Farscape: The Way We Weren't   Rewatch 
October 2, 2015 11:45 PM - Season 2, Episode 5 - Subscribe

A datacam tape is uncovered showing Aeryn as part of a Peacekeeper firing squad that executed Moya's first pilot. The rest of the crew want answers but Aeryn is reluctant to revisit her past—especially her relationship with Velorek, the man who grafted the current Pilot into Moya's systems. Pilot refuses to communicate with the crew, not wanting to reveal his own complicity in the murky circumstances surrounding his installment as Moya's pilot. [via]
posted by along came the crocodile (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This was far and away my favorite episode so far. Pilot AND Aeryn backstory!
posted by thetortoise at 3:17 AM on October 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is such a heartbreaker, especially Pilot since we had no idea he had a dark past. Young Pilot on his home planet, so naive and hopeful and complicit in something terrible, is such a sad scene.
posted by Mavri at 7:46 AM on October 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is the sort of episode I usually hate. The impulse to tie things together, to establish previous connections between characters wether through lineage or previous experiences is one I always think diminishes the world in which stories are set. At its worst, it can make a galaxy spanning narrative seem like a parlour room drama. Farscape (as is so often the case) does something I usually don't like in a way that I found really interesting. I think a large part of it is how restrained it is, the previous scenes have a cameo by Zahn, but everyone except Aeryn and Pilot is left out of it. Aeryn really has a peripheral role in Pilot's story; Pilot only has a peripheral role in Aeryn's. The story is about both of them coming to terms with these events moreso than it is about their interactions or establishing a pre-existing relationship.

This episode has two moments of staging I really like. The initial viewing of the recording. Aeryn's seated at a table with a bright overhead light. Most of the others are standing or sitting in front of her, John behind, literally the only one in her corner. Flags the scene as an interrogation very effectively. After Aeryn breaks down, her and John are sitting on the mat talking, with a literal wedge driven between them. Their poses are natural enough that I only caught it because I happened to pause the playback to take another look at Aeryn's breakdown, but it's clearly there.

Speaking of, Aeryn breaking down crying on the training mat is a fairly shocking. She's faced various forms of slow and painful death quite regularly, and quite calmly, but her stoicism has been completely cracked by the memories that recording brought up. This is something we've never seen from her.

I also found the interaction between Zahn and Aeryn interesting. Because Zahn is pissed, but she's still Zahn, still compassionate enough that she can recognize Aeryn's suffering and try and help. It also called back to the earlier moment when Aeryn praised Zahn by saying she was a warrior. Zahn saying "That was the only kind of peacekeeper you could be", that one cut deeper than anything Zahn could have said out of anger.

Minor points: I noticed in the scene where they're confronting pilot Aeryn has trigger discipline, John doesn't.

It's kind of sneaky of the show to credit Lani Tipu as a guest star, when he's part of the main cast as pilot.
posted by Grimgrin at 9:25 AM on October 3, 2015 [4 favorites]

One of my top three. Seriously, how good are Claudia Black and Lani Tupu in this episode? And the puppetry on Pilot - that little glance he gives out of the corner of his eye, the way you can feel his intense self-loathing and guilt. Brilliant. Both of them just convey remorse and self-hatred so well.

From an Aeryn point of view, this is the episode that starts to explain things - why does she defend Crichton to Crais in Episode One? Because he reminds her of Velorek, and she still feels guilty about her betrayal. But you also see that when she was with Velorek, she had too much to lose, and she would probably never have broken out of the PK box. Pleisar Regiment clearly consider themselve to be the elite, so she wouldn't have had much reason to change that. Once Crais stripped that away from her, she was free to grow.

I don't actually like Velorek that much - he's a bit bland (certainly for Aeryn) and a manipulator as well - for all his high-flying ideals, he corrupts Pilot's dream of seeing the stars and puts a terrible burden on a very naive young person, so I wasn't that upset when Aeryn betrayed him, harsh as it was.

I like the little touches, like Pilot's purple blood - another callback to DNA Mad Scientist as well as the arm mention, and the different colour grading of the film. And I think this is the first episode we see Aeryn with a proper tight plait. That plait, to me, represents Aeryn at her most professional and proficient in a Peacekeeper sense. In fact, just the way she holds herself in the flashbacks shows someone who has a strong sense of inner pride in their skills and their position. In S1 when that's all gone, she's very ragged, like Crais. But it starts to come back.

And the other thing is that now she can start to understand her relationship with Velorek, what she felt. Even though there's a couple of scenes where Crichton's basically standing around like a bit of sympathetic furniture (and I think Ben says as much in the commentary), he is the reason she can identify her feelings. And it's dead shippy. However I'm probably as pro-Aeryn/Pilot friendship as I am pro-Aeryn/John relationship. When Crichton's dead in about forty cycles, Aeryn and Pilot will still be looking after each other.
posted by along came the crocodile at 9:34 AM on October 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

I always found Velorek the weak point in the episode, right up to his last words to Aeryn about being special. It almost came across like he was mentally addled and completely removed from what happened, unable to see the reality through a crazy filter he saw the world through. He was also still a PK, revealing in his conversation with Pilot that Moya's old pilot was destined to die. What was he going to do with Pilot if the old pilot agreed to work with him? Either way, something bad happens to a pilot. He had the fondness for Pilot's race similar to someone who sticks pins into butterflies. Likewise, he didn't mind Pilot suffering pain to get results.

It's Pilot's pain which really stood out for me in this episode. The entire time we've known him, he's been in terrible pain. While we can obviously infer the writers created this later, in-universe one would have asked why Pilot didn't ask for help after they were free to deal with it...unless he saw it as his punishment for disobeying his elders and for agreeing to replace another pilot.

The longer we remain with the crew, however, the harder I find it to sustain much of a belief that everyone in the crew is ready to cut out one or the other. The visual symbolism in the show was also great, if the red light on Pilot was a bit thick.

It's great that we get this episode to carry us on a wave of good feels over the next. Meh.
posted by Atreides at 12:57 PM on October 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

One of my favorites of this season (and there's quite a few good episodes this season) and of the entire series! There's so much character development and hidden stuff coming out about Aeryn and Pilot, and of course the shippyness! I love that Aeryn is trusting and vulnerable enough in this episode to really open up to John and break down in front of him. And feels badly enough to either let Pilot kick her off the ship or kill her. One of the lines that sticks out for me is when Aeryn asks Zhaan if she thinks she lacks compassion. She wasn't even sure what that word meant in the first episode, and here she is basically telling Zhaan that she does have compassion. Also, I love that Chiana is so pragmatic--what did they think Aeryn was like as a Peacekeeper? That's a testament to how far they've come as a family--they are surprised that Aeryn could do something so horrible, when that's what Peacekeepers do. They don't see her as a Peacekeeper anymore, but as Aeryn.

Some fans have wondered if there's some retconning going on in this episode with the secret project being a hybrid Peacekeeper ship/Leviathan, but even if there is, it works!

I have a theory that the reason Aeryn wasn't transferred back to being a pilot is because Velorek was falling for her and requested high command that she stay assigned to him (to see if she would fall in love with him, too). If so, it would be ironic that she turned him in to get back to Prowler duty when he was the one standing in her way.
posted by cshenk at 1:38 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

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