Vitas Mortis (ep 10203)
Taking The Stone (ep 10204)
Crackers Don't Matter (ep 10205)
The Way We Weren't (ep 10207)
Out Of Their Minds (ep 10207)
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Vitas Mortis - there's life in the show yet!
I haven't read most of the reviews on the ep, so forgive me if I inadvertently snurch someone else's ideas here.
I'm going to go out on a limb, fly in the face of public opinion and declare in front of all the world, loud and proud - I LIKED THIS EP! Lots of reasons, and I'll get to each of them in turn, but first a few general comments:
First off: John carrying a gun. Now I've read a whole lot of negative comments on this new aspect of our hero, and I'm here to say I'm thrilled the man has finally wised up! He's packing heat, and handles it like he knows how to use it - a far cry from "Freeze, or I'll fill you full of ..... little yellow bolts of light .... " This is also a far cry from the 'let's talk this out and not go charging in like Rambo' lost on the wrong side of the universe innocent that we saw the beginning of the first season. I am reminded very much of the atmosphere in the Old West when I look around the UT
that was a time when farmers wore guns out to work in the fields because it was not safe NOT to. And as Shane said, a gun is a tool, like anything else - as good or as bad as the man who uses it. If this universe were a safer place, and if it didn't seem like most of its inhabitants were out for his blood, would John be carrying a weapon? Maybe, maybe not, but it is dangerous out there, and John is serving graphic notice that he is going to be no one's punching bag any more.
Does this make John a PK clone? Not hardly. This new John is tougher, sure, but at the core he's still the same John - he worries about his friends, sticks by them to the end, doing whatever he can to help, but not hesitating to voice his fears. Despite his doubts concerning the Luxan ritual and D'Argo's safety, he is the one that remains with him through the whole process, weeping at the end for his friend's pain. He is the one who listens to Nilaam, and empathizes with her being cut off from all that is familiar to her.
The new costumes: I love 'em! Once again, John is adapting to his environment - as much as we liked the tees and khakis, the man stuck out like neon sign in them in this universe. The new togs are protective coloration - he blends in with folks around him now. This is a smart move. And Ben, hon, I know that leather is hot as hell, but damn, son, you look fine in it! And the semi-spike 'do is a good look (though one wonders where he gets the mousse to make it look like that) - rather Harrison Ford-esque, and now you need a gold earring to make the look complete!
Zhaan's new outfit is lovely - the gold pectoral is very regal, and the high collar accents her long elegant neck. Plus I'd bet it saves Virginia a good chunk of time in the makeup chair every day, which is a huge plus for her.
Just one question - while they were down shopping on that commerce planet, why didn't they get Chiana something different to wear? Sorry, Chianaphiles, I have NEVER liked that Bladerunner/Cats jumpsuit thingie of hers, and I'll bet Gigi ain't that crazy about it either - if she gains an ounce it's got to show....
Also, anyone got any ideas just what they paid for all this new stuff with? These folks aren't exactly rolling in credits....
Individual notes on the various characters: this is D'Argo's ep start to finish, with minor digressions in other directions, and I have no problem with that at all. Finding out he wasn't really a general - this didn't come as too much of a surprise to me, since I've never been able to reconcile his age to being a general in the first place (imprisoned at 22, out of the Luxan army since he married LoLaan, which would have made him a general at about age 18 - I don't think so!). The true story of where the 'tats came from - that was a surprise, but completely in character for our honorable Luxan. His desire to help Nilaam, his shock when she changes the ritual, his eventual delight with his newfound lover, his forcing her to make the right choice, his defense of Moya's life, and his heartbreak at losing Nilaam - all played excellently, and the new makeup allows more range of expression, a fact for which Anth has to be very grateful. Not to mention more comfortable.
John: I've said most of what I need to about him, but just a couple more comments. The face off with D'Argo, gun versus qualta blade, John drawing his weapon like he means business, then laying it on the table - if his friend wants to take him out, he is free to do so. His pushing D'Argo and the Luxan's tortured admission that he knows what must be done, John retrieving the qualta blade for him, and remaining to take him home at the end, allowing him his space but there if he is needed. This whole ep points up the new bond between John and D'Argo - has anyone else noticed that D'Argo now routinely refers to him as 'John' now? Just wish we could train Aeryn to do that ..... And his obvious discomfort at witnessing D'Argo and Nilaam's 'revitalizing' - his expression just shouts, "Hey you two, get a room!"
