Jul 10 2013 3:00pm

Farscape Rewatch: “I-Yensch, You-Yensch”

Farscape I-Yensch, You-Yensch
Written by Matt Ford, directed by Peter Andrikidis
Season 3, Episode 19

1st UK Transmission Date: 21 January 2002
1st US Transmission Date: 5 April 2002

Guest Cast: Jool (Tammy MacIntosh), Naj Gil (Thomas Holesgrove), Lt. Braca (David Franklin), Sko (Ben Mendelsohn), Wa (Anthony Hayes), Essk (Inge Hornstra), Voodi (Salvatore Coco),

Synopsis: Rygel and D’Argo arrange to meet Scorpius at a diner on a desolate planet. They tell him about Black T’s encounter with the Scarrans and Charrids and claim that the surviving Crichton has decided to help Scorpy crack the wormhole problem. In return his shipmates are to be pardoned and returned to their homeworlds as full citizens. Scorpius agrees.

Rygel insists there should be acceptable security measures and so Scorpius demonstrates I-Yensch bracelets—two people wear them and share each other’s pain, if one dies the other dies. He demonstrates this by having D’Argo and Braca wear the bracelets. Scorpius suggests that John and Braca should be thus linked, but Rygel insists that Scorpius wears the bracelet. Scorpius refuses and is about to leave when two gun-toting aliens hold up the diner and shoot Braca in the leg, which in turn cripples D’Argo.

The gunmen have been hired by the chef to burn down the diner for the insurance money, but they change their plan and decide to hold their hostages for ransom. Rygel and Scorpius join forces to outwit and defeat their captors, and in doing so build up a mutual trust. By the time they leave Scorpius has agreed to wear the bracelet.

A medical transport ship encounters Moya and takes Naj Gil aboard. Jool wants to go with him but Chiana prevents her from doing so because she has a vision of herself in mourning. Moya and Talyn are approached by a PK Prowler and Marauder which are shot by Talyn who then panics and destroys the medical ship, killing 600 innocents. The crew reluctantly decide that Talyn will have to be lobotomised and completely refitted, being reborn as a new, sane ship. Talyn responds to this decision by firing on Moya. However, he eventually relents and allows John, Aeryn and Crais aboard. They shut him down, effectively killing his personality forever.

Buck Rogers Redux: “Some things you die for.” John is tiptoeing around Aeryn, not offering advice unless asked for it, not making conversation at all. He even tells her she doesn’t need to come with him to the Command Carrier, he’s so anxious not to pressurise her.

You Can Be More: Aeryn slowly learns to work together with Green T John, telling him that they have always worked well together in the past and there’s no reason they can’t do so again. She calls Green T “Crichton,” whereas she called Black T “John.” She has a bad feeling about the Command Carrier but is determined to go anyway: “we started this together, that’s how we’ll end it.” She is talking to him at least, and is able to thank him for offering to let her leave Talyn before he’s shut down. She is the one who persuades both Moya and Talyn of the necessity of shutting the warship down; they both trust her because they know she loves Talyn.

I Was A Teenage Luxan: The arrangement is for the meeting to take place without weapons; am I the only one surprised that D’Argo agreed to that? When he realises the Peacekeepers are under orders not to hurt him he takes great pleasure in knocking three of them out. He has a thick skull.

Buckwheat the Sixteenth: This is undoubtedly Rygel’s finest hour. It was he who assured his friends that Scorpius would negotiate, and volunteered to undertake the negotiations himself. He’s not fooled by Scorpius’s bluffs for one second and coolly appraises the robbers, divining their true motives and playing brilliantly on their stupidity and lack of planning. He shoots Scorpius full in the chest without knowing whether he is wearing armour or not because, as he gleefully tells Scorpius, he’s a winner either way.

Everyone’s Favourite Little Tralk: Chiana has a premonition of Peacekeepers, and tells Jool she saw herself in mourning for her so she mustn’t go to the Medical Ship. It’s unclear whether she was telling the truth or not, but either way she punches Jool to stop her leaving. She announces to John that she’s jumping ship at the next planet they encounter—she wants no part of their suicidal plan to attack Scorpius.

Jool In the Crown: Jool has no quarrels with Peacekeepers and they don’t even know she exists, so she decides to leave the ship before they encounter the Command Carrier. However she misses the shuttle to the Medical Ship and is then prevented from catching up with Naj Gil by Chiana.

