Secondly, I love that in this episode we again get a glimpse at a very unusual, lived-in, distinctly Farscape world, the surreal nature of the atmosphere increased by the aliens’ odd nearly-American-Southern accents, particularly Vija, the Las Vegas-esque gambler with the visor. The reason for the mining colony’s location is that Budongs’ corpses can contain very valuable crystals, but not unlike the California Gold Rush, finding them can prove difficult, and it seems that people can spend years of their lives trying to hit it big. Thirdly, there’s wonderful irony in the fact that, at their hungriest, the crew has to land on a huge, rotting corpse in order to find fresh meat, even though they can’t actually eat anything of the corpse itself, as besides being rotten, it’s dangerously acidic. It’s a huge, floating reminder of what they need to survive, and yet that remains just outside of their grasp, as they can’t even get their hands on the fresh food that this colony does have immediately, as the corrupt ruler, B’sogg, demands that they work in the mines to pay before he’ll allow them any, despite knowing that their friend is dying. This is also due to the fact that, in perfect Farscape irony, B’sogg’s brother, Temmon, the one who might have been willing to help Chiana as they were romantically involved in the past, dies a moment after they arrive. Technically, he was mortally wounded in the mines, after being mauled by a dangerous creature called a Keedva, and Chiana has to put him out of his misery.
This first morally ambiguous act–which actually frightens D’Argo a bit, as she goes from being gentle with the dying man to planting an ax in his chest a moment later–underscores one of the episode’s major themes, of Chiana’s flexible morality, which was a sticking point with D’Argo when it came to Zhaan in the past, specifically in the aforementioned “PK Tech Girl”. This episode gives us a few more glimpses into Chiana’s backstory. We learn here that, at some point in the past, Chiana and her brother, Nerri, lived in this Budong colony for a while and that they eventually scammed Temmon out of money before making their escape. However, Chiana also did seem to truly either love or at least have real feelings for Temmon, something which her friend, Altana, tells D’Argo, but he has trouble reconciling the two sides of Chiana, one of which is capable of experiencing deep emotions for and connections with loved ones, being fiercely loyal to them and willing to do anything to help them–including offering to sell her body to B’sogg to save Zhaan–and the other of which can be completely self-centered.
Impressively, the episode never attempts to whitewash her past. We never learn how she was able to both love and betray Temmon, and no information comes to light that attempts to justify that behavior or reveal a “real,” secret reason behind it that explains why it was actually the right decision. Instead, it challenges us to accept Chiana as she is, as complex as any of the characters on Farscape. Interestingly and ironically, while D’Argo will come to feel himself even more drawn to Chiana over its course, culminating in a kiss, this issue is never resolved, and as long-time fans know, she will come to betray him, as well. In some ways, she’s more like Aeryn than either realizes. Both are uncomfortable with the idea of a long-term relationship or trusting someone else with their heart to that extent and so tend to sabotage it themselves before it can get that far.
Chiana is, indeed, capable of both violence and acts of love, and sometimes the two are combined. When she finally realizes that B’sogg had killed Temmon and later Altana, and tried to kill her other friends by training the Keedva with a whistle to attack on command, she has her gruesome revenge on him by shooting a wall nearby him, allowing it to spill acid all over his hand, which–in the most disturbing visual effect the series has employed up to this point–the skin of his hand sloughs off, leaving a bloody, reddened mass that itself begins to fall apart, as he howls in agony. I mean, JESUS, Farscape! And while even she herself seems unsettled by what she does here, one also gets the sense that she doesn’t regret it, due to what he had done to her friends and had nearly indirectly done to Zhaan, in denying her food.
Other odds and ends:
–There’s some great comedy with Rygel, firstly with his unsuccessful attempts to cheat Vija–which is a particular surprise, given how adept we know he is at cheating at gambling in “The Flax” but underscores just how off their game everyone is in this episode, due to the hunger, and again reiterates the extreme urgency of the situation–and secondly with Crichton, particularly when John grasps hold of his levitating throne, wrapping himself around it in order to save himself from the Keedva. This leads to some terrific slapstick that is a prime example of how hands-on with the puppets the actors have gotten at this point, and subsequently how much more real that makes it feel. When Rygel bites John’s fingers to try to get him down, and he responds by chomping down on Rygel’s earbrow, later butting the Hynerian in the head, they are flat-out not an actor with a puppet but two people engaged in a (comedic) struggle for their lives.
–The Keedva itself is a remarkably realistic Henson creature that both looks and moves like a wild animal, albeit a mythological one that resembles a cross between an ape and a dog. Farscape also is clearly paying an homage to Star Wars both in its construction and in how John kills it, which is reminiscent of how Luke Skywalker kills the Rancor in Jabba’s Palace in Return of the Jedi. He similarly skewers him with a sharp gate, however here even more brutally, opening and shutting the door numerous times to lure him in, trap, and stab him. Afterwards, this Keedva amusingly provides the meat that they bring aboard Moya for Zhaan, and which John barbecues (and it apparently is quite delicious, a sharp contrast to his attempt to fry dentiks earlier in the episode; in typical Farscape style, there is no further explanation as to what dentiks are, for people who missed their first appearance in season 1), another example of his newer, darker edge. Earlier, John likely would have been more squeamish about killing the Keedva and might have even been less able to coordinate his attack, which involves doing a flip over the beast’s head at one point.
2.08: “Dream a Little Dream” Original airdate: 23 June 2000
I spoke a little about this episode’s origins in my “Mind the Baby” post, but to recap, when “Dream a Little Dream” was originally filmed, it was meant to be the second season premiere, entitled “Re: Union,” thus explaining why the bulk of the episode is set between the events of “Family Ties” and “Mind the Baby,” and furthermore, why “Mind the Baby” contained some references to things we hadn’t seen occur, as far as those who stayed aboard Moya were concerned.