Sep 12 2012 3:00pm

Farscape Rewatch: “The Way We Weren’t”

Farscape, The Way We Weren’tThe Way We Weren't
Written by Naren Shankar, directed by Tony Tilse
Season 2, Episode 5

1st US Transmission Date: 14 April 2000
1st UK Transmission Date: 24 July 2000
1st Australian Transmission: 11 December 2001

Guest Cast: Alex Dimitriades (Velorek), Lani Tupu (Capt. Bialar Crais), Melissa Jaffer (Voice of female Pilot)

Synopsis — Then: Three cycles ago a Peacekeeper called Velorek, who specialised in bonding Pilots to Leviathans, was contacted by Crais and instructed to secure a Pilot. He visited the Pilot race's world and convinced one youngster, who had been judged unfit to be bonded, to agree to be bonded to Moya. Moya's original Pilot, who had resisted PK servitude, was no longer needed and was executed by PK troops at Crais's command. One of the troopers was Aeryn, who had been taken off Prowler duty and assigned to assist Velorek. Pilot was then forcibly grafted into Moya. Velorek realised that Crais's secret project – to breed a Leviathan gunship – would probably kill Moya, so he secretly installed the shield that prevented conception (which D'Argo shattered in 'They've Got A Secret'). He and Aeryn were lovers but she betrayed him in order to secure a posting back to Prowler duty. Velorek was tortured to death, but never revealed the measures he had taken to thwart Crais's project. Moya never conceived, was re-assigned as a prison transport… the rest is history.

Synopsis — Now: Chiana finds a recording of the previous Pilot's execution and discovers Aeryn's part in events. The crew confront her and she admits it, but insists she didn't realise Moya was the same Leviathan. D'Argo hides the tape, but Rygel steals it and shows it to Pilot. Pilot nearly kills Aeryn in fury and stops Moya dead, refusing to move until Aeryn leaves. Crichton goes to see Pilot to talk him down but Pilot rips himself out of Moya's system breaking the bond and leaving Moya uncontrolled. Eventually Pilot will starve and the life support will fail. He then commands the DRDs to adopt defensive position and keep out the crew. John and Aeryn break in and Pilot admits his own culpability in the death of his predecessor. Aeryn and Pilot make peace and Pilot is naturally re-bonded to Moya.

Farscape, The Way We Weren’t

That Peacekeeper Bitch: 'Things were very different then: my priorities, my values, and my relationships.' We've always known Aeryn was a PK but now we are confronted with the harsh reality of what that means – she was a traitorous, cold-blooded killer. She was in love with Velorek but she still betrayed him for her own ends, although she tells him to change his mind just before his arrest, so she relented at the last moment. Her relationships back then were 'painful,' but Velorek is the only one she ever loved. She has been on hundreds of Leviathans.

Big Blue: Zhaan was on board when the Pilots were switched and we glimpse her being led along a corridor in one of the flashbacks. She turns on Aeryn too, but soon realises she's being too harsh: 'you had no choice back then, you did exactly what was expected of you. In that world, that was the only kind of Peacekeeper you could be.'

Farscape, The Way We Weren’t

I Was A Teenage Luxan: D'argo still loses whenever he and John resolve a question by playing Rock/Scissors/Paper. He was chained to his cell by the rings through his collarbones.

Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Rygel was on board Moya when the Pilots were changed and his fury at Aeryn is something to behold. He shows Pilot the tape because he says he has a right to know, but the others believe he did it so Pilot would owe him a favour.

Your Favourite Little Tralk: Chiana takes the pragmatists view to the revelations about Aeryn: 'what have you guys been thinking all this time? What? She was out picking Rawliss Buds while all the other mean Peacekeepers did all the really nasty stuff?'

Farscape, The Way We Weren’t

In The Driving Seat: Pilot was voted unworthy of being bonded to a Leviathan, but his hunger to see the stars led him to agree to Velorek's deal. He now blames himself for the death of his predecessor and the consequent suffering endured by Moya, and feels unworthy of his role on Moya. For a Pilot to bond naturally with a Leviathan takes one or two cycles, but Pilot was forcibly grafted into Moya, and so is in constant pain. After he severs his connection he instructs D'Argo on how to re-attach minor, temporary connections to give him rudimentary control. He will now bond naturally with Moya; this will take a cycle during which he will have less control than before, but he will never feel the pain again. As John points out, when Pilot's arm was cut off in 'DNA Mad Scientist', he only got slightly annoyed, so the fury he displays when strangling Aeryn is entirely unexpected and opens the character up immensely.