Chiana - sorely needed comic relief in this ep, and a hint of perhaps something more than friendship for the big Luxan? We know she was washing some of D'Argo's laundry, but objected to doing Aeryn's. And she was less than thrilled that D'Argo was going into a potentially dangerous situation again --- makes one wonder where the writers intend to take this. We shall wait and see. And it was interesting that she seemed to be able to sense everything that was going on with him - Nebari powers, or something more than that?
Pilot: watching him fade was painful and I'll bet the FaDoPi were screaming! Learning at the end that his people can live 1,000 cycles or more, but when bonded with the Leviathans choose a much shorter lifespan and consider it a fair trade - his link with Moya is all the more miraculous. I can hardly wait for the ep where his background is explored - it will be fascinating to find out more details.
Rygel - again, comic relief, and here is the one place I do have some objections. Not because of the 'use' he was put to in this ep - okay, it's tough on the Hynerian's dignity, not to mention his backside, and how did his keister survive open space? Wonder what the equivalent of Preparation H is in that universe ..... My big objection is on his new coloration - he doesn't look well now, the various new shadings make him seem a bit 'off'. And what was with the obviously happy sounds he was making when Zhaan was ministering to his feet.......
Aeryn: her exchanges with Chiana seemed like cat fighting to some, but aside from a few comments, when it came right down to it, Aeryn was doing her level best to get Chiana loose from the frozen amnexus fluid and getting frustrated at her lack of success. Her talk with Pilot at the end was very lovely - his 'hand' over hers was just the right touch; they have become so close it's a joy to watch their interaction.
Zhaan: it was good to watch the Delvian being sensible again. She had little screen time this time out, but our calm, rational priest is back, a soothing influence on the volatile tempers of both John and D'Argo at the beginning, and a mood elevating cajoling laugh for Rygel at the end.
Nilaam: marvelous portrayal here, from the wise old Orican (and sorry if this is misspelled, I haven't gone to check it out yet) who wants only to have a countryman with her at the end, to the vibrant young woman who rediscovers life, love and carnal pleasures, and doesn't want to lose them, even if it means the loss of another life. Her assertion that Moya, 'just a ship', was a fair price to pay to keep her youth and her powers, only to be shot down by D'Argo, and her ashamed realization that he was right, all beautifully played. The visuals in this end scene were magnificent - the blood drop turning into an image of Nilaam, then becoming the shattering jewel, wow ....
Great stuff all round, and a huge round of applause to all involved - keep them coming!
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Taking The Stone - one 'shroom makes you taller
I haven't read a lot of the posts on this ep yet, so once again, forgive if I step on toes here .....
Well, folks, I hate to say it, but I was not red hot thrilled with this ep. It wasn't totally bad, but it could have been a whole lot better, and considering its pedigree (writer Justin Monjo and director Rowan Wood) it should have been a lot better - this is the team that gave us Human Reaction, and individually such efforts as Nerve, The Flax and Hidden Memory, some of the best the series has thus far offered. I was disappointed by this for the same reason I was disappointed in the film TITANIC - I have been 'spoiled' by these gentlemen's past efforts, and this just did not measure up.
So many echoes of other films/shows in this ep - most especially LOGAN'S RUN, but also LOST BOYS, LORD OF THE FLIES, WILD IN THE STREETS, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME, CLOCKWORK ORANGE, and the Trek ep MIRI. While I have no objection to borrowing from other sources - lord knows I do it enough in my own writing - wholesale transplantation is no substitute for good plotting.
From the beginning scene, with Chiana in obvious distress and John blowing her off to tinker with Moya, lots of things rang false or were unexplained. We have seen John all along to be a caring, compassionate sort - why, all of a sudden, does he pay no attention to the stress in Chiana's voice, look up to see the pain in her face? Sorry, this is way out of character for him. Granted, he regretted it later, but that was too little too late by anyone's standards.
And what is this ongoing thread with aliens carrying things for safekeeping inside their bodies? First D'Argo with the holoproj of his family, now Chiana with the life link. Okay, different strokes for different folks, but she practically disemboweled herself there, and shows no aftereffects to speak of. My disbelief will only suspend so far ....
Chiana going down to the planet - did she know there were people down there, and if so, how? This is a dead world, a burial planet - just how are these people surviving? What are they doing for food, water, liquor - indeed, what are they breathing?? They don't seem to be very industrious sorts, how are they surviving?
The subplot with Rygel - what was he doing on that world in the first place? Except as filler, the subplot made no sense, and jarred against the rest of the story.
John's 'pissing contest' proved no point other than to show us that he does seem to have a bit of a death wish these days, and to perhaps make him realize it - will this be a turning point for him? It certainly didn't impress Molnon or the other 'clans', who blew off his 'you're wrong and I'm right' speech as he should have expected they would.
