Musician Who

A New Who Season?



A new trailer premiered yesterday for an upcoming season of Doctor Who. There's nothing very remarkable in it but I can't think of any season trailers ever really capturing any of the things genuinely interesting about their seasons. Aside from the appearance of the Cybermen and the Judoon, it could almost be a trailer for Jodie Whittaker's first season for as much as it shows.



The Doctor's in trouble, she wears an ill-fitting tux, something's coming for her. Same old gaggle of intensely dull companions.

I loved how the Cybermen were used in the Twelfth Doctor's era, both in his first season and his final season. I liked how they supported the ongoing theme about military in Twelve's first season and the theme about conformity in his third. It's disappointing to see Thirteen's Cybermen are going to be relying on the Power Rangers look instead of going back to the Tenth Planet look. Though I never really found the Cybermen effective after The Invasion, certainly not in the 80s, though I quite like The Silver Nemesis.

I guess it's kind of remarkable there's nothing noticeably new in the trailer. Though with Thirteen, I've come to expect banal.
I Know

Alien Babies Exchanged for Armour



Although I've liked the cinematography all along, I didn't find enough substance in the first two episodes of The Mandalorian to really excite me. The third episode, which premiered on Disney+ last night, was a big improvement. A lot of credit has to go to Deborah Chow who has a lot more experience directing action in live action than Dave Filoni and Rick Famuyiwa (directors of the first and second episodes, respectively). But it's also an episode that managed to provoke questions about character motives in a more interesting way. Though I still have some quibbles.

My biggest beef is the concept of a bounty hunter guild that's so devoted to rules that they gang up on one of their own for rescuing a baby from an Imperial remnant. The whole point, the main appeal of a bounty hunter, as opposed to normal police or military, is that it's everyone for themselves. No bureaucracy, no clique. Certainly no lockstep enforcement of ridiculous micromanagement. What's the big deal about a bounty hunter asking a client what he plans to do with his prize? Boba Fett probably wouldn't ask and I'd like to think it's because Boba Fett is cold and ruthless and not because he's a mindless jobsworth.



But mainly I liked the episode. I loved the expanded look at the underground Mandalorian culture which is starting to feel a little more like the Mandalorians we saw on Clone Wars and Rebels. I wonder when they adopted that rule about never removing their helmets. Does Sabine always keep her helmet on, post-Return of the Jedi?

I'm a little disappointed that we're going to be stuck with the baby Yoda for a while now. The kid's kind of cute but I'd honestly find it more interesting if the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) had a less altruistic reason for rescuing him. But one of the best parts of the episode for me was the ambiguity over what, exactly, the Imperials planned on doing with him. It would've been great if the Mandalorian had gone in, guns blazing like Lancelot in Holy Grail, only to find Werner Herzog's mission was to protect the thing. But we already know Herzog wanted the baby dead or alive.

The action scenes were really effective. I loved when the Mandalorian infiltrated the base and words and actions kept getting stepped on by our hero suddenly appearing from around the corner. The gun fight in the street had great atmosphere, too, and the Mandalorians coming to the rescue was pretty sweet. I found myself in the mood to go back and watch the Mandalore arcs on Clone Wars.

Twitter Sonnet #1300

A shifted eye infers from mummy tombs.
The open seat permits a sudden sit.
A thousand beds could fill a million rooms.
A single thumb could fill a leather mitt.
A later tie encountered younger bows.
Delivered fries exclude the onion day.
Entire crowds in diners swift arose.
An egg and toast combined beneath the bay.
Another house revealed a fresher eye.
Arrival times arranged a laser mark.
Adrift beyond the wrist the bracelets fly.
A thousand feet command the ancient barque.
Pretender pieces push the pawns and rooks.
A hundred dots combine to make the books.
Then Again

Revenge is Dish Best Served in Two Dimensions



After an episode of epic drama, Farscape delivers a hard tonal shift into a partially animated, comedy episode. And it's fantastic. Few shows could hit two so disparate tones in succession so marvellously well.



