Rhapsody In Blue might suggest the obvious that this episode of Farscape is indeed Zhann-centric. Despite my love and affection for Virginia Hey, this was potentially my least favorite entry to date. Still, the latest Farscape does have its moments and the story unveils more regarding the mysteries surrounding Hey's character P'au Zotoh Zhaan.
Ultimately, my adoration for Farscape is boundless. It's an easy show to love in the way one loved and has an affection for Star Trek: The Original Series. Both series have much in common. They both are bold and colorful and the personality of each series is defined by a cast chemistry that ranks second to none. Even the weakest episodes have something considerable to offer or something worthy of your time. Not many shows can make those claims. Undeniably, ST:TOS and Farscape always give us something of quality even in their least successful moments.
Obviously, there's always something for the fangirls. In Farscape The Illustrated Companion, Hey jokes about the many Delvian female characters who appear in the entry having hair. The conceptual design of her character was wise since Zhaan, from the beginning of the series, has essentially subdued her dark forces, found an inner calm and offers a purity and cleansing that her Delvian people appear to be at odds, in conflict or struggle with especially based on the information revealed here. Her bald, pure, good looks truly speak to the centered-nature of her character, one that is philosophically a work in progress. So where did the writers take Zhaan? Let us get lost inside Farscape, Season One, Episode 12, Rhapsody In Blue.
The entry opens with John Crichton sleeping with a bangin' hot blonde, Alex. He plans to ask for her hand in marriage before she informs him she will be relocating to Stamford University clear across the country. He slides the intended ring back under the bed. Nevertheless, while disappointed, a healthy libido thus commenceth once again.
The dream concludes with Crichton hurled from his bed aboard a shaking, Starbursting Moya. Shots pleasantly reveal an undie wearing Crichton to an undie wearing Aeryn Sun for fan girls and boys alike. Fanatics everywhere revel. Aeryn is wearing Crichton's Calvin Kleins.
Rygel reveals to Crichton that he too was dreaming of his many wives before the shakedown. D'Argo even dreamt of his lost love Lo'Lann.
Pilot reveals Moya was sent a distress signal. The deception was sent from fellow Delvians hoping to contact Zhaan.
On the planet below it is discovered the Delvians have established a missionary colony. Crichton and Sun have accompanied Zhaan to the planet. Zhaan is suspicious of the intentions of one Pa'u Tahleen. Zhaan tells her "You invaded my soul last night." Apparently it was the Delvians who influenced the entire crew of Moya. The militant-minded Sun questions the "serenity" of this place.
The trio returns to the Delvian ship that is at once beautiful, unique, incredible and creepy according to Crichton. Despite Aeryn's cautious nature, John is like a wide-eyed little boy open to the discovery of each new surrounding. Our viewing experience is similar and we identify with Crichton's journey. We are awed by the creations that are depicted in Farscape. "Almost everything we see, almost every day is brand new to both of us."
Claudia Black can look at the tag on her underwear and she's sexy. Tahleen asks Zhaan for the secrets to her power. We are given a sense of Zhaan's history. She has somehow managed to overcome hatred, anger and madness suppressing insanity and the dark impulses through control and power of which Zhaan cannot relinquish. Even Zhaan cannot understand how she survived those "early cycles." The Delvians seek to understand how Zhaan co-exists with such feelings. In exchange, the Delvians will teach her great powers. To demonstrate her powers, Tahleen alters Crichton's mind expressing her ability to willingly manipulate. Zhaan demands that Crichton be returned to his original mental state. His reactions are the result of manipulations, but Aeryn is unaware and looks at Crichton telling him, "You are thee most bizarre creature I have ever met."
More terrific mattes from the world of Farscape. On Moya, D'Argo is concerned "Delvian trickery" may be in play.
A old, wizened Delvian named Pa'u Tuzak warns Crichton to be vigilant and that Zhaan is in danger. He warns Crichton despite the fact he is going insane and believes Crichton to be a Peacekeeper. Apart from Crichton being advised not to touch the sanctity root, Aeryn is ushered out of the temple. She flies back to Moya.
Zhaan admits to Crichton she dreamt of her last lover on the eve of their arrival. Zhaan asks Tahleen to show Crichton.
Crichton is presented a vision of Zhaan locked in an embrace with Pa'u Bitaal and Zhaan killing her Delvian leader and lover like some mating mantis.
