Liars, Guns and Money II: With Friends like These
Written by Naren Shankar, directed by Catherine Millar
Season 2, Episode 20
1st US Transmission Date: 12 January 2001
1st UK Transmission Date: 11 December 2000
1st Australian Transmission: 28 December 2001
Guest Cast: Paul Goddard (Stark), Wayne Pygram (Scorpius), Claudia Karvan (Natira), Nicholas Hope (Akkor), Matt Newton (Jothee), David Franklin (Lt. Braca), John Adam (Bekhesh), Jeremy Sims (Rorf), Jo Kerrigan (Rorg), David Wheeler (Durka), Lionel Haft (Zelkin), David Bowers (Kurz), Thomas Holesgrove (Teurac)
Synopsis: Scorpius traced Stark’s computer hack during the heist and extracted information from his terminal revealing the location of Jothee. When Moya arrives to buy the slaves they discover that Scorpius has bought them all and will kill Jothee unless John gives himself up. Jothee and the slaves are being transported to Scorpius at the Shadow Depository, which gives them three days to devise a plan.
John decides they need Vorcarian bloodtrackers ( ‘Till The Blood Runs Clear’) to locate Jothee, a Sheyang ( ‘PK Tech Girl’) to help them get through any doors, a Tavloid… sorry, a TavLEK ( ‘Throne For A Loss’)… for close quarters combat, and the Flax (‘The Flax’) to help in their escape.
John recruits Bekesh who has turned to religion but is persuaded to help with the offer of money; D’Argo recruits Rorf and Rorg by killing a PK patrol that is hunting them; Aeryn recruits a wounded Sheyang Captain who turns out to be Teurac; and Rygel goes to find the Zenetan Pirates and ask for the Flax. Rygel discovers that the Pirates are now being led by Durka (‘Durka Returns’), whose ship got caught in the Flax. Rygel kills Durka and cuts off his head, which impresses the Pirates into joining up as well.
This motley crew is assembled on Moya, but the ingots they were going to be paid with have turned into a horde of Karack Metalites and eaten a portion of Moya. In order to save the ship, Zhaan and Pilot have had to start a huge fire to kill the creatures, severely wounding Moya and destroying all their money. Knowing that the recruits will now leave because there’s no money with which to pay them, John flies to the Depository and surrenders. Jothee is released and flies to Moya, where he is reunited with D’Argo. But John is in Scorpius’ hands at last…
Buck Rogers Redux: ‘You want the wormhole technology, I want your implant out of my head. So, finally, the rift between us is not so great. You do what you got to do. You win.’ John’s the one who comes up with the Seven Samurai style plan, intending to go into the Depository hard and fight their way to Jothee. He doesn’t believe that Bekesh has changed, but waits the guy out until his need for the stimulant in his Gauntlet forces him to accede. The second it looks like his plan has failed, he doesn’t hesitate in doing the honourable thing and surrendering to save Jothee.
Big Blue: Zhaan takes as much of Pilot and Moya’s pain as she can when they burn out the infestation, and it leaves her very fragile indeed.
I Was A Teenage Luxan: D’Argo not only finds some Bloodtrackers, he actually finds the very two who tortured him, although we never find out how. For one moment he considers dragging John to Scorpius in exchange for Jothee, but later he is ashamed of the impulse. He does, however, blame their situation on John’s initial reluctance to help with the heist.
He sees a vision of his son that is so accurate it even predicts what clothes he would be wearing when they met (oops, bad continuity there, methinks). He is overwhelmed at being reunited with Jothee: ‘everything you’ve been through, so many cycles. I’m sorry… I never stopped thinking about you, trying to find you, I almost lost hope… My son. My son!’ He last saw Jothee on the night of Lo’laan’s murder.
Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Rygel’s finest hour—he confronts Durka, his great nemesis, and instantly kills him and chops off his head. After the shock of seeing the bad guy return the audience was all set for a big showdown, but it was short, anticlimactic, and downright hilarious.
Your Favourite Little Tralk: Rygel: ‘Every time I think that there's more to you than a pair of pushed up lumers in a corset, you disappoint me.’ Chiana tells Stark that if his actions lead to Jothee’s death she will kill him—already acting the protective stepmother. She and Rygel both decide to steal some of the ingots before anyone else does, but have no joy.
The Man In the Iron Mask: Stark is a Stykera, a special form of Banik attuned to energy and death, which Scorpius found useful. Even in Moya, across huge distances, he senses when the Banik slaves that were part of Jothee’s lot at the slave auction are slaughtered by Scorpius. He helps Zhaan take some of Moya’s pain during the burning. When Scorpius demands to talk to John, Stark steps forward and tells Scorpius to kill Jothee because he will never surrender. Zhaan and Chi are shocked, but Stark claims it was a ploy to distract Scorpius and prevent him realising Moya was weakened by the Metalites.
Nosferatu in Rubber: Scorpius and Natira go way back—she took him in when he was a young hot head, he saved her from the Peacekeepers. He is not surprised that Natira tried to destroy his Marauder with Metalites, and she claims he wouldn’t have respected her if she hadn’t tried to kill him. His cooling system has greatly advanced since he had the initial surgery. He has a burning hatred of Scarrans, anything else is not worthy of his hatred.
A Ship, A Living Ship: Moya is afraid of fire and burns one ninth of herself so badly that she cannot StarBurst for some time and may never heal.
Alien Encounters: Natira’s head is encased in prehensile tentacles. Sheyangs bleed green. The Voracarian female, Rorg, is pregnant. Zelkin now rules the Zenetan Pirates; Kcrackic was presumably killed by Durka. There are, according to Braca, more inter-species hybrids every year, despite PK Command’s best efforts to keep the race pure.
Hi, Harvey: John is able to initiate a conversation with the Neural Clone in his head, which shouldn’t be possible. He now believes that the link goes both ways—Scorpius may be inside his head, but John is able to understand how Scorpy thinks.
Disney On Acid: John thinks The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a classic.
Get Frelled: Scorpy and Natira have a bizarre sex life, and when Scorpius climaxes he pops his coolant rods, not his cookies.
Seen It All Before: In The Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Seven, The Dirty Dozen etc.
Logic Leaps: Why is Scorpius still at the Shadow Depository? Surely he would have left for his Command Carrier. It’s hard not to conclude that the only reason he’s still there is that the spectacular set needed to be used for three episodes to justify the cost. The Flax and the Tavlek planet are within a day’s pod travel of Moya and the Shadow Depository. That’s a bit of a stretch isn’t it? Plus, they find both places easily, so Moya and Pilot must have been compiling navigational charts during their travels—so the territory’s not so uncharted anymore.
WHAT did you just say? Lumers = breasts.
The Verdict: Continuity runs rampant as we get loads of characters from Season One. They, and a liberal dose of flashbacks, tie this episode strongly to the show’s history so far and provide a familiar riff on the classic ‘misfits go to war’ story. The perfunctory despatching of Durka is a great comic moment, Natira continues to impress, and we have a great cliffhanger. Definitely the middle episode of a trilogy, so little is resolved, but a lot is set up. Roll on part three.
Verdict Redux: Stark’s erratic characterisation continues to irritate, and the handling of John’s sacrifice—i.e. we see Jothee arriving before we get any idea how or why—is bungled and confusing. But this is fun, and infinitely less annoying than part one.
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.