Infinite Possibilities I: Icarus Abides
Written by Carelton Eastlake, directed by Peter Andrikidis
Season 3, Episode 15
1st US Transmission Date: 3 August 2001
1st UK Transmission Date: 3 December 2001
Guest Cast: Jack Crichton (Kent McCord), Furlow (Magda Szubanski), Alcar (Thomas Holesgrove), Charrid Leader 2 (Noel Hodda)
‘They say it's a lucky or an unambitious man who goes when he's ready. That said, Scorpius is gone, I'm at peace, I don't hurt, I did some good things, I'm proud of my life, and I'm with you. Don't worry about me, I've never felt better.’
Synopsis: John recovers, Harvey dies; Rygel continues to fight despite his wound; a Scarran scout sent ahead of the Dreadnought boards Talyn. Stark and Crais join forces, fool the Scarran into taking a neural transponder and thus give the ship time to recover enough to shoot the critter with its internal guns.
Jack and John convert the Phase Stabiliser into a Displacement Engine; it has no off switch, can only be used once, and 1.4 arns after activation it will meltdown. Furlow, who has been working with the Charrids all along, kills Jack, but when the two Charrids hiding in the depot doublecross her she kills them too and tells John and Aeryn that they killed Jack. She then steals the Displacement Engine and drives off with it. John and Aeryn give chase causing Furlow to crash, which in turn activates the Engine. Knowing it’ll be useless before she can sell it to the Scarrans, Furlow does a runner. The Engine is leaking radiation so John has to close the lid, but in doing so he receives a lethal dose. He uses the Engine to destroy the Dreadnought and returns to Talyn, where he dies in Aeryn’s arms.
Black T: ‘I wouldn't change it for the world. You made me a better person.’ Free of Harvey, and with all the wormhole knowledge unlocked, John tells Aeryn that he can finally go home mere minutes before receiving the dose of radiation that he knows will kill him. He flies the module, deploys the Displacement Engine, and returns to Talyn to die. He tells Rygel he’s going to miss him but he can’t have his stuff. Stark helps him pass by sharing some of his energy, and John dies. And you sobbed. Go on admit it, you bawled like a baby. No shame in it.
You Can Be More: ‘I would have gone to Earth.’ Aeryn takes out a Charrid vehicle by dropping a grenade and then shooting it when the car drives over it; she doesn’t want to kill the driver but he decides to fight rather than run, so she has no choice—the Aeryn of Season One wouldn’t even have hesitated to shoot the Charrid instantly. Aeryn breaks down the last of her barriers when she decides that she will go with John to Earth. All her resistance to emotion and love is gone, eroded by two and a half cycles of John’s patience, kindness and love. And just when she’s finally committed, open and happy, the clumsy yotz goes and dies on her. No wonder she’s a total wreck at the end. The emotional fallout will be terrible and how will she react when the inevitable reunion with Green T John takes place?
Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Rygel the war hero fights on despite his wounds, although the discovery that the Charrids were never attacking properly because they were in league with Furlow all along somewhat detracts from his achievement. He tells dying John: ‘it will be hard not to think of you.’
The Man In the Iron Mask: Stark earns some respect from Crais by playing a dangerous bluffing game with the Scarrans. He plays the part of menial, disaffected slave all too well and manages to save all their lives in the process. He displays no hint of his tendency to wig out either, so perhaps real pressure is what’s needed to keep him focussed. Crichton holds Stark’s hand against his head after he’s received his energy, and they seem to have some sort of unspoken understanding…
The Insane Military Commander: With the Scarran on Talyn killed, Crais and Talyn could leave—in fact John orders them too—but Crais insists on staying and risking his life and Talyn’s to help destroy the Dreadnought. John replies, grudgingly: ‘damn it Crais, knock it off. You're gonna make me start liking you.’ John tells Crais to ‘find the better part of yourself; you have to take care of them,’ and Crais promises that he will. Indeed perhaps he’s some way there already; his actions in this two-parter have been loyal and honourable to a fault.
