Farscape Rewatch! — “Nerve,” “The Hidden Memory”

WEEK TEN
[Permanent Archive Here]

So. If “A Human Reaction” was the first indication that the show could be something more, and “Through the Looking Glass” proved that what the show had really been doing all along was creating a family, then the two-parter consisting of “Nerve” and “The Hidden Memory” takes all that season-long set-up and turns it into the show (the awesome show) that will be around for the next three seasons, plus one mini-series.

It all starts with Crichton wanting to rescue Aeryn, as is his wont, and because of a chance meeting with a skeletal man-creature who looks more like Death than Death does, all of a sudden it’s not about Aeryn anymore. It’s about Crichton and what’s inside of him. These episodes introduce Stark and Scorpius, bring wormholes and PKs to the forefront, and bring back Gilina. They also mark the beginning of Farscape‘s most hallowed tradition: the epic beyond epic two-parter (or, sometimes, three-parter).

1X19 — “NERVE”

Aeryn is beating the shit out of a punching bag. She’s also wearing jaunty underboob overalls, but that’s probably irrelevant to anyone who doesn’t keep closer track of Aeryn’s fashion decisions than they do world news, so basically just me. John wants to know why she hasn’t answered them, why she isn’t with the rest of the family at dinner. She yells at him to leave her alone and then pukes what looks an awful lot like blood all over the punching bag. She confesses to Crichton that while her muscles have healed from Infecta-Larraq’s attack, the blade must have damaged her “paraphoral nerve,” which is another kooky Sebacean thing like Heat Delirium. The nerve will not regenerate, and within fifty or sixty hours, it will fail and she will die. This obviously doesn’t sit well with Crichton, who takes personal offense any time someone (especially Aeryn) becomes ill. She tells him that “the only treatment is a tissue graft from a genetically compatible donor.” And where’s the most likely place to find that? Sebaceans, of course, but the nearest Sebaceans are back at the Gammak base, which is the very last place escaped prisoners should be going. Boy, it’s sure a good thing that Larraq and all his men died, leaving Crichton and the others their uniforms and his ident-chip. He coerces the rest of the crew to go along with his plan, despite protests, but eventually they all agree that they don’t want Aeryn to die. Chiana volunteers to serve as a “distraction.” Boy, the universe sure is swell sometimes.

After a teary (on my part) goodbye, Crichton and Chiana are off. The Gammak base is located on a large moon on this sort of freaky looking column island in the middle of a very black sea. It is way creepy. Crichton finesses his way into a landing, showing much improvement in PK pretend skillz. It is a basic truth in the universe that if you pretend to be a big honcho and know things you’re not supposed to know, and don’t offer any explanations, people will fall all over themselves for you. At least, for a little while. The base commander takes Chiana and Crichton for refreshments, where Chiana immediately skanks it up and Crichton plays it cool. And in walks Scorpius. Oh, Scorpius, you half-breed son of a sadist. I think it’s the tails that really do the trick, once you’re through looking at the mask and the ridiculously cleft chin. But it’s not time for us to meet him quite yet; I’m getting ahead of myself. Oh, and Chiana grabs Crichton’s ass. Definite cupping action. Later, on the way to their new quarters, Crichton is asked for his ident-chip again, but this time they want genetic proof as well. Crichton can’t BS this one, so he puts his hand in the thingy, half expecting to be blown to bits by PK rifles in about half a second, but surprisingly he passes the clearance. It quickly becomes obvious once our little friend Gilina, who along with a large bunch of Crais’s crew has been transferred to this base, has pulled him aside in the corridor, that it’s because of her that he’s still alive.

And NOW it’s time for Scorpius. He and the base commander, whose name is Javio, are talking about something called the Aurora Chair, and it sounds pretty scary. In Crichton’s quarters, Gilina offers to take care of Crichton’s tissue sample, saying that if anyone at the base knew the real Larraq, he’d be in trouble. Back on Moya, Aeryn has grown worse. D’Argo chases a scavenging Rygel away from her and they have a nice little warrior bonding moment. In fact, it’s D’Argo that prompts Zhaan to hook Aeryn up to Moya in order to help filter out the toxins that are building up in her body. It’s sweet. Back on the base, Gilina has managed to get the lab techs to synthesize paraphoral tissue for Aeryn, and when she gives it to him, she seems to get that he’s moved on. “We always seem to be saying goodbye,” she says. He leaves her to head back to Moya, but before he can even find Chiana, he’s set upon by Scorpius who marks him as an impostor. He manages to hide the tissue sample before they drag him away. Then there’s this really cool shot of the sample in a cubbyhole, and through the cubbyhole we see them dragging Crichton away. Who directed this episode? Oh, it’s Rowan Woods, easily the most talented of Farscape‘s rotating directors. The next shot is even more impressive, if less subtle. Crichton is sitting on a rotating base, strapped to a chair — the Aurora Chair — as Scorpius introduces himself. His face is a hollowed out shell, and he speaks with cold intelligence. “My name is Larraq,” says Crichton. “Peacekeeper Special Ops.” Scorpius: “Unfortunately, wrong on all counts.” And he says this like he hasn’t got a care in the world.

