Farscape: S02E06: Picture If You Will

Astute readers will notice that this episode is 2.06, even though its original airdate was the week after “The Way We Weren’t,” causing a few minor continuity problems. If you think everyone is getting along just a little too well after the harrowing events of TWWW, you are correct, because those events haven’t happened yet! Do not be confused; this episode actually takes place after “Crackers Don’t Matter” and before “The Way We Weren’t.

Rygel, Chiana and Aeryn have visited a huge, Tinker Toy-like conglomeration of a ship, owned by a very butch gypsy lady named Kyvan. Kyvan makes her living in trading odds and ends – right up the alley of a couple of pack-rats like Rygel and Chiana. Seemingly an odd choice to accompany them, Aeryn apparently is along to baby-sit the two shoppers and keep them out of trouble. While poking around in the collection of junk, Rygel finds a fake replica of an ancient Hynerian tiara, while Chiana finds an odd portrait that seems to depict her. Aeryn, tired of waiting for Chiana and Rygel, bullies them into leaving. Rygel purchases the fake tiara and Chiana is about to leave empty-handed, when Kyvan offers to give her the portrait. Oddly, the portrait now shows Chiana wearing a favorite necklace she had lost quite a while ago. Kyvan tells her the portrait is a “window on time.” Intrigued, Chiana accepts the portrait and they all head back to Moya.

On the way to her quarters, and still carrying the portrait, Chiana comes across a DRD that happens to be carrying the very necklace depicted in the portrait. Amazed at the coincidence, she glances at the picture to find that it has changed. The new subject is still Chiana, but a Chiana sprawled on the floor, and with a broken leg! Taken aback by the picture’s latest scene, Chiana takes a step backwards, stumbles across the DRD, and fractures her leg with a grisly and disgusting crack.

While her leg is being set, Chiana tells Crichton and Zhaan that the picture changed, and that she believes it actually predicts the future. She is thrilled and fascinated by this discovery, but Crichton is rather skeptical. Zhaan, mystic that she is, is less skeptical, and asks Chiana if she can do some tests on the portrait, much to Chiana’s dismay. She strenuously resists Zhaan’s reasonable request, but Crichton convinces her to let Zhaan have a teeny piece for experimental purposes. Chiana returns to gazing at the portrait, intent on discovering what it will show her next.

D’Argo is the next person to visit Chiana, and they discuss the picture. D’Argo offers the suggestion that the picture is not merely showing future events, but actually causing them. Chiana airily dismisses this line of logic, and tells D’Argo she wants to know what the future holds for her. She is surprised to find out that D’Argo doesn’t share her enthusiasm for knowing what lies before her; he feels that knowing the future necessarily entails losing hope.  D’Argo tries to prevail upon Chiana to get rid of the portrait, but in a rather petulant manner, she refuses to give it up, and tells him to leave her alone.

We find out in this scene that D’Argo is a player! For a short-tempered fighter type, he has a very sexy voice, and he obviously knows how to use it! In past episodes, we have seen him act rather seductive with Zhaan, Aeryn, the Luxan Orican Nilaam, and now Chiana. Chiana is not exactly amiss to the idea either, possibly because John has previously rejected her. In fact, since the events of “Taking the Stone,” where John blew her off (with disastrous results), Chiana has seemed to shift her attention from Crichton towards D’Argo. The relationship with John seems to be turning into something of an older brother/little sister friendship, rather than the romantic attraction she perhaps had hoped for at one time. D’Argo flatly tells Chiana he “cares” about her, and she seems flattered and intrigued by this knowledge.

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In Moya’s galley, Aeryn and John discuss the picture while munching on a snack. Aeryn thinks Kyvan pulled a con of some sort, and that Chiana is imagining things. She rather bitterly points out that the crew, as usual, has Rygel and Chiana to thank for the current situation. John agrees, but contents himself with wishing they had never gone to the trade ship to begin with, and half-jokingly suggests that in the future they lock Moya up tight and not allow anyone on or off the ship. Aeryn has a simpler solution to future problems: “If I had my way, I’d throw Rygel off the ship. Chiana too, maybe.”

“Huh?!” is John’s confused response. John is pretty forgiving of past transgressions, I guess, but frankly, I am with Aeryn on this issue – I’m not sure why Rygel hasn’t been kicked off the ship before now, traitorous, treacherous slug that he is.

In any case, John is taken aback by Aeryn’s comments and counters: “What about Zhaan?