'Taking the Stone' - someone explain to me just HOW Chiana leaping will keep Molnon from becoming sick from the radiation? Maybe they explained it, but if it was in the mumbling at the beginning, I couldn't catch it....
And the see through belly on the pregnant girl - let's get real here ...... And re this young lady - as far as I could tell, she was going into labor, and John and Aeryn just WALK OFF AND LEAVE HER?????? Again, jarringly out of character for both of them.
I could go on, but I think I'm depressing myself, so I will now shift gears and talk about the stuff I did like, and there really was some good stuff:
Performances all round were up to usual high standards, and special kudos to Gigi for a tour de force. While we still were not given a lot of insight into Chiana's background, Gigi brought out every bit of her character's confusion and heartbreak. And the balletic landing after the leap - wow!! (though I still want to know how they get back out of that pit after the leap .... )
Aeryn's calm head battling with John's overprotective one over Chiana's fate and winning - this was a fine bit of writing. Roles were reversed, and I think John learned a lesson here. And her quiet "I know about loss" - we have seen glimpses into her past, and perhaps this is an indicator that we will see more in the future. Well played by Claudia, powerful and restrained.
John's tears as he's talking to Chiana before he knocks her out - he doesn't want to lose her, and he will do whatever it takes not to lose anyone else close to him. We saw it last week with D'Argo, we saw it in Nerve with Aeryn, we see it again here. Another fine nuance by Ben, and yet another indicator that the John we fell in love with is still alive and well, new kick ass attitude notwithstanding.
The entire last few minutes, from Chiana's leap on, was very fine. John has done his best, but he has to stand aside and let his friend do what she must, and lustily cheers her triumph. Chiana's joy at her courage, her daring and I think most of all her survival was a delight to see. John's little chat with Aeryn about being 'a little crazy lately' was one of those lovely quiet moments that are the hallmark of the show, and which are all too often overshadowed by more strident ones. The 'hi old man/ hi little girl' exchange was priceless, and a perfect counterpoint to Chiana's earlier speech about not being his little sister, etc. One wonders where the relationship will go from here, but it will be in a positive direction, I am certain.
But, while it did have its moments, they were not enough to save the whole for me. I have to rank this somewhere between JC and TOBM for least fave ep so far.
Still, even a mediocre FS ep is light years ahead of most of the rest of what's on TV these days, so I'll be back in my comfy chair next week again, waiting with bated breath for the new ep.
I now put up my shield against the brickbats.....
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Crackers Don't Matter: what evil lurks
Yeah, I know it's late again, but there have already been so many good posts on this excellent ep that I debated very hard whether or not to even bother. But then I thought, what the hezmana, everyone else commenting on things has never stopped me before .... So here goes:
First off, to Justin Monjo - ok, I have to conclude that with TAKING THE STONE you were just having a bad hair day or trouble with the kids or something - this ep was a fine return to the form you've shown in the past. Emotions ranged from hilariously funny, Three Stooges style insanity to deadly serious, even deadly scary scenes. And underlying it all was the quietly thought provoking question: how close are these people, really?
It's obvious how well the crew knows each other now - they all seemed to know just what to do and say to get the maximum reaction from the others. But T'raltixx couldn't have known all these things, he couldn't have triggered anything in any of them that wasn't already there in seed form. Which leads one to the question, where exactly did some of this come from? John and Aeryn's cutting remarks to each other were designed to be as hurtful as possible, and hurt they did, but even in the middle of this exchange there was still a laugh - Aeryn checking out her 'flat ass' and giving John a look that said, "Excuse me??? No one's complained about it before, including you!" D'Argo's attack on Rygel - I actually felt sorry for his Lowness, he was terrified, and he had a right to be. John's attack on D'Argo - he's going to be a while apologizing his way out of that one, I think.
But what really floored me was John's treatment of Chiana. Now, this is a man we know to be a gentleman, who has turned down the little thief's advances at least once before, gently and kindly. Does he think Chiana is attractive? Hell, yes - she's a very pretty lady, alien or not, and very sexy too. He'd have to be dead or made of stone not to think she was a hot number. Does he have his suspicions about her past, what she's probably done at one point or another to keep body and soul together? Yeah, more than likely - he's not been brought up in a vacuum bottle, and he did see the way she 'came on' to the men at the gammak base. And if his comments there were any indication, 'trollops' don't rate high on his list.
