A Prefect Murder
Written by Mark Saraceni, directed by Geoff Bennett
Season 4, episode 9
1st UK Transmission Date: 25 November 2002
1st US Transmission Date: 2 August 2002
Guest Cast: Raelee Hill (Sikozu), Peter Whitford (Jabuka Clan Chief), Bruce Spence (Prefect Falaak), Ivar Kants (Gaashah), Brett Stiller (Zerbat), Jason Chong (E’Alet)
Synopsis: The crew take refuge on a planet in Tormented Space. Rygel and Noranti remain aboard with Scorpius. The people of the planet have a tribal system, and have only recently begun to live in peace.
In order to push the clans back towards war, the current Prefect hires an offworlder, E’Alet, who can produce Scaba flies, an insect which, when it bites someone, implants subtle suggestions which E’Alet can re-inforce using mental powers to control them. He is using the insects to control hapless patsies and make them assassinate of tribal leaders. Aeryn is bitten and commits a massacre, in which she kills the next Prefect, Gaashah, and sixteen others. She runs.
John and Gaashah’s son, Zerbat, who is having an affair with Sokozu, pursue Aeryn. John finds Aeryn then a weird priest called Paroos finds them both. Together they all work out what’s been happening. Although bitten numerous times, John and Aeryn manage not to succumb to E’Alat’s influence and kill each other. Instead, they kill the bad guys and save the day.
The Ballad Of Aeryn And John: It seems likely that it is only their love for each other that enabled John and Aeryn to avoid shooting each other. They agree the coin toss ended badly, and although he’s still taking the Lacca extract, they hold hands after their close shave in the palace, and share a moment at the end—the slow crawl back to each other begins here.
I Was A Teenage Luxan: D’Argo manages to gain the confidence and respect of the Prefect-to-be, and acts very much as the captain of the crew. He makes a good fist of it, even though he talks down his diplomatic skills. He takes a shot from Aeryn, point blank, in the chest, but he’s shown no evidence of being that bullet-proof before. Shouldn’t he be dead?
Bobblehead: Sikozu, who really digs ol’ Scorpy, suddenly has a thing for preppy young princes with daft hair. We get no background on her relationship with Zerbat, it’s presented ongoing, and even though there are some nice scenes between them, I don’t really buy it. I also don’t understand why she doesn’t stay—he asks her to, she says she’d love to… but then doesn’t.
Everyone’s Favourite Little Tralk: Chiana cuts a swathe through the local young men and is banished. Aeryn sends her off to Moya on her prowler and somehow Chi manages to override the auto-pilot and return, apparently so she can warn Sikozu of the danger of dallying with Zerbat. So it seems she actually risks being stoned to death in order to help her new crewmate—a far cry from the open hostility she’s mostly been showing towards Sikozu so far; and they certainly seem closer in their final scene. She uses her visions to study the creation of the Scaba flies, and it leaves her blinded for even longer than before—it’s unclear why she needs to use her powers, though, as she can see the flies quite easily.
A Ship, A Living Ship!: Tormented Space is giving Moya a really hard time, she’s gone dormant to recuperate. Following Chiana’s indiscretions, John trades a back-up generator to the Prefect for permission to remain on the planet; presumably this is a mechanical part of Moya.
Disney on Acid: John rolls out his impression of Scotty from Star Trek, and even sings a Scottish ballad.
Alien Encounters: Three new races, all unnamed—the inhabitants of the planet, the mercenary who produces the insects, and the weird horned priest, Paroos (although he may be native to the planet too).
Stats: This is the first planet in 20 Moya has visited to have water. This part of space is part of the wider galactic community—they know of other planets, and can travel off-world—but only criminals venture into this region. There are no bugs on the planet.
Blooper: John makes a crack about Aeryn’s mother, implying he met her—but this John never did. John asks D’Argo to knock him out, but D just punches him rather than tonguing him, as you’d expect.
Backstage: The first of three Farscape scripts from Mark Saraceni, who also acted as a Supervising Producer this year. He had previously written for seminal dramas EZ Streets and The Sopranos. The first of four episodes to be directed by Geoff Bennett, a mainstay of Australian TV.
The Verdict: It’s nice to see the crew on a new world—it feels like ages since we’ve encountered a new civilisation. The world building is good, with the clans, palace, electoral system and some great design work—love the staircase carved into the mountain.
The villain is pure panto, fomenting war just for the hell of it and staging one of the campest, cackling MWAHAHAHAHA! suicides ever committed to celluloid. Paroos is a fantastic puppet, and the fact that he has a buzzsaw on the front of his floating chair is just sublime. Sick as hell, but sublime.
The plot is straightforward but allows for some good interaction between John and Aeryn, and a nice opportunity for D’Argo to shine in his captain’s role.
On the downside, Sikozu’s sudden lustiness rings hollow, but more oddly there’s the strange narrative structure adopted by the first twenty minutes, as we see the same things happen again and again. I assumed we were going to get another Rashomon riff, kind of like ‘The Ugly Truth’ but in real-time, but the repetitions are not shot from different angles or what have you, so rather than feeling like different perspectives on each scene it feels like needless repetition. And it doesn’t go anywhere, nothing terribly interesting is done with the repetitions, so it ends up feeling oddly like padding.
More good than bad though, and the cast are all on very good form.