line in killing alternate Rygel and alternative Chiana to find Katrazi.