It was that action that imprisoned Zhaan. Crichton, despite keeping an open mind, is repulsed. "You killed a guy you were having sex with." There it is again - sex! Farscape is synonymous with sex. The series is indeed infused with a healthy sexuality and unabashed exploration of the act. Zhaan pleads with John to understand. She requires judgment from someone she trusts. She needs his help because the Delvians have asked her to do it again.
As it turns out Zhaan killed Bitaal because he would not yield his power to someone else. The conservative Delvian and others entered into an agreement with the Peacekeepers for external security. It changed her homeworld forever. "A Delvian coup d'etat," as Crichton calls it. The Peacekeepers rounded up liberal thinkers and placed them in camps. Zhaan's father was one of those thinkers. Zhaan loved the man she killed. The Delvians in question here are looking to Zhaan so that she might reinstate their power. Zhaan explains the dark impulses can overtake the Delvian like an infection. "Is that what happened to grandpa Looneytoons?" Zhaan submits the madness is threatening Tuzak's followers. Crichton wonders how Zhaan has remained sane as "twisted" as she is. Zhaan explains it is the fusion of two minds through unity. It is the sacred union of two minds, two spirits, two souls. Queue the Rick Springfield track Souls. Well, he was from the land down under too. Springfield and Hey are indeed two of Australia's finest.
Meanwhile, the Delvians learn of Aeryn and D'Argo's intentions to return to the planet. It's the last thing they want.
It's becoming quite clear that the Delvians are equipped with great mental powers as a people. They may manipulate Moya's crew at will. "Their minds are weak. Preoccupy them all as you would children. Attack them with their own hopes and fears." Tahleen orders Lorana and Hasko to handle Zhaan's companions.
Zhaan pays a visit to Tuzak who tends to the Sanctity Root field. Zhaan rightfully suspects Tahleen's intentions to be unjust or ignoble. Zhaan asks Tuzak if she will harm people. "Certainly, but she may also free a planet from tyranny," admits Tuzak. The suggestion of both good and evil as part of the fabric of a people is an interesting one here and certainly speaks to the dichotomies found in human nature. The Delvian people need freedom from the Peacekeepers, but not enslavement through control by one of their own.
As D'Argo prepares for departure he tells Rygel to retrieve them immediately if they do not return. Rygel's reply, "Yes of course, my thought exactly." And from the planet below, the Delvians are messing with Aeryn aboard Moya. Her deepest fears, as a warrior, plague her as her weapon appears disassembled. D'Argo envisions Jothee aboard Moya being chased by Peacekeepers. Meanwhile, Rygel becomes a tiny little Hynerian amplifying his lack of power and stature within his new found family in flight.
Zhaan meets with Tahleen. She is a deceptive one feigning humility before Zhaan. Within mere moments of their union, Tahleen attempts to extract more than "the smallest seed" instead opting to rape Zhaan of her power and capabilities. "You betrayed me" as Zhaan exits from the union. Her eyes are now bright red. "I made a mistake," she decries.
Zhaan's dark impulses are now free. Tahleen stripped Zhaan of her ability to control them. She is a ferocious beast within as she clamps Crichton's head with her hands.
Crichton looks for Tahleen and makes efforts to remain unswayed or unmoved by his former Earth lover. The crew of Moya continues to be affected by The Delvians. Despite groping from his lover Crichton appears the most disaffected by the Delvians' influence.
"This isn't about freedom. It's about power," says Crichton to Tahleen. Crichton quietly, with almost a whisper, urges Tahleen, "You put it right." Crichton expects her to repair Zhaan.
Tahleen informs Lorana to destroy Crichton's mind. She also confesses to her people Zhaan held onto her secret, her secret of controlling the madness. Zhaan didn't relinquish all of herself.
Crichton's quest to make things right as only Crichton can is interrupted by his Earth girl who holds up her hand complete with wedding ring. "I never gave you that," he realizes, but Crichton flashes to another sequence suggesting he did give her the ring. Crichton's confusion grows. His visions are convincing.
Meanwhile Tahleen pays a visit to Tuzak, her father. Tuzak points out that Tahleen, a symbol of today's generations, moves to fast, "pillaging knowledge without the wisdom to control it." Tahleen is willing to bypass that which is important. Tuzak calls her decisions "worse" than the insanity she wishes to control. Tahleen quashes her father's mind silencing him as he falls to the ground. It is an extreme case of power without responsibility of which Tuzak falls prey.
Zhaan plans to join with Tahleen once more. Crichton suspects she will kill Tahleen. Zhaan calls Crichton the "most clever one on Moya." Zhaan is hungry for retribution and calls that drive "intoxicating." Unleashed Zhaan is thirsty to feed her unchecked hatred of Tahleen.
