Disclaimer: I own nothing but the sword and the paperwork. I've just hijacked Pilot for a couple of arns! J
Before you start, a quick explanation;
FaDoP – the Friends and Defenders of Pilot – who campaign tirelessly for the greater inclusion of a certain four-armed, amber eyed alien into episodes of Farscape, have recently revived an old tradition of writing Pilot-based reviews. Now the members are taking it in turns to write these little gems and since I saw the ITLD two-parter a good three months before my fellow FaDoPi, I've been given the honour of reviewing it. My review takes the form of a fic because- well what the heck, I'm that kind of person (awkward J ) and it proved easier for me at least to do it that way! It's supposed to be an amusing but thought-provoking piece of fun and I hope you enjoy it. If you do, please tell me so! If you don't… well….
Oh, one last thing – the claw rating. This is our way of ranking the episodes by the amount of quality Pilot moments within them. One claw is little or no Pilot content (alas all too frequent) up to five claws, the impossible Nirvana, an episode of nothing but Pilot! Unfortunately, the four claw TWWW is closest we've come. But we live in hope!
Anyway – the review….
Into the Lions Den Part One; A FaDoP Review by Jess Pallas.
A dull silence has fallen over Nirvana, a surprising quietness that echoes in corners and flows across the gentle curves and occasional signs of devastation that are scattered, half-unseen on the walkway. In the centre of the Den, Pilot is a motionless presence, gazing down wearily at his console with his carapace slumped against one claw. In the distance, far away, the shouts and cries of distant FaDoPi drift on the wind.
With a slow whirr, the door draws back – Pilot glances up with a mixture of curiosity and horror dawning on his features to see an ordinary looking figure with long brown hair and a large golden sword strapped across her back stagger into the den under the weight of an enormous pile of paper. Awkwardly, she pauses, lifting one knee as she clamps the pile with her chin to avoid a fatal cascade into the oblivion below and her eyes fix upon the imposing presence of Moya's navigator. She grins and tries to wave but a sudden shifting of paper makes her think better of it. With a shrug, she starts across the walkway.
"Hi Pilot!" she greets merrily, pausing to pick her way through the scattered debris of rope, old socks and cake making equipment. "Where is everyone?"
Pilot groans as if afflicted by the memory. "Outside the kitchen. One of you idiots left Renfield in there for a couple of months and now we have to get him out before the room becomes unsalvageable." He shakes his head. "I dread to think of what it must be like in there."
The new arrival pauses, her expression one of mute horror. "Great goddess…" she mutters under her breath. She nudges the mess with one foot. "Is that what all this is for?"
Pilot nods. "Otomo has a plan – something about dancing cupcakes."
The girl examines the hole-ridden sock in front of her. "What are the socks for?"
Pilot pulls a face. "I didn't like to ask." He glances up at the girl abruptly as if seeing her for the first time. "I know you," he says thoughtfully. "You're that girl who sits in that corner scribbling notes or ranting at the walls about goodness knows what. Joss Pillow…"
"Jess Pallas!" The girl corrects irritably. "You ought to know my name by now, I've been here nearly a year…a cycle."
"There are so many of you." A pained look crosses Pilot's face. "It's so hard to remember you all. And anyway, you never say anything – at least not to me. You just sit in your corner and write."
"I was in awe of you!" Jess grins again. "And anyway, I thought that was what you wanted! You're always complaining about how much we FaDoPi harass you. I was doing my best to be a model follower – sitting quietly and writing stories that can make other misguided Scapers see the wonder that is you! Besides…" Jess breaks off as her stack of paper wobbles with distinct intent. After a moments struggle she manages to bring the wayward documents under control and continues her journey. "I was designated your official protector and the job of a bodyguard is to lurk and look threatening. I stick to what I'm good at."
"Threatening? You?" Pilot examines the average looking British girl with incredulous amazement.
Jess' smile is vaguely predatory. "Pretend to be an Internet pop-up ad. You'll see what I mean."
Jess shrugs, shifting paper. "Never mind. How long do you think the other will be?"
Pilot glances back, his gaze following the distant sounds of battle. Cries of distress and the distinct aroma of Renfi slobber waft from the direction of the kitchen.
"A while," he offers with considered aplomb. "Perhaps you should go and help them."
Jess snorts. "Not likely! I still haven't got the drool out of my tunic from my initiation! They can take care of themselves."
It is Pilot's turn to snort. "Can they? You didn't see their preparations! I have never seen chaos so frenzied – not even the day D'Argo caught Rygel in his underwear! They'll be lucky to come out of there alive! Baking powder, flour, socks, netting! And I don't know who let all those hobbits in here…."
