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Farscape

1.04 - Throne for a Loss

By Dennis Matheson - aka tanstaafl

[Cast/Credits]  [Overview]  [Quotes]  [Summary]  [References]  [Questions]  [Commentary]

Cast and Credits:

Original US Air Date: April 9, 1999

Regular Cast:
Ben Browder...................John Crichton
Claudia Black.................Aeryn Sun
Virginia Hey..................Zotoh Zhaan
Anthony Simcoe................Ka D'Argo
Jonathan Hardy................Dominar Rygel XVI (Voice)
Lani Tupu.....................Pilot (Voice)

Guest Cast:
John Adam.....................Bekhesh
Jeremiah Tickell..............Kyr
Zoe Dimakis...................Hontovek
Api Bavardra..................Nonk

Writer........................Richard Manning
Director......................Pino Amenta

Overview:

An attempt to make some money by hauling cargo turns sour when Rygel is kidnapped for ransom. Unfortunately, Rygel has taken with him a key component of Moya's systems and the rest of the crew has to attempt a rescue.

Quotes:

That's your plan? Wile E. Coyote could come up with a better plan than that! - John Crichton

You shanghai my ass down here and now you want me to lead? Give me one good reason! - John Crichton
Lots of reasons. Land mines, fire snakes, razor grass, night vision snipers, Morlian death spiders... - Aeryn Sun

Enjoying yourself? - Aeryn Sun
Oh, yeah... Marching through a smelly, bug-infested jungle. If this is your idea of a good time I bet you don't get a lot of second dates. - John Crichton

I'm unloved, unwanted, unpopular.... (gets kicked by Bekhesh) ...unconscious... - Rygel

Summary:

On board Moya, the crew is waiting for the arrival of a group of Tavleks. (Or, as John continually calls them, Tavloids.) Rygel has convinced them that Moya is his personal yacht and has negotiated with the Tavleks to carry a cargo for them for a fee. D'Argo is unhappy with the idea but has apparently been outvoted by the rest of the crew.

Rygel is playing his part to the fullest. He is sitting on a pedestal and insists that the rest of the crew address him as "Supreme Eminence" to which he adds "...which you should be doing anyway."

The Tavleks arrive and point wrist mounted weapons known as Gauntlets at the crew and orders them to stand still. Aeryn has her pulse rifle and D'Argo his Qualta Blade and a fight breaks out. John knocks Zhaan to the ground to avoid a shot from one of the Gauntlets but she is knocked unconscious.

One of the Tavleks throws a bag over Rygel and grabs him. Another manages to knock D'Argo's Qualta Blade from his hands. John grabs a length of pipe and hits one of the Tavleks with it, knocking him unconscious. As he falls, the Gauntlet falls from his wrist. D'Argo picks it up and puts it on.

The remaining Tavleks make it back to their shuttle with Rygel and take off. John yells for Pilot to grab the shuttle with the docking web but before he can do so the shuttle is out of range.
"Our Supreme Eminence has been bagged." John informs the group.

John yells for Pilot to follow the shuttle but D'Argo contradicts him and tells Pilot to leave orbit. He knocks a pedestal across the docking bay to make his point. The Gauntlet is injecting something into him which is making him stronger and, unfortunately, more aggressive.

D'Argo announces that he is now the leader of the group. Aeryn, John and Zhaan try to grab him to remove the Gauntlet but he is easily able to throw all three of them across the room. He storms off towards Command. Aeryn and John follow him while Zhaan works to revive the unconscious Tavlek.

Aeryn and John yell for D'Argo to stop but he turns and fires a shot from the Gauntlet at them. Aeryn shoots her pulse rifle but he deflects the shot and fires at them again. John pulls Aeryn back down the corridor to safety.

Aeryn and John return to Zhaan who by now has revived the Tavlek, named Kyr. Kyr tells them that the Gauntlet injects a stimulant into them to increase their strength. It can only be removed willingly by the wearer or when the wearer becomes unconscious. "So it can be disarmed without having to be dis-armed." says John. He asks Zhaan if she has something that can knock D'Argo out and she agrees to create some sleep mist.

