The Wonders I’ve Seen: 2×07, “Home on the Remains”

“I’m evolving as an individual.”

I wish I had more to say about “Home on the Remains.” It’s not bad, except for a couple places where it is. It’s also not very good, except for a few scenes. Mostly, it’s just shockingly conventional.

Farscape is under no obligation to subvert the genre, and sometimes, great things can come out of episodes where it follows the Star Trek playbook closely. “Through the Looking Glass,” for instance, is fun and character-revealing, and could be an episode of Voyager. But the tropes “Home on the Remains” exploits aren’t all that interesting, and the show doesn’t do anything unexpected or fun with them, from either a plot or a character perspective.

As far as plot goes: Obviously, B’Soog is the bad guy. Obviously, B’Soog is controlling the keedva. Obviously, Altana, who just struck it big, is going to die.

Regarding character: Would you believe that Chiana tries to use her feminine wiles to convince B’Soog to give them food, and D’Argo gets jealous?

The coolest thing about the episode’s set-up is its location, within the carcass of a giant space worm, but even that the writing fails to capitalize on in any meaningful way. Give or take a few glowing rocks, we could be in the wild west mining town that the episode is parodying.

It’s a shame, because the Chiana/D’Argo dynamic is not a bad one—there’s plenty of good character stuff to work with there, and (spoilers, I guess?) Farscape will, in future episodes, find interesting things to say with and about the two of them. But we’ve barely gotten to see them interact up until now, and the episode that gets them together is so thoroughly lackluster that we don’t really learn much that’s new or distinctive about their relationship.

There is one aspect of the episode which is both great and distinctively Farscape, and that’s the B-plot. The entire reason that the characters are hanging out on a budong is that Zhaan is starving to death, so while the boys and Chiana mine for glow rocks and have relationship drama, Aeryn is back on Moya trying to keep Zhaan’s strange alien biology in check.

Getting to see Zhaan act plant-like is always terrific, and this episode is full of buds and spores and strange reactions to light. Aeryn and Zhaan are also just a consistently interesting screen pairing; they have extremely different pasts and philosophies that sometimes clash, but also occasionally and unexpectedly converge. Zhaan’s altered mental state pushes her to dark places that she’d rather not think about, and pushes Aeryn to explore strategies that a Peacekeeper usually wouldn’t. It’s an effective, engrossing subplot about two characters who serve as great foils for each other. Zhaan and Aeryn’s plot easily could’ve filled an entire episode, and probably should’ve.

Random Bits

  • Everyone at the mining camp has an absolutely terrible accent that I’m guessing is Appalachian by way of Australia? Anyway, it’s one of the worse accents that Farscape has had, and it makes the episode significantly harder to watch.

  • The scene where B’Soog tries to claim that Chiana wouldn’t kill someone is very strange, because it’s not clear to me whether the show thinks he’s right, and he’s demonstrably wrong—we’ve seen Chiana murder a man and smile. And Chiana’s entire introductory episode is about the fact that we’re unsettlingly unsure whether she killed Salis!

  • “It should be easy. It’s never easy!”

  • “Okay, no more Captain Kirk chit chat.”

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

Next Monday, June 21, Zhaan lawyers up, as we cover 2×08, “Dream a Little Dream.”