Jess grins again. "Sounds exciting. Sorry I missed it."
Pilot expression grows curious. "Where have you been?" he inquires abruptly. "You may not always speak much, Miss Pallas but you're usually lurking somewhere in the shadows."
"I've been busy." With an abrupt thump, Jess deposits her huge stack of paper on top of Pilot's console. "Doing this!" she exclaims proudly as the papers flutter around Pilot in a wave of papery satisfaction. The navigator eyes the stack suspiciously.
"What are these?" he asks cautiously.
"Notes!" Jess replies brightly as she hauls herself up onto the console beside her load.
"For my review!"
"Review?" Pilot looks instantly wary. "What review?"
Why a FaDoP review, of course! The one I'm trying to write for Into The Lions Den!"
An expression of disquiet flickers across Pilot's face. "I thought you people had abandoned that idea," he comments, trying to keep the apprehension from his voice.
"Oh, no! It's just been on hiatus." Jess leans forward tiredly, patting him on the closest arm, joyfully oblivious to his discomfort. "I volunteered to give it a try because I thought it would be fun. More fool me. I didn't think it would involve actual work!"
"Work!" Pilot humphs loudly. "I didn't think you people knew the meaning of that word!"
"Hey!" Jess sits bolt upright, a protest on her lips "I'll have you know that I have a job now! I'm only a bum part time these days!" She pauses, adjusting herself in an attempt at a dignified manner. "And anyway, I'm doing this out of love for you! The whole point of these reviews is to raise your net profile so that even more people will love you and flock to Nirvana in worship! So stop complaining and give me a hand!" She gestures to his multiple limbs. "Out of all of those, you must have one to spare!"
But Pilot is too busy looking horrified. His wide amber eyes are bulging in their sockets. "Raise my profile?" he gasps. "You mean, bring more of you people here? More…." He gulps. "FaDoPi?"
"That's the idea!"
Pilot turns abruptly back to his console. "You're on your own! There are quite enough of you people already!"
A look of hurt flits across Jess' face – she looks down, twitching a loose paper with her fingers. "That's rather ungrateful!" she exclaims irritably. "Honestly! We come here every day, polish your carapace, clean out the DRD closet…"
"AMBASSADORS LOUNGE!!!!" Tanika's irate voice drifts from behind the distant doorway over the sound of timedancer's kettle boiling smoothly in the background.
"Ambassador's lounge," Jess corrects hurriedly before sweeping on. "We defend your name across the net, promote you, drag you into every conversation we get involved with, keep you company and entertain you…"
"Torment is more like…" Pilot mutters under his breath.
"You'd be so bored if we weren't here," Jess retorts at once.
"I'd be ecstatic!" Pilot shoots back, shifting position as he tries to reach his panels through the scattered mass of paper blocking his view. The task quickly proves beyond him. "I might even get some work done!"
"But you're our idol! We love you!" Jess makes big puppy dog eyes as she helpfully tries to gather her random notes out of Pilot's way. "Just picture it Pilot – hordes of fans across the net making pilgrimages just to bask for an instant in your glorious presence. If this works you'll be universally adored! King of the Internet! Think of the glory. Think of the admiration. Think of the merchandising!"
Pilot glances up. There is a vague interest in his expression. "Adored?"
"In exchange for just a couple of arns of your time." Jess leans forward, aware that she may be onto a winner. "I'll polish your carapace. I'll clean up the socks. I'll even help chase those hobbits away…"
Pilot wavers, temptation gleaming behind his eyes. "Well…"
Jess smiles ingratiatingly. "The more you help, the quicker I'll be done. The quicker I'm done, the quicker I leave."
Pilot brightens noticeable at this prospect. "Oh, all right."
"Then let's get down to it!" Jess declares
joyously. "The FaDoP review for Into the Lion's Den Part One, with a
rating of two and a half claws for fairly good Pilot representation!"
She pauses on realising that Pilot is staring at her.
"Who are you talking to?"
Jess shrugs nonchalantly. "I don't know. Just concentrate on the papers!"
With a sigh the navigator picks up a sheet. His eyes abruptly widen as he gazes at the vast tangled sprawl of minute writing crammed in across its surface. He regards Jess incredulously. "Is this supposed to be legible?"
"I can read it." Jess is examining a sheet with a determined expression – with only a slight twitch of the eyes, she slowly rotates it through 180 degrees. "Well, most of it…."
Pilot is shaking his head. "I cannot translate any of these – no, wait. This one says something about Moya…."