D'Argo arrives in Command, kicking a DRD out of his way as he does so and annoying Pilot. He asks for manual control but Pilot tells him they cannot leave orbit.
"Do as I say or I'll rip off all your arms." yells D'Argo "Enough of this stupid voting! From now on, I'll make the decisions."

Pilot calls the rest of the crew in Zhaan's lab/apothecary and tells them of D'Argo's actions. He is interrupted by a transmission from the planet. The Tavlek who lead the raid, Bekhesh, tells them he wants a ransom for Rygel, enough Corvidium to "fill their transport hangar". Aeryn tells him they don't have any Corvidium but Bekhesh gives them one solar day to come up with it.

Zhaan gives John the sleep mist in what he calls a "water balloon". Aeryn is dubious but John insist he can handle it.

Aeryn and John find D'Argo in Command still arguing with Pilot. John throws the sleep mist at D'Argo and it explodes at his feet. He staggers but the Gauntlet injects more of the drug into him, reviving him. Aeryn and John run off with D'Argo following.

John asks Pilot for acceleration from Moya and Pilot tells him that Moya really does have a system malfunction; he hasn't just been saying that to delay D'Argo. In fact, he is having to vent fluid manually.

John has an idea. He tells Pilot to seal the vents, raising the pressure. Aeryn is again dubious but John assures her he has a plan. She does not look happy with the idea.

Back in Zhaan's lab/apothecary, Kyr tells Zhaan that he is not afraid of her as they are all soft and weak. He charges her just as Pilot contacts her. She backhands him and knocks him across the room. She then walks up to him.
"Soft?" she asks. "Yes. Weak? No."
She then asks Pilot what is going on and he tells her that Crichton has a plan. He leaves her with a worried expression saying "Crichton?"

D'Argo is still chasing Aeryn and John. He calls Aeryn a coward, provoking her to step from cover and allowing him to shoot at her. John yells for Pilot who releases the pressure, causing Moya to lurch and D'Argo to be thrown to the floor and knocking him unconscious. The Gauntlet falls from his wrist and John picks it up.

Down on the planet, Rygel is in a cell and buried up to his neck in the ground. He is yelling angrily and threatens the planet with the Hynerian Navy. This awakens the prisoner in the next cell who claims to be Jotheb, next in succession to preside over the Consortium of Trao. Rygel claims to have never heard of the Consortium while Jotheb claims to not know of the Hynerian Empire.

Back on Moya, Pilot reveals that Rygel has apparently taken a portion of Moya's control system; a reddish crystal that he apparently took to decorate his scepter. Moya's orbit is already beginning to deteriorate so they need to get Rygel back.

D'Argo is still sleeping off the effects of the Gauntlet so Aeryn announces that she will go down to the planet and rescue Rygel. When John tells her she cannot take on the whole planet alone she says he is coming with her, since it is her turn to come up with the plan. He continues to argue and she jabs him, knocking him unconscious. When he awakens he is in the back of Aeryn's Prowler and they are on their way to the planet.

Zhaan enters the cell where they have placed Kyr, who is sitting wrapped in a blanket. She hands him John's IASA flight suit and tells him they had to borrow his clothes. He maliciously suggests that she just wanted to see him naked and opens the blanket, exposing himself to her. He becomes uncomfortable when she simply continues to watch him calmly.
"Quite respectable for your age." she tells him. "Did you think you'd shock me? Is nudity a taboo in your culture? Are you ashamed of your bodies?"
She removes her gown, revealing herself to him. He stares uncomfortably for several seconds before she pulls her gown over her again and asks him if he wanted something to eat.

He tells her he isn't hungry.

Down on the planet, Aeryn and John are walking along a jungle trail. Aeryn is wearing Kyr's clothing and reports that she saw an encampment of some kind over the next ridge.

In the encampment, Rygel is trying to get out of the mud in which he is buried. Jotheb seems unconcerned. Bekhesh enters and gives Rygel his meal. Rygel tries to continue his bluffing but stops when he realizes that the bowl his meal was served in is made from a skull.

