Farscape: Taking the Stone   Rewatch 
September 25, 2015 11:29 PM - Season 2, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Chiana leaves Moya and takes residence on a planet populated by a young group of aliens who take part in a dangerous and life-threatening rite. [via]
posted by along came the crocodile (10 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is another episode I liked better in the re-watch. When I first watched the series it was in syndication, and I didn't really see episodes in order. This is definitely an episode that while being technically stand alone, works much better in context.

I like the ultimate motivation that Chiana has in this episode. Grief may have driven her to the planet, but ultimately it's self doubt and low self esteem that has her jumping. Again, it goes to the portrayal of Chiana as damaged. Somewhere in her mind she's not the cunning survivor she's been. She believes in her own weakness, and that's what's driving her over the literal edge.

John's actions make much more sense given that as a consequence of his plan way back in "A Bug's Life", Gilina was killed, Talyn was taken by Crais, he was tortured, and if it weren't for some lucky breaks he could have lost everyone in his new family. In this episode he doesn't make time for Chiana. It's not even a huge mistake, but his massive over-reaction to it is far more understandable when you know he's been hugely traumatized and sensitized by events in the recent past. He's had his vulnerability very painfully demonstrated to him, and that's what's driving him over the metaphorical edge.

Aeryn and John's relationship is also interesting here. The usual dynamic between her and John is, to an extent, reversed. Which goes to why it's such a good pairing, the show doesn't treat them as having defined relationship roles. It treats them as characters first, and the dynamics flow from how the characters react to a situation. Aeryn has had to deal with people she knew dying far more often. It's something she understands and can deal with, so she's the stable one with the correct insight and arguably the correct response to the situation.
posted by Grimgrin at 11:28 AM on September 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I also found this one much more interesting than I thought it would be. It's regarded as one of the more flawed episodes - the 'grave-robbing Rygel' plot did nothing for it at all, but the rest of it was pretty fascinating.

I enjoyed the Chiana plot in terms of watching the characters deal or fail to deal with each other. Grimgrin's covered a lot of it already, but I'll just add that once again I found myself watching Crichton, watching him struggle with his trauma. And in turn watching Aeryn with Crichton. The line about Crichton seeming crazier is clever because you could put it all down to PTSD, with no clue about anything that might have happened with Scorpius. And maybe at this point it is all PTSD.

I think we're seeing Aeryn start to become Crichton's 'carer' in a way, almost outside of any romantic connection, and that's in turn forcing her continued emotional development.

And I agree with Grimgrin about Aeryn having witnessed much more death - but it also seems clear to me that a sibling episode to this one is S3's The Choice, when we see Aeryn coping with a death that affects her in a way she hasn't really experienced before.

This episode also remind me of the Tavleks episode - again nothing essentially changes for the better despite Crichton offering an opportunity for change - the kids will keep on taking the mushrooms and jumping.
posted by along came the crocodile at 12:26 PM on September 26, 2015

My own response to the episode is a bit uneven. I've already stated my general dislike for Chiana as a character. At times I like her, but more often, I find her kind of annoying. To be fair, this is kind of a 40/60 split.

What was interesting is she went to John to talk about her brother's death, but despite in the previous episode it being established that she also likes D'argo, chose not to go talk to him. Episodes filmed before the other or something?

I have to say it. I find the arms raised above the head routine completely ridiculous to the point that it made me want to throw my remote every time I saw it. I don't know why it offends me so much, but then, I found the "EXTREME" lifestyle aliens of the tomb planet, while a logical result of their conditions, executed in a way that left something to be desired. Perhaps they reminded me a bit too much of the aliens partying because "tomorrow is a rest day," and as a weird result, I actually kind of enjoyed Rygel's silly cursed treasure B-storyline just as much. Or perhaps, more likely, I just love Rygel's character more than Chiana's.

All that complaining said, I appreciated the development offered to Chiana, and John's support at the very end, and loved Aeryn's advice about how Chiana would try and find another way to kill herself another time, if not here. (Or at least, do something very dangerous to herself).
posted by Atreides at 6:46 PM on September 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Not one of my favorites, although I do love the dynamic between John and Aeryn, and Aeryn getting miffed about being called historic and worn out.

The good thing about this episode is that it is so Farscape. If it was Star Trek, the Federation would explain to the stoned aliens that they can move up to the planet's surface and live a normal life span, and everyone would move up to the surface and be happy! On Farscape, the aliens shrug their shoulders, decide to stay in the caves, and die young.

Also, this exchange--
John: And try not to be too angry about the Prowler. Be nice.
Aeryn: I'm not good at nice.
John: Just don't shoot her.
posted by cshenk at 12:13 AM on September 27, 2015

If it was Star Trek, the Federation would explain to the stoned aliens that they can move up to the planet's surface and live a normal life span, and everyone would move up to the surface and be happy!

As with the vomiting, I like to swap Riker for Crichton in these kind of episodes. Deanna Troi having to deal with Riker having a really bad mushroom trip. Wesley enthusiastically trying the sonic net and dying horribly. Picard facepalming, forever.

Also, having watched the newest episodes of Who with Twelve and Missy, I realised that Nu Who is probably the only show you could plausibly crossover with Farscape. They have the same level of eccentricity, ethics and sci-fi whimsy, similar rag-tag universes (some of the sets and aliens in Nu Who look very Farscape to me), and watching the Doctor brainstorming/debating wormholes with Crichton would be a real treat. Twelve and Aeryn would be hilarious together. Also, Aeryn v Daleks. I wish Ben could have played Crichton in that ep he did with Eleven.

