?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 

Yew Erdri Ming

About  

Comic Con Prelude Jul. 18th, 2019 @ 06:52 am


Here a giant Picard poster grimly holds vigil across the street from the San Diego Convention Centre as though to say, "So. It begins." By which he'd mean Comic Con. Preview night was last night, Wednesday night, and to-day's the first official day. I feel like I'll probably be wandering the floor a lot this year, there are only a few panels I really want to see--the Farscape panel for certain. I'm going to have to choose between the Expanse panel and the Orville panel--they're both on the same day in different rooms. Both are also competing with the Star Trek panel, which wasn't much competition at all last year. Hardly anyone seemed interested in Disco. This year might be different with Picard since Patrick Stewart will be here.

If there's something you would like me to check out and report on and/or take pictures of, let me know.
Current Location: The Con
Current Mood: awakeawake
Current Music: "君の知らない物語" - supercell

The Pilot's Seat Jul. 17th, 2019 @ 11:56 am


The potential complications from Aeryn's past as a Peacekeeper finally come to the fore in an excellent episode of Farscape. The crew of Moya find the seemingly simple moral dichotomy of oppressor versus oppressed becomes much thornier in the reality of personal relationships.



Season 2, Episode 6: The Way We Weren't

This was the first episode to be written by Naren Shankar who'd previously worked on Star Trek: The Next Generation and who nowadays executive produces and writes for The Expanse. You can see in this Farscape episode a moral complexity similar to that which distinguishes the best episodes of The Expanse.



Digging around on Moya, Chiana (Gigi Edgley) uncovers surveillance tapes from years ago. They reveal Moya's original Pilot was not the current fellow voiced by Lani Tupu but a female member of the same species voiced by Melissa Jaffar, the actress who would go on to play the regular character Noranti in season three. Female Pilot is swiftly executed by order of Crais (also Lani Tupu) and among the Peacekeeper soldiers who carry out the order is a young Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black).


(This is a tough episode to pull useful screenshots from, there are so many close-ups).

All the former prisoners--Zhaan (Virginia Hey), Rygel (Jonathan Hardy), and D'Argo (Anthony Simcoe)--are enraged, though D'Argo later seems to be a little more understanding. Chiana is the only one to point out they'd known all along Aeryn was a Peacekeeper and what did they think she was doing? It's a small moment for Chiana but it makes sense given her background in a repressive culture where feelings and attitudes are forcibly regulated.

But it's different to see direct evidence of Aeryn harming a member of the crew, not just someone like a member of the crew. When Aeryn says, not in defence but in explanation, that she never even realised this was the same ship--she'd carried out assignments on dozens like Moya--it hardly seems to make it better.



Aeryn explains to Crichton (Ben Browder) how rigidly defined every person's role is among the Peacekeepers. A subplot told in flashback shows Aeryn falling for an officer named Velorek (Alex Dimitriades) who, like Crichton in the series première, had told her she could be "more" than a Peacekeeper--he sees she has the rare innate ability to look outside the box of Peacekeeper social engineering. More than an insight into Aeryn's character, though, it explains why she can't let herself off the hook. Claudia Black plays the character's torment very well.



Of course, Moya's current Pilot gets ahold of the footage thanks to Rygel who hopes to use the deed as a bargaining chip one day. A lot of references are made to the season one episode "DNA Mad Scientist"--Pilot's rage at Aeryn is, as he says, even greater because the two of them share a connexion from Aeryn receiving some of Pilot's DNA in that episode. But also, both Aeryn and Crichton recall how D'Argo, Zhaan, and Rygel had torn off one of Pilot's arms to use for barter. Pilot had been upset and resistant but ultimately accepted it as part of his role as a servant. Now he unreservedly wants to see Aeryn dead or at least off the ship. He grabs her by the throat and lifts her off the ground, a startling moment for such a normally passive character.



Crichton surmises there must be more to this anger than what Aeryn had done and so indeed it turns out--Pilot's rage at Aeryn is the long repressed anger at himself for being party to the replacement of the old Pilot. Whether he deserves to feel any guilt is tortuously unclear. The dynamic between Pilot and Aeryn in this episode yields some incredible moments.

. . .



This entry is part of a series I'm writing on Farscape for the show's 20th anniversary. My previous reviews can be found here (episodes are in the order intended by the show's creators rather than the broadcast order):



Season One:



Episode 1: Pilot

Episode 2: I, E.T.

