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Farscape Rewatch: “Promises”

Promises
Written by Richard Manning, directed by Geoff Bennett
Season 4, episode 5

1st UK Transmission Date: 28 October 2002
1st US Transmission Date: 12 July 2002

Guest Cast: Raelee Hill (Sikozu), Melissa Jaffer (Noranti), Rebecca Riggs (Grayza), David Franklin (Braca), Richard Carter (Ullom), Anja Coleby (Ponara), Damian Hunter (Rinlo)

Synopsis: The crew are reunited with Moya, but find Aeryn and Scorpius aboard. Aeryn is suffering from heat delirium caused by a virus she contracted while she was assassinating an alien Prime Minister. Scorpius has put her in a coolant suit to keep her alive, and claims asylum on Moya.

Farscape, Promises, Crichton, Aeryn, Scorpius

Ullom, a Lukythian, appears in a huge ship, prevents Moya from Starbursting to freedom, and offers to cure Aeryn if she reveals the names of her employers and fellow assassins. John and D’Argo go aboard and try to take Ullom down, but he’s too clever for them. Aeryn tries to kill herself to save Moya and friends but Rygel is able to stop her. John and D’Argo return to Moya to talk to Aeryn, but she’s not helping. Scorpius removes Harvey, with some help from Sikozu.

Meanwhile, on the Command Carrier, the Peacekeepers have developed a torpedo that will destroy a Leviathan’s organics but not harm the crew. Scorpius tips John off about the torpedo.

Farscape, Promises, Aeryn, Ulloom

John convinces Ulloom that Aeryn will talk, but her heat delirium is so bad he needs to cure her or else she won’t be able to. Ullom cures her, and our heroes take control of the ship. Aeryn taunts Ullom to show himself, and John kills him.

Braca fires the torpedo, but Moya has shut down her biologics while Sikozu has used the Lukythian ship’s hologram to disguise it as Moya. The torpedo hits the wrong target. Moya escapes.

You Can Be More: While off Moya, Aeryn fell in with a team of assassins. If Ullom is to be believed, and Aeryn does not challenge his version of events, she and two others infiltrated the Lukythian homeworld and killed their Prime Minister, who was responsible for countless deaths. During the assassination she was infected with a bio-engineered toxin that induces heat delerium, to which Ullom has the only cure. Aeryn escaped in a prowler and was found, and saved, by Scorpius.

Farscape, Promises, Aeryn

So the big question is—would Aeryn have come back to Moya on her own accord? She’s dying and adrift until she’s rescued by Scorpius and brought to Moya, so it’s not as if she had any choice. And she’s quick to threaten to leave Moya if Scorpius is harmed. Once she’s healed, she says she wants be there, and she does admit she had pictured her return, but still.

Aeryn refuses to explain her actions to John, because she has promised not to, and insists that he does not ask her. But she admits that she did commit the assassination, and feels it was a just killing. She also goes to great lengths to protect Scorpius. I must confess, this doesn’t quite ring true for me—yes, he saved her, but she knows what a treacherous, double-dealing threat he is. Her gratitude surely wouldn’t extend to her wanting to keep him on the ship, and her assertion that he isn’t a threat makes her seem terribly gullible—or amnesiac!

She actually tries to kill herself to protect her fellow assassins, it’s only Rygel’s intervention that saves her life. She is certainly willing to die for her cause, but we never find out what it really is.

Farscape, Promises, Crichton, Aeryn

The Ballad Of Aeryn And John: “It’s fate, as usual, keeping its bargain and screwing us in the fine print.” She wants to be back on Moya, John wants her back. There’s lots of smiling—but she doesn’t tell him she’s pregnant; she doesn’t even respond when he tells her he knows. We end with them as far apart as they ever were.

Buckwheat the Sixteenth: He’s remarkably willing to torture Aeryn to make her talk.

In The Driving Seat: Pilot does not remember anything about their experiences in the wormhole, only that they were examined and released. Noranti does not understand this, as Pilot told her he knew exactly what had happened—is Pilot lying, or has he been brainwashed since leaving Arnessk? He does not like Sokozu and misses Jool.

Farscape, Promises, Moya

A Ship, A Living Ship!: Moya welcomes the gang back happily, but is determined that things will be different from now on—she and Pilot ask that the crew elect a spokesperson/captain so that the endless bickering can end. There is a cold room on Moya, part of the system that regulates her temperature.

Bobblehead: Sikozu starts giving Pilot orders before they’re even introduced, and tries to take command. Chiana thinks Sikozu saved Scorpius on Arnessk and is working with him. When she goes to visit him in the cell, we find out that she is not—but the crew are treating her with such hospitality that she gravitates to Scorpius, and actually seems to think he’s pretty cool. She is the one who works out that the Lukythian ship is a hologram, and her knowledge of Leviathans allows her to generate a good enough disguise to fool the PK torpedo. She’s certainly proven her worth—will the crew now begin to warm to her?

Farscape, Promises, Sikozu

Nosferatu in leather: Scorpius survived his execution and burial on Arnessk by planning for all eventualities. He has a spy on the Command Carrier feeding him information. He came looking for Moya and John—his story is that he wants to keep John safe until the Scarran invasion in the hope that John will use wormholes to save the day. The crew lock him up, but what did he expect? He reveals to Sikozu that he has a second purpose aboard Moya, but does not reveal it.

He confirms he knows where Earth is, but promises John he has told no-one else, and purged all records. He’s the only one who knows how to get John home.

Farscape, Promises, Crichton, Harvey

Hello Harvey: He begs, he pleads, he dresses up in very cool duds, but eventually he comes quietly and is extinguished by Scorpius. I’ll miss the guy. But didn’t it feel a little bit too easy—he went down much harder when he was expunged from Black-T John’s head—could he be playing possum?

Captain Lickspittle: Could Braca be Scorpius’ spy? It would make sense, as his switch of loyalty seems almost too mercenary and self-serving, even for a Peacekeeper. Teased by Grayza for his wishy-washy leadership, he decides to pilot the prowler himself, putting his money where his mouth is.

Servalan Redux: She’s still pursuing John.

Disney on Acid: Kryptonite and Buffy get a mention when John wonders what it’ll take to kill Scorpy dead.

Farscape, Promises, D'Argo, Chiana

WHAT Did You Just Say? John says Ullom should show himself, if he’s got the ’nads for it. Gonads, surprisingly, is actually a medical term, but is most commonly considered as Britslang for balls.

Blooper: Claudia Black cut her hair between seasons, the producers hated it so she wore a wig—hence the very long hair. But there’s no way that amount of hair bunched up inside the hood of the coolant suit—they must have taken her wig off (or the hood is dimensionally transcendental).

Farscape, Promises, Pilot

Moya can’t Starburst because of the mass of Ullom’s massive ship. But it turns out to be a tiny ship cloaked by a hologram. So where does the mass come from? Either it’s some kind of super clever mass-generating hologram, which would be indistinguishable from a real ship in every conceivable way and so thus not actually a hologram at all; or the tiny ship is made of super-dense metal. (Dwarf star alloy, anyone?)

If the torpedo was designed to kill only a Leviathan’s organics, why does it destroy the non-organic Lukythian ship?

Backstage: Pilot is a brand-spanking new puppet this week.

Farscape, Promises, Scorpius, Sikozu

The Verdict:  Wonderful. Ben, Claudia and Wayne are given really great material and act their socks off; Sikozu is developing in interesting ways and Grayza is in it little enough that she doesn’t have a chance to ruin the episode. A real return to form, with gripping character work taking centre stage. Farscape is back on track. Phew!


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.

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