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Farscape - Season 1 - Episode 19

Farscape - 1x19 - Nerve - Originally Aired: 2000-1-7

My Rating - 10

Fan Rating Average - 6.17

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Synopsis
In order to secure a vital tissue graft to save Aeryn's life, Crichton and Chiana disguise themselves as Peacekeepers and infiltrate a secret PK base there. They meet up with Gilina, the Peacekeeper Tech who Crichton met on the Zelbinion. Gilina is able to help Crichton obtain the graft, but before he can get it to Aeryn, Scorpius - a Sebacean/Scarran hybrid - exposes Crichton's charade and subjects him to the Aurora Chair: a torture device used to extract memories from its victims. Scorpius discovers a memory implanted in Crichton's head by the Ancients that Crichton himself was not aware of: information about creating wormholes. To access this hidden knowledge, Scorpius is willing to destroy Crichton's mind. [DVD]

Filler Quotient: 0, not filler, do not skip this episode.
- Numerous major long term plot threads are introduced here.

Problems
None

Factoids
- The energy signature of humans is quite different from Sebaceans.

Remarkable Scenes
- Aeryn revealing she's dying from her knife wound.
- John proposing going to the Peacekeeper base to get Aeryn a compatible tissue sample.
- John flying the prowler to the Peacekeeper base and mincing words with the air traffic control guy.
- John impersonating Larraq.
- John somehow passing genetic scan as Larraq then Gilina showing up out of nowhere and revealing she tweaked the program to let him through.
- John being outed as an impostor.
- Scorpius discovering hidden knowledge of wormholes embedded in John's brain by the aliens from A Human Reaction.
- Crais meeting with Scorpius.
- Chiana's weak attempt to convince Gilina that Crichton loves her and not Aeryn.
- John deducing that Crais is bluffing about having captured the Leviathan because he doesn't know about Aeryn's injury.
- Chiana killing the commander.
- Aeryn to Chiana: "You make a worse Peacekeeper than Crichton."

My Review
Wow! This episode is so densely packed with things to love it's hard to decide where to start. Nerve ties together many things from previous episodes all into one dramatic climax. John's love for Aeyrn, Aeryn's injury, John's relationship with Gilina, Crais' chase of Crichton, John's desire to unlock the secrets of wormholes, and perhaps even Moya's pregnancy are all brought to the forefront here. Plus we have tantalizing new elements such as the delightful character of Scorpius and the idea that John has valuable knowledge of wormholes locked in his brain somewhere, given to him by the aliens from A Human Reaction.

Scorpius does indeed steal the show here, a villain that is decidedly menacing and mysterious in ways that the other Peacekeepers simply aren't; unlike the others he could tell John was an impostor simply by looking at him. We learn little about him in this episode other than the fact that he's running a research project on the development of new weapons and it's strongly hinted that Scorpius' aim has been to develop a wormhole weapon. Though his rank is not stated, he seemed to outrank the commander of the base and take orders from no one, not even Crais. As for Crais, he's someone we've seen far too little of this season, so it's nice that he and Crichton are finally having their inevitable confrontation.

I was less fond of the idea of a love triangle between Gilina, Crichton, and Aeryn, but the execution was so subtle and flawless that it only added brilliant texture to the episode. What's more, I love the fact that memories of Aeryn didn't come up, not even once, while Crichton was in the Aurora chair. Clearly Crichton is trying to protect her. This episode also repeats the plot device of having Crichton masquerade as a Peacekeeper, but this time it totally works. None of the mistakes of the previous episode were repeated here, so we get to milk it for all its worth. Almost like a do over.

The episode ending on a cliffhanger is also somewhat new. Farscape's been more or less an arc-driven show since the beginning of the series, but each episode has also been more or less wrapped up by the last scene, even if not in an entirely neat package. Instead, this story ramps up both the threat level and the drama and a more drawn out story spread across multiple episodes is the perfect way to dive deep into the nuances of all the plot threads that are converging here. Obviously we can expect Aeryn to stage a foolhardy rescue mission for John and it looks like Moya will have her baby soon too.

This is the most compelling episode of Farscape so far. It's utterly gripping, exciting, and ruthlessly dark. Never before has John's life been in this much danger and for the first time I feel like all the players in the story are fleshed out enough and realized enough for the drama to get all the focus rather than wondering why certain things are the way they are or certain characters act the way they act. Not only that, but the story is 100% relevant to the premise of the show: the freak accident that brought John to this part of the universe. Scorpius wants the wormhole knowledge that John didn't know he had and Scorpius will torture John to get it. Powerful stuff.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From DK on 2012-07-30 at 3:27pm:
    I love the Gilina character.  What I like the most is what they didn't do to her.   So often now days writers (this show included at times) feel the need to put women characters in a position where they are, often gratuitously, tough, smart, aggressive and in control of any situation and find a way to make male characters less than (if a man is needed at all).   It was refreshing to see a female character portrayed at least partially supportive, submissive, and non emasculating in their relationship.
  • From Hugo on 2015-02-21 at 8:41am:
    Great episode! More great sets, love the design of the Gammak base. But the Aurora chair and that red-head lady didn't really match the rest of the design - I found all that very pulpy, almost like 70ies B-scifi, including the giant rotating fan in the background.

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