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Farscape Rewatch: “Dream A Little Dream”

Dream A Little Dream
Written by Steven Rae, directed by Ian Watson
Season 2, Episode 8

1st US Transmission Date: 23 June 2000
1st US Transmission Date as ‘Re:Union’: 1 June 2001
1st UK Transmission Date: 14 August 2000

Guest Cast: Steve Jacobs (Ja Rhumann) , Sandy Gore (Judge), Simone Kessell (Finzzi), Marin Mimica (Dersch), Peter Kowitz (Tarr), Jeremy Callaghan (Bartender)

Synopsis: (This episode is a long flashback to events that took place while Moya was searching for John, Aeryn and D’Argo after ‘Family Ties’). Zhaan, Rygel and Chi are searching for their lost shipmates on the planet Litigara when the planet’s ruling law firm frames her for the murder of a civil rights lawyer they bumped off themselves. She is going to be executed, but Rygel and Chiana step forward to act as her defence counsel, even though this means that they will suffer Zhaan’s fate if they are found to have lied at any point during the case.

The ancient book of Litigaran law contains a section about the Light Of Truth – a flaming torch which burns more brightly when held next to someone who is lying. Using Moya to beam light down into the courtroom onto a burning chair leg, Chiana and Rygel manage to convince the court that Ja Rhumann, head of the ruling law firm, is guilty. Zhaan is freed.

Farscape, Dream A Little Dream

Big Blue: Zhaan’s grief at the loss of her shipmates drives her to the brink of madness, and when she is locked up again she begins to hallucinate the spirits of John, Aeryn and D’Argo. John’s spirit appeals to her reason, Aeryn’s reflects her guilt, and D’Argo’s her spirituality. She sees herself as a mother looking after two children as well as Moya and Pilot, and the stress of it is too much for her to bear. She nearly kills her first lawyer in her rage, but by the end of the trial, during which she tries to sacrifice herself to save Chi and Rygel, she has detached herself so completely from her predicament that she won’t even acknowledge her friends, she will only chant and stare. In the present, Zhaan is still tortured by dreams of Aeryn, John and D’Argo dying.

Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Then: Rygel lets his mask slip and reveals how much he cares for his friends by getting blind drunk and challenging Zhaan when she suggests they give up the search. He is pathologically incapable of telling the truth in court and keeps launching into elaborate deceptions until Chi reminds him of the consequences. It is Rygel who comes up with the plan to save the day, though, and who realises that the victim was murdered elsewhere. The little softy holds Zhaan’s hand in the cell when no one else is around. His second, fifteenth, and twenty-third wives had blue eyes. Rygel stored some of his barbequed Keedva (‘Home on the Remains’) in the Nav Linkages of one of Moya’s transport pods.

Farscape, Dream A Little Dream

Your Favourite Little Tralk: Chiana uses her sex appeal to, um, pump the policeman for information which helps them win the case. She gets drunk doing it and takes some pills to clear her head. Her space cadet performance in court after popping too many pills is quite something.

In The Driving Seat: Pilot is unable to prevent Moya leaving to search for Talyn, even though he wants to.

A Ship, A Living Ship: Moya was very patient during the search for John, Aeryn and D’Argo but when they reached Litigara she runs out of patience and is prepared to abandon her crew to go and search for Talyn. Luckily she overhears Chiana being threatened by Ja Rhumann and decides to stay and help. From orbit she can focus her bio-luminescence onto a very precise location on the ground.

Farscape, Dream A Little Dream

Worlds Apart: Litigara has two moons.

Alien Encounters: 90% of Litigarans are lawyers, the remaining 10% are Utilities and have no rights. The world is run by ruling law firms, the current leader being Rhumann, Willian and Mandel. They kill a lawyer, Wesley Kenn, who wants to give the Utilities rights. Blue-eyed Litigarans do not go out during a double full moon, because it burns their skin. The basis of their law is a small book called the Axiom, but over the centuries ancillary laws have grown up around this central text and made Litigaran law immeasurably complex. If a lawyer uses a ‘bad faith’ defence, that is if they put forward a defence they suspect to be false, they share the defendant’s sentence. The minimum penalty for jaywalking is ten days in jail.