...and I really want Aeryn's green long sleeve top.
posted by along came the crocodile at 10:29 AM on September 27, 2015

along came the crocodile: We have different opinions on Doctor Who. I kept watching until early last season when I found myself realizing that no matter how much I might like Peter Capaldi as an actor and as the Doctor, the show was just aggravating for me to watch.

It's interesting that you should mention a crossover with Farscape, though. As I said before, I think something Farscape does really well is keep a light enough tone that the darker moments don't feel feel oppresive. However, I feel almost exactly the opposite the opposite about Nu Who, which was regularly getting so insufferably portentous and self important, that it's lighter moments and whimsy increasingly feet grating and forced.

I also think the ethical question is interesting; because in Nu Who, the doctor is basically a god. Scratch that, they had him responsible for a second big bang. The Doctor is literally god, creator and preserver of all things. In Farscape? Not so much god, as scared, confused, quarrelling fugitives. So when the Nu Doctor behaves irresponsibly I found it much harder to take than when the Farscape crew (or even the old Doctor) behaves irresponsibly.

Plus I don't know how well the Doctor would get on with the Moya crew. The TARDIS just materializing on Moya would probably prompt the sort of guns drawn welcome that tends to sour relations with the current incarnation of the Doctor. Plus, as Crichton will later observe: "God like aliens, man do I hate god like aliens! I'll trade a critter for a god like alien any day!"

I mean, all that said, I'd be interested in hearing more of your thoughts on both shows. I really enjoy these sorts of discussions, and they only really happen when there are points of contention.
posted by Grimgrin at 2:19 PM on September 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cool. I'll come back with more thoughts this evening after work, if possible.

Initially though - I agree with you more than you probably think about Nu Who, and where there was a time in my youth where I obsessively rewatched classic episodes dozens of times I do not do that with Nu Who. Maybe I got old. Maybe it changed too much for me. I didn't like RTD's era at all and Moffat's I find more tolerable mainly down to the actors. Don't get me started on Murray Gold. But I also think there's a shared level of creativity, humour and imagination in Farscape and Who that very few other shows touch. More later.
posted by along came the crocodile at 11:54 PM on September 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

...and of course real life intervenes and I end up super-busy. But I'll try and address as much as I can in a quick burst.

I keep going back to the fact that both shows are, for all their faults, great creative canvases. In terms of basic structure, random movement is built into the core of both shows - you never know where Moya or the TARDIS will arrive next. It means for one thing lots of different aliens, cultures, ideas. There's a shared creative freedom there. It also means you have in the Doctor and Crichton two characters who have learned to think on their feet to survive.

Visually, Nu Who can look quite Scapish when it wants to - the aliens in the Maldovarium in the first ep of this new series, for example, would not have looked out of place at all. So I don't think it would be too difficult to bring the two shows together that way. Arguably Eleven's more organic-looking TARDIS interior would fit better.

I have to be completely honest with you though - when I sat down and thought about this a bit more I realised that what I really wanted was the Virgin New Adventures level of Who darkness with Nu Who's budget. (I don't know if you've read them - if not, think Seventh Doctor with violence, hallucinogens and trauma). Capaldi would still work as the Doctor. But things would be much, much more ethically murky and much more in tune with Farscape. In the NAs the Doctor often knows what's going to happen, what the consequences will most likely be. He does the things he needs to do anyway, despite the fall out. There may be god-like powers in play but the consequences for his companions and himself are often awful, even if the overall result is 'good'.

I think precisely because Crichton hates god-like aliens he and the Doctor should meet. And Scorpius. Oh man, Scorpius and the Doctor. I feel that Scorpius, done right, could give the Doctor a real run for his money. I don't like Nu Who's penchant for magical solutions to tricky situations (I hate the sonic), and I'd want the inherent nastiness of Farscape to force the Doctor to have to work really, really hard, if that makes any sense.
posted by along came the crocodile at 12:13 PM on September 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

along came the crocodile: I was wrong, we do pretty much agree. Thinking about your concept more, it would be really interesting if Scorpius managed convince the Doctor to help him. Because, honestly, he'd have a pretty good shot at it, assuming he can keep the worst of what he and the Peacekeepers get up to on the down low. The Scarrans are not pleasant, probably rivalling some of the Doctor Who heavies, and stopping evil rubber suit aliens from ruling the galaxy is a very Doctor move. Hell, the Doctor has teamed up with the Master more than once. On the flip side John Crichton, crazy American with a gun, probably wouldn't all that convincing to the Doctor. Particularly when John's in full itchy trigger finger rant mode.

Actually, you know what the great thing about a crossover like this would be? It would have to take place in an alternate reality from the Doctor's own, and it would remove his nearly prescient understanding of where all the pieces are on the board and who and what he's actually dealing with. The chess-master is suddenly forced to play high stakes poker in a dingy backroom with heavily armed people dressed in menacing leather outfits.

I think a crossover with Nu Who as it is now would be appalling, but you've definitely sold me on the general concept.

I've heard of the Virgin New Adventures, usually positive things. I may have to check them out.
posted by Grimgrin at 8:40 PM on September 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

The NAs are a decidedly mixed bunch, ranging from awesome to awful, but an important part of Who history. I was just thinking about the PKs and the Daleks. How the Daleks might find it quite easy to manipulate the PKs into being their footsoldiers until such as time as they too would be exterminated. (Is Fanfare Talk the place for potentially off-topic discussions like this? It doesn't quite seem to be the right place, and I'm not sure these individual episode threads are the right place either. )
posted by along came the crocodile at 11:44 PM on September 29, 2015

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