Season Three, Episode Sixteen: Revenging Angel

Back on Moya, the other Crichton (Ben Browder) continues life blissfully unaware of his twin's fate. In fact, we see in this episode he's a bit jealous of the other Crichton, which is a funny position to be in. At least it's not hard for him to answer, "What's he got that I ain't got?"

D'Argo (Anthony Simcoe) and Crichton are still bickering as they were in "Scratch n' Sniff" but now it finally comes to a head when John gets hit in the head and goes into a coma. Much of the episode thereafter takes place in Crichto's mind. Throughout the episode, Harvey (Wayne Pygram) tries to induce Crichton to devote himself to revenge and Crichton retaliates by turning everything into very effective, genuinely amusing, Looney Tunes inspired cartoons.



And it's not just a random gimmick, it makes sense. Harvey is trying to get Crichton to see life as a bloody serious thing where the score always needs settling. Crichton relies on cartoons to make the violence and the conflict trivial and fleeting.



Sadly, not all the characters get animated counterparts but Aeryn (Claudia Black) makes an appearance in animated form. An amusing appearance, too, as Crichton imagines her in different sexy outfits, including a Jessica Rabbit get up, receiving from her an accusation of unoriginality for it.



The subplot about D'Argo getting his fighter ship working and Chiana (Gigi Edgley) having a rivalry with Jool (Tammy MacIntosh) is also pretty good. Jool continues to be grossed out and whingy in an amusing way but I felt for her when her attempt to bond with D'Argo backfires so dramatically.

. . .

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
Episode 19: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part I: A Not So Simple Plan
Episode 20: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part II: With Friends Like These . . .
Episode 21: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part III: Plan B
Episode 22: Die Me, Dichotomy


Season Three:

Episode 1: Season of Death
Episode 2: Suns and Lovers
Episode 3: Self-Inflicted Wounds, Part I: Would'a, Could'a, Should'a
Episode 4: Self-Inflicted Wounds, Part II: Wait for the Wheel
Episode 5: . . . Different Destinations
Episode 6: Eat Me
Episode 7: Thanks for Sharing
Episode 8: Green Eyed Monster
Episode 9: Losing Time
Episode 10: Relativity
Episode 11: Incubator
Episode 12: Meltdown
Episode 13: Scratch 'n Sniff
Episode 14: Infinite Possibilities, Part I: Daedalus Demands
href="https://setsuled.kinja.com/wormholes-and-deserts-1839948483">Episode 15: Infinite Possibilities, Part II: Icarus Abides</a>
Book Hands

Paws and Rooms



I've lately found myself often in coffee shops or parks between jobs so I've had plenty of time to read. Mainly still from H.P. Lovecraft Selects and I've recently read two more stories from the compilation; "The Red Room" by H.G. Wells and "The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs. The latter is of course the more famous story but I also consider it to be much more effective, as much as I did like "The Red Room".

"The Red Room" is another example, like "The Dead Valley", of accomplishing a lot with very little, of creating the sensation of horror from a few subtle suggestions. A man agrees to stay in a haunted room and his courage is shaken by minor but truly inexplicable occurrences. Simply the mental image conjured by a "red room" accomplishes a lot. I found myself thinking of the interiors from Ingmar Bergman's Cries and Whispers.

I don't think I'd ever read "The Monkey's Paw". Though it's quite possible I did but forgot. Sometimes when I look through my blog entries from fifteen years ago I discover even good movies or stories I'd forgotten all about having seen or read. In any case, I was certainly familiar with the concept even before the first airing of The Simpsons episode that parodied it in 1991. I was pleased by the actual story's psychological subtlety, the tormenting ambiguity about the guilt the main character bears for the death that resulted from his use of the paw--and the more fascinatingly murky subject of whether it was a good idea to resurrect the dead man.

The old man turned and regarded her, and his voice shook. "He has been dead ten days, and besides he - I would not tell you else, but - I could only recognize him by his clothing. If he was too terrible for you to see then, how now?"

