And at the same time, she also claims to be ashamed of Aeryn for abandoning the Peacekeepers. She is disgusted by her sentiments–amazing how far Aeryn has come that she of all people could be accused of being soft–as well as by the fact that Aeryn isn’t strong enough to kill her and instead leaves it to Crais to do it. And yet, despite her big talk, in her last moments–or at least what seem to be her last moments, as we will later learn that Crais has spared her–she has genuine fear in her eyes, as well as a hint of regret. A very small spark of that woman who visited Aeryn still exists, or has been reignited by seeing her daughter again. And although it doesn’t happen here, it will indeed lead to her ultimate undoing in “The Choice” later this season.
Of course, Claudia Black handles all of these emotions brilliantly. That goes without saying. She plays all of the levels perfectly, from Aeryn’s submerged hope that she could get through to her mother to her outward refusal to let her mother undermine her resolve to her ultimate heartbreak at what she ultimately realizes must be done. As she tells John later, Xhalax was her last link to the Peacekeepers. With her gone (along with confirmation that her father, Talyn, is as well), she is, for the first time, truly free of them. And it’s fitting that that happens in the same episode that her new relationship status with John is 100% confirmed.
But, at the same time, this is far from a happy moment for her. As hard as she likes to seem, a large part of her is a small, frightened girl who never really learned how to grow up under healthy circumstances, and as un-naive as she is overall, that little girl had been hoping her mother could change and that they could start over, and now that door is definitively closed for her. Xhalax thought these sort of emotions made her weak, when in actuality they are what make her daughter a stronger, better person than her.
Other odds and ends:
–John calling the reptilian alien mercenaries who work for Xhalax, the Corlatas, “Pina Coladas” is one of my favorite Crichton malapropisms.
–The recurring thread of Crichton and Crais’ long-time rivalry nearly comes to a head here, with Crichton tying up the wounded Crais and almost leaving him to die because he had lied to them again. The PK retrieval squad wasn’t actually primarily going after Talyn but him and he had kept Moya’s crew as allies, knowing that they would continue to help him as long as they thought they were helping Talyn. Or at least that’s what John has come to believe. Crais hints that it was more than that, and my guess is that he is referring partially to his feelings for Aeryn, as well as even perhaps feelings of remorse for his past behavior. Given his reaction to her death as well as his eagerness to show her her mother’s file (which seemed to be about more than simply manipulating her; on some level, he did seem like he hoped to please her with it), I would be inclined to believe his sincerity (while, at the same time, of course there was a selfish aspect, as well; this is Crais we’re talking about). Additionally, I wouldn’t be surprised if he even feels some gratitude to Crichton for helping open his eyes and inspiring him to leave the Peacekeepers.
–Significantly, Crichton learns about Crais’ seeming betrayal from Harvey. This is the first time one of the split Crichtons has spoken to him, which confirms that the doubling process didn’t nullify his existence. One also might think that this might imply that Talyn John is the “legit” one, at least on a first viewing, but in a later Moya episode, that John will talk to his Harvey, as well, definitively establishing that the two are exact copies in every way. The fact that John listens to Harvey here is also very interesting because it implies that he still has a damaging effect on him in terms of his humanity. Harvey tells John that Crais is no good, and he reacts immediately and impulsively, because it’s what he wants to hear. It gives him an excuse to turn on him that he’s been hoping for deep down for a long time. At the same time, John insn’t without reason. He eventually realizes that Crais is right, and even if he doesn’t believe him, he at least needs him to fly Talyn.
–In a shocking moment of violence that again underlines how scary Xhalax is, she at first carves her own arm open, revealing a hidden knife, and then uses that to slice open Rygel. It’s another moment where you practically forget he isn’t actually a living being. He comes very close to death and actually does die for a few moments, until Stark manages to bring him back, first by knitting his chest together with some fast-growing vines from the planet, and then going to the other side to get his soul back. Rygel wasn’t gone as long as Aeryn nor had he gone past that point of no return, so it doesn’t harm Stark as it did Zhaan.
And additionally, while he is over there, Stark claims to have seen Zhaan again, confirming that she is, indeed, still watching over them. It’s a lovely nuance that in the very same episode that Aeryn loses a mother in multiple ways, we learn that another mother figure of hers is still spiritually present. And in a wonderfully Farscape and Rygel touch, our Hynerian soverign–who had only moments ago tugged at our heart strings with his close call, farts to undercut Stark’s blissful dialogue.
–The scene in which Aeryn watches her mother cutting Talyn’s higher functions, effectively lobotomizing him, is highly reminiscent of her dialogue to Durka in “Durka Returns”. In both cases, she realizes that a former hero of hers is a monster, and in both cases, Rygel is in extreme danger at the time, as well. This case is, however, of course, much more personal for her, but the parallel really underlines how fully she has now severed her PK ties, as “Durka Returns” came relatively early in the process.
–In some more terrific irony, the PK’s efforts to take in Crais and Talyn and gain control over the gunship actually ends with the two more linked than ever before. In order to restore Talyn, they have to somehow use Crais’ neural engrams, meaning even more of Crais’ psyche will reside in him than ever before, something that no one but Crais is particularly thrilled about, and even he likely isn’t too happy, given the downsides to their connection.
–And the episode ends with another patented moment of “silent dialogue” between Crichton and Aeryn where neither has to speak a word because all of their emotions are conveyed beautifully through Browder and Black’s super facial acting. Really, after all Aeryn goes through in this episode, what more is there to say? And it’s important that Crichton realizes that she doesn’t need to talk. She just needs him by her side. The fact that this Crichton is the one who is there for her through this is likely yet another reason she will have such a hard time even being in the same room as the other one later in the season.
Next: “Incubator” and “Meltdown”
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