Farscape: Rhapsody in Blue   Rewatch 
August 12, 2015 7:20 AM - Season 1, Episode 12 - Subscribe

Zhaan is asked to help an outpost of fellow Delvians attempting to avoid the madness that threatens them. [via]
posted by along came the crocodile (9 comments total)
I thought I'd better post this as no one else had, but I'm away on holiday at the moment and typing fast, so apologies if even more incoherent than usual.

I actually found this one more interesting to rewatch than I remembered.

The concept of Zhaan being a liberal priest turned assassin to stop the leader of a conservative faction who had brought in the PKs to consolidate their power felt quite timely. The continual problem of just how far do you go to prevent tyranny - Zhaan decided not to go the Gandhi non-violent resistance route, and subsequently paid a huge price for her actions - but did she actually achieve anything on Delvia?

I found I liked Insane Zhaan much more than 'I'm very spiritual and preach peace but I am going to cut your arm off anyway' Zhaan. Using Tuzak's corpse as pillow was a nice touch. I'm still not entirely certain how Delvian spiritual powers work, but I liked the idea that if you get it wrong it can really screw you up, with Tuzak driving himself mad to harm the PKs.

The other thing I didn't know was why the other Delvian females had hair. I felt a bit sorry for Virginia Hey, who had to shave off her hair and eyebrows to play the role, yet these two other Delvian priestesses had big blue wavy manes.

I also wondered if there was meant to be some Tarot symbology with John acting as the Fool and Zhaan as the High Priestess?

It always makes me laugh when Zhaan makes it to 10th Level. 'Yay, finally enough XP!' *immediately goes to consult Player's Handbook for new skills and spells*

Other quick stuff:

'If we're meant to be together, we'll be together.' The concept of fate in John's relationships, brought up in relation to him and Alex, but underpinning the whole John/Aeryn storyline.

The Calvins gag. :)

If Zhaan lied about her dream, did that mean Aeryn did too, or was there no one she loved in that sense?

The whole 'sharing Unity' and the jealousy between Tahleen's disciples - it did maybe stray a bit towards the 'perfidious bisexuals' trope but I guess it fitted in with all the shenanigans and hypocrisy of this 'peaceful' sect?
posted by along came the crocodile at 8:00 AM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

So this is one of my favourite episodes of the first season. I'm well aware that YMMV on this, but there's a lot here that I like.

It hints a bit more about Delivan powers. They seem to be a two way street; you can't alter someone's memories without taking them on. When Zahn was easing Pilot's pain in "DNA Mad Scientist", she cried out when his arm was cut off. That could have been compassion, or it could have been that to ease another's pain you have to share in it. It's less clear with the attacks, however it's clear that there's a psychic backlash to violence; in order to inflict harm, they need to be willing to suffer and to risk harm themselves.

The hopes and fears that the Delivans attack people with are interesting. D'Argo's hope of finding his son, and fear that the Peacekeepers will find him first makes sense. Rygel's fear and insecurity is that he's diminished, insignificant. Aeryn's fear is helplessness. Lurana tries to distract Crichton with sex, and it doesn't work. The scene where he totally blows of her macking on him as Alex because of Pilot's transmission amused me.

It's actually one of the things I really like in this episode is how neither Crichton nor any of the Moya crew manages to break the Delvian mental influence. They never will themselves out of it, never think their way out of it, they're totally under Delvian influence. Crichton gets out of it because of compassion. Lurana/Alex only manages to distract him by making herself out to be distressed by his relationship with Zahn. Which gets to the idea of Delvian powers as being a two way street. Lurana has to decive Crichton after making him genuinely love and care about her; has to be aware that's what she's doing; and she's not actually a monster, so can't manage it.

The solution, both to the mind control and to Zahn's insanity, being compassion and not force of will or intellect is a really interesting choice for this show. I've said before that Farscape pulls of it's darker themes in part because of it's light tone; but this is another reason it works. Farscape never slides into nihilism.