However, think what he may of her past life, I was still aghast at the spectre that arose from somewhere in the blackness of his subconscious -- pinning her, frightening her and leaving no doubt that, had Scorpy's image not dissuaded him, we might well have seen at least an attempted rape from this man. Where did that come from? There's been much debate on the board that it was all triggered by John's repressed desire for Chiana. To which I answer what more than one other person has - rape is not about sex, it is about power, about control. For John, even in his impaired mental state at the time, and with the memory of Chiana trying to remove the family jewels, to come so close to such an abhorrent act - I was shivering and mildly nauseous. And I think John's going to be a while figuring out the motives going on inside him with that one, and probably not much liking what he finds in there.
And while it may have seemed a bit extreme for John to have thrust the qualta blade into T'raltixx and twisted it so savagely, I do think it was a catharsis of sorts, a 'take that, you s.o.b., for screwing up our lives'.
I couldn't help but think of the song from Sting's DREAM OF THE BLUE TURTLE album, "Fragile" as I watched the closing scenes especially. This group that had, only a short time ago, seemed to be coming together as a family, albeit a "Jerry Springer" type of family, now seem as fragile as clouds against the gusts of a storm. Damage has been done to all the carefully cultivated friendships, and it may be long, if ever, before all is set right again. John's quiet "how do we take it all back?" summed it up well, and broke my heart. And Zhaan's equally quiet, "I don't know" is one of the things I really liked best in this ep, indeed about all the writing in FS - there are no quick fixes, none of the 'we'll all get over it and be fine again tomorrow' bandaids that so many other shows have employed. Our crew will come back together again, but it will take time, and work.
And what of John and Aeryn? A wedge was driven between them this week - John was well aware of it as Aeryn walked away at the end, and the desolation was plain on his face. The Chiana fans may say whatever they want to about his attraction to their goddess - it was plain to me that his heart was with Aeryn, and that heart was breaking. Once again, I have faith that it will all work out, but as Mr. Henslowe said in SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, "I don't know how .... it's a mystery."
And my applause to Rygel - despite his treatment at D'Argo's hands, he didn't refuse to forgive the Luxan, just 'not yet'. Seems there is more heart in our favorite Hynerian that he has been given credit for.
Enough of the serious, let's get to the fun parts, and there were soooo many! I loved Pilot's snarky attitude - of all of them, he had the most cause for bitterness against his shipmates, and I was crowing over his feistiness, a fine comeuppance. Thought he was being a bit too hard on John, but John did happen to be the only one available at the time to berate, so he bore the brunt of it. But his answer to 'what are humans good at?' was priceless: "Watching football." LOL! Also liked Pilot's two nods to 2001 - "What do you think you're doing, John?" and "I'm sorry, John, I'm afraid I can't do that .... " I was sliding off the chair with the latter ....
Then there was Scorpy. I would have killed to see Wayne Pygram's face when they handed him the godawful tropical shirt and the drink shakers - he had to be thinking, "Comedy, at last!" And so many good lines - I agree with John, tho, only a madman would consider margarita shooters with pizza. Everyone knows you can only drink A&W root beer with it ....
And the highlight: our knight in shining puke. John struck his knightly pose and I thought I was going to hurt myself .... I wonder how much of that was more or less made up on the spot - people suggesting various items to make the whole thing even more absurd. It was as crazy as the notion that the 'inferior being' could save them BECAUSE he was inferior. Which is precisely what happened, and I hope the rest of the crew remembers that later. It was a very telling notion, actually - never underestimate anyone, a perceived weakness could turn out to be an unexpected strength. I recently heard a wonderful quote: "Usefulness is not impaired by imperfection - you can still drink from a chipped cup." A moral to the ep, perhaps, and a thought to ponder. (And thank you, Dwal, for pointing this out to me, hugs sweetie!)
And one little thing that's been bugging the dren outta me: the line "How about a little pain?" - is that a quote from something?? I want to sayAC THE WIZARD OF OZ, the Wicked Witch to the Lion, but my memory is a bit hazy on that. Anyone, any clues?
Okay, I know there's ever so much more I want to say, but right now I'm too damn brain dead to think of it, so I'll close here. Looking eagerly forward to this week - heard from all corners that it totally kicks! So expect to find my phone off the hook and me planted in front of the TV with remote in hand!
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The Way We Weren't - the other side of the coin
Okay, I'm going into this absolutely cold - I haven't even read anything on the board yet since the show aired, so anything I snurch from anyone else is totally by accident.
