Farscape always has its sense of adventure and excitement with one foot seemingly planted in its unabashed sense of arousal. Whether it's sexual, sensual or just plain species or inter-species curious, Farscape is unafraid to travel down those intimate roads.
Season One, Episode 5, Back And Back And Back To The Future is just one fearless example of the series desire to explore beings as sensual, sexual or out and out there kinky.
With the arrival of Farscape, Season One, Episode 11, Till The Blood Runs Clear, we are exposed to a side of Zhaan that was merely hinted to in episodes prior. The opening minutes witness Zhaan entranced in a state of arousal as her body is awash in the bright radiation of a star's solar flares. In essence, Zhaan clearly experiences a kind of photosynthesized orgasm thanks to the cosmic rays that wash over her. There was always something unique about Zhaan, but with the latest entry viewers find out it was much more than they knew.
As John Crichton and Aeryn Sun pilot the his IASA vessel to the planet below, strap in for the latest in outlander escapism via the always adventurous Farscape.
Taking Farscape 1, Crichton, with Sun, makes an effort to recreate the events that landed him in this strange Farscape universe. A wormhole opens to his amazement utilizing the slingshot effect coupled with the solar flare. Those same variables that landed him aboard Moya and away from Earth seem to have worked once again. With Sun reporting the wormhole unstable, the twosome abandon the effort in an effects-heavy opening that never fails to deliver the visual Farscape excitement. The effects were entirely new and built upon those created for the Premiere.
Ka D'Argo, forgetting any connection he made with Sun in the previous They've Got A Secret, is prepared to abandon Sun and Crichton at their present coordinates and move on. Fortunately the solar flare has Zhaan in a near erotic state and feeling quite amorous for D'Argo amidst her present sensations.
And if you thought The Sci-Fi Fanatic was being purposefully, overtly sexual in his opening remarks think again. Zhaan is right there to inform her crew that her reaction is that of a Delvian Sikh's gifts, a photogasm [photosynthesis meets orgasm].
Pilot notifies Crichton and Sun that the IASA module is leaking plasma and it cannot board with Moya's young child suceptible to chemical harms. What's a mother to do? Moya, through Pilot, has informed Sun they will need to eject. Crichton refuses and opts to visit the nearby planet. D'Argo is displeased and Crichton calls him "a real pain in the ass." Rygel takes pleasure in translation naming a number of other synonyms aimed at his warrior shipmate including: simpleton, moron, idiot and a dolt.
Sun wonders what the hell Crichton was thinking without checking with her first. This is a classic scene and speaks to the complexities of the relationships on Farscape. The Moya crew is always quick to move from fleeting joys and ocassional fun to misunderstandings and unwelcomed tensions and then back again. This is fast becoming a snapshot of life in a family. All of this leads to stronger bonds and begrudging acceptance as well as compromise and better understandings. Best of all, right and wrong is rarely black and white, but often gray depending on a character's point of view. Some things in life are indeed relative.
Landing on a sandy dustbowl that looks like an homage to Star Wars' Mos Eisley Spaceport on Tatooine, Farscape never ceases to amaze on its television-sized budget. The creators willingly takes us to new places and new locations and make every effort to really transport the viewer. Thank God they weren't filming in Vancouver. No, this was the Stockton Sands of Newcastle north of Sydney, Australia. Utilizing the Aussie locale really brings the alien landscape to life for Farscape in the way Star Wars brought to life to its worlds by filming in England and elsewhere without a stitch of that George Lucas CGI he had at his disposal for the three prequel films. The farscapes are industrious, simple and brilliantly mindblowing. It's one of the highlights of the installment. Farscape's answer to Mos Eisley is a place called Dam-Ba-Da depot.
Sun and Crichton meet with the planet mechanic, Furlow. She's none too complimentary of Crichton's vessel wondering if it's even "space-worthy" or doomed for the "collection" heap. Crichton is hoping to get back up to the skies as the flares are expected to die out before day's end and won't return for another four to five years.