Episode 3: Exodus from Genesis

Episode 4: Throne for a Loss

Episode 5: Back and Back and Back to the Future

Episode 6: Thank God It's Friday Again

Episode 7: PK Tech Girl

Episode 8: That Old Black Magic

Episode 9: DNA Mad Scientist

Episode 10: They've Got a Secret

Episode 11: Till the Blood Runs Clear

Episode 12: Rhapsody in Blue

Episode 13: The Flax

Episode 14: Jeremiah Crichton

Episode 15: Durka Returns

Episode 16: A Human Reaction

Episode 17: Through the Looking Glass

Episode 18: A Bug's Life

Episode 19: Nerve

Episode 20: The Hidden Memory

Episode 21: Bone to be Wild

Episode 22: Family Ties



Season Two:



Episode 1: Mind the Baby

Episode 2: Vitas Mortis

Episode 3: Taking the Stone

Episode 4: Crackers Don't Matter

Episode 5: Picture If You Will

Current Location: Moya
Current Mood: hungryhungry
Current Music: "Reel Around the Fountain" - The Smiths

Strangest Things Jul. 16th, 2019 @ 02:27 pm


I finished the third season of Stranger Things on Sunday. In general, I liked it better than season two and I liked season two. But three's climax is much better, visually and storywise. Though I love how the outcry regarding the kiss between Eleven and Mike at the end of season two seems to have led the Duffer Brothers to having them make out constantly at the beginning of season three. It's so satisfying whenever a creator rebels against the peanut gallery moralising now.

Speaking of the political lens, I was sort of fascinated how Stranger Things 3 at turns reflected or rebuffed this year's morality model. I remember during the Bush era, depictions of torture as an effective means of interrogation were the domain of relatively right wing productions like 24. Now here's Hopper (David Hopper) beating the crap out of Alexei (Alex Utgoff) and Mayor Kline (Cary Elwes) and it proves to be a perfectly sound strategy.



This is part of how Hopper has emerged as an even more solid reproduction of the 80s action hero than he was in the previous two seasons. In his climactic fight against the Soviet assassin (Andrey Ivchenko), it's hard not to think of Harrison Ford when Harbour says, "I'll see you in Hell!"



There's another political shift--it was boring when the Soviets were the villains in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, now they seem relevant again because of Putin's sinister machinations and exploits. Nevermind Putin's mobster regime has no fondness for the Soviet era or ideology, it still works. That one assassin guy is a pretty effective heavy, wherever he's from.

Spoilers ahead, after the next screenshot



I've already said how much I love shopping malls and therefore loved that setting in the new season. It also made for a terrific finale, much better than the anonymous office corridors of season two. Instead we have environments bathed in contrasting neon light and showers of firecracker sparks in the background.



And, like season two, one of the most satisfying pieces of the climax was a conclusion of a bully redeemed or seen sympathetically, in this case Billy, played by Rob Lowe lookalike Dacre Montgomery. He doesn't quite get the complete turnaround Steve (Joe Keery) did in season two, but the fact that he's allowed only the tiniest opportunity to show a shift or another aspect of his personality makes it all the more effective. Even Darth Vader had time to talk after turning on the Emperor. But it's probably for the best that Billy's return to a primal sense of protectiveness isn't disappointed by some articulated explanation.



More than anything, the season left me feeling very satisfied at having gotten a good, well developed story. A lot of people have been talking about all the movie references this past season so I thought I'd conclude with my own ranking of ten of them, in case you wanted some advice on which to watch first:

10. Day of the Dead
9. The Thing from Another World
8. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
7. The Neverending Story
6. Return of the Jedi
5. The Thing
4. Back to the Future
3. The Apartment
2. Children of Paradise (available on The Criterion Channel)
1. The Hidden Fortress (available on The Criterion Channel)

Yes, the top three are all Robin's (Maya Hawke) picks. She really does have great taste. Ironically, none of these movies are on Netflix, at least in the U.S.