The Aurora Chair — and the bimbo controlling it — zaps Crichton something fierce; apparently it’s some sort of torture device. And then all of a sudden we’re in Crichton’s head, and Scorpius is, too. So, the Aurora Chair = torture mind-reading device. Got it. Crichton is sweating like a pig, and there are tears running down his cheeks. “What the hell was that?” he asks. “A memory,” says Scorpius. No shit. Scorpius says he’s going to map Crichton’s neural patterns, and Crichton tells him to stay the hell out of his mind. There are a bunch of quick flashes from previous episodes, and Scorpius makes the leap when he sees the Leviathan. Soon he’ll know exactly who Crichton is. Back on Moya, Aeryn is in a similar state, sweaty and tired, and she’s hooked up to Moya. D’Argo refuses to let Zhaan tell her it was his idea. He’s shy. But honestly, this scene and Aeryn’s rhythmic pulsing with Moya‘s whatever is freaking me out way more than the torture stuff. Meanwhile, Chiana and Gilina have figured out that Crichton’s been captured. Chiana disguises herself in a wig, while Scorpius puts all the pieces together. And it’s in this moment that Bialar Crais becomes the least of Crichton’s worries. Scorpius puts out a message coded to Crais’s Command Carrier, hurrying the rogue captain to come and claim his prey, so Scorpius can catch both of them in his dirty great web. And then we get to the interesting part. Scorpius comes across a memory in Crichton’s head that Crichton has never seen before. It’s from the Ancients, who gave him the information on how to create and manipulate wormholes, and they gave it to him subconsciously. In the memory, Jack tells him, “If you’re not smart enough to discover it on your own, you’re not smart enough to handle it wisely. You’ll have to find it yourself. The unconscious knowledge we’ve given you will guide you. Nothing more. That’s all that we can do for you. But that should be enough.”

Scorpius is VERY interested in this, because as it turns out, that’s exactly what this top secret Gammak base is for: wormhole research. When Crichton learns this, he becomes hysterical, laughing maniacally. They go after him some more, but as his brain is in danger of liquefaction, they decide to let him rest. Drool drips down his chin. It isn’t pretty. For his rest time, Crichton is thrown in a cell with a crazy slave named Stark, who screams at him to get on his side of the cell. “My side, your side, MY SIDE, YOUR SIDE!” Over and over again. Turns out the crazy slave actually likes being in the Aurora Chair, and Scorpius keeps obliging. Oh, also, he’s wearing a creepy mask that covers half of his face like in the Phantom of the Opera, but smellier. “Oh, Scorpy. Scorpy puts me in the chair over and over again.” Up on Moya, the treatment seems to be working, that is, until Moya starts going into labor. Later, possibly the next day, Stark is in the Aurora Chair screaming for more when Crais arrives, looking sort of unkempt. Scorpius refuses to hand Crichton over until he’s gotten all the information he can out of him. While Chiana escapes with Gilina’s help to get Aeryn the tissue sample, Crais visits Crichton in his cell. He attempts to persuade Crichton to cooperate with the Aurora Chair, but Crichton sees through his ruse. (P.S. Chiana kills Commander Javio; she cooks him like fried chicken.) Once Aeryn has been given the cure, D’Argo sits with her and holds her hand; he’s a real boy now. Down on the base, Scorpius knows Crichton had another accomplice, thanks to the diversion with the reactor core and the fact that the Prowler disappeared from their sensors. The episode ends on Crichton screaming as the Aurora Chair does its thing. “Don’t worry,” says Scorpius, “Crichton will tell us.”

Trivia

  • Paul Goddard researched his role as the insane Banik slave Stark by watching Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and Brad Pitt in 12 Monkeys.
  • “Nerve” is the first Farscape episode to end with “TO BE CONTINUED . . .”
  • Kent McCord, who plays The Ancient/John’s father, shot his scenes for this episode while filming “A Human Reaction.”
  • Scorpius was originally designed as a fully animatronic puppet, in the form of an insect-like creature.
  • In the original idea for the series, creator Rockne O’Bannon had written Scorpius as a regular for the show, introduced in one of the first couple of episodes.
  • [SPOILER!] In the original script, Scorpius and Crichton had more conversation following Crichton’s attempt to provoke Scorpy the first time he’s put in the chair. It reveals Scorpius is half Sebacean, half Scarran. His mother was part of Scarran breeding experiments when they invaded his home, the Motak Four colony. It’s obvious why the next bit of dialogue was removed, as Scorpius reveals that he killed his father, and his entire race. He made Scarrans extinct with a deadly virus. This information preceded the line “I long ago learned the advantages of patience.” Of course, the Scarrans are not extinct and do appear in Season Two.
  • Crichton’s comparison of Scorpius to Nosferatu is referenced later in the season four episode “We’re So Screwed: Fetal Attraction.”
  • Crichton makes a reference to British Comedy troupe Monty Python when Crais offers him a bargain (‘Fetch The Comfy Chair!’).

