Farscape: “Until the Blood Runs Clear”

01/30/2012 § Leave a comment

Season 1, Episode 11. Writer: Doug Heyes, Jr. Director: Tony Tilse. Rating: B-.

“She’s gone completely farbotz,” says Rygel, with perhaps more than a hint of jealousy, watching as Zhaan all but throws herself at D’Argo. “Yes,” observes asexual Pilot, thinking more of Moya’s unborn Leviathan child, “Delvian females are unusually sensitive to ionic radiation.” To which the light-sensitive Zhaan adds, “We call it a photogasm.” Two newly coined words, more information about the bodily functions of our alien crew, and we’ve barely started the episode: did I mention that Crichton’s having a mindgasm of his own, having used this sexy solar flare to recreate the kind of wormhole — albeit an unstable one — that transported him to this galaxy far, far away? (If not for Aeryn’s presence aboard his IASA module — a 0ne-woman cold shower — Farscape might have ended right here.)

It’s unclear why D’Argo’s so eager to leave this planet — especially since he’s shown interest in Zhaan before — but he quickly runs into conflict with data-mining Crichton, who refuses to abandon his plasma-leaking module. Instead, Crichton heads to the planet’s Tatooine-y surface to find a conveniently located mechanic named Furlough . . . and a pair of feral hunters in search of the “three” escaped fugitives — D’Argo, Zhaan, and Rygel — for whom the Peacekeepers are offering a substantial bounty. It’s all a bit contrived and convenient, and yet, these (un)happy accidents are the meat of Farscape, in which our heroes blunder into situations they don’t understand and are subsequently forced to bluster their way out; this episode’s dynamic forces Crichton to pretend to be an alpha dog, lest his “mate” Aeryn be killed by these red-eyed, weakness-sensing Volkarian blood trackers, Rorf and Rorg.

Luckily for Crichton’s on-the-fly “Hole in the Sky” gang of rival bounty hunters — Supernatural fans, watch out for Butch (Crichton) and Sundance (Aeryn) — these Volkarians aren’t the brightest bunch of Bobas, as demonstrated by their negotiating prowess:

CRICHTON: I’ll split the bounty 70-30.
RORF: 70[menacing pause]-40!
CRICHTON: 80-40. You in or you out?

Unfortunately, he’s not a real alpha dog: that’s why he’s been so oblivious to Aeryn’s own desires to return home — feelings that rival, if not surpass, his, as we saw in the recklessness of “DNA Mad Scientist” — and why he might be underestimating the appeal of the beacon’s secret message to Aeryn: turn over the Leviathan, the fugitives, and Crichton, and she gets to retire with her full commission and her “impurities” forgiven. It’s also why he’s so slow on the uptake regarding Furlough’s unusual interest in his junky module: for all his experimenting with wormholes, he forgot to realize that other people might notice weird blue portals in the sky, let alone the numerous foreign particles spread across his ship.

But at least his experience with his father’s hounds has taught him a thing or two about the pack mentality, so when the Volkarians capture D’Argo, Crichton’s able to keep him alive by stimulating the blood (as we saw in “Throne for a Loss”). And while he may be figuratively blind, at least he doesn’t go literally blind, as happens to Aeryn when she accidentally gets an eyeful of solar flare while fending off some of Furlough’s overzealous workers (who want to steal Crichton’s flight data). Special credit to writer Heyes, too, for not taking the cheesy literary route, in which “her blindness helps him to finally see what he really cares about.”

The big development in this episode, however, comes between Crichton and D’Argo: all it took was a little torture for them to finally have a heart-to-heart. Trust doesn’t come easy to Luxans, especially one who feels as constantly betrayed as D’Argo, and Crichton’s physical similarities to Peacekeepers is rough on him. And yet:

CRICHTON: This isn’t going to work, is it? We’re never going to be friends.
D’ARGO: Friendship is a lot to ask.
CRICHTON: Then how about respect? We can be allies.

This may not seem like a lot, but as the ensuing battle between Crichton, D’Argo, and the bounty hunters shows, a Luxan never abandons an ally, regardless of personal risk. And as Aeryn and Crichton prove, risking their lives for one another, this band of fugitives are allies, even if they’re not quite friends. So yes, in the end, Crichton has to give Furlough his recently acquired data in order to pay the repair bill, which means he’s back to square one. But at the same time, as Zhaan points out, there are other planets with solar activity: he can start from scratch. And this time, he’ll have allies.

Obsessive observations: 

  • The native aliens on this planet look really cool with their bad-ass shades and Rorschatz-like faces. It’s a shame they’re so upstaged by the Volkarians and Furlough’s humanoid species. For that matter, the costume designers get points all-around for style: D’Argo’s Dead Space-like welding mask is neat, and even the pin-hole goggles donned by Crichton and Aeryn are fashionable.
  • Before he lost contact with them, D’Argo knew that Crichton was headed to Furlough’s. Why, then, does he park so far away from the settlement? He’s unaware that there are beacons broadcasting his face, but walking through the desert, alone, is just asking for trouble. There are always Jawa-like creatures in them there dunes. (It can’t just be a matter of his bullishness behavior either; Zhaan does the same thing.)
  • FURLOUGH: Why don’t you go for a nice long walk outside, take in some of the sights?
    AERYN: What sights?
    FURLOUGH: Well, if you go straight out that way, there’s a truly outstanding expanse of sand.
    AERYN: Sand, eh?
    FURLOUGH: Just as much as you could want.
  • Rygel’s poor virgin eyes: he happens upon Zhaan while she’s bathing in the buff, soaking up those photogasms, and now he’s afraid to look at her, lest she once again be naked. (“Don’t insult my eyes with your naked blue extremities. . . . Help, help, a mad Delvian exhibitionist is forcing herself on me!”) He may look like a toad, but he’s not the horny kind, I guess; and hey, now Zhaan’s got an easy way to shut Rygel up in the future.
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