Mark Watches ‘Farscape’: S03E20 – Into the Lion’s Den, Part I: Lambs to the Slaughter

In the twentieth episode of the third season of Farscape, Crichton considers whether he should sabotage Scorpius’s wormhole project or not. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Farscape.

Why is this show so fucked up.

The Journey So Far

We are at a point in this show where the narrative is buried under layer after layer of serialization, and the past informs how we react to the present. “Lambs to the Slaughter” opens with a scene that would make absolutely no sense to a casual viewer, but to us? It’s a perfect demonstration of how bizarre and surreal this story has gotten. The Scorpius neural clone inside Crichton’s head is allying with Crichton in order to sabotage… himself. The original version of himself? Oh god, there are too many layers.

But I love that so much about this show. It constantly rewards us for paying attention, and it gives us stories steeped in an unreal sense of history. So many storylines in this episode rely on things we’ve seen in the past! AND THEN THERE’S A TON OF SHIT INTRODUCED ON TOP OF THAT. How the hell are there two more episodes? And another season?

Lambs to the Slaughter

So, it’s with two full seasons of Scorpius chasing after our heroes that we get one of the most bizarre experiences in Farscape history: Moya’s crew willingly walking onto a Command Carrier to shake hands with Scorpius so they can work with him to develop the wormhole technology he needs. At no point do the writers let us forget that these people are surrounded by their imminent demise, and that’s not even counting the introduction of Commandant Grayza. The crew are on the Gammak base for less than thirty seconds before they’re subjected to their first sneer, and it only gets worse from there. The Peacekeepers despise the amnesty given to the escaped prisoners; they are disgusted by the presence of Crais and Aeryn Sun, both of whom defected from their ranks; and they are furious with Scorpius for allowing any of this to happen. There’s a continual sense of tension throughout this episode because we never know when a Peacekeeper is going to lose patience with these characters.

And that happens! Multiple times! Lt. Reljik goads one officer into trying to kill D’Argo, and then Commandant Grayza recruits Reljik herself to assassinate Crichton and Scorpius in one go. I wasn’t really surprised by this, granted, because I understood Peacekeeper culture enough at this point to know why they’d be so hateful towards these people. But that didn’t necessarily ease my nervousness. I WAS SO NERVOUS THIS WHOLE EPISODE.

Moral Conundrums

I wish it were easy for me to say what I’d do in this situation, so let this stand as a credit to the writers. I really don’t know what Crichton should do with what’s set before him. Crichton was confident that he knew exactly what he was going to do when he got to Scorpius’s base, so much so that you could tell that his friends had only planned to stay for a few hours. That’s part of the reason for why this is all so tense; as time drags on, Moya’s crew becomes increasingly more restless about being in such a terrible place. But what was once a certainty for Crichton becomes muddled once he considers what ramifications his actions may have.

In part, that’s due to the fact that Scorpius willingly shows Crichton his past. (What we saw in “Incubator.”) Even Harvey confirms that Scorpius’s fears are valid; the Scarrans pose a horrible threat to all species. So if Crichton delays or destroys the wormhole research, does that mean he’d be opening the door for the Scarrans to conquer the entire universe? And given the ending to “Lambs to the Slaughter,” is that going to force him to reconsider sabotaging all of this? Not only is Scorpius’s threat very real, but it also suggests that if the Peacekeepers can find earth, then so could the Scarrans.

I DON’T KNOW WHAT HE SHOULD DO. This whole conflict is such a mess, there are a million variables that could complex it further, and I can’t see a clear path to a moral end. Which is why I also need to point out that Aeryn Sun – LIGHT OF MY LIFE – tells Crichton that no matter what he chooses, she’s got his back. Literal best fave of all time.

Crais and Lt. Larell

WHO IS SHE LYING TO? Crais? To Braca? I DON’T UNDERSTAND. I mean, I’m not supposed to, and that’s the whole point of her character. Most of the characters earned a favor from Scorpius during the bargaining for Crichton’s help, and at the last minute, Crichton and Crais strongarm Scorpius into helping Talyn be reprogrammed. I suspected that Crais chose Lt. Larell for some personal reason, but I DID NOT EXPECT THE MAKEOUT PARTY. Of course, it’s impossible to tell who she’s allied with and who she’s going to betray. Both? No one? Everyone ever? CRAIS BE CAREFUL.

Aeryn and Henta

Yeah, I am totally going to read a queer pairing here, and THE EPISODE IS BASICALLY SPELLING IT OUT TO ME. Henta has a crush on Aeryn, right? And Aeryn is totally bisexual? RIGHT? BECAUSE WHAT THE FUCK, THEY HAVE WAY TOO MUCH CHEMISTRY WITH ONE ANOTHER. Henta is too heartbroken about Aeryn leaving her, and I am not even imagining this shit, y’all. It’s right there on the screen. IT’S RIGHT THERE.

You can’t take this away from me.

I don’t want to ignore what Aeryn’s role in this episode is beyond that interpretation, though. It’s so incredible to me that Aeryn has come to a point where she’s able to be critical of Peacekeeper culture in a giant carrier full of Peacekeepers. She is unafraid to discuss something that’s so ridiculously difficult while in Henta’s presence, and I think that’s a significant demonstration of her growth over the course of this episode. I don’t the she’ll be able to convince Henta of anything while on this trip, though. It would take something immense and traumatic – much like Aeryn’s experience – to get a Peacekeeper to even begin to consider to criticize their community or culture, you know?

But they can make out, that would be great, BISEXUAL AERYN SUN PLEASE.

Commander Grayza

YES. Y E S. Emotionally cold women in power who don’t give a shit about the men around them Y E S NOW AND FOREVER. Holy shit, I love that this episode piles on complication on complication, and then SURPRISE. Remember when the end goal of the Peacekeepers was wormhole weaponry? YEAH, IT’S NOT ANYMORE. It’s a goddamn truce. Oh my god, WHAT IS THIS SHOW DOING? It’s ruining my life. But I love it, and I love that this paints Scorpius’s actions as a personal obsession that has little to do with what Peacekeeper command actual wants. It’s very easy to forget that Scorpius is not in charge here, but this was a thrilling reminder that even Scorpius is limited in his power. The Peacekeepers, uniting with the Luxans. WHAT.

Y’all, I need the next part of this story RIGHT NOW.

The video for “Lambs to the Slaughter” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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