Farscape: S02E05: The Way We Weren’t
The show opens with a scene of one of the Pilot species openly defying a Peacekeeper and his entourage of five or six Peacekeeper flunkies, all of whom look very much like Imperial Stormtroopers from Star Wars. (In fact, I think the opening sequence of the Peacekeepers trotting down the hall may have been an homage to Star Wars.) She (the Pilot) tells him that under no circumstances will she consider his request, and that whatever he is asking of her will happen over her dead body. The atmosphere is very tense, but unusually, the Peacekeeper seems to almost beg her to reconsider her stance, and is in the process of discussing it with her, when Crais walks in. He is angry and brusque, and demands to know if a replacement Pilot has been found. Upon hearing that a new Pilot is waiting in the wings, he orders the Peacekeeper group to open fire on the Pilot, which they do with no hesitation whatsoever. We hear the screams of the Pilot as she is gunned down in cold blood. When the Peacekeeper orders his group to start digging out the “remains” some of the Peacekeepers take off their helmets and we see that Aeryn is a member of the group that murdered the Pilot.
It turns out that this is a scene from a security tape that Chiana has discovered and is showing to John. At first Crichton is unable to take it all in, but eventually Chiana breaks through his distraction, and he comes to realize that it is indeed Aeryn on the tape, and not someone else, and that Aeryn was on Moya before she was part of the current crew.
This whole opening sequence was extremely shocking, not just because of the violence, but also from the almost offhand and casual way in which Moya’s original Pilot was brutally killed. If we had any doubts, it is now entirely clear that the Peacekeepers as a group are not nice guys, and do not encompass many redeeming traits.
Crichton and Chiana replay the tape for the rest of the crew, including Aeryn, and they of course are horrified and angry. Aeryn admits that it was she on the tape, but maintains that she was unaware that she had been on Moya before. Although everyone says some rather heated things to Aeryn, Zhaan in particular is unable to restrain herself from openly displaying her disgust with Aeryn. Chiana sensibly pipes up and reminds everyone: “What were you guys thinking all this time, that she was out picking raldus buds while all the other Peacekeepers did all the nasty stuff? She was a Peacekeeper!” Rygel’s scathing comments to Aeryn cause her to lunge at him, and when John restrains her, she turns on him in a very vicious manner. He is obviously frightened of her and her lack of control.
Crichton manages to calm everyone down, and advises everyone that they all have things in their past that they wouldn’t want on instant replay. John seems to have returned to his usual calm, collected and rational self; in this episode at least he is decidedly unlike the post-Aurora Chair psycho-boy he has seemed to be in the last few shows.
Aeryn tells everyone her values and relationships were very different back then, causing her to remember a discussion she had with Velorek, the Peacekeeper who uncharacteristically had tried to negotiate with the Pilot.
Aeryn had been a Prowler pilot, one of an elite military group, and had been reassigned to Velorek’s transport, which contains a secret cargo. She is decidedly displeased with what seems to be a milk run, and makes it clear to Velorek that she wants to be reassigned to Prowler duty. During the course of the conversation, Aeryn sees a Pilot brought aboard. He is secured, struggling and confined, and obviously a prisoner. After she relates this memory to the rest of the crew, everyone realizes that Aeryn had seen Pilot brought aboard, and that he wasn’t Moya’s first pilot. D’Argo takes the recording and remarks that he hopes Pilot never see it. Aeryn continues explaining her returning memories to John, and she reveals that Velorek’s job was to bond Pilot to Moya regardless of what it took. She recounts a memory of Velorek torturing Pilot to make him more conformable to the Peacekeepers.
Aeryn heads off to the gym to work off some of her despair, and collapses in a fit of uncontrolled weeping. Crichton comforts her, and begs her to talk to him about what is causing her such pain. She explains her association with Velorek, and how Peacekeeper relationships work – uncommitted, brief and emotionless. She found her “recreations” with men to be empty and painful. She tells John that she and Velorek were lovers, although she can hardly say the word. John suggests that Velorek was a sadist, but she says that he wasn’t, and that was his main problem.
At this point, Pilot breaks into their conversation, and is obviously very angry. He tells Aeryn that he needs to talk to her. She agrees, and when she tries to discuss matters with him, he screams with rage and tries to kill her. He finally releases her, but demands that she leave Moya, as her presence defiles the ship. In order to enforce his demands, he shuts Moya down; the ship is merely floating in space.
Pilot has also been recovering some of his memories. The process of installing Pilot as Moya’s navigator is clearly difficult and exacting, requiring that Pilot’s nerves and innards be physically and rather crudely grafted to Moya. Velorek explains to Pilot that the bonding is not a natural bonding, and that Moya has been sedated in order to facilitate the bonding process. The process leaves Pilot permanently and continually in agony, which probably explains why he is so grumpy a lot of the time. In any case, when Moya is awakened from her sedation, she is tortured into accepting him as her Pilot.
After a disastrous interaction with Zhaan, during which Zhaan deliberately hurts Aeryn, Aeryn decides that she will leave the ship and crew. This scene was particularly interesting in light of Zhaan’s own past. Zhaan is the member of the crew who seems to be the most repulsed at what happened, and certainly the one who is most open about expressing her disgust at Aeryn, but her own history is not particularly clean. Zhaan after all was originally convicted by the Peacekeepers of murdering her lover, a crime to which she has freely admitted. Zhaan is something of a hypocrite here, which she perhaps realizes, since she softens her stance considerably and tells Aeryn that she believes that Aeryn had no choice other than to act the way she did, and that she couldn’t be a different kind of Peacekeeper back then. Aeryn seems somewhat comforted, but continues to make preparations to leave.