The Insane Military Commander: Crais tries to stop Talyn firing on the Medical ship but fails. It is he who suggests they shut Talyn down, and when he has pulled the final lever and killed his ship he is obviously deeply upset.

Nosferatu in Rubber: Scorpius refuses to wear a Yensch bracelet and is willing to walk away from negotiations rather than give in. He carries a single shot pulse gun in his cooling system. He wears body armour at all times. Rygel believes that he is even more important than a Captain because he has no insignia on his uniform. The hostage situation sees him at his most cunning, scheming and manipulative but he’s still a beginner compared to Rygel, who earns his respect.

A Ship, A Living Ship! Moya is horrified at the decision to shut down Talyn and at one point even refuses to talk to Pilot. Aeryn is able to persuade her that it is for the best, but the ship remains deeply shocked and upset by the “death” of her child.

Big Baby: Crais: “You have not disappointed me, I don’t hold you responsible, neither does Moya… you are very brave.” Talyn panics and succumbs to total paranoia. He realises his mistake in firing on the Medical Facility and instantly shuts down in shock, expressing complete remorse. When he realises the others are planning to shut him down he fires on Moya and severely damages her; he could have destroyed her, so the crew know he’s still got some restraint, but he’s a danger to himself and all those around him. He allows John, Aeryn and Crais to board him and although he aims his guns at them on the bridge Aeryn is able to persuade him to submit to their surgery. His biological parts are kept alive but all his mechanical elements have been shut down. He needs a total refit and when he is re-activated he will be a different creature. Aeryn: “Talyn, you know you’re sick… I don’t want you to be frightened, you’re not going to die, you’ll be reborn, it’s a fresh start. Please Talyn, let us take away your pain.”

The Ballad Of Aeryn And John: They don’t make eye contact at any point, until Aeryn’s final, heartbreaking confession:

AERYN: I just can’t watch that happen again. It was perfect, we were so perfect and you’re just like him. You are him.

JOHN: No, I’m me. I was here. I missed that dance.

Alien Encounters: The robbers are a blue/purple species with weird vocalisations, like chimps or hyenas.

Get Frelled: Jool is holding hands with Naj Gil at the start. You don’t think they’ve been… no, it’s too horrible to contemplate.

Stats: The controls of the D’Argomobile are isomorphic—they use DNA particles and voice recognition to establish his identity and they only respond to him.

Seen It All Before: In Dog Day Afternoon, and countless films about robberies gone bad.

Logic Leaps: Talyn has just shot at his own mother and then shut down communications. So what do John, Aeryn and Crais do… fly at Talyn in a Transport Pod! As insane gambles go that’s one of the daftest. At one point Sko takes Scorpius out of the main diner room and leaves Wa alone with Rygel and the others. Where were they? Was Scorpy caught short and escorted to the Gents?

Guest Stars: Salvatore Coco has been a regular on Police Rescue and Heartbreak High. Inge Hornstra was also on Heartbreak High as well as Sweat. Anthony Hayes was Molnon in 203, ”Taking The Stone.” Ben Mendelsohn has been a regular on The Henderson Kids, Prime Time, Fame and Misfortune, and Close Ups as well as appearing in the films Quigley Down Under and Vertical Limit.

Backstage: For some reason Tammy MacIntosh is not in the main titles yet, but neither is she credited as a guest star. She’s still wearing the eyepatch as a result of her eye injury.

The Verdict: After the cliffhanger ending to “Fractures,” Farscape again teases the audience by making us wait for the big confrontation we now know is inevitable. The hostage situation at the diner is not terribly original but it’s livened up by the marvellous interplay between Rygel and Scorpius, the bizarre aliens, and the I-Yensch bracelets linking D’Argo with poor old Braca. The storyline with Talyn, on the other hand, is much better. It’s emotional and shocking, and leaves the audience feeling sorry for Crais and mourning the loss of a character who never even had any dialogue.

Verdict Redux: I’ve picked up a fair bit of hate for this episode in the comments hereabouts, and while the diner sequences can be a bit wearing if you weren’t in the mood for them, especially when the focus moves tot he owners or the gunmen, I don’t think they’re quite that bad. The four extra characters in the diner really only exist as plot functions to allow us to enjoy Rygel and Scorpy sparring, which I really liked. But yeah, a game of two halves.

