Bringing Home The Beacon
Written by Carleton Eastlake, directed by Rowan Woods
Season 4, episode 16
1st UK Transmission Date: 27 January 2002
1st US Transmission Date: 7 February 2003
Guest Cast: Raelee Hill (Sikozu), Melissa Jaffer (Noranti), Rebecca Riggs (Grayza), David Franklin (Braca), Francesca Buller (Ahkna), Jonathan Pasvolsky (Pennoch), Peter Lamb (Rekka), Peter Fenton (Negotiator), Olivia Pigeot (Marella)
Synopsis: While the guys are training with Katoya, Sikozu, Aeryn, Noranti and Chiana have travelled to a dead Leviathan that has been fused with a planetoid to form a commerce settlement. They want to buy a sensor distorter to camouflage Moya against long range scans. They do the deal to get the right mod but discover that the settlement is the location of a secret meeting between Grayza and War Minister Ahkna, third in command of the Scarran fleet. Grayza wants to swap the Luxan Territories for unchallenged ownership of the Uncharted Territories. It is the Scarrans’ fear of PK wormhole weapons that gives her such a strong bargaining position. Aeryn and Sikozu try to intervene but the deal is done. Ahkna betrays Grayza, taking her prisoner, but she and Braca escape after being freed by Aeryn and Sikozu. Escaping with the sensor distorter, the ladies return to Moya, where they discover that Aeryn has been replaced by a bionoid double—the real Aeryn is now in Scarran hands.
Buck Rogers Redux: Why does John ask about the baby when asking about bailing on Moya? Seems a very odd question in the circumstances. Anyway, once bioloid Aeryn chokes on the answer, he knows something is wrong with her, but he takes a hell of a risk shooting her in the head—what if she’d been brainwashed or hypnotised or something?
You Can Be More: Aeryn’s initial instinct is to suspect Sikozu and/or Noranti of betraying them to the Peacekeepers, but Sikozu manages to talk her around relatively easily. When they realise Grayza is off-book, it’s Aeryn who insists they stay and collect intelligence, hoping to use it to get Grayza relieved of her command and off their backs. She’s willing to assassinate Grayza to stop her making a deal, even though she’s obviously aware her chances of escape are slim—which throws light on the kind of decision-making that got her into such trouble between seasons. She stays behind to cover the others’ escape, and is captured for her pains.
Everyone’s Favourite Little Tralk: Chiana tries to offer herself in part payment for the sensor distorter, and it’s lucky she does, as her memorable tongue helps save the day later on.
Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Rygel isn’t eating, but claims it is because he’s practicing the self-discipline he learned from Katoya.
A Ship, A Living Ship!: When the sensor distorter is plugged into Moya’s Neelar Trunk, Pilot feels the camouflage options.
Grandma, We Love You: She uses mayla spores to fool the Charrids into shooting each other.
Bobblehead: Sikozu still has to prove her worth to the crew in the face of repeated suspicions even after everything they’ve been through, which seems more than a bit unfair given how useful she is. She’s the only one who knows what a bioloid is; wonder how she knew that? Did Scorpius tell her, or did she already know?
Servalan Redux: Taking what she says at face value isn’t wise, but let’s assume Grayza’s telling the truth when she says that the majority of the PK Council are backing her play for peace and power. If she secures the treaty, her ascent to rule seems assured. She’s playing a high stakes bluff in the hope of taking power. Judging by how Ahkna mocks Grayza about it, her mind-controlling boob sweat trick is notorious.
She refuses to discuss disarmament, probably because it would reveal her lie about wormhole tech. Once betrayed she seems willing to repudiate the treaty—but is this the bioloid talking? It’s hard to know at what point she was copied (and was Braca copied too?) The crew seem unsure whether fake Aeryn was dispatched to retrieve Grayza—in which case Grayza was not replaced, and escaped with Braca—or Crichton, in which case she may have been.
Alien Encounters: A pinch of pressure on the mela nerve paralyses Nebari from the neck down.
Despite the richness of their worlds, PK High Command apparently regrets making a peace accord with the Luxans, because they are warriors not diplomats, according to Grayza. Reading between the lines, it would seem likely that the Luxans are not entirely happy with PK rule by proxy—is revolution brewing there?
Stats: You can buy genetic transformations, species blending, which disguise you so completely that you can fool a DNA scan. Strikers are the fastest ships in the Scarran fleet. Peacekeepers have known about bioloids for a while, but never (knowingly) encountered one.
Backstage: Welcome back Francesca Buller, Ben Browder’s wife, in her fourth separate Farscape character. Reliably, she’s brilliant.
The Verdict: The Grayza/Scarran storyline finally kicks into high gear with a very tense and well plotted episode. The main thrust, with Sikozu and Aeryn trying to stay one-step ahead of Grayza is twisty and gripping, but there’s still room for plenty of fun with Chiana and Noranti, and their lesbian double act is a hoot. Sikozu, too, gets a lot to do and it’s nice to see her in the foreground again.
It’s a shame that budget problems meant the commerce settlement was mostly redressed Moya sets, but they manage to get away with it pretty well; although it’s basically another bottle show, it doesn’t feel like it.
I found the resolution a bit mishandled, though—I’ve rewatched it twice and I’m still not sure if Grayza was doubled or not, and I find John shooting Aeryn in the head, even if she was reaching for her gun, a bit of a stretch. But these are minor niggles, and the tension is ratcheting higher as we hit the run into the finale. (I just hope we don’t get another batch of episodes with John hunting for Aeryn and being all mopey about it.)