Virginia Hay's acting is great in this episode, she plays Zahn crazy as more relaxed and expressive but not over the top. It's a neat choice and it fits with the idea that Zahn has had the self-control and self-composure that normally defines her torn from her. We're not seeing Zahn an unstable, ranting lunatic, but there are sharp sharp edges in her voice and her smile.

Another scene I appreciated was the dialogue about the "Trigapod"; because it gets to something that makes Crichton profoundly alien from the rest of the crew: There's a part of him for who this is a dream come true. He gets to see things and do things and know things no human has ever seen, done, or known. It's also part of what makes Aeryn and him work so well together. She's the only one who's experiencing the same level of discovery and change, coming out of her cloistered peacekeeper existance. Finally, it's why the rest of Moya treat him like an overly excitable kid. The look D'Argo and Aeryn share when they realize Crichton is down there without adult supervision as it were is another amusing touch.

This is also the first episode where Crichton is not just vulnerable, but fundamentally violated by some external force. It's definitely not the last, or the worst. Like with "Back and Back and Back to the future" re-watching the episodes causes themes to really pop the first time you see them.

Another thing I keep reflecting on watching the earlier episodes, is the hints of what Farscape might have been, and might have been about. It's possible to imagine (if Aeryn/John hadn't been so obvious) a storyline where Zahn and John fall in love. At this point in the series they're closer get along better are more intimate, than John and Aeryn are. It's also possible to imagine the Delivans and their abilities playing a much larger role in the ongoing story, as the abiltiy to warp minds on a ship in orbit is huge. Another unrealized reality then.

Along came the crocodile:

RE: Aeryn's presumed dream of love, sex, and loss; I'm pretty sure I know who it was, and why she lied about it. I don't want to spoil it, or go to far into it as the writers may not have known at this point anyway. I'll bring it up when we get to the episode.

Zahn's power up is partly explained through the episode. Tahleen is offering Zahn insight into her powers. She may have gotten enough to counter them. I realize I'm straying towards handwavium here though.

Last word to dominar Rygel XVI: "It wasn't the same. Mine was better than yours."
posted by Grimgrin at 6:13 PM on August 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have trouble with shows that go on length with the main characters being deceived about reality, at least when we, the viewer, know they're being deceived. It's a fair strategy to take as a writer, but I get frustrated the longer it gets. I'm aware, for example, that they can alter D'argo's memories that might legitimately place Joffie on Moya, but...he just suddenly pops up and my reaction for D'argo should be, immediately after speculating the Delvians were messing with their heads, "I just saw my son. They're messing with my head." He shouldn't be chasing after him. He then should have turned to Aeryn, "Your gun is in one piece, the Delvians are messing with your head." Then Rygel shrinking into his chair, BECAUSE THAT MAKES SENSE.

I'm much more on board with what happened to Crichton on the planet, especially since they sustained that with flashbacks/memories that legitimately reveal that his "wife" had been there the entire time.

And also, I feel bad for the crazy old man.

I did love the 'power up' of Zhaan. "SURPRISE, LEVEL 10!" I like how they have somehow categorized mental powers on their planet to assign them levels.
posted by Atreides at 9:19 AM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

RE: Aeryn's presumed dream of love, sex, and loss; I'm pretty sure I know who it was, and why she lied about it. I don't want to spoil it, or go to far into it as the writers may not have known at this point anyway. I'll bring it up when we get to the episode.

If we're talking about TWWW in S2, then I agree that this was almost certainly another not yet written storyline, but for the sake of fitting Aeryn's actions into canon after the fact, it's interesting to think about her reasons for so straightforwardly denying she had dreamed of anyone. I've seen fic that speculates that PKs are conditioned not to dream or at least not to pay any attention to dreams. I'm not sure about that - I would say that she was never going to admit to a previous relationship in front of Crichton and she had quite likely at this point in S1 never related the events of TWWW to anything to do with 'love'. After all, she didn't understand the concept of compassion when Crichton brought it up. I'm sure I read something recently where CB said that the reason A reacts so violently to Crichton initially is because she falls for him straight away but can't deal with or even conceptualise that in any way other than regarding it as a dangerous threat.
posted by along came the crocodile at 9:53 AM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Atreides: I thought that D'Argo believing that he was seeing Jothee, or what happened to Aeryn or Rygel made sense given what we saw happen to Crichton. When Crichton sees 'Alex' for the first time, he knows she shouldn't be there, but quickly gets his memory altered to make it plausible. The same process happens again when she reveals that they're married. Crichton knows he never gave her the ring, but any inconsistencies are edited out. We've also seen D'Argo seem to wilfully ignore reality because of the memories of his family. Presumably there was a consistent narrative in D'Argo's head, and his longing did the rest.

