Green Eyed Monster
Written by Ben Browder, directed by Tony Tilse
Season 3, Episode 7
1st US Transmission Date: 22 June 2001
1st UK Transmission Date: 22 October 2001
This episode features the crew of Talyn.
Synopsis: While Rygel and Stark are on recon in a Transport Pod, Talyn is swallowed by a live Budong (‘Home On The Remains’). They manage to anchor the ship inside the gullet and prevent it being digested, their plan being to fly through the stomach and intestines, exiting through its arse.
Aeryn takes a neural transponder and links herself to Talyn and Crais. John finds a PK vid-chip with footage of Crais and Aeryn having sex. Talyn panics and tries to disengage the anchoring cables, and when this fails, he reverses his transponder and takes control of Crais. John is able to stop Crais releasing the cable but he discovers that Talyn’s personality is so strong he can torture Crais, who’s covered in lesions and welts as a result.
Stark and Rygel return in their transport Pod and contact Talyn to warn that a Budong’s stomach is a furnace and Talyn would be destroyed—Stark realises they have to make the Budong vomit Talyn free. They use the Pod lure it along a planetary ring, forcing it to swallow ice; Talyn dumps some fuel, and John uses a warhead to ignite it, freeing the ship.
During the escape Talyn tries to kill John by locking him out of the ship; Aeryn saves him by sharing her love for John with Talyn and ripping out the transponder. The vid-chip turns out to be a fabrication, left by Talyn to drive John away because he distrusts him.
Black T: ‘Open the door, you souless, tinheaded, adolescent pig!’ John refuses to trust Crais, despite all his claims that he’s changed, but he still doesn’t shoot him to stop him releasing the cables when he’s possessed by Talyn. With Talyn bonded to Crais and Aeryn, his gun missing, the doors not opening for him, and DRDs keeping him awake all the time, he’s feeling isolated, useless and cranky but he still tries to keep control, do what’s best for the crew, and not let his emotions cloud his judgement or dictate his actions. Understandably, he blames all of this on Crais, especially after seeing the footage of Crais and Aeryn ‘recreating.’ However, when he’s stuck outside the ship he realises that his persecutor is Talyn because Crais wouldn’t risk alienating Aeryn by killing him. He keeps star charts and always uses one star as his point of reference, a star he calls Aeryn.
You Can Be More: ‘My life has been filled with doing what others think is right. For me, for now, this is right.’ Aeryn thinks Talyn is ‘beyond beautiful’ and she learns how to interface with him very quickly, possibly because she has got some of Pilot’s multi-tasking abilities (‘DNA Mad Scientist’). At one point she calls Crais sir, dropping effortlessly back into her PK role.
Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Rygel reverts to cowardly, self-serving type and swallows the Transport Pod Comms Relay Circuit to prevent Stark contacting Talyn and embarking on the kind of dangerous rescue plan he eventually does embark on. He can vomit at will.
The Man In the Iron Mask: Stark spent five years on a Budong mining colony and saw endless miners disappear into the innards of the space whale; he is something of an expert on the creatures. He’s still manic as all hell, and he joins the illustrious line of characters who’ve given Rygel the punching he so thoroughly deserves. He saves the day and is the hero of the piece, which is a nice change for a character who’s so far been more often a liability than an asset. He now has the dubious distinction of having been puked on by two characters, Pilot and Rygel.
The Insane Military Commander: Crais tries to persuade Talyn that John is not a threat, he calls him an honourable man, but Aeryn blames him for Talyn’s distrust of John because the ship learnt everything from Crais. He suffers extreme pain and lesions as a result of Cybernetic Bleedback from Talyn; the pain is so severe he begs John to kill him to release him from it. His tactic for stealing Aeryn’s affections from John is to get her to bond with the ship and thus with him, no wonder he’s so annoyed when she removes the link. It’s unclear whether Crais was complicit with Talyn’s attempts to kill John; he claims to have tried to talk Talyn around to accepting John, but we have no evidence of that—he remains a character of ambiguous loyalty and suspect motives.
