Mark Watches ‘Farscape’: S03E19 – I-Yensch, You-Yensch

In the nineteenth episode of the third season of Farscape, Rygel and D’Argo try to make a deal with Scorpius, and Talyn does something unforgivable. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Farscape

Season of death. Stop doing this to me.

Scorpius

There is a brilliantly surreal aspect to this episode because it uses one of my favorite narrative tropes: force an enemies to work together. Technically, there are two examples of that in “I-Yensch, You-Yensch,” since this entire plot involves Rygel and D’Argo attempting to hash out a deal to get them aboard Scorpius’s command carrier. It’s a tense and uncomfortable conversation because neither side can possibly trust one another. Hell, in the first few seconds after Scorpius’s arrival, a bunch of Peacekeepers storm the diner. NOT EXACTLY A WARM WELCOME, I’D SAY. And yet, even after Scorpius and Braca relinquish their comms and order the soldiers to head back to their ship, it’s not like these two parties can calmly hash out their desires and needs. THERE IS ENDLESS MISTRUST HERE. It’s for good reason!

Which is why the hostage situation, while unbearably tense and painful to watch, is brilliant. The negotiations reach a critical point after Scorpius introduces I-Yensch bracelets as collateral. Two parties, when they wear them, feel the pain that the other is inflicted with. Unfortunately, Scorpius is unwilling to wear one himself, despite that Rygel and D’Argo offer up Crichton to seal the deal. Ironically, it’s only after D’Argo and Braca put them on to test them out that Sko and Wa burst into the dinner to burn it down. Lord, Voodi gets the worst end in all this, doesn’t he? Not that burning down your diner for insurance money is the best decision ever, but still. By sheer luck, Scorpius is there, and his plan spirals so far out of control that he dies and BOY, EVERYTHING IS AWFUL FOR HIM.

I made a comment in my review for “Icarus Abides” that I felt the early parts of that episodes were going through the motions. We knew that Furlow was motivated by money and self-interest, and so the parade of double-crossing wasn’t necessarily all that surprising and compelling. I think that the events here in “I-Yensch, You-Yensch” are the polar opposite of that. I found this endlessly thrilling because the writers pitted the two most self-interested, pragmatic characters against one another. Watching them constantly alter their plans to escape this situation alive was so fucking fascinating, y’all. Both Scorpius and Rygel go from trying to throw the other under the bus to forming a precarious (but undeniable) alliance. It is through this harrowing deal that Scorpius sees that Rygel is genuine in his interest to ally with someone he completely despises. How many times could Rygel have actually killed Scorpius? A few, I’d say, but he doesn’t, and he even offers a chance for Scorpius to defend himself by pointing out the knife that Essk hid.

It’s done so well, y’all. And I know I love it when writers explore a dynamic like this, but everything about the scenes in that diner were executed with a sense of excitement and possibility. It’s this sort of stuff that makes Farscape so much fun to watch. That and the part where D’Argo bangs his head against the ground to disable Wa. Perfect.

Talyn

Y’all, this show has given extensive character development to two spaceships. Let us appreciate that I am at a point in Farscape where I can type that sentence. They are not simply background characters either, and many times, Moya’s or Talyn’s choices are integral to the plot. It’s heartbreaking that an act of pure choice – uninfluenced by Crais in any way – leads to this.

It’s the season of death, y’all.

It’s clear that this show is going to continue to tease me with Chiana’s haunting premonitions, and this one could be the worst one. Let me first point out that Chiana cares enough about Jool that she stops her from her death, which… YES. I’m happy that the people on Moya have warmed to Jool! Anyway, without any clue as to where this power to glimpse the future came from, the show explores the idea of Talyn’s past. Since his introduction, we’ve been privy to the endless parade of horrors that he’s been subjected to or had to deal with. It’s undeniable. He was born under stressful circumstances, and it’s not like he got a chance to grow in peace and comfort. It’s been one disaster after another, and teaching him to learn to exist with a pilot has been one of those challenges.

Basically, he’s spent his life running away. It makes sense that he would become as paranoid as he did, enough to the point that he mistakenly destroys a medical carrier in front of his mother and friends. It’s such an unreal moment, and the show never ignores the weight of that action. It’s awful, and no amount of apologizing or promising to change can make that moment go away. But this can’t be rectified by that sort of behavior anyway, since Talyn is not entirely Leviathan. He is a living being, yes, but he’s also got programming that affects his behavioral patterns. So the situation is complicated, since Talyn’s mind is a combination between life experiences and programming. When Crais suggests shutting down his mechanoid features, giving Talyn something akin to a hard reboot, both Talyn and Moya are not exactly keen on the idea.

And who could blame them? There’s a high chance that the repair of Talyn’s character anomalies could make him an entirely different being. Does it mean his memory is wiped clean, too? I admit there are some aspects of this left unaddressed, so I imagine that we’ll get to see what happens once this is fulfilled. And yet, I could not help but see this as a death, a death that Talyn fought viciously at first, choosing to shoot his own mother and nearly killing everyone onboard Moya. He fought it, then he accepted it, and then he passed on. Look, I don’t know if the Talyn we know is coming back, and IT’S SO FUCKING SAD. Crais walking away quietly and disappearing in a corridor? Thanks for the punch in the heart.

I never would have expected a story like this, but it provides a mirror for Aeryn and Crichton. Both do talk to one another in this episode, but the death that Aeryn experienced is still too raw in her mind and her heart. So I couldn’t help but think of how her words to Talyn were advice to herself, that she was in so much pain that she wanted someone else to take the pain away for her. It’s in the final scene between Aeryn and Crichton that she finally vocalizes what’s been keeping her away from him: she cannot stand to watch Crichton die all over again. It happened once, and it was real, and she can’t escape it.

What fascinated me was Crichton’s insistence of his own identity, independent of the other Cricthon. He “missed the dance,” he says, acknowledging that Aeryn fell in love and experienced everything with the other Crichton. But I think the Aeryn is still ready to accept that despite this, the surviving Crichton is still the same person. I don’t expect them to jump into a relationship together in the next episode, and I’m also certain that they’re not even going to grow closer for the remainder of the season. SHIT IS GETTING TOO REAL, THEY’RE GOING ON THE COMMAND CARRIER TO FUCK SHIT UP. But Aeryn also doesn’t want to abandon Crichton when he needs her. They started this together, and they’re going to finish it together.

The video for “I-Yensch, You-Yensch” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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