Blogger Laura McConnell looks back at her favourite episode of Farscape
With my fellow blogger Steven recently tackling game changers and Stacey writing about what she considers the best episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation , I thought I’d chime in with a single episode that fills both of these roles for me.
This one’s from Farscape , folks, and it’s a killer. ( And the complete series of Farscape is just out on Blu-ray, so what better time to (re)discover the series – online ed. )
Now, I didn’t watch Farscape until about two years ago. It had been on my “to watch” list for ages, but I just didn’t get around to it until I became friends with a true Scaper and found it could wait no longer.
The truth is that I liked the insanity that is Farscape right off, but I didn’t love it. The first season never really clicked for me. Even with the greatness of “A Human Reaction,” Farscape didn’t hit home for me until early in the second season.
Until then, I was just casually exploring the episodes on Netflix.
But then… right after the hilarious “Crackers Don’t Matter,” the game changed for me.
Yes, I was hooked – completely and totally – by “The Way We Weren’t”.
Why do I love this episode so much? Why did it entangle me in Farscape ’s web? Two words: moral ambiguity.
You thought I was going to say “Aeryn Sun,” didn’t you? Yeah, I thought about it. But there’s more than Aeryn going on here. I’ve actually tried to write this blog at least twice before and failed because I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that so ensnared me. But I think I might have it now. It’s the greyness of it all. Everyone but D’Argo is nearly impossible to define as good or evil in this episode.
Quick summary for those of you not lucky enough to have watched this (though if you haven’t maybe you should watch it asap before reading on, but the choice is yours): It begins with Chiana finding a recording which she and John watch. The video shows a group of Peacekeepers on Moya, attempting to get Moya’s previous (female) Pilot to co-operate. Crais then appears and orders the troops to kill the pilot, which they do. And when the troops remove their helmets, we see that one of them is… Aeryn Sun! And then the recording gets passed around the rest of the crew faster than a video of a nude Justin Bieber on YouTube , and possibly creating more controversy.
Rygel is a thief and a snitch, but he has good reason to show Pilot the recording. The same applies to Chiana when she found it to begin with and showed it to everyone else.
Zhaan treats Aeryn harshly, but though her anger is righteous, it’s still not the best example of proper priestess behaviour.
John is kind to Aeryn and tries to help her several times, but while that seems admirable, we all know he’s got some pretty selfish motives for that.
Pilot? Wow. He tries to kill Aeryn, and he seems completely justified at first. Oh, but guess what? Like Aeryn, it turns out that Pilot, who so far in the series seems like everyone’s blameless servant, has a few skeletons in his closet, too. His bonding to Moya involved torture, and he was an underage wannabe to begin with! Oh, and his emo tendencies? His attempted suicide that would have killed everyone – not just Aeryn? Not exactly hero material.
And Aeryn? In some ways, Aeryn is the least guilty of all in this, at least in regards to her actions against Pilot, Moya, and the crew. She was truly just following orders when she committed her atrocities. She was taking “the Peacekeeper hard line,” as her lover said (never mind that Velorek was a manipulating bastard who tortured Pilots and Leviathans sometimes and at other times attempted to atone for his sins by sabotaging Crais’s insane plan to create a PK Leviathan monster). As far as her flying and shooting were concerned, she was just doing her job. But when you take her personal life into account? That’s where things get sticky, because there’s a man involved. A hard-nosed Peacekeeper following orders shouldn’t fall in love – and she did. A good soldier should never question her orders – and she did. But in the end, her PK loyalty won out. She played her most familiar hand – that of the good little soldier – but she lost her soul in the bet.
So there you have it. Everyone is neck deep in their own motivations and personal demons, which is always fun. But “The Way We Weren’t” isn’t all melodrama and moral heavy-handedness.
The humour in this episode is widely-scattered, but it’s there.
We get such lovely Crichton-isms as “Pilot’s Etch-A-Sketch isn’t operating with all its knobs right now.” And John and D’Argo’s game of rock-paper-scissors is classic Farscape .
And the ship? The non-Moya kind? The John/Aeryn kind? It’s lovely. We get a serious conversation about relationships in which a large red triangle clearly divides John and Aeryn from one another as they sit on a Peacekeeper rug. No way that’s coincidence. And the ending? The fact that the writers didn’t feel the need to spell everything out for us? Oh, be still my heart, for I love open endings.
When you add the fact Farscape ’s dysfunctional little family becomes just that – a family, complete with flaws galore – by the end of the episode, I’m all in. When the crew decides to allow Pilot to re-bond naturally to Moya despite the risks in entails for them, I’m just smitten… still.
I’ve watched Farscape from start to finish more than once now, but no repeat viewing has changed my mind about “The Way We Weren’t” being the best of the lot.