D'Argo has awakened but is still weak from the effects of the Gauntlet. He starts working with Pilot to configure the sensor arrrays.

Aeryn and John come upon a Tavlek hunting party. Aeryn puts on the Gauntlet, to John's dismay, and prepares to go after them. She gives him an injector with a knockout drug to use on her when she comes back.

She goes down to confront the Tavleks, claiming to be lost. They refuse to help her so she knocks out two of them with her Gauntlet then asks the one remaining where Bekhesh is.

John sees the two down Tavleks start to get up and tries to aim at them with the pulse rifle. It starts buzzing and flashing a light and a few seconds later explodes. The Tavleks, hearing the explosion and fearing they are under attack, flee.

The sensors on Moya pick up the explosion as well as weapons fire, leading D'Argo to comment "Didn't take them long to get into trouble." He asks Pilot to ready a transport pod.

Aeryn comes up to John to find out what is going on. John is still staggering from the explosion. Aeryn realizes that he overloaded the pulse rifle and exploded it. The two of them leave the area before the Tavleks find them.

Bekhesh arrives at Jotheb and Rygel's cells and tells Jotheb that his people have agreed to his ransom. Rygel demands better treatment and Bekhesh picks up Rygel's bowl and pours it over him. He then tells Rygel that if he causes any more trouble it will be his skull they use as a bowl.

Kyr is screaming with withdrawal from the Gauntlet's drug. Zhaan goes to help him and he grabs her wrist and pushes a finger into it, causing a white fluid to leak out. She pushes him away and squeezes her wrist, causing the fluid to drip into a vial.

She rubs some of the liquid on her lips and, telling him that it will ease his withdrawal, kisses him. Then, she tells him she will take away his pain, places her hand on his chest and starts to meditate.

Aeryn and John reach the Tavlek camp. Aeryn announces her plan to enter the camp and kill everyone in it. John tells her she needs to take the Gauntlet off because it is affecting her but she refuses. He attempts to use the injector on her but she knocks it aside and aims the Gauntlet at him.

D'Argo appears and interrupts her. He puts aside his Qualta Blade and she charges him, knocking him over. He then knocks her out with his tongue strike. She collapses on top of him and the Gauntlet falls from her wrist.
"Nice blanket you got there." John tells D'Argo.
"A lovely blanket." he replies. "Get her off"

Meanwhile, Rygel has been trying to get out of the mud, which has been loosened by the gruel poured on him. Jotheb helps him by wrapping one of his tentacles around his neck and pulling. Rygel gets free and starts crawling under the cell door when he meets Bekhesh. Bekhesh steps on Rygel's throat until he stops moving and says he kills him.

Jotheb asks why he was killed and Bekhesh said it was because he was worthless; no one would pay to get him back. Jotheb says that his people will pay the ransom and does something with one of his tentacles and revives Rygel.

Aeryn and D'Argo are both arguing over what they said to each other while under the influence of the Gauntlet. Since both of them are still exhausted from the Gauntlet's effects, John decides that he will go check out the camp.

Back on Moya, Zhaan is talking to Kyr and asking if his withdrawal is any better. She talks to him about the Gauntlet and he angrily tells her "I don't need a sermon." When she asks what he does need he admits to being a bit hungry.

Rygel awakens and finds himself buried in the mud again. Jotheb tells him that he is now part of the Consortium of Trao. Since he saved Rygel's life, Rygel and all of his subjects now belong to him!

Rygel laughs and tells Jotheb that he has no subjects. He was deposed by his cousin over 100 cycles previously and only a handful of fugitives even know where he is. He continues laughing when Jotheb asks in surprise if they will ransom him.
"They couldn't if they wanted to." Rygel tells him. "And they don't want to because they hate me!"