Hi, Harvey: Harvey is beaten by John and Jack, but as he dies he manages to seize control of John long enough to convince Aeryn that John is dead. She is just about to shoot John when Jack stops her, and the neural clone’s last gambit fails and he dies, leaving John’s mind free. As he dies he tells Aeryn: ‘next time be more decisive, shoot quicker. A soldier must not be weak. Weakness means defeat.’ Of course Green T still has a Harvey, so there may indeed be a next time.
Big Baby: Talyn can use his neural transponder delivery system to immobilise a person, perhaps by electrocuting them. His impulse to panic and fire when in danger also seems to be better under control—he allows Crais to use him as bait and doesn’t fire on the Dreadnought, even when targeted. Perhaps the neural graft has given him a cooler head courtesy of Crais. Talyn has two Docking Bays.
The Ballad Of Aeryn And John: When Harvey is finally expelled, Aeryn just can’t keep her hands off John—she’s groping, kissing, hanging onto him for dear life even while he’s discussing technical matters with Jack. Grief, get a room!
JOHN: Furlow, is it always about the money?
FURLOW: Is there anything else? I mean, how much sex can you have?
JOHN: I don't know, I haven't maxed out yet.
Alien Encounters: Scarrans always send a reconnaissance scout, or a scout party, ahead of their Dreadnoughts.
Stats: John does not perform a slinghot to open the wormhole so the Displacement Engine must create it, but it still seems to require the presence of solar flares. The module circles the wormhole with the Displacement Engine doing whatever it does until the wormhole touches the surface of the star and then ejects a huge ball of burning star material. The target is burned up and swallowed by the wormhole until both target and wormhole burn out. This weapon is so powerful that John reckons it could destroy a planet. He also claims he can now build a device to get him home and that Aeryn can come with him, which implies that the liquidation problems being experienced by Scorpius are solvable.
Logic Leaps: Okay you’re probably going to hate me for this but it’s got to be said… why didn’t John just walk behind the Engine and close the lid by throwing something at it? A well-thrown shoe or gun could have closed the cover at no risk at all to John. I don’t want to take away from his noble sacrifice and all that, but come on, what a dumb way to die!
Bloopers: Furlow’s recreation of John’s module has IASA and United States logos painted on it.
The Verdict: Heartbreaking and unbelievably cruel to the characters, this is top-notch drama. To have all John and Aeryn’s dreams come true, only to have him condemned to death minutes later, is horrible beyond words and will surely have repercussions for Aeryn’s character throughout the rest of the show’s run. Claudia Black and Ben Browder act their socks off, really convincing us of how in sync these two are and how dreadful it is to be separated after everything they’ve been through. Also, we now know that Green T can be freed of Harvey and can conceivably build a wormhole device to take him home. Plus Furlow is still out there—she’s lost her lab and her data but she’s got all the knowledge in her head necessary to start again.
Verdict redux: Carleton Eastlake makes a huge impression with his first pair of scripts and nails the characters perfectly. It's all the prop department's fault that it goes wrong. If the Displacement Engine had the radiation pouring out from the top, rather than one side, and if the lid had been a detachable piece that Crichton had to drop into place from above, rather than a lid that could be flipped back, the manner of his death would have made sense. As it is, he dies simply because he can't be bothered to take the three seconds needed to walk around the device. The fault isn't in the writing it's in the prop, which accidentally renders John a moron. Try as I might, I just can't get past the hamfisted realisation of what was written so well. It bugs me SO much.
Anyway, moving on—the writing is great, and the performances during the death-bed scene are note-perfect. Also the explanation of the Charrid's complicity with Furlow somewhat makes up for their cannon-fodder behaviour in the second half of part one (but not the first half). This is the show at the top of its game, with a key episode in the middle of its strongest run.
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.