Wed
Sep 18 2013 3:00pm

Farscape Rewatch: “Promises”

Farscape, Promises, Crichton, AerynPromises
Written by Richard Manning, directed by Geoff Bennett
Season 4, episode 5

1st UK Transmission Date: 28 October 2002
1st US Transmission Date: 12 July 2002

Guest Cast: Raelee Hill (Sikozu), Melissa Jaffer (Noranti), Rebecca Riggs (Grayza), David Franklin (Braca), Richard Carter (Ullom), Anja Coleby (Ponara), Damian Hunter (Rinlo)

Synopsis: The crew are reunited with Moya, but find Aeryn and Scorpius aboard. Aeryn is suffering from heat delirium caused by a virus she contracted while she was assassinating an alien Prime Minister. Scorpius has put her in a coolant suit to keep her alive, and claims asylum on Moya.

Farscape, Promises, Crichton, Aeryn, Scorpius

Ullom, a Lukythian, appears in a huge ship, prevents Moya from Starbursting to freedom, and offers to cure Aeryn if she reveals the names of her employers and fellow assassins. John and D’Argo go aboard and try to take Ullom down, but he’s too clever for them. Aeryn tries to kill herself to save Moya and friends but Rygel is able to stop her. John and D’Argo return to Moya to talk to Aeryn, but she’s not helping. Scorpius removes Harvey, with some help from Sikozu.

Meanwhile, on the Command Carrier, the Peacekeepers have developed a torpedo that will destroy a Leviathan’s organics but not harm the crew. Scorpius tips John off about the torpedo.

Farscape, Promises, Aeryn, Ulloom

John convinces Ulloom that Aeryn will talk, but her heat delirium is so bad he needs to cure her or else she won’t be able to. Ullom cures her, and our heroes take control of the ship. Aeryn taunts Ullom to show himself, and John kills him.

Braca fires the torpedo, but Moya has shut down her biologics while Sikozu has used the Lukythian ship’s hologram to disguise it as Moya. The torpedo hits the wrong target. Moya escapes.

You Can Be More: While off Moya, Aeryn fell in with a team of assassins. If Ullom is to be believed, and Aeryn does not challenge his version of events, she and two others infiltrated the Lukythian homeworld and killed their Prime Minister, who was responsible for countless deaths. During the assassination she was infected with a bio-engineered toxin that induces heat delerium, to which Ullom has the only cure. Aeryn escaped in a prowler and was found, and saved, by Scorpius.

Farscape, Promises, Aeryn

So the big question is—would Aeryn have come back to Moya on her own accord? She’s dying and adrift until she’s rescued by Scorpius and brought to Moya, so it’s not as if she had any choice. And she’s quick to threaten to leave Moya if Scorpius is harmed. Once she’s healed, she says she wants be there, and she does admit she had pictured her return, but still.

Aeryn refuses to explain her actions to John, because she has promised not to, and insists that he does not ask her. But she admits that she did commit the assassination, and feels it was a just killing. She also goes to great lengths to protect Scorpius. I must confess, this doesn’t quite ring true for me—yes, he saved her, but she knows what a treacherous, double-dealing threat he is. Her gratitude surely wouldn’t extend to her wanting to keep him on the ship, and her assertion that he isn’t a threat makes her seem terribly gullible—or amnesiac!

She actually tries to kill herself to protect her fellow assassins, it’s only Rygel’s intervention that saves her life. She is certainly willing to die for her cause, but we never find out what it really is.

Farscape, Promises, Crichton, Aeryn

The Ballad Of Aeryn And John: “It’s fate, as usual, keeping its bargain and screwing us in the fine print.” She wants to be back on Moya, John wants her back. There’s lots of smiling—but she doesn’t tell him she’s pregnant; she doesn’t even respond when he tells her he knows. We end with them as far apart as they ever were.

Buckwheat the Sixteenth: He’s remarkably willing to torture Aeryn to make her talk.