Twitter Sonnet #1256

The pieces changed to putty worms at once.
A time for section grids removed the fear.
A signal hat explodes the cornered dunce.
A number bucket claims our ev'ry tear.
Receding sod could fill the kitchen yet.
A spinning Slinky sliced the ragged stairs.
A burglar makes a safe and metal bet.
The healthy milk was filled with breakfast bears.
The care behind a picture puts it back.
As ice'll melt the cubes contain the spheres.
A thousand monkeys race inside the sack.
For ev'ry nose a hundred thousand beers.
A standard takes the shape of smithy feats.
Reminders take the form of standard streets.
Current Location: Starcourt
Current Mood: groggygroggy
Current Music: "Take the Bitter with the Sweet" - Muddy Waters

Life's Replacement Shadows Jul. 15th, 2019 @ 08:40 am


Shadows and ugly new buildings menace people in the new Sirenia Digest released on Sunday, in a new story from Caitlin R. Kiernan, "Untitled 44". Kiernan's stories for the Digest, which have for most of the publication's history focused on wonderfully weird Lovecraftian horror and erotica, have increasingly mined plentifully sinister and weird contemporary issues. But I imagine there are few people who aren't in some way personally impacted by gentrification in the U.S. at this point. "Untitled 44" reflects Caitlin's own experiences moving back home from Rhode Island to Alabama to find so much of her old home replaced and she evokes the troubling, elusively defined sense of violation with the images of disconnected dreams and strange shadows.

Set in an art gallery, the story consists of a dialogue between two characters, viewing an exhibition of photographs apparently influenced by the work of Andre Kertesz--his photograph of strange, long shadows of people featured at the top of this entry also appears in the Digest. There's no mathematical allegory here--the strange shadows aren't precisely the menace of useless, hard, expensive buildings displacing the more human and familiar and the shadows aren't precisely the ghosts or lives of those displaced. They're both and neither, the sense of the whole loathsome economic digestion in one appropriately difficult to pin down concept.

With so much of popular art being derived from the soma of heroic plots where the threat is a concrete, eventually conquerable foe, it's always refreshing to read a story like this. The real threats in life are so often things that happen around you, constructed of perhaps even truly innocent or at least benign components, but something terrible accumulates into a cloud or a shadow, strange forces that can't be checked any more than they can be solidly defined.
Current Location: A shadow
Current Mood: groggygroggy
Current Music: "I I E E E" - Tori Amos

The Perfect Symmetry of the Crocodile Jul. 14th, 2019 @ 03:07 pm


The Eighth Doctor and Lucie Miller travel to a world where most everything, even the people, are blue in the 2008 Doctor Who audio play "The Skull of Sobek". I still haven't heard any audios from the Eighth Doctor's series that are anywhere near as good as his stories in the monthly range but "The Skull of Sobek" is one of the best I've heard so far.

Upon arriving on the planet, the Doctor (Paul McGann) explains to Lucie (Sheridan Smith) how it rains one day in a regular interval of decades and a bright red flower blooms when it does, which puts a pretty image in the listener's mind. But the main plot involves an abbot and nun belonging to two sides of the local religion, one which emphasises the need for balance between perfection and imperfection. The Doctor explains how in the distant past, these people had a society that was too perfect and it caused problems so this "Order of Imperfect Symmetry" arose. Which is an intriguing concept. Since it's one of the really short audios, only fifty minutes, writer Marc Platt can't explore it too far but in one amusing development it turns out the people responsible for the past perfection were talking crocodiles, which becomes apparent when one, a general, returns from the grave.

I guess I can see how crocodiles might be sort of obnoxiously perfect. The important thing here is that they're vicious carnivores and also apparently hypnotists as Lucie is somehow bewitched into joining the side of the crocodile. She mentions having a fear of crocodiles early in the story, which I liked--the idea that she's susceptible to becoming something because she fears it.
Current Location: A blue planet
Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: "I'm Old Fashioned" - Ella Fitzgerald
Other entries
» Divided Rose


I finally finished watching Rose of Versailles this morning, a 40 episode anime series that premièred in 1979. Following the exploits of Oscar, a fictional French noblewoman who dresses like a man to lead Marie Antoinette's Royal Guard, the source manga by Riyoko Ikeda was a popular work and remains profoundly influential. I gather the manga goes in a completely different direction than the anime series and I suspect it's a superior work. I loved the first half of the series, which was directed by Tadao Nagahama, but the second half, directed by Osamu Dezaki after Nagahama's death, seems like it was made by someone completely uninterested in the series' original concept. A story focused on women in the French court is kind of abruptly shoved aside for a story about men loving and putting up with women during the French Revolution. It's particularly disappointing because so many of the looming dramatic conflicts built up in the first half are completely ignored in favour of bland cliché.



