Farscape: PK Tech Girl   Rewatch 
July 25, 2015 9:34 AM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

The hulk of the legendary Peacekeeper ship, the Zelbinion, holds a pleasant surprise for Crichton, but Rygel must confront the time spent on the ship where he was tortured by the sadistic commander Captain Durka, while the crew work to reactivate the ship's shields to defend themselves from an attack.(via)
posted by along came the crocodile (11 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"You had nothing, but you used it well."

One of my favourite lines, and one that could almost be a tag line for the entire series.

So I really love this episode. The opening is ballsy as hell. A tight zoom on a puppet's eyeball is the sort of thing that, if there's any hint of imperfection, could break not just the scene, but the character as well. In this case, Rigel may have more detail than some human actors, so it works. It's also a measure of their confidence in Rygel that they give a puppet a mostly solo plot line about confronting his fears and psychic wounds from years of torture. Like with the opening zoom, it's a tribute to the artists who created Rygel that it works as well as it does.

I also love that this episode shows so clearly that Aeryn still doesn't really think of herself as a traitor. She'd displayed the casual racism in previous episodes. In this episode it's clear that she still thinks of herself as a Peacekeeper. We get her drill-sergeant act, and her contemptuous line to Crichton about [fulfilling] "your vision of who we should be". Finally, when she thinks Gilina is a threat to Moya, she's hostile, but when she thinks Gilina betrayed the Peacekeepers? Aeyrn is ready to strangle her with her bare hands and has to be pulled off by John.

Aeryn's reaction to seeing John and Gilena making out is also fun. She lifts a very heavy thing over her head and walks briskly away. "Very! Clear! Air!". A previous poster mentions how Aeryn is very immature in a lot of ways, and that showed it pretty well. She's bothered, and she's far more bothered that she's bothered and she just needs to get away from it. Aeryn never stops being a badass, but she's in the process of developing additional layers.

The relationship between Gilina and Crichton is also really well done. They're both techs at heart, they've both been violently wrenched away from lives they knew, and they're both more or less the first person the other has met in a while that doesn't treat them with something between contempt and straight murderous hostility. It makes the speed and intensity of the relationship work much better than typical whirlwind romances in drama.

The relationship also lead a great example of one of the things I love about Farscape. While it's heavy and dramatic, but it resists the temptation to get dour and self-important. The farewell between Crichton and Gilena is a dramatic moment, two star-crossed lovers torn-apart. It's handled with both of them bullshitting and ultimately laughing at how absurd the thought of them staying together actually is. Given the unremitting suffering in store for pretty much everyone, that light touch is pretty vital to the series working.
posted by Grimgrin at 10:05 AM on July 25, 2015 [8 favorites]

^This. Great comment.

I'm surprised this is a white T-shirt episode because it's really quite dark.

I find it uncomfortable to watch in places. The Zelbinion may be a 'cultural treasure' to Aeryn and Gilina but it's also basically a giant Space Nazi warship. Rygel's torture at the hands of Durka, who only needs a WW2 German accent and he'd be full on SS. Aeryn's unapologetic and utterly ruthless PK stormtrooper mode, completely with abseiling commando moment- the implications will come through in future episodes.

her contemptuous line to Crichton about [fulfilling] "your vision of who we should be".

I think this plays straight on from the last episode, with Crichton urging the Sykarians to rise up against the PKs. She both sees him as naive and feels judged by him, which she really doesn't like.

The themes that underpin much of FS are present here - sense of identity and belonging, exile, homesickness, loss, trauma - something every single one of the characters is affected by in their own way. Rygel's having horrible flashbacks, Aeryn's acting out her loss and pain at being contaminated and losing her self-perceived elite status, John's desperate for someone he can 'click' with, even if he is a bit Kirk about it. John and Gilina geeking out in space is quite sweet, and maybe in an AU they would have been together.

The Zhaan/D'Argo team up continues - there's a bit of paralleling with John and Aeryn in that you have characters with very different cultural assumptions arguing about how to behave in this situation.

There are lighter-hearted moments. Aeryn admitting she was interested in John, but 'only for a moment' (yes, she is eight years old), the Sheyang stuff. Also, whenever I see the Durka actor my brain goes 'It's Steven Berkoff!' when it blatantly isn't.

posted by along came the crocodile at 11:05 AM on July 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Ach, I was supposed to post this on behalf of [ICNH] last night, and I completely forgot. Thanks for taking up the torch along came the crocodile.