Equipped with solar flare goggles, Sun and Crichton must play the waiting game. As luck would have it, the planet isn't far off from the cantina-like vibe of scum and villainy found in Star Wars. A holographic beacon projects an image of Bialar Crais who offers a great "deal" for the fleeing fugitives. The projection offers an award for the capture of D'Argo, Zhaan and Rygel. Crichton reckons there's no mention of himself because Crais wants to kill him personally and will no doubt find Crichton should he find the others. And Sun?
Sun and Crichton run into male and female Vorcarian Blood Trackers. They ask if Sun is Crichton's female. "I am no one's female," replies Sun in disgust and it is hilariously well-timed. Held by the Vorcarians Crichton plays the game to free his comrade. "You tell your bitch to let my female go." With Sun set free, Crichton tells Sun "You keep your damn mouth shut unless I tell you to speak!" It is brilliantly executed Farscape humor as Sun plays along. Crichton informs the blood trackers of their names, Butch and Sundance. Here is a portion of that brilliant sequence including the introduction of Rorf, the blood tracker, whom Crichton mistakes as Worf paying tribute to Star Trek: The Next Generation. It's classic Farscape.
With Zhaan in the throes of solar ecstasy, D'Argo submits he will go down to the planet and find Crichton and Sun himself.
"We like spilled blood," proclaims one of the blood trackers. With beacons on a variety of planets, Crichton cuts a deal with the two rogue trackers. Seventy/ thirty. Not being the world's brightest bounty hunter, Rorf demands 70/40. Crichton counters with 80/40. It is downright amusing stuff.
Classic. The beautiful Sun, and Claudia Black is a beautiful woman, wonders how long Crichton's ruse will work? He's hoping long enough to get his module back.
Sun unlocks a coded message sent from Crais directly to her. Should she hand over the fugitive crew of Moya, he promises to retire her honorably. Crichton and Sun don't believe a word of it. The message does give Sun pause. Crichton wonders if she believes Crais, but Sun is clearly sobered by his message. "I always take him seriously." She understands what Crais is capable of. The situation presents Sun with a dilemma. Once again, she is caught between two worlds since the events of Episode 1, Premiere and she must ask where her loyalties belong. One could argue Sun understands the offer/trap of Crais to be nothing more than subterfuge that would inevitably lead to her death. It is possible Sun is undergoing a personal transformation as her loyalties are clearly shifting. This is by no means Stockholm syndrome but Sun is clearly identifying with her fellow travellers and this band of alien misfits, not mention a certain affinity for John Crichton. It could indeed be both.
D'Argo has arrived on the planet. The local bounty hunters stir over his arrival. The blood trackers pick up the Luxan's scent. Marching across the desert planet, D'Argo is captured by the Vorcarians.
It's worth noting that a tremendously raunchy rock score accompanies this particular episode and it feels entirely appropriate to the gritty, bounty-styled atmosphere.
Furlow offers, again, to purchase Crichton's module for scrap. Crichton wonders why the interest. She has picked up traces of space particles indicative of a "proto-wormhole." Furlow has never seen one, but is indeed interested. Furlow offers Crichton a second hand Prowler as payment. Rushing outside Crichton finds D'Argo captured.
D'Argo is too stupid and hot headed to determine Crichton is working on a plan to save him by pretending to work with the blood trackers. "I will kill you Crichton!," hollers D'Argo. "Crichton? Your name's Crichton?," asks Rorf. "Yeah, Butch Crichton," attempts Crichton.
D'Argo is captured and tortured. His blood runs thick and dark. Crichton understands what is at stake and under the guise of keeping the prisoner alive for Crais, he explains Luxans will die of blood shock if the blood is not stimulated until the blood runs clear. You'll recall a similar event in Farscape, Season One, Episode 4, Throne For A Loss.
Rorf wonders why Crichton is protecting him. "Who's calling the shots here Pluto?," Crichton barks at the Vorcarians with their dog-like resemblance. Rorf demands Crichton torture their prisoner. Crichton takes the opportunity to try and save D'Argo by squeezing his facial appendages. While it appears like physical torture, Crichton is in fact attempting to stimulate his blood flow and save his life. Punching D'Argo repeatedly the Luxan goes unconscious and a wipe of Crichton's hand on a towel reveals he has been successful in saving D'Argo for now.
