Mark Watches ‘Farscape’: S02E07 – Home on the Remains

In the seventh episode of the second season of Farscape, Chiana leads the crew to an old home of hers in the search of food, and this may be the wrongest they’ve ever gone. Yet. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Farscape.

I do worry sometimes that the fractured way in which I watch things means that people will interpret my overall feelings differently from what they actually are. It’s the risk in what I’m doing, since I don’t allow myself to be spoiled or to see the full picture until I get to the end. Watching Farscape specifically has allowed me to be more critical of the text than usual, though it’s generally just for writing choices than anything else. Season one was rough at times, and season two hasn’t been all that consistent either. That doesn’t mean I dislike the show or I’m not having a good time, but it’s challenging to convey that when I’m only talking about a single episode.

I appreciate “Home on the Remains” because so much of it reminds me why Farscape has been such an intriguing experience for me. Here’s a self-contained story that’s resolved in forty-five minutes that’s also creepy, thrilling, disturbing, and demonstrates the many things the writers and production staff do to make it unlike other science fiction shows. It was the opening shot that got me thinking about this. What other space drama does shit to remind us of the scope of the universe by having a “planet” actually be the decaying corpse of a creature that’s truthfully bigger than a planet? The worldbuilding on Farscape is something you don’t see often on episodic television. I don’t think this show got a ton of money from the network to pull all this off, but it looks like they did. The special effects are fantastic, but HOLY GODS UP ABOVE, THE CHARACTER DESIGN IS CONSISTENTLY THE BEST THING EVER. I’ve mentioned it often in the videos, but it deserves praise far more often than that. Look at Temmon and B’Sogg and Altana! This show has given us a new species in almost every single episode. It’s not like Farscape is simply recycling the same five species throughout a season, you know?

While “Home on the Remains” isn’t the strongest story in this show’s run up to this point, it’s still immensely satisfying. I mentioned in the video for this episode that this reminded me of the early episodes of Battlestar Galactica. As fantastical as this show can be, this specific episode is grounded in an important reality: the crew is running out of food, and they’re going to have to find a way to feed themselves. That desperation pushes the plot forward with an ever-increasing urgency, especially up on Moya, where Zhaan is dealing with a disastrous reaction to her own starvation. Down on the surface of the corpse (I LOVE THAT I GET TO TYPE THAT), Chiana, Rygel, D’Argo, and Crichton are all dealing with their own crises, too. Some are logistical and some are emotional. That complexity kept my interest!

Let’s talk about Zhaan for a minute because GOOD GOD THAT GOT REALLY DISTURBING. I’ve noticed that these characters are never allowed to fully escape their past, and you can see this same theme pop up in Chiana’s and D’Argo’s stories here, too. Zhaan is forced to come to terms with her own biology once her lack of animal protein… Actually, let’s be real: Aeryn is forced to deal with it as well. The problem here is that it unearths Zhaan’s own natural brutality as the buds that form on her face begin to transform her own behavior. This is contrasted with Aeryn’s attempts to save Zhaan’s life and then Moya’s life. Peacekeepers are notoriously “savage,” as Zhaan says at one point. And while I think it’s totally fair to examine how Aeryn is still affected by that culture, I think this episode serves as a great reminder that she really has changed. She does whatever she can to save the lives of Zhaan, Moya, and Pilot, even when she has to make the difficult decision to depressurize Moya.

Down on the corpse (STILL NOT OVER HOW GREAT THIS IS), Chiana has to contend with her past as well, though it presents itself much more obviously. Chiana and her brother had once spent time mining nogelti crystals here, but she had to leave after stealing from someone she was close to. In this case, though, Chiana’s past can’t really come back to haunt her because she arrives and HE IS DEAD. WHOOPS. Still, she begins to clash with D’Argo, whose growing crush on her compels him to act as if he can command her to stop… well, being herself.

I get the sense that Chiana has spent a long, long time on the run, and that she’s done a lot of things out of desperation, including selling herself. At the same time, she appears to enjoy it, too, so it’s a complex issue for her. As Altana will tell D’Argo later, Chiana will do practically anything to prove her loyalty, even give up herself. But D’Argo, who hasn’t expressed his attraction towards Chiana outside of that one scene in “Picture If You Will,” can’t wrap his mind around this. So he throws himself into work to help Atlana because that’s how he knows how to “help” Chiana. I imagine that D’Argo’s own past as someone who has been in an interspecies relationship plays a part in his behavior here, though that’s really just speculation at this point. But he clearly wants more for Chiana, who might not be quite that ready to feel safe, you know? BUT KISSES. K I S S I N G.

Amidst all of this are the KEEDVA. (Go watch Attack the Block, I swear.) I think that the presence of B’Sogg is about the only thing that weighs down “Home on the Remains.” I didn’t find him all that interesting, and it seemed fairly obvious that he was controlling the keedva somehow. But the design for those creatures was so awesome! I also loved the design for the mines themselves. This show routinely takes the familiar and then twists it in uniquely disturbing ways, so practically everything about this setting gives the episode an oppressive, claustrophobic air. Really, those are the sort of things that I do enjoy about watching Farscape. I still wish there were a bit more serialization from episode-to-episode, but “Home on the Remains” is definitely a good example of the kind of contained stories this show is capable of.

The video for “Home on the Remains” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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