"Let me see." Jess reaches over and takes the sheet from Pilot, examining intently. Her eyes widen in recognition.
"Oh yes, I remember! I was writing rude things about Kemper for hurting you and Moya AGAIN." She pauses, her expression twitching, her eyes shadowed as she slips softly into literary mode. "I can remember it even now – the fear, the horror, the terrible anticipation that this could be it and my worst fears were coming true! Ice shivering down my spine, the hollow fluttering of my stomach, my mind a-whirl with…."
"Are you feeling all right?" Pilot is staring at Jess' drawn up form, her arms half-stretched out, her fingers clutched in claws. She looks as though she's having a seizure and Pilot is getting alarmed.
"Huh?" Jess shakes herself – abruptly, she drops back into her casual slouch. "What happened?"
Pilot raises an eyebrow. "You were spouting poetry – sort of."
"Damn!" Jess hurriedly checks her watch, examining the freckle on her wrist thoughtfully for a moment before remembering she left said watch on her dresser. Sighing, she reaches into her pocket and draws out a bar of chocolate that she then proceeds to bite into with enthusiasm. "Authorial moment," she explains between mouthfuls. "I got jumped by my own psyche because I missed my medication." She waves the chocolate bar briefly before returning to the more important task of eating it. " It happens to me sometimes. I have that kind of muse. The little bugger will sneak up on me in the oddest places." She pauses thoughtfully, swallowing her last mouthful with a sigh. "What were we talking about?"
"Various things I don't understand," Pilot comments wearily. Spotting Jess' frown at the unhelpful answer, he prompts her. "Me and Moya."
"Oh yeah!" Jess sits up abruptly. "Great Goddess, they put us through the wringer! I was so scared! I have to say I have been worried for Moya throughout the season – the way she's been shunted about, pushed into the background and ignored – I've been concerned that The Powers That Be are getting tired of her and wanted to move the show to a more – for want of a better word- exciting base. A base like Talyn."
"You think the crew might be leaving?" Pilot pulls a face. "I wish."
"You don't!" Jess' correction is firm. "Because in order to do it, they would most likely kill off Moya."
"Kill Moya?" The horror on Pilot's face is genuine.
"That's what worries me." Jess sighed. "And then with Talyn's attack in IYYY, I really thought Moya was for it. The pain she and you were obviously in at the beginning of the episode – it was hard not to think that the assault had done more lasting damage than had been revealed and that they still might pull a switch."
"But how could you?" Pilot looks puzzled. "Talyn is brain dead. The crew could not survive aboard him."
"He's brain dead now," Jess points out. "But Crais seems to think he can be rebooted with fresh memories. And if Moya was to die, perhaps you might be installed aboard Talyn to guide him – maybe even at Moya's dying request."
The incredulous look on Pilot's face gives Jess pause. "Okay, maybe I was worrying too much," she admits reluctantly. "It wouldn't be the first time. But who can blame me after what happened next – Chiana's premonition followed by that awful Peacekeeper attack that blasted Moya out of StarBurst…That had to hurt!" She pats Pilot's claw sympathetically as he shudders at the memory. "And then – they made me wait!" Jess growls under her breath like D'Argo in a hyper-rage. "They made me sit there, desperate to know if Moya was alright, whilst they meandered through the other plot, without thought for my feelings at all! I WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT MOYA!!!!!!"
Pilot has used the outburst to edge as far away from Jess as is physically possible for a being tied into a ship by his tendrils.
"I liked it better when you ranted at the walls," he mutters.
"Flipping Powers That Be!" Jess continues to rage, oblivious. "It's Kemper, that's who it is! Why must he make Moya suffer in every single episode she's in? If you look back at all the episodes so far, more than half feature Moya being subjected to some kind of pain or torture! No wonder she and you are a bundle of nerves!"
"Excuse me?" Jess glances over at Pilot, who has tentatively raised one claw in the air, his expression more than slightly daunted. He appears to have revised his opinion about Jess' ability to be threatening. "But…. Who is this Kemper? I've heard him mentioned before in your rants. You always seem intent on beheading him."
Jess frowns; one hand is itching unconsciously towards her sword.
"Kemper is an evil genius," she drawls irritably. "It's not Scorpius you want to blame for everything bad that's ever happened to you – it's him. He's the driving force behind everything – Crais, Scorpius, the lot. He is the one ultimately responsible for all the harm that has ever come to you and Moya. And unlike Scorpius, he cannot be negotiated with. He can't even be stopped – at least not whilst he has a contract."
