Into The Lion’s Den I: Lambs to the Slaughter
Written by Richard Manning, directed by Ian Watson
Season 3, Episode 20
1st UK Transmission Date: 24 January 2002
1st US Transmission Date: 12 April 2002
Guest Cast: Jool (Tammy MacIntosh), Lt. Braca (David Franklin), Lt. Reljik (Sean Taylor), Henta (Marta Dusseldorp), Lt. Lorel (Lenore Smith), Commandant Milon Graza (Rebecca Riggs), Danny Adcock (Co-Kura Strappa)
Synopsis: John, Aeryn, Jool, Crais and Chiana join D’Argo and Rygel aboard Scorpius’ Command Carrier where they are given ‘full diplomatic rights, immunities and courtesies.’ John and Scorpius are wearing the I-Yensch bracelets, which binds their nervous systems and ensures that if one suffers or dies the other does too.
The presence of Moya’s crew is deeply resented by the crew of the Command Carrier, especially Lt. Reljik, who persuades a friend to try and kill D’Argo. D’Argo survives, the attacker dies, and Scorpius threatens Reljik with execution if any more attacks are made. After the attack Jool, Chi, D’Argo and Rygel return to Moya, but the ship is seized by a Retrieval Squad and brought to the Command Carrier on the orders of Commandant Graza, who challenges Scorpius’ authority.
Scorpius has Graza thrown off the ship and she promises to return with full sanction and shut his project down. She instructs Reljik to kill Crichton, and thus Scorpius; he fails. Scorpius shows John his life story and manages to convince John that the Scarrans are a huge threat—John is now unsure whether he should go through with his plan and stop Scorpius developing wormhole technology.
Scorpius agrees to bring Talyn aboard to be refitted and assigns Lt. Lorel to assist Crais. Lorel was Crais’s lover; she says she still loves him but has been told to spy on him—in fact, this is a double bluff, and she really is spying on him.
Aeryn is reunited with an old friend and tries to convince her that she is not a traitor; it appears she has little success.
Buck Rogers Redux: ‘When my friends are threatened I am infamous for making really stupid moves!’ John is beginning to unlock the wormhole equations in his head—he can tell enough to know which research directions will pay off and which are dead ends. Plan A is to erase all of Scorpy’s data, plan B is to steer him in the wrong direction, plan C is to give it up and run like hell. John asks Harvey if the Scarrans are the threat that Scorpy claims and Harvey says they are. John also views Scorpy’s personal history. These things combine to make him doubt his planned course of action—he is actually considering helping Scorpius stop the Scarran threat. When Aeryn points out that Black T John sacrificed himself to stop wormhole technology getting into the wrong hands, he replies, ‘it’s my shift now, he didn’t know what we know.’
You Can Be More: Aeryn somewhat misses the easy camaraderie of being on a PK ship with friends and equals. Her best friend in those days was Henta, who remains a loyal PK and instinctively despises Aeryn now. She throws a drink in Aeryn’s face in the officer’s lounge, but later on she is willing to sit and talk with her, at least giving her a chance to put her case. She claims that Aeryn could have come back after Crais went rogue, but Aeryn admits she didn’t want to come back. Aeryn has not abandoned all elements of the PK code: ‘I kept loyalty, sacrifice, honour.’ She tells John she will back him whatever course of action he decides on.
I Was A Teenage Luxan: D’Argo has had the rings in his collar bones removed and is given full details of Macton’s whereabouts and current assignment. (Macton is the brother, and the killer, of D’Argo’s wife Lo’Laan—‘They’ve got A Secret’.) He tries not to kill the PK who attacks him, but the bad guy’s death is unavoidable.
Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Rygel is given a full breakdown of the political situation on Hyneria. He discovers that the usurper, Bishan, is in disfavour and there is much dissent against his rule. Rygel is planning to return, raise an army, and retake the throne.
Everyone’s Favourite Little Tralk: Chi did not jump ship after all, although mainly because they were too far from a suitable planet. Once on the Command Carrier she tries her old tricks, turning on the sex appeal, flirting with Reljik, stirring trouble. Luckily, D’Argo steps in before she can start a fight. She has another precognitive flash, of Pilot screaming, just before the Retrieval Squad turns up.
Jool In the Crown: Why does Jool come to the Command Carrier? The Peacekeepers don’t even know she exists, but by accompanying John and the others she declares her presence, openly allies herself with wanted criminals and places herself needlessly in the firing line. Either she’s very stupid or she’s very brave and has decided that she’s now fully one of the crew. When D’Argo is attacked, she dives right in and lands a few good punches herself—a far cry from the wimpy scream queen who came aboard the ship at the start of the season. Her hair is shocking red, a reflection of her deep anxiety at being on a PK ship.
