Beware Of Dog
Written by Naren Shankar, directed by Tony Tilse
Season 2, Episode 13
1st US Transmission Date: 11 August 2000
1st UK Transmission Date: 9 October 2000
1st Australian Transmission: 20 December 2001
Guest Cast: Wayne Pygram (Scorpius)
Synopsis: Believing that they may have brought a deadly parasite aboard in a food shipment, D’Argo and Chiana buy a Vorc—a small predator that hunts and kills parasites—and release it on Moya.
A large creature, which they believe to be the parasite, is seen on board and it attacks and poisons D’Argo. They track it down but it’s revealed to be the Vorc, which can change shape. They lock it up, but Zhan cannot find any trace of venom in it, so they conclude D’Argo was poisoned by something else, perhaps the parasite, and maybe the Vorc is doing its job after all.
They release it again but it attacks Rygel, so they shoot it. However, as it lies wounded it shows them a cocoon, which it slits open to release an embalmed Rygel. The Rygel it attacked is revealed to be a parasite copy, which John and Aeryn kill. Unfortunately the Vorc dies from its wounds having saved the ship. D’Argo was poisoned by the parasite but his reaction was too severe for it to cocoon him. He eventually recovers.
Meanwhile, John is tormented by visions of Scorpius, taunting him with threats of imminent capture.
Buck Rogers Redux: John plays chess, presumably with a self-made set, and golfs around the ship to try and take his mind of his visions of Scorpy. He’s also playing with a ball that looks exactly like the one Scorpy was playing with in the last few episodes of Season One. He talks to the visions and even shoots at them, nearly shooting Aeryn at one point. He tells Aeryn ‘I’m not gonna lose my mind, it’s all I’ve got left’ and explains that he couldn’t kill Scorpius in the acid bath because ‘I couldn’t, something stopped me, something inside.’
That Peacekeeper Bitch: ‘I know my translator microbes are working, because deranged as it always is, I do understand what you’re saying.’ Aeryn is making an effort to reach out to John because she’s certain there’s something wrong with him now. She even leads Pilot to doubt John by telling him of her suspicions. When John assures her that he’s not going mad she looks less than convinced. She comes within a hair’s breadth of throwing the Vorc out of an airlock but she cries when it dies, guilty for killing an innocent creature.
Big Blue: Zhaan gets to do her healing bit again—she seems to be devolving into the ship’s doctor and isn’t getting that much to do recently, at least not with the rest of the crew.
Buckwheat the Sixteenth: When D’Argo is bitten by the Vorc, Rygel stays beside him willing him to live. This may seem uncharacteristic, till it’s revealed that it was probably parasite Rygel worried about the other host. Also, when he’s going to leave the ship it’s not because Rygel’s a coward, it’s because the parasite knows it’s being hunted. Finally, when he visits the sick D’Argo in the Medbay and is offended because they assume he’s just after D’Argo’s stuff when he dies, it’s the parasite checking on its prey.
Your Favourite Little Tralk: Chiana’s a Nebari of action—when D’Argo’s ill she can’t bear to just sit beside his bed, she picks up a gun and goes to help catch the creature so the venom can be used to make an antidote. Only when told to go away by John does she accept her place is by D’Argo’s bed.
In The Driving Seat: Pilot can understand the Vorc even though it can’t speak.
A Ship, A Living Ship: Moya has at least three cargo bays. Her neural clusters can be modified to fortify a person’s immune system. Is this the first time Pilot refers to the ship’s ‘hammond side’?
The Ballad of D’Argo and Chiana: D’Argo is quite short with Chiana at the start of the episode, but when he’s ill she comforts him, and he even asks her for a shag while he’s dying on his sick bed.
Alien Encounters: The parasites killed an entire ship’s crew of 200 people, leaving only husks behind them.
Hello, Harvey: ‘You’ll never see it coming, John. When the trap closes it’ll be too late.’ Phantom Scorpius tells John that he has already been beaten, he just doesn’t know it yet.
Worlds Apart: The crew have bought a consignment of food from a system with three planets devoted to farming.
Disney On Acid: The madder John gets the more references creep in. This week he references the Riddler in Batman, E.T., Ewoks, Caddyshack, Lassie and Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers—to name but few.
Get Frelled: The Vorc gets to have his wicked way with Aeryn’s leg. Cheeky critter.
What Does This Do? Poor old D’Argo gets his best suit pissed on by the Vorc. John and Aeryn realise the cocooned Rygel is the genuine article when he farts helium.
Seen It All Before: Invasion of The Bodysnatchers and its various rip-offs. The Vorc looks very like E.T., and John even references that at one point, imitating him when he says ‘ouch.’
Logic Leaps: The crew gas the Vorc creature with grenades while they’re standing right there—why don’t they put respirators on? Are they immune to gas grenades?
The Verdict: Not as funny and cute as it wants to be, and laden down with the daftest puppet and cheesiest monster the show has yet seen, this episode plays with old ideas and doesn’t come up with anything new.
Still, there’s a lot of fun to be had from the interaction between Aeryn and John, and the Vorc puppet does have its moments—humping Aeryn’s leg and sticking its fingers in her mouth (which, given that it’s an animatronic, is no mean feat)—but it’s so clearly being pulled along on wheels that it loses credibility instantly.
The best aspect of the episode is the underlying tension caused by John’s flashes of Scorpius and the slowly growing conviction, both in Aeryn and viewers, that he is finally losing his mind.
Verdict Redux: My primary feeling this time around was irritation that I had to get through this episode before I could enjoy ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again.’ The Tandoori Chicken monster is woeful, but at least it’s shot in a way that makes the best of a bad lot. But the performances saved it, with Black and Browder being particularly good.
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.