Wed
Jul 18 2012 2:00pm

Farscape Rewatch: “Bone To Be Wild”

Farscape, Season 1 Episode 21, Bone to Be Wild“Bone To Be Wild”
Written by David Kemper and Rockne S. O’Bannon, directed by Andrew Prowse
Season 1, Episode 21

1st US Transmission Date: 21 January 2000
1st UK Transmission Date: 22 May 2000
1st Australian Transmission: 20 January 2001

Guest Cast: Lani Tupu (Capt. Bialar Crais), Wayne Pygram (Scorpius), Francesca Buller (M’Lee), Marton Csokas (Br’Nee), David Franklin (Lt. Braca)

Synopsis: Moya and her baby are hiding from Crais’s Command Carrier in an asteroid field when they receive a distress call, which leads D’Argo, John and Zhaan to a lush asteroid with no animal life. A creature called M’Lee is hiding from a monster, Br’Nee, who she claims ate her family. They take M’Lee back to the transport pod but Br’Nee attacks, the pod is damaged and D’Argo is wounded. Zhaan is taken by Br’Nee, who is a botanist and warns that M’Lee is a bone eater and ate all the other members of his expedition.

Zhaan is revealed to be a plant, which fascinates Br’Nee. While Zhaan and Br’Nee are healing D’Argo in the pod, M’Lee tells John that her people were planted on the asteroid to eat all animal life and thus protect the plants so that Br’Nee and his team could harvest the world. They had assumed that all of M’Lee’s people would be dead when they returned but she survived by eating her fellows. She restrains her hunger and begs to be rescued.

Farscape, Season 1 Episode 21, Bone to Be Wild

Br’Nee miniaturises Zhaan to keep her as a sample for study. John releases Zhaan and kills Br’Nee. M’Lee eats Br’Nee’s bones, and when the Peacekeepers arrive in pursuit of the already departed Transport Pod, she is taken to the Command Carrier.

The crew return to Moya with Br’Nee’s charts which will enable them to navigate safely out of the asteroid field.

Aeryn remains on Moya at Pilot’s request and goes aboard the baby to help it trust Moya and her crew.

On board the Command Carrier, Scorpius wrests control from Crais.

Farscape, Season 1 Episode 21, Bone to Be Wild

Buck Rogers Redux: John unwittingly offends Zhaan by accusing Br’Nee of sacrificing M’Lee’s people just to preserve ‘some stinking plants,’ and expresses amazement that Zhaan is a ‘vegetable.’ Tactful, isn’t he? He also makes some terrible puns, most notably ‘bone appetit’ when M’Lee eats Br’Nee. He’s now carrying a pulse pistol as a matter of routine, a big change for him.

You Can Be More: Aeryn is tender towards the baby and has an instant rapport with it. She’s almost motherly.

Big Blue: Zhaan considers the asteroid, a world exclusively populated by plant life, to be paradise, and she’s upset that she will never visit it again.

Farscape, Season 1 Episode 21, Bone to Be Wild

I Was A Teenage Luxan: D’Argo has bad allergies to plant life. He has always been suspicious of doctors because he’s mostly been treated by charlatans, but he’s amazed by the effectiveness of Br’Nee’s herbal remedy. D’Argo comes over all philosophical when consoling Zhaan about leaving the asteroid, and it shows how far his character has progressed and deepened during the season:

D’ARGO: You’ll find your way back there Zhaan, when insanity isn’t pursuing you.
ZHAAN: I’ll never be able to go back there again and you know it.
D’ARGO: Then, those miracle plants will be found by someone else. In the great scheme of things, it’s all the same.
ZHAAN: Point taken. When did our roles become reversed, sweet D’Argo?
D’ARGO: When you required it.

Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Rygel spends his time being cold and bundling up with Chiana, which he uses, again, as a chance to grope her. D’Argo has taken to calling Rygel ‘your flatulence.’

