We’re So Screwed I – Fetal Attraction
Written by David Peckinpah, directed by Geoff Bennett
Season 4, episode 19
1st UK Transmission Date: 24 Feburary 2003
1st US Transmission Date: 28 February 2003
Guest Cast: Raelee Hill (Sikozu), Melissa Jaffer (Noranti), Jason Clarke (Jenek), Sandy Gore (Vreena), Shane Briant (Trayso), Rel Hunt (Karohm), Patrick Ward (Ralnaht), Ben Dalton (Zepa)
Synopsis: The gang rock up to a Scarran border post, intercept the freighter that is carrying Aeryn and manage to rescue her—but Scorpius is taken prisoner by the Scarrans.
Buck Rogers Redux: John talks his way into the freighter’s medlab by romancing Morrock and then goes all gung-ho and blows it entirely by knocking her out and trying to snatch Aeryn solo. He easily resists the Scarran heat probe, telling it half-truths, although it’s unclear how much of his resistance is due to Katoya’s training. He doesn’t shoot Trayso dead, merely wounds him, because his ‘body count’s too high.’
You Can Be More: Aeryn is wholly broken when we see her, her will overwhelmed by the endless sedatives Morrock gives her. She is hallucinating John and is unsure what is real.
Everyone’s Favourite Little Tralk: Chiana puts up a hell of a fight when the Charrids board Moya to kidnap her, but it’s not enough. Her contempt for Sikozu is really starting to grate on my nerves—what does Sikozu have to do to catch a break from Chi?
The Ballad of D’Argo and Chiana: She and D’Argo have a moment on the station, when D’Argo is obviously jealous when she’s chatting up a Kalish, and she’s obviously glad when he steps in. Later, when he’s carrying her into Moya, she tells him he can put her down ‘at least for now.’
Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Rygel’s gluttony comes in useful for once, as he comes up with the plan to fake illness, trigger quarantine and buy them time. Hynerians have a disease called Derma Folica. Rygel has had it before, and it lies dormant within him; it is contagious to some other races (though not Nebari or Scarrans). It killed four of his wives. He appears to die as a result of Noranti’s cure, but is fine later. He comforts Noranti and willingly gives her his forgiveness.
Grandma, we love you: Noranti’s plan is to revive the Derma Folica in Rygel, re-infect him, and thus extend the quarantine. Clever but drastic, and it not only kills Rygel, briefly, but some innocent Kalish crewmembers. She is devastated by her actions and their consequences, and seeks forgiveness from the divine eternal.
Bobblehead: Since she is Kalish, she goes ahead to the base, befriends the guy who runs it, and is a very efficient and sneaky little spy indeed. Without her skills, intelligence and know-how, the whole plan would have been a bust. But still all she gets is suspicion—and a smack in the chops—from Chiana. She is able to project heat from her hands… kind of like a Scarran; she’s very keen D’Argo and the other not know this.
Nosferatu in Leather: Scorpius poses as Moya’s captain, displaying his usual guile. He knows the clearance codes of the Scarran espionage service. (How?) His softly, softly approach works about as effectively as John’s gung-ho one, as Jenek time and again fails to take Scorpius’ bait. He is no match at all for a Scarran in a one-to-one fight.
Hello Harvey: Harvey ain’t dead, Scorpius lied. Instead of deleting him, he upgraded him to Harvey 2.0, reprogrammed him to be completely loyal and, presumably, set him to stealth mode until such a time as he may need to reveal himself in order to save his master. He claims he’s been talking to Scorpius all this time, sharing the contents of John’s head, including wormholes.
Is he lying when he says he’s told Scorpius everything about wormholes? If he’s not lying, why would Scorpius have taken the deal with John? In fact, why would he have bothered hanging around Moya at all once he had the knowledge he needed—is the ‘download’ still incomplete?
If he isn’t lying, why does he think this will persuade John to go rescue Scorpius? John’s admitted he doesn’t really care about stopping the Scarrans any more, just about Aeryn; if it’s a lie, it lacks real incentive or leverage.
The more sinister option is that it is a lie, but Harvey has once again got some level of control over John—he tells the lie to help disguise the fact that he’s essentially forcing John to go rescue Scorpius, to give his control of John an element of plausible deniability.
(Spoiler: he will later tell John he was lying, which doesn’t really make much sense to me, as detailed above. I think I prefer my more sinister interpretation.)
Alien Encounters: Sikozu’s race, the Kalish, are the bureaucrats who run the Scarran Imperium; they have been conquered but serve to stay alive. The Charrids, on the other hand, provide the muscle.
The Scarran Imperium has a Ministry of Disimulation, which runs their spy network.
Stats: All vessels on the way to Katrazi have to stop at a Scarran border post to be inspected and collect a security beacon. If they lack the correct security beacon, they’re shot on sight when they approach Katrazi.
Unlikely as it may seem, Nebari females are biologically suitable hosts for Sebacean children.
Logic Leaps: The Charrid recognises Scorpius as a half-breed, but does not know his name. But if Scorpius is the only one then either the Charrid should have identified him, or been stunned by his existence; as it is, he just remarks on it and that’s it—is Scorpius less unique than we’ve been led to believe? Also, if Jenek is as high up in the military as he seems to be in the next episode, surely he would know Scorpius on sight. And if he’s so well informed about John—and he is, since he’s been asking Aeryn where he is for some time—why doesn’t he recognise him?
Blooper: Noranti says ‘the bacteria that causes the virus,’ which is, of course, total nonsense. (She may have just got it wrong, but it seems unlikely).
Backstage: The BBC, still determined to show a series in which we witness simulated in-utero fetal death at 6pm for a children’s audience (‘it’s got puppets, must be for kids, just cut the icky bits!’), refused to display the overall trilogy name on screen (‘Gasp! Naughty word! Hide it from the kiddies!’) so this, and the next two episodes, were only known by their subtitles.
The Verdict: Lots of great bits in isolation—Scorpius utterly failing in his machinations; John wooing Morrock; Noranti saving the day by screwing everything up completely; Chiana kicking arse; a whopping great hint that Sikozu is not at all what she seems; and especially Harvey’s Nosferatu turn—but somehow it doesn’t quite add up to a genuinely great episode.
It moves the plot along very effectively, and has tension aplenty, but it lacks the knotty character work of the last couple of episodes, so I find it slightly less satisfying. Still, it resolves one thread, lays a bunch of new ones, and doesn’t do anything bad, so it’s a thumbs up. And I can’t wait for the next episode!