Even as this awakens new hope in John, however, a moment later, that hope is robbed, when he discovers–in a distinctly Farscape twist–that if he agrees to the marriage, moments later, he and Katrala will be biologically altered into statues for 80 cycles, during which time they will stand outside the Senate and “we can see, we can hear–don’t ask me how–and we’re supposed to absorb every single facet of their governmental system. That way, when Mom and Pops finally kick it, we rule”. What this means to John is completely surrendering any hope of ever returning to Earth, because his family and friends would be long dead by the time he would be restored to his original form (and, though he doesn’t know it, this is a concern for Katrala, as well, as Tyno will be an old man when she gets out). One of the really interesting aspects of this episode is how everyone reacts to John’s predicament. Although Aeryn continues to maintain that he should figure another way out, she can offer no solution to how that could actually work. The others, however, are far more pragmatic. Rygel in many ways set everything up in the first place, understanding the rules of court and blending in like the natural he is, and realizing, along with Chiana and D’Argo that this could be John’s only chance. And just as John acted as a sounding board for his best friend in “Vitas Mortis,” now D’Argo returns the favor, advising him:
D’ARGO: Look at what Fate has given you. Scorpius will no longer be a threat. And as a ruler, you’ll have power, peace, prosperity. You could create a family. Perhaps you’ve only just discovered your true destiny.
JOHN: You’ve been spending way too much time with Chiana, you know that?
D’ARGO: Amongst all the fluff, she can make a lot of sense. Our time was good, John. We had each other when we needed each other. But now, it’s time to move past your fears. See what’s on the road ahead.
It’s a beautiful moment, in which we again get a chance to see how deeply their friendship has grown, and D’Argo demonstrates some of that wisdom to John that Zhaan is so impressed by in her darkest moments. It’s also significant from D’Argo’s perspective that, in many ways, what John is attaining is his dream–wife, children, and peace, even if it’s not quite as simple as what he dreams of.
Other odds and ends:
–The liquid drops placed on prospective couples’ tongues in order to test their genetic compatibility–for compatible couples, it tastes sweet; for others, bitter–is a terrific conceit that leads to some classic moments of comedy, particularly when Aeryn tries to avoid a potential suitor by testing it with Rygel, outrageously making out with him, both then disgustedly spitting the flavor out after the man “congratulates” them and walks away.
–John’s line about the fact that everyone he knows will be dead when he “awakens” is given a wonderfully Farscape twist when he lists Cameron Diaz and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” amongst his loved ones, and D’Argo, in complete deadpan, responds, “You may never see these people again anyway,” a brilliant example of a line that a character doesn’t realize is funny but is, at least on one level, since, not knowing that one is a celebrity and the other a fictional character (nor what a vampire slayer is), D’Argo has no reason to assume that they aren’t two of the people John is missing. At the same time, it’s very sincere, heartfelt dialogue, which is incredibly rare and difficult to pull off.
–On the other hand, D’Argo’s misunderstanding of what “best man” means is just flat-out hilarious. But even with that, there’s a layer of John again being reminded of how even his best friends here will never fully understand him due to his vastly different Earth experiences and culture. And I also love how the homoerotic nature of the humor and John and D’Argo’s relationship provides a flip side to that which John shares with Scorpy. In a way, it follows up on their sexual activity (or at least their bodies‘ sexual activity) in “Out of Their Minds,” and establishes a thread that will again be playfully teased in episodes such as “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “Scratch N’ Sniff”. It’s additionally nice because it confirms, after some people interpreted D’Argo’s reaction to the surprisingly male Staanz harshly, that D’Argo doesn’t suffer from gay panic. His response to John isn’t one of horror but just a simple, “Uh…I’m with Chiana now, John.”
–I didn’t mention Zhaan and Pilot before now, largely because their plot doesn’t become more prominent until later in the arc, but there are some lovely scenes between them, when Zhaan does her priestly rituals and sings, her mystically enhanced voice reverberating throughout Moya’s halls, and Pilot closes his eyes in near-ecstasy. As he tells Zhaan, both he and Moya love it, which builds beautifully on the kinship that they began to gain for one another after “Family Ties”. This is also significant since, once again, they starburst away from their friends, this time in the hopes of luring Scorpius away from them, a gambit that doesn’t work and unintentionally increases the danger for John and the others, leading to even further pressure on Crichton to save himself via marriage. And although Zhaan temporarily snaps at Pilot when the enormity of what they’ve done gets to her, he admonishes her: “Pa’u Zotoh! The decision to flee was a joint one,” which she acknowledges, a bit chastened. Shortly afterwards, she will further accept not returning for them right away, when Moya follows a signal that leads them to a Builder, one of Moya’s gods!
–Meanwhile, back on the planet, John is nearly assassinated by a group of men loyal to the Prince…To be continued…
2.12: “Look at the Princess, Part II: I Do, I Think” Original airdate: 28 July 2000
And, as if the situation weren’t complex enough, John is rescued by a woman (naturally, although, to be fair, he does get a few punches in himself, once she has them distracted), Clavor’s fiancee, Jenavian, who just so happens to also be a PK spy! Which means that the Empress and Cargn weren’t actually wrong to be paranoid in that regard. It’s just that Scorpius wasn’t who they should have been worried about. In fact, her orders are to kill Clavor should he assume the crown, meaning that Cargn likely wouldn’t have gotten what he wanted, either way. Little did he know that the person truly working against him was the seemingly vapid woman constantly floating around Clavor and him, not the Scarran half-breed.
Meanwhile, the Scarran half-breed knows exactly what he’s doing and manipulates the situation beautifully. Though he doesn’t have any interest in killing Crichton, he realizes that it would be to his advantage for others to think that Clavor and Cargn are continuing their assassination attempts against him and so Scorpius stages an attack on both Crichton and Katrala, sending in a floating orb that looks a larger version of the ones that Obi-Wan trained Luke on in the first Star Wars film (and this isn’t the last Star Wars homage to pop up in this episode) into their room and locking the door, only for the orb to start spewing out poisonous gas. At the last moment, however, he sends ro-NA– an obsequious little creature who has been a royal servant ever since Katrala and Clavor were children–in to save them, which serves the purpose of completely drawing suspicion away from both him and ro-NA. Beforehand, when John accused Clavor of trying to kill him, manhandling him in anger, the Empress and Katrala were furious, both refusing to believe that Clavor had done so (although in the Empress’ case, this seemed mostly a show, whereas Katrala was firmly convinced he was too weak). This latest attack against both John and Katrala, however, seems to confirm that her brother is to blame, and secondly cements ro-NA’s loyalty to Crichton and the crown, when in actuality this was always meant simply to put John in a position where Scorpy could later capture him with ro-NA’s help. (By the way, ro-NA is yet another role played by Browder’s wife, Francesca Bueller.)