While she is packing her belongings, Aeryn continues her unwelcome and painful recollections. Velorek asked Aeryn to go with him when he is reassigned, and tells her he can probably get them reassigned together so they can continue their relationship. It is clear that they have deep feelings for each other, and he tells her she is special. He tells her to “Think beyond the box the Peacekeepers put your mind in, Aeryn. Crais is a maniac, and his coveted project is an abomination.” He reveals that Crais’ secret project will kill Moya, and that he will do anything to prevent that from happening.
Velorek seems strangely passionate/compassionate for a Peacekeeper, and refers to them in the third person, as if he is not one himself. Yet we see him commit acts of horrible brutality. It will be interesting to see if the writers do anything else with his character.
Back in the present, John goes to try and reason with Pilot, but Pilot suffers a fit of self-loathing and rips out his connection to Moya! This has the effect of shutting down all life-support and causing all of Moya’s systems to go offline.
While she and D’Argo try to restore some of Moya’s systems, Aeryn remembers a conversation she overheard between Pilot and Velorek. They were discussing Pilot’s growing control of Moya and her systems, and then, she overhears them talking about Crais’ secret project. Velorek tells Pilot it will never be a threat to Pilot or Moya again.
After she recalls this scene, Aeryn tells Crichton and D’Argo that everything is her fault, and she must talk to Pilot. John demands to know what happened back then, if anything. She refuses to tell him, and stalks off to talk to Pilot. Both D’Argo and John start to accompany her, but John wins a game of Rock Paper Scissors (in the only remotely amusing moment in the episode), and follows her.
Aeryn finds that Pilot has sealed himself in his chambers, and the DRDs have taken up defensive positions around him. on their way to Pilot’s chamber, Aeryn recalls her last interaction with Velorek, and tells John, at his urging.
Aeryn told Velorek she wanted to accompany him when he was reassigned. Because he knows how important flying Prowlers is to her, he tells her he will make their relationship together as exciting for her as flying Prowlers. Velorek, it seems, cares deeply for Aeryn, despite it being more or less against regulations. In response to his declaration, Aeryn suddenly begs Velorek to restore whatever he sabotaged with Crais’ project. Velorek is confused, but not for long, since Crais and his thugs come crashing into the chamber. They arrest Velorek, and accuse him of treason. Crais makes it clear that Aeryn had informed on him, and her reward is reassignment to Prowler duty. on his way out, Velorek tells her he knew she was special. Oddly, he is not being sarcastic, nor does he seem to hold it against her that she betrayed him. This remark causes Crais to give Aeryn a very long – and creepy – measuring look.
After hearing her recount the story of how she sold out her lover, John and Aeryn figure out that the special project was probably the attempt to breed a Peacekeeper/Leviathan hybrid, which D’Argo reinitiated when he knocked the shield out of place.
At that point, Crichton and Aeryn break into Pilot’s chamber, and a John Wu-esque shooting scene ensues, where they blast all the DRDs defending Pilot. Pilot, needless to say, is underwhelmed at the entrance, and tells them to get out, but they refuse to leave until they talk to him.
Unfortunately, Pilot thinks their efforts to get him to reconnect to Moya are self-serving, and in any case, he believes that Moya is better off without him. Aeryn tells Pilot she deserves death, and lays down her gun, and stands close enough for him to kill her if he wishes. She tells him to kill her if he likes, but to spare himself and the rest of the crew. Pilot seems touched by her offer; he is no longer raving or enraged. But he tells Aeryn that in fact HE is the one who deserves to die, not her.
He recalls how he came to be Pilot of Moya. Pilot had first encountered Velorek on the homeworld of the Pilot race, and they discuss ways in which he can be a Pilot of a Leviathan. It seems that the elders of Pilots species had told him that he was not yet fit to be a Pilot, so his dream was crushed. Perhaps because of his youth and naivete, Pilot refuses to accept this judgment, and meets with Velorek. Velorek offers Pilot the stars, if he agrees to be Moya’s new Pilot. Pilot hesitates, as he knows the Leviathan already has a Pilot, but Velorek tells him the first Pilot is already doomed to death.
After he had seen the security tape, Pilot came to realize that his decision to accompany Velorek as the new Pilot is what had doomed the first Pilot, not Aeryn. His grief and remorse are so overwhelming to him that he no longer wishes to live. But Aeryn caresses Pilot’s cheek and tells him that the two of them have come too far together, and have too far to go to give up now. Together they mourn their actions of the past, and renew their friendship. Pilot takes hope and solace from her comments and actions, and agrees to try and restore some of his connections, albeit in a rudimentary fashion.
D’Argo helps Pilot to try and bond naturally with Moya, and Pilot is amazed at how normal and pain free the connections are. He warns D’Argo that his control of Moya is tenuous, but D’Argo tells him that it is not an issue, that Pilot deserves to be properly bonded with Moya.
John and Aeryn continue discussing Velorek, and Crichton asks “And you say you think you love this man?” Aeryn seems to take the double meaning of the question, and, as the show ends, is unable to answer it.
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