In the seventh episode of the first season of Farscape, the crew finds an abandoned Peacekeeper ship that’s not so abandoned. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Farscape.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of torture/PTSD.
Holy shit, this episode was REALLY good. I liked that it got back to the Crais arc without actually addressing much of it. It went in such a different direction, and I’M HERE FOR THIS. Let’s talk about this.
ALIEN TROPES SHIT YEAH
I don’t care. I am so totally into the whole “abandoned ship in space” trope, it’s one of my favorite things in the universe. Abandoned buildings or homes aren’t nearly as entertaining as this because it’s space. There’s something a million times more foreboding and creepy about the threat of something awful being on a ship abandoned IN SPACE. It’s in space, y’all, LITERALLY ANYTHING COULD BE IN THERE. This episode dives straight into this trope, gives a billion twists, and then delivers us a haunting story of loss, trauma, and love. And the set used for the Peacekeeper ship is just so perfect! It’s claustrophobic at times, and then we get that huge, rusted bay that gives the whole thing an enormity that suggests power. Visually, we need to understand why the Zelbinion is such a feared ship. The pervasive lack of light in it also works towards making Rygel’s journey through his past literally dark.
Revisiting the Past
For Rygel and Aeryn, the Zelbinion holds memories of the life they were forced out of. And that’s an important parallel because neither character truly chose to leave their life behind, and it’s why it’s so painful for them to return. Aeryn boards the Zelbinion because she’ll have the most knowledge of it, since she once lived on a similar ship. It’s through this that we get a whole lot more information about the Peacekeepers as a galactic force and how this ties into Aeryn’s personal development. I mean… she lived in quarters that small??? Did she ever have a home or a life off that ship? Was she bred to be a Peacekeeper? (I feel like there was a line about that in “Premiere,” but I can’t quite remember.) Regardless, when the crew finds Gilina, it unlocks a whole lot of buried feelings in Aeryn.
I’ll address the attraction to Crichton in a later section. For now, I want to focus on the fact that this episode really helped me to understand what a disruptive thing it was for Aeryn to leave the Peacekeepers. Gilina’s appearance reminds Aeryn that she could have done things much differently and avoided her own exile. And that’s painful! I understood why Aeryn was so harsh with Gilina, but I think a part of her lashed out because of what Gilina made her think about. I mean, at one point, Gilina reveals that Aeryn’s entire unit was demoted upon her defection, and the only thing that would get them out of it was Aeryn’s death. I’M PRETTY SURE SHE FELT GUILTY AND CONFLICTED ABOUT HER DECISION ENOUGH AT THIS POINT. Oh my god, that’s so awful.
I just have a lot of feelings for Aeryn and what she gave up to save Crichton’s life. She knows what she gave up, too, and it’s why she ultimately wants Gilina to go back to the Peacekeepers unscathed. She’s been suffering from her separation from a culture that’s really the only thing she’s ever known, and she can’t ever ask someone else to make the same decision for their life.
HELP. MY HEART. And let’s not even begin to think about Crichton’s attempt to demonstrate that he understands how Aeryn feels. Because wow, thanks Farscape. THANKS FOR DRIVING THE KNIFE FURTHER IN.
And then we’ve got Rygel, who’s got a gut-wrenching story about him facing his demons aboard the Zelobinium. This specific ship was the first (FIRST??? HOW MANY MORE WERE THERE) that he was tortured on, and all of it was at the hands of Captain Durka. Rygel is on the ship for just a few minutes before he’s triggered for the first time, where he suffers from a vivid hallucination of his torturer. (Yo, if a show like Farscape can depict the experience of triggers FOR A PUPPET ALIEN, then clearly, they’re not some made-up Tumblr thing. Sorry, I just get tired of people saying that Tumblr made up triggers and trigger warnings.) After hiding in the maintenance bay of Moya, Rygel is encouraged by Zhaan to go find Durka’s body so that he can get closure.
IT’S SUCH A GREAT SCENE, Y’ALL. It’s grim as fuck, but it offers up a moment of hope: Rygel gets to confront his tormentor and spit in his face because he won. Durka died and Rygel survived. Y’all, this one episode shed so much light on Rygel’s characterization. And I appreciate it on that fact alone.
The Sheyangs / Bluffing
I still can’t get over how great the character design and puppetry is on this show. I LOVED THE SHEYANGS SO MUCH. How did the people making this show find the time to make so many original creations??? I think this episode did a fine job of distilling the Sheyang scavenging culture down to a more digestible level without them feeling hollow. But the most interesting part of this plot, which covers a great deal of the second half of “PK Tech Girl,” is how it brings us Zhaan teaching D’Argo to lie. IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL. It reminded me of Pilot and Aeryn interacting in the last episode, since Zhaan inspires confidence in D’Argo where he previously had none.
But you know what? Now I want to know more about Zhaan’s religion. Why would D’Argo assume that Zhaan was extremely moral?
PK Tech Girl
I liked Gilina a lot, but I’m going to admit something: I didn’t really buy the romance between Crichton and Gilina. I don’t think they had a whole lot of chemistry with one another, and the idea of this eternal, star-crossed romance developing in just a few hours was a bit much to ask of me. I did enjoy watching Gilina and Crichton work together. Crichton was critical to Gilina’s survival, as D’Argo and Aeryn probably would have killed her early into this episode. It’s just that for an episode that so openly discusses action film tropes (which it does through Crichton), the romance here was so perfectly in line with the trope that it didn’t hold my interest. Crichton saves Gilina multiple times and she falls for him. It’s like… a subtle damsel in distress tale? Only sort of. I just feel weird when male heroes are rewarded for their heroism by the narrative, and that reward is a girl. This doesn’t fit in every sense here, especially since that “reward” is taken away by the end of the episode. I actually started to expect that Gilina would be fridged at the last moment, but no, she’s alive as far as we know!
I wouldn’t say that this dampened my enjoyment of this episode. It felt so different from the recent batch, as if things started to click into place. (Ha, sorry, I couldn’t resist using the phrase.) I think it’s also that the crew is truly starting to get along with one another, and it’s satisfying to see. I’d like a whole lot more like this episode, please!
The video for “PK Tech Girl” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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