Metaphorically Speaking

For the most part, both of these episodes are largely concerned with moving the plot forward, planting the seeds for the series-long conflict between Crichton and Scorpius and everything that comes with it. Of course, as my Intro to Fiction professor would say, there’s the thing and then there’s the other thing, and the other thing is always there with Farscape even in plot-heavy eps like these. Take the title, for example: “Nerve.” Obviously this is in reference to Aeryn’s damaged paraphoral phlebotinum, but there’s other stuff happening, too.

You could argue that it also refers to “nerve” in the adjectival sense, as in “Crichton has some nerve to get all up in them PK’s bidness,” except more eloquent than that. Or, the one that resonates for me, “nerve” as in “struck a nerve.” I’m always going to gravitate to the Aeryn/Crichton side of the equation when this stuff comes up, so my answer is obviously going to be that anything to do with Aeryn is Crichton’s weak spot, his “nerve,” but there are other examples to be had. Like Scorpius, whose weak spot is his extreme desire for wormhole technology (he has other weak spots as well, but I’ll save those for later so as to avoid spoilers), and Crais, whose anger was responsible for the Moyans being on this base in the first place. Hell, you could probably even take it as far as to compare the crew’s affection for Aeryn and her place in their little family to the realistic notion that it would just plain be safer for them all if they let her die. This is a double-edged sword. Just as Crichton’s affection for Aeryn is a weakness (in that it allows him to be captured by Scorpius and the other PKs) and a strength (because their relationship makes both of them better people), so too is the Moyans’ newfound sense of family both a weakness and a strength. Nerves are essential parts of our bodies, but if you hit them in just the right way, they can take you out of the game faster than anything. (And if we add in Aeryn’s Sebacean weirdness, the thing that rids your body of toxins.)

But mostly, there’s just good old fashioned character stuff, like people talking, and there’s some rescuing  going on, and being tortured by crazy alien skeletons. Being part one, “Nerve” is also asking a lot of questions in preparation for “The Hidden Memory,” and setting up and introducing new characters into the equation. Both Scorpius and Stark make their first appearances in this episode, but neither is fleshed out past the craziness that is the surface level of their characters (Scorpius being Bad Snake Bondage Sadist Guy and Stark being Crazy Bondage Masochist Guy, the predator and the victim, etc). It’s helpful to think about what everybody wants in this episode. Crichton wants to save Aeryn; Aeryn wants to be spared the shame of this embarrassing death in whatever way possible (and she very much appreciates what Crichton is doing for her, even if she doesn’t understand it); Chiana wants to prove herself useful; D’Argo and Zhaan want to care for Aeryn because they can’t stand the sight of the normally strong woman being in such pain; Rygel wants to save his own hide (as usual); Scorpius wants wormholes, and to inflict pain on everyone he meets just for the fun of it; Crais wants revenge, to fill up that hole that his brother left behind; and Gilina wants Crichton. What’s neat about the Scorpius/Crichton thing is that they actually both want the same thing (wormholes) but for different reasons, and it’s that different-but-same conflict, that yin-yang, that keeps them tied together for the rest of the series. We get some sort of closure on each of those fronts in the following episode.

Some final thoughts: Ben Browder is SO GOOD at playing crazy, which is good, because he’s going to be doing it a lot from here on out. Stark, played by Paul Goddard, is pretty ace at it as well. I’ll touch on this more for the next episode, but the Scorpius/Crichton torture scene is pretty gruesome. When the drool comes dripping out of Crichton’s mouth, you just feel it in your gut. I really like the way that Chiana’s sexuality is conceptualized here; it’s like she has such complete control over her body and sense of femininity and sexuality that she doesn’t even care when it’s being manhandled. It’s just another tool to her. I also enjoy the whole Gilina/Aeryn conflict going on, even though Aeryn and Gilina don’t meet in this episode. Even in her absence, Aeryn overshadows little Gilina. A lot of time has passed between this episode and “PK Tech Girl,” and not only has Crichton grown closer to Aeryn, but he himself has changed. That naive innocence that drew him to Gilina in the first place is just gone. She just seems petty and unimportant now, poor kid.

Trash Bin

I love how Crichton’s “memories” show his face. Can’t these TV guys (all of them!) learn how to at least make it even slightly plausible when they pretend that footage from previous episodes is a “memory”? It drives me crazy, even crazier than bad time travel, and that’s saying something.

