September 6th, 2019

Then Again

The Heist at the End of the Rope

As good as season one was, Farscape's second season improved the show tremendously. As the season draws to a conclusion, it gives us an amazing three part episode about robbery, madness, and deception. At turns delightful and harrowing, it's a brilliant piece of television.

Season 2, Episode 19: Liars, Guns, and Money part 1: A Not so Simple Plan

How many elements come together smoothly to make this episode? D'Argo (Anthony Simcoe) is still trying to save his son from a slave auction he heard about from Stark (Paul Goddard) who returns from the dead in this episode with a plan for robbing a bank--or "Shadow Depository". Essentially a bank for the underworld, one Rygel (Jonathan Hardy) immediately tells Stark he's crazy for even thinking about hitting.

But we knew Stark was crazy. I haven't talked much about him yet and by this point his character has become an intriguing presence on the show. The ranting madman Crichton (Ben Browder) shared a cell with at the end of season one also has a strange ability to grant a profound, spiritual peace to people when they're injured or dying. Sort of a holy anaesthetic, an intriguing enough idea when combined with his madness but it takes on another level of suggestive weirdness when this ability is hidden by a mask he wears and appears to be a sort of terrible wound where his right eye should be.

His fascinating mixture of holy and perverse is perfectly complemented by Paul Goddard's frenetic performance. At one moment a sage, the next a paranoid coward, his personality nonetheless makes sense. He sort of reminds me of the priest (or the monk in Kurosawa's film adaptation) in The Lower Depths whose representation of the divine has an appropriate frailty to coincide with the nature of faith.

But that's just the beginning, the catalyst for this story. It turns out Stark has managed to steal the plans for one of these Shadow Depositories from the designer of such a place--a self-interested fringe benefit of conferring peace on the fellow before he died. D'Argo's overeager to put this plan in motion because he wants the stolen currency to buy his son's freedom--he even treats Chiana (Gigi Edgley) like she's against him when she's against going immediately, without a plan. But eventually everyone gets drawn in and every member of Moya's crew has a role to play.

After D'Argo and Stark's original scheme ends with D'Argo's capture, Zhaan (Virginia Hey) poses as an eye-patched hardass with Chiana as her Nebari assistant. Rygel is part of their "short term deposit"--hidden in a hollow Hynerian statue so he can sneak out and steal someone else's valuables. Crichton and Aeryn (Claudia Black), now looking like a very comfortable team in their matching black leather overcoats, keep an eye on things via security cameras. And that's when they spot Scorpius (Wayne Pygram).

Of course, Crichton spots him first when he's not even there. Even Aeryn has started to notice his hallucinations and by the end of the episode Crichton's situation will become crystal clear after an intense confrontation with Scorpius that plays into the villain's S&M wardrobe. When he and Crichton are straining against each other while Scorpius tries to force Crichton to insert a coolant rod in Scorpius' head, Crichton even makes the subtext explicit with the line, "You're not my type!" It's the sort of line that usually comes off as a glib quip but Crichton's in too much physical and emotional distress for it to come off that way.

And this is the second sort of sex scene with Scorpius in the episode--the first is with a new villainess established just for this three parter, the owner of the Shadow Depository, an impressive combination of actress and Giger-esque costume and makeup called Natira (Claudia Karvan).

And all this is just part 1!

. . .

Farscape is available now on Amazon Prime.

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

Episode 6: The Way We Weren't

Episode 7: Home on the Remains

Episode 8: Dream a Little Dream

Episode 9: Out of Their Minds

Episode 10: My Three Crichtons

Episode 11: Look at the Princess, Part I: A Kiss is But a Kiss

Episode 12: Look at the Princess, Part II: I Do, I Think

Episode 13: Look at the Princess, Part III: The Maltese Crichton

Episode 14: Beware of Dog

Episode 15: Won't Get Fooled Again

Episode 16: The Locket

Episode 17: The Ugly Truth

Episode 18: A Clockwork Nebari