In the twelfth episode of the third season ofÂ Farscape, the crew aboard Talyn face death when Talyn is unwittingly drawn towards a sun. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watchÂ Farscape.Â
Trigger Warning: For talk of drugging and consent.
You know, I liked this episode! I admit that I was a tad bit disappointed by the ending because this show so often commits to the things that happen onscreen, and I fully embraced the weirdness and shock of Stark becoming Talyn’s true Pilot. That doesn’t negate the experience up to this point, though, and this episode was both super distressing and genuinely hilarious. LET’S DISCUSS.
Here’s a call to all genre shows: here’s how you do a “drugged” episode without all the gross and revolting consent issues that normally accommodate these stories. When Talyn begins to leak his version of adrenaline, the affects are funny without forgetting how disturbing or uncomfortable it is for some of these people. All five characters are affected differently by the drug. Aeryn and Crichton can barely control their sexual urges. Thankfully, this works as a humorous subplot becauseÂ both characters clearly consent to having sex with one another. It’s not the writers pairing them together when they otherwise wouldn’t spend a second with one another. There is still love at the heart of their interactions, and it’s a stupendous and silly thing to watch.
For the other characters, it’s not quite as enjoyable. Crais becomes violently irritable, unable to calm down, always on the edge of rage. Rygel nearly eats himself to death because the Drexim causes him to feel eternally hungry. And Stark… well, I don’t know that “Meltdown” was all that clear on this. Did it just make him more Stark-ish?
Anyway, I can’t believe I finally saw an episode of a genre show that didn’t gloriously fuck this up. Bravo.
Now, I did like this episode. I found it thrilling, and it did wonders for Stark’s characterization. I feel like his inability to save Zhaan earlier this season greatly influenced his behavior here. He felt inadequate, and thus, he devoted himself to saving Sierjna at great cost to himself, to Talyn, and to the rest of the crew. As for Sierjna and Mu-Quillus, I don’t feel like the writers gave them all that much depth. Hell, Mu-Quillus’s motivations seem to be… loneliness, maybe? Business competition? Is Mu-Quillus’s race responsible for constructing the ships that the Leviathans are in competition with, or was heÂ hired by those people? Why did he pretend to offer help to the crew if all he ever wanted was to destroy the ship anyway? I could offer up theories for all of this, but I think that this story relies on the audience filling in the gaps for the writers, and that’s a little unsatisfying. Mu-Quillus isn’t even a one-note villain because I can’t figure out what it is that he wants. To delay the inevitable demise of Talyn? To save Sierjna only to doom her to a life alongside him… doing what? Keeping him company? Does he have aÂ house in the corona of that sun? How the fuck does this work?
I think that my nitpicking of this and the conclusion is solely based on the fact that I’m so used toÂ Farscape going extremely far with everything. Normally, their worldbuilding is immensely detailed and complicated, but it might be unfair to expect that at all times. Regardless, I wouldn’t say these issues ruined my enjoyment of “Meltdown,” especially since all the scenes between Stark and Sierjna were so goddamn good. The reveal that Talyn had grown a Pilot’s den was ridiculous enough, but then Stark shows how far he’s willing to go to save a total stranger by climbing inside of it and WHAT THE FUCK. HOW. HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN. HE’S NOT THE SAME SPECIES AS THE NORMAL PILOTS. EVERYONE, SOUND THE ALARM,Â HOW IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING
It was an incredible spectacle to watch. Stark as Pilot might be my favorite performance from Goddard to date, and it was amazing to me to see him amp up Stark, to play Stark as a man so desperate to save just one life that he’d be willing to bind himself to a ship for as long as need be. Despite that we do see him cut away from Talyn at the end of this episode, he never once expressed that this would be a temporary thing. My gods, he might very well have intended to stay there a lot longer. Having access to that sort of power might have permanently changed him, though Stark’s behavior in this episode â€“ which includes firing upon Aeryn and Crichton at one point â€“ could have been due to the Drexim. Still, Stark is an intimidating, grandiose force as the Pilot, and THERE WAS SO MUCH POTENTIAL HERE, I SWEAR.
Of course, this whole disaster gives us the whole, “Aeryn is my Zhaan!” moment, in which my Aeryn/Crichton shipper heart exploded, and can we just acknowledge that it’s Crichton’s statement of complete love that snaps Stark out of his obsession with his failures? LOVE IS SAVING LIVES, AND I LOVE THE USE OF IT HERE.
There’s an actual happy ending to this episode, one without any exceptions or tragic twists. Stark gets to help Sierjna pass on after Aeryn and Crichton free her from Mo-Quillus. The siren star is no more, and that means no more Leviathans will be compelled to fly into a sun. The drug has begun to leave everyone’s bodies, Crichton and Aeryn are deeply in love with one another, Stark is free from the Pilot’s Den, and…. goddamn it. WHAT DOES STARK KNOW.Â WHAT DOES STARK KNOW HOLY SHIT.Â
That’s unfair. Completely unfair.
The video for “Meltdown” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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