– – –

1X20 — “THE HIDDEN MEMORY”

Out in space, Moya is caroming around wildly. She’s in full on labor. Starburst and propulsion are completely out of the question until the baby is born, which means the Moyans are stuck in one place, and if the PK’s find them, they’re in trouble. We also learn that Moya believes there is something wrong with her child, that it is not a natural Leviathan pregnancy. Meanwhile, upon waking, Aeryn learns that Crichton has been captured by the Peacekeepers and is angry that no one has tried to go after him. She suits up, trying to get D’Argo to remain behind, but he won’t have any of it. Despite his extreme, uh, visibility, he’s coming too. And yeah, sure, why don’t we add a big blue hussy in there, while we’re at it. She won’t be out of place AT ALL. Party down on the Gammak base! Meanwhile, down on said Gammak base, Crichton is in the middle of being tortured by the Aurora Chair, and Crais is watching slash taunting him. There is spittle everywhere as they try to extract the memory that he is holding back from them: the memory of Gilina. If they find that memory, Gilina will be as good as dead. But no, our boy is strong. He won’t give in. I won’t let him.

Back from being tortured, Crichton is prostrate and barely conscious on the floor of his cell. His body and mind are wasted. He looks awful. He starts to come around a little bit at all the noise Stark is making; the crazy slave is fiddling around with the locking mechanism on their cell door, and when he realizes Crichton is awake, moves very fast away from it and starts talking even crazier. Suspicious Stark is acting suspicious. Soon he’s got Crichton pinned to the wall. Crichton: “You’re not crazy, are you, Stark?” Stark: “No. But if they think I am, they don’t bother me so much.” He shows Crichton his “baby,” a magnetic de-crypting tool that he made over the course of two cycles that he plans on using to escape, but it can only try one code at a time. He suddenly becomes worried that Crichton will tell Scorpy about his baby, but Crichton says he can keep the secret; he’s kept other secrets from them so far. Stark doesn’t believe him; he says that he’s the only one who can keep memories from the chair forever. Abruptly, Gilina contacts Crichton over her super-secret intercom hack, causing Stark to shit himself in surprise. Crichton begs her for a distraction so he can have some more time away from the chair, and he lets Stark know that he must keep Gilina’s help a secret from the PK’s.

Up on Moya, D’Argo, Aeryn, and Zhaan depart, and using the blind created by Gilina, approach the Peacekeeper base. After they’re gone, Pilot tells Chiana and Rygel that they need to get the baby out as quickly as possible, an idea that Rygel doesn’t take kindly too (no surprise there). Gilina does some dirty sneaky business on the Aurora Chair while it’s being routinely maintenanced. Just in time, Scorpy and Crais enter, and when they’re informed that the chair is ready, they head straight for Crichton. Gilina rushes to warn him, and tells him one thing: to remember the kiss they shared on the Zelbinion, even though that’s the one thing he’s been trying not to remember. Once in the chair, he obliges. Flashes of kissing Gilina are mixed in with little flashes of kissing Aeryn and then all of a sudden! There’s a new memory mixed in there, a false one, of Crichton being on Crais’s Command Carrier kissing a blonde with Gilina’s hair style, but who is definitively not Gilina. Then it swooshes over to another fake memory of Crichton conversing freely with Crais, and which implicates Crais as a traitor. Fake Memory Crais thanks Fake Memory Crichton for giving him the wormhole technology so that he may rise in the Peacekeeper ranks to a more deserving position. Crais denies it all as lies, but as Scorpy says, you can’t make things up for the chair. He says the only way to prove it’s NOT a lie is for Crais to go in the chair. DAMN, Gilina is good.

Outside, the three renegade Moyans have set up camp. Zhaan is upgrading “these primitive explosives,” Aeryn has found an access shaft, and D’Argo, well . . . he’s the guy with the penis. Despite shaking hands, Aeryn enters the base. At the same time his rescue is on its way, voice cracking, Crichton tells Stark what happened. And oh my God I wish I wasn’t real right now so I could pull Crichton into my lap like Stark is about to do. He lays a hand on Crichton’s head and pulls off his mask, revealing a mass of glowing . . . I don’t know, something. But it looks like Heaven. The glow that emanates from him soothes Crichton almost immediately. He’s like an insane angel covered in dirt. While he’s all glowy, he tells Crichton that the PK’s killed most of his people but kept him alive because he interested them. He’s able to hide thoughts that their Chair can’t touch. “What I know deep inside, Peacekeepers will never see.” Back in the Aurora Chair, Crais is getting freaked on. And unfortunately, while his visit to the Chair proves his innocence from Crichton’s accusations, it also reveals his treacherous murder of his second in command, something he never intended for anyone to know about. While Crais is getting hisself tortured and public enemied, Aeryn finds Gilina. She tells Aeryn what’s happened, and that as soon as Scorpius finds out Crichton knows nothing about wormholes (not likely since they both know he does), he’ll kill him. Using her mad Aeryn skillz, Aeryn manages to break Crichton and Stark out, and they head for the roof. Scorpius soon learns of his escape and that a Peacekeeper is working with him, and he has the base sealed. Picking up Gilina on the way, the fugitives fight to make it to the surface before Scorpius’s security forces can block their path. Aeryn, Crichton, and Gilina hide under a grate as PK Barbie draws near.