No longer satisfied with her insulated position as the head of the Royal Guard, Oscar (Reiko Tajima) requests a transfer to command a small rural unit of the regular military. We meet Alain (Keaton Yamada), the roguish leader of the rough unit whose tragic story eventually earns Oscar's sympathy. And Oscar's childhood friend, Andre (Taro Shigaki), also enlists in the unit. Andre gets an eye shot out, which is helpful for those of us trying to tell Andre apart from Alain or from Bernard (Akio Nojima) or Fersen (Nachi Nozawa), other competitors for Oscar's and/or Marie Antoinette's heart.



People who don't watch anime often complain all the characters look alike. Here it's a fair cop. I'd swear this is a clone army.

The first half of the series featured stories where Oscar rescued Marie Antoinette, foiled dastardly plots, or got involved with complicated court drama involving Madame du Barry or the poor orphan woman, Rosalie (Rihoko Yoshida).



Rosalie, who'd served as a dramatic link between the world of the court and the common people suffering during the lean times preceding the Revolution, becomes essentially a face in the crowd as Bernard takes over that role in the second half of the series.

All along through the first half, I wondered how the show was going to address the complicated issues surrounding the Revolution since Marie Antoinette was placed at the centre of the drama. How was this character we're designed to love going to fit in in this world of people holding her lifestyle responsible for widespread poverty and hunger? The show simply removes her from centre stage while Oscar is shuffled into a position as a rebel leader. There's one scene where Oscar asks Marie Antoinette not to dissolve a meeting of democratically elected representatives but otherwise the show is devoid of any moments where Oscar is forced to confront a former ally, finding themselves now at opposite sides of an ideological gulf. Instead, there's some pretty thin drama about Andre and Oscar admitting their love for each other and a really embarrassing scene where Oscar commands her troops to join the rebels because she thinks it's what Andre would want her to do. A shot of him nodding smugly behind her confirms this for her teary eyes looking to him for guidance.



I might not have expected a story about a woman actually making decisions and strategies from a 70s anime except the first half of the series gave me exactly that. It really feels like two different series and the first half really feels frustratingly unfinished.

Twitter Sonnet #1255

The etchings rose upon the covered stair.
A ring of watching shades devour tongues.
A giant tusk was hid behind a flare.
A million years collect and weight the lungs.
The verdant brains were placed in plastic bowls.
On station walls the pictures paint the day.
A team of snails observe through tiny holes.
A fleet of squid approached the secret bay.
A team of moths rebuilt an ancient coat.
A winding chain composed a ticking hitch.
A hundred sheets collect within the boat.
Below the crew began at last to stitch.
A boulevard of broken stones is sharp.
The fleet of foot are sure to play a harp.

» Don't Trust Strange Pictures


It's too bad Chiana's never seen or read Macbeth. Otherwise she might have known the portrait she picks up, which seems to tell the future, isn't the valuable artefact it seems to be for "to win us to our harm the instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles, to betray's in deepest consequence." And so, of course, it proves to be, even on Farscape.



Season 2, Episode 5(6): Picture If You Will

This episode is placed after "The Way We Weren't" in many episode lists but it was produced first and if you watch the two together it makes no sense for "Picture If You Will" to come after "The Way We Weren't". So if you're watching through the series, I highly recommend considering "Picture If You Will" the real fifth episode of the second season.



Chiana (Gigi Edgley), Aeryn (Claudia Black), and Rygel (Jonathan Hardy) are conducting some trade on a glass space station with a shady dealer as the episode opens. Rygel takes home a Hynerian tiara he's surprised to find is genuine and Chiana brings home the portrait. First it helps her find a missing favourite necklace and then it foretells a broken leg she gets when she trips over a DRD.



I love Chiana's outfit but I do kind of wish the characters changed clothes often enough to support the idea Chiana has a "favourite" necklace among others she wears from time to time. I bet this was mainly a budgetary issue, though, and maybe related to the logistics of applying makeup to Chiana, D'Argo (Anthiny Simcoe), and Zhaan (Virginia Hey). Crichton (Ben Browder) and Aeryn still have wardrobe changes often enough at this point though it's in this episode that I first noticed Aeryn wearing the leather vest with nothing underneath. I remember this as being her signature outfit for the rest of the series. Or maybe I just really like it.



But the heroine of this episode is Zhaan whose powers as a priest make her the only one equipped to deal with the malevolent portrait. It soon starts predicting fatalities for everyone and Chiana, D'Argo, and Crichton fall prey to deadly accidents. Or so it seems--in fact, they all end up trapped in what looks like a Man Ray painting.