The Insane Military Commander: Crais was not a good PK even when he was still Captain—he had formed an emotional attachment to Lt. Lorel and regrets not taking her with him when he defected to Moya. His ex-crew despise him for abusing his power and running out on them, leaving them to be commanded by Scorpius, who they hate even more.
Nosferatu in Rubber: ‘At last the rift between us is finally bridged.’ Scorpius is in a difficult position. His crew resent him, High Command is about to withdraw support for his project, and he suspects John is stalling for time. He has a trick up his sleeve, though—he has located Earth. It is just over 60 cycles travel away at top speed. If John betrays him, Scorpius swears he will keep him alive just long enough to see Earth completely destroyed.
Hi, Harvey: Harvey is now a staunch ally of John’s because he has decided he wants to survive, and to do that he needs to keep John alive. He modifies John’s energy signature so that Scorpius cannot tell when he is being lied to. He says he does not share Scorpius’s passions or fears, only his intellect, but his belief in revenge (‘Revenging Angel’) hints otherwise.
A Ship, A Living Ship!: Moya would rather die that accept another Control Collar. An immobiliser pulse hits her just as she is entering StarBurst and she is badly damaged. She is now amongst the Command Carrier’s fleet.
Big Baby: Crais wants Talyn to have a complete cognitive systems replacement and for all Talyn’s weapons to be removed before he is revived. Talyn is in a hanger on the Command Carrier and Crais and Lorel are working to have him repaired and restored.
Alien Encounters: The Peacekeepers have decided upon a policy of appeasement towards the Scarrans and are trying to put on a show of strength at the same time as opening negotiations. The Luxans have signed a treaty with the Peacekeepers under which they retain autonomy, but pledge to help fight any Scarran invasion. Every time the Peacekeepers approach a world in the Uncharted Territories and propose they join the alliance, they meet one of two responses—fear of Peacekeepers or laughter at the fact that they haven’t been able to capture the legendary Moya and Crichton. They consider that Scorpius’s project may be seen as provocative and intend to have it shut down so as not to give the Scarrans an excuse to invade. Scorpius claims that appeasement equals suicide and the new policy will only ensure a swifter invasion and a total defeat.
Seen It All Before: The rocket pack scene was straight out of the old Republic serial King Of The Rocketmen. The introduction of Commandant Graza is an interesting move, and she promises to be a recurring figure in the future, but she’s so very reminiscent of Servalan from Blake’s 7 that she adds one more parallel between two shows that already have a great deal in common.
Disney On Acid: John called the I-Yensch bracelet ‘Dick Tracey’s neural bracelet,’ after the old comic strip. He also refers to Scorpius as ‘Grasshopper’—a reference to the TV show Kung-Fu—and ‘Bram Stoker’s nightmare.’ Stoker wrote Dracula.
Stats: Co-Kura Strappa is working on generating an external field to stabilise the wormhole before entry; to this end, they have transformed the Command Carrier’s hull into a huge wave repeater, but they cannot find the correct resonant frequency to stabilise the wormhole. The anaesthetic mist in the Restorative Chamber interferes with surveillance devices. If a pulse pistol is fired in the generator room, the blast bounces back as if on a piece of elastic, and kills the shooter. Rocket packs are used to enable maintenance of the generator stacks. Command Carriers contain about 40 huge hangars that house planetary terrain reconstructions for use in combat training.
Guest Stars: Lenore Smith was a regular on The Restless Years and The Flying Doctors. Marta Dusseldorp has appeared in Innocence and Paradise Road.
The Verdict: This episode muddies the waters greatly, making John realise his vendetta against Scorpius has far wider implications, and showing us how desperate Scorpius is to retain his command and stop the Scarrans, even if it means defying his own superiors for their own good. The effects are great—apart from the dodgy rocket pack moment—the sense of scale conjured in the Command Carrier is impressive, and there’s a real feeling of danger for our heroes. There’s so much happening, so many plot strands and set-ups that it promises to be that rarest of things—a two-parter in which the second episode outstrips the first.
Verdict Redux: First time around this seemed so exciting, but I must confess that this time I just get a bit of a sinking feeling. I did not like Graza and found season four a bit of a struggle, so while it feels like the triumphant cap on a great season, it also feels like the point at which the show I loved peaks and sows the seeds of its decline. But, accentuating the positive, the complexity of John’s position, and the unexpected weakness of Scorpius, make for great drama.
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.