Inside the hangar, Sun spots a mechanic attempting to access the flight recorder inside Crichton's module. Sun winds up in a hand-to-hand combat situation with a number of cloaked agents of Scorvian origin. They don't specifically mention it, but those bright, yellow eyes quickly give them away. You'll remember the last deadly Scorvian ordeal in Farscape, Season One, Episode 5, Back And Back And Back To The Future. Sun is clearly a tough, ass-kicking Peacekeeper-trained soldier as she unabashedly opens up a can of Sebacean whoop ass embodied in pure perfection within the amazing Claudia Black. Disoriented and now blinded by a passing solar flare, Sun is saved in a nick of time by Furlow. The cigar-smoking Furlow is given a nice turn by guest Magda Szubanski [who also appeared in the wonderful 1995 film Babe].
Zhaan, now renewed by her solar vacation, is ready to get involved. This is a comical exchange between Rygel and Zhaan illustrating the small connections that are being made between one another. It can often feel like one step up and two steps back, but it's progress for this rag tag group.
Zhaan arrives on the planet. The costume designers and production work is so sharp the characters in the entry could easily have appeared in Star Wars IV: A New Hope. The quality of work that went into the product is that exceptional.
Zhaan struts her way across the barren desert, but is, once again, drawn and lured into the promise of ecstasy that is the nourishment of the solar rays that stimulate her to the core.
Crichton and Sun argue and Crichton tells Sun to "stop acting like a bad ass Peacekeeper." Sun retorts, "Ex-Peacekeeper" revealing in a small, suggestive way her move away from her past.
In a nice bit of science fiction, the blood trackers are approaching Zhaan, but she uses her Delvian powers and covers her body so her scent is no longer available. Of course, this is followed by some opportune photosynthesis. At this point, Zhaan's classification is becoming fairly self-evident.
D'Argo is free and when Crichton enters the room where he is held he proceeds to beat Crichton. I always felt D'Argo was a bit too angry in this entry. He appeared to lose all common sense or at least all sense of reason. It seems slightly out of character. Crichton yells at him, "I saved your ass today!" D'Argo responds, "You tortured me." Crichton nails it for this viewer when he yells back, "You know what, I have no idea what goes on in that tiny little brain of yours D'Argo." Here's one of those one step forwards, two steps back moments. But note the sense of compromise and again acceptance.
There are moments in Farscape where understanding is the logical outcome, but from that what next? This is the beauty of Farscape and how it progresses forward as far as the inter-relationships of this fascinating group.
The final moments see D'Argo and Crichton in a skurfuffle with the Vorcarians. "Crichton you are my ally, I will not abandon you." D'Argo responds to the respect of the warrior. In a clever twist, Sun arrives with a manipulated beacon indicating the escaped prisoners are no longer wanted. The blood trackers back off and relent, because it's all about the space Benjamins for this sort. "They're all yours Butch."
Zhaan arrives giving Crichton the bad news. The flares are over and so is Crichton's chance at discovering that wormhole.
Sun reveals she was moved by Crais' early offer to rejoin the Peacekeepers. The Living Death mgiht have been exacted upon her for her perceived traitorous behavior. You'll recall Sun's near fatal experience with the Living Death in Farscape, Season One, Episode 3, From Exodus To Genesis. Crichton pays off Furlow with the data from his flight recorder. Furlow isn't the only one fascinated by the potential for wormhole technology. Another will show an equivalent interest later in Season One and he's far less kind as strangers go.
Popular and frequent Farscape director Tony Tilse [I, E.T., PK Tech Girl] returns to the series with his action sensibilities injecting his enthusiasm and taste for adventure. Till The Blood Runs Clear is yet another fun Farscape romp. It's really hard not to love Farscape for a whole host of reasons that always end up on that screen.
Till The Blood Runs Clear: B. Writer: Douglas Heyes Jr.. Director: Tony Tilse.
Pop Culture Reference: Walt Disney's Pluto & Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid.