Farscape 2.20-2.21: “Liars, Guns & Money,” Parts 2-3

Incidentally, it was also a very interesting decision on the creative teams’ part for D’Argo and our first glimpse of Jothee in action to not be during the inevitable reunion scene but in this vision. Before we saw that picture of Jothee at the end of “The Locket,” we might have had no idea that he isn’t a little kid any longer, even though it certainly makes sense given how long D’Argo has been away from him. But D’Argo had always previously envisioned him as the child he was the last time he saw him, and had never mentioned his age. The fact that he seems to be about 16 0r 17 really nails just how young D’Argo actually was when he had him. He was actually probably around Jothee’s current age, since D’Argo was 30 in “Premiere”. It’s also interesting that now that D’Argo’s finally seen his photo, he can imagine him as he looks today, and while on another show, there might have been concern about that choice possibly undercutting the power of their reunion at the end of the episode, it doesn’t. If anything, the dichotomy between D’Argo’s nightmare of how it might go and the reality make it even more powerful, particularly given the nuance that D’Argo doesn’t yet know but Scorpy figured out, which is Jothee’s self-hatred. As much as he loves his father and his mother, he hates them, too, for having given birth to a son who is ostracized from both the Luxan and Sebacean worlds, and who has had to live a life of hardship, on the run and eventually enslaved. As viewers, we know these layers but D’Argo does not, adding to the dramatic irony of their happy moment. There is, of course, also another major element of dramatic irony, which I’ll come back to at the end.

Before that reunion finally happens, however, John attempts to make things right with D’Argo by coming up with a genuinely impressive plan that involves getting together a diverse group of mercenaries and criminals with whom they’ve crossed paths in the past, and paying them with the money that they now hadn’t paid for Jothee. These mercenaries are, namely, Bekhesh, the Tavlek who had kidnapped Rygel in “Throne for a Loss,” who they want due to the super-strength that the Gauntlet gives him (and, in a great continuity gag from “Throne for a Loss,” Crichton still has trouble remembering that it’s not “Tavloid“); Teurac, the old Sheyang who had tried to kill them in “PK Tech Girl,” and whose fireball abilities could help them break in; Rorf and Rorg, the Vorcarians who had captured and tortured D’Argo in “Till the Blood Runs Clear,” who they need for their tracking skills; and Zelkin and Kurz, two Zenetan Pirates from “The Flax” who can help them by providing…well, the Flax. And while one might nitpick the ease with which each of the friends manages to track down each of these people, given how much space they have to cover and how difficult it has always been in the past to locate places in the Uncharted Territories, it is eminently handwaveable because on Farscape, emotion has always willfully trumped exact logic.

And, of course, because this is Farscape, nothing goes perfectly according to plan. Crichton arrives back on the Tavlek planet with the infamous blue foliage only to discover that Bekhesh is a reformed man, or so claims to be. He has found religion–only after having murdered a priest, naturally–and is no longer using the Gauntlet, putting John in the humorous but genuinely morally dubious position of having to convince a newly spiritual man who has overcome a drug addiction to go back on the sauce. It’s not something the old John would have done, and in some ways seems to be a meta acknowledgment of some fans’ problem with what they perceived to be a simplistic “drugs are bad!” message to “Throne for a Loss” (which I disagree with, but you can go back and read my reasoning in that post, if you like). At the same time, Bekhesh’s newfound godliness clearly isn’t that profound, given how easily he gives in. Meanwhile, when Aeryn encounters Teurac, she discovers that he is old and wounded and can barely summon the measliest of fireballs. “I’ve seen bigger,” she scoffs. He, however, assures her that he can do better. Elsewhere, D’Argo finds Rorg and Rorf, only to learn that Rorg is pregnant and so can’t come along. Rorg convinces Rorf to go, however, in order to provide with their children.

And when it comes to Rygel’s mission of enlisting the Zenetan Pirates, things nearly go the most pear-shaped. He contacts them, only to discover that his old mortal enemy, Durka, who had last been seen drifting in a vessel by himself had not only been caught in the Flax and picked up by the Zenetans but had become the new leader of their gang. And so Dave Elsey resurrects his terrifying character at what seems to be the worst possible time, and that’s also what proves to be its genius. The first time, through, I’m sure most viewers are struck with millions of thoughts amounting to, “Oh, dren! Aren’t there enough things up in the air without Durka coming back into the picture now of all times?” To which both Farscape and Rygel basically respond, “Yes, you’re right!” And a second later, Rygel surprises everyone by just killing Durka right then and there, electrocuting him to death by the same method Crichton had taught him to knock out D’Argo and Aeryn just two episodes previously in “A Clockwork Nebari” (which seems fitting, as Durka had been mind-cleansed once, too)! It’s a supremely brilliant misdirect, because if there’s one TV rule, you don’t bring on a significant enemy from the past in an episode in which he isn’t going to be the main focus and you certainly don’t dispatch him with the nonchalance of a red shirt meeting his maker on Star Trek, and Farscape breaks it here, and gleefully at that. It’s a “wait…they didn’t just do that, did they?!” moment of the highest order that also manages to feel fully earned because Rygel had already had his big confrontation with Durka and had emerged victorious. Another drawn-out Durka confrontation would have been redundant, and so snap, it’s taken care of. It also gives the characters their only unqualified win for the episode, which is a nice counterbalance to everything else…

…particularly given the fact that Crichton and Co. actually don’t have any money to pay these mercenaries, although they don’t realize it yet. What becomes painfully apparent to the people still on Moya, however, is that not only is their money actually the aforementioned swarm of metal-eating parasites currently devouring the ship but that there may be no way to save Moya other than igniting every portion of her that the bugs have infested, a solution that will, of course, put her through indescribable agony. We have seen Moya experience pain before but nothing to this degree. The torment she endures, as conveyed through Pilot and Zhaan’s screams, as they attempt to share her pain, is extremely difficult to watch. On what other show would we as an audience be encouraged to actively empathize with a ship?

Author: Robert Berg

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  1. Farscape 2.22: “Die Me, Dichotomy” | DreamPunk - […] continuing our journey with John Crichton last week with “Liars, Guns, and Money,” Parts II and III, our Farscape re-watch continues this week…

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