First of all, and right off the bat - Claudia, Lani and Sean and the pupps, you RULE!!! This was Pilot and Aeryn's show, and all of you, working in tandem, made it the magnificent addition to the canon it is. It's been said by several folks that this is considered to be the best of all the eps done so far, and I have to concur. From concept to finished product, this is masterful. There is a great deal of praise to pass around, and I know I'm going to leave out something, but here goes:
To Naren Shankar - this is the first time I've seen your name on a script, tho I have noticed it in the credits under exec producer with David Kemper. I know Rockne spoke highly of you in his last interview, content to turn the reins over to you as he works on other projects. I can see his faith was justified. This is a superbly written ep - equal parts action and introspection, courage and dishonor, people drawing close and pushing away. And thank you for giving us a reasonably sane John again! I personally don't mind the change in our favorite rocket jockey, but it is nice to see a return to the calm 'let's talk this out' guy we used to know. It's nice to see he didn't lose that skill as his weapons prowess improved. Maybe that little realization from TtS that he was 'acting a little crazy' hit home. (Side note: no relation to Ravi Shankar, are you, perhaps? Yeah, I know, gray hairs showing here .... )
To Tony Tilse - you were recently lauded by a cast member as "God" (and drop me a line if you want to know who) and I think I'm starting to believe it. The director is so crucial to the final product - as good as a script is, as able as a cast is, as skilled as the technicians are, it takes a good director to take all these ingredients and blend them into an appetizing 'soup'. You, sir, are a master chef - you've proved it before with Family Ties, among others, and we get further evidence here. Note here to SciFi Channel - get this man for a chat STAT!!
Lots of 'eyelashes' here, and I know I will leave out a few of them, but here goes anyway:
John's shock to see Aeryn on the tape, and disbelief that she could have done anything really bad, giving her every chance to explain her way out - even tho Chiana makes the excellent point that she was, after all, a PK, and they aren't the nicest folks in the universe. John is a man in - well, maybe not 'in love' yet, tho that could be debated strongly one way or the other; he definitely cares very much for her, and like any other man with feelings he does not want to think badly of her. Even after hearing what she has to say, he reminds them all that it was a long time ago, and none of them is without blame. Zhaan's condemnation of her actions, and Aeryn cutting her down to size - just where the high and mighty priest gets off dissing anyone is beyond me, considering what she's done.
And a sidebar at this point: thought it was rather interesting to note that John appears to have a double standard going here. Zhaan confessed to killing her lover in RiB, and John went ballistic, calling her 'as twisted as they come'. Aeryn betrayed her lover and (at least I infer) caused his torture and death, yet John offers no protest, only comfort. The 'L' word can do strange things to a man's perception, can't it....
Aeryn's attempt to exercise/exorcise the demons within her away, collapsing in exhaustion and despair, and John gathering her in - this was magnificent, the sort of quiet moment that the writers and actors do so well and that get overshadowed by the more action packed scenes. Aeryn is being torn apart, and John's heart is breaking for her - he can only hold her and let her cry it out, and hope she will share the pain with him. Our John is still here - no matter what anyone has thrown at him, the humanity remains, so take THAT, all you naysayers!!
Then it's confession time again, and Aeryn floors John with her assessment of her and Velorek's relationship. One bit of dialog is very telling here: Aeryn describes PK 'recreating', and John calls such liaisons 'empty'. Think about this a minute, folks, especially those who have been labeling our rocket jockey 'the Capt. Kirk of the Uncharted Territories'. This is not a man who is into casual sex, one night stands or meaningless encounters. Now, this is something I realized a long time ago, and have written on more than once, but it was nice to see it actually pointed out in a tangible fashion. And Aeryn countering with 'painful', proving once and for all that she does indeed have a heart, and that heart can be wounded. Beautiful, minimalist writing here.
Pilot and the tape. Wow. His icy, "Officer Sun, we need to talk ... " his righteous anger at Aeryn, the person he was closest to on the ship, was shattering in its intensity. Never mind that we find out later that he was as instrumental as she for the death of the former pilot - she had a tangible, up close and personal hand in it, and for that he could not forgive her. And the attack - something we never would have expected out of the meekly mannered Pilot we've seen before. This is a different Pilot - he's been willing to let things slide up to now, this he cannot.
And who comes galloping in with John to rescue Aeryn? D'Argo, after saying he didn't trust her as far as he could throw Moya. And D'Argo also took it on himself to hide the tape so Pilot wouldn't see it. Our Luxan has come a very long way since those first episodes.
