Mental As Anything
Written by Mark Saraceni, directed by Geoff Bennett
Season 4, episode 15
1st UK Transmission Date: 20 January2002
1st US Transmission Date: 31 January 2003
Guest Cast: Blair Venn (Macton Tal), John Brumpton (Katoya), Rachel Gordon (Lo'Laan)
Synopsis: John wants info on the Skreeth, so Scorpius tells him that a man called Katoya, who trains people in mental discipline and martial arts, may be able to help—but only if D’Argo, Rygel and John undergo Katoya’s training. It’s partly a ruse—while he is keen to find out about the Skreeth, Scorpius also wants John to undergo anti-Scarran training, so he will be able to resist interrogation when he is inevitably captured.
Also at the training camp is Macton, the brother of D’Argo’s dead wife Lo’Laan. He insists that D’Aro killed Lo’Laan in a hyper-rage and forgot it because of a blackout, D’Argo thinks Macton killed Lo’Laan because he felt his sister had been corrupted by marrying a Luxan. In the end the truth turns out to be more complex…
Buck Rogers Redux: John is relieved the Skreeth didn’t kill his family, but he makes only a cursory mention of it killing his best friend. He doesn’t entertain Macton’s claims about D’Argo killing Lo’Laan for a second; he has total faith in his friend. He likes the sauna experience—otherwise why would he keep two layers of clothing on when he’s in the sweatbox? He is able to conquer the pain and snatch the key from the fire, enduring the burns to be free.
You Can Be More: Aeryn has brought John a TV for Christmas.
The Ballad Of Aeryn And John: The opening scene is really sweet, they seem very together.
I Was A Teenage Luxan: D’Argo married young, which is forbidden in Luxan society, because you can only marry when you have learned to control hyper-rage. Whenever he did succumb, he was horrified afterwards, and always asked Lo’Laan if he had hurt her, promising to both her and himself that he would leave if he had. She always told him he hadn’t, but Macton leads D’Argo to suspect, to his horror, that he did hit Lo’Laan at least once while in hyper-rage and she lied to him about it. The shame of this nearly overwhelms him, but he chooses to confront reality and search for the truth in the mindscape. Here he finds both the truth of his failure, and her forgiveness of it. Macton tries to convince D’Argo that Lo’Laan killed herself, but he is able to conquer his hyper-rage and exert sufficient control to face down Macton.
The truth is then revealed—Macton, knowing that Lo’Laan had been hurt by D’Argo and, perhaps understandably, intervening to try and protect her, took matters into his own hands and told Lo’Laan that he was going to get D’Argo dishonourably discharged and jailed. She took up a knife to attack him and stop him, he reacted on reflex and before he knew it, Lo’Laan was dead. He then beat her corpse to make it look like D’Argo had killed her. Despite this, Macton still holds D’Argo responsible for her death, as it was his hitting of her that set the whole sorry chain of events in motion.
In a deleted scene from earlier in the season, D’Argo told Chiana he found Macton but instead of killing him, he let him know that he knew where he was so he would sweat, knowing D’Argo could come for him any moment. Although that scene was cut, Macton seeks D’Argo out in direct response to this—D’Argo’s plan misfired, Macton isn’t that easily intimidated.
D’Argo, knowing now that he did in fact hurt Lo’Laan, feels deep guilt about her death, haunted by his own culpability. This doesn’t stop him trapping Macton in a neverending mindscape, tormented forever by the death of his sister. Which seems fair, all things considered.
Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Rygel flat-out demolishes a Charid in the mindscape, even though it nearly kills him.
Nosferatu in leather: Scorpy lures them to Katoya’s compound under false pretences, or at least he does it with a big ulterior motive—to prepare John for the Scarrans. All the tales of Katoya’s ruthlessness and the crew’s inability to leave come from Scorpy—how much is he making up just to keep John on the reserve? He trained with Katoya, who gave him the mental fortitude he needed to control his Scarran side. Katoya also tried to train Scorpy so that he didn’t need a coolant suit, an endeavour in which he failed. Katoya kicks his ass in the mindscape game. As little he thinks of John’s mental abilities, he has total faith in his ability to survive almost anything.
He spared Katoya arrest and torture. In return, he asks for Crichton’s training to be as intense as possible; for pre-emptive action to defuse the Macton/D’Argo conflict; and information about the Skreeth. Scorpy tells John that it may have told Grayza where to find Earth.
Stats: Tormented Space is forbidden to Peacekeepers without express permission from First Command.
Backstage: John Brumpton was supposed to wear contact lenses as Katoya, but he had an eye infection, which explains why he’s got one eye closed in so many scenes.
The Verdict: Finally we get an episode long overdue, as D’Argo gets to confront his wife’s killer. Happily, it’s a far more nuanced tale that plays out than we might have expected.
Yes, Lo’Laan loved D’Argo and he her, and yes, Macton killed her—but D’Argo beat her and it was in response to this that Macton escalated from trying to persuade Lo’Laan to leave him, to acting to make it happen. You could argue that as D’Argo’s hyper-rage was instigated by Macton’s dislike, it all begins with Macton, but it still doesn’t make it entirely black and white. D’Argo bears some responsibility for her death, even if he doesn’t directly have her blood on his hands, and he knows it.
It’s a great showcase episode for Anthony Simcoe, who really impresses, and it’s nice to see D’Argo, who has been a bit neglected of late, getting the spotlight for a change. A real highlight for one of the show’s best characters.