The Insane Military Commander: Now we know why Crais went into raptures when he saw Talyn – it was the culmination of a project he had instigated. It was not just the death of his brother that sent him over the edge, he was quite mad and utterly ruthless already, as the flashbacks reveal. Which also calls into question the sincerity of his change of heart when he supposedly let go of this brother's death — was it all a ruse just to get Talyn?

Farscape, The Way We Weren’t

A Ship, A Living Ship: Before the current Pilot, Moya had a female Pilot for 21 cycles. She was anaesthetised while the change was made and awoke to find herself being tortured into accepting a new Pilot. The crew aren't weightless because of 'Internal Gravity Bladders.' John and D'Argo are trying to repair the defence screen they took from the Zelbinion ('PK Tech Girl') but they're not sure they can make it work again.

The Ballad Of Aeryn And John: Aeryn tells John that Velorek told her she could be more than just a PK, and John told her the same thing the day they first met. John says 'and you say you loved this man?' Aeryn doesn't reply, but their looks say it all. She as good as admits that she and John would be lovers were she not both afraid of the consequences and conditioned against such attachments. John's a little floored and momentarily jealous about Velorek, and he has to adjust his image of Aeryn.

Farscape, The Way We Weren’t

Alien Encounters: Pilot's home world is wreathed in mist (a convenient way to avoid showing the operators underneath the puppet), but the sound effects and the scene seem to imply that Pilot's race are aquatic. Their language is so complex that translator microbes can't handle it — one sentence can contain hundreds of meanings (this reflects the unique multi-tasking abilities referred to in 'DNA Mad Scientist'). Pilot has to train himself to speak in short simple sentences so others can understand him. The elders of their race decide who is worthy of being bonded to a Leviathan.

Disney On Acid: 'Five cents, the Doctor is in.' John obviously reads the comic strip Peanuts. If someone's acting irrationally his 'Etch-a-Sketch isn't operating with all its knobs'.

Farscape, The Way We Weren’t

Get Frelled: Peacekeepers are bred for military service and they breed on command. They do not have lifepartners and their relationships are brief and recreational. This way the best officers can be assigned where needed without High Command having to worry themselves about keeping couples together.

Seen It All Before: In many ways this is similar to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode 'Things Past' that shows us Odo's behaviour when he worked under the Cardassians.

Guest Stars: Alex Dimitriades has been a regular on Neighbours, Heartbreak High and Young Lions. Most recently he's appeared in The Slap.

Farscape, The Way We Weren’t

Backstage: This episode's covered extensively in issue 2 of the official Farscape Magazine.

The Verdict: Stunning. Chock full of revelations, extreme character examinations, explanations to long unanswered questions and, most impressively, giving Pilot a back story and a fully rounded character, this is Farscape at its very best. On every other show you can think of the initial revelation that Aeryn was a murderer would have been wormed out of some way – possession, or a trick, or something lame. Not on Farscape – she was a cold-blooded killer and that's that. How refreshing to have a show unafraid of muddying the waters and taking the characters, in this case both Aeryn and Pilot, to deep, dark places. Claudia Black is superb in this instalment, allowing us to see far more substantial aspects of the person underneath all Aeryn's defences.

Farscape, The Way We Weren’t

Verdict Redux: The decision to make Aeryn's past so murky seems quite tame nowadays, but at the time it was unusual and brave; Farscape really was ahead of the curve there. But external context is the only thing that's changed with time — this remains a tour de force and one of the most seamless and elegant pieces of retconning you could wish for. Also, Lani Tupu (who my Kiwi wife assures me was quite the heartthrob on NZ TV when she was a girl!) really is excellent in his dual roles.

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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David Lev
1. davidlev
This is easily one of my favorite Farscape episodes. The interactions between Pilot and Aeryn bring me to tears every time
2. sofrina
the old pilot was so ballsy: "release the control collar and reawaken this leviathan AT ONCE!!!"

it was a shame lt. velorek was a one-off character. he was fantastic.
This is one of my favorite farscape episodes. I found Pilot's world and backstory fascinating. Aeryn changes a lot over time from a jackbooted killer to a person as the flashbacks apply demonstrate. I was astonished to discover that Lani Tupu did both Pilot and Crais because I had such opposite reactions to both characters. I like Pilot and hate Crais.
4. politeruin
Wait, characters aren't the victims of the latest alien-of-the-week brainwashing and are just fundamentally deeply flawed? I'm going to like this show.

