Into The Lion’s Den II: Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing
Written by Rockne S. O’Bannon, directed by Rowan Woods
Season 3, Episode 21
1st UK Transmission Date: 28 January 2002
1st US Transmission Date: 19 April 2002
Guest Cast: Jool (Tammy MacIntosh), Lt. Braca (David Franklin), Henta (Marta Dusseldorp), Lt. Lorel (Lenore Smith), Danny Adcock (Co-Kura Strappa)
Synopsis: John decides that the only course of action left open to them is to destroy the Command Carrier. Crais betrays this plan to Scorpius, who locks up Jool, Chi, Rygel and D’Argo as a guarantee of John’s continued assistance.
However, Crais is playing a double bluff—he realises that the best way to destroy the ship and still allow all the people on board to escape, is to board Talyn and initiate StarBurst while still in the hangar. This will cause the Carrier to implode slowly but irrevocably, giving the crew time to make their escapes. It will also result in the certain deaths of Talyn and Crais.
John agrees to provide a diversion. He fetches his WDP from Moya and takes Scorpius with him on a ride through the wormhole. While the crew of the Carrier listen to the broadcast of the journey, Crais and Aeryn overpower the men guarding Talyn. When John and Scorpy return to the Carrier, Crais broadcasts his farewell to the ship and triggers StarBurst.
Aeryn helps rescue her shipmates, who escape to Moya on D’Argo’s ship. Henta tries to kill Aeryn for helping destroy the Carrier, but Henta is burnt to death before she can pull the trigger. Aeryn steals a new Prowler and escapes to Moya.
John uses the Aurora chair to erase all the wormhole knowledge from Co-Kura Strappa’s mind. He meets Scorpius on the disintegrating hangar floor and they tell each other the combinations to remove the Yensch bracelets. Scorpius walks away into the crumbling ship and John flies back to Moya in the WDP. Back on the ship, he transcribes the wormhole equations into a book, as his shipmates make plans to return to their homes.
Buck Rogers Redux: ‘One evil at a time, that’s the best I can do.’ John could gamble that Commandant Graza would shut down Scorpy’s research and end the entire wormhole project. He could just leave. But he’s not willing to bet on Graza beating Scorpius in a fair fight, so he decides they have to be entirely certain and thus must destroy the Carrier.
He takes a lot of convincing that Crais is on his side, he really believes Crais has betrayed them and even Aeryn’s vouching for Crais does little to convince him; it’s only when he realises the scale, and the cost of what Crais is proposing that he finally accepts it, and later John seems regretful that he didn’t express his appreciation.
He dares Scorpy into driving through a wormhole with him even though he knows it’s an absurd risk. He even seems willing to let Scorpy leave the Carrier with him in his WDP. He discovers that the way to gain access to the wormhole equations in his head it to zone out and let his subconscious take over his writing, then the equations pour out of him.
You Can Be More: It is Aeryn that Crais goes to when he’s taken action, knowing that she trusts him and will help him convince Crichton of his sincerity. She does just that, and the depth of her regard for Crais is clear when she says goodbye to him just before he blows up Talyn. Even as the Carrier falls apart, before she rescues her friends, she pauses to help some children and Peacekeepers evacuate. She faces down Henta and tells her that she’s satisfied she’s done the right thing—destroying Scorpy’s work will save millions of lives. She now has a new Prowler.
I Was A Teenage Luxan: ‘We all knew the time would come when we’d split up. At the beginning I would never have believed it could take so long.’ D’Argo agrees that he, Rygel, Jool and Chi should all leave the Carrier, but that’s before they learn of John’s new plan to blow things up. He manages to get hold of schematics of the Carrier detailing the changes made since Crais was in charge—how on Earth does he manage to do that?
Buckwheat the Sixteenth: ‘Don’t think I’m going to miss you, any of you. I’m not! Well… maybe a little.’ Surprisingly, it is Rygel who first backs John’s plan, detailing his fear of wormhole weapons and claiming that it’s in his own interest because if he did reclaim his throne, he could never hold it against a PK force that had such weapons.