"Wait," Pilot's brow is furrowed beneath his carapace. "If this Kemper is responsible for harming us – and you FaDoPi knew about this – why have you never done anything about it? You especially, since you call yourself my protector!"
Jess pauses to squirm. "Hey! I've been planning to kill him – it's on my to-do list!"
"What, this one?" Pilot lifts a long, soggy, hot chocolate stained scrap of rough paper from with the tangled pile of review notes – amongst the entries are such goals as "Become world famous author", "Get bigger sword", "Win an Olympic medal" "Finish my fic" and "Eat less chocolate". Scrawled roughly at the bottom in red ink are the words "Behead Kemper."
Jess twists her lip. "It's probably the most realistic one there."
Pilot sighs. "This just isn't good enough, miss Pallas! How many times in the last three cycles have you threatened harm to Kemper?"
Jess is staring at her feet. "A few…"
"And how many times have you acted on it?"
"I'm skint!" Jess protests loudly. "Shout me an air fare to Australia and I'll have his head stuffed and mounted on the wall!"
Pilot shakes his head. "Excuses, excuses…"
Jess loftily ignores him. "Moving on…." She exclaims.
"About time," Pilot mutters. "This is taking forever!"
"I can't help that!"
"You could try staying on the point!"
"All right," Jess picks up a piece of paper. "If you want me to do a half-arsed job…"
Jess pouts. "Fine! On to the moment when we finally saw what had happened to Moya – and what a moment! That was a scene I had been dreading for three cycles; Moya back with the Peacekeepers!"
"You'd been dreading?" Pilot exclaims. "How do you think I felt?!?!?"
"It certainly added new levels to my fear that Moya was going to be written out," Jess continues, ignoring the interruption. "What if she stayed a PK prisoner? What if she was re-collared? Would that be the quest of the crew next season – trying to free Moya again?" Jess waves her arms in an emphatic gesture.
"Do you enjoy being so melodramatic?"
"Yes, of course!" Jess grins. "It's part of my charm!"
Pilot's expression at that comment speaks volumes more than words.
"One thing I did notice…." Jess is squinting ominously at her notes. "When Moya went into StarBurst to try and escape from the marauder, we saw a shot of the StarBurst energy climbing up through your chamber. But in Losing Time, I thought it was implied that that was an abnormal and possibly deadly occurrence for you! I thought something had gone wrong before StarBurst because of that the first time I watched – I didn't spot the red beam until later. So why did it happen?"
Jess leans forward curiously. If she had not also left her glasses on the dresser, she would have peered over them.
Pilot shrugs. "I don't know."
Jess looks appalled. "What do mean, you don't know? I thought you knew everything!"
Pilot regards her with a long amber stare. Jess sighs. "Oh never mind. What next? Oh, yes! It was so nice to see John showing such concern for you and Moya both in his negotiations with Scorpius and later when you were captured! He's been so rude and cold towards you this season for no apparent reason, stretching right back to SIW – so it can't be blamed on the twinning! I always liked the way you two got along and it's such a shame that that's been lost!" Jess' eyes abruptly light up and she starts rummaging frantically through the papers. "In fact, I've got a virtual dissertation on the way you've been isolated by the crew this season in here somewhere – if I can just…"
Pilot is gazing at the ceiling of his chamber in weary resignation. "Is it relevant to this particular series of events?" he declares irritably.
Jess pauses. "Well, no. Not really, I guess."
Pilot fixes her with a pleading expression. "Then could we possibly leave it for now?"
Jess sighs once more. "I guess." She brightens. "I can always use it next time!"
Pilot's expression flickers with mild horror. "Next time?" he says, a distinct tremor to his voice. "What next time?"
Once more Jess fails spectacularly to notice. "Well, I suppose I ought to wrap this thing up," she exclaims, rummaging through her notes. "There probably isn't anything here that I can't leave or postpone."
Pilot examines the mountain of paper incredulously. "All this for that? You didn't really say much about the episode, did you?"
Jess shrugs. "You weren't in it much. This is a FaDoP review, you know!"
Pilot frowns. "Still…."
Jess rolls her eyes. "Make up your mind! First you want me to stop, and then you want me to say more! Fine!"
She snatches up a random, tattered piece of paper fluttering in a mysterious breeze. Scrawled across its top edge in large letters are the words "Other stuff that happened but didn't matter because Pilot wasn't involved." Jess waves it irritably. "I'll go through this then, if it'll make you happy!" She scans over the notes with a quick eye.