In The Driving Seat: Pilot does not remember anything about their experiences in the wormhole, only that they were examined and released. Noranti does not understand this, as Pilot told her he knew exactly what had happened—is Pilot lying, or has he been brainwashed since leaving Arnessk? He does not like Sokozu and misses Jool.

Farscape, Promises, Moya

A Ship, A Living Ship!: Moya welcomes the gang back happily, but is determined that things will be different from now on—she and Pilot ask that the crew elect a spokesperson/captain so that the endless bickering can end. There is a cold room on Moya, part of the system that regulates her temperature.

Bobblehead: Sikozu starts giving Pilot orders before they’re even introduced, and tries to take command. Chiana thinks Sikozu saved Scorpius on Arnessk and is working with him. When she goes to visit him in the cell, we find out that she is not—but the crew are treating her with such hospitality that she gravitates to Scorpius, and actually seems to think he’s pretty cool. She is the one who works out that the Lukythian ship is a hologram, and her knowledge of Leviathans allows her to generate a good enough disguise to fool the PK torpedo. She’s certainly proven her worth—will the crew now begin to warm to her?

Farscape, Promises, Sikozu

Nosferatu in leather: Scorpius survived his execution and burial on Arnessk by planning for all eventualities. He has a spy on the Command Carrier feeding him information. He came looking for Moya and John—his story is that he wants to keep John safe until the Scarran invasion in the hope that John will use wormholes to save the day. The crew lock him up, but what did he expect? He reveals to Sikozu that he has a second purpose aboard Moya, but does not reveal it.

He confirms he knows where Earth is, but promises John he has told no-one else, and purged all records. He’s the only one who knows how to get John home.

Farscape, Promises, Crichton, Harvey

Hello Harvey: He begs, he pleads, he dresses up in very cool duds, but eventually he comes quietly and is extinguished by Scorpius. I’ll miss the guy. But didn’t it feel a little bit too easy—he went down much harder when he was expunged from Black-T John’s head—could he be playing possum?

Captain Lickspittle: Could Braca be Scorpius’ spy? It would make sense, as his switch of loyalty seems almost too mercenary and self-serving, even for a Peacekeeper. Teased by Grayza for his wishy-washy leadership, he decides to pilot the prowler himself, putting his money where his mouth is.

Servalan Redux: She’s still pursuing John.

Disney on Acid: Kryptonite and Buffy get a mention when John wonders what it’ll take to kill Scorpy dead.

Farscape, Promises, D'Argo, Chiana

WHAT Did You Just Say? John says Ullom should show himself, if he’s got the ’nads for it. Gonads, surprisingly, is actually a medical term, but is most commonly considered as Britslang for balls.

Blooper: Claudia Black cut her hair between seasons, the producers hated it so she wore a wig—hence the very long hair. But there’s no way that amount of hair bunched up inside the hood of the coolant suit—they must have taken her wig off (or the hood is dimensionally transcendental).

Farscape, Promises, Pilot

Moya can’t Starburst because of the mass of Ullom’s massive ship. But it turns out to be a tiny ship cloaked by a hologram. So where does the mass come from? Either it’s some kind of super clever mass-generating hologram, which would be indistinguishable from a real ship in every conceivable way and so thus not actually a hologram at all; or the tiny ship is made of super-dense metal. (Dwarf star alloy, anyone?)

If the torpedo was designed to kill only a Leviathan’s organics, why does it destroy the non-organic Lukythian ship?

Backstage: Pilot is a brand-spanking new puppet this week.

Farscape, Promises, Scorpius, Sikozu

The Verdict:  Wonderful. Ben, Claudia and Wayne are given really great material and act their socks off; Sikozu is developing in interesting ways and Grayza is in it little enough that she doesn’t have a chance to ruin the episode. A real return to form, with gripping character work taking centre stage. Farscape is back on track. Phew!


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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4 comments
Colin R
1. Colin R
Great episode; I have a feeling this is closer to what you were looking for in the first episode. But I think there is method to what they were trying to do--re-introducing Aeryn and John after what happened in Dog with Two Bones would have cheapened that episode. Five episodes in, John's mix of longing and resentment ring truer.

