Farscape Rewatch on Tor.com

Farscape Rewatch: “Meltdown”

Written by Matt Ford, directed by Ian Barry
Season 3, Episode 12

1st US Transmission Date: 14 July 2001
1st UK Transmission Date: 19 November 2001

Guest Cast: Sierjna (Susan Lyons), Mu-Quillus (Mark Mitchell), Xhalax (Linda Cropper)

This episode features the crew of Talyn.

Synopsis: The crew believes another Retrieval Squad will be dispatched; nonetheless they are trying, and failing, to contact Moya. Talyn is lured into a sun by radiation pulses generated by a being called Mu-Quillus. Talyn manages to resist, but only just, and the heat causes him to ooze Drexim mist that affects the crew’s judgement. A woman called Sierjna manifests to Stark and he realises she is caught between life and death, held in limbo by Mu-Quillus. He bonds himself to Talyn in a vestigial Pilot’s Den in order to save the ship. John and Aeryn locate Mu-Quillus’ power source and destroy it with Talyn’s cannon, killing Mu-Quillus and releasing Sierjna so that Stark can help her cross over to death.

Black T: ‘God-like aliens. Man, do I hate God-like aliens! I’ll trade a critter for a God-like alien, any day.’ Yeah John, you and me both. John thinks that Crais betrayed them, let Xhalax live (‘Relativity’) and promised to deliver her the crews of Talyn and Moya in return for PK re-instatement and Aeryn; Crais denies this, of course.

Farscape, Meltdown, Crais

You Can Be More: Aeryn’s technical expertise is coming on in leaps and bounds and she is now proficient at fixing Talyn’s systems.

Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Rygel’s response to the mist is to find and eat everything on the ship until he’s dangerously huge, can’t stop farting and begs to be shot just to end the gorging. He would rather bite a chunk out of Crais than take orders from him.

Farscape, Meltdown, Stark

The Man In the Iron Mask: ‘I am now Talyn’s pilot, and we are flying back into the sun!’ Stark saves the girl and the ship, but everyone just thinks he’s a madman and a liability. When threatened by John and Aeryn, he sends a DRD after them, again showing that he can go from friend to foe in an instant. He believes he is a failure, having failed Zhaan and John, and it is only by calling on Zhaan’s memory that he is brought back to the moment and restores his self-control. He now has knowledge that Crais finds threatening.

The Insane Military Commander: The Drexim mist heightens Crais’s aggression and paranoia, leading him to assert his authority as ship’s captain and shoot at things a lot. Unfortunately no one seems to take him terribly seriously as an authority figure—Rygel bites his ear, John ignores him and Aeryn just laughs in his face. He threatens to kill Stark if he tells anyone what he learnt about Talyn’s relationship with Crais.

Farscape, Meltdown, Crais, Rygel

Big Baby: Talyn is not yet fully healed from the PK Retrieval Squad attack and his electrical systems are fragile. He has shields and has grown a vestigial, but functional, Pilot’s Den even though he has no need of a Pilot. A substance called Drexim improves Talyn’s response time and reflexes in times of crisis, however it can become acidic, burn the seals on the pipes and seep into the ship as a mist. It is not lethal but can act as a stimulant on the crew. When Talyn accepts Stark as his Pilot is that a conscious decision or is it an autonomic response triggered by the presence of a being in the Pilot’s space? While Stark is in place as pilot, Crais’s neural transponder is inactive. Crais physically cuts Stark free of Talyn—is this because Talyn couldn’t or wouldn’t release him? Stark claims that he now knows how Talyn feels about Crais, and he implies that the relationship between ship and Captain is not as friendly as Crais wants his shipmates to believe. Crais believes Talyn will grow to be as big as Moya.

Farscape, Meltdown, Crichton, Aeryn

The Ballad Of Aeryn And John: John tells Stark that Aeryn is his Zhaan, his soulmate, he loves her and would die for her. They are not just uncontrollably horny during this episode, but they keep declaring their love for each other. If Talyn could speak, he’d probably yell ‘get a room!’

Alien Encounters: If we believe Sierjna, then Mu-Quillus was hired by the Pratikrah, a race of shipbuilders, to destroy Leviathans and thus increase demand for alternative ships. Mu-Quillus can manifest aboard Talyn at will and lives in the corona of the sun; he can change between matter and energy; he has no weapons and cannot act against Talyn’s crew; he uses a power source in the sun’s corona to transmit a pulse that lures Leviathans (83 so far) to their deaths; he keeps Sierjna trapped between life and death for reasons unknown. Sierjna is from Delfarion and was travelling in a Leviathan when she was captured by Mu-Quillus.

Farscape, Meltdown, Crais, Crichton, Aeryn, Mu-Quillus

Disney On Acid: John to Crais on his chances of becoming a PK again: ‘never say never again, 007.’

‘All right, Phantom, new tune for the opera,’ John referring to Stark’s half mask as being like the Phantom’s from Gaston Leroux’s novel.

Get Frelled: John and Aeryn react to the Drexim by going into a frenzy of sexual tension, hardly able to keep their hands off each other long enough to get anything done. It’s hilarious to see, and when the gas has dispersed they christen Talyn’s bridge.

Farscape, Meltdown, Crichton, Aeryn

Seen It All Before: How many times now have people in this show been driven nuts by external factors? It feels a bit tired this time around.

Logic Leaps: Mu-Quillus can live in the corona of a star, he can change from matter to energy, he can materialise inside a ship, he can suspend people between life and death, but he can’t stop two people firing a cannon when he’s in the same room? That’s just daft. And why does he die when his power source is destroyed?

Farscape, Meltdown, Stark

WHAT did you just say? Zylimbron = a person who is trapped between life and death.

The Verdict: Paul Goddard is great, Aeryn and John are hilarious, and Crais comes on like Officer Gordon from‘Won’t Get Fooled Again,’ but good performances and some funny bits do not a strong episode make. This is a weak instalment that doesn’t go anywhere terribly interesting or stay long in the memory after it’s gone; this is fast food compared to the three-course meal Farscape usually serves.

Farscape, Meltdown, Crais, Stark

Verdict redux: I enjoyed “Meltdown” a whole lot more this time around. Yes, it’s thin and a bit samey, but the performances are great fun, and there’s always room for silliness—perhaps it just caught me in the right mood.

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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