Summary and analysis by Dallascaper

John Crichton, by Earth standards, is well-educated, technically gifted, and an accomplished test pilot. Though he was not of military background, IASA obviously was impressed enough by John's abilities and novel approach to space travel to fund his Farscape project. However, once he was thrown into the UT, in the opinion of many Moya crewmates, John became a savage, higher brain-function deficient who couldn't even open a door without assistance. When it comes to UT technology, John may be ignorant and inexperienced, but he isn't stupid. With practice, John has become a master of Moya's doors and competent at day-to-day activities. John has now set his sights on a new challenge: learning to pilot a transport pod. There's only one soul on Moya brave enough to teach the human - Aeryn Sun is up to the challenge.

John and Aeryn set out for the lesson by choosing a region of space completely void of any objects. John lacks confidence with maneuvering the craft, but does seem to be developing the skills necessary to pilot the pod. At least there isn't anything for John to hit, or so he thinks. While piloting the vessel, John inadvertently slams the small ship into an invisible barrier of some kind. The transport pod struggles to break free of the field enveloping it, but it's no match and becomes immobilized. Like a fly caught in a spider's web, the leviathan pod is stuck and drained of power.

At first, Aeryn blames Crichton for the mishap, but soon realizes that the collision could not have been avoided. The phenomenon that caught the ship is so powerful it swallows light and makes communication with Moya impossible. Aeryn launches an emergency communications buoy with enough information for Moya's crew to initiate a rescue. Not satisfied to sit and wait, John and Aeryn stay busy repairing the stricken vessel.

The situation on Moya is very different from the drama occurring on the transport pod. With no place to go and waiting for John and Aeryn to complete the flying lesson, Moya's crew is experiencing difficulty of their own. D'Argo is losing his patience - Moya's pregnancy causes her to excrete foul smelling fluids that are irritating D'Argo's sensitive olfactory system. He sees no purpose to teaching Crichton to fly and considers the endeavor a complete waste of time. Rygel is testing Zhaan's noted patience by banging on a musical instrument and boasting of his past glory. Zhaan is in danger of losing her Pa'u by killing the Hynerian slug when Moya receives a strange visitor.

A local junkman named Staanz comes aboard offering valuable information to the crew. Zhaan and D'Argo doubt Staanz knows anything worth hearing until he tells them about the Flax. Staanz explains that the particular region of space the crew is occupying is the hunting ground for a group of merciless thieves known as Zenetan pirates. The Flax is used by the pirates to immobilize ships so their occupants can be robbed of possessions and life. Staanz, who is a former member of the pirate gang, is willing to chart a path that will allow Moya to pass through space without being caught in the Flax. Of course, Staanz is more than willing to accept a gratuity for his services. When informed that Moya has a transport pod with crew members in the area, Staanz informs Zhaan that her friends are probably already dead.

Willing to participate in a joint rescue mission, D'Argo accompanies Staanz aboard his junk ship to find John and Aeryn. However, D'Argo has an additional reason for joining the junkman. Staanz reveals that there is an old Luxan warship awaiting scrapping by the pirates. D'Argo believes starcharts and other valuable data that will help him find home may still be located there. Detouring from the rescue, D'Argo and Staanz spend precious time locating the derelict Luxan ship. Unfortunately for Zhaan and Rygel, they aren't left alone on Moya for long. The pirates have discovered Moya's position and board the leviathan vessel. Realizing Moya is pregnant and not worth the trouble of stealing, the pirate leader, Kcrackic, decides to leave the penniless crewmates alone. Concerned the pirates will now head for John and Aeryn, it's up to Zhaan and Rygel to stall the killer thieves.

On the transport pod, John and Aeryn use the ship's remaining power in a last ditch effort to break free of the Flax. The attempt fails miserably leaving the ship in worse shape than before. The atmospheric generators are malfunctioning resulting in air that is nearly pure oxygen. John knows how to fix the equipment, but must use a welding device to make the repairs. Unfortunately, the sparks created by the torch will ignite the atmosphere and incinerate the entire ship, its occupants included. Aeryn has a good idea that will make repairs possible. She suggests they put on space suits, depressorize the atmosphere, repair the generators with no risk of fire, then repressorize the ship. John agrees to the plan, but discovers that only one of two space suits on board the ship is left intact.

Once again, Aeryn has a plan. Included in the first aid kit are chemicals that stop, then restarts the heart. Aeryn wants John to kill her, quickly repair the ship, then restart her heart before there is any permanent brain damage. John is reluctant at first, but agrees to the plan. However, they discover that John's suit is the one that is damaged and Aeryn's small helmet will not fit John. The rolls are reversed and it is John that must temporarily die. The problem with the new plan is twofold. First, the first-aid chemicals are designed for Sebaceans, not humans. There is no way of knowing, until John is already dead, if the kit will revive him. Second, John is the experienced welder, not Aeryn. Not only must John show Aeryn how to repair the equipment, she only has a few minutes to do so before John's brain dies from lack of oxygen.

Aeryn injects John with the killer drug and starts the repairs. In a race against time, Aeryn is hampered by repairs that will take longer to complete than expected. Aeryn must chose whether to continue with the repairs - thus killing John permanently - or stop the repairs and revive John so they can suffocate to death together.

 

Analysis:

The first time John Crichton saw Aeryn he liked her. The first time Aeryn Sun saw John she kicked his butt and slammed the hapless human to the floor. It's taken a few months, but events have finally gotten these two people together. Although there is much taking place during this episode, The Flax is most noted for being the first true shippy episode of the series. The Flax is also important for the character development that occurs during a time of crisis.

John is slowly growing beyond the dumb human phase and wants to expand his experiences and skills. John knows that in order to survive and contribute to the crew he must learn as much about the new world around him as possible. Apparently, Aeryn recognizes John's needs and takes on the responsibility of teaching the human how to fly a transport. It's clear that Aeryn possesses little patience with incompetence, so she wouldn't seem well-suited as an instructor for John. But Aeryn is also experiencing growth as person, particularly when it comes to interaction with others.

The Flax opens with Aeryn instructing John how to fly a transport pod. When it crashes into the Flax, Aeryn immediately blames John, which is an expected reaction. But instead of berating the human, Aeryn works with John to solve the problem as best they can. Aeryn is starting to trust John's judgment and technical know-how. When things go bad, it's Aeryn that comes up with the space-suit strategy to resolve the crisis. Aeryn is not a Peacekeeper tech, but she uses her growing knowledge of technology to solve a problem.

When all seems lost, and the two crew mates are sitting in the transport waiting for their own deaths, the sexual tension building for months finally explodes. Wasting little time with kissing, John and Aeryn flop to the floor of the transport pod and start ripping each other's clothes off. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on one's point of view, the love session is interrupted before it really gets started when D'Argo comes to the rescue. The look on Aeryn's face when John says to D'Argo, "What took you so long?" is classic.

There is the issue of what transpired between John and Aeryn while they were in command at the end of the episode. John, still stunned by the fact that the seemingly male Staanz is actually female, walks up to Aeryn with a little smirk on his face and asks, "You are the female of your species, right?" Aeryn simply turns her head to John, gives a frell you look, and makes a movement toward the human. The look of utter shock and delight on John's face suggests something very interesting happened. It has been assumed by many scapers that Aeryn, to prove she is female, either grabbed John's privates or placed his hand on her nether region. In a chat, Claudia Black says neither happened. Aeryn simply made an aggressive move toward the human and that was all. Frankly, I find Claudia's explanation disappointing and have decided the woman doesn't know what she's talking about. Aeryn grabbed John - end of debate.

 

 

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Originally aired in the US July 16. 1999

Written by Justin Monjo

Directed By Peter Andrikidis

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