Written by Matt Ford, directed by Peter Andrikidis
Season 3, Episode 19
1st UK Transmission Date: 21 January 2002
1st US Transmission Date: 5 April 2002
Guest Cast: Jool (Tammy MacIntosh), Naj Gil (Thomas Holesgrove), Lt. Braca (David Franklin), Sko (Ben Mendelsohn), Wa (Anthony Hayes), Essk (Inge Hornstra), Voodi (Salvatore Coco),
Synopsis: Rygel and D’Argo arrange to meet Scorpius at a diner on a desolate planet. They tell him about Black T’s encounter with the Scarrans and Charrids and claim that the surviving Crichton has decided to help Scorpy crack the wormhole problem. In return his shipmates are to be pardoned and returned to their homeworlds as full citizens. Scorpius agrees.
Rygel insists there should be acceptable security measures and so Scorpius demonstrates I-Yensch bracelets—two people wear them and share each other’s pain, if one dies the other dies. He demonstrates this by having D’Argo and Braca wear the bracelets. Scorpius suggests that John and Braca should be thus linked, but Rygel insists that Scorpius wears the bracelet. Scorpius refuses and is about to leave when two gun-toting aliens hold up the diner and shoot Braca in the leg, which in turn cripples D’Argo.
The gunmen have been hired by the chef to burn down the diner for the insurance money, but they change their plan and decide to hold their hostages for ransom. Rygel and Scorpius join forces to outwit and defeat their captors, and in doing so build up a mutual trust. By the time they leave Scorpius has agreed to wear the bracelet.
A medical transport ship encounters Moya and takes Naj Gil aboard. Jool wants to go with him but Chiana prevents her from doing so because she has a vision of herself in mourning. Moya and Talyn are approached by a PK Prowler and Marauder which are shot by Talyn who then panics and destroys the medical ship, killing 600 innocents. The crew reluctantly decide that Talyn will have to be lobotomised and completely refitted, being reborn as a new, sane ship. Talyn responds to this decision by firing on Moya. However, he eventually relents and allows John, Aeryn and Crais aboard. They shut him down, effectively killing his personality forever.
Buck Rogers Redux: “Some things you die for.” John is tiptoeing around Aeryn, not offering advice unless asked for it, not making conversation at all. He even tells her she doesn’t need to come with him to the Command Carrier, he’s so anxious not to pressurise her.
You Can Be More: Aeryn slowly learns to work together with Green T John, telling him that they have always worked well together in the past and there’s no reason they can’t do so again. She calls Green T “Crichton,” whereas she called Black T “John.” She has a bad feeling about the Command Carrier but is determined to go anyway: “we started this together, that’s how we’ll end it.” She is talking to him at least, and is able to thank him for offering to let her leave Talyn before he’s shut down. She is the one who persuades both Moya and Talyn of the necessity of shutting the warship down; they both trust her because they know she loves Talyn.
I Was A Teenage Luxan: The arrangement is for the meeting to take place without weapons; am I the only one surprised that D’Argo agreed to that? When he realises the Peacekeepers are under orders not to hurt him he takes great pleasure in knocking three of them out. He has a thick skull.
Buckwheat the Sixteenth: This is undoubtedly Rygel’s finest hour. It was he who assured his friends that Scorpius would negotiate, and volunteered to undertake the negotiations himself. He’s not fooled by Scorpius’s bluffs for one second and coolly appraises the robbers, divining their true motives and playing brilliantly on their stupidity and lack of planning. He shoots Scorpius full in the chest without knowing whether he is wearing armour or not because, as he gleefully tells Scorpius, he’s a winner either way.
Everyone’s Favourite Little Tralk: Chiana has a premonition of Peacekeepers, and tells Jool she saw herself in mourning for her so she mustn’t go to the Medical Ship. It’s unclear whether she was telling the truth or not, but either way she punches Jool to stop her leaving. She announces to John that she’s jumping ship at the next planet they encounter—she wants no part of their suicidal plan to attack Scorpius.
Jool In the Crown: Jool has no quarrels with Peacekeepers and they don’t even know she exists, so she decides to leave the ship before they encounter the Command Carrier. However she misses the shuttle to the Medical Ship and is then prevented from catching up with Naj Gil by Chiana.