And behind it all is none other than Maldis (Chris Haywood), the nigh-omnipotent being, first introduced in season one's "That Old Black Magic", who feeds on fear. And there's certainly plenty for the characters to be afraid of in this episode, much of it very effective. But once again its the moments of character interaction that make this show really shine.



Maldis, whom I've seen described as a more malevolent version of Star Trek: The Next Generation's Q, has some sadistically funny interactions with Crichton. The human's usual ability to keep psychological distance with his Earthly colloquialisms is undermined when Maldis returns them with the familiarity of someone who's been reading Crichton's mind for a long time--"No, [Zhaan] kicked my ass. And saved yours."



A moment between Zhaan and Crichton, where they telepathically communicate, refers back to a first season episode and is a nice bit to touch base with their relationship. This is also the first episode to make it really clear Chiana and D'Argo are attracted to each other and Crichton and Aeryn have a partly amusing, partly foreboding scene in the kitchen where Aeryn asserts how quickly she would get rid of some of the more useless members of Moya's crew, like Chiana and Rygel. Maybe Aeryn needs some more contamination after all.

. . .



This entry is part of a series I'm writing on Farscape for the show's 20th anniversary. My previous reviews can be found here (episodes are in the order intended by the show's creators rather than the broadcast order):



Season One:



Episode 1: Pilot

Episode 2: I, E.T.

Episode 3: Exodus from Genesis

Episode 4: Throne for a Loss

Episode 5: Back and Back and Back to the Future

Episode 6: Thank God It's Friday Again

Episode 7: PK Tech Girl

Episode 8: That Old Black Magic

Episode 9: DNA Mad Scientist

Episode 10: They've Got a Secret

Episode 11: Till the Blood Runs Clear

Episode 12: Rhapsody in Blue

Episode 13: The Flax

Episode 14: Jeremiah Crichton

Episode 15: Durka Returns

Episode 16: A Human Reaction

Episode 17: Through the Looking Glass

Episode 18: A Bug's Life

Episode 19: Nerve

Episode 20: The Hidden Memory

Episode 21: Bone to be Wild

Episode 22: Family Ties



Season Two:



Episode 1: Mind the Baby

Episode 2: Vitas Mortis

Episode 3: Taking the Stone

Episode 4: Crackers Don't Matter

» Arsenic on Her Hands


In 1857 Glasgow, a man was murdered by arsenic which led to the sensationalised trial of Madeleine Smith, his lover. Her trial concluded with the uniquely Scottish verdict "not proven", a conclusion the viewer may also reach from 1950's Madeleine, an adaptation of the story by director David Lean. Drenched in black shadows and shining surfaces, this fascinating film is more interested in the psychology of its central character than on whether or not she committed the crime.



Lean's wife at the time, Ann Todd, plays Madeleine, a young, unmarried woman of a wealthy, prestigious family. The film begins with her, her sisters, and her parents moving into an expensive terraced house in Glasgow and Madeleine claims a bedroom for herself and her youngest sister below street level. We soon see why as this enables her to make easy, clandestine meetings with her lover, a Frenchman named Emile L'Angelier (Ivan Desny).



She carries on with this affair even as her strict, class conscious father (Leslie Banks) arranges a suitable match for her with a kind gentleman named William (Norman Wooland). Madeleine promises Emile she will tell her father about him and marry him but for now she stalls, asking the amiable William not to tell her father that he had proposed marriage to her so that she wouldn't have to report that she'd turned the offer down.



Finally, at one late night meeting, Emile decides to force the issue and demands that Madeleine tell her father about him. This becomes the best scene in the film as Madeleine agrees and then Todd brings a series of changing expressions to her face that clearly show just how hard consciousness of what that means hits her for the first time. We see in her startled, and startling, reaction just how impossible it seems to her that the world where her father exists could ever connect with the one where Emile exists.



Lean had made it clear that Emile and Madeleine had a physical relationship. Earlier, alone on a hillside, the two overhear a country dance. Madeleine impulsively starts to dance and urges Emile to join her but he only stiffly participates, not knowing how to dance to the bagpipes. But she lies down anyway and waits for him--a cut to the lusty dancers indoors followed by a shot of Emile retrieving her forgotten shawl clearly enough communicates what had occurred in the interval. But it also shows that Madeleine's physical attraction to Emile is given priority over the lack of cultural and temperamental familiarity. It's sex she wants from him.



