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Farscape Rewatch: “The Locket”

The Locket
Written by Justin Monjo, directed by Ian Watson
Season 2, Episode 16

1st US Transmission Date: 25 August 2000
1st UK Transmission Date: 6 November 2000
1st Australian Transmission: 8 September 2001

Guest Cast: Paul Goddard (Stark), Wayne Pygram (Scorpius), Alyson Standen (Ennixx)

Synopsis: Moya hides in a stellar mist and Aeryn goes off to do a reconnaissance flight. She returns one day later having aged 55 cycles. Moya is trapped in a Centre Halo, an area of time distortion which means that while the rest of the universe ages, time moves very slowly for Moya and crew.

Farscape, The Locket

Aeryn returns to a nearby planet and John follows, but he is unable to return to Moya as the mist vanishes and will not return for 55 cycles. He and Aeryn grow old on a lush planet, waiting for the next re-appearance of the mist so they can rejoin Moya. Unfortunately Aeryn dies in the Transport Pod before they make it back.

John theorises that if Moya leaves the mist at the exact point it entered, time will resume its natural course. Moya backs out of the mist, the great cosmic reset button is pressed, and everyone is back to normal. Only Zhaan and Stark retain memories of what happened.

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Buck Rogers Redux: ‘I am too old for this shit!’ John grows old on the Favoured Planet but never lets go of his old life—he is a pilot and he belongs in the stars. Aeryn’s company, and the hope that one day he will return to his previous life, is all that keeps him going. His southern accent gets stronger as he ages. When he was young he and his dad use to go camping near a lake in Maine. He was about four when man landed on the moon in 1969, which makes him approximately 35 years old.

That Damn Peacekeeper Bitch: ‘I grew up a Peacekeeper. We are born in space, and we must die in space.’ Aeryn lives to be approximately 240 cycles old. She marries and has three sons, all of whom die, but one of them leaves her a Granddaughter, Ennixx. She adjusts to her life on the Favoured Planet and seems quite happy in her quiet rural life.

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Big Blue: Zhaan is doing a lot of meditating on her own (the opening shot of her meditating nude is lifted from the ‘Premiere’—you can tell by the different colour of her makeup). When she performs Unity with Stark, she is worried that his mind will overwhelm hers. Delvians strive to achieve awareness of Time itself when they perform Unity, but she implies that she has never managed it before.

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I Was A Teenage Luxan: ‘I do not want to live a life without a past. I want to see my son again.’ Stark tells D’Argo that his son, Jothee, is being sold in a slave auction in a few solar days. D’Argo’s first reaction is to attack Stark, but he manages to control himself. Zhaan promises that they will find a way to rescue him.

Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Rygel and Chiana go rummaging in Aeryn’s transport Pod for things to steal, and he tells Pip: ‘you’re worse than me—I like that!’

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Your Favourite Little Tralk: Chiana had trashed Aeryn’s Prowler and gave her a stolen locket to apologise. Zhaan and Stark were not the only ones to sense danger in the mist, Chiana did too—another hint of her psychic abilities.

The Man In the Iron Mask: Stark is suddenly back, returning the Transport Pod that they lent him after they escaped from the Gammak Base (spot the desperate attempt to explain away a previous goof). He uses his glowing face to soothe Aeryn, and performs Unity with Zhaan. Together he and she are strong enough to bring time to a halt, or to isolate a person from a time freeze (although Zhaan says it is only possible to do this for John because she once shared Unity with him). He didn’t want to tell D’Argo about Jothee until Zhaan was awake and could protect him from the Luxan’s possible reaction.

In The Driving Seat: Pilot offers a prayer to Kahaynu the Builder before StarBursting free of the mist.

A Ship, A Living Ship: Leviathans are not designed to perform reverse StarBursts, but Moya pulls it off.

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The Ballad Of Aeryn And John: Old Aeryn to young John after 55 cycles separation: ‘look at you… I’d forgotten how beautiful you were.’ Aeryn keeps Chiana’s locket around her neck containing a picture of the one true love of her life. She tells John it’s her husband, but after she dies he opens it, and it’s him. He only tells her he loves her after she has died. Back on Moya, in their normal timestream, both seem to have an inkling that something happened between them, but can’t remember what it was. When they open the locket the picture inside has crumbled to dust.

The Ballad of Chiana And D’Argo: D’Argo shouts at Chiana for trying to steal from Aeryn. He tries to persuade her that she doesn’t need to act that way because she’s one of the crew now, but she insists she will never change, no matter how hard he tries.

CHIANA: You’re pretty straight, huh?
D’ARGO: Yes I am.
CHIANA: We’re not gonna make it are we?

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World’s Apart: The planet they glimpse through the mist is acidic and barren; we never learn how they travel to the Favoured Planet, which is lush and green—in fact, why bother with the acidic planet at all? There is a small colony on the Favoured Planet, presumably of Sebaceans, seeing that Ennixx is still young after 79 cycles. We do not discover why Aeryn’s sons died so young, as war seems unlikely.

Hi, Harvey: Old John still sees regular, persistent visions of Harvey.

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Disney On Acid: John sings a traditional sea shanty, ‘The Maid Of Amsterdam.’

Stats: Zhaan gives Aeryn Zeccan leaf to chew as a remedy for headaches.

Seen It All Before: In Star Trek: The Next Generation’s masterpiece ‘Inner Light’ and, unusually, Farscape doesn’t actually bring anything new to the table.

Logic Leaps: Where to begin? It’s a technobabble episode, just go with the flow. In fact, when Pilot tells everyone that they can get out of the mist at the exact point they entered by just going backwards, it’s hard not to conclude that Justin Monjo is poking fun at the ridiculousness of the idea and pointing out that it doesn’t matter—it’s the emotional heart not the scientific baggage that is the episode’s raison d’etre. Zhaan’s comms inexplicably fail just at the exact moment needed to provide a dramatic race to save the day.

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WHAT did you just say? When John says ‘shit’ it was cut from the U.S. broadcast.

Backstage: This episode was covered extensively in the fourth issue of the official Farscape Magazine. There is a short deleted scene, in which old John flirts with Ennixx, on the R2 DVD.

Guest Stars: Alyson Standen has appeared in Summer Bay, Roar, Home And Away and Water Rats.

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The Verdict: There’s no real tension to be had in this episode because not for one second do any of us actually believe that John and Aeryn will remain old—it’s clear from the first moment that there will have to be a reset button, and that when it comes it will be a huge cop out.

However, given that we know this from the off, if you can just accept that the time-field gubbins is a device necessary to tell a story and enjoy the examination of old John and Aeryn, there’s a lot to like. Stark’s re-appearance is welcome, but too abrupt and a bit confusing—how did he find Moya when Scorpius can’t? Old age makeup is notoriously difficult but this episode’s works well, and both Claudia Black and Ben Browder do a fine job as crotchety oldsters. Not the classic it wants to be, but it still has a romantic core that works well.

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Verdict Redux: Slightly better disposed to this episode than I was first time around. The technobabble nonsense annoys me less and the relationship stuff charms me more. Enjoyed this a lot. Only wished we could have spent more time watching John age—he goes from young to old in a scene change—there could have been more meat to that storyline and it’s a missed opportunity.

Scott K. Andrews‘ latest short story appears in ‘A Town Called Pandemonium


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