Season 2, Episode 16: “The Locket”
* out of *****
“It’s boring. Like everything else around here: BOR-ring!”
Finally, I’m back to blogging about Farscape! Based on my memory of it the first time it aired, I wasn’t looking forward to this one. I only saw it the one time, going so far as to skip it when showing the series to others. I know, I’m a bad man. Maybe that’s why it took me so long to get to it. (Not that I didn’t have other things on my plate…) I know some people regard this episode highly, so I was prepared to find it much better than I remembered.
I did not.
The capsule version of the episode is that Moya is stuck in something called a “center-halo” where time doesn’t exist. Aeryn, and later Crichton, wind up on a planet outside the halo for a while, age to elderly relative to Moya, and then it all gets fixed with some mysticism and reverse-starbursting so that it never really happened.
Yep, it’s one of those “it’s all a dream” episodes. Of course there’s no real jeopardy, because if all this stays as it is, the show is effectively over. Even so, that by itself would not automatically make a bad episode. To paraphrase something a creative writing instructor once told me, “You can still have a good story about a man whom you know is going to drown, so long as you make his struggle engaging.” The Locket just isn’t engaging. and the struggle isn’t interesting.
The primary problem is that things on the planet happen so quickly. One minute John’s down stuck on the planet, and then we’re cutting to 40 or 50 years later, and we’re left to infer things about how John’s relationship with Aeryn has developed via their conversation. Star Trek TNG used this concept in the award-winning “Inner Light,” and it worked there because the plot stuck with Picard for the entire time. We lived it with him, and had a chance to get to know what that life meant to him. Here, too much time is spent on juggling the technobabble required to contrive the set-up of the situation to leave much time for the characters to inhabit that situation.
Or, to put it more concisely, the ep is called “The Locket” because it’s all about setting up that one reveal when Crichton opens it to see his picture. Sure, it’s a heartwarming moment, but it’s not worth everything that props it up.
A few other things that don’t help: Ben Browder is a good actor, but curmudgeon-Crichton bothers me. Maybe it’s the age-enhanced southern drawl. The slow-mo at the very end is really, really irritating, too. This episode is one giant, pointless, reset button-powered frell-around.
Oh, and Stark’s back, having showed up prior to the start of the episode to return the transport pod he apparently borrowed back when the writers forgot about him after “The Hidden Memory.” (The guy is like the angel Castiel from Supernatural. He leaves off-screen, he arrives off-screen.) It is nice to see him again—he hasn’t completely fallen apart yet—and he brings the seed of an interesting three-parter on the horizion.
At the end, Aeryn and Crichton open the locket to find its contents have disintegrated into worthless dust, much like this episode. (Boy, I really don’t like this one, huh?)
“Looks like something disintegrated in there.”
At one point Pilot invokes the leviathan builder they met previously: “Kahanyu protect Moya.” I didn’t notice that the first time, probably because Pilot pronounces it a little differently than Zhaan did.
There’s a moment or two with D’Argo and Chiana where they talk about how likely their relationship is to make it or not. I wonder if this is a remnant of an attempt to have to parallel stories of long-term results of current pairings.