Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Classics: Farscape 3:3/3:4 - Self-Inflicted Wounds

Overall: 9.0

'Tis a nice farewell for Zhaan.

Plot Synopses:

Could'a, Would'a, Should'a is summarized here.

Wait for the Wheel is summarized here.

(Hat tip to the Farscape Wiki.)

The Skinny:

These episodes cover an insane amount of ground -- though, fortunately, I don't think the pace is quite as frenetic as it was in the Liars, Guns, and Money triplet. Let's see:

  • First - and most obviously - these episodes are meant to be Zhaan's send-off, and they serve that purpose very well. Really, I can't think of a better way to kill off Zhaan than to have her sacrifice her life on behalf of Moya and the others. And by the way, the acting during her death sequence is just terrific. Stark's primal scream of grief is especially traumatizing.
  • These episodes also introduce a brand new character: Jool. You do have to feel a little sorry for the displaced Interon. If she hadn't entered the scene in the middle of a crisis, Moya's other residents might've found it somewhat easier to tolerate her upper class whinging -- and in all honesty, she doesn't really deserve the level of abuse she receives here. On the other hand -- oh my GOD, somebody shut that girl up before she ruptures my eardrums!
  • Further, these episodes establish what will become the permanent status quo between John and Harvey. John is largely in control of that relationship now, but his dominance is by no means absolute. After all, we can see here how Harvey's presence encourages John's more selfish impulses. Do I think John's responsible for the crash and, indirectly, for Zhaan's death? No. But it does take him a little too long to catch on to Neeyala's treachery.
  • Speaking of which, Neeyala's motives here are quite comprehensible, which indicates the overall quality of the writing. If your family's very survival depended upon the success of your scientific mission, what would you do to preserve the data from your research?
  • Fifth, Stark is officially crazy now. The dispersal undermined his self-control, and Zhaan's death has now destroyed it. Oh, he will still have his moments of complete lucidity, but they will be mixed in with moments of psychosis. Poor thing.
  • Sixth, the writers are still dealing with the fallout from Chiana's squicky decision to sleep with Jothee. I don't think D'Argo has cause to feel guilty over what happened. However, it was nice to see him take that first step towards forgiveness.

Whew! Does your brain hurt yet? I think the whole story is pretty easy to follow, but it's still a lot to take in.

Writing: 9.0

The writing is not perfect. For instance, I'm not sure the serpent needed to be included; the characters were sufficiently imperiled without it. Still, the script barely earns an A on the strength of its character moments.

Acting: 9.5

As I note above, Zhaan's death is especially impressive on the performance front. Have I mentioned yet that I love Paul Goddard?

Message: 8.5

The message falls a little short of a feature rating, though, because a few of Zhaan's lines come dangerously close to denying the value of guilt. If the guilt is uncalled for, I can see the importance of dispensing with it. But if you actually have a reason to feel guilty - if you've actually committed a sin that merits that guilt - then it's not okay to put such guilt aside until you've actually done something to atone for your transgression.

(Check out the highlights below the cut!)


Pilot: I don't know what's wrong! I don't know what's happening to us!
D'Argo: All right, just calm down, Pilot, and tell us how you feel.
Pilot: Well, I feel -- (And with that, Pilot projectile vomits all over Stark.)
D'Argo: (who managed to duck out of the way) I had no idea that he could do that!
Stark: (who is dripping in green slime) I had no idea anyone could do that! (LOL! The look on Stark's face here is so funny.)

Stark: I didn't mean to startle you.
Zhaan: I am to die soon. The Goddess has chosen my harbinger.
Stark: A magnificent planet lies just out there to rejuvenate and sustain you.
Zhaan: A serpent lies between.
Stark: You are ill. Hallucinations.
Zhaan: (as she caresses Stark's face) My Stark. My wonderful Stark -- so afraid to let go.
Stark: I have a darkness which frightens lovers away. Whenever I assist the dying, I cannot help but absorb a tiny spillet of their existence. Over the cycles - the endless parade of death - I've accumulated a vast reservoir of evil. I cannot bear to lose the one thing that mitigates this twisted core of my existence. (Awwww.)

Chiana: What can I do to help?
D'Argo: Two tiers down, four chambers across. Moya’s external pressure sensors -- yank 'em all.
Chiana: I mean, what can I do about us?
D'Argo: That relationship does not exist.
Chiana: We could die. It exists for me.
D'Argo: If you did not want to marry me, you could have found some other way to tell me.
Chiana: When I'm cornered, I-I don't think clearly.
D'Argo: At least now you're speaking the truth.

