Things only get worse and more confusing for him when Moya returns and the gang eventually capture Crais and bring him aboard her as a prisoner again. He even goes so far as to shoot at Moya in retaliation until they agree to return Crais to him. And, up to that point, Moya had been following him in order to reason with him, which had only made him more agitated. It’s important to remember how very young he is. And so, in a way, when he finally chooses to bond with Crais and kick Aeryn off, it is akin to Stockholm Syndrome, but in another, Crais is actually the sort of person he was bred to take orders from and so his decision makes sense. Sadly, he was never meant to be with his mother.
And if there’s anyone this truly devastates nearly as much as Moya and Pilot, it is Aeryn. When Crichton first holds a gun to Crais, Talyn aims his guns at him, which is due to an order of Crais’, but one gets the sense that he would have done so anyway, because he knows Crais and has been with him for most of his short life whereas Crichton seems to be an enemy abducting his “father”. (This tension between them all comes out in full force in Season 3.) But when Talyn does the same to Aeryn, it seems to be unequivocally his decision. He chose Crais–his kidnapper–over her and then threatens her off the ship. He is a willful child and wants no other person commanding him but Crais, and this truly cuts her deeply. Aeryn’s emotions help enhance and underscore our ability to feel Moya’s pain in the situation, as well. Since Moya can’t speak for herself, Aeryn effectively becomes a mouthpiece for her, as well as “human” emotional and physical expression of her anguish. It’s deeply personal for Aeryn, as she had been the first to forge a connection with Talyn, and had even named him, and now he is casting her out.
And of course, because Crais is the one who conveys this information to her that “he and I are of like mind on this,” there is niggling room for doubt as to how much of this is Talyn and how much is actually Crais, for by choosing to join minds with him, Talyn has also made himself subject to Crais’ influence as much as the other way around. And so by the end, Crais has betrayed her yet again, leading to the sad but lovely final scene in which John and Aeryn sit together by Pilot, in an arguably more intimate position than we’ve ever seen them in before, and yet completely devoid of any sexual overtones. It’s a vulnerable position for Aeryn, leaning on Crichton and allowing him to see how devastated she is. And significantly, the often pessimistic Aeryn chooses to believe in Crais’ capacity for change, noting that he didn’t fire on them when he could have (and they don’t even know that Crais had also lied to Scorpius that he’d killed John, which might have been selfishly motivated to a degree, simply to get back at Scorpy, but which also does protect John to an extent), largely I think because she loves Talyn so much that she has to hold out hope that Crais will treat him well. The alternative is too much for her to bear. It is a significant shift between John and her, however, for him to be the skeptical one.
Other odds and ends:
–After weeks effectively alone on the asteroid while D’Argo was unconscious, John seems more genuinely off-balance in this episode than ever before, building on the residual madness he displayed after being tortured on the Aurora Chair and being further exacerbated by the neurochip, which Crichton doesn’t yet know about, and neither do we on a first viewing, but which becomes even more clearly the cause on subsequent rewatches. This really comes out when he first yells at Aeryn and particularly when he abducts Crais at gunpoint, seeming legitimately crazed at times.
–Crichton teaching D’Argo how to play “Rock, Paper, Scissors” in order to pass the time is a wonderful little comedic moment between them, as is D’Argo’s frustration at the game’s arbitrary rules.
–Speaking of which, D’Argo’s make-up has noticeably changed in this episode, giving him a more tanned, natural look. Amusingly, the show visually indicates that it’s the result of prolonged exposure to space, as John is given a very tanned/sunburned look, as well, the difference being that his eventually wears off.
–The episode also 100% confirms that Crichton and Aeryn had indeed had sex in “A Human Reaction”.
–I’ve always loved Chiana’s crazy jump into Crichton’s arms, after realizing it’s truly him–the first reveal of this particular Nebari power, as well as such a joyful expression of love. Rygel’s momentary inability to breathe at reuniting with John, D’Argo, and Aeryn is similarly terrific. On the surface, it’s absolutely hilarious, and with the increased articulation on the puppet due to new modifications, the facial reactions look even more realistic than ever. But on another level, it’s also profoundly moving, as it indicates, without speaking a word, just how much Rygel has missed them and is overwhelmed to learn that they’re alive.
–This, of course, contrasts beautifully with the irony that the generally much more sensitive, emotional Zhaan remains so utterly removed from them all when they return (besides her ear-kiss to John, referencing the very first episode), completely ensconced in her meditative state and not even seeming to realize that they are real until late in the episode, when she decides to scale back her re-immersion into the Seek. And interestingly, it’s due to the straight talk of the least spiritual member of the crew, Aeryn. Although I’ve always found it a truly heartwarming moment when Zhaan tells Aeryn that she loves her, Aeryn’s response is brilliant:
ZHAAN: I love all living beings. The Seek has reopened my eyes to the wonder of the spirit. I am now going to devote my life to enlightenment.
AERYN: Oh, well, I think that’s, um…Really selfish, actually. You know, before you bliss off completely into oblivion, you might want to have a little look around you, because Moya and Talyn are in danger.
ZHAAN: Wordly concerns do not interest me now.
AERYN: Oh, really? Well, then don’t give me any dren about how much you love me.
ZHAAN: Love in its most rarefied sense–
AERYN: Too rarefied for me! I’m just an ignorant warrior who believes that love means you are willing to fight and die for your fellow living beings!
I love how truly angry Aeryn gets here but also how wise her words are, and they truly jar Zhaan out of her blissed-out state. One thing I have always loved about Farscape is that, although Zhaan seems it at the start, she isn’t the all-wise, all-knowing Priest. She falters and makes mistakes. And while the show always depicts her journey and calling as being very noble, it also isn’t afraid to criticize her at times, too, when she is putting her spiritual concerns above the people who love and need her in the here and now. Ironically, she largely retreated into meditation in the first place here as a means of controlling the madness brought on by her grief over the loss of the very friends that she fails to embrace when they return.