Farscape, Season 1 Episode 21, Bone to Be Wild

The Insane Military Commander: Crais stubbornly and arrogantly fights Scorpius to retain control of his ship, but by the end he realises he has lost and tells Lt. Braca, his new second in command, to follow Scorpius’ orders.

Nosferatu In Rubber: At first, Scorpius tries to influence events by offering suggestions to Crais, but when Crais rejects them, he takes more direct action. He threatens to report Crais’s actions to First Command and then takes command, promising to strip Crais of rank. This provokes Crais to violence, but Scorpius exhibits great strength and a much deeper voice when enraged: ‘why must you force me to display my physical superiority to your kind, as well? If you want to fight anyone, attack your executioner.’ There are rumours among the Peacekeepers that Scorpius can sense other people’s ‘fears and weaknesses’ which would explain how he knew John was a spy in ’Nerve.’ His reception of M’Lee is very surprising and hints at greater depth of character than expected: ‘we must know when to be strong and when to show compassion… as a matter of honour, sometimes we must be willing to give of ourselves.’

Farscape, Season 1 Episode 21, Bone to Be Wild

A Ship, A Living Ship: Aeryn, the only one amongst the crew who Moya and Pilot feel they can really trust, thinks the offspring is ‘amazing and frightening.’ He realises he is different and is reluctant to talk to or trust his mother, but when Aeryn comes aboard, he answers her every request and need, showing her the right controls to use and allowing her to help him stay hidden from the Peacekeepers. He has a Sonic Ascendancy cannon that Aeryn brings online. Moya is grateful for Aeryn’s help and tells her she can choose a name for the child, an offer which moves her deeply. Rygel and Chiana both point out to Aeryn that they may have no choice but to use the baby as a weapon to help them escape the Peacekeepers; Aeryn refuses to even consider it.

Farscape, Season 1 Episode 21, Bone to Be Wild

Alien Encounters: Delvians are plants. 21 episodes and we only find that out now, but it all makes perfect sense. First she has white sap for blood (‘Throne For A Loss’), then photogasms in intense light (‘Till The Blood Runs Clear’), then we discover the Delvians eat life forms that are half animal half plant (‘Rhapsody In Blue’), and finally when Zhaan hurt her arm she didn’t say her bone was broken, she said the ’fibres’ were torn (‘Through The Looking Glass’). Zhaan also makes herself invisible at one point, a skill similar to the cloaking effect she utilised in ‘Till The Blood Runs Clear.’ David Kemper has stated that is was because she was surrounded by so many plants, which explains why it is not a skill we see her use again. Her temperature is self-regulating in all but the most extreme climates.

D’Argo is hurt and suffers from internal bleeding. Presumably this is very serious for a Luxan: to make the blood run clear the wound needs to be violently punched or somehow stimulated, and how do you punch an internal injury?

M’Lee’s people are calcivores – bone eaters – but they are passive and calm after eating. When they are hungry they sprout spines and thorns and present themselves as a feral beast. Br’Nee’s people can live for over 200 cycles.

Farscape, Season 1 Episode 21, Bone to Be Wild

Disney On Acid: When they’re getting ready to leave for the asteroid, John tells Pilot ‘four to beam down,’ although it’s doubtful whether Pilot has ever seen Star Trek. He says of Br’Nee: ‘swamp thing here ain’t the ’Mr. Rogers’ scientist we thought he was,’ which manages to reference DC Comics and children’s TV in one sentence.

Logic Leaps: Scorpius knows about Moya’s baby, and since John didn’t know Moya had given birth when he was in the chair, Scorpius must have seen the child when the Command Carrier was in pursuit of Moya. Plus they haven’t travelled far, because in the next episode they are back at the Gammak Base in no time. Thus it’s implied that immediately following ’The Hidden Memory’ there was a chase which resulted in Moya hiding in the asteroid belt, otherwise how would the Command Carrier have known Moya was in there? So if that’s the case — where on earth did Stark get to? He was on the ship at the end of the last episode and there hasn’t been time for them to drop him off anywhere. (Executive Producer Richard Manning admitted that they screwed up, but they offer an excuse in 216, ‘The Locket’.)

