“The Hidden Memory”
Written by Justin Monjo, directed by Ian Watson
Season 1, Episode 20
1st US Transmission Date: 14 January 2000
1st UK Transmission Date: 15 May 2000
1st Australian Transmission: 6 January 2001
Guest Cast: Gigi Edgley (Chiana), Lani Tupu (Capt. Bialar Crais), Alyssa-Jane Cook (Gilina), Wayne Pygram (Scorpius), Paul Goddard (Stark), Imogen Annesley (Niem), Anthony Kierann (Lt. Heskon)
Synopsis: John is blocking a memory from the Aurora chair and Scorpius is killing him trying to break thought to it, thinking it’s about wormholes. In fact it’s the memory of kissing Gilina, which would give her away as his accomplice. Gilina alters the chair so when he does think of the kiss it plays false memories that make it look like John has given all the wormhole secrets to Crais. Scorpius throws John back in the cell with Stark and puts Crais in the chair. Crais is also blocking a memory, Scorpius again assumes it’s about wormholes, but in fact it’s the murder of Lt. Teeg (“That Old Black Magic”).
Aeryn, Zhaan and D’Argo fly through Gilina’s safe route and land on top of the Gammak base. Aeryn makes contact with Gilina while the others remain on the roof. Gilina and Aeryn free John and Stark and make for the roof but they are cut off and have to hide. They need an Ident Chip from a senior officer to get out and Aeryn goes to find one. She discovers Crais in the Aurora Chair, takes his chip and switches the chair to full power, leaving him to die. Gilina realises that John loves Aeryn and decides to stay behind.
On the roof the crew are reunited just as troops attack. There is a gun battle and Scorpius grabs John. Gilina appears, having changed her mind, but she’s too slow and is shot by Scorpius, although the distraction allows Moya’s crew to flee. Back on the ship, Gilina dies, but we learn that before she left the base she scrambled their sensors so Moya can escape undetected (although the next episode implies that she didn’t do a very good job of it).
Meanwhile Moya gives birth to a boy with some help from Chiana, but it is a warship – the first Leviathan with weapons.
Buck Rogers Redux: John is willing to die to protect Gilina, much as he was to save Aeryn. His resistance to the chair is nothing short of incredible, and without rescue it would surely have killed him before long. His laughter during the gunfight hints at just how damaged he’s been by the whole experience.
You Can Be More: Aeryn hasn’t recovered from her nerve damage but she goes charging in to save Crichton, even with her hands shaking. She thanks Gilina and urges her to come with them. Her confrontation with Crais is marvelous and she finally deals with the PK past that was still troubling her in “A Bug’s Life” and lets it go once and for all: “I am no longer a Peacekeeper… you know what I learned when I was away from you? Everything I lost isn’t worth a damn, and I don’t want to go back to your past.” As she leaves him to die on the chair not one shred of doubt is visible on her face.
I Was A Teenage Luxan: Zhaan calls his blade “unconventional,” which leads to quite a speech: “many cycles ago there was a race even more feared than the Peacekeepers: the Telloks. They laid siege to my planet for over 100 solar days. When the final assault came all our warriors had were these unconventional weapons. My own great-grandfather died in that war. When the final days come Luxans believe that the Qualta blade will lead us to freedom.”
Buckwheat the Sixteenth: “I’ve conceived hundreds of progeny, and those are only the official ones with my wives… My progeny were… tiny and handsome, like their father.” When Moya’s giving birth she has to equalise pressure with the outside, which means creating a vacuum in Moya. Rygel and Chiana shelter in a tiny pressure chamber and Rygel loves being that close to Chiana. He’s lecherous and gross, and when he’s not farting he’s obviously copping a feel, to her disgust.
Your Favourite Little Tralk: For the second time in two episodes Chiana earns her keep. She goes racing into the birth chamber to help deliver Moya’s baby, at great risk to her own life. Chiana – intergalactic midwife!
The Man In the Iron Mask: Stark has been in the chair over 100 times but his insanity is a ploy – he acts mad to keep them off his back. He’s been held there for two cycles and in that time he’s built a magnetic crypt encoder out of pieces of metal, which allows him to try combinations that might open the cell door. He’s a Banik slave, and most of his people were destroyed by the Peacekeepers. He says his people can keep their feelings hidden, and his ability to hide memories from the Aurora chair fascinates Scorpius. When he removes his mask half his head is a mass of glowing light which soothes John’s pain. He can share thoughts with others in order to calm them, and he gives Gilina a memory of a place he saw once as a boy – the memory he was keeping from the chair – to help her die more easily.
The Insane Military Commander: Crais gets his comeuppance. His murder of Lt. Teeg is revealed, his crew abandon him to Scorpius and he’s tortured in the chair. It doesn’t break him, though – when Aeryn confronts him he still rants: “I will track you down and kill you, Officer Sun, on that, I give you my vow.” When we last see him he’s unconscious but still alive, so he’s not out of the way yet. His parents were farmers.
Nosferatu In Rubber: Scorpius is determined not to let John escape. He turns on Crais and gets away with it, so he must be very confident of the strength of his position with PK command.
A Ship, A Living Ship: Moya’s baby is not normal - the Peacekeepers altered her reproductive system to produce a Warship. Because it’s an unusual child it cannot be born normally and Chiana has to get it to fire one of its guns on low power and cut its way out of Moya. It is born healthy and it’s a boy, but it’s unique and its loyalties uncertain.
The Ballad Of Aeryn And John: “That is the radiant Aeryn Sun.” Gilina asks John if he wants to be with Aeryn but he doesn’t have time to answer. She then asks Aeryn the same question and she also dodges the issue. By the end Gilina knows John loves Aeryn, but he admits he could have loved her had things been different. She dies while he’s kissing her.
Disney On Acid: John refers to Scorpius’ assistant as “Peacekeeper Barbie.” Rygel’s hand on the steamed up window of the pressure capsule is a visual reference to Titanic.
Logic Leaps: The Gammak base has no sensors up top because they would reveal its location, in other words the Peacekeepers have chosen secrecy over defence. So they can’t develop hidden sensors? Come on… Then again perhaps that’s not too unbelievable, since all their technology seems to use simple jack plugs!
Backstage: Like Gilina and Chiana before him Stark was only intended to appear in these two episodes but Paul Goddard so impressed the team that they began plans to work him into Season Two immediately.
The Verdict: The second part of a two-parter is always tricky, rarely does resolution work as well as build-up, and although this is a gripping installment it lacks the punch of the first half. Gilina’s death is affecting but something of a surprise because it’s such an obvious thing to do. The scene with Aeryn and Crais is a classic, but the drama of Moya’s birth is far more exciting even if it does play like the B Plot. Still, it’s nice to see a good old fashioned laser-gun battle with glowing pulse blasts and silly gun sound effects like you used to make in the school playground (go on, admit it), no one much seems to do those any more except Farscape.
Verdict redux: As I said originally, it doesn’t quite live up to the first part, but that’s not unusual.
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.