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Farscape Rewatch: “Thank God it’s Friday… Again”

Thank God it’s Friday… Again
Written by David Wilks, directed by Rowan Woods
Season 1, Episode 6

1st US Transmission Date: 23 April 1999
1st UK Transmission Date: 17 January 2000
1st Australian Transmission: 24 June 2000

Guest Cast: Angie Milliken (Volmae), Ken Blackburn (Hybin), Tina Thomsen (Tanga), Selina Muller (D’Argo’s girlfriend)

Synopsis: D’Argo leaves the ship in a fit of rage and descends to the planet Sykar. The crew follow him but find he is working in the fields harvesting tannot root, which all the workers also eat. He has a room and a girlfriend, and intends to stay. Crichton and Zhaan try and persuade him to leave. He tells them the next day is a rest day, but when dawn comes it is a work day. Zhaan joins D’Argo in the fields.

Crichton is ambushed by a group of workers who insert a worm into his naval, and he is forced to eat tannot root to stop the worm hurting him. Zhaan falls under the same influence as D’Argo and tells John she has also decided to stay. The people who ambushed John tell him that the root is addictive; they are naturally immune, and they gave him the worm so he would be too.

Outsiders come to the planet regularly and collect the root, which has led to the breakdown of their society. They gave John the worm so he could help them. The planet’s leader, Volmae, asks John to help her steal the last shipment of tannot root, and he discovers that the ones who collect it are Peacekeepers.

Meanwhile Rygel’s bodily fluids have become explosive as a result of his eating tannot root and Aeryn takes him to Moya to clear his system. They use his new ability in a confrontation with Volmae—Rygel urinates explosively on the group from above to keep them subdued while John explains to her that the tannot root is used to fuel PK weapons. She and the immune workers unite, a real rest day is finally called, and they decide to resist the Peacekeepers when they next arrive (thus, surely, condemning them all to be bloodily massacred).

Buck Rogers Redux: John hides very well and manages to elude all his crewmates on Moya for three whole days.

You Can Be More: Aeryn finally encounters a situation her pulse rifle can’t get her out of, and is forced to use her mind to diagnose Rygel. She resists, and finds it very hard to focus, but eventually she succeeds and is a little proud of herself, although she does moan to Crichton about how difficult it was: ‘What I had to do up there was like a field strategy exercise, only the enemy wasn’t trying to kill me. The enemy was a puzzle and there were lots of different pieces.’

Big Blue: ‘My choice to join the Delvian Seek, to become a priest, occurred in the matter of a blink of an eye. One moment, I was lying in my cell, a savage capable of anything. The next, the truth was revealed to me, and I knew my true path.This is Zhaan’s first time off the ship since ‘Premiere.’ When she and John are sharing a room she changes behind a screen – why? Nudity isn’t a taboo for her at all.

I Was A Teenage Luxan: D’Argo succumbs to Luxan hyper-rage, which seems to be provoked by the presence of another male—in this case John—who could be a rival. He tries to find and kill John before eventually leaving the ship.

He tells Zhaan that when he was a boy he dreamed of two different lives: ‘I would be a magnificent warrior, merciless in battle, fearless, the kind they write shintok sonnets about… I also wanted a simple life—family, children, a frotash garden that I planted with my own hands.’ He says he thought he had found that life, but it was all an illusion – at the time it seems he’s talking about Sykar, but given revelations in subsequent episodes, could it be the first hint of his real back story? He worries that he is never destined to be happy.

He can fly Aeryn’s Prowler. He admits that he has been a prisoner and fugitive for more cycles than he was a warrior.

Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Aeryn: ‘It’s only people who know you that want to kill you.’ When Rygel is frozen to aid the diagnosis, he appears to be wearing a huge pair of grotty Y-fronts. Glamorous. He has survived assassination attempts before, presumably when he was still Dominar.

