Mark Watches ‘Farscape’: S01E13 – The Flax

In the thirteenth episode of the first season of Farscape, Aeryn takes Crichton on a driving lesson, and then DISASTER. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Farscape.

I REALLY LIKE THIS EPISODE. It’s got everything I enjoy in science fiction: thrilling premises! Bottle plots! Tons of worldbuilding! BLUFFING! f e e l i n g s 

I’m gonna split this up to talk about the two main things that happen here.

D’Argo / Staanz

OKAY, I would love an episode of this show where Furlow and Staanz both came back for a cameo. THIS WOULD BE WONDERFUL. Through Staanz, we get introduced to so many new things in the Farscape universe. Given that this show tracks the flight of a group of wanted criminals and anti-heroes, it’s fitting that we would eventually find out that there are space pirates! In this case, the Zenetans are a violent force who have constructed the Flax – a magnetic style web – to capture ships and loot from them. And while Aeryn and Crichton get stuck in one, D’Argo is the one who eventually goes on an adventure to rescue them with Staanz.

STAANZ IS SO FASCINATING TO ME. She’s got an intriguing backstory: she once went to prison for the Zenetans, who abandoned her there, so she eventually turned on them in her own way in order to get an early release. She’s a rogue agent here, but one who is incredibly entertaining to watch because of her background. I initially thought that Staanz faithfully fulfilled the tropes that most folks use for characters like her, but OH MY GOD. I realized after the episode ended how much of her interactions with D’Argo were influenced by her predicament. Like the characters onboard Moya, she had lost her connection to the only culture she’d ever known. Instead of clinging to cynicism, though, she sought companionship. IN D’ARGO.

I just love how detailed and chaotic her ship is. I love that the writers take the concept of a “garbologist” – an expert in scavenging – and just run with it. Staanz’s ship is a cluttered mess of parts that she found; getting it to run involves a lot of fire and a lot of smashing things; and the whole thing stinks. (But Staanz wouldn’t know because SHE HAD HER ABILITY TO SMELL REMOVED. I love that the writers thought of shit like this.) It’s jarring for D’Argo, but Staanz doesn’t care. She just flutters about the ship, pulling levers and throwing dolls in the furnace, and I couldn’t help but think of Doctor Who. She’s kind of like Eleven, isn’t she?

But the most compelling part of Staanz is her loneliness. After we find out that she’s actually a female in her species, she expresses a desire for companionship in D’Argo. And it’s really sweet! I do worry about what the focus of the joke is here. I couldn’t tell if the writers were expecting us to laugh because Staanz looked like a human male or if the idea of someone who looked like Staanz was too silly to be paired with D’Argo. She’s such a great character that proves that there’s a variance in how genders appear in this fictional universe. I just wish she wasn’t there to laugh at, because SHE’S GREAT, I WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH HER.

Amidst this, though, is D’Argo’s struggle with loyalty. I think it’s intentional that Staanz so frequently mentions that at least D’Argo isn’t going to lose his family if he can’t save Aeryn and Crichton. Once we know for certain that Staanz was rejected from the Zenetans, it makes a lot more sense that she’d say this. She knows how painful it is to lose her own family. But D’Argo is tested here because he has to decide who counts as his family. When Staanz mentions a possible Luxan ship that was caught by the Flax, D’Argo is eager to go to it in order to download some maps that might bring him home. The thought of seeing his son again consumes him, but he slowly becomes more aware that in pursuing this map, he might be risking the safety of Aeryn and Crichton. It’s nice that this plot feels so close to “Till the Blood Runs Clear” without it coming off as repetitious. For me, it’s a thematic element that holds this season together better than anything else. If these people are desperate to return home, what price are they willing to pay?

Aeryn / Crichton

I like bottle episodes / plots A GREAT DEAL. When they’re pulled off well, y’all, THEY ARE MY FAVORITE. Both because of the romantic implications and the interactions present, “The Flax” is a perfect example of what I enjoy about these stories. Now, I don’t feel the need to recount all the details about what happens aboard the pod because I’d rather focus on what becomes of Crichton and Aeryn’s time there. They’ve got such incredible chemistry between one another, so watching them argue and bicker is entertaining all by itself. But the writers utilize each of their strengths to explore what would really happen if these two people were trapped in a ship together, hours from death.

Unsurprisingly, Aeryn was quick to take charge and Crichton was quick to crack a million jokes. But then the writers tease the inevitable. First, Crichton falls on top of Aeryn when a piece of the pod nearly falls on her; then there’s the whole CPR thing, which I honestly thought would turn into a makeout scene because THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS. And then there’s the whole “We’re-Gonna-Die-So-Let’s-Consummate-Our-Love” bit, which isn’t all that groundbreaking, but WHO CARES. It’s silly, it adds to the tension of all their scenes, and for a moment, it was NOT AT ALL SILLY IN ANY WAY FOREVER. Watching these two open up to one another about their pasts and their thoughts on the afterlife was extremely fulfilling. I admit that I love how much these characters are getting friendlier with one another, but I genuinely thing the actors and the writers handled this pairing super well. Most shows would wait seasons to introduce a romantic element this heavily, but Farscape doesn’t give a shit. It makes so much sense! Why not start it now? I mean, it’s not like they can ignore their attraction to one another. Even if you took away the makeout scene (NO, DON’T DO THAT, DON’T YOU DARE), you’ve still got Aeryn revealing that she didn’t finishing repairing the pod’s environmentals because she didn’t want to die alone. She wanted to save Crichton’s life over her own. MY HEART: IT HURTS.


I 100% fell for his ruse. I thought he was genuinely betraying everyone. I mean, it’s not like this show has avoided that sort of story! (They cut off one of Pilot’s arms once for their own needs, remember?) But I warmed up to Rygel a lot in this episode. It was risky of him to goad Kcrackic into playing tadek against him, and then pulling off the additional long con, all so he could protect the ship and his friends? That’s pretty damn cool.

I like that the show hasn’t forgotten that Moya is still pregnant. WHEN DO WE GET BABY LEVIATHANS?

You can download “The Flax” here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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