Big Baby: Talyn does not trust John because he’s non-Sebacean and not a PK. He hides his gun, hassles him with DRDs, fakes a vid-chip to cause tension and eventually locks John outside to try and kill him. His first reaction to any situation is to start firing, and his insistence on focussing on weapons rather than propulsion contributes to his being swallowed. When anchored he wants to rip free and escape, acting against his best interests and forcing Aeryn to short him out and knock him unconscious; he even deploys his weapons against her. In short he is impulsive, hard to control, violent and willing to kill his crew. He has a docking web. His DRDs are a different design to Moya’s. In extreme circumstances he can use the neural transponder to take physical control of Crais. He still responds well to Aeryn’s guidance and she is able to calm him down and teach him control when he’s panicking—had she been in control of Talyn from the start, he’d probably be a far more balanced individual.
The Ballad Of Aeryn And John: ‘I had this life. I liked it, it had rules, I followed the rules and that made everything right. And then you come along and you frell everything up. This strange human, with arrogance, stubborness. You are like a plague, John Crichton, and you have ruined my life. And yet, I just keep coming back.’ John tells Aeryn that he is not her boyfriend or her husband and she can do what she likes, but there’s real bitterness when he tells her ‘it’s always about what you want.’ The vid-chip Talyn created to force John away actually manages to bring them closer, forcing Aeryn to explain her feelings for John. He tells her she is his reference point, his one constant, and they kiss, not for the first time, but this time it looks like the relationship might stick.
Alien Encounters: Live Budongs are extremely rare. Their stomachs are furnaces burning at 5000 klanches, which is hot enough to melt everything. They home in on and eat things that generate electromagnetic energy fields.
Disney On Acid: John names three stars Huey, Louie and Dewey, after Donald Duck’s nephews. He refers to Mintaka Three, which was a planet from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode ‘Who Watches The Watchers,’ which was written by Richard Manning, who now writes for Farscape.
Get Frelled: Aeryn tries to defuse John and Crais’s feud: ‘Talyn, you’ve seen them both naked, perhaps you can tell us who’s bigger.’
Seen It All Before: In the Bible: Jonah and the Whale.
Logic Leaps: Why were Crais’s lesion not discovered when Jool examined him in ‘Thanks For Sharing’? If Talyn is anchored above the Budong’s stomach, why does the ice being swallowed by the creature not smash Talyn to bits on its way down?
WHAT did you just say?: Ben’s familiarity with English vernacular shows when John says that Talyn’s mooring control is ‘totally buggered.’
Backstage: It was Rockne S. O’Bannon and David Kemper’s idea to get Ben to write an episode, and it was agreed as far back as the end of Season One. He’s obviously a natural: ‘I love doing it. I absolutely love sitting at a coffee shop writing. The thing that I love about writing is that you are alone with your thoughts and you are totally responsible for the story at that point, as opposed to being a part of it. You are creating something anew; you’re creating something for the first time in total, whereas in acting you are doing part of a story and you are interpreting.’
The Verdict: In an age when so many TV stars have a chance to direct written into their contract, it’s rare indeed to find an actor choosing instead to write for the show they act in. Inevitably there are worries that such a script will be a vanity piece, sanctioned as a way of keeping the star happy. Happily no such situation appends here—Browder’s script is tight, cogent, funny and demonstrates a firm grasp of character, structure and mood. On the basis of this performance it’s no surprise that he will be writing for Farscape at least once during year four.
The episode’s great strength is to take the traditional love triangle story and spin it by having the environment, the ship itself, be a part of the relationship too—it muddies things up, allows all sorts of conflict and emotional re-examinations. Parts of the episode are straightforward character drama that wouldn’t be out of place on a soap opera, but the involvement of Talyn means that despite its familiar themes this is a story that could only be told on Farscape.
Verdict redux: I really like this. I love drama built around two or three people in a room, but only in Farscape could the room itself be an additional character. The star-sparkle fade out is cheesy as hell, and the logic leap with the ice does bother me, but these are minor niggles in a very strong character piece.
Scott K. Andrews has written episode guides, magazine articles, film and book reviews, comics, audio plays for Big Finish, far too many blogs, some poems you will never read, and three novels for Abaddon. He is, patently, absurd.