I think introducing Scorpius onto Moya is a pretty smart and bold move, too. The show has done most of what it can with Scorpius as a lingering threat, or as a ghost in Crichton's head. Letting Pygram interact more freely with the cast is great. There was a risk that by bringing him onto the 'crew' that Scorpius might seem defanged, but thankfully that definitely does not happen.

As for whether or not Aeryn should know better than to trust Scorpius, well... other than Crichton, the crew doesn't really know Scorpius as well as we do. He's been an enemy, but so was Crais--and Scorpius is a much more stable personality than Crais was. He can be almost diabolically accomodating. Part of what makes Scorpius great is that he really doesn't have any personal vendettas against the crew, not even Crichton--who has blown up two of his bases! He is ruthlessly focused on his long-term objectives.
Rob Rater
2. Quasarmodo
Yeah, this was good. Not too much joking around here. Things get deservedly serious with Scorpius in the house. As for the ship's mass, is it possible the hologram fooled Moya's sensors into thinking the ship was that big and massive, and Moya actually would have been able to Starburst if they'd gone ahead and tried it?

I'd also like to add that it's not uncommon for Farscape to start off their seasons with some weaker episodes, for whatever reason. So S4 is kind of on its regular pace, finally getting to the really good stuff by E4 & 5.
Colin R
3. merdiolu
oh yes yes the gang is back and I couldn't be happier. Everyone brought his/her A game as usual. Scorpius as a reluctant untrust worthy ally ? NAILED IT. Aeryn and John drama excellent. LOL even Dargo shined last week one liner "Lift going down" and this week episode "Maybe we should cut his head off ! Worked for Durka !" despite he was secondary in this episode. Rygel to rescue ! What more you can ask for ?

Aeryn's protection of of Scorpy is somewhat understandable. Remember she was awaiting her not so pleasant death in heat delirium and accepted that. Ulom holding only cure to her condition (which she might or might not have known ) her death would keep her accomplises secret. Her only life line was to see Crichton one more time before passing away. Scorpius provided that so it is logical she hold her end bargain honorably. She knows Crichton well enough that he shall never trust to Scorpy boy anyway.
Colin R
4. DavidB
This is probably IMO the worst episode in the series, certainly not my favorite.
First off it is good to have the crew back together.. I agree. And it does get better.
Why didn't pilot tell John the Scorpy and Aeryn was aboard ? Pilot obviously knew it was so important to John and there was no threat why not a heads up?
Aeryn was on John from the get go, obvious manipulation. No. "How are you, good to see you, love you, missed you. but."
Several times. From the start. You have to promise me you won't kill him.
And then when that wasn't apparently working she made promises for the entire crew to ensure Scorpious saftey she threatened to leave if they harmed him.
In the past Aeryn has gotten most upset when John or someone spoke for her and now she's making promises for the crew that isn't even on board yet!!!
Pure and simple manipulation from the get go.
Poor John never go the clue that by spacing Scorpy he'd resolve 90% of is immediate problems.
There was some lame excuse John used something like I need to find out what Scorpy plans are so keep him onboard..
Well John, kill him and that kinda sorta tends to end any plans Scorpy may have.
Whoever wrote this piece of trash and floated the idea to keep Scorpy on board Moya needs to be jammed up with Buckweat the 16th in a airtight container and 20 buckets of fried chicken for a few days.
Thats the reason my version I left Aeryn dead for 2 seasons because this character is so fucked up it wasn't worth a rewrite. She was only bought back due to a cloning accident in S3 and then left to go off with some X PK's.
So John by now was completely over her. MY version he spaced Scorpy right away. Told Aeryn, you don't make promises for me especially when I'm not even here! And if you want to leave see how far you get in that crappy little ship of yours sick as you are. Completely called her bluff.
Far as I'm concerned if you hold someone to a promise elicited under a threat then it's no promise at all.
Next ep things start looking up because John finally get a clue and dumps Aeryn, then we start getting better.

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