The knocking at the door at the end of the story reminded me a bit of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Body" which concludes with Buffy's sister nearly resurrecting their dead mother. The end of "The Monkey's Paw" is better, though, because it's not as clear that the resurrected person is a zombie or just plain and simply alive again. The man and wife in the story, assuming the wife doesn't get her hands on the paw, will always have that wedge between them because one expected a zombie and the other expected their normal, happy, living son. There will always be the unanswered question and the husband will always have to stand by a position that can never be proved. That's one sinister paw.
Death Chess

A Wrong Route



Horror exists in the feelings inspired by strange and threatening things, something H.P. Lovecraft demonstrated well in many stories where the precise threat remained ambiguously defined. "The Dead Valley", a story by the architect Ralph Adams Cram, is commended by Lovecraft in his essay on horror fiction in which he says Cram "achieves a memorably potent degree of vague regional horror through subtleties of atmosphere and description." An effective tale about a place in the forest that inexplicably saps the life out of anything that enters it, it's hard to imagine it wasn't an influence on "The Colour Out of Space".

The story has a great contrast in tone. The beginning is almost disconcertingly innocent, a description of two affectionate friends who go together to buy a puppy because the thing is irresistibly cute.

He was a round, woolly puppy, so funny that Nils and I sat down on the ground and laughed at him, until he came and played with us in so jolly a way that we felt that there was only one really desirable thing in life, and that was the little dog of the old man from across the hills. But alas! we had not half money enough wherewith to buy him . . .

When the two have the money to pay for the animal, the narrator describes idly looking at their journey as a dangerous adventure despite the destination not being especially distant. This adds the impression of cruelty and excessive punishment for youthful folly when something starts to go wrong and no-one can say why. Here's a kind of terribly beautiful paragraph:

And the air was stagnant,—dead. The atmosphere seemed to lie upon the body like the weight of sea on a diver who has ventured too far into its awful depths. What we usually call silence seems so only in relation to the din of ordinary experience. This was silence in the absolute, and it crushed the mind while it intensified the senses, bringing down the awful weight of inextinguishable fear

The sense of awesome death pervades the strange encounter and it's not hard to believe the story was written by a man who designed gothic revival architecture.

Twitter Sonnet #1290

A verdict held beneath a desert sun.
A gold reflective watch recounts the time.
The racing dust begins a daily run.
The furtive wind commenced a morning rhyme.
Reluctant teas inform the tongue of taste.
Aspired hats assemble bands and brims.
Wasabi comes in tubes of mushy paste.
The flashy car had wheels with glowing rims.
An elf is pressed to lee of bluer moons.
A sailing cup appeared beyond the flow.
A desp'rate word traversed the pallid dunes.
In time the tired men could only row.
Distracted clocks misplace a hand or two.
A silver second swipes a golden clue.


Above painting by Caspar David Friedrich
Then Again

Wormholes and Deserts



Farscape presents a thrilling tale of tough moral choices characters are obliged to make at a breakneck pace. It's also an episode where the duplication of its main character several episodes back starts to fulfil its ultimate potential.



Season Three, Episode Fifteen: Infinite Possibilities, Part II: Icarus Abides

The fantastic action of Part I keeps its stride in Part II. Rygel (Jonathan Hardy) is injured in the turret outside while Aeryn (Claudia Black) finds herself confronting a Crichton (Ben Browder) now possessed by the Scorpius clone, who seems a lot less like a pooka now.



But this is only death throws as the Ancient, "Jack" (Kent McCord), informs Aeryn and soon a newly liberated Crichton finds himself helping Jack construct that very same wormhole weapon Scorpius and the Scarrans are racing to get their hands on. And speaking of the Scarrans, Crais (Lani Tupu) and Stark (Paul Goddard) find themselves having to deal with one on the bridge of Talyn.



I love how Stark is able to foil the Scarran's heat ray truth serum by telling him the truth--that he hates Crais and was his slave. It just goes to show the complexities of sentient relationships can't always be divided into "true" and "false".



