Farscape 2.11-2.12: “Look at the Princess” Parts 1-2

Whereas in the previous episode, he was considering giving up out of fear of Scorpius, by this point, he doesn’t seem to have any fight left within him at all anymore, which is really scary to see. As viewers, we feel like Crichton is slipping away from us, just as Aeryn does. The experiences of the past day or so–which feel as if all of the pressures and dangers John has faced on the run for nearly two years now (counting the three months he spent on the planet in “Jeremiah Crichton”) had been reenacted with greater intensity and in microcosm–have made 80 cycles as a statue feel like a potentially comforting rest to him at the moment. Anything but Scorpy. “Aeryn, I’m tired,” he says. “What am I supposed to do…when there’s no fight left?” Her answer is to run away, and he asks, “With you?” and again, when she has the opportunity to change the course of events, she backs away from it. “With all of us together,” which is the wrong answer. But Browder had actually indicated that this is what John had expected from her, by inflecting his “With you?” with a pessimistic edge, as if her rejection were a foregone conclusion vs. his similar challenge to her in the previous episode, which had a hopeful undertone.

And so the wedding takes place, to Scorpy’s outward chagrin (although, again, he has contingency plans), Rygel beaming just by being so close to real power again, knowing he has helped broker such a powerful, important marriage, and both Chiana and D’Argo saddened to say goodbye to their friend yet happy for him, in regards to his future safety and position as ruler. Chiana tells him she loves him, in a truly touching moment, which also includes another quick nod to Star Wars, when John responds, “I know,” a la Han to Leia in The Empire Strikes Back, while D’Argo helps cheer him up. Right before Crichton is turned into a statue, he says to him, “The bad news is that you’re married and must endure as a statue for 80 cycles in a strange world.” “What’s the good news?” John asks, to which D’Argo replies, “Chiana and I are having fantastic sex,” a truly terrific exchange that works on multiple levels. It reasserts what good friends they’ve become that D’Argo can make him laugh like that, and it’s also an incredibly bittersweet moment that invokes simultaneous laughter and tears. And is immediately followed up by John’s jarring moment of horrible pain as the machine converts him to metal (it was only calibrated for Sebaceans), grimacing in pain, and ending on a face that calls Han to mind once more, namely when he is frozen in carbonite–meaning that “I know” was foreshadowing after all!

Meanwhile, back on Moya, Zhaan and Pilot finally meet Kahaynu, one of Moya’s Builders, who proves to be another mystical aspect to the Farscape universe. Rather than simply revealing them to be a more typically advanced alien race, he is a distinctly godlike figure. Played by Jonathan Hardy, the voice of Rygel, he looks positively Roman in dress and has the ability to disappear and reappear at will in a cloud of steam. He also confirms that he and his people didn’t simply give Moya intelligence but a soul, as well. They are clearly beyond simple engineers. Like a god, he also sits in judgment of Moya and finds her unworthy. Because she was capable of giving birth to a gunship, despite the circumstances, he demands that she be “decommissioned,” and when Pilot attempts to protest, he silences him, saying, “Pilots do not speak to Kahaynu,” in the tone of a cruel monarch looking down upon a peasant. With a wave of his hand, he then allows Zhaan to hear and understand Moya’s language. Speaking very slowly and with resonance reminiscent of a humpback whale’s song, Moya says, “Moya…fulfilled… Moya…go…willing…willing… Yes… Peace…” Ironically, it is only just before the seeming end that Zhaan is allowed to fully realize just how sentient Moya actually is. She may be largely driven by emotion but she is a thinking, self-aware being. An instant later, Moya begins to shut her own system down, one component at a time, to Zhaan’s horror.

And yet Zhaan refuses to accept that Moya is actually do this willingly, because even if Moya believes it’s her own decision, she’s being directly ordered to do so by her personal god. Hey is absolutely devastating in these scenes, her anguish over the potential loss of Moya and Pilot achingly real. And when Lani Tupu delivers Pilot’s lines about being ready to go, for he was able to see the stars…don’t even get me started. As I’ve said in the past, the fact that he’s technically a puppet never even enters one’s mind at a time like this, particularly given how gently Zhaan handles him.

But Zhaan also doesn’t allow herself to remain victimized by the situation but instead shows her fierce side to Kahaynu. Earlier on, she demanded that he appear before her, not betraying an ounce of fear in the face of her ship’s god. He responds, “The spirit of the warrior resides in your priestliness,” and although in the past, that might have been a terrible insult to her–such as when Aeryn said something similar–she simply responds in kind, “The spirit of an executioner within yours.” She seems to have begun to accept herself more fully than ever before, perhaps even due to her prolonged exposure to D’Argo and Aeryn. And although there doesn’t seem to be more that she can do at the moment, her fierce protectiveness of these creatures who she has come to see as family will culminate in a fantastic way in the third and final episode of the trilogy. For now, though, it must be said that it is to the actors and writers’ credit that, even give all of the epic things happening back on the planet, this B-plot truly resonates by taking the opportunity to delve deeper into Leviathan mythology, as well as to provide a fantastic character showcase for Zhaan, Pilot, and even Moya. As if this trilogy weren’t already ambitious enough!

Other odds and ends:

–The bathroom scene in which Aeryn interrupts Katrala and Jena’s petty squabbling, slamming their faces into their respective mirrors and threatening their lives, should anything happen to Crichton, is a complete classic, and also yet another great Farscape gender flip, with the female protagonist physically threatening anyone who might hurt her male sort-of-love-interest.

–Another classic Aeryn moment is her line to Dregon, the guy who keeps pursuing her: “Now, don’t feel bad. It’s not you. It’s me. I don’t like you.”

–For the second time on the series, we see an underling of Scorpy’s changing his coolant rods, although the reasoning behind them still isn’t given.

Next: “Look at the Princess, Part III: The Maltese Crichton” and “Beware of Dog”

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Author: Robert Berg

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  1. I’m enjoying your recaps and insights on Farscape! I admit that I’m not a big fan of the B plot with Zhaan and Moya. I think it’s kind of clunky and I found the resolution not satisfying (I’ll comment more on that in the next post).

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  1. Farscape 2.13-2.14: “Look at the Princess,” Part 3; “Beware of Dog” | DreamPunk - […] continuing our journey with John Crichton last week with “Look at the Princess,” Parts I and II, our Farscape re-watch continues this week…

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