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 Two: a FaDoP review by Jess Pallas.
And this time he has vowed to be ready. Already, the DRDs have succeeded in hauling several dozen large sturdy storage crates down from the cargo hold, by means that can best be attributed to sheer desperation and these behemoths have somehow been wedged into place in a hotchpotch pile across the four broad entrances to the den. The vents have been sealed with a combination of sealant and spare sticking plaster and ruthlessly trained commando DRDs have been assigned to patrol the outer corridors to insure that none shall pass.
An unnatural quiet has fallen over the chamber. There is not a FaDoPi in sight. For they have disappeared. All of them.
Pilot desperately wants to be ecstatic. But he has learned from long experience that the wisest emotion is nervousness. With FaDoPi, quiet is bad.
"Well I do not care where they've gone!" he mutters to himself, examining his preparations with a careful smile. "They aren't coming back in!"
Pilot jumps violently – he only avoids contact with the ceiling by virtue of the fact his lower body is tied into the ship. His eyes widen in horror and he stares in disbelief at the small half-forgotten door that has burst open with epic force on the far distant side of the walkway, spilling out several tea kettles, a spanner set, some tattered robes and a battered but otherwise undamaged Jess Pallas. In the shadow of the tight doorway, several arms and legs and various other protuberances, Human and less so, can be seen in a cramped tangled heap amongst broken DRDs and bent crockery.
Jess shakes her head, glancing back into the chaotic cramp she has just crawled free of with wide eyes.
"I made it!" she bellows triumphantly. "Way to bend the space time continuum!"
"That's very nice," it is unclear who is offering the muffled response. "Now close the frelling door! There's a draft and I'm trying to light the stove."
Jess frowns. "I thought we were out of fuel!"
"I'm burning a lurker!"
"Oh, okay!" With a shrug, Jess turns to the door. Using her sword, and ignoring the various murmurs of complaint, she pushes back the extruding body parts and forces the door to a close before glancing up.
Pilot is staring at her.
With a twitch and a start, Jess straightens herself. Then abruptly, she adopts a wide-eyed, zombie-like expression and slowly begins to move across the walkway at a slow deathly march.
Pilot is unimpressed. "What are you doing, Miss Pallas?" he asks incredulously.
A hint of irritation crosses Jess' carefully stunned features. "I'm in a state of shock!" she hisses covertly out of the corner of her mouth. "Because of Into the Lions Den part two!"
"You're in shock now?" Pilot raises an eyebrow. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't you see this particular episode a quarter of a cycle ago?"
"Oh, fine!" Jess abandons her slow march abruptly, slouching up to the console and depositing herself before Pilot with a pout. "Just ruin my dramatic entrance, why don't you?"
"I think your entrance was dramatic enough," Pilot comments. "What on Moya is going on in the DRD closet?"
"Shhhhhh!" Jess hushes the navigator abruptly, glancing nervously over one shoulder, but it seems that Tanika, whose head was last seen wedged between timedancer's leg and Byrnstar's elbow, has not overheard the blasphemy.
"It's the Ambassador's Lounge!" Jess corrects firmly. "It's our refuge!" She sighs. "You may have noticed things have been a little quiet around here lately…."
Pilot adopts a dreamy expression. "I know…" he murmurs blissfully.
Jess ignores him. "Well that's because FaDoP is having a small problem with it's server at the moment – namely it hasn't got one – which basically means that we can't get in here to see you." She pauses to sniff. "But we've found a temporary home in the Lounge, just until we get FaDoP back and we can return to you! So that's okay!"
Pilot looks disappointed. "You mean this isn't permanent?"
"Nope," Jess grins. "But anyway, I'm not here to spin tales of woe! I'm here to do the second part of my review for Into the Lion's Den!" She glances around. "What happened to my papers?"
"They had a small accident," Pilot comments with an innocent expression, choosing not to mention that he had the DRDs flush them down the dren compacter. His expression becomes perturbed. "You don't have any more, do you?"
"Nah," Jess shakes her head. "I think I may have over-prepared a little last time…"
Pilot snorts. "A little?"
"…So this time I thought I'd wing it – do the review off the top of my head and see what happens!"
"Just so long as it isn't as long as the last one," Pilot drawls resignedly.
