What Was Lost I: Sacrifice
Written by Justin Monjo, directed by Rowan Woods
Season 4, episode 2
1st UK Transmission Date: 30 September 2002
1st US Transmission Date: 14 June 2002
Guest Cast: Raelee Hill (Sikozu), Tammy MacIntosh (Jool), Melissa Jaffer (Old woman), Rebecca Riggs (Grayza), David Franklin (Braca), Steve Le Marquand (Oo-Nii), Elizabeth Alexander (Vella), Kim De Lury (Tarnat), Dinah Shearing (Voice of Elack’s Pilot)
Warning: the levels of snark and despair evidenced in last week’s rewatch blog may also be detected in this week’s. And probably next week’s.
Synopsis: Elack brings John, Chi, Rygel and Sicko-zoo to the planet Arnessk. They think Jool may have brought Moya here (we never find out why they think that). Chi and John go down to the planet while Rygel and Sikozu stay on Elack, who is dying, and try to repair John’s module.
Jool, D’Argo and the old woman (we still don’t know her name but I’m going to go ahead and start calling her Noranti) are there, hanging out with an Interon archaeological expedition composed of exactly two people—Vella, who is apparently Very Bad, although we never actually see her do anything bad, so we have to take Noranti’s word for it (show not tell, guys), and her security guard, Tarnat.
Arnessk is an abandoned planet. Centuries ago it was a holy place and the priests who lived there maintained peace—no-one knows how—between Scarrans and Peacekeepers for ‘five hundred generations.’ Then one day they were attacked by three probes which created something called a Darnaz Triangle, which created ‘magnetic summers.’ The priests vanished, leaving no bones behind, and the universe slid back into conflict. Every few cycles the magnetics drop enough for people to land safely for a while and examine the ruins. There was supposed to be a big temple there, but no trace of it has ever been found.
Vella is trying to find the three probes to recreate the Darnaz Triangle, she says so she can reverse its effects. Noranti doesn’t believe her, and thinks she wants to use it as a weapon.
Someone kills Vella. Peacekeepers kill Tarnat.
Grayza arrives, because apparently everyone knew Jool was going to Arnessk except the viewers. She makes Scorpius lick her boots and then puts John under a spell using—I can’t believe I’m typing this—her mind-controlling boob sweat. She does the nasty with him. Because leather trousers. Or something. I dunno.
Noranti gives John a vision of the priests in which he sees a child’s toy pyramid, which for some reason they keep calling a tile, but it would be really silly to cover your bathroom wall in them. He then finds this ‘tile’ in reality and notices it has ancient Egyptian symbols on it. (Oh noes! Goa’uld!) Then Noranti makes him jump of a cliff. Because cliffhanger.
Oh, and there’s this colourful sea monster dude. We have no clue how he lives on an uninhabitable planet, why he’s there, who he is or what he wants, but everybody just seems to kind of accept him, except when they don’t. Honestly, I don’t know what that was all about. He has hidden the two recovered probes.
Buck Rogers Redux: John’s tetchy, bored by archaeology and just wants to get back to Moya. ‘I know how he feels,’ chorus the audience.
You Can Be More: Still no sign of Aeryn, and boy, doesn’t the show miss her.
I Was A Teenage Luxan: D’Argo is overjoyed to see John and promises to tell him lots about his travels. But doesn’t (happily, m’colleague Keith has the skinny). He’s got really into archaeology, which is actually really endearing. But even though he’s been working dawn til dusk, it’s only now that Jool is showing him how to use the correct tools. He stayed free because the D’Argomobile, now christened Lo’la in memory of his wife, can turn invisible. He seems to be warming up to Jool, and hints that he would like to stick with her and keep doing archaeology, but is betrayed and upset when she doesn’t stand up for him in front of Vella. He picks up a discarded carver, just before one is used to kill Vella, and is there straight after she died—so did he do it? He remains at liberty when the Peacekeepers arrive.
(In fact, the explanation of what D’Argo did was scripted and filmed, it’s a deleted scene on the DVD. That’s right, they write a single scene to conclude a three-season story arc for one of their main characters and then think ‘oh, to hell with it, who cares?’ and cut it out. To add insult to injury, it’s the best scene in the episode – a genuine moment of character development and connection between two of our regulars. Everything that is going wrong with the show at this point is demonstrated by the decision to cut it.)
Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Hangs out on Elack, doesn’t do much, hides.
Everyone’s Favourite Little Tralk: The bad experiences she had while on the run are continuing to make her aggressive and generally unpleasant.
Jool In the Crown: Jool was on the run when she was frozen, for stealing from a Noation gem mine. She also stole things from digs, but says it was just to help her study. She’s been to Arnessk before, but did not steal from here, partly because she dreamed of discovering the missing temple. Turns out, she’s a teeny bit racist and basically agrees with Vella that Luxans are an intellectual sub-species, although she thinks D’Argo is unusual for a Luxan. It’s quite a shocking moment when she tells him that and kind of instantly nullifies all the likeability the character had built up during season three.
Grandma, We Love You: She is a Traskan. At first Noranti doesn’t recognise Crichton, possibly because she’s distracted by the voices she is hearing—presumably of the vanished priests. She never bathes because it ‘washes off the juice.’ She is 293 cycles old and believes that goodness is always destroyed by ‘causes.’ She lures Tarnat to Crichton then tries to get John to shoot him, insisting that he’s going to use the Darnaz Triangle for evil, although she has no evidence to back this up. How does Crichton end up in the water after Noranti gives him the vision and takes his gun? Is it possible she rolled him into the sea to die so he couldn’t stop her trying to kill Vella? After triggering his second vision she definitely tries to kill him, to prevent him telling Grayza where the third probe is, even though we have no indication she even knows it exists.
Nosferatu in Leather: Scorpius is put in the Aurora Chair and tortured by Grayza and her puppy dog, Braca, for information about Crichton. It seems that he is keeping things about Crichton from Grayza, possibly to ensure his own survival. By putting specially treated rods into his cooling system, they can make Scorpius do anything. So they chain him like a dog and humiliate him. If the rods aren’t replenished regularly he begins to regain control. It’s fun to see Scorpius on the back foot; at least the show is finding new things to do with the character.
A Ship, A Living Ship!: Moya got spat out of the wormhole, but Jool doesn’t know what happened. Noranti spoke to Pilot about it, but doesn’t share. Moya is off doing her own thing, but is on her way back.
Captain Lickspittle: Braca is not bothered by what has happened to Scorpius, in fact he relishes it. He loves being a captain, is terribly pleased with himself, and likes to, y’know, watch.
Servalan Redux: Grayza takes meetings naked, in her sexy bath of evil. She wants to know about Crichton because the Scarrans want him, but when she finds Crichton she puts the ’fluence on him then, oddly, gives him an arn to recover before taking him to the beach, doing it again, banging him—while Scorpius and Braca watch—and leaving him alone so he can contemplate his naval. We have no idea what Grayza is after, why, or how she plans to get it (unless what she was after was a quick bunk up). Which would be fine if there wasn’t the sneaking suspicion that the writer doesn’t know the answers to those questions either. Grayza seems mostly to be in the episode to be an evil sexy woman who uses her sexy evil woman powers to get her evil womanly way, sexily. It’s not only bad writing, it’s screamingly misogynistic.
WHAT did you just say?: ’Crichton is nallywhipped’ by Grayza.
The Verdict: When deleted scenes from the previous episode show up in the pre-episode recap, and when the best scene from this ep ends up the cutting room floor, you know something has gone horribly wrong somewhere. This is the least coherent episode the show has done yet. Characters wander around with no clear sense of motivation or purpose, we don’t get any insight into why anybody does anything. This is just a woeful mess. I could list everything that doesn’t make sense, but I’d be here all day.
All the things we desperately want to know—what happened to Moya, what happened to D’Argo, why D’Argo’s there, how everyone knows to follow Jool to a planet never mentioned before—are denied us, and not in a way that builds suspense, but in a way that seems not to understand the viewers would want to know in the first place.
To me, it feels of a piece with ‘Crichton Kicks’; it has the same feeling of a show that has forgotten how to tell a story, because this episode really doesn’t have one—things happen, but without any kind of drive, shape or narrative energy. It’s going through the motions without any real knowledge of what it’s doing or why. Monjo and Woods have shown time and again that they are talented guys, so I’m at a loss to know how this went so wrong.
If ‘Crichton Kicks’ killed Farscape, this episode measured the corpse, ordered the coffin and bought the burial plot.
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.