In the fourteenth episode of the second season of Farscape, WOW, SO MUCH NOPE FOREVER. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Farscape.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of bugs/infestation and body horror.
HAHAHA WOW NOOOOOOOOOOO.
Aside from the bizarre shit that Crichton’s going through in this episode, I don’t think that “Beware of Dog” strays all that much from a fairly standard trope in science fiction: ALIEN BUG INFESTATIONS. I mean, it’s not the first time we’ve seen this on Farscape, is it? It’s an effective story, one that is deeply unsettling both visually (NEVER GOING TO HEAL FROM THE BIG REVEAL AT THE END PLEASE TAKE IT BACK OH MY GOD I CANNOT SCRUB MY BRAIN OF THE IMAGE OF RYGEL’S BODY BURSTING INTO A TON OF BUGS) and emotionally, especially as these characters get closer to turning on one another in panic.
But again, if it weren’t for the trope twisting surrounding Vorc? Or Crichton’s struggle with his own mind? I don’t know that this episode is all that interesting. I admit that coming off of “The Maltese Crichton” makes any episode of this show a little challenging to watch because YO, THAT TRILOGY WAS SO GOOD. Full of genre-bending and trope-upturning, it makes this episode feel very much by-the-numbers, you know?
BUT LET’S START WITH VORC. It’s a good thing that I ended up liking that ugly/cute/uglycute creature so much because he looked way too much like the alien in Mac and Me, one of the worst/funniest movies in all of civilization. (Oh god, good fucking luck if you look that up and you don’t know what it is. It will ruin your life. I’ve seen the film like… eight times now? I can’t stop. I CAN’T.) But I think that Vorc is the most compelling and fascinating part of this episode! Aeryn is convinced (understandably so) that Vorc is nothing more than a scam perpetrated by a merchant in order to trick travelers out of their money. And indeed, it takes this crew a long time to accept that Vorc did do exactly as was promised. I MEAN, LOOK, I DON’T REALLY JUDGE THEM FOR THIS. Until we find out Vorc’s true nature, it’s very easy to assume that the alleged parasite, which looks like a massive, terrifying flea, is getting the best of Vorc. Why is it attacking the crew? How is it getting past all the closed doors and security on Moya? Will I ever stop finding Vorc on Aeryn’s back to be the cutest thing? (Spoiler alert: No. No, I will not.)
Of course, things are further complicated by D’Argo’s poisoning, though I didn’t really believe that this would end with his death. The episode seemed so inconsequential that I was certain he’d have to be healed by the end of it. That doesn’t mean I was at all ready for the writers to reveal that Vorc and that giant creature were the same being. At the heart of this conflict is a lack of understanding and an inability to communicate, and it’s through the dual nature of Vorc that we begin to see how important these concepts are to the episode as a whole. Like I said before, Vorc really was doing the job that was promised by the vendor that sold it, but without any way to communicate this to the crew, they’re just left with their own biases and paranoia.
So I love that Crichton’s bizarre theory, combined with Pilot’s help, allows these characters to better understand Vorc. I do wish that this played a larger part in the narrative, at least so that “Beware of Dog” could feel more intriguing to me. I admit that I’ve had trouble parsing my thoughts on this episode because it felt so straightforward and typical of the genre! There aren’t many ways to say that I DON’T DO BUGS VERY WELL. I thought that this was a competent tale in that regards, but really. Y’ALL. WE NEED TO DISCUSS A THING.
What the fuck has Scorpius done to Crichton? I do not think that this can be written off simply as a result of stress. Crichton’s visions of Scorpius are too lifelike to dismiss, and even worse? They’re taunting him. I do think it’s possible that this is the result of the trauma that Crichton experienced in the previous “trilogy” of episodes! But I think there’s more to it specifically because Crichton couldn’t bring himself to kill Scorpius when he had a chance. What seemed like an odd writing choice in “The Maltese Crichton” is now a much bigger issue. Why couldn’t he do it??? Why did Scorpius insist that no one understood Crichton’s relationship with him? Y’all, I DON’T LIKE THIS. There’s clearly some huge plot twist hiding in this, AND IT’S NOT FAIR. But what did Scorpius do to Crichton’s mind while Crichton was in the Chair?
I know this isn’t a super long review, but I don’t want this to come off as if “Beware of Dog” was a disposable filler episode, because it’s not. I’d even offer that Crichton’s interactions with Aeryn post-“Maltese Crichton” are very necessary in understanding their arc this season, as I’m guessing there’s more to come. I like that the two of them didn’t immediately jump into some sort of relationship after the last episode, as it’s clear they’ve got shit to work out first. But Vorc is also a fascinating character in Farscape canon! I genuinely had a good time watching this episode, too. I just think that at least on my first viewing, this doesn’t seem as dense as many of the other episodes this season.
Unfortunately, there’s no video attached to this episode, which is a bummer because it clearly demonstrates that I did have a blast with “Beware of Dog.” My computer is nearing the five-year mark of PERPETUAL USE, and when I recorded my commission for this episode, it froze just as I hit the button to stop recording. I didn’t panic because there’s a way to find all temporary Quicktime files on a Mac even if something goes wrong. However, the video never got a chance to complete, so the file is 0KB and can’t be recovered. It sucks! I know that. But I also didn’t want to even entertain the notion of sitting down to record it over again. I feel like that would ruin the point of this all just a bit too much for my taste. I LIKE BEING SURPRISED.
Thanks for understanding, y’all, and I wish I could have given you the nope-filled video for this. (I shouted a lot, I can guarantee that.)
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