Velorek. As far as I'm concerned, the jury's still out on this guy. He seemed to have at least some compassion - he looked less than thrilled as Crais gave the order to kill the old pilot, and he did seem to be trying to be kind to Pilot, and he wanted to give the old pilot every chance to change her mind. And he did seem to really care about Aeryn, tho I had my doubts at the beginning of that first scene of them together - sure looked like she was there against her will for a minute there. However, there was the whole thing with the cattle prod, and essentially torturing Moya to get her to bond with Pilot, and not telling Pilot just how much this bonding was going to hurt. And doing a bit of emotional blackmail on Pilot to get him to come along - "If you don't come, I'll just find someone else who will," playing on the 'young one's' desire to see the stars. He's as manipulative as Crais in his own way, just not as blatant about it. And just why did he want to sabotage Crais' experiment - aside from, of course, thinking that all the captain's dogs ain't barking? As it turned out, it was a good thing he did - Moya would have died if she'd given birth in captivity, so Crais inadvertently benefited from Velorek's machinations. Wonder just what he'd think of that? So I can't put him in the 'good guy' category just yet.
And I gotta say it - yeah, the guy's cute and all, but he ain't Larraq. Nuff said....
Then there was Aeryn's betrayal of Velorek. She has shown before that she is afraid of change - her world was orderly, she did as she was told, and sex was for recreation, it did not lead to love or something like it. Now, things were different. This scared her. This, plus she wanted her old posting back. So another Faustian bargain is born. Did she hope to persuade him to fix whatever he'd done to Moya before Crais came, and did the captain arrive too soon? Or was she a distraction to allow Crais to take him? She certainly didn't seem surprised to see the troops arrive when they did. What cut her was Velorek's comments that she was indeed special - tho not meant as he said them before. For the first time she realized what a good little PK she really was, and I don't think she liked it much. And what happened to Velorek? I don't think there is much doubt of that - I don't think we'll be seeing him in a future ep, unless it's a dream sequence.....
Which leads us to "you can be more." Seeing this episode, then going back and watching the premiere, you get a whole new outlook on what actually may have happened on that first day. One man in her life told her she could be much more. He died as a result of her actions. Another man tells her the same thing. She has a chance to do the right thing this time, do what her PK conditioning didn't allow her to do before. What she didn't count on was being deemed irreversibly contaminated, tho with a captain like Crais she should have known that would be coming. And yet, even this had its own silver lining - she has indeed become much more, and I think Velorek might have been proud of her.
And the final confrontation between Aeryn and Pilot. She was willing to do whatever it took to make amends, to win redemption, pay for her actions with her life if necessary. And Pilot's confession of his own culpability in the whole affair - he wanted the stars so badly, and he was so young, he didn't really stop to think it through. To know that he was, in his own way, at least as responsible as Aeryn for the death of the former pilot, had to have broken his heart. And because he was not without blame, he could find it in him to forgive her. And I thought it was interesting that Pilot could cry - not that he wasn't capable of the deep emotions that would bring forth tears, but that he was physiologically capable of it. The tears sliding down Aeryn's cheek as he caressed it spoke volumes - relief, gratitude, love, a new beginning. They will take the journey together, and both will learn from this.
And Pilot's "There's no pain .... " - so simple a statement, but it said so much. For the first time he's a full, consenting member of the crew, allowed to bond naturally with Moya, by his own choice and not by someone else's, no longer simply a 'servicer'.
And the end scene. Now, just what did this mean, folks? Like I said, I haven't read anyone else's review on this, so you're getting my unadulterated reaction here. Aeryn telling John that his words on the first day were so similar to Velorek's, and John's quiet, "So you love this guy?" Why doesn't she answer? She's still not certain about her feelings - she does care for him, that much is obvious, but she let someone close before and still carries the scars, the pain. Can she do it again? She's not ready to face this yet.
And then there's John. There is a wonderful song by Billy Joel called "Innocent Man" that could be sung over this last bit quite nicely. Part of it goes:
"But I'm not below anybody I know
If there's a chance of resurrecting a love
I'm not above going back to the start
To find out where the heartache began
Some people hope for a miracle cure
Some people just accept the world as it is
But I'm not willing to lay down and die
Because I am an innocent man ... "
He knows where the problem started now, and now he had an idea how to work around it. He'll wait as long as it takes to win her over, and I think he knows how she feels. He's known heartache himself, and how hard it is to get past it. The man's got it bad, and it's very good. So, J&A shippers, take heart - a wall came down this week, and I think the two of them are going to built something very solid on the foundations.
