The Wonders I’ve Seen: 1×22, “Family Ties”

“It’s a Jerry Springer kinda family, but for what it’s worth, Zhaan, you are family.”

All season long, the crew of Moya have been growing closer—gradually becoming allies, then friends, and finally, family. The season finale could have been a plot-heavy extravaganza; it ends with John and D’Argo setting fire to a moon, for God’s sake. But instead, Farscape chooses to end its first season by focusing on the characters, and the relationships they’ve developed.

Although there’s a skeleton of a plot for the episode (Crais’ command carrier is on their tail, and they need to provide a distraction to give Moya time to get free of the asteroid field—oh, and Rygel tries to betray them) the real thrust of the story is just characters saying goodbye, in various configurations, with varying degrees of finality.

John, of course, gets a moment with everyone, from Aeryn and Zhaan on down to Crais and even Moya. Aeryn talks to Pilot, to D’Argo, even to Zhaan. D’Argo and Chiana make a connection. D’Argo and Zhaan don’t really talk, but they get an acknowledgement of their relationship when D’Argo leaves the picture of his family with Zhaan before going off to possibly die.

Some of these moments land harder than others. D’Argo and Chiana haven’t really interacted at all yet, so the implication that some feelings are developing between them, though potentially interesting for the future, doesn’t carry much weight in the present. But the conversations that cap a season’s worth of character development—those land. Aeryn and Pilot, John and Zhaan, John and Crais, those relationships are real, and varied, and deep, and the emotion of the characters comes across.

There’s a lot of space, in this episode. Time for the characters to think, time for the details to linger: the quaver in Aeryn’s voice as she talks to Pilot, the tear that escapes John when he’s explaining to Crais what he’s done to him, the half-kiss between John and Chiana.

The effect is not exactly propulsive, but it’s captivating in its own way. If you care about characters, watching them talk to each other—say goodbye, acknowledge what they mean to each other, joke, connect—is magnetic. This, in the end, is what Farscape does best: create detailed characters and relationships, and watch them grow.

Random Bits

  • It does strain credulity a little bit that Rygel wouldn’t notice the Hynerian heads sooner.

  • Also, I suppose, the idea that Crais is just kind of wantonly violent against Hynerians in particular comes a little bit out of nowhere. The man is obsessive, power-hungry, and thoughtlessly cruel, but keeping heads of sentient creatures as statues is wandering into Countess Bathory territory.

  • Gigi Edgley has been in the credits since last episode, but I only noticed in this one. Good for her!

  • Among the many details this episode throws out is one of my favorite moments in all of Farscape: When D’Argo, hearing John say that he won’t be taken alive, says, “I know of the concept, but there is no Luxan word for it.” I love Farscape’s devotion to making its aliens alien.

  • Farscape Gender Corner: It’s a little bit “the doctor was his mother,” but I do like the bit where John assumes that the battle-hardened soldier who visited Aeryn when she was a child was Aeryn’s father, and Aeryn just looks at him like, “What? No.” Obviously it makes sense that John’s mind would go to her father for other reasons—they were just talking about John’s own father—but obviously Aeryn would never assume that a soldier was male.

  • So, John and D’Argo killed a bunch of people on the Gammak base, presumably. Obviously both of them have body counts already, but making the jump to mass murder is a big one, and Farscape doesn’t particularly address that within the episode. A sign of the desperation of their circumstances, presumably, but worth noting.

  • The family music cue—you know the one, it plays during every heartfelt conversation—always reminds me of the score of Titanic.

  • “I am a Dominar of action.”

  • “I can tell you this for free: I will not be taken alive.”

  • “Don’t tell me how to lie, it’s one of the best things I do!”

  • “Never. Before. The big game.”

  • “Rygel, I figure the right thing starts at the beginning of the day.”

  • Literally all of John’s speech to his father, but, “This is John Crichton, somewhere in the universe.”

  • “Fear accompanies the possibility of death. Calm shepherds its certainty.” “I love hangin’ with you, man.”

  • “Hey, you bastards. John Crichton was here.”

Alien Words

Terleum mollusks, eema, lutra oil, kronite, silka, smoked pronga sinew, Hepatian minced stew, crispy grollak.

Spoiler

A lot of future Farscape stuff gets seeded in this episode! Braca gets his big moment with Scorpius (complete with lots and lots of touching); Aeryn reveals the story about her mother; Talyn gets his name; and we get the first reference to the fact that Scorpius is half-Sebacean, half-Scarran. My favorite amusing-in-hindsight bit, though, is John saying, “Doubt that I’m gonna have kids,” when depending on who you ask, John has as many as three children by the end of the series.

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Please remember to tag spoilers for future episodes in the comments.

An Announcement: I will be taking a one-month break between seasons one and two. Come back on Monday, April 19, when Aeryn starts her own babysitting business in 2×01, “Mind the Baby.”