Farscape, Dream A Little Dream

Disney On Acid: Zhaan’s obviously been paying close attention to John’s speech because her hallucination of him makes a reference to Disneyland.

What Does This Do? Rygel farts helium in the courtroom when Chiana is trying to address the court: ‘I’m nervous, it happens. We’re in court, so sue me.’

Seen It All Before: Every show has done a courtroom episode, and they’re rarely anything to write home about, because there’s little tension – you know a regular character isn’t ever going to be thrown into prison and left to rot, so the only tension comes from how they’re going to get off, not whether they will or not.

Farscape, Dream A Little Dream

WHAT did you just say?

RYGEL: I think I may have a way. It’s chancy, and will require lashings of deception and trickery.

CHIANA: Finally, you and I get to play to our strengths!

Stats: Chiana is captured in an Electro-Net, and she cures her hangover with Nashtin Cleansing Pills.

Backstage: This episode was the first to be filmed for Season Two and was intended, under its original title ‘Re:Union’, to begin the year. It’s easy to see why it was eventually moved to deeper in the season: it would have annoyed fans who had waited so patiently for a resolution to the cliffhanger and the episode’s many strengths would probably have been ignored in the uproar. However, it’s hard not to think that it would have been a marvellously risky thing to do, taunting fans with resolution and not delivering it.

Farscape, Dream A Little Dream

This version of the episode is exactly the same as ‘Re:Union’ except for the two bookend scenes set on the transport pod. In the original cut, the episode begins with Zhaan comforting Pilot about the loss of Aeryn, John and D’Argo. It’s established that they have searched 24 planets and many moons and asteroids. In this version, the sequence of Aeryn and John’s deaths is not Zhaan’s dream, but Rygel’s, and he dreams it in the Litigaran bar before waking up and then passing out as Chiana enters and we discover that she has been frelling her way through the local men. At the end of the episode, Chiana kisses the bartender goodbye, obviously having added another notch to her bedpost, Pilot announces that Zhaan is resuming the Delvian Seek, and Chiana tells Rygel to accept that their shipmates are gone and it is time to move on. It ended with ‘To Be Continued.’

Farscape, Dream A Little Dream

The U.S. Sci-Fi channel showed the original cut of ‘Re:Union’ once only in the break between Seasons Two and Three, but the original opening and closing scenes can be found as extras on the DVD/Blu-Ray release.

The Verdict: For a piece dealing with a planet entirely populated by lawyers it’s surprising that the serious, almost dour episode we get isn’t played more for laughs, which would have been a lot more fun. Still, there are laughs to be had watching Chiana and Rygel try to save the day without lying. Virginia Hey is very good at mixing the savagery, tenderness, grief and spirituality of Zhaan’s increasingly complicated character without making her seem inconsistent or unsympathetic, and Gigi Edgley is obviously having a ball. Visually, the cityscape shot was stunning, and the gruesome effects of John’s head being sucked out of his decompressing spacesuit was commendably gross. In plot terms, it would have been a lot easier to care about the case if we’d been shown Wesley Kenn arguing for civil rights, and had a few more scenes of the Utilities being repressed to give the case a wider context.

Farscape, Dream A Little Dream

Verdict Redux: I can only assume I was going easy on the episode last time. This time around I was bored. The plot is rudimentary, and the trick with the Light of Truth both a cop-out and really shoddily realised. And Zhaan’s hysteria just felt forced to me. The concept of Litigara isn’t a bad one – although it’s a bit Star Trekky, really, isn’t it? – but nothing terribly interesting is done with it. A missed opportunity and a bit of a dud.

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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