Acting - nary a fault as usual. Virginia - alternately calm, condemning and snarky, carrying each of Zhaan's emotions off well, tho I personally debate the wisdom of showing her judgmental side under the circumstances. Anth - D'Argo shone once again, giving us the Luxan doing what he does best, backing up his friends when they need it, whether he agrees with them or not. Gigi - not a lot of screen time for Chiana this week, but showing a heretofore unseen voice of reason in a heated atmosphere. Mr. Dimitriades, as ambivalent as I am about Velorek, you did make him very three dimensional and full of gray areas, which I guess is why I'm ambivalent, if you get right down to it ... fine job, sir.
Lani, you did double duty this week, and even had the unique opportunity of having both your characters on screen at the same time! And oddly enough, both characters shared a common trait: obsession - Crais with his project, and Pilot with his yearning for flight. Beautifully handled on both fronts. Sean and fellow puppeteers, you put in a long hard session with this one, and it was well worth every bit of effort and the tough hours - thank you for your dedication and your enormous skill. Ben, thank you for the return of the 'old' John just when we, and Aeryn, needed him. Good on ya, bro.
But as I said before, this week belonged to the Raven Haired Goddess from beginning to end. From the first shock of seeing Aeryn on the tape, to her anguished confessions, to her attempts at reconciliation and atonement, to her pregnant silence at the end - each emotion rang true, loud and clear. It's hard to make me take my eyes off Ben in any given scene, but you took over the screen and owned it for each microt you were in frame. (And dang if I'm not sounding as much like FishBunny this week as she sounded like me last week .... )
Boys and girls, take note - put this one in your resumes, one and all. It doesn't get much better than this.
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Out of their Minds – and into each other’s .....
Right off the bat, I want to shout out, loud and proud – this was a riot! Screamingly funny, like large portions of Crackers Don’t Matter, but without the harsh ‘edge’ that ep was frequently showing. An hour long exploration of the Native American adage, "You don’t know a man till you walk a mile in his moccasins", each crew member learned something about the others – some of the lessons amusing, some bawdy, some heartbreaking, but each enlightening in their own way.
To the writer, Michael Cassutt: I hope to see more of your work, sir! Though you did say in the article you wrote for SciFi Weekly that you handed your ‘baby’ to the staff writers to raise, the inspiration was yours, the wit, the humor. You took us on a wild ride, and I for one am still catching my breath.
I heard someone say the plot was paper-thin, an excuse to get the crew to switch bodies. Maybe, maybe not – certainly the subplot with Crais and Talyn was an unexpected sidebar. That Crais tried to pass peaceably, and did not fire until fired upon, says much about the ‘evolve’ of this character. It may well turn out that being ‘daddy’ to Talyn is the best thing that ever happened to him. We can only wait and see.
The aliens: okay, complain all you want about recycled Skekses. It was a good design when it was created, so why not re-use it? A very different life form than anything the crew had encountered up to that time, with a very alien agenda. Militaristic, almost fatalistic, with a built in ‘glass ceiling’ – one could not evolve unless one was in command, but one could not take command unless the commander was proved wanting. And the commander would sacrifice whatever was necessary to achieve ‘evolve’, including his crew and himself, thereby defeating his own purpose .... Interesting dichotomy going here.
The switch, and the initial shock of ‘landing’ in someone else, a body totally foreign to you. Think for a moment just what a mindblowing experience that must have been. Six foot, very male John inside shorter, very female Aeryn – that was enough of a jolt right there, since male and female bodies, by virtue of the way they are put together, move very differently. Then once the shock has passed – as John/Aeryn so eloquently put it, "whoa mama!" I was falling on the floor during the ‘maraca shaking’ scene, and thinking of the old Rusty Warren song, "Bounce Your Boobies". And pure John was showing out of Aeryn’s face at that point – Claudia, you are amazing!
Rygel ‘zapping’ into John – at least John and Aeryn were of similar species, if different genders. A two foot tall Hynerian inside a being three times his size – I was amazed he could actually function! The exploration of the new body – fingers in ‘oversized’ nostrils, examining too many digits, and of course discovering the functions of the lower half of the human male anatomy -- still say there was more going on there than simply relieving himself, but as a male friend pointed out, it would have had to be the quickest self gratification on record (on the other hand, that may just be WHY it got caught in the zipper .... )
I realize that not everyone’s reactions could be fully explored, but I would have liked a bit more of Aeryn’s reaction to being ‘inside’ Rygel. I suppose, stoic that she is, she simply took it in stride and aside from commenting that ‘I can’t do anything in this body’, she worked around the limitations as best she could.