Rygel: Wormhole. (Quantum speed bump.) Normal space. (Quantum speed bump.) Wormhole. What are we doing here?
John: Making seventeen loops to their one. Each time we lap 'em, it calibrates their position in the slower wall of the wormhole.
Rygel: Engrossing. Who cares? It's only collecting images, none of which mean anything!
John: Well, you gotta know how deep the doo-doo is, Ryg, if you're gonna dig your way out.
Rygel: Next gap is the big one right?
John: Yep.
Rygel: Why don't we just escape?
John: Does it ever bother you? Being selfish?
Rygel: It's self-preservation -- and no.
John: What about our friends?
Rygel: What friends? We were thrown together against our will, and we're all just trying to make the best of it until we can get the chance to screw the others and get what we want. I vote out at the next gap.

Stark: (as he watched Zhaan speak to Pilot) You are masterful with him.
Zhaan: I am but a servant. This you will learn.
Stark: I could never replace you.
Zhaan: Stark, you must. For me - you must remain here and minister these souls. I'm relying on it.
Stark: But I love you.
Zhaan: If I did not feel the same and more - could I ask this sacrifice of you?

Zhaan: Do you hope someday to be Dominar, Rygel?
Rygel: I am still Dominar! Always Dominar!
Zhaan: I mean ruling from a throne instead of a throne sled.
Rygel: They'll never know if I kill Crichton.
Zhaan: But you will. (She holds out her hand, and Rygel, with a long rumble of disgust, hands over the scalpel.) Fool the others if you like. But I see the larger goodness in a small Hynerian. Separating this alien ship from Moya must be your first priority, Rygel.
Rygel: (grudgingly) Have I ever told you that I appreciate your counsel?
Zhaan: Continuously - by accepting it.

Harvey: (peevishly) I resent you calling me here at a whim.
John: That's the way it works, Harvey. You don't like it, I can toss you back in the dumpster. (Nearby, the dumpster, glowing with hellfire from within, opens its lid and emits a long, growly belch.) Do you think Scorpy's still alive? (Harvey sits there sullenly and makes no response. John asks the question again more pointedly.) Do you think - Scorpius - is - still - alive?
Harvey: Without a doubt.
John: What's he doing with the information he stole from my brain?
Harvey: The knowledge placed there by the Ancients is, by now, centerpiece of a sprawling new research facility.
John: If he masters wormhole technology, what will he use it for?
Harvey: Faster delivery of pizzas. (Heh.)
John: Neeyala thinks it's possible we can separate the ships. But only one will survive. We have to pick which one.
Harvey: Yes, it's a shame about Moya. She'll be fondly remembered.
John: It's not a done deal!
Harvey: Did you call me here to talk you out of your guilt?
John: No. It's just -- the information amassed inside their ship --
Harvey: No contest! I sit here inside your feeble brain, listening to the arguments bounce off the hollow spaces! How could you not choose science over a beast of burden? You disgust me, John! I long for the dumpster.

D'Argo: Being on Moya - a fugitive - it's changed me.
John: Well, if you're not feeling suicidal, now is a bad time for a mid-life crisis.
D'Argo: Chiana's a young woman. She needs attention. (Actually, D'Argo, she needs to grow up before she will be ready for your "attention.")
John: D'Argo - you were focused on your son. It's completely understandable.
D'Argo: Still, I neglected her. Do you know what troubles me the most? I did my best. I did the best I could - and it wasn't enough. I still lost them both.
John: My Grandmother used to say that life is - a great wheel. Sometimes it grinds you down into the mud, and other times it lifts you up into the light.
D'Argo: Are we strapped to this wheel?
John: That's a given. Point is - is that, most times you get a second chance. Just gotta wait for the wheel.

Aeryn: It was a bad trade, Zhaan - your health for mine.
Zhaan: Don't undervalue yourself.
Aeryn: I'm just a soldier. (Zhaan rises and lays a hand on Aeryn’s cheek)
Zhaan: Don't underestimate yourself.
Aeryn: I'm being realistic.
Zhaan: Don't be afraid to understand yourself. We're not as different as you assume. Violent past, no faith in the future, and then a transformative experience aboard this very ship. My time grows short and yours stretches before you. Use it wisely.