Jess smiles endearingly. "I'll do my best! So, Into the Lion's Den Part two, with a claw rating of three and a half claws for almost excellent Pilot representation!" Her expression fills with glee. "And what a frelling fantastic episode it was! For me, it was the best of the season, no contest at all! It just blew me away – the action, the drama, the emotion – it had everything you could ever want from any TV show and it pulled it off with true panache! After such a disappointing season as season three, it was Farscape back at it's best, doing the kind of quality stuff I'd almost forgotten they could do! Wow!"
"You liked it then," Pilot comments mildly.
Jess nods. "Yep."
She shakes herself. "But all that can wait – this is a FaDoP review so let's take a look at your scenes. And first up – that beautiful moment with John…" She pauses briefly to sniffle slightly and wipe her nose on her sleeve. Pilot grimaces.
Jess shrugs. "I forget my tissues. Anyway, that scene with John was just… perfect. There is no other word. Sad and perfect. It left me just…speechless."
"There's a first," Pilot mutters under his breath.
"And you were just… oh," Jess wipes her nose again. "You looked so upset! I just wanted to give you a hug!"
Her arms begin to twitch towards him. Pilot's expression becomes instantly wary – firmly he rests one claw against Jess' forehead, holding her at arms length. "Don't even think about it," he warns ominously.
Jess sighs. "Spoilsport," she mutters, but does not pursue the matter. "You let John touch you!"
Pilot removes his claw with a long breath. "That was different."
Jess fixes her eyes upon him. "Because you and Moya thought it was goodbye forever?"
Pilot nods softly. Jess smiles.
"But it was gorgeous – and that tactile contact made it the sadness all the more palpable. It was so nice to see you too so close again after a season of stress and bickering." She sighs once more. "I think I mentioned this last week but never went into it – I do feel you have been rather isolated from the rest of the crew this season. When Zhaan died and Aeryn left on Talyn, you lost your two closest confidants outside of Moya herself and you never found anyone to replace them – no wonder you got so frelled off with the crew you had been left with! I mean, out of those who were left, John was really the only one you'd ever had any kind of an affinity with and he was so wrapped up in missing Aeryn and finding wormholes that the pair of you ended up almost hating each other!"
Jess shifts her position as she leans back against the bulkhead. "But what I've really missed this season is your interaction with Aeryn. The pair of you shared such a beautiful relationship through seasons one and two – where has it gone? What with the splitting of the crew and the shippy focus, interactions other than John and Aeryn and to a lesser extent, John and D'Argo, have rather been shunted into the background over season three. I can only think of one moment you've had with Aeryn over the length of this season, way back in SIW, when it was even implied that the pair of you were anything more than regular shipmates! We didn't get to see your true reaction to Aeryn's death in DMD, other than chanting and being a little snappish, and we never got any indication at all of how you felt about her being brought back in SOD. We also never got to see your reunion in Fractures – again the focus was on John's reaction. I know he's the "star" but still…"
Jess puffs out her cheeks irritably. "That more than anything frustrated me – surely you would have at least tried to speak to Aeryn about what had happened to her! I even wrote a fic with a filler scene for Fractures that portrayed exactly that! I just feel as though that connection you shared with Aeryn, which has always been one of my favourite aspects of Farscape, has been put on the backburner or forgotten entirely! It does annoy me the way they tend to forget or overlook the stuff to do with you and Moya – I mean, the re-bonding for example, after TWWW – is that completed yet? It was mentioned in passing once, way back in HOTR and never brought up again! Surely such a momentous event as the completion of your bonding cycle should at least warrant a couple of lines of dialogue! I've said it before and I'll say it again – the focus on John and Aeryn this season has been to the detriment of everyone else, especially you and Aeryn!"
Jess concludes with an emphatic head gesture, folding her arms sternly. Pilot is staring at her once more, but this time looks vaguely impressed.
"That was quite a rant," he says with a certain respect.
Jess smiles modestly. "Practice."
Pilot nods. "That is what I thought."
FaDoP's swordmistress grins. "Need some lessons?"
Pilot shakes his head. "Not after the cycle I have just had!"
Jess leans forward, draping herself with a certain elegance over the front of the console. "That's another reason I liked this episode," she comments, rolling languorously onto her back. "You've been so grumpy all season – it was nice to see a bit of a change – although, admittedly heart-breaking sadness isn't necessarily a step up the ladder to happy-land." She frowns thoughtfully. "And that brings us onto perfect scene number two; your reaction to watching the carrier explode."