What I noticed, and I'm surprised I didn't see this before, but this might be the first time that Aeryn realizes that Crichton might actually be appealing to other Sebaceans.

That he's not just some weirdo that doesn't know anything important about the universe they live in (You know nothing John Crichton...), and can spout off bizarre, untranslatable pop-culture references. Something that clearly irritates her at first, but who has real irreversibly contamination worthy appeal.

He might, in fact, be someone interesting, and someone else got to him first. So she gets all rage-carry on the boxes.

I like it, the series here always had the parallels of John learning to live on the far side of a wormhole, and Aeryn learning to be something other than a Peacekeeper. But it's fun to notice how those growing moments entangle with one another.
posted by quin at 5:06 PM on July 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

Heh, no problem, and at least I got to use the FrellingBigGun tag. The FBG rocks.

What I noticed, and I'm surprised I didn't see this before, but this might be the first time that Aeryn realizes that Crichton might actually be appealing to other Sebaceans.

Yes, absolutely. There's clearly an attraction between them that I don't think she fully understands at this point - partly because it goes against everything she's been conditioned to believe, partly because of her previous experiences of attraction (Velorek, recreation) and partly because she just doesn't have the emotional landscape to put it into context. Love as Crichton understands it is not something that Aeryn knows. She may have an instinct towards it, but not the understanding. We also know now that Crichton repeated something that Velorek said to her, IIRC, and that most likely triggered all those suppressed and confused feelings. The thing from last episode where she's already trying to learn his language - it makes no sense for her to be doing that and I dont think she can admit to herself why.

Gilina, being a tech, is far less military and more open-minded, as much as a PK can be. I think she's more aware of being trapped in a system, where as Aeryn has status in that system. Crichton and Gilina's mutual interest brings things to the surface for Aeryn. She denies it - 'only for a moment', but the ground is starting to shift.

Something else I found interesting was the little snippet of info about PKs being hired to keep order, that they have this ostensibly noble beginning which has been twisted into tyranny, and as the show goes on you could argue that Aeryn holds onto that and transforms herself into what a Peace Keeper should really be.
posted by along came the crocodile at 5:38 AM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have nothing but an inferior comment to add with the great ones above, so here's my little dish.

I always loved this episode, if for the flirting and prospective romance between Crichton and Gilina or for the beautiful shot of the gigantic warship floating derelict in the rings of a planet with the mystery of who took down the most famed warship of the Peacekeeper Fleet.

This is yet another episode that builds up Rygel's character. It continues the theme of the once monarch of billions of subjects to the vulnerable person with fears both present and in the past.

I loved Aeryn's flash of jealousy.

The Sheyangs weren't bad and a great example of creative use of puppetry to help build a universe not universally populated with humans with facial prosthesis.
posted by Atreides at 12:23 PM on July 26, 2015

I don't have much to add to all of the great comments here. My only other thought is that this episode always makes me kind of sad on rewatch knowing whats coming for Gilina, and whats going to happen with Rygel and Durka.
posted by hobgadling at 5:35 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

We get to see a little into Rygel's mind in this one. It's not just Crichton who is a little bit mad.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:03 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is yet another episode that builds up Rygel's character. It continues the theme of the once monarch of billions of subjects to the vulnerable person with fears both present and in the past.

We get to see a little into Rygel's mind in this one. It's not just Crichton who is a little bit mad.

Rygel's pretty interesting, because from this episode alone we can see that he has likely had just as much horror inflicted on him as any of the Moya crew, in fact, given his age and length of imprisonment probably more. He has very valid fears. How much his present personality is down to that trauma, and how much to his machiavellian Hynerian background is a little harder to tell. He is incredibly resilient, and his selfishness is protective.

I'm not sure whether we're supposed to read Rygel as Jewish in the same way that the PKs can be seen as analogous to the Nazis. I remember reading a long time ago that some of the alien slang is mutated Yiddish.
posted by along came the crocodile at 1:27 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

whats going to happen with Rygel and Durka.

Durka should've known making an enemy of Rygel was no way to get a head in life
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:41 AM on July 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Some people might say "Freeze!" or "Hands up!" but ever since this episode of Farscape I've always been an "On the ground, now!" man.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:23 PM on July 28, 2015

This is a great episode, and I love the tag, where John acknowledges that he's soft, but that has its uses, too. Aeryn's not so sure, but after he gives his speech about how he would feel if he went home and found everyone he knew dead, she realizes that he does understand what she is feeling. Just another example of how Farscape keeps adding layers to relationships.
posted by cshenk at 11:30 PM on August 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

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