“I’m not gonna lose my mind. It’s all I’ve got left.”
“Beware of Dog” lives in my head as a completely generic episode of Farscape—alone of all 88 episodes, all of which I’ve seen multiple times, I have no particular positive or negative associations with it, and can rarely remember anything about it other than the fact that the Vork has two forms and is not the bad guy. Upon reflection, I think the reason that I can never remember much about this episode is that there’s just not all that much to remember. It doesn’t do anything particularly distinctive or interesting with its plot, its character work, or its style. It is An Episode.
Of course, “generic” may be one of the worst things that an episode of Farscape can be. “Jeremiah Crichton,” for all that it’s bad, is a result of the cast, crew, and writers really trying a lot of things, and just failing at almost all of them. “Beware of Dog” is just bland, and its blandness filters down to the very structure of the story. What are the stakes here? Well, there may or may not be a parasite, that may or may not do… something. Oh, but D’Argo’s dying, those are stakes! Except that obviously D’Argo isn’t going to die in this episode, and the show doesn’t even pay the lip service to the idea that, say, “Picture If You Will” paid to Chiana’s death. There’s one scene with real emotional content—D’Argo asking John to find his son—and other than that D’Argo is basically a non-entity in an episode whose entire emotional engine runs on the idea that he’s going to die.
The episode is so half-hearted about its plot and stakes that it never even fully clarifies how the parasites work, or how D’Argo avoided being copied. Gun to my head, I could not tell you when Rygel was switched for parasite Rygel, or how D’Argo got poisoned. All of the actual mechanics of the parasites are covered in about three lines of dialogue at the very end of the episode. You know it’s a great plot that we’re really invested in when no one bothers to explain how anything works until after the action is over.
That’s not to say that there’s nothing interesting at all in “Beware of Dog.” The scene where they inject translator microbes into the Vork—an animal with roughly the intelligence of a dog—is sort of fascinatingly fucked up, even if the show doesn’t really lean into that. Aeryn running around Moya with the Vork on her shoulder, latching onto her like a cat gravitates to a dog person, is great fun. And then there’s the John storyline.
Proving once and for all that this episode is not meant to air before “Look at the Princess,” John is seeing and hearing Scorpius all around him, as he started to in the three-parter. And because he’s John, he’s not quiet about it. The entire crew is starting to notice—Aeryn particularly. The last scene where John and Aeryn talk about what’s going on in John’s head is probably the best of the episode, with great performances from both Ben Browder and Claudia Black. The sort of detached, understated way that John talks about how he didn’t kill Scorpius because something stopped him is deeply chilling.
So, you know, it’s an episode. Nothing else to see here; let’s move on.
- The designs of the Vork’s forms are very silly, but I kind of appreciate them for that. At least that’s the episode leaning into some form of weirdness. Similarly, there’s a slapstick element to the early Vork shenanigans that is a little out of place for Farscape, but that I don’t mind because at least the episode is going for a tone.
- “The human doesn’t want to talk.”
- “While I believe it’s wrong to imprison any living creature… there are always exceptions.”
- “Would you believe it’s possible that Aeryn doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about?”
- “I know my translator microbes are working because deranged as it always is, I can understand what you’re saying.”
- “Are you the parasite?” “The answer is no. Who’s gonna say yes to that?”
- “Crichton, if you need help…” “I’ll ask. Just like you.”
Please remember to tag spoilers for future episodes in the comments.
Next Monday, September 6, John feels the heat, as we cover 2×15, “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”