In the main story, Furlow (Magda Szubanski) is starting to look more devious and Aeryn and Crichton are becoming surer of their affections for each other. Crichton's less sure about Jack's ability to stop with killing a Scarran dreadnought once the weapon's finished but Crichton doesn't have much choice but to help him. This episode has betrayal as well as unexpected loyalty (Stark for Crais), again exploring the theme of aberrant relationships. After this episode, Aeryn's relationship with Crichton is going to become weirder and more complicated. Crichton himself reaches a peace of sorts but, really, his fate is unfair. Browder never stops looking a bit crazy and the perpetual pain and confusion of his experience is always visible on his face. So his final line, borrowed from Douglas Fairbanks, is even more effective in conveying his courage; "I've never felt better."



The episode has some incredibly effective action, including the dune buggy chase before a finale that rivals Gunbuster in terms of intergalactic destruction.

. . .

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
Episode 19: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part I: A Not So Simple Plan
Episode 20: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part II: With Friends Like These . . .
Episode 21: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part III: Plan B
Episode 22: Die Me, Dichotomy


Season Three:

Episode 1: Season of Death
Episode 2: Suns and Lovers
Episode 3: Self-Inflicted Wounds, Part I: Would'a, Could'a, Should'a
Episode 4: Self-Inflicted Wounds, Part II: Wait for the Wheel
Episode 5: . . . Different Destinations
Episode 6: Eat Me
Episode 7: Thanks for Sharing
Episode 8: Green Eyed Monster
Episode 9: Losing Time
Episode 10: Relativity
Episode 11: Incubator
Episode 12: Meltdown
Episode 13: Scratch 'n Sniff
Episode 14: Infinite Possibilities, Part I: Daedalus Demands
Wircelia&#39;s Heather

Give Us the Old Village



Wandering an old forest or heath, the sense of timelessness in the environment may inspire fantasies of travelling back in time. I'd sure like to wander into a happy, 18th century Scottish village like the two modern hunters in 1954's Brigadoon. A musical starring Gene Kelly and directed by Vincente Minnelli, it lacks the fast paced wit that distinguishes most of the best musicals, instead aiming for a sleepier, dreamier vibe. The few jokes in the simplistic dialogue land like lead and the lyrics to the songs are often anaemic, fundamentally unsatisfying in their attempts at wit. But how gorgeous this movie is. Filmed entirely on sound stages, Minnelli, his art directer, and his cinematographer create a wonder in lighting, backdrops, and flora arrangements.



I love the precise use of patches of false sunlight contrasted with muted tones of heather behind mist. Sometimes the footage looks like Caspar David Friedrich paintings.



Although the stage musical comes from the late 1940s, I suspect the influence of The Quiet Man was behind the motivation to make this film. But while the slightly kitschy idealism of rural Ireland in The Quiet Man exists alongside genuinely well drawn characters and layers of motive, the quaint and garishly garbed inhabitants of Brigadoon seem to pose and make faces without genuine human feeling. Like when an old man affects anger when he leaves a family bible outside the window for his daughter's fiance to sign with a frozen, stupid smile.



There's no sense of authentic feeling behind the scene at all.

Kelly's chemistry with Cyd Charisse isn't much better. The former's natural warmth is always engaging and Charisse is a terrific dancer but the dialogue continually fails them both. Nevertheless, a scene featuring the two in dreamily choreographed, balletic dance on a hill is astounding, the gorgeous backdrops filling up sweeping Cinemascope shots and blending seamlessly with the artfully arranged prop plants.



This movie is worth watching just for these incredible images. Brigadoon is available on The Criterion Channel.
Musician Who

A Rugby Ball for the Teacup



Before he was the first Doctor Who, William Hartnell appeared in the 1963 Kitchen Sink drama This Sporting Life. Starring Richard Harris as one of the Angry Young Men populating such films at the time, it's a great and rough tale of a man whose response to sudden fame is demand for things as surprisingly normal as they are surprisingly elusive.

Frank (Harris) is a coal miner in Yorkshire, boarding in the home of a widow named Margaret (Rachel Roberts). Some affection is developing between the two--possibly just from living in proximity of each other. Margaret is too afraid of a new relationship, though, or too devoted to her dead husband, or both. She hasn't sorted her own feelings out, which is hardly strange, especially since she has two kids to take care of.



