Farscape 1.20-1.21: “The Hidden Memory”; “Bone to Be Wild”

I also always read the fact that he isn’t more forthright with her earlier to be due to a few factors, besides the discomfort of the situation: (1) he worries that she may not leave with them if she knew the truth at that point, and doesn’t want to jeopardize her life; (2) because he isn’t actually in a relationship with Aeryn, he doesn’t want to either embarrass Aeryn or be presumptuous regarding her feelings for him, thinking it not his place to drag her into this; and (3) some part of him does remember how he felt for Gilina and wishes that he could reclaim those emotions, particularly given that Aeryn and he aren’t really an item, and he isn’t ready to sort through those feelings in such a rushed manner. After all, he’d never expected to see Gilina again, so this has really thrown him for a loop. Add to that all of the torture he had just been through, and the fact that she had just played a huge role in saving his life, and–again–it all gets very complicated. Her death also underlines how serious Scorpius is as a threat. John’s time on this Gammak Base left a genuine impact on both his life and those of others who are connected to him. He began his journey in outer space with the accidental death of a man he’d never met, and now has unintentionally caused hers, as well, a symbolic marker of the series’ new, dark turning point. Things will never be the same for him, and he can never go back to being the innocent he was when he first came to the Uncharted Territories.

Before we sadly leave Gilina, we also have to touch on her ingenious move with the Aurora Chair, which is to–through her techie magic–implant a false memory so that when John thought of their kiss it instead activated one that seemed to reveal him kissing a different PK, followed by him giving all of the wormhole information to Crais, thus earning ol’ Bialar his own session in the Chair, a powerful example of how no position in PK hierarchy will protect someone forever. Anyone can fall from grace at any point. Even as a captain, he can’t protect himself from Scorpius attempting to extract the information, and in the end, his seasonal arc with Aeryn Sun comes full circle when she finds him strapped to the Chair, weakened and in tears, and she finally confronts him with what he had done to her, flinging the “irreversibly contaminated” moniker back in his face. And although he attempts to pull rank with her, she refuses to listen to him, a hugely cathartic moment in which, for the first time, she acknowledges that not only is she definitively no longer a Peacekeeper but that she’s better off without them. It’s a powerful moment, beautifully played by Claudia Black, because it really feels that she is only realizing these things she is saying are true as she is saying them: “Your oath means nothing to me. You made sure of that. You destroyed everything. I lost everything because of you…Do you know what I learned when I was away from you? Everything I lost isn’t worth a damn. And I don’t want to go back to your past.”

Last week, I discussed how the Aurora Chair reminded me of the torture machine from The Princess Bride, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it were a deliberate homage, particularly since there’s another echo of that film here. Just as Wesley tells Prince Humperdinck in the end that he isn’t going to kill him but is instead leaving him a lifetime to wallow in his own misery, here Aeryn also chooses not to kill Crais but instead tells him she is giving him “his life…I will make you watch your life,” at which point she cranks up the Aurora Chair seemingly as high as it can go, leaving Crais to suffer and scream–an extremely powerful moment that feels entirely just while also further underlining that Farscape isn’t made of traditionally “nice,” noble heroes. A heroic archetype character would rise above such a punishment and take the moral high ground, despite what the villain did to her. Aeryn’s solution, however, is much more fulfilling, even as Lani Tupu does such a brilliant job with Crais here that you almost feel sorry for him, while simultaneously feeling it’s entirely deserved.

Meanwhile on Moya, as if all of this wasn’t enough for one episode, the ship continues to go through labor, having numerous difficulties throughout. At one point, Chiana and Rygel have to hole up together in a tiny pod while the ship vents her atmosphere, leading to some more terrific comedy between the two of them, particularly when Chi finds herself on the wrong end of one of his helium farts. And afterwards, Pilot reveals the big shock to them: that Moya’s child is a gunship-Leviathan hybrid and must be the result of PK experiments. From the start, the child is already experiencing a bit of turmoil. When he has trouble emerging from Moya, he starts priming his weapons, and Chiana has to go down into the birthing canal to help him get out. At the start of this episode, Aeryn had been truly impressed (and surprised) by Chiana, thanking her for having helped get her the tissue sample. And this is where she finally fully cements her position on Moya, symbolically and literally. She is now truly one of the family.

At the same time, the child’s panic, which nearly drives him to attack Moya, foreshadows his major character arc. Because the very idea of a Leviathan-gunship hybrid is a contradiction in terms, Leviathans being generally peaceful, docile beasts. Creating one armed to the teeth with weapons ironically puts him at war with himself and leads to an identity crisis that plagues him for his entire life. Rygel worriedly asks, “Will Moya control him? Or will the Peacekeepers?” And the answer proves to be, in a way, sadly, “Both”. It is through Moya’s son–who, as we know, will come to be called Talyn–that Farscape really comes to fully develop both ships as characters. There is flat-out no other show that would attempt a plotline between a mother ship and her angsty, confused, pre-adolescent-growing-into-adolescent son, and it all starts here.

One more thing: The next time we see Stark in the second season’s “The Locket,” he and Zhaan seem to already be falling for each other, and although we never see that begin on screen, I always felt like Zhaan’s silent expression while observing Stark sharing the memory with Gilina is the moment that she noticed him, and I imagine they had some long conversations with one another afterwards.

1.21: “Bone to Be Wild” Original airdate: 21 January 2000

mlee

“Bone to Be Wild”

I’ve always really liked this episode. It comes at an unusual place in the season, structurally, because, to an extent, its standalone A-plot puts a pause on the epic goings-on of this last run of Season 1 episodes and might have seemed more fitting earlier in the season except for the fact that its far darker tone suits the post-”Nerve”/”The Hidden Memory” Crichton and his friends’ states of mind far better than had it come before, and furthermore, it actually comes to intersect with the major arc far more times than I ever seem to remember each time before I rewatch. There’s actually some very important stuff here, both on a thematic and literal basis.

Author: Robert Berg

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  1. Farscape 1.22: “Family Ties” | DreamPunk - […] continuing our journey with John Crichton last week with “The Hidden Memory” and “Bone to Be Wild,” our Farscape re-watch continues this week …

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