A world that’s only inhabited by plants couldn’t survive because there’d be nothing to enable pollination, however Zhaan states there are no insects on the asteroid, so alien plants don’t need pollination.

John shared Unity with Zhaan (‘Rhapsody In Blue’), what are the chances that he could entirely share her consciousness and not realise she was a plant?

Farscape, Season 1 Episode 21, Bone to Be Wild

Stats: PK scans are keyed to look for energy sources, so Moya switches off all but essential systems to help her hide – this makes the ship very cold indeed. She can establish a direct laser comms link with the baby — to intercept it, someone would have to be directly between them.

Guest Stars: English actress Francesca Buller, who is also Ben Browder’s wife, appeared as Minnie Chaplin in Richard Attenborough’s film Chaplin, and will return to Farscape playing a variety of alien races throughout is run. Marton Csokas played Borias in Xena: Warrior Princess, Celeborn in the first Lord Of the Rings film and has been in constant demand for big budget movie roles ever since. David Franklin played Brutus in Xena: Warrior Princess, and will be a semi-regular on Farscape from now on.

Backstage: This is the first episode to feature Gigi Edgley in the main title sequence.

The Verdict: The M’Lee storyline plays on Beauty And The Beast, making us think it’s a standard parable, so at first we think the beast is bad, then it’s reversed and M’Lee is supposedly bad, which seems predictable, but then it’s reversed again. M’Lee’s race have horrible eating habits – just eating the bones and leaving the flesh to rot — but that is just her nature and everything she does she does to survive, so despite some revulsion she earns the crew’s sympathies. Francesca Buller and Marton Csokas are both very good, and their costumes are marvellous. Scorpius is emerging as a very threatening character indeed and Crais gets more interesting the more pathetic he becomes. The control room of the offspring is a beautiful set, all lights and red flashes, looking like a huge pinball table. Rarely does Farscape so completely separate its A, B and C storylines, but this works, although it feels that the B and C threads – Scorpius and the baby – are just groundwork for the imminent season finale.

Farscape, Season 1 Episode 21, Bone to Be Wild

Verdict Redux: I love Br’Nee’s odd London accent and the fantastic make-up — he has mushrooms growing out of his head! The revelation that Zhaan is a plant comes completely out of the blue (sorry), but it’s been so carefully set up that it makes more sense the more you think about it. This time around I enjoyed the B and C storylines far more than the main plot. The mind games on the command carrier and the beginning of the relationship between Aeryn and the offspring really grabbed me — such great character work.


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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15 comments
Kevin Bayer
1. SporadicReviews
Great review! Farscape is a great series.
If you're not aware, The ScaperChronicles podcast is watching the series, episode by episode, with a cast of veteran Farscape fans and noobs to the series. We're currently in the second season.
SF
2. SF
"When they’re getting ready to leave for the asteroid, John tells Pilot ‘four to beam down,’ although it’s doubtful whether Pilot has ever seen Star Trek. "

Wouldn't the translator microbes take care of that for Pilot?
Lee VanDyke
3. Cloric
@2

I would imagine that they would translate the words, but the phrase should still be a mystery to him, unless he's told them all about the show it came from.
George Brell
4. gbrell
@2.SF/3.Cloric:

In S4 ("Lava's a Many Splendored Thing"), John references Abbott and Costello to D'Argo, who doesn't get it and has to have it explained to him again. So John does tell the others about earth culture. And translator microbes don't translate pop culture history.
SF
5. politeruin
Talyn grew a hell of a lot faster than i remember, what was the time span between the last episode when he was born to this episode where he's big enough to walk around in? Not very long i reckon since they're on the run from the gammak base but then even baby talyn must be huge, it's easy to forget the sheer size of moya. This is always the problem with ships in science fiction, it's difficult to convey a proper sense of scale.

