I Shrink, Therefore I Am
Written by Christopher Wheeler, directed by Rowan Woods
Season 4, episode 8
1st UK Transmission Date: 18 November 2002
1st US Transmission Date: 2 August 2002
Guest Cast: Raelee Hill (Sikozu), Melissa Jaffer (Noranti), Duncan Young (Axikor), John Schwarz (Bintog)
Synopsis: A bunch of Kareshi bounty hunters take Moya with ease while John and Noranti are off ship. While the crew are restrained, Scorpius evades capture. John destroys the bounty hunters’ ship and boards Moya, teams up with Scorpius and starts taking the bad guys out one by one.
The Kareshi shrink Moya’s crew and put them in containers in their armour. Scorpius is captured and finds that the Kareshi leader, Axikor, is a Scarran imposter, hunting Crichton. John tells the Kareshi, so Axikor kills them. John then manages to shrink Axikor and step on him. The crew are returned to normal size.
Now that they are being pursued by both Scarrans and Peacekeepers, Pilot and Moya suggest leaving the Uncharted Territories and moving into the far more dangerous region known as Tormented Space.
Buck Rogers Redux: John’s been off shopping with grandma. He’s addicted to the extract of Lacca that helps him forget his love for Aeryn, so much so that he takes a hit at the wrong moment and totally gives away his position to the bad guys.
I Was A Teenage Luxan: D’Argo’s quick thinking decision to suck up the comms device with his tongue is instrumental in saving the day. He also creates the diversion that allows John to escape after he blows his position in the tunnels—he’s thinking like a captain.
Everyone’s Favourite Little Tralk: Chiana uses her slow-vision to see the combinations for the cuffs and the shrinking device, but her blindness lasts longer than normal, and she begins to panic that her condition may be permanent. She hates the powerlessness of not being able to see when danger is coming. Maybe each time it take will take longer—what kind of damage is she doing to herself?
Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Rygel’s speech about being old enough to have learnt that life rarely makes any kind of sense but he’s learnt to be okay with that, is one of his best moments.
In The Driving Seat: Although D’Argo is captain, Pilot discusses the decision to go to Tormented Space with John first, then Aeryn, before approaching D with it. Is Pilot having second thoughts about voting for him?
Grandma, we love you: They know her name but they still tend to call her the old woman. She takes a mixture that induces a vacuum coma, enabling her to float around in space for a while. Quite relaxing, apparently.
Bobblehead: Sikozu reasons, correctly, that if they were reduced by proportionally subtracting atoms, they’d be too stupid to live; while if their atoms were shrunk, they wouldn’t be able to breathe. It takes Rygel to point out the obvious fact that because something has happened it cannot, by definition, be impossible. He correctly identifies that she is book-smart but experience poor, and hasn’t yet realised quite how screwy the universe is, and how rarely it follows the rules.
Nosferatu in leather: Scorpius reveals that he has been able to leave his cell whenever he wanted, he just didn’t want to. He evades the bad guys, teams up with John and proves himself a trustworthy ally, at least in this particular situation. John doesn’t trust him an inch, though—gives him an unloaded weapon and uses him as bait (and his sarcastic ‘Thanks, John’ just before he’s shot is priceless). The replacement coolant rods that Sikozu has created overheat when Scorpius is under pressure. He allows himself to be captured so John can escape. Now he has proved he cannot be held, D’Argo and John agree they have no choice but to let him roam free, but they’re going to keep a close eye on him.
Disney on Acid: At the start, John makes the suggestion that maybe he’s still stuck in the game (‘John Quixote’), and it seems he is not… but he does keep humming along to the incidental music, which certainly hints at some kind of fourth-wall weirdness. John takes the Kareshi on one by one, ‘the Die Hard way.’ He calls Axikor the head Cylon and even addresses him as Imperious Leader, proper old skool BSG fanboy that he is. Then he calls him Gort and quotes ‘Klaatu barada nikto,’ from The Day The Earth Stood Still.
Stats: Tormented Space is a region where no PKs or Scarrans will travel. Navigation there is extremely hazardous, many ships have been lost. It is reportedly a nexus of wormholes, which begs so many continuity questions about the wider knowledge of, and the true nature of wormholes, that it makes my head spin.
Alien Encounters: The Kareshi wear a bio-engineered armour over a squishy, blobby inside. They have technology that can shrink people, and they keep them as captors in sealed metal containers in their chest armour, as insurance against being attacked.
Axikor is a Scarran spy masquerading as a Kareshi bounty hunter, and he can read minds without using the heat projection to force people to talk. He is a member of the Ruling Order, presumably that explains his mind-reading; he also has a very different cranium and is flatter faced than the scarrans we’ve seen to date.
Blooper: When John crashes the shuttle into the alien ship, why doesn’t it blow a huge whole in Moya’s side?
Not exactly a blooper, but how exactly was the crew overcome so easily? We find them totally defeated and immobilised, and there’s no evidence of the kind of fight you might have expected.
When D’Argo is shrunk, his cuffs are too; when Aeryn is shrunk her cuffs do not shrink with her, yet when she’s popped into containment, they’re back again.
When John opens fire on the bad guy after his DRD laser guillotine plan fails, he’s shooting right-handed when shot from behind, but left-handed when shot from the front—for some reason the picture has been reversed (the technical term is flopped).
Backstage: Christopher Wheeler doesn’t write a classic, but certainly doesn’t disgrace himself either. He was predominantly a SFX guy, and although he did write and direct two short films, this is the only TV script he ever wrote. He left film and became an accountant in 2000 but died in 2009, aged only 40.
The Verdict: Another week, another bottle show and another group of bad guys on Moya. Same old, same old. What enlivens this episode is the interplay between John and Scorpius, which is lots of fun. The scene between Rygel and Sikozu in their small cell is also a major highlight. The reveal of a new kind of Scarran is neat, and promises a new take on the new Big Bad.
The shrinking is under-used, though. Perhaps it was budgetary constraints, but given the title, I was expecting a ‘Land of Giants’ riff, with our crew all tiny, trying to take back the ship. The scene where Aeryn rides a DRD into battle is an all-too-brief taste of how much fun this episode could have been had they bought into their premise whole-heartedly, so from that perspective it feels like a missed opportunity.
Scott K. Andrews has BIG NEWS!