That recedes again as soon as the M’Lee vs. Br’Nee stuff returns to the forefront of his mind, and he even gets so caught up in trying to protect Zhaan later that he ironically, thoughtlessly, and accidentally insults her by implying animal life is more worthy than plant life, but in the end, it’s a sign that he hadn’t fully incorporated the new information yet. As always, it’s a lot to handle, particularly when he’s still trying to keep a grip on his own fracturing mind, into which–without his knowledge–Scorpius had already implanted the neurochip.
Meanwhile, up on Moya, Aeryn–who Pilot had specifically requested remain aboard Moya with him–grows even closer to Pilot, and by extension, Moya, and then her child, when Pilot and Moya request that she board the still-unnamed Talyn to help ease his mind. As I mentioned before, the poor kid is already feeling quite screwed up, his Peacekeeper weaponry and encoding getting in the way of his natural Leviathan instincts (and thus mirroring M’Lee’s war with her own natural urges) and causing tension between Moya and him. Even at only a few days old, he is having trouble trusting his own mother, because he can tell that she isn’t like him, and Moya, not being a Peacekeeper, has no clue how to get through to him. That’s why Pilot, who shares a literal bond with Aeryn through their shared DNA and a surprising closeness since the very beginning, asks Aeryn to visit with and speak to the child. In many ways, Aeryn can understand the push-and-pull he is experiencing between his desires to connect with his mother and his PK calling better than anyone else.
As soon as she boards him, she feels at home amongst his combined PK and Leviathan tech (even in his first appearance, he is a truly beautiful ship), and Claudia Black gives one of her best Aeryn performances to date. Although she is technically acting by herself, she manages to convey such a deeply growing bond with the ship that as a viewer, you believe that he is a living being, as well–a scared, confused child who is now interacting with the first person who has seemed to get him. With her calming voice and ability to fully empathize with his position, in a way she becomes an even more natural maternal fit for him than Moya, which clearly surprises her as much as anyone else. One can tell she hadn’t ever realized she could possibly be good at this motherhood thing until she finds herself saying exactly the right things. Scorpy had begun sending out multiple, confusing signals into space in an attempt to confuse and frighten the child and inspire him to give up his position. But Aeryn eases his fears. Like John with Moya in “They’ve Got a Secret,” she doesn’t demand, cajole, nor condescend but simply presents her argument in the most straightforward manner possible and leaves the decision whether to trust them or the PKs up to the baby. And he makes the right decision.
As a result, Moya is deeply grateful to Aeryn and even, by the end, asks her to name the baby, an enormous honor that rocks Aeryn to her core and which she takes incredibly seriously. Rockne O’Bannon said in an interview once that this is the moment that affected him more than any other in the entire first season: “The look on Claudia’s face is so perfect. There’s no dialogue, just that look. It just hit me in the heart.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
The entire final scene is so lovely, John and Aeryn’s conversation overlapping with Zhaan and D’Argo’s in a way you rarely see on film, let alone television. In most similar cases, the camera will pan from one group of people speaking to the next, one conversation fading away entirely until we begin hearing the other one. In this situation, we actually hear a line of D’Argo to Zhaan cutting in over Aeryn’s dialogue, and only then does the camera begin to move, the effect being closer to something usually done in live theatre:
John: (to Aeryn) So, tell me about the baby.
Aeryn: John, he’s amazing…and frightening. The technology…
Zhaan: (to D’argo) It’s such a waste.
Aeryn: (continuing, to John) …like nothing I’ve ever seen…
D’argo: (to Zhaan) You’ll find your way back there, Zhaan. When insanity isn’t chasing you.
Zhaan goes on to express cynicism at the possibility of that ever happening, and D’Argo responds, “Then those miracle plants will be found by someone else. In the great scheme of things, it’s all the same.” Which surprises and impresses her. “Point well taken. When did our roles become reversed, sweet D’Argo?” she asks. “When you required it,” he says. Which is such a beautiful moment that I couldn’t help from simply typing it up here, because it speaks volumes about how much these characters have grown together, about how they’ve opened up to each other and revealed different aspects than they were willing to share at the start. The first time we saw them all unite as a family was at the big, happy dinner in “Through the Looking Glass,” but there’s something about this scene that makes them feel even more like family. It’s quieter and simpler, and they have all reached a level of ease with each other–ironically largely due to their recent ordeal at the Gammak Base–that simply couldn’t have happened at any earlier point.
Other odds and ends:
–One of the episode’s minor curiosities is that Stark has completely disappeared with no explanation, and isn’t mentioned again until his reappearance in season 2’s “The Locket,” at which point we learn that Moya had allowed him to escape with one of her transport pods. Apparently, this episode originally featured a line establishing this fact, which was cut for time.
–Scorpius continues to strip away Crais’ powers here, using his knowledge of Crais’ murder of Lt. Teeg in “That Old Black Magic” to effectively take over his Command Carrier. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. During their fight, Scorpius reveals his half-Scarran side for the first time, overpowering Crais, growling, and his voice suddenly getting deep and animalistic–another echo of M’Lee’s plot. He also suddenly stops at that point, suddenly seeming as if he’s expended a lot of energy, indicating he is overheating and likely needs a new coolant rod. What is particularly cool about all of this is that we don’t know any of this on a first viewing, and yet all of these details remain consistent when you rewatch with the knowledge of Scorpy’s parentage, biology, and need for coolant rods. This is remarkable advance plotting.
–We also meet Braca for the first time here and watch as he begins his ascent up the ranks. He seems to have taken over Teeg’s position after her death, and of course, by the end of the next episode, will be Scorpy’s assistant rather than Crais’, and will only continue his climb from there to Grayza in season 4.
–While the fact that the seemingly monstrous Scorpius spares the seemingly innocent M’Lee in the final scene, deciding to have mercy on her and take her along–and not knowing the threat he’s about to unleash against his own people–is deeply ironic, it’s also an early indication that Scorpius isn’t a complete monster, though it’s easy to overlook the first time around, when we don’t know him very well yet. He does horrifically unethical things in pursuit of his wormhole knowledge and when it suits his agenda, but he isn’t evil for evil’s sake. Crais and many other PK captains would just have likely slaughtered M’Lee here for fun or to simplify matters rather than save her, and while this far from absolves him from his crimes against “humanity,” it does interestingly indicate that he doesn’t perceive himself as a villain, possibly seeing this as a balancing of the scales. The irony that the first person we see Scorpy show compassion to is a brutal killer is icing on the cake.
Next: “Family Ties”
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