In The Driving Seat: Pilot begins to emerge as a character when he admits to Aeryn that he has some weaknesses: ‘when a pilot is bonded to a Leviathan, as I am bonded to Moya, it is as a navigator, a monitor of all the living ship’s functions. The analysis of scientific data is not something I know or easily understand. I study every chance I can. Moya was born with a very complete bank of scientific data. I only comprehend a fraction, I’m afraid.’ As in D’Argo’s final speech, this is the first hint we get that pilot’s backstory and relationship with Moya is perhaps not as simple as it might appear.

He and Aeryn work well together to diagnose Rygel, and the trust between them, established in ‘Exodus From Genesis,’ grows.

Worlds Apart: Sykar is a lush world with hot days and cool nights. It used to be rich and fertile, but the tannot root crops are running it to barren desert.

Alien Encounters: The inhabitants of Sykar are Sebacean labourers. Aeryn says they are distant cousins of Sebaceans because they can stand the heat. The workers have tanned skins from working in the fields all day, whereas Volmae, who stays indoors, has almost translucent skin.

Disney On Acid: Sykar’s city reminds John of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome: ‘Oh, yeah…I think I’ve seen this one before. Mel Gibson, Tina Turner… cage match! Oh, don’t worry, nobody saw the third one anyway.’

Get Frelled: Way to go D’Argo – he finally gets his oats and that seems to put a cap on his hyper-rage, which was probably just a Luxan term for extreme sexual frustration. He tells Zhaan that he was intending to approach her at the next party on Sykar, and she tells him that she would have accepted his advances. John is freaked when Zhaan, sleeping in the same bed with him, grabs his crotch in her sleep.

What Does This Do? Only on Farscape would the final showdown hinge on a character’s ability to piss fire; imagine Harry Kim saving Voyager in such a manner, or Neelix—just doesn’t compute, does it?

Seen It All Before: Very similar to Stargate SG1‘s episode ‘Beneath The Surface,’ which Star Trek: Voyager then completely ripped off for their two parter ‘Work Force.’ Happily both those episodes came after Farscape, so it got there first for once.

Bloopers: At the start, Crichton is hiding from D’Argo in plain sight. D’Argo must be incredibly short sighted not to have seen him.

WHAT did you just say? Aeryn on Volmae: ‘She gives me a woody. (She notices John’s expression) A woody. A human saying. I’ve heard you say it often, when you don’t trust someone or they make you nervous, they give you …’ John saves her: ‘Willies, she gives you the willies!’

Dren: swear word, substitutes for crap, and other excrement expletives.

Stats: Tannot root, when mixed with certain chemicals, produces chakan oil, which fuels all Peacekeeper weapons. Presumably there are many planets like Sykar which are similarly enslaved and used to keep supplies flowing.

Henta: measure of distance, approximately an inch.

Guest Stars: Angie Milliken, a famous stage actress in Australia, appeared as Jo Moody in Feds and returned to Farscape to voice Yoz in ‘Out Of Their Minds’. Best known for her role in MDA; she’s recently moved to the U.S. to try her luck.

Ken Blackburn appeared in the excellent film The Frighteners.

Tina Thomsen was Finlay Roberts on Home and Away before moving to SharkBay; this appears to have been her last acting role.

Backstage: David Wilks was story editor on the frankly legendary (YO!) Dempsey and Makepeace. This is his only Farscape script, and he’s not written much since.

The second of Rowan Woods’ 18 Farscape episodes, this was shot alongside ‘Back and Back and Back to the Future.’

The Verdict: A colourful episode with good location filming, but it’s the marvellous turn from Angie Milliken, under very impressive make up, that stands out as the episode’s most successful element. It’s the weirdest performance the show’s seen so far, and possibly ever saw. The development of Aeryn’s character is well handled, and D’Argo’s becoming more layered too. The only real problem is D’Argo’s hyper rage: it’s never explained at all and is a forced and unconvincing way of starting the story.

Verdict Redux: I love this even more now, if that’s possible. Impersonating Volmae has become a favourite pastime chez Andrews. And only in Farscape would the heroes win by pissing on their adversaries – although if someone can cite any examples of another show doing the same, I’ll be very impressed!

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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