"Okay. Firstly this episode was incredibly rich in plotlines that are apparently being set up for next season – D'Argo's quest for Macton Tal, Rygel's cousin being in disfavour – although considering the information came from Lt Braca, can it really be trusted or are they just being told what they want to hear? One thing this could imply, which I personally think would be great, is that season four may return to the wider focus on all the characters that characterised season two, rather than the more John and Aeryn-centric season three, which I didn't enjoy nearly as much. There is more to Farscape than shippiness and I think season three lost track of that rather, to it's own detriment." Jess pauses to grin ruefully. "I've probably just made myself a whole host of enemies saying that, but it's what I believe so…"
She checks her list. "The Scorpy clone, Harvey. I found his defection a little bit easy considering the season long battle they've been having but it is in his character to think of his own preservation so I don't mind. But I still wouldn't trust him any further than I could throw a command carrier."
"And speaking of the command carrier, it was really interesting to get that insight into PK life – a look at the enemy in their lair often leaves them a little less frightening. Although the whole symbolism of the place had definitely Nazi overtones in its design."
"Commandant cleavage – or Mele-On Grayza, as it should be really – well there were hints that she may be around for the duration. I've only seen her the once so I'm reserving judgement but there were a few echoes of Servalan and the Intendant from DS9 in there – and would a PK commander who must have worked her way up through the ranks just like everyone else really wear that dress? And why is it the two most senior officers we've ever seen for this so-called society of Xenophobes -Scorpius and Grayza- don't look entirely Sebacean? And does her arrival imply that Scorpy might go renegade? I hope not since, they already did that with Crais."
"Crais' girlfriend. No. Bad writers! It just didn't work. I couldn't tell you why but it didn't. And jet packs? What is this, Flash Gordon? Although I am thinking of making John's plaintive "This is just not fair!" my motto in life!"
"And finally the award for the most Crichtonisms packed into a single episode goes to…Ricky Manning! My God, John was making so many references he was all but incomprehensible! Are we sure that Tocot fixed his speech centre properly?"
Pilot shrugs, at least as much as it is possible for him to do so. "I never know what he is talking about anyway. Or you for that matter."
"Excuse me?" Jess adopts her best "land of hope and glory" posture. "I happen to speak the Queen's English!"
Pilot regards her. "Perhaps you should give it back."
"Anyway…" There is a distinct edge to Jess' tone as she attempts to retrain the retort hovering on the verge of her lips. "You'll be pleased to hear that's it! I'm all done!"
"Praise Kahenyu," Pilot mutters with sincerity.
Jess ignores him. "And in accordance with the poll up at the FaDoP message-board, this episode has been awarded two and a half claws for fairly good Pilot representation!"
Pilot protests. "But you already pointed out that I was hardly in it!"
Jess shrugs. "Don't look at me! The rating was decided by a message board poll. Blame them!" She gestures in the direction of the kitchen. The distant sounds of whimpering can be heard. "Anyway, what you got was better quality, rather than just "Oh here comes the bad guy" or "oh dear, Moya's going to blow" stuff like it is so often. That makes a difference!" Jess grins. "Personally I liked the episode, although I would have liked it more if you'd have had more to do. Well, maybe next time we'll have more to discuss!"
Pilot glances up at the reference. His expression is one of mute resignation.
"Ummm, miss Pallas?" he says with tentative distress. "Did you say something about a next time?"
"Yep!" Jess has been making some effort to tidy the scattered drifts of paper that are now coating the den but the task is easily beyond her. She gives up and instead turns to Pilot cheerfully. "Well I still have to do Part two don't I?"
Pilot's features contort with resigned suffering. "Part…two?" he gasps.
"Indeedy! So I'll see you next week!" Beaming cheerfully, Jess kisses her fingers and leans across to tap the kiss onto Pilot's carapace. The navigator, whose head has once again sunk into his claws, doesn't notice.
Jess climbs down off the console, her eyes flickering across the devastation in papery form she has left in her wake. "You don't mind if I leave these here, do you?" she exclaims. "Only it saves me lugging them all the way back to Blighty."
"Umhuph." A sound not unlike a muffled sob emerges from Pilot's cradled head. Jess, her mind already on her next review, takes this as an affirmative.
"Fantastic!" she declares. "Well, I'll see you this time next week then! Oh, Pilot it'll be great! We can examine all the events together and go through that dissertation I was talking about! And you can read up on the rest of my notes to tell me if I've missed anything!" She checks her wrist freckle. "Better be going. Byeee!"
Jess turns and skips her way across the walkway, dodging piles of socks and baking powder and scattering a flurry of paperwork in her wake. Pilot remains in unmoving silence, slumped at his console. A murmured whimper slips from his lips.
THE END – FOR NOW…..