Other odds and ends:
–I haven’t spoken of Crichton much in this one, because in many ways, he takes a backseat here, paving the way for Aeryn and Pilot to carry the episode. However, although he isn’t the focus, he is crucial, as he is Aeryn’s sounding board throughout the episode, encouraging her to finally open up and share feelings and memories she had suppressed for many cycles. Without John, she would never have reconciled with Pilot. She would have left Moya and been alone and devastated.
–Significantly, in this episode, Crichton is also much more sane than he’s been since before the Aurora Chair experience. He seems almost restored to the more wide-eyed, innocent of season 1, optimistic and encouraging of Aeryn, and I believe that springs from a number of reasons: after nearly being pushed past the brink in “Crackers Don’t Matter” and feeling truly chastened by his behavior, I think John was largely able to pull himself together out of guilt and at least temporarily regain control of his mind for a few episodes; meanwhile, it’s possible that Harvey, having been nearly discovered by Crichton, felt the need to retreat for a while to keep him from discovering the truth; thirdly, these discoveries about Aeryn as well as her extreme need of him at this time might also have subconsciously caused him to snap back to his earlier default position. On some level, he realizes that his recent, pessimistic attitude and behavior are the last thing that she needs right now, and so instead he fulfills the role she does need of him right now, which is to be open and understanding and there for her rather than simply subsumed by his own dren.
–Browder also does some remarkable acting in reaction to Aeryn’s revelations. The moment when she first reveals to him that she had a romantic relationship with Velorek and might have even loved him is a particularly brilliant one, because he manages to convey multiple simultaneous emotions at once, all embedded underneath the dialogue. While another actor might have simply reacted jealously over this past relationship, Browder plays that level while at the same time mixing in a subtextual awe at the fact that Aeryn had ever had someone she would dub a “lover” before. It completely challenges what he had always expected of her, and in a way, he finds it strangely heartening, to know that she is capable of these emotions, even while at the same time, it means that he wouldn’t be her “first,” so to speak. And so even while he seems like he wants Velorek to have been a stereotypical Peacekeeper because it would make him, Crichton, look better, he also finds himself having to acknowledge that Velorek largely helped Aeryn become the person she is today and she may not have followed him back to Moya in the first place had he not been in her life. And, again, in both this scene and the beautiful silent one that closes the episode, all of these emotions come out beneath the surface rather than through explicit dialogue.
–I love the beautiful and oddly eerie moment when Zhaan passes Aeryn in the hallway in the past. Another moment that rings with the sweep of myth.
–It’s also amazing to get a glimpse of what a Leviathan looks like when it is fully functioning as a prison ship, positively swarming with Peacekeepers in every shot in a public space. We’ve never seen Moya with such a full crew before.
–Aeryn beating up the punching bag until her fists are bloody is a deliberate and ironic echo of when she did the same in “Nerve,” shortly before admitting to Crichton that she was dying, which at the time inspired the whole crew to band together to save her, when here, most of them are furious with her.
–The fact that Pilot, up to this point, had never been naturally bonded with Moya along with his youth are likely explanation for things such as why she didn’t fully trust him even up to “They’ve Got a Secret,” and why he hasn’t always been as able to calm her down in times of crisis as one might expect. As far as Pilot, the episode also reveals the horrifying fact that he has been in perpetual pain ever since he was first brought on board Moya, trading in the chance to see the stars with constant physical trauma. When he disconnects himself from her, it’s the first time in about 3 cycles that the pain actually stops. Which also goes to show just how much this relationship means to him, given that just a few episodes back, he had told Aeryn he wouldn’t ever want to live longer than Moya, despite the pain he’s had to endure and get used to for such a long time.
–I love how tender and understanding D’Argo is with Pilot when Pilot tells him that, while the natural bonding process begins, it could take over a cycle for him to regain full control of Moya’s systems. This is a time when he is ruled by his gentler, more poetic side, and it is lovely to see.
–The fact that Pilots are so far advanced, mentally speaking, that their speech can’t be translated by translator microbes unless they slow down to a single thought at a time gives even greater context to the mindfrelled Pilot snapping at John for being an inferior species in “Crackers Don’t Matter,” making it even funnier in retrospect. It also makes for an extremely powerful nuance here, contributing to Pilot’s fear and sense of disorientation upon first being taken on board Moya.
2.06: “Picture if You Will” Original airdate: 14 April 2000
And now we come to yet another generally maligned episode that I actually like, if not love. Following immediately on the heels of two of the best episodes in the entire series’ run probably doesn’t do it any favors, and I even understand why people have issues with it. As a “return of Maldis” episode, it’s a bit undercooked, the manner in which Zhaan defeats him lacking the impact and even the internal logic of when she did so the first time around, making it seem a bit unnecessary, narratively speaking. Whereas in “That Old Black Magic,” she needed the help of the other priest and it proved to be extremely harmful to her psyche, in this episode, although she’s left shaken, there isn’t really a question of her succumbing to the dark side. Perhaps that possibility is what scares her so much, but it’s never directly addressed. Furthermore, while the last time, the final punch that dispersed Maldis all took place within his metaphysical domain, meaning it was both physical and symbolic, the big climax of this one seems to be DRDs shooting an incorporeal being to death, which doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.