Up on Moya, things are going badly as well. Rygel and Chiana have eighty seconds before Moya opens herself up to space in order to equalize the pressure in her environments and give birth. Chiana is forced to share a tiny pressure tube with Rygel, which quickly fogs up, among other circumstances having to do with Rygel’s hands in inappropriate places and the first instance of Rygel helium farts since “Premiere” (Chiana: “You’re disgusting!”) Pilot says that he can see the baby, and that it shouldn’t be much longer. When the air is re-pressurized, the baby still isn’t out. And it is covered in weapons, one of which is caught on Moya‘s vent. Chiana has to physically climb into the nearest vent and cut a seam so the child can get itself free without blasting its way out of Moya, but she can’t. Using a low-level blast, the baby manages to free itself. It’s a boy. Back down on the Gammak base, in her search for a senior officer (and his/her ident chip), she finds Crais in the Aurora Chair and confronts him. She tells him what’s what like the Kick Ass Bitch she is, and then takes his fucking ident chip. She is my favorite person, and that is by far the best scene on the show so far. While they wait for Aeryn to come back, Gilina asks Crichton if he wants to be with Aeryn, but he won’t answer her, and later she asks the same question of Aeryn, who neatly sidesteps it. Gilina tells Aeryn that she can take care of herself, and that Aeryn needs to take care of Crichton, and leaves. And finally, the showdown: Up on the roof it’s PK’s versus Fugitives, and while our heroes make it out alive eventually, they don’t do so before Gilina is mortally wounded by Scorpius. Stark helps to ease her pain, giving her the memory that he fought so long to protect from Scorpius. She asks Crichton, if things had been different . . . could he have loved her? “Yeah,” he says, and kisses her when she asks him to, because she’s dying and it’s the least he can do.

Trivia

  • The revelation that comes at the start of the episode regarding Moya’s child not being a normal Leviathan was originally written as the tag for “Nerve.” It was written into the beginning of this episode due to time constraints.
  • Sebacean writing, as seen in some of the graphics of the security cam monitoring Crichton’s cell, uses characters that resemble Cyrillic, which is used in Russia. This isn’t the first time Peacekeepers have been linked to the Soviet Union. Peacekeeper banners use a piece of Soviet art which represents the Reds defeating the Whites, who were Tsarist partisans.
  • The filming of this episode didn’t go off completely without a hitch — after the scene with Aeryn and Crais in the Aurora chair was taped, the studio lost power.
  • Rygel running his hand down the steamed up window is a reference to the love scene between Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in the 1997 film Titanic. The nod to Titanic was the idea of Rygel’s puppeteer John Eccleston.

Metaphorically Speaking

Just as “Nerve” was all about set-up, “The Hidden Memory” is all about conclusion. And because both the set-up and the conclusion had double the amount of time they would have had in only a single episode, when the emotional moments hit, they hit that much harder. In “Nerve,” Aeryn’s body has betrayed her, as Moya‘s begins to give birth, and as Crichton’s body is holding onto as many secrets as it can, Chiana uses hers as a distraction. But in “The Hidden Memory,” Aeryn is recovering and now must, in turn, rescue John. He’s the one about to die. He’s the one who is in pain. And in the end, the secrets recovered are not from John’s body, but from Crais’s, the Leviathan baby that emerges from Moya is as much a danger and mystery as it is a wonder, and it is Gilina, not Crichton or Aeryn, who pays the ultimate price.

It’s interesting that the title “The Hidden Memory” could refer to several things. First, there’s the memory that John is trying so desperately to conceal: his time with Gilina on both the Zelbinion and on the Gammak base, if Scorpius or Crais were to make the connection, would sentence her to death. John won’t let that happen. It could also refer to the memory that Gilina hides in the mainframe of the chair itself, the one that Crichton passes off as his own and which damns Crais to the same fate he once reserved for Aeryn Sun. And it could also refer to Stark’s memory, the one he’s kept hidden from Scorpius for over two years, the one that fills both Gilina and Crichton with peace when he shows it to them. Of course it’s Stark’s memory that I find the most interesting. He wasn’t keeping it from the PK’s for any logical reason, but simply because it was beautiful and it was his, and it gave him a power and an understanding that he knew they could never take away from him. I really like Stark in these two episodes. He will return in the last half of season two, and perhaps because of his freedom (something he’d never experienced before) is a different character than the one we see here. Such a nice balance of madness and kindness.

The two most notable scenes in the episode revolve around Crichton and Aeryn, but not together. Aeryn’s confrontation with Crais is arguably the most important and thrilling scene the show has given us so far. It is the culmination of a season’s worth of set-up and emotional growth on the part of Aeryn, and it is completely affecting in every way. Claudia Black eats that scene up, perfectly portraying Aeryn’s anger at Crais mixed with this smile that is floating in the crinkles of her eyes, that she knows something he doesn’t. It is delicious. Yes, he ruined her life, took everything she’d ever known away from her, and robbed her of the ability to choose who and what she would become. He deserves to be punished for that. But in doing so he also gave her a kind of gift. By cutting her bonds with the Peacekeepers, he unknowingly allowed her the opportunity to grow and see her old life for what it was lacking. What she has found in the crew of Moya in such a short time are things and feelings that are infinitely better and more rewarding than what she found in a whole lifetime spent with the Peacekeepers. That, more than anything else, is why she doesn’t kill him. By no means is Aeryn done growing as a person, but this scene is a perfect answer to Crichton’s earnest statement to Aeryn in the pilot: “You can be more.” She knows what that means now.

