Farscape: Vitas Mortis   Rewatch 
September 23, 2015 12:38 AM - Season 2, Episode 2 - Subscribe

D'Argo takes part in a sacred ritual that helps a dying Luxan, an Orican, to pass on. During the ritual the Orican invokes a ritual of renewal, drawing from what she thinks is D'Argo's strength. Consequently Moya starts to age rapidly.
posted by along came the crocodile (4 comments total)
So, for me, this is arguably a worse episode than "Jeremiah Crichton". The only thing that saves it from being definitely worse in my books is Crichton's coat. Seriously. I love that coat. I tend to think it's symbolic of John's mental state. Previously the peacekeeper gear he was wearing was in aid of a disguise or a plan. This gear he must have gone shopping for at some point, and it would not look out of place as part of the Peacekeeper fascistic leather winter collection. John's starting to take on a different identity and starting to identify himself differently. On the other hand it could just be a badass coat a production designer saw one day.

Awesome coats aside, there's an interesting contrast here. Jeremiah Crichton was an episode with some interesting ideas incompetently and bizarrely executed. This is an episode with some bad ideas (although oddly, not enough bad ideas not to feel padded) executed competently. I may just be far more forgiving about execution than concept.

Briefly running down my big issues, The Orican, Came out of nowhere. You'd expect D'Argo to have mentioned: "oh yeah, literal magic, we have that at home" at some point. Sparky hanging his ass into vacuum. Sorry Farscape. I will forgive a lot, but this is a pressure differential too far. The fact that the show apparently expected us to be as confused as the characters about what had happened to Moya. The utter failure to create tension or uncertainty. There's probably more but re-watching this once was more than enough.
posted by Grimgrin at 6:04 AM on September 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

This was a lot weirder than I remembered. It's a bit of D'Argo backstory combined with some trippy mystical stuff, almost a Zhaan ep really in feel, and I was surprised she wasn't in it more considering her speciality. I mean if anyone could have gone in and sorted out the Orican, wouldn't it have been Zhaan?

The story itself is pretty average to somewhat silly, and made me eyeroll a fair bit, particularly when the previously steely-minded Orican went all "D'Argo, tell me what to doooo!!" And immediately jumping into bed with him? Meh.

If you slide D'Argo's story over to one side and watch John, it gets a little more interesting. He's completely armoured up - he's using that leather both for protection and to threaten - he's wearing leather gloves, a bit like he does in S4 when he's trying not to feel. He's really jumpy, he's desperate not to lose D'Argo, he's questioning everything - what would have inspired awe and wonder now inspires fear and anger. The PTSD from the last few episodes is certainly kicking in here.

I don't get why Aeryn reverted to imperious PK-mode with Chi, but aside from that, I find the Aeryn stuff probably the best reason for watching the episode. On the completely shallow side of things, she looks damn good in leather. And it really helps to establish that distinctive Farscape look. The scene with Aeryn firing the big gun is also visually great (although D then somehow managing to intercept a pulse blast is ridiculous). On the not so shallow side of things, those scenes with Pilot - him wanting to speak to her in private, her horror at seeing him deteriorate, her determination to save him and that little moment at the end where they hold hands - they're building their bond up in a very believeable way, considering it's an actor and a large puppet with about eight people operating it. That's where Farscape excels.

I feel that because John is really starting to go off the rails, it becomes much harder for the viewer to regard him as you would a typical TV hero (beyond the already established differences). Because of that, Aeryn starts to become less the 'alien warrior' and more the voice of reason, the brave, stoic character who might be regarded as more of a traditional hero?
posted by along came the crocodile at 1:50 PM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Even John's hair is messed up more than usual, adding to his kind of off kilter state of mind.

This is one of those episodes I kind of have to dislike on principle based off my "Black Magic," grumblings about magic in my science fiction show. It was still better, in my mind, than that episode, but there's a heavy layer of mysticism with mind powers that pops up here. It's almost a Star Trek like episode with initial unexplained aging issues.

I do give props to the Orican doing what should be done in the end. This could have easily veered into stop the evil witch type parody. It didn't, so the writers get credit for that.

I definitely with along came the crocodile, this episode is more fascinating with John at its center, not D'argo. D'argo's behavior brings some flashbacks to the episode when they encounter the "natural allies of the Luxan people," and how he was obsessive in helping them and defending them. This episode was also far better in handling D'argo's feelings.

Aeryn and Chiana. I really see them as just opposite ends of the personality spectrum. Aeryn is regimented, at times formal, and often serious. Chiana is none of those things and I can see that getting on Aeryn's nerves.

I do hope they went and collected all the Luxan scrolls/books or whatevers that the Orican had with her.
posted by Atreides at 1:38 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

l didn't like this one because it felt like the writers were all over the place. John is strangely defensive and hostile toward what's presented as a normal part of Luxan culture at the beginning, but then he's totally vindicated when the Orican makes some terrible-seeming decisions and is so clueless. "Jeremiah Crichton" had its problems, but at least it had better character development (for the crew, anyway) and funny Rygel moments.
posted by thetortoise at 1:54 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

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