The Insane Military Commander: Crais tries to stop Talyn firing on the Medical ship but fails. It is he who suggests they shut Talyn down, and when he has pulled the final lever and killed his ship he is obviously deeply upset.
Nosferatu in Rubber: Scorpius refuses to wear a Yensch bracelet and is willing to walk away from negotiations rather than give in. He carries a single shot pulse gun in his cooling system. He wears body armour at all times. Rygel believes that he is even more important than a Captain because he has no insignia on his uniform. The hostage situation sees him at his most cunning, scheming and manipulative but he’s still a beginner compared to Rygel, who earns his respect.
A Ship, A Living Ship! Moya is horrified at the decision to shut down Talyn and at one point even refuses to talk to Pilot. Aeryn is able to persuade her that it is for the best, but the ship remains deeply shocked and upset by the “death” of her child.
Big Baby: Crais: “You have not disappointed me, I don’t hold you responsible, neither does Moya… you are very brave.” Talyn panics and succumbs to total paranoia. He realises his mistake in firing on the Medical Facility and instantly shuts down in shock, expressing complete remorse. When he realises the others are planning to shut him down he fires on Moya and severely damages her; he could have destroyed her, so the crew know he’s still got some restraint, but he’s a danger to himself and all those around him. He allows John, Aeryn and Crais to board him and although he aims his guns at them on the bridge Aeryn is able to persuade him to submit to their surgery. His biological parts are kept alive but all his mechanical elements have been shut down. He needs a total refit and when he is re-activated he will be a different creature. Aeryn: “Talyn, you know you’re sick… I don’t want you to be frightened, you’re not going to die, you’ll be reborn, it’s a fresh start. Please Talyn, let us take away your pain.”
The Ballad Of Aeryn And John: They don’t make eye contact at any point, until Aeryn’s final, heartbreaking confession:
AERYN: I just can’t watch that happen again. It was perfect, we were so perfect and you’re just like him. You are him.
JOHN: No, I’m me. I was here. I missed that dance.
Alien Encounters: The robbers are a blue/purple species with weird vocalisations, like chimps or hyenas.
Get Frelled: Jool is holding hands with Naj Gil at the start. You don’t think they’ve been… no, it’s too horrible to contemplate.
Stats: The controls of the D’Argomobile are isomorphic—they use DNA particles and voice recognition to establish his identity and they only respond to him.
Seen It All Before: In Dog Day Afternoon, and countless films about robberies gone bad.
Logic Leaps: Talyn has just shot at his own mother and then shut down communications. So what do John, Aeryn and Crais do… fly at Talyn in a Transport Pod! As insane gambles go that’s one of the daftest. At one point Sko takes Scorpius out of the main diner room and leaves Wa alone with Rygel and the others. Where were they? Was Scorpy caught short and escorted to the Gents?
Guest Stars: Salvatore Coco has been a regular on Police Rescue and Heartbreak High. Inge Hornstra was also on Heartbreak High as well as Sweat. Anthony Hayes was Molnon in 203, ”Taking The Stone.” Ben Mendelsohn has been a regular on The Henderson Kids, Prime Time, Fame and Misfortune, and Close Ups as well as appearing in the films Quigley Down Under and Vertical Limit.
Backstage: For some reason Tammy MacIntosh is not in the main titles yet, but neither is she credited as a guest star. She’s still wearing the eyepatch as a result of her eye injury.
The Verdict: After the cliffhanger ending to “Fractures,” Farscape again teases the audience by making us wait for the big confrontation we now know is inevitable. The hostage situation at the diner is not terribly original but it’s livened up by the marvellous interplay between Rygel and Scorpius, the bizarre aliens, and the I-Yensch bracelets linking D’Argo with poor old Braca. The storyline with Talyn, on the other hand, is much better. It’s emotional and shocking, and leaves the audience feeling sorry for Crais and mourning the loss of a character who never even had any dialogue.
Verdict Redux: I’ve picked up a fair bit of hate for this episode in the comments hereabouts, and while the diner sequences can be a bit wearing if you weren’t in the mood for them, especially when the focus moves tot he owners or the gunmen, I don’t think they’re quite that bad. The four extra characters in the diner really only exist as plot functions to allow us to enjoy Rygel and Scorpy sparring, which I really liked. But yeah, a game of two halves.
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.