I also want to talk about Gilina. Her decision may have been a stupid decision strategically, but emotionally it was the right one; good on Gilina for not playing second fiddle. She’s a smart girl.  She does realize just in time that she needs to leave with them, but somebody had to pay the price for all this defiance and it sure wasn’t going to be any of the Moyans, not at this early stage in the game. I think what was most remarkable about Gilina, though, isn’t who she was as a character, or even that she died. She was actually rather simple: a kind-hearted girl, loving and loyal, and willing to do the right thing.  No, it’s how Crichton reacts to her that is most interesting. Crichton met Gilina at a time in his life when everything around him was in constant upheaval. She was like this bright little light in the midst of confusing darkness, and he latched on to her because it felt good and it was easy. But time passed and Crichton felt a bond towards his new surroundings and the people with whom he traveled the galaxy, and even if he hasn’t admitted to anyone yet, he fell in love. The saddest part about Gilina is that Crichton grew past her, so when she asks him to kiss her we can see in his eyes that he doesn’t mean it, not the way she needs him to. He changed her life just as much as he changed Aeryn’s, but unlike his relationship with Aeryn, he couldn’t offer Gilina anything in return. So even though the rational part of his brain acknowledges that Gilina was a smart girl who did what she wanted and made her own choices, he knows in his heart that it’s his fault she’s dead, and I don’t think that’s something he’ll ever forgive himself for.

Trash Bin

I suspend a lot A LOT of disbelief for this show, but even I sometimes have my limits. One of those limits was reached for the fake memory scene. As awesome as it is in actuality and what it does to advance the plot/theme, my mind immediately questions the ‘how.’ We’re not even given the courtesy of a half-hearted technobabble explanation, which actually in a way I’m grateful for. This is yet another example of Farscape‘s priorities, and they ain’t in practical plausibility.

– – –

Crichtonisms

  • “For the ninth time, Nosferatu, I’m not a spy.”
  • “Fetch me the comfy chair!”
  • “Well, thanks for the family tree, Crais, but frankly, I don’t give a damn.”
  • “Give it a couple of days. I think Scorpy and Peacekeeper Barbie’ll do it for you.”
  • “It was only about the time I kissed a girl.”

PuppetWatch!

  • The make-up for Scorpius is beyond good and it’s not even in it’s final form, yet. He is one of the creepiest mo-fo’s I’ve ever laid eyes on.

– – –

“Crackers Don’t Matter!”

  • Damn, Aeryn and Crichton look sexy in those Peacekeeper uniforms. This show is always at its best when those two are wearing black leather.
  • There are SO MANY pop culture references in both episodes, and sometimes ones you’d barely recognize. This is because inane jokes are how Crichton deals with stress, which is something I love about him. Seriously: Monty Python, Diamonds are Forever, Dracula, Lost in Space, Cool Hand Luke, Yogi Berra, Gone With the Wind, Melrose Place . . . etc.
  • During the commentary for “Nerve,” Claudia Black and Ben Browder are arguing about the questionable Sebacean practice of eyebrow kissing, and when Browder says he thinks there’s something to it, Claudia invites him to kiss her eyebrows right in the middle of recording the commentary. “Go on, go ahead,” she says. And he totally does. There’s silence for about five seconds, then she’s like, “Eh, not bad but I can think of better things to do with my clothes on.” I love these people. Later they tell each other “I love you.” Of course, they follow that up with “Shut up and get me a drink.”
  • “Nerve” marks the first appearance of Scorpius, the Peacekeeper-Scarran halfbreed. He will have a central role for the remainder of the series. This episode also marks the first appearance of Stark, a Banik slave. Like Scorpius, he too will play a major role through the remainder of the series.
  • Aeryn: “I’m strong enough to go alone.”
    D’Argo: “No, you’re not. If you can be an idiot, I can be an idiot.”
  • “Well of course not! I think this is a trifle different, don’t you? My progeny were tiny . . . tiny and handsome, like their father.”
  • Stark: “Who is that?”
    Crichton: “That . . . is the radiant Aeryn Sun.”
    Stark: “How many Peacekeepers do you know on this base?”
  • The scene with Chiana and Rygel trapped with the helium farts is unspeakably awesome. Gigi Edgley is so good at being disgusted.
  • P.S. In the screencap I took for classic moment #10, Aeryn looks so fucking pretty. Don’t tell me I’m wrong, or I’ll stick you in the Aurora Chair.