It's a relationship she'd entered instinctively when the opportunity arose and only too late does she consciously process the ramifications. And of course it turns out Emile won't accept elopement. He may really have affection for Madeleine but his own top priority is and always was her father's money and he's willing to use her letters as blackmail to get his way.



Lean cleverly avoids making it clear whether Madeleine deliberately poisons him or if some manner of accident occurs with arsenic in the kitchen. He does this without ever stepping away from her point of view so it's possible for the viewer to watch the film with either interpretation. Andre Morell appears as her defence council and makes plenty of very stirring and reasonable arguments as to why it couldn't be her. If she didn't want the letters found, surely she wouldn't have killed him without retrieving them--the timeline of her purchase of arsenic and his poisoning don't match up--the autopsy revealed the arsenic wasn't of the particular kind Madeleine was on record as purchasing for, she says, cosmetic use, believing arsenic to be good for her skin. But on the other hand, if she didn't kill him, who did?



But the film appropriately fixates more on the relationships that put Madeleine in this position. Murder obviously wasn't a useful solution but she was clearly in a bad, unfair situation. One might ask if the solution would be for a society to be more open about casual sex or if it would be healthier for people to be allowed to carry on private dalliances without fearing risk of exposure. Madeleine is available on The Criterion Channel.
» Mistress in Strategy, Love, and Other Things


History remembers Admiral Nelson for his great victories against Napoleon at sea. But, as the popular 1941 film, That Hamilton Woman, shows, he also had an affair with a woman who achieved a great deal of fame in her own right as a society figure and beautiful portrait model. The film, unmistakeably pitched as anti-Hitler propaganda to promote Britain before the U.S. joined the war, was made primarily as a decadent romance by director Alexander Korda. It remains to-day a lovely indulgence.



The adulterous couple were played by a couple married in real life, Vivian Leigh as Lady Hamilton and Laurence Olivier as Admiral Nelson. Although Olivier had already starred in Wuthering Heights and Rebecca, Leigh is unmistakeably placed as centre attraction here, likely owing something to the success of Gone with the Wind.



The story is presented from her point of view and we're given a version of her life story as close as the Hays code would allow--and a bit further. She mentions that there had been "other men" in her life before her marriage but doesn't go into detail, certainly not mentioning dancing naked on a gentleman's dinner table at fifteen or the illegitimate child she bore and was forced to give up as a condition of remaining mistress in the household of another gentleman. She's still indignant when she winds up in Naples, expecting to meet one fiance and finds she's been sold off to another, the British Ambassador, Sir William Hamilton (Alan Mowbray). He tells her explicitly his intention is to have her in his home as an ornament, as much as his collection of statues, but also tells her she shall live comfortably.



She does exploit her position cleverly and by the time Nelson finally appears in the film she's able to reach the ear of the Queen and get him the troops he wants faster than her husband can, who would have to go through proper and slower channels. Nelson has an oddly passive role in the film--we hear about his victories at sea but never see them until Trafalgar at the climax in which his primary action is to get shot and wish to see Emma.



It seems impossible that anyone in real life could be as noble or as powerful as Emma is shown to be but the filmmakers had an uphill battle against public morality. It was around ten years later that Ingrid Bergman became an outcast in Hollywood because she and Roberto Rossellini became lovers without being married. Still, the real life Emma certainly did suffer a great deal more than she deserved and is an eminently suitable model for great romantic drama. Vivian Leigh bore enough of a resemblance to her, too, that a number of publicity stills were released where she was posed like the real Emma in her many famous portraits by George Romney.



She's very good in the film, a woman whose pride is certainly well earned, and you can see why Nelson becomes so devoted to her. That Hamilton Woman is available on The Criterion Channel.

Twitter Sonnet #1254

A hidden piece abides in knightly hand.
A warning rook adorns the vacant hall.
A bishop washed a ship with glue and sand.
An active Queen bestows a chequered ball.
A shadow sushi dwelt beneath the sun.
A glowing sea conceals the swimming food.
Entire meals condense beneath the bun.
For ev'ry stage of day's a diff'rent mood.
The captured runner dwells in painted walls.
Expected beans became surprising vines.
Contented faces line the darkened halls.
A solemn troop attend the rustling pines.
A soup of novel words became a spark.
The gathered spots became a bigger mark.