But then an old man named Johnson (Hartnell) sees Frank in a bar fight and thinks he could be a rugby star. In fact, Johnson seems almost inspired by the sight of Frank and Margaret wastes no time throwing homophobic aspersions ("He looks at you like a woman, Frank!"). It seems more likely, though, Johnson, or "Dad" as Frank calls him, is just the kind of person who can spot and cultivate a myth and legend. He can spot someone people can rally around and believe in.



How does rough and tumble and none-too-bright Frank respond to fame and fortune? As you might expect--with a big car, boozy parties, and a mink coat for Margaret which she reluctantly wears on a reluctant night out where Frank makes a scene at a posh restaurant.

Like so many great movies about simple people who are suddenly given massive wealth and fame, This Sporting Life is about how life is derailed by weird decadence and imprudence. But this movie does a particularly good job of showing how the sudden injection of means for Frank upsets a delicately evolving relationship. He doesn't sleep with groupies who throw themselves at him, or with the team owner's wife who seems to feel she sexually owns him, but Margaret assumes he does. Everyone just expects it no matter what he does. And when Margaret's affections are on the edge anyway, it doesn't take much of a push to push her away completely.



Harris is terrific in the film and so is Roberts. Hartnell is great, too, though his role is smaller than I was expecting. This Sporting Life is available on The Criterion Channel.

Twitter Sonnet #1298

A grassy needle decked a courtly tube.
In grainy thoughts the film in time returned.
Parades of darts beguile fast the rube.
In state the ghouls in dance were late interred.
The echo dime requites the nickel chip.
In time, the neck was stuck betwixt the eyes.
A second glass reduced the wine to dip.
A second glance reduced the orbs to pies.
The blinking dwarf illumes the giant red.
A tower built of trees surveyed the grass.
A thousand roots combined to fill a head.
The tangled veins engulf the tiny pass.
A second turn advanced the ancient town.
A vivid shawl announced the crimson gown.
Fear

That Confounded Mummy



It's hard to overstate the inconvenience of a neighbour who resurrects an ancient mummy to commit serial murders. This is the predicament in which the protagonist of Arthur Conan Doyle's "Lot No. 249" finds himself, another story from H.P. Lovecraft Selects. Longer than most of the other stories in the collection, it's a comfortable read with characters who are a little more amusing and idiosyncratic than anyone might expect who's familiar with Arthur Conan Doyle's work only through Sherlock Holmes. "Lot No. 249" is not the first story about a reanimated mummy but it is apparently the first one about such a mummy killing people.

The protagonist of "Lot No. 249", Ambercrombie Smith, is in some ways like Holmes, a bachelor described as having remarkable intelligence and insight, though described as not quite a genius.

Though a freshman at Oxford, the student was not so in medicine, for he had worked for four years at Glasgow and at Berlin, and this coming examination would place him finally as a member of his profession. With his firm mouth, broad forehead, and clear-cut, somewhat hard-featured face, he was a man who, if he had no brilliant talent, was yet so dogged, so patient, and so strong that he might in the end overtop a more showy genius.

Like Conan Doyle, he's a medical man, a man with some rough, edifying field experience under his belt before he went to college to get a degree to make his talents official in the eyes of the rest of the world. He has a Watson of sorts named Hasties and it's a pleasure seeing Conan Doyle indulge in some colloquial college boy lingo in conversations between the two.

"Have some whisky," said Abercrombie Smith at last between two cloudbursts. "Scotch in the jug and Irish in the bottle."

"No, thanks. I'm in for the sculls. I don't liquor when I'm training. How about you?"

"I'm reading hard. I think it best to leave it alone."

Hastie nodded, and they relapsed into a contented silence.

"By the way, Smith," asked Hastie, presently, "have you made the acquaintance of either of the fellows on your stair yet?"

"Just a nod when we pass. Nothing more."