– – –

Classic Moments in Farscape, #10

[Aeryn enters the room with the Aurora Chair; she’s looking for a senior officer. She finds Crais still in the Chair and approaches cautiously from behind.]
Aeryn: Captain Crais? What are you doing in this chair?
Crais: [simultaneously, blinded with pain and unable to turn around] Who’s that? Who’s there?
Aeryn: Well, I suppose I shouldn’t expect you to recognize my voice.
Crais: Did Scorpius send you? [pause] Release me from this chair.
Aeryn: Why? So that you can kill me the way that you killed Lieutenant Teague?
[She glances over at the display, which clearly shows Crais snapping Teague’s neck.]
Crais: Who are you?
Aeryn: I am irreversibly contaminated. Now do you know who I am?
[She ducks under the bar and faces him.]
Crais: Aeryn Sun.
[She pulls herself closer to him, hovering over his face and making sure to keep the higher ground.]
Aeryn: Does this contaminate you, Crais?
Crais: As a Peacekeeper, you took a blood oath to obey your commanding officer ’til death.
Aeryn: Yes.
Crais: I am still your commanding officer.
Aeryn: [cuts him off, raises her voice considerably] But I am no longer a Peacekeeper!
Crais: You are a Peacekeeper for life. On the oath you took . . .
Aeryn: Your oath means nothing to me; you made sure of that. You destroyed everything! I lost everything because of you.
Crais: [tries to interject] Aeryn . . . Sun.
Aeryn: Do you know what I learned while I was away from you? Everything I lost wasn’t worth a damn, and I don’t want to go back to your past.
Crais: I . . . order you!
Aeryn: You order me! [She rips his ident-chip from his neck.] You will never order me again.
Crais: I will track you down and kill you, Officer Sun. On that I give you my vow.
Aeryn: You know what I give you? Your life. [She turns away and heads over to the controls.] I will make you watch your life. [She turns on the Aurora Chair to full blast. Crais screams and screams, and she just walks away.]

– – –

Coming up on the Farscape Rewatch: “Bone to Be Wild,” “Family Ties”

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Comments
16 Responses to “Farscape Rewatch! — “Nerve,” “The Hidden Memory””
  1. Dan says:

    Scorpius is another great example of how this show takes a “that type” character and develops them over time. Scorpius could have easily been a one-note Big Bad (which are fine, from time-to-time) and turned him into one of the greatest characters on TV.

    And Stark. Dear, sweet, crazy Stark.

    Also: “phlebotinum” needs to be used more in daily conversation.

  2. thelinster says:

    I don’t want you to cry yourself to sleep! You’re the awesome Ashley!

  3. zaelyna says:

    So many great things to say about these eps, as with all of Farscape. Simply, I agree with everything you said :)

    Excellent point about the double/triple/etc. meanings of the episode titles. Layered meanings that add complexity to an already complex show. Love it!

    • Ashley says:

      I don’t know how I missed this comment before. Whoops!

      A good episode title is really important, I think, and Farscape gets really good at them. The earlier episodes have some really dumb names, though, like “DNA Mad Scientist” and “PK Tech Girl.”

      • mayanscaper says:

        According to the Companion books the Season 1 episode names were never meant to see the light of day. They were the internal script names. The showrunners didn’t figure that SciFi channel would want titles so all they had were those silly titles. By the next season they were ready with puns and other clever names.

  4. Mark says:

    I was just rewatching this disc (again), and found this commentary. Glad I did, it is fun to read your impressions.

    The fake memory didn’t bother me as much as it did you. The memory was actually a lot clearer than the “real” memories. Scorpius probably would have noticed it as being off, except he was so caught up in hearing exactly what he wanted to hear.

    Love the Aeryn scene. Especially the haunting music in the background. It is like a horror movie theme, except with the twist that the good guy is doing the horrible thing to the (bad guy) victim.

    I like the irony that Scorpius was wasting his time trying to find out what Crichton was hiding from him, rather than spending his time getting the details of wormhole tech that was already available. Scorpy was so convinced that it would be a shortcut to wormholes. He may have learned patience, but obviously had not learned that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

  5. Friso says:

    Re classic moment #10 – No worries, there is absolutely no disagreement here about the beauty of Aeryn in that snapshot. One thought struck me during watching the classic moment – although Aeryn is fully justified in her acts here, i would doubt it if Crichton would have done the same thing in this position…

    Kind of wanted to pick up on the comment about technobabble – it is funny how, so far watching this show, I have never felt bothered by the implausibility of the technology. I would actually think I would appreciate this show less if they did feel the need to go into detail, because that would only help you focus on how silly the ‘techy bits’ are. Indeed, it is exactly through this ignoring that the show manages to focus on the things that matter – and make this show so awesome.

    On to the next episode description..

  6. Jen says:

    I am the Queen of the obscenely late comment.

    I like your comment about suspending disbelief but that the implanted memory was just so implausible. How on earth did she set that up? Splicing together some kind of surveillance camera footage?

