Farscape 2.13-2.14: “Look at the Princess,” Part 3; “Beware of Dog”

And as relatively explicit as their lovemaking is, the sequence isn’t nearly as charged and pulse-pounding as the final moment of the episode, when Aeryn approaches John with a vial of the liquid that tests genetic compatibility. In a way, she isn’t following Dregon’s advice, since she doesn’t say a word, but she doesn’t have to. They each place the liquid on their tongues, briefly touch tongues and kiss, and for a moment simply lock eyes and then walk away, only betraying the answer when Aeryn walks away and suddenly a smile forms on her face, and then John privately smiles as well. But neither are simple smiles. They are instead complex and rich. This is a moment of indescribable power, and all the more so because it’s done in complete silence, relying completely on Browder and Black’s remarkable chemistry and superb acting to carry the moment.

There is a similar scene at the end of “The Way We Weren’t,” in which rather than cutting away or filling up the final moments of the episode with dialogue, director Tony Tilse allowed the scene to breathe and for the actors to simply react to each other regarding whether Aeryn was in love with Velorek, conveying the information through their eyes and expressions. Here, that scene gets its romantic counterpart, with Aeryn all but admitting the possibility of her burgeoning feelings for John whilst also conveying she’s not ready yet to go further and his finally conveying his understanding. After one of his darkest moments, he gets a glimmer of hope again from her, and writer David Kemper and directors Anthony Prowse and, again, Tilse trust the performers to get this information across, rather than scripting or complex camera moves, and supplement it only with beautiful scoring. This three-part arc comes full circle at this moment. It began with a kiss between Aeryn and Crichton that he initiated and she ran away from, and it concludes with one that she initiates, and in such a way that tells him that not only is at least part of her interested but that that part is even considering the long-term implications of whether or not they are compatible.

And, unfortunately, again, I’ve relegated the Zhaan/Kahaynu/Moya/Pilot plot to the end, but as it is basically separate from the main story, there’s no earlier place that really lent itself to discussing it. As I said in the previous posts, I really like this thread, and find Hey’s performance in it to be absolutely superb. I love that, rather than simply having put in a throwaway B-thread, they chose to include what basically amounts to a short story that not only puts the three in genuine danger but adds significant detail to Farscape mythology regarding how Leviathans come to be, while also providing Jonathan Hardy with the opportunity to appear on screen in a role that was perfect for him, blending a more imperious Rygel with the capricious nature of a god made of steam.

In this final chapter, Zhaan threatens Kahaynu’s life, turning on Aeryn’s Prowler to suck him into the propellor and destroy him as punishment for what he did to Moya. When he refuses to give, however, and she realizes that she has killed him, she’s devastated by what she’s done, until later, when he reappears and tells her that this had all been a test not of Moya but of her, to ensure that Moya was being well protected by her crew. This is a most unusual scenario for a Leviathan, being on the run with escaped prisoners and having given birth to a PK gunship, and he had to ensure that her current passengers weren’t the ones who had forced her into it. Now satisfied that Moya is in good hands, he gives her the power of speech once more with a wave of his hand, and Moya thanks Zhaan, giving her just one request: that she sing for her again, a rapturously lovely wrap-up to this mini-saga. It’s a great story that also helps reiterate that even if all of these people aren’t exactly where they think they want to be, they are where they’re meant to be, a particularly apt reminder after a trilogy that nearly separated them all forever.

2.14: “Beware of Dog” Original airdate: 11 August 2000

"Beware of Dog"

“Beware of Dog”

“Beware of Dog” is possibly the only episode of Farscape that I have trouble revisiting. As I’m a completist, I do it on every rewatch, but I always find it exceedingly painful. That might sound funny coming from an enormous fan of a show that emotionally torments its characters on a regular basis, but I can’t help it. The Vork’s fate absolutely destroys me every time to the point that it impacts my enjoyment of the entire hour. And the thing is, I actually consider it a brilliant episode with an expertly crafted plot and  absolutely ingenious misdirection. I bow down to the production team for its meticulous cruelty, designing a number of perfectly calibrated twists that conspire to lead our protagonists to the wrong conclusion and yet for completely logical, understandable reasons, and then pulling the rug out from under us, turning what was a taut, comedic thriller into an utter tragedy at the last minute. It is so very Farscape on every level. Maybe I’m just a wuss and can’t handle when cute things die, but at least I’m man enough to admit it. This is an episode for which I truly admire the craft and am sincerely blown away by the intelligence of the misdirects each time I see it but which I don’t enjoy, knowing what’s coming.

Compared to the “Look at the Princess” trilogy, this is a very tight, concise episode that doesn’t require nearly as much space to discuss it, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. It’s another bottle episode, but like all Farscape bottle episodes before it, it’s actually a very ambitious story for what it is, due to the layers of mystery and the complex special effects, particularly the Vork transformations. On the surface, it’s another Moya-is-invaded-by-a-bug stories, but the twist on the formula here is that there may or may not be an invading pest on board, after all. The basic gist of the story is that, upon discovering that food they got from a nearby planet might have been contaminated by a deadly parasite, Chiana and D’Argo buy a small creator called a Vork, a natural predator of that parasite that people bring on board their ships to eradicate it when there’s a suspected infestation. The Vork is a precocious adorable little critter that looks like a cross between Yoda and E.T., complete with the long fingers.

The problem, however, is that they’re all operating on a lack of information. They don’t know what the parasite looks like–whether it’s a large creature, a small bug, or possibly even microscopic–and when they come across a hideous creature who seems to attack D’Argo moments before he falls victim to the parasite, they assume that that creature is what hurt him. And later on, they discover that the Vork actually transforms into that creature, so they logically start to wonder whether there was a parasite on board in the first place, or if the locals on that planet have a scam going where they scare people about a fictional problem and then sell people the very creature that actually causes the problem and  then proceeds to kill them, presumably before they can come back to complain. This is completely sound reasoning, given that the Vork’s other form is horrifying and they did find him jumping on D’Argo right before he got sick.

Author: Robert Berg

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  1. Farscape 2.15: “Won’t Get Fooled Again” | DreamPunk - […] continuing our journey with John Crichton last week with “Look at the Princess,” Part III and “Beware of Dog”, our Farscape re-watch continues this week…

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