» Right Now, Someone Wants Your Snack


Sometimes you can't see the mood altering pulsars for the dried food rectangles. Or what Farscape's American astronaut, John Crichton, calls crackers. In the grand scheme of things, you have to ask yourself, do crackers really matter?



Season 2, Episode 4: Crackers Don't Matter

Widely considered one of the best episodes of the whole series, if not the best, it finds our heroes behaving irrationally in a remarkably credible way. I don't think this could've been a first season episode because the kinds of dialogue and interaction on display seem like they could only have come from a cast and crew very comfortable and familiar with one another.



Set entirely aboard Moya, the episode begins with Crichton (Ben Browder) incredulous as some of the other crew return from grocery shopping with crates of what he quickly identifies as "crackers" and a blind alien (Danny Adcock) promising to fit Moya with a cloaking device.



Crichton reluctantly tests the device on his module and already there's some great back and forths among the cast. Claudia Black, who plays Aeryn, remarks on the DVD commentary on how two-shots are so much better for actors because you can see their real reactions to each other instead of reactions created with editing but there's a nice cut between two close-ups of Crichton and Aeryn here as she munches on crackers. She's compelled to laugh as Crichton piles up one incredulous observation after another and we can see in this episode the two are bonding in a way that goes quite beyond season one's incidental cuddling.



T'raltixx, the blind alien, says they have to go through a pulsar field to reach his planet. He also says the light from the pulsars has minor, psychologically altering effects on "lesser" species. Everyone on the bridge immediately asserts the light has no effect--except Zhaan (Virginia Hey) who spends most of the episode blissfully riding through multiple photogasms.



And then, very soon, everyone's trying to kill each other. But there are always strongly worded arguments justifying the fights--they work so well because the actors are totally committed to intensely irrational dialogue. Chiana (Gigi Edgley) becomes suspicious when Aeryn won't play a hologram recording of Scorpius (Wayne Pygram) for her. When Crichton suggests Aeryn should just go ahead and play the message, Chiana immediately wants to know why Crichton wants her to see it so bad. You can see complete sincerity in Gigi Edgley's suspicion and the scene is capped with Aeryn washing her hands of the issue, telling Chiana to watch, or don't watch, the recording, "I really don't care." She gives the line the slow, deliberately patient tone of someone speaking to a crazy person and it plays so well because of how earnest Chiana had seemed.



On Moya, sincerity comes with a certain amount of sarcasm so, in a gun battle between Crichton and Aeryn later, the dialogue comes with outright laughter at the very idea of not trying to kill one another. And, of course, there's the crackers.



Chiana, D'Argo (Anthony Simcoe), and Rygel (Jonathan Hardy) take charge of the precious food rectangles. When Crichton dares to suggest that there might just be bigger issues to worry about, the idea is so plainly absurd to the cracker guardians that they can only scoff at Crichton's pathetic attempt at manipulation.



The episode climaxes in a different direction of absurdity. There's kind of an Evil Dead 2 vibe as the plan becomes about Crichton wearing Zhaan's puke on his face to attack T'raltixx wielding a sword and shield. I really can't do it justice--everyone should experience "Crackers Don't Matter" at least once in their life.

. . .



This entry is part of a series I'm writing on Farscape for the show's 20th anniversary. My previous reviews can be found here (episodes are in the order intended by the show's creators rather than the broadcast order):



Season One:



Episode 1: Pilot

Episode 2: I, E.T.

Episode 3: Exodus from Genesis

Episode 4: Throne for a Loss

Episode 5: Back and Back and Back to the Future

Episode 6: Thank God It's Friday Again

Episode 7: PK Tech Girl

Episode 8: That Old Black Magic

Episode 9: DNA Mad Scientist

Episode 10: They've Got a Secret

Episode 11: Till the Blood Runs Clear

Episode 12: Rhapsody in Blue

Episode 13: The Flax

Episode 14: Jeremiah Crichton

Episode 15: Durka Returns

Episode 16: A Human Reaction

Episode 17: Through the Looking Glass

Episode 18: A Bug's Life

Episode 19: Nerve

Episode 20: The Hidden Memory

Episode 21: Bone to be Wild

Episode 22: Family Ties



Season Two:



Episode 1: Mind the Baby

Episode 2: Vitas Mortis

Episode 3: Taking the Stone

Top of Page Powered by LiveJournal.com