She draws a deep breath. "That was probably the closest I've come to tears all season – and takes a lot to do that, believe me. It was just those three simple words – I see it- they made the moment. It was so poignant, so terribly tragic, a simple memorial to the passing of your partner's son, the son that had mean to so much to her. It was beautiful. It really was."
Pilot is gazing sadly down at his console. Jess rolls quietly back onto her front, reaching over to gently enclose his closest claw in the embrace of her small hand.
"Now this is pure speculation on my part," she begins softly, sympathy evident in her tone. "And I don't expect you to answer or even react. But I have to say, there have been times when I've wondered exactly how you felt about Talyn. You've told us often enough how much Moya loves him and we know how much you love Moya. But how did you feel about him? I have to say I always got a slight impression that you weren't too keen on him – and you did have plenty of reasons to feel uncomfortable about him. After all he has hardly proved trustworthy in regards to his mother – he loves her but seems unable to stop bringing harm to her, directly through their emotions and his physical attacks, or indirectly through trouble towed in his wake such as the Retrieval squad, the Plokavians or the Halosians. And Moya does have a dangerous blind spot where he is concerned. And then there are his peacekeeper associations and his partnership with Crais – which in themselves could be reminders of your own past since it was the project to produce his conception that was the reason Crais and Velorek brought you aboard in the first place. I can see why you might not feel comfortable with him as a result."
Jess sighs, patting Pilot's claw softly. "But in that scene – there was no doubt that the mourning was not just Moya's – it was yours too. And it really brought home the impact of what had just happened – that two valiant beings had lost their lives. Just perfect."
With a final squeeze, Jess releases Pilot's claw and sits back. "Sorry about that," she apologises quietly. "I hope you aren't offended."
Pilot smiles wanly. "Of course not."
"Anyway," Jess opts for a swift continuance. "And then finally there were the scenes at the conclusion, as the crew finally faced the prospect of splitting. I liked these because they showed that, despite all that has happened this season, you and Moya still care for the crew – you looked so sad when Jool raised the prospect of everyone leaving!" She frowns. "Although that scene was only two lines long here in the UK so I may have missed something, but still…" She coughs and continues. "And the way you and Moya endangered yourselves for the crew yet again – you were so brave! It was just so nice to see a bit more unity after a season of conflict. That's one of the reasons I miss Zhaan – she brought a little harmony to the crew that has been lost now. How they think that Stark the loony-tune could possibly replace her, I'll never know! I haven't missed him in the least!"
A shudder runs through Jess' body. "Hate him!" she mutters under her breath. "Just, hate him!"
Pilot is watching her with obvious incredulity. "Are you done now?" he asks tentatively.
"Almost," Jess' hand has been twitching towards her sword at the thought of Stark, but she regains control of herself at the sound of her idol's voice. "I just have to do a quick run down of all the rest of the stuff – you know, all the dull bits that you weren't in?"
Pilot sniffed. "I don't know why you bother with that."
Jess turns on the navigator with a slow, pointed stare. "You told me to," she pointed out with gritted teeth. "Last week."
Pilot regards her with equal firmness. "You had not said much about the episode last week! This week you have!"
Jess adopts a haughty expression. "Well Hard Cheddar! I'm doing it anyway, so sit back and be tolerant!"
Pilot folds his front two arms grumpily as his mouth slips into a pout – quite an achievement. Jess chooses to ignore him.
"Crais – I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but what a guy! That defection – he really had me fooled for a microt there! And the heart and soul he showed in this episode – his compassion for Talyn and the way in which he denounced his ex-girlfriend publicly to protect her from recrimination! Bialar Crais is a god. The look on his face when John shouted, "You're a dead man!" at him – he looked so haunted because he must have known it was true but not in the way Crichton expected. And his final speech – wow. Why the frell did they have to go and show him at his very best and then frelling well bump him off? Not fair – but what an exit! A brave and noble man, he proved himself to be." Jess grins. "He almost reminded me of you!"
Pilot draws himself up indignantly. "I have got absolutely nothing in common with Captain Bialar Crais!"
"I don't know," Jess ponders thoughtfully. "I reckon he sounds a bit like you when he gets excited."