    SPOILER *** Since I’ve watched ahead, I know that camera footage is easily altered with the normal projection technology and can be used to fool characters, but you would think it would be difficult with memory detection technology *** SPOILER ENDS

    As for the real memories, no sci-fi show seems to get that you can’t see your own face in your memories, but it might be slightly out of budget to re-film the flashbacks. The only way it’s done well is to shoot new footage (aka new memories, not in any previous episode) for the episode, which doesn’t work for the information Scorpius was looking for. Oh well, disbelief suspended. :)

    I felt sorry for Gilina and I think she did really great things for them and made an incredible sacrifice, but I my gut reaction was that she was just pathetic. I think it’s just that women seem to be harsher judges of other women (at least I am, though I try not to be), but I don’t feel too bad about it because she isn’t real.

    I think Ben Browder is good at gross-out acting. He seems most comfortable spitting, drooling, crying and/or bleeding profusely. He gets pretty spitty and bloody on SG-1 as well. Plus, the man has crazy eyes.

    Once I’m done with the series, the commentary sounds amazing. I’m not usually a fan of commentary, my gut reaction is to say ‘shut up, I can’t hear the dialogue,’ but I can see Browder and Black being hilarious together.

  7. Larry says:

    I enjoyed reading the analysis behind the ideas of nerve and hidden memories. Thank you.

    Now to random thoughts:

    — Crichton is a TERRIBLE strategist. His theoretical science knowledge has saved them numerous times, he empathizes well with people, but rotten at strategy. He had nothing to fall back on to explain why he was at the Gammak Base, once bravado and imaginary credentials expired; he had no idea how to get the tissue sample; and no exit strategy. Were it not for the brilliant ladies coming to his rescue — Chiana, Gilina, and Aeryn — he’d have been toast. I do love the way he spews pop culture references, which makes even Stark feel he’s met his match in insanity.

    — On repeated viewings, Gilina has risen considerably in my estimation. She’s a god of tech. Usually technicians specialize in a narrow field and can fumble their way through a few others, but Gilina can (1) hack communications; (2) hack defense screens; (3) hack biotech workflow; (4) hack the Aurora Chair; (5) hack memories; and (6) do all of the other things she was doing on the Zelbinion. It’s no wonder she was recruited for the Gammak Base. Arguably, she is Crichton’s deux ex machina, his genie in a bottle: he makes a wish and she makes it happen. All because of their time on the Zelbinion, where he saved from her Aeryn and the Sheyang, and got all romantical.

    Which is the sad part of their reunion: he’s moved on, while she’s only daydreamed of that time. Chiana tries to cover by insisting that Crichton loves her not Aeryn, but Gilina is a smart girl. She’s mature enough to realize his feelings have changed, and rather than shut down and stop helping, she goes to great lengths to help him and his comrades, at immense personal risk.

    –Chiana: she’s been hovering in the background of the past few stories, but she does well front and center. She knows a thing or two about infiltration, deception, and bamboozling, and also about how romance can smooth the way. She sexes people up to get what she wants. She also recognizes the emotional ties Gilina has for Crichton: “This… is a VERY good friend.” Also, any doubt I had about her killing Salis from “Durka Returns” was erased when she flambes Commander Javio. She even kinda enjoys it. Stone cold, that girl. Makes me wonder what dren she’s gone through trying to escape Nebari space.

    –Stark: easily the my favorite character of the two episodes. He careens from emotion to emotion so nimbly: madcap insanity “my side! your side!”, jealousy of Crichton for displacing him as the focus of Scorpius’ attention, endearing by realizing that Crichton’s cracking under the strain, and tries to shift the focus away from Crichton, even sharing the thing he’s been hiding all this time. I came to like him less over time, but right here and now, he’s full of awesome.

    –Aeryn: being hooked up to Moya’s fluids to wash away the toxins in her blood made me shudder. My dad’s on dialysis and it’s wearing when it’s done well. Zhaan macguyvers dialysis from Moya’s parts (again with the mad medical skills; what’s on the curriculum for the Delvian priesthood anyway — Mantras and Meditation 410 followed by Gene Splicing 653?) and grafted them onto Aeryn’s veins. ARGH. No wonder Aeryn convulses every time Moya’s fluids pump into her. Aeryn is one tough chick to go through all of that and go back fighting.

    –I liked the transition from one villain to another. Scorpius is shown in quick moments and it’s obvious from the moment the common room goes still and he stands there in half light, half shadow, you get a sense of lurking horror. Oh Crichton, what have you gotten yourself into this time? Scorpy quietly asserts himself as alpha villain. Crais’s vengence as a plot device can only be played out so long, whereas Scorpius’s curiosity in Crichton has been piqued and denied. So much more mileage in that.

    –Science: the Farscape tech falls into the same “how can this be futuristic?” category as Star Wars. Klunky hardware, large wiring, hardly any circuitry, no nanotech, etc. Gilina does her hacking from a telephone switchboard and she has a magical trapezoidal flashlight is rivaled only by the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver.

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