Captain Hornblower Rates the Farscape Episodes

The Captain gives "Bringing Home the Beacon" a rating of:

3 Moyas

Captain's Rating Scale:
5 Moyas-one of the best episodes
4 Moyas-an excellent episode
3 Moyas-a good episode
2 Moyas-a fair episode
1 Moya-a not so fair episode
0 Moyas-a poor episode

Review:

"Bringing Home the Beacon" is a very good episode of Farscape, not only as an individual story, but also as a precursor to a new conflict for Moya's crew to deal with. While the female members of Moya's crew are on a dead Leviathan turned commerce asteroid, securing a new device for Moya allowing her to fool the scanners of enemy ships, they run smack dab into a meeting between Commandant Grayza and a ruling member of the Scarren hierarchy. Aeryn makes a decision to act to prevent the two parties from agreeing to a treaty that would give the Scarrens control of Luxan space, while the Peacekeepers would have free reign in the Uncharted Territories. But things go horribly wrong when Aeryn is captured by the Scarrens, and Crichton and crew must now find a way to find and rescue her, thus setting up a new arch for upcoming episodes.

One of the best parts about this episode is the political intrigue. When Farscape does interstellar politics between the various alien races on the show, the producers and writers have always done very well with it. They have a way of presenting a plethora of complex political and diplomatic issues in a setting and form of discussion that makes them easy for the audience to understand. In this case, through this small, clandestine meeting, the viewer gets a glance at: Grayza's power plays within the Peacekeeper hierarchy, the ways Scarrens advance in rank in their own hierarchy, the status of the conflict between the Scarrens and Peacekeepers and why the Scarrens are willing to talk peace, and the fact that the Peacekeepers do indeed want to extend their presence in the Uncharted Territories.

It is interesting how wormhole weapons are being used by the Peacekeepers to bluff the Scarrens into peace negotiations. It is similar to President Reagan's bluff of the Soviets during the 1980's with Star Wars satellite technology. In both cases, the weapons systems don't exist, but one side has the other side convinced the technology (or solid plans to build it) is in the former's possession, and is using that to bluff the other party.

The action in the episode was decent, though a bit slow at times. It seems to take a while for the plot to move along, with pedantic side trips such as Chiana's visit to the massage parlor/genetic restructuring shop. Also, for elite Peacekeeper commandos, Grayza's troops were very easily dealt with by the Charrids and Scarrens. Finally, Aeryn can kick ass with the best of them, but did she think she could really take on two Scarrens with a pulse rifle, given what we know about their lack of vulnerability to such weapons? One would think she and the others could have come up with a more inventive solution for dealing with them.

For sure, the most compelling part of this episode was the fact that Aeryn is now in the hands of the Scarrens, and Crichton must find her and rescue her, with the help of his friends, and probably his enemy (i.e. Scorpius). The opening of this new development is rather predictable, though. The observant viewer (which most Scapers are) could quite easily see from the time Aeryn stepped onto the transport pod that something was not right, and that it would turn out to somehow not be the real Aeryn. We didn't see what happened between her and the Scarrens. All we saw was her shooting at one with not much effect, then later nonchalantly jump into the pod and ride back to Moya. But, Crichton's discovery of the fact that the Aeryn who returned was merely an android copy, and that the real Aeryn is a Scarren prisoner, makes for a very emotional moment for the viewer. The rescue of Aeryn in the next episode or two should be a roller coaster ride of emotional drama and action, and will be made more complex by the fact that John will almost surely have to seek help from Scorpius. But at what price?

Ultimately, this episode does suffer from one flaw, and it is a flaw that effected the previous episode adversely as well. So much of what makes Farscape's stories so fun and interesting is the interaction of Moya's crew, and them working together to face various problems and threats. From the beginning of the series, it has been this crew as a whole, as well as the individual characters, that have helped to make the stories of Farscape so compelling. Whenever the crew is split up (one group in one episode, another group in another), the stories seem to almost never be as good as when they are together.

Even in Season 3, when the crew was split for half a season, this was evident. The Talyn stories, though, did not suffer really from this because the absence of the crew being whole was well supplemented by John's and Aeryn's new found intimacy, and the drama of Aeryn's mother entering into the picture. The Moya stories didn't have that, and thus were never as good as the Talyn stories that season. Early in Season 4, this feeling that something was missing from the stories was also evident before "Promises", when the entire crew was reunited.

This continues to be evident with both "Mental as Anything" and "Bringing Home the Beacon". In the latter episode's case, the story was still good, but did suffer from this element. "Mental as Anything" suffered from it even more because the story was not as good as that of "Bringing Home the Bacon".

But, nonetheless, "Bringing Home the Beacon" was still a good episode, especially with the conflict it sets up for the next few episodes to come.

What did you think of "Bringing Home the Beacon", or this review? Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in a reply below.

By the way, for those who regularly read my reviews, sorry this one was tardy. I normally have them up on Friday night, or Saturday afternoon, by this weekend was pretty busy for me. That's why you've had to wait until Sunday for the review.

Captain Hornblower
Keeper of Jenavia's Jewel Gun
Worshiper of Aeryn's Remarkable Vessel


 

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Originally aired in the US February 7, 2003

Written by Carleton Eastlake

Directed by Rowan Woods

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