In the nineteenth episode of the first season ofÂ Farscape, I DON’T KNOW WHAT THIS SHOW HAS BECOME. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watchÂ Farscape.
I’m so messed up. It’s like every time I comment on how this show has developed from the stories it told early in the season, the writers demonstrate to me just how much further they’re willing to go than I ever expected. BECAUSE HOLY SHIT, THIS EPISODE IS UNREAL. Let’s discuss why this is such a huge episode forÂ Farscape.
Right off the bat, I want to talk about this because LOOK WHAT HAPPENS HERE. AlmostÂ every plot and character interaction is based on something that happened in the past! It’s a huge leap in terms of the narrative arc because this feels like it’s part of a larger story thatÂ Farscape is trying to tell. There’s a joke I’ve made and the show itself has made about how the Crew of Weirdos is collecting a long line of enemies with each episode, but “Nerve” directly addresses the ramifications of a number of those stories. First off, we find out that Larraq severed a nerve in Aeryn that doesn’t regenerateÂ and regulates her own ability to process toxins and poisons. SO SHE’S DYING. COOL. THAT’S A COOL THING TO HAVE HAPPEN IN THE FIRST FEW MINUTES OF THIS EPISODE.Â While this certainly frames the plot in “Nerve,” there are other elements at play here. Crichton and Chiana are able to infiltrate the secret Gammak base because Chiana stole Larraq’s ID chip. They’re able to get past the bio scan because OH SHIT, GILINA IS ON THIS BASE, TOO.
And the serialization here is more than just the re-appearance of characters or details from the past. Nearly everything we see in the Aurora Chair (HELP ME WHAT THE FUCK) is one giant reference to other episodes. (In that sense, this is technically a clip episode, except that it’s like 1% clips and 99% original story.) Would we have felt so strongly about D’Argo’s devotion to respect Aeryn if we hadn’t seen him grow closer to her over the course of this season? Would we have been heartbroken about Gilina’s attraction to Crichton if we hadn’t seen Aeryn and Crichton develop feelings for one another? Hell, even Crichton’s devotion to saving Aeryn is serialization, too. AND HELLO, CRAIS, YOUR STORY IS BACK ONSCREEN ANDÂ I NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS RIGHT NOW.
Look, I can already tell that Scorpius is one of this show’s defining features. I know nothing about the fandom or what they love or hate, and I KNOW THAT SCORPIUS IS A BIG DEAL. His introduction is deliberately ambiguous, but as this episode unfolds, we have to cope with the fact that “Nerve” CHANGES WHO THE MAIN ANTAGONIST IS. Our perspective is shifted because Scorpius demonstrates to these charactersÂ and to the audience that he is in control. We’ve spent an entire season with a simple framing device: the crew is avoiding Crais and the Peacekeepers while dealing with ~shenanigans~. We expect that at some point, there will be a huge confrontation between Crais and Crichton, and then this episode pulls the rug out from under us by telling us that no, we aren’t even remotely close. Were you afraid of Crais’s intense need for revenge? Well, then allow us to give you a humanoid creature wearing fetish gear who is terrifyingly patient and remind you thatÂ you are not fucking ready for this goddamn show.
What the fuck, y’all.
WHAT THE FUCK, Y’ALL. Who is that actor?? WHAT IS SCORPIUS? What species is he? WHERE DID HE COME FROM? WHAT IS HIS ROLE IN THE PEACEKEEPERS?Â WHY AM I SO UNPREPARED.
Just holyÂ shit. Scorpius could have been such a campy character (look at that outfit and tell me otherwise), but Wayne Pygram plays him with such a calm subtlety that he gets under your skin and it’s SO UNSETTLING. I love that we know virtually nothing about him, and any notions I have about his purpose or backstory areÂ all speculation. I got the sense that he had a lot of freedom on this base to pursue whatever he wanted; he clearly doesn’t answer to anyone. ButÂ why? When Scorpius wrongly posits that Crichton was looking for wormhole technology on the base, he confirms what Gilina says earlier: the Gammak base is for research on new weapons. But aÂ wormhole? As a weapon??? I guess that kind of makes sense, if you accept that the ability to create a wormhole wherever and whenever you want could work as an offensive force. Maybe???
But lord, y’all. Who is that redheaded woman with him? Why does he look the way he does? WHY IS HE GOING TO HAUNT MY NIGHTMARES?
The Aurora Chair
HAHAHA FUCK THAT THING. As if Scorpius by himself is not awful enough, we find out that he controls a form of technology that can interpret neural waves into images.Â It can literally read anyone’s mind. Granted, it takes work to uncover what’s underneath the subconscious layer of a person’s mind, but what we see here is vivid and detailed. They’re full memories, and the more time a person spends in the Aurora Chair, the fuller the extracted memories are. (Well, they also quickly begin to lose their grasp on their sanity, too, since the procedure is both so painful and invasive.) It’s because of this that Scorpius mistakenly believes that Crichton is a spy trying to procure more information about wormhole technology. Scorpius finds a memory hidden in Crichton’s mind that was implanted during the events of “A Human Reaction.” (!!!!! HOLY SHIT !!!!!) And it’s because of this that Scorpius is so determined to extract whatever information the Ancients put in Crichton’s mind.
IT’S SO MESSED UP. The apparent futility of Crichton’s situation is what makes this so upsetting. It’s bad enough that he’s a prisoner of Scorpius. But he could die due to the chair. If he doesn’t? Then he’ll be handed over to Crais, who will kill him anyway. For what it’s worth, Crichton has been beautifully resilient in resisting the Chair, so much so that I’m interested to see what he’ll do now that he knows Crais and Scorpius are lying about having the Leviathan in custody.Â It’s not the only variable at work, of course. Gilina is still working under everyone’s noses; Chiana is INCREDIBLE at what she does; and Aeryn is ultimately saved by what Gilina and Crichton do for her. These people are not just going to quietly leave John behind.
To Be Continued…
I’m also happy that this story is not contained within a single episode. By giving this space, we’re allowed to see Crichton and Gilina’s reunion.Â We’re allowed to witness Chiana’s strength of infiltration. We’re allowed all the touching scenes on Moya where the crew who stayed behind all try to do what they can to save Aeryn’s life. WE ARE GIVEN THE GUT-PUNCHING SCENES BETWEEN AERYN AND D’ARGO. And shit, y’all, that moment twenty-odd minutes into “Nerve” where everything is nearly resolved is so powerful! I was full of dread because I knew that THIS COULD NOT HAVE BEEN SOLVED SO QUICKLY. SOMETHING WAS WRONG.
There’s not been a bigger sign that the writers are clearly ready to takeÂ Farscape to a new level than this aspect of the episode. I love it when shows do risky things like this, and I love it when our perceptions are twisted. I obviously have no clue how this is going to be resolved or even if this is a two-parter. WHAT IF THIS ISN’T SOLVED IN THE NEXT EPISODE? I’m so close to the end of season one as it is, and I’m both elated and terrified at what is coming next. Given my problems and issues with some of this season’s direction, it’s very fulfilling thatÂ this is now how I’m reacting toÂ Farscape.
Bring it on. (Just kidding, PLEASE BE DELICATE WITH ME.)
The video for “Nerve” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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