Possibly!Aeryn demurely responds. “D’Argo? ME??!!” Aeryn shrugs. “Pilot! Let’s get rid of Pilot!” John continues, voice rising. “Then you can have the whole ship to yourself.” “Is that an offer?” Aeryn asks, deadpan, continuing to munch. John stalks off in a huff, ending the latest in a series of tiffs between the two.

In the meantime, while everyone else seems to be at loggerheads, Zhaan attempts to conduct experiments on her little scrap of the portrait. She hears an eerie voice calling her name, and becomes very tense and frightened. Unfortunately, she can’t find anything wrong with the picture. John enters her chambers, and Zhaan is so tightly wound that she accidentally smashes some of her glassware. She is unable to explain to John why she is so distressed, and why she feels that something is terribly wrong, but rather desperately requests that when the times comes, John obey her immediately and unquestioningly. He agrees that he will do so, and will bring the portrait to her to be destroyed.

Back in Chiana’s room, the portrait has changed to reflect a hideous new future: Chiana surrounded by flames, screaming in agony! D’Argo and Crichton meet each other on the way to Chiana’s quarters, both with the same goal of destroying the portrait. She is terrified at the picture’s revelations, and begs D’Argo (!) to protect her. He manfully scoops her up, and heads to the cargo bay, while John takes the portrait to Zhaan, who gets a very bad vibe from it.

Aeryn and D’Argo install Chiana in a freezer, while Pilot attempts to make Chiana comfortable in her new living space. D’Argo tries to comfort the hysterical girl, but Aeryn rather bracingly tells her the whole thing is in her head, and she should just buck up. Unfortunately, despite this excellent advice, at this point a fire breaks out behind Chiana, and she is trapped in the freezer, unable to escape! The doors to the freezer are jammed, and no one can open them, including Pilot. Chiana screams in torment as the flames consume her, while her friends watch helplessly. After a few minutes, the fire subsides and the door to the freezer opens to reveal nothing left but a small pile of smoldering ashes and her favorite necklace. Everyone is dazed by the turn of events, and Pilot is utterly unable to explain what happened.

Zhaan and the rest of the crew mourn for Chiana’s death, and Rygel seems particularly affected. Everyone agrees they should have tried harder to destroy the picture, and done more to help Chiana. Zhaan burns the portrait, and continues her prayers for Chiana.

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Aeryn grills Pilot about the Incident, trying to get him to explain what happened, but Pilot insists that there was absolutely no reason it should have transpired. Aeryn is distressed by Pilot’s assertion, and emphatically maintains that there has to be a reason.

Back in Zhaan’s chamber, Crichton, D’Argo and Zhaan are appalled to discover that the picture has returned, and now shows D’Argo impaled by a Qualta blade (that’s the Luxan sword/blaster he carries). They smash the painting and eject the shards into space, fleeing the shards at top speed, but the painting reappears in Zhaan’s quarters. D’Argo fatalistically accepts his impending demise, and tells John that he has been a good friend to him. John has Zhaan take D’Argo’s sword away to a safe place, but at that moment, Moya lurches, and a spar of some sort transfixes D’Argo. D’Argo’s body instantly vanishes.

Unknown to the others, D’Argo reappears inside the picture, very much alive. He hears Chiana’s voice forlornly calling out, and tries to find her.

Zhaan and Crichton are naturally puzzled by the lack of a Luxan corpse. “It punched right through him, and he disappeared. No blood, no guts, no nothing!” a shocked John reports. He is horrified to discover the portrait now shows the next person to die – no other than himself. The subject: Death by electrocution.

Determined to take at least some action, Aeryn and Rygel head out to find Kyvan and her ship in order to get some answers. Aeryn trashes the ship and trade goods, blaster ready, until Kyvan falteringly admits that Maldis (an old and almost omnipotent enemy) had given her the painting to deliver to the crew. Zhaan is terrified to learn that Maldis is behind the picture of doom.

I couldn’t help but notice in the scene on Kyvan’s ship, that Aeryn’s wardrobe seems to be shrinking. “Is it just me,” I asked my hubby, “or are Aeryn’s clothes getting tighter and smaller? I don’t think I’ve seen quite so much of her before?” “I was just noticing!” replied my appreciative spouse. It is made very plain in this scene that Sebaceans share more than just outward appearance with Humans, including bellybuttons. Unlike, say, Nebari, who seem to be completely smooth in that regard. Perhaps Aeryn is forsaking her warlike ways and developing a belated fashion sense. on a more serious note, there may be more to the Human/Sebacean connection than previously suspected, since the anatomies seem to match up almost perfectly. It may be that the writers are doing a bit of foreshadowing. Or maybe not.