Crichton seems to flip seamlessly between reality and visions of wife Alex. He is lucid in both worlds. Alex reveals herself to be Lorana. Crichton asks the only logical human question, "How in God's name do you call yourself a priest?" Lorana admits the Delvians have lost their way as she refers to their Sanctity Root as a symbol of purity of thought and intent. Crichton references the twisted root as symbol of the twisted nature of their beliefs and the crooked root is the perfect representation of their lost faith.
Hasko contacts Moya to set the crew straight. Pilot delivers perhaps one of the most caustic, sharp observations of Rygel. It's stunning to hear because Pilot, despite his feelings, is a creature built to protect Moya and her crew first. This revelation appears born of the loss of his arm in DNA Mad Scientist. Here Pilot tells Rygel, "Your eminence, you're never any smaller than your current stature." Hasko asks the crew to stay put while they set things straight below.
Lorana confronts Tahleen pointing out her actions as wrong. Tahleen belittles Lorana as "easy" and "pleasurable" referring to their previous unions. Lorana, dubbed "foolish" by her mentor, plants a false seed that Zhaan and Crichton are heading to the surface to reach Moya. Once again, the deceptions continue.
Zhaan finds Crichton in the temple. She feels she would kill Crichton, but he calls her a chicken. Zhaan says she is curious about what goes on inside his mind. Crichton offers one of those classic Farscape retorts. "Not a lot, I'm a guy."
Human and Delvian unite. Zhaan urges Crichton to refrain from absorbing her rage. He sees kindness and a gentleness about her. It's still there. The two disengage and Zhaan's eyes fade from red to cool blue. Crichton has saved one of his own. "Thank you John."
Later, Crichton chops down the Sanctity Root calling the Delvian colony "a bastard sect in any religion." He urges Tahleen to "burn down the temple sister." Tahleen attempts to destroy Crichton, but Zhaan saves him. As a result of Zhaan's union with Tahleen she has moved from 9th level Pa'u to 10th level Pa'u "able to protect." Tahleen implores that they want the same thing, but Zhaan rejects that belief. Zhaan knows that Tahleen embraces the dark side, the dark impulses within that Zhaan chooses to suppress. Tahleen is left with much with which to reconcile within.
There's one thing you can expect from the wonderful writing of Farscape and that is philosophy and its ponderance of existence. Take this lovely closing sentiment between Zhaan and Crichton. Farscape continues to bring some terrific moments of closure to the end of its entries.
The episode is long on complexity, much like the contorted sanctity root, but short on the brisk-paced fun normally associated with a Farscape excursion. Again, it does have its moments, but Rhapsody In Blue left me a little cold and the series goes and its complex weave of Delvian nature was less than engaging for my tastes.
Zhaan is an easy character to love, but to date I have enjoyed the character in portions complementing Sun and Crichton rather than taking central stage. Bringing her character to the fore as the show's focus slowed things down a bit. Character development is fine, but it felt like a dense weave a little too quickly. In fact, in Farscape The Illustrated Companion Director Andrew Prowse discusses his abrupt approach at shocking viewers by exposing Zhaan in this radical transformation. Admittedly, for me, the approach sacrificed pacing for an overly heavy dose of the internal and external struggle within Delvian culture. Rhapsody In Blue may have been necessary to develop character, but it felt a little too clinical to be fully embraced. I would have preferred a more gradual approach in presenting the information. The jolt was a touch distracting to me. Nevertheless, Virginia Hey is stunning in her role as Zhaan. She is not only a beautiful woman, but her delivery of the character is indeed very special. Hey plays such a strong female character also in touch with her feminine self. Despite my lack of appreciation and my reservations toward this particular installment, at the very least, there is still much to consider as the titular work would suggest in its contrast of mood, color and tone. There is indeed a poetic, emotional form to the entry's composition as the rhapsodic might suggest. The episode's emphasis on all things Delvian and Farscape's unabashed approach to female perspectives throughout the series certainly lends itself to the cerebral. It's highly literary style can sometimes be ambitious, if not entirely successful in execution. But in keeping with the spirit of what the writers were probably aiming for, Rhapsody In Blue no doubt hits the mark. Like poetry, it's not for everyone, but you'll be blue with envy.
Rhapsody In Blue: C-. Writer: David Kemper & Ro Hume. Director: Andrew Prowse.