Crais was becoming a bit of a joke villain but his bonding with talyn later on seems to provide a turning point for the character and you start to actually like him. Well i did, so it had a big impact when *snip*...getting ahead of myself.
SF
6. SF
@4: Yeah, we see that sometimes, like in the example you mention, and early in Season 1 when John talks about Yoda.

But "Four to beam down," in this instance functions doesn't only function as a reference to a pop culture reference. It's also a way of saying: "We four are ready to go down to the asteroid." That is a meaning that John is communicating with the phrase. I don't think the microbes would explain Star Trek to Pilot, but I'd guess they'd convey the second meaning, at least so far as I understand how the Farscape-science of the microbes is supposed to work.

Just something cool to contemplate.
SF
7. Cybersnark
Plus, at this point, I'd imagine everyone on Moya has learned to just tune out most of whatever Chrichton is babbling about. ;)
Iain Cupples
8. NumberNone
"Francesca Buller and Marton Csokas are both very good, and their costumes are marvellous."

Different strokes and all that, but while Buller's costume is good, Csokas' costume is IMO just awful. It's ugly, silly-looking, makes no anatomical sense, and honestly looks to me like it would be rejected from an episode of Power Rangers as over the top and unconvincing.

That said, I do love the design of Talyn. It works so well, the reds and PK influences on top of the Leviathan base. This is pretty typical of my feelings about Farscape design in a nutshell: 90% brilliant, 10% utterly awful.

The revelation of Zhaan as a sentient plant is a nice touch. I'm not sure that John would have picked that up from sharing unity: it seems to me that it's so basic to Zhaan and so accepted by her that it would be below the level of her self-image, even. How many of us would ever reflect on the fact that we're mammals and not plants or birds?
Rob Rater
9. Quasarmodo
It just occurred to me that while John and Zhaan were sharing unity, their translator microbes wouldn't be used because they weren't speaking. I wonder if their minds were completely alien to each other, whether they'd be able to understand each other, despite sharing the same mind. I wouldn't think it was a regular custom of Delvians to share unity with an alien species, so it's not something they would run into very often.
SF
10. DS
Earth plants do not always need pollination to reproduce also. Some propagate via their roots (yarrow), some split their rhizomes (lilies and hops), some send out runners that turn into new plants (spider plants and strawberries), and some just self pollinate (peppers). And don't forget that some plants can live centuries without reproducing, so just another case where truth can be as strange as if not stranger than fiction.
SF
11. phuzz
Not to mention, most plants on earth are wind pollenated, it's only flowering plants that need insects (or occasionally other animals and birds), as attracting pollenators is the only purpose of flowers.
Christopher Hatton
12. Xopher
I think Scorpius knows John is a spy in "Nerve" because he has Scarran heat sense and can see that John isn't Sebacean. He does say "you're not Sebacean."

Also, I think his reception of M'Lee is irony on the part of the writers. "We must be willing to give of ourselves" immediately made me think "Yeah, bones first, you bastard." Remember that she intends to eat the Peacekeepers. I remember being disappointed that this is never mentioned again, and that none of them apparently does get eaten.
George Brell
13. gbrell
@12.Xopher:

I had the same problem when I first watched the season, but upon re-watching I realized it is mentioned again in either "Family Ties" or "Mind the Baby."

Scorpius and Braca offhandedly mention that they haven't heard from the Marauder detailed to transport M'Lee. The implication being fairly clear.
Rob Rater
14. Quasarmodo
I caught that referece on the rewatch also. My memory was that it was the very next episode, which would make it "Family Ties."
Christopher Hatton
15. Xopher
I'm guessing SKA must be on vacation. Or holiday, whatever.

Good in a way. Lets me know how much I look forward to these every week.

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