along came the crocodile: It works both ways really. Aeryn remembered a man she had loved, and betrayed without ever quite understanding either concept and refused to talk about it. Or Aeryn, at this point, did not attach any special meaning to the 'recreating' but is still not about to swap stories with the guys, because that's who she is.

As for poor "Grandpa Looney Tunes", thinking about it now, his last scene with Lurana might have been meant to imply that he was either finding or close to finding a way out, similar to Zahn's. He was quite lucid with both Zahn and Lurana.
posted by Grimgrin at 5:29 PM on August 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

We've also seen D'Argo seem to wilfully ignore reality because of the memories of his family. Presumably there was a consistent narrative in D'Argo's head, and his longing did the rest.

Our excuse for the latter was because he was suffering from exposure to space and resuscitation, i.e., the lack of oxygen to the brain. It makes sense. We have to accept the existence of that consistent narrative, which we did not see (unlike Crichton), or it really boils down to weak sauce. Reflecting on the script and the scenes filmed, I may have to admit that there just wasn't time to present it for the other characters. I appreciated Aeryn's problem more because, as inexplicable as it seems for her blaster rifle to simply fall apart, it's not a giant leap in logic as magically shrinking Rygel or introducing Jothee (absent that consistent narrative).

So yeah, I'm going to just have to accept your argument that everyone benefited from the same background building visions as Crichton, and consider the writer's receiving a mulligan.
posted by Atreides at 7:22 AM on August 14, 2015

The other thing I didn't know was why the other Delvian females had hair.

I had some real issue with this as well. I like the idea that Delvians were bald. It made the alien-ness more alien. So boo to the Delvians with hair. Surely they could have found 2 actors willing to shave their head for the role.

Do we know Zhaan is a plant yet? I don't think we do, right? The photogasms make me doubt that but maybe that was just a clue for the later reveal?
posted by [insert clever name here] at 2:37 PM on August 16, 2015

They could have worn bald caps and make up. To this day I don't understand it. I imagine someone has asked Virginia Hey about it at a con though, so the answer is probably out there somewhere. And no, we don't know about Zhaan being a plant yet.
posted by along came the crocodile at 3:05 PM on August 16, 2015

RE: Aeryn's presumed dream of love, sex, and loss; I'm pretty sure I know who it was, and why she lied about it. I don't want to spoil it, or go to far into it as the writers may not have known at this point anyway. I'll bring it up when we get to the episode.
I agree that knowing what is coming up, you view her response differently. And, here is another parallel between her and Zhaan (besides the ones Zhaan observes in "Self-inflicted Wounds"): she betrayed a man that she cared about. So, I would guess that if she did have a dream, it was about Velorek but, yeah, no way she's gonna open that can of worms!
Also, an interesting observation about John's comment: "If we're meant to be together, we'll be together." It's true that he thinks fate brought Aeryn and him together, but by the time we get to "A Dog With Two Bones," he is not content to let fate determine his future with her. It makes my romantic heart all warm and gooey to know that while he wouldn't cross the country for Alex, he will give up his planet to be with Aeryn. (Even though they then do the coin toss.) Best romance ever!
And about those Calvins...here's a link to a fanfic about how Aeryn came to possess those: http://archiveofourown.org/works/4083670
posted by cshenk at 8:48 PM on August 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

« Older Pretty Little Liars: Game Over...   |  Wonderfalls: Pink Flamingos ... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments