In the twentieth episode of the second season of Farscape, I basically spent this whole episode thinking YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Farscape.
IT’S ANOTHER HEIST EPISODE. IT’S ANOTHER “TO BE CONTINUED” EPISODE. IT’S ANOTHER STORY WHERE EVERYTHING IS TAKEN A MILLION TIMES FURTHER THAN ANYONE COULD EVER HAVE EXPECTED. WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHOW.
It’s Farscape, and when it’s on fire, good gods, it’s incredible.
I love the way the two main plots – the search for mercenaries and the disaster of the Karack metallites – are so deeply intwined with one another. I love that this episode brings back so many familiar faces, including one huge surprise, only to ultimately toss them all aside for ANOTHER plot twist. I love that this story builds on Zhaan’s emotional and spiritual responsibility for Moya. I LOVE EVERYTHING THAT THIS CHOOSES TO BE.
Zhaan and Moya
I know that I have frequently discussed my love of serialized fiction on this site, but I’m gonna have to be a broken record once more. I also know that I wished Farscape would move towards a more serialized story, and my wishes have been beautifully granted. Without Zhaan’s experience with Moya’s builders, this episode would not have nearly been as powerful as it ultimately was. I find that stories that build on the past and acknowledge it (like this one does) are more satisfying to me. Obviously, this picks up fairly quickly from the events of the last episode, but there’s an established framework that “With Friends Like These…” builds on, and it’s why we understand the painful decision that Zhaan makes.
Of course, the reveal that the ingots aren’t money at all, but metal-consuming parasites, affects the other main story here. But as Chiana and Rygel discover the horrible predicament they’re in, Zhaan takes a mothering role of sorts, overseeing Moya and Pilot’s well-being while trying to determine what the hell she can do to kill these creatures. When she eventually does learn that high levels of heat can disable the Karack metallites, she’s faced with a devastating predicament: Does she mandate a solution that might irreparably harm Moya but will save her life?
Oh gods, y’all, I love that scene where Pilot and Zhaan speak openly about what this plan will do to Moya, and Pilot tells Zhaan that he and Moya trust her and IT’S JUST SO HEARTBREAKING. Especially once we see what happens after Pilot ignites the adrexan vapor. Y’all, this show made me sad FOR A SPACESHIP. I ached for a burnt spaceship because I knew that Moya was in pain. A SPACESHIP. IN PAIN.
I’M HEARTBROKEN. WHAT HAS THIS SHOW DONE TO ME.
Oh my god, the very next episode gave me A RAGTAG BAND OF MISFITS ASSEMBLING FOR A HEIST. Y’all, there is a brilliance in this, and not just because we get to see a lot of familiar faces from past episodes. At the end of “With Friends Like These…”? NONE OF THIS MATTERED. This episode brought in a parade of guest appearances and cameos just to fuck with us.
That’s not to discount how entertaining this was to watch or to suggest that it was a waste, because that’s not the case. At the opening of this episode, the shocking turn of events from the previous one is made EVEN MORE SHOCKING when we find out that Scorpius survived (HOW??? WHO SAVED HIM? WHY ISN’T THIS ADDRESSED AT ALL?), he’s found Jothee, and their entire plan to rescue D’Argo’s son is eviscerated in a few minutes. It’s a bold start to the episode, and it only gets more intense from there. (I believe this is not the first time the group’s plans have fallen apart in the first ten minutes of the episode. In some alternate universe, Farscape is a wacky sitcom, I swear.)
It’s in this disaster that the writers explore the theme in the title. What are these friends willing to do for one another? D’Argo nearly turns Crichton over for his son, which is an understandable if upsetting conclusion. But he doesn’t, despite that he admits to Chiana how close he was to betraying a true friend. So what do these people do? They devise the most ambitious, ridiculous plan they’ve ever come up with, all to break Jothee out of containment. Each of them goes their own way in order to track down a mercenary from their collective past: a Vorcarian, a Sheyang, a Tavlek, and a Zenetan pirate. It’s a plan with a million tiny pieces and a million ways for everything to go horribly wrong.
But with friends like these, D’Argo’s got a fighting chance to get his son back.
The show plays each of these interactions with humor for the most part because SERIOUSLY, ARE ANY OF THESE CHARACTERS GOING TO ACTUALLY HELP OUT THESE PEOPLE? Through luck and skill, though, they make this shit happen. Crichton’s patience gets Bekhesh to agree to come along. Aeryn uses Teuric’s sense of pride to get him to agree to help out. D’Argo saves the lives of Rorf and Rorg.
And then there’s Rygel. Rygel, who often runs at the first sign of danger or risk. Rygel, who is much more willing to use his slimy morality to talk his way out of dilemmas. Rygel, who wasn’t prepared for the Zenetan leader to be replaced with DURKA. DURKA. OH MY FUCKING GOD, I WASN’T READY FOR THIS EITHER. After all three of the other folks had secured their goals, I was certain that we had finally reached the point where this whole thing would fall apart. How could Rygel possibly convince his nemesis, the man who tortured him for cycles, to help them out? What am I saying, THAT’S NOT EVEN THE MAIN ISSUE HERE. How the fuck could Rygel avoid being captured and tortured again?
By electrocuting Durka and then cutting his fucking head off.
Rygel. RYGEL, I SERIOUSLY MISJUDGED YOU IN THIS CASE. Y’all, this show brought back a major antagonist just to kill him after a single scene. FARSCAPE, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?
They’re upending tropes and tricking me and giving me these complex character studies, and they’re doing so within a genre riddled with comfortable stories with easily-anticipated episode arcs. I am so happy that this show has gotten to a point where they can spend forty minutes building up this team of mercenaries, only to have Jothee stroll onto Moya, having a tearful and beautiful reunion with his father, and then reveal that Crichton upstaged them all by giving himself up to Scorpius.
Scorpius won, and Crichton has no problem admitting it. I am so messed up by this show, what the fuck.
The video for “With Friends Like These…” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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