Great stuff though, i distinctly remember how shocking and quite frightening it was when pilot goes nuts and rips himself out of moya's connections.
Liz Bourke
5. hawkwing-lb
This is probably just about my favourite episode ever, just on Claudia Black's performance here alone. It's also really brilliantly shot.
Theresa DeLucci
6. theresa_delucci
I never thought I could cry over a puppet, but, damn, Pilot made me cry when he said he just wanted to see the stars. And then later when he said the pain was gone. Wow. That's a real testament to the Henson workshop and Lani Tupu's voice-acting. And Claudia Black was so spot-on in this. Definitely one of the best episodes of Farscape ever.
Jack Flynn
7. JackofMidworld
It's been a while since I've watched this episode but the one thing that I didn't understood was Chiana's reasoning between showing the tape in the first place. It didn't take away from the episode at all, still a great one, just left me scratching my head a bit. I could see if she'd show it to just John or D'argo, since she seems closer to them than the others, but (if memory serves, and it may not) it seemed almost, I don't know, vindictive, maybe?

Another big reason for the lack of attachements between PKs is to make sure that they see the chain of command first and not the other PKs. Means they'll follow orders over their heart without missing a beat (sort of like SW clone troopers, but without all that pesky bioengineering).
Jack Flynn
8. JackofMidworld
Oh, and thanx to ROBINM - I had totally missed the fact that Crais was Pilot! I blame Netflix for letting me fast-forward through the credits ;)
Iain Cupples
9. NumberNone
I'll start with a tiny criticism: I have to admit I wasn't really sold on the notion that Aeryn didn't realise Moya was the same Leviathan she'd been on before. It's possible, just about: but I didn't really find it all the credible. It really looked and felt like a retcon, and that's the only thing wrong with this episode.

Once you put that aside, though, it's a stunning piece of acting by Lani Tupu and Claudia Black, as others have said. The supporting actors are terrific too, guests and regulars, and the technical aspects of the episode are handled really well too. The handling of the idea by the writers is brave and sure, even if its introduction wasn't perfect. Real quality stuff.
Christopher Hatton
10. Xopher
I like this episode a lot. It's bizarre that PKs can produce a man like Velorek from time to time, though I suppose Norway produced Anders Breivik. But a civil society can produce the occasional brute; I don't see how space-Nazis like the PKs could produce a compassionate, empathic guy like him. But I liked him anyway, and that was a refrigerator moment; it didn't detract from the episode.

As for Aeryn not knowing it was the same Leviathan: surely she'd remember that this was the Leviathan where they killed the pilot? many times has that happened in her presence? To be fair, I don't recall her meeting the new pilot (Pilot) in the flashbacks, so maybe.
11. politeruin
Yeah, i too was floored when i found out lani tupu was the voice of pilot. theresa_delucci brings up a worthwhile point though, i remember the early critics calling this "muppets in space" but it was episodes like this which made pilot and rygel (moya and talyn to some degree) as believable as the meat sacks. Still thinking of 'into the lions den: part 2' here and THAT moment (;_;)
Theresa DeLucci
12. theresa_delucci
Maybe to space Nazis, all Leviathans look alike? That's how I forgave the retconning of Aeryn not recognizing Moya. She said she was different back then.
13. jezebellydancer
Farscape was generally shown late at night in my market. I tried to tape it, but sometimes it woudl come on an hour earlier or later, or not at all due to preemption by some sporting event. Which means I saw many episodes out of order, or not at all. This was one of the eps I missed altogether.

Wow. So glad to finally see it and in order. It is my favorite episode so far. I love Claudia Black in this. And I have to admit, yes the muppets made me tear up.
Iain Cupples
14. NumberNone
@politeruin: yes, one of the best things about Farscape is that the characters all work and are 'real' - including puppets like Rygel and Pilot, and even non-speaking sets like Moya and Talynn! It's a remarkable achievement.