Pilot snorts. "Hardly!"
"If you say so," Jess shrugs off the denial. "Although, I have to say one or two things about his departure bugged me. For one – wasn't Talyn supposed to be brain-dead and wiped of all his memories? But yet when Crais went aboard him, he seemed to know who he was and remember both Crais and Moya. This niggles me – it makes me feel that perhaps Talyn wasn't quite as shutdown as Crais had led us to believe. And if he lied about that, perhaps he's lied about the Starburst being kamikaze. After all, he never actually said it would be fatal – John took the inference from his words. Could that mean Crais and Talyn completed a successful Starburst and are still out there waiting to be found?"
"Crichton's module – why does it survive wormholes that turn other pilots to goo? I had a thought on this –a thought actually inspired by an episode of Star Trek: TNG in which a ship was destroyed when it raised it shields because they enhanced the effect of an energy wave. Well, perhaps this could be a similar thing. Have all the prowlers that have ever entered wormholes had some kind of shielding and is it that very shielding that leads to their destruction? After all the only two ships we know of to survive wormholes – John's module and Moya – went in completely unshielded. I could be miles off here but it's just a speculation!"
"And finally, a few questions. Why didn't Jool's scream melt the prison bars? Why did Co-Kura convert so easily? How cool is it that Aeryn has a prowler again? And why didn't we see the crew actually escape the carrier? It just broke off to safety just like in SIW! And last but not least, is Scorpius dead? I say most emphatically no – it's obvious he sent Braca to prime an escape pod. I'm sorry, but a brilliant, complicated, popular baddie like Scorpius does not die offscreen! Broken man or not, he'll be back."
Jess takes a deep breath as she slides slowly down off the console to rest her feet back on the walkway. "Well that's it!" she exclaims. "That's Into the Lions Den part two all reviewed; a fine, inspiring episode rated three and a half claws for almost excellent Pilot representation." She smiles cheerfully. "You may not have had many scenes, Pilot sweetheart, but the ones you had were gold dust and I loved them." She sighs deeply, tapping one finger against the burnished golden surface.
"Well, I suppose I'd better get back to the Lounge," she comments, a hint of depression in her tone. "It's a shame because I've really enjoyed these little talks. It's been fun."
Pilot regards her. "You mean you won't be coming back again?"
Jess sighs. "Not to review, no. You see the UK tends to be a bit behind when it comes to new seasons of Farscape. I probably won't be in a position to write a weekly review again." Abruptly she perks up. "But I'll still be around! I'll just be back in my corner working on my fic again! And if I'm feeling really brave…." Jess leans forward and pats Pilot's claw once more. "I might even pop out of the shadows to say hi! You don't get rid of me that easily!"
With a last wink, Jess turns and wanders back across the walkway to the now decidedly contorted entrance to the Ambassador's Lounge. Kneeling carefully, Jess peers through a recently crack in the door through which is protruding what appears to be somebody's finger.
"Charming," she exclaims. "Hey guys!" she bellows more loudly. "Is it safe to come in?"
"You'll have to be quick!" A voice drifts back from beyond the cracking entry. "If you open that door for too long, we may lose a few of the smaller members and we haven't that many to spare!"
"How's that lurker coming along?"
"Charring nicely! Want a cup of tea?"
"Hot chocolate would be good! Now get ready! I'm coming in….Now!"
With a spurt of speed she scarcely knew she possessed, Jess yanks back on the entrance to the Ambassador's Lounge, and using her shoulder to prevent a catastrophic collapse of FaDoPi, she bulls her way inside. The door screams in protest as she tried to haul it shut but finally gives in when a helpful DRD gives it a final shove from outside.
Pilot sighs in relief. The great navigator glances around the den, suddenly still and silent once more and smiles. Peace at last….
A small impact causes him to start – a DRD stares up at him with flickering light-bulb eyes. Pilot pauses thoughtfully, glancing quickly from DRD, to cargo crate, to the small cramped entrance to the DRD closet where the entire of FaDoP has taken refuge. He gazes wistfully once more into the silence.
A slow grin spreads across his face.
"You," he orders the DRD abruptly. "Go find as many others as you can and report back here at once." His gaze shifts from cargo crates to the closet once more.
"You have some crate moving to do…."