Everyone’s Favourite Little Tralk: Chiana plans to find the Nebari resistance and join up with her brother, Nerri.
Jool In the Crown: Jool is upset at the prospect of leaving Moya and the disintegration of the crew.
In The Driving Seat: Pilot seems upset that Jool is leaving, reflecting the regard he’s come to have for her.
The Insane Military Commander: So farewell then, Captain Bialar Crais. He plays a very dangerous game, and it’s only by making outrageous demands of Scorpius that he convinces the leather-clad loon that he’s genuine in his betrayal of John. It is his decision to sacrifice himself, and he does it with nobility, courage and not a little fatalistic humour. It’s a superb send off for a great character. He hits Lorel and gets rid of her before he acts, and it’s left ambiguous whether he does this because he no longer trusts her or because he wants to save her. He accuses Scorpius of stealing his entire life when he stole his command, calls him an abomination and takes great pleasure in knowing that he is destroying him.
Nosferatu in Rubber: ‘I may not be getting off this ship, John. Goodbye, Crichton.’ Scorpius is so convinced that John has doomed them all to Scarran defeat he accuses him of committing a great evil, and who’s to say he’s wrong: ‘Commander John Crichton, generations will know that name. Because of you, the Scarrans will soon destroy us.’ He lets John think he’s decided to go down with the ship, but he took Braca somewhere before hand, so it’s safe to assume he made his escape and is plotting other ways to take the revenge that sustains him. He gives John the bracelet release code first, perhaps so that John might continue to believe he died on the ship—had John kept the bracelet on he would have been fully aware of Scorpy’s survival. When travelling through the wormhole Scorpius is totally fazed, calls the experience ‘indescribable,’ says he’s ‘never felt so connected’ and staggers a bit when he gets out of the WDP.
Hi, Harvey: Harvey beats John at chess, draughts and Go Fish. He’s noticeably more friendly, quirky and daft in this two-parter, perhaps reflecting John’s increased control now that he has a real purpose.
A Ship, A Living Ship!: Moya is obviously upset at Talyn’s demise, but accepts it; she always knew her child was destined for a violent end and appreciates that it will be a heroic one.
Big Baby: So farewell, Talyn. Blown to smithereens, but at least going out in a blaze of noble glory and self sacrifice, dying to save the galaxy and Moya.
Disney On Acid: Scorpy goes into ‘Captain Queeg mode’; this refers to the book and film The Caine Mutiny in which a naval vessel is terrorised by an insane captain. John quotes Star Wars when he tells Scorpy ‘flying through wormholes ain’t like dusting crops, farm boy.’
Stats: ‘It’s not just science, it’s never just science, it’s a weapon!’ The Command Carrier is over a metra long and contains 50,000 men, women and children. John tells Scorpy that he thinks there is a reason why his unshielded module lets him survive wormholes when Prowler pilots don’t. He then flies through a demonstrably unstable wormhole full of Rantath Flux, and emerges unscathed. Since he had no Phase Stabiliser on board then the module must have particular properties. Linfer implied that John only survived his initial journey because he was lucky enough to create a stable wormhole—that now seems questionable.
Logic Leaps: Crais convinces Scorpius that Aeryn was the only one of Moya’s crew not conspiring with John to destroy the Command Carrier. Scorpius then lets her roam the ship freely. Is he daft, or what?
The Verdict: On the down side, the subplot with Henta seems to fizzle out and doesn’t really provide the exploration of an alternative Aeryn it promised, and the rest of the crew are sidelined as the focus shifts entirely to John, Aeryn, Scorpius and Crais. On the other hand Ben Browder again puts in his bid to be considered best actor on TV, and Lani Tupu gets to go out in a blaze of glory, and gives Crais real nobility as he finally reaches the end of his quest for redemption. Spectacular effects, big explosions, a majestic score, and a decisive victory for the good guys won at great cost—this is epic stuff, and pushes the limits of what we normally see on TV, achieving cinematic scope.
Verdict Redux: I love this episode to bits. It’s operatic, over the top, thrilling, moving, and achieves some really amazing production values. Hard to fault it, to be honest.
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.