"Hum! I should be inclined to let it stand at that. I know something of them both. Not much, but as much as I want. I don't think I should take them to my bosom if I were you. Not that there's much amiss with Monkhouse Lee."

"Meaning the thin one?"


The trouble starts when Smith is compelled to rush downstairs to aid his unconscious neighbour on the storey beneath his own flat. There's a mummy in the room but its ability to walk about on its own isn't revealed yet. Conan Doyle nicely chooses to reveal it slowly, primarily through the deductions of Smith instead of any description of the mummy in action that couldn't conceivably be interpreted as something else by an observer. So a lot of the story compels the reader's imagination to work out surrogate illumination. It works very well.
Then Again

The Tight Gears in a Distant Part of the Galaxy



The "wormhole aliens" or "Ancients" on Farscape finally get wind of how Crichton's wormhole knowledge is being used and they're none too happy about it. In the form of Crichton's father once again, the representative of the strange aliens tracks down the Crichton aboard Talyn in the first part of an incredible two-parter.



Season Three, Episode Fourteen: Infinite Possibilities, Part I: Daedalus Demands

Another memorable season one character reappears in this episode, too--Furlow (Magda Szubanski), the mechanic from "'Til the Blood Runs Clear" to whom Crichton (Ben Browder) was obliged to sell his observations of a wormhole. This was an episode from before a "Human Reaction" so it's a little strange that Jack (Kent McCord) thinks Crichton used the Ancients' subconsciously implanted knowledge to help Furlow's unscrupulous new henchmen, Charrids, to craft wormhole technology. But, to be fair, all Jack knew was that a perfect copy of Crichton's module was making wormholes for the use of notorious psychopaths.



Rygel (Jonathan Hardy) remembers the Charrids well--they massacred Hynerians and devoured Hynerian children. So Rygel dishes out some of the same medicine he administered to Durka when Crichton and Aeryn (Claudia Black) manage to take a prisoner. Somehow the combination of Rygel's tiny stature and vindictive sadism never gets old.



Mainly this episode functions as a fantastic piece of action and suspense storytelling, courtesy of how comfortable the cast and crew have clearly become at this point. Against the backdrop of the desert world established in the season one episode, the crew of Talyn are forced to use special masks to stave off the blinding effects of local solar flares as they strategise on the go. It's a lovely, tightly woven ballet of solid characters and plotting as Crichton, Aeryn, and Crais (Lani Tupu) find themselves suddenly under siege by the Charrids. The rapport between Crichton and Aeryn in these scenes is bittersweet given what happens in the following episode but it's also the same tone that characterises many of the best episodes to come.



It's episodes like this where you can distinctly see the influence the series had on James Gunn when he made Guardians of the Galaxy. But he couldn't replicate the dynamic of people who'd spent years working together on one story, as good as the Guardians of the Galaxy movies are. Every moment works--Aeryn giving Rygel instructions on operating a gun turret, Stark (Paul Goddard) acting like Aeryn's fanboy suddenly after the events of "Meltdown" (to Rygel, "She likes me more than you!"), the romantic moments between Aeryn and John which aren't really threatened by Furlow's broad flirting with him. The roller coaster sequences in Crichton's head when he talks to Harvey (Wayne Pygram) are appropriate for this episode--it's a great ride.

. . .

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
Episode 19: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part I: A Not So Simple Plan
Episode 20: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part II: With Friends Like These . . .
Episode 21: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part III: Plan B
Episode 22: Die Me, Dichotomy


Season Three:

Episode 1: Season of Death
Episode 2: Suns and Lovers
Episode 3: Self-Inflicted Wounds, Part I: Would'a, Could'a, Should'a
Episode 4: Self-Inflicted Wounds, Part II: Wait for the Wheel
Episode 5: . . . Different Destinations
Episode 6: Eat Me
Episode 7: Thanks for Sharing
Episode 8: Green Eyed Monster
Episode 9: Losing Time
Episode 10: Relativity
Episode 11: Incubator
Episode 12: Meltdown
Episode 13: Scratch 'n Sniff