@theresa: I can believe that all Leviathans look alike to a PK, or as near as makes no difference. But by this time Aeryn knows that Moya was a secret PK project. And she knew that the Leviathan whose pilot she shot was a secret PK project. She has to know Moya is the same Leviathan.
15. Joe Ray
Generally I hate to leave "me too" comments, but I just have to say that this is one of my all-time favorite episodes as well.

As has been mentioned, Farscape was ahead of the curve in terms of doing long, multiple episode story arcs, having its characters and their inter-relationships grow and change over time, and in daring to be much darker than most TV shows of the era. Remember that back then most shows still stuck the the stand-alone episode formula where everything is wrapped up neatly at the end of the ep and rarely do any significant changes happen with regard to the characters and their over-all situations.

In a way I think Farscape suffered (not artistically but in acceptance by the network and viewers) for being just a bit too far ahead of other shows. One of the issues that the SciFi channel had with Farscape was that they felt the story arc episodes made it difficult for someone to just casually drop in on a random ep and know what was going on, which they felt kept it from getting higher ratings.

Then came the premium cable shows like the Sopranos, Deadwood and The Wire, that were all about the story arcs. And later on SciFi's own Battlestar Galactica was also heavily driven by its multiple story arcs.

I can't help but think that Farscape would have faired better if it had come a few years later, when viewers were more used to that. That's why I was disappointed that Showtime didn't pick the show up after SciFi dropped it (I understand that it was offered to them). It seemed like it would have been perfect for premium cable, and the writers would have gotten more freedom to do what they wanted with it.

As an aside concerning Battlestar Galactica: I think Galactica is a fine show too, but I was bugged by a comment that Ron Moore made in an early Galactica episode commentary track, where Moore said that he hoped to avoid having Galactica end up "crawling up it's own ass like Farscape" (his words). All one has to do is look at the last season of Galactica to see that when you're doing long, complex, ever evolving stories it's hard, if not impossible, to not end up doing shows that the casual viewer who doesn't have some sort of understanding of at least the basic mythos of the series is going to understand or be able to just drop into easily. And that's not a criticism of Galactica. I quite liked it's final season, some annoying aspects of it's last episode aside.
Elizabeth Heckert
16. silhouettepoms
I think what has majorly helped some of these plot-arc type shows lately is the availability of past seasons. Used to be it was expensive/hard/annoying to try to catch up on a show even if you've heard it was very good. I know as a teenager they were selling some shows with 2 episodes per VHS tape for like... I dono... $10-15. When you get a $20 allowance, that's not affordable... Now you can get an entire season on DVD for $40 or less within a year of it airing. I don't subscribe to the premium cable channels but I do buy some of their series on DVD every year. Some shows put their first season or two on Netflix and can attract new viewers that way. Actually I've discovered a few shows this way (Dollhouse, Dexter, Better off Ted). Unfortunately some of them were quashed in their 2nd season just as I was catching on to how cool they were. When i see a show I've "heard" things about available on Netflix, I can catch up on the first season or so and then I can dive in to the new episodes if the show is worth watching as they air.

I think it's an avenue of "advertising" that these series should delve more into. I don't have Hulu Plus, so I don't know if it has similar things going for it.

Oh, and I finally wound up watching Farscape when it was available on Netflix. Case in point!!
Elizabeth Heckert
17. silhouettepoms
PS I also missed all of BSG's first two seasons and bought them on DVD when I heard the show was good, and watched it the rest of the way as it aired. Had they been released as 10 VHS tapes I can't promise you I'd have gone to the trouble....
Christopher Hatton
18. Xopher
Ron Moore's comment demonstrates that being creatively brilliant doesn't mean you're not an asshole.
Jack Flynn
19. JackofMidworld
silhouettepoms - you nailed it. I've said the same thing before - I caught part a random episode of Farscape when it was on SciFi and thought it was ridiculous but when I watched from the beginning it was sooooo much better.
20. Joe Ray
Xopher, yes, my thoughts exactly re: Ron Moore.

Sihouettepoms, you're right, episodes on DVD and iTunes, and streaming through Netflix, , Hulu, etc., have really changed the equation for story-arc shows. The Wire has acquired more fans through DVDs then it did when it ran on HBO. All that was in it's infancy or didn't even exist when Farscape started it's run.
Scott K. Andrews
21. ScottKAndrews
RE: Ron Moore. I was a passionate BSG fan but I'm in the group which felt the final episode was just... words fail.