Zhaan initiates a telepathic discussion with John, using the mental bond they developed in “Rhapsody in Blue.” She asks him to focus Maldis’ attention on him, and to ignore what she says aloud. Apparently, she has a plan! When she resumes speaking aloud, she babbles in fear, wailing that Maldis cannot be beaten. John firmly tells her he refuses to give up hope, but Zhaan caresses his cheek, and tells him that she has. With that, she shoves him into an electrical device, and he is immediately electrocuted. The voice returns, and the portrait changes to show a picture of a broken and fragmented Zhaan.

Crichton is propelled inside the picture, and hears D’Argo. They touch base: D’Argo has lost Chiana. The picture is a maze as well as a painting, and contains arches and rooms that do not intersect each other. John shouts for Maldis to reveal himself: “Haven’t you read the supervillain handbook?! This is where you are supposed to twirl your mustache and gloat.” “I don’t have a mustache, John,” says Maldis primly, appearing behind him.

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John mocks Maldis with the events that happened during their last encounter (during “That Old Black Magic”), when Zhaan and John dispersed Maldis’ physical being, but Maldis is unperturbed. Maldis tells John he sustained himself after that debacle by focussing himself entirely on revenge – on Zhaan. He doesn’t care at all about John, D’Argo or Chiana; he just wanted Zhaan to suffer from seeing her friends die. Maldis can read minds, and he tells John that his hope that Zhaan will pull off a miracle is slight. “Your mind to me is an open book, full of big print and lots of pictures!” he sneers, hoping to crush John’s defiance.

Back on Moya, Zhaan ropes Pilot into her plan, and then hears the eerie voice calling to her. In despair and terror, she falls off a precipice in Pilot’s chamber, and joins John and Maldis. She collapses in terror in front of them, whimpering to John that she is too weak to oppose Maldis.

Maldis finds all of this extremely entertaining. He gloatingly inserts John, Chiana and D’Argo into nearby living portraits in order to increase Zhaan’s misery (the archways act as pictures within the picture). Nothing daunted, Chiana is curious about Maldis. “He’s your basic evil vampire,” John informs her. “He sucks the life out of people,” confirms D’Argo. “He just plain sucks,” adds John. John tells them all to stay cool, reminding them that Maldis feeds off negative emotions.

Unfortunately, by way of an object lesson, Maldis proves to them that they all have something they fear above all else –fears over which they have no control. Maldis threatens to find Earth and suck the life from all six billion people – they will keep him fed for quite awhile! He asks Chiana how she’d like a trip back to her homeworld, and tells D’Argo he’s looking forward to meeting D’Argo’s son.

Then he treads over the length Zhaan’s supine body with his high-heeled shoes, and creates a link from the picture to Moya. Pilot radios Aeryn and tells her to kill Kyvan and leave, fast. Nothing loath, Aeryn shoots Kyvan with her blaster; Kyvan shatters into hundreds of shards of glass. Aeryn and Rygel flee the collapsing trade ship.

Maldis is annoyed, but so is Zhaan. She leaps to her feet and physically (?) beats Maldis up. She seems to know some sort of martial arts that she uses against him. D’Argo and Chiana flee, while John scoops up Zhaan and carries her through the link to Moya. A huge hand follows them through the link and attempts to squash them, but John fires the guns of Aeryn’s Prowler at the hand, which destroys both the link and the hand. “That was your plan?!” John asks incredulously after the hand vanishes.

John and Zhaan discuss whether or not Maldis can return after his latest defeat, but Zhaan tells him that one can never be sure with a being like Maldis. John tells her she should have lied to him, but Zhaan earnestly says she isn’t much of a liar. John teasingly reminds her of her fear-filled performance in front of Maldis, but Zhaan replies that her fear and display was not an act. “I’ve never been more scared in my life,” she tells him, deadly serious.

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This episode review is © 1999 – 2019 Andrea Reed
and not for reproduction without the authors express permission

The FARSCAPE names, characters and everything else associated with the series  are the property of The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Entertainment,  Nine Network, and in association with The Sci-Fi Channel and the BBC.

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