Thursday, May 16, 2019

Invisible Flight Barriers

Aeryn's attempt to give Crichton flying lessons is interrupted by an invisible net and the usual unexpected physical intimacy in the first Farscape episode written by the prolific series writer Justin Monjo.

Season 1, Episode 13: The Flax

In an effort to make himself more useful, Crichton (Ben Browder) has been instructing himself on the biomechanical technology of Moya. Aeryn (Claudia Black) is giving him pointers on piloting a shuttle when the two run afoul of a big invisible sheet in space, stopping their craft cold. This is the "Flax" as the rest of the crew learns back on Moya when a mysterious visitor is brought aboard.

Staanz (Rhys Muldoon) is a shifty character who seems to have some kind of ulterior motive for telling the crew of Moya about the Flax, which his former cohorts, a group of pirates, use to capture their prey. At first, though, Rygel (Jonathan Hardy) is just happy to have someone to play some kind of crystalline board game with. I love Rygel's facial expressions in this episode.

One thing leads to another and Staanz drops his pants to reveal an apparent lack of genitalia. There's some sexual humour in this episode that doesn't really come off. It turns out the female of Staanz's species happens to look like the males of most other humanoid species which leads to a misunderstanding between D'Argo (Anthony Simcoe) and Staanz that isn't quite the effective punchline it's meant to be. But I did kind of enjoy the build up to it, featuring D'Argo and Staanz on Staanz's craft, trying to track down the wreckage of a Luxan ship. The two characters actually do have pretty good chemistry.

Beyond the sexual element, though, there's an interesting aspect to the presence of Staanz and the other pirates in that a contrast is presented between the criminal misfits aboard Moya and the more genuine, dedicated variety of thieves. When they discover Staanz is wanted by the Peacekeepers, Zhaan (Virginia Hey) points out to D'Argo that they're obviously in a position to know the Peacekeepers are given to hunting people who don't really deserve it. But D'Argo remarks that some people really do. Which of course contributes to the sense of urgency in the need for the former prisoners aboard Moya to establish their identities and their worth; there's no reliable external social authority to establish it for them.

Meanwhile, Crichton is compelled to teach Aeryn CPR when it becomes clear he's going to be unconscious for a while when repairs require the shuttle cabin to be depressurised. The part where he teaches Aeryn to lock lips with him is oddly skipped over--it feels like a scene was cut. We do inevitably get the scene where Aeryn is obliged to give Crichton mouth to mouth but no comment is made about the resemblance this bears to kissing. I wonder if there was a conversation about this cultural practice being another odd similarity between humans and Sebaceans. As we learn in the episode's climax, Sebaceans certainly do have this cultural practice in common with humans when Aeryn and Crichton give in to the heat of a moment of apparent imminent death. Those two are so cute.

. . .

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):

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

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