(Actually they don't but I don't have time to type the furious rant I roll out whenever the show gets mentioned. Suffice to say the fury STILL BURNS! But this isn't the time to fall down that particular rabbit hole.)

I will, however, say that I kind of know where he's coming from with his comment about Farscape, and that's something I'll no doubt address when we get to Season Four...
Elizabeth Heckert
22. silhouettepoms
I was saying to my dad (another sci fi buff) that they really should let viewers watch the first 4-5 episodes of new shows on instant streaming immediately, and then after that they'd have to watch on network TV or cable, but give them enough of a taste (all at once, in a readily available format) to decide if they want to commit to watching the show. Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Dexter, American Horror Story, Dollhouse, BSG were all shows I got hooked on when I was able to watch the first couple of episodes one after another. Enough for the story to get up on its legs. If I'd have to wait weeks in between from the get-go I might not have realized how much I liked them. You know... give them a taste for free and then get them hooked.

I watched Revolution last night and yawwn... okay it was on at 10pm but I fell asleep by the end. I don't know whether I want to tune in next week. If I were to watch the first 3 episodes in a marathon on a Saturday afternoon though, would I like it? (I don't know, maybe it just isn't good) Maybe by then it would grab my attention? Perhaps they'll put it on Hulu.

Of course to be fair, Farscape probably took more than 2-3 episodes to really get on its legs *G* but once it did.... boy howdy! I got my dad to watch it, but i don't think he appreciates it like I do, so far. We watched "The Choice" last night because my parents were visiting and that's the ep he was up to.
Elizabeth Heckert
23. silhouettepoms
I also remember thinking cable shows were limited with having only 12 episodes or so per season. But now I've come to find the shows are actually more enjoyable that way, with tighter storylines, not so much wasted time on random episodes that "mean nothing" in the scheme of things. Although those are nice once in awhile for a lark. I try to imagine Farscape if it didn't have some of those one-off shows, and had a 12 episode season, that'd be one relentlessly intense, dark show... LOL

On the other hand, the brilliant thing about Farscape is even some of those side-shows, have meaningful bits in them that hint at the larger storyline or character development. Very few of them are "useless". I have noticed upon rewatching. Episodes I dismissed as pointless I rewatch and there's a scene where I go oh, didn't realize THAT was in THIS episode... that was important!
24. Joe Ray
Scott, I'd love to hear your rant about the last episode of BSG sometime. I too was a big fan of that show and had any number of issues with that final episode.

And I'll look forward to your comments on Season 4 of Farscape. I have numerous issues with Season 4 too, but I'll hold my tongue until we get there.
Rob Rater
25. Quasarmodo
As much as I like this episode, I still find it a little odd at how excited Velorek seems to be when Aeryn betrays him. "Look at how much potential you have! You frelled me over just to go back to your same-old prowler duty!"
Zayne Forehand
26. ShiningArmor
Sorry, been away from this blog for a while and now I'm trying to catch back up.

This was always one of my favorite episodes and this to me made any "muppets in space" comments irrelevant. I've always had very minor suspension of disbelief issues with Rygel just because the nature of how his arms work. However, there have times where I genuinely forget that Pilot is a puppet. I can't remember the episode off the top of my head but there's one point where Crichton is talking to Pilot and grabs his head and touches his forehead to Pilot's and the emotion on Pilot's face was so touching, I never had a single issue ignoring the minor puppeting quirks of Pilot again.

I must not have listened to that particular commentary by Ron Moore but that disappoints me a little. I've heard quotes that show his ego but he always seemed to have a certain amount of solidarity with other sci-fi shows. I would also be interested in hearing a BSG rant. I thought its 4th season had a lot fewer highs than Farscape and much lower lows.

I also look forward to getting into discussions about season 4 because I strongly disliked it the first time through but after getting through the second half with the Earth trilogy and the Katratzi arc, it became probably my second favorite after season 3. Well, maybe tied with season 2.
27. AtrediesDreamer
I was Totaly shocked when Ayrin kissed Valorek so kindly then next minute said it was her that betrayed him to Crais as he was arrested. What! It made Farscape for me, what Bold scripting.
though John, as a human male, I would have thought he would have run a mile once he knew what she did to her only "real love"-& for prowler duty! Am watching edited versions on Pick UK (2014). So some scenes do seem odd or incomplete.

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