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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Colin R
1. Colin R
Yeah I don't get the hate for this episode either. There are episodes that are way more pointless and weirder--structurally and plotwise--this season. Like, you want to point out an episode has a self-absorbed high concept episode that doesn't advance the plot, look no further than Revenging Angel!

Meanwhile I think that there's a lot to like about this one. Scorpius has primarily been Crichton's adversary in the past--it's fun and interesting to see D'Argo and Rygel interacting with him and Braca. The iciness between Crichton and Aeryn is dreadful (in a good way). And I sort of like the weirdness of the diner subplot--it's like they wandered into a Tarantino film. And it's good to see that there is still a galaxy out there that is largely indifferent to the obsessions of the main characters.
Keith DeCandido
2. krad
This is my absolute favorite episode of Farscape to watch, and it's not for the bits with Talyn, which I'm as like as not to skip over when I'm rewatching the episode.

No, it's because this episode firmly establishes that Rygel is the smartest person in the Uncharted Territories, and it's not even close. There's not a single moment in the diner when Rygel isn't completely in control of the situation. It's a tour de force for a character who's far too easy to not take seriously (a trap the show's writers did fall into all too often). Also, Anthony Simcoe and David Franklin do phenomenal comic work here.

(This episode also inspired my personal favorite issue of the Farscape comic to write, issue #17 of the series which was just Rygel and Scorpy.)

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Rob Rater
3. Quasarmodo
I was a little confused about the braclets' unlocking combinations. We learn 2 eps later that John and Scorpius each know the combination to the other's bracelet. In the diner, Scorpius knew the combination to Braca's bracelet specifically, so does that mean he didn't know the combination to D'Argo's? If so, who knew D'Argo's combination? Or was that just Scorpius deciding that it was in his best interest to have Braca free over D'Argo, taking Braca out of the danger of being linked to a robber who may end up being killed and taking his bracelet bonded partner with him?
Colin R
4. ad
Crais tries to stop Talyn firing on the Medical ship but fails. It is he who suggests they shut Talyn down, and when he has pulled the final lever and killed his ship he is obviously deeply upset.

I'd swear I've seen an interview with Lani Tupu in which he said that Crais planned all that as an excuse to get Talyn onto the Command Carrier. Certainly, former PK's seem to be a lot more dangerous than they were in PK service. And they are all pretty ruthless...
Lee Anderson
5. DSNiner
There's another film credit of Ben Mendelsohn's that wasn't listed. He was in a little picture last year called The Dark Knight Rises. You may have heard of it. ;)
Colin R
6. lvsxy808
@ #4: That's certainly a valid interpretation, although I think it does somewhat undercut Crais's genuine emotions regarding Talyn.

Given what we learn in PKW about the origins of the Peacekeepers, and thus by association the origins of the Interons, the friendship between Jool and Najgil is... odd. Intriguing in its astropolitical implications, but odd.
Colin R
7. lvsxy808
Forgot to mention, I credit this episode with one of my favourite catchphrases for what I'm frustrated at work:
"Why so difficult??!!"
Colin R
8. Michael G. Munz
You and me both, lvsxy808! (It works for non-work situations, too, I've found.)

I liked this episode, for the most part. The blue hyenas get on my nerves a little, but it's definitely worth it to see Scorpius and Rygel working together against a common adversary.

I'm doing a Farscape rewatch of my own on my blog, if anyone's interested (though I've decided to avoid reading the Tor rewatches until I've already done my own write-ups for each episode).
marmot smith
9. marmot.smith
The bar plot line was intriguing although getting jerked around making us think Scorpius was going to kill Rygel and D'Argo before the first commercial break was more histrionics the entire show didn't need.

The subplot of the bar-owners wish to move on to a better life, hiring the thugs to burn down the place and the way Scorpi and Rygel play it out was all quite nice.

If there was no clever plan to get Talon onto the PK Carrier by killing 600 civvies and faking insanity then that plot line is a waste and written with lack of science fiction foresight of life in this time period. By the time AI/biological intelligent spaceships are in space which take possibly decades to build or breed there would be technician/psychiatrists to deal with mental illness. If Talon's mind is all in the non-bio systems, like they suggest, then his 'mind' could easily be downloaded and repaired by neural-AI technicians then uploaded back as a repaired sentience with most all the memories and personality intact. Of course that would take money and finding the techs but it would have been nice addition to the dialog.
Too much time spent on melodrama and not enough on thinking about what life is like in the Farscape Universe.

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