Jool: (scoffing) A living ship. I've never heard of such a beast.
Stark: Which obviously means it can't exist.
Jool: Oh, you've so figured me out.
Stark: Not trying to. Be quiet, please. The gag remains an option.
Jool: Is it true what the animal said? That you're all prisoners?
Stark: At some time or another - yes.
Jool: Great. Just great. I take a multi-civilization tour for my birthday and barely make it through the first stop. I lose my deposit. My cousins get murdered. I've been frozen for 22 cycles. I've been captured by degenerate aliens. Attacked by a huge serpent -- (And here, Stark completely loses his dren, cutting Jool off in mid-whine.)
Stark: DEAD! ALL OF US - DEAD! My love - DEAD! My dreams - DEAD! You - DEAD! Me - DEAD! You dead! Me dead! You dead! Me dead! You dead! Me dead! (In the midst of his psychotic break, it takes an almost physical effort for Stark to stop his maniacal repetition.) Your list is short and unworthy of entree to this ship of horror! Tortured by demons you can never know! Mocked by love that will never be! (Jool, justifiably afraid, starts to weep.) Oh, you want to cry young creature? I will show you something that will make you cry forever!

John: Look, princess -- I know that this trip to Krugerland was not on your itinerary. But believe it or not - I know exactly how you feel.
Jool: Don't presume to know anything about me! (John stomps back to her and yanks the gun Jool is holding up into firing position.)
John: You hold this steady. Be more afraid of what you're aiming at.
Jool: I-I've never done anything like this before!
John: None of us have.
John: NOT ON PURPOSE! He was a corpsicle, and your other cousin -- he didn't last half a minute defrosted.
Jool: Then why did I survive?
John: I don't know. You're not sick. Maybe they shanghaied you for body parts. You're the freebie.
Jool: Everything I have seen so far is despicable!
John: WELCOME to the Federation Starship SS Buttcrack! (LOL!)

Jool: John?
John: (from the maintenance bay as he heads for his module) Yeah?
Jool: Why is this ship so important?
John: (on comm) Still worried about your parents after 22 cycles?
Jool: (softly) Yes.
John: (on comm) That's how we feel about Moya. She raised us.

Zhaan: You are a very ungrateful and selfish woman. Please remain silent from now on!
John: Zhaan, none of this is gonna matter if Pilot doesn't -- (But at that moment, Pilot manages to tune in.)
Pilot: (barely awake) I am... readyyyy...
Pilot: Impulse data from each test of their generator was stored in Moya’s neural circuitry, allowing me to construct a statistical model...
Pilot: I must initiate starburst approximately seven microts after the generator is unleashed.
Jool: Oh, dear Chanu! Please don't let me die this way! Please!
Pilot: (eying her with some dismay) Who is THAT creature?
John: That's ballast. Ignore it. (Ouch!)

Pilot: I appreciate your concern, Rygel. It's just that you've never paid this much attention to me before.
Rygel: I think maybe you haven't noticed: I like you, Pilot. I like you a lot. (Pilot looks unnerved.) And I know Zhaan did too. Shame you didn't get to say good-bye.
Pilot: (softly) When I was unconscious and in pain -- she came to me, inside my mind. I -- already miss her. (Awwwwww.)

Jool: (with a girly squeal) Ow! Ooh - wait for me!
Chiana: Not that way on Moya. You want to move faster? Get better shoes. Or maybe -- get in better shape.
Jool: Do you know how much these shoes cost, young whore?
Chiana: For me? Three sex acts. Probably double that for you. (Jool catches up to her and grabs her by the arm, forcing Chiana to turn and look at her.)
Jool: You have some nerve to talk to me that way.
Chiana: One of my very, very best friends has just gone. Right now, I'm -- I am nothing but nerve. You want someone to like you? Invest in a mirror.

Stark: Honestly, Aeryn, you don't have to hover over me.
Aeryn: To be honest in return, Stark, I'd expect you to be a bit more upset.
Stark: After 15,000 deaths, what's 15,001?
Aeryn: The woman you loved. (Stark turns around - he's holding a scalpel as he stares at her. She delicately reaches out and removes it from his unresisting hand. His gaze softens with quiet regret.)
Stark: Those I minister to in their final moments are usually resistant to the process. Not Zhaan. Imagine being so at peace, so certain what was next was better -- (He trails off.) She doesn't want us upset. She wants us to carry on in her spirit. Positive and hopeful.
Aeryn: And you can do that?
Stark: Not always. I would appreciate you hovering then.

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