Huge, multi armed Pilot inside tiny Chiana – no wonder her circuitry was overloading! And conversely, Chiana encased in the towering Luxan – talk about a body that didn’t do anything you expected it to! D’Argo’s panic at the thought of having to run everything from inside Pilot, when intellectual prowess has never been his strong suit. The exchange between Pilot/Chiana and D’Argo/Pilot – extremely enlightening, each believing the other’s memories to be the amazing ones: love, friendship and family, the things many of us take for granted, weighed in the balance of seeing stars being born. Puts me in mind of a poster I had many years ago called Daydreams – an inset of a brightly glowing tiger stalking through the jungle, and atop the inset, a lounging gray housecat. To what was the title really referring – the housecat dreaming of the tiger, or the tiger dreaming of the housecat? Each dream is a valid one in its own way. So too with these two very different beings.
Chiana’s ‘defection’ – now, there’s been some rather harsh things said about the Nebari getting ready to jump ship and take Rygel/John with her (this scene was inspired, btw – the homophobes were screaming, and the slash writers were going out of their birds!). Cut her some slack, people – she is a KID!! She’s scared, looking out for number one has kept her alive longer than interspecies cooperation – it’s no wonder she wants out, and wants someone along to keep her company and protect her, not realizing perhaps that this body is entirely capable of protecting itself. And we have noticed before that she does indeed think John is pretty delectable, so combine that with Rygel’s equally well developed sense of self preservation, and she figures she’s got the best of both worlds. And despite finding that this ‘gangly body’ does have a few things going for it, he still refuses and wants his own back. Genuine insight into the workings of Rygel’s brain here – if we wondered just what kept him going all those cycles under Durka’s tender mercies, now we know. The Hynerian will indeed be a very formidable adversary should he return home – his cousin might have been better served to have had him killed rather than leave him alive to come and take his revenge one day.
Rygel/John taking the Halosian around the ship, doing lord of the manor, his offhand, "I just peed in the maintenance bay" – once again, it was time to slide out of my chair .... And I knew there was a reason I didn’t like Jello .....
The second ‘zap’ and it’s change lobsters and dance once again. Chiana into Pilot, Pilot into D’Argo, D’Argo into Chiana, John into Rygel, Rygel into Aeryn, Aeryn into John ... damn, how did the cast ever keep it straight?? And I am very sorry that they had already done a ‘genitalia’ gag – we are left to infer by Aeryn’s parting comment to John at the end of the ep that she did indeed check out the ‘plumbing’ to see what the whoo haah was about from the ‘inside’, since so many men’s lives seem to revolve around it ... would have been fun to see it, but oh well ...
Back on the Halosian ship, Zhaan’s panic and her sacrifice, proving once again that she may be soft, but not weak. One more ‘zap’ and everyone goes back to square one, with one perhaps ill advised attempt at a joke by John – though it did make Aeryn laugh, so how can you kick too hard? And the aftermath – D’Argo and Chiana are indeed making progress; I rather doubt that theirs is the forever after kind of relationship, but for however long they are together, I am convinced they will be very good for each other.
Performances – outstanding down the line! Lani – we didn’t see nearly enough of you this week, but what screen time you had was excellent as always, plus triple duty as Pilot, Chiana/Pilot, and D’Argo/Pilot ... oy! Virginia – while you didn’t have the dubious challenge of ‘becoming’ someone else this week, you once again gave us our favorite azure goddess as anchor. Jonathan – I know I complain about the ulterior motives of our Dominar, but the plaintive note at the end as you said, "Back to being ignored ... " really broke my heart, and the genuine compassion for Zhaan in the final scene. For your skill, once again, thank you. The puppeteers – there should be a limit to how much you can do with latex and hydraulics, but to endow Pilot and Rygel with not only their own personalities but others’ – you are wizards, and I bow to your magic.
Anth – Chiana’s body language flowed off you like a river, and it was a joy to watch. And the ‘come on’ to Rygel/John – I would kill for the outtakes to that scene alone! And the sweetness on D’Argo’s face during his ‘confession’ to Chiana – all I could say was ‘awwwww...... " Gigi – how did the acting gods manage to pack so much talent into such a little frame, anyway? Pilot’s inflections, D’Argo’s mannerisms, then back to Chiana’s winsomeness without missing a beat – amazing. Claudia – from John’s stance and the thoughtful quirk with the thumb to his unbridled adolescent fascination with the new body he’s occupying, then to Rygel’s petulance and Aeryn’s own exuberance – perfection. And Ben – you had Rygel down cold, and I thought for a while there you were channeling Jonathan! And just how did you keep a straight face during the seduction scene? Just when I think there is nothing new you can show me, you prove me wrong.
This is a keeper, gang – be proud of it!
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