John examines the Tavlek camp and determines that it is almost deserted with the remaining Tavleks asleep. He reports this to Aeryn and D'Argo. D'Argo is ready to accompany him into the camp but Aeryn is still too weak to help them. D'Argo asks her to cover them but she points out that she doesn't have a weapon. D'Argo manipulates his Qualta Blade and the blade splits open revealing it to also be an energy weapon. He hands it to her but admits it was last charged 8 cycles ago when he was captured. She looks dubious but D'Argo and John run off for the camp.

D'Argo and John find the cells but only Jotheb is there, Rygel is gone. Jotheb tells them that since Bekhesh thinks Rygel is valuable he is moving him to a different location. He also tells them that he is withdrawing his offer to ransom Rygel.

The two leave and run into two Tavleks. They claim they have come to discuss ransom terms but a fight breaks out. Aeryn provides a diversion by firing into the camp with the Qualta Blade. Both D'Argo and John make their escape but D'Argo gets shot in the back.

The two arrive at Aeryn's location and she hands the Blade back to D'Argo. "It is a fine weapon."
"I request you bury me with it." he tells her and falls forward to reveal the wound in his back.

John starts examining the wound and D'Argo asks what color the blood is. John tells him it is dark red, almost black. Aeryn suddenly starts pounding on the wound and John tries to stop her. She explains that with Luxans a wound is not cleansed until the blood running from the wound is clear and if it does not continue to bleed until that point they will die. D'Argo yells for her to continue and she does as John looks on in shock.

Pilot calls for Zhaan and she goes to Command. She discovers that a shuttle is getting ready to launch on the planet and calls John, telling him of its position and that it will take off in less than three minutes.

Kyr has found a locked chest and is trying to open it. A DRD tries to stop him and he kicks it out of the way. Pilot tells Zhaan and she leaves to look for him.

Aeryn and John are looking at a map and determine where the shuttle is. They realize that they cannot reach it in time John reaches for the Gauntlet. Both Aeryn and D'Argo attempt to dissuade him but he puts it on and asks how it works. Neither can give a clear answer.
"I don't even feel anything." says John. "In fact, I feel pretty good... I feel real good." He suddenly realizes what is happening. "Right. It's working."

He takes off running towards the shuttle. Aeryn resumes pounding on D'Argo's wound.

Zhaan finds Kyr with an injector, takes it away from him and crushes it in one hand. She is angry and he says she is afraid to fight him. She grabs him and forces him to the ground, telling him that she could tear him apart but won't because they are not enemies.
She shows him the injector. "This is your enemy!"

John catches up with Bekhesh and several other Tavleks. John quickly knocks out several of them with his Gauntlet and turns to Bekhesh. The two of them exchange several shots with each other but both of them deflect each others shots with their Gauntlets. John's Gauntlet suddenly runs out of fluid and quits working, so he starts talking to Bekhesh. He tells Bekhesh that Rygel is no longer royalty and that they on Moya have nothing to pay a ransom with. There is nothing to gain by keeping Rygel.

Bekhesh doesn't believe him so John tells him to call Kyr up on Moya. He does, and Kyr confirms there is nothing of value on Moya. They don't even have anything to eat beyond food cubes. "In fact," he says "they've been trying to help me."
"Perhaps I like to offer choices." Zhaan tells him.

Bekhesh still isn't quite convinced and John removes his Gauntlet and tells him that he may as well kill him then. Bekhesh finally realizes that John is telling the truth. He tells him "It's so long since anyone has told me the truth, I don't recognize it anymore." He tosses the bag containing Rygel to John and leaves.

John opens the sack, finds Rygel and asks him where the crystal is. Rygel has swallowed the crystal, so John has no choice but to take him back to Moya.

Aeryn is checking D'Argo's wound and he asks her if he is going to live or die.
"Die." she tells him. Then she shows him her hand, covered in clear blood. "But not today."

A sound alerts her and she draws the Qualta Blade as John arrives, carrying Rygel. "Piece of cake." he says, then collapses. He falls on top of Rygel, who groans. Aeryn and D'Argo look at each other and shrug.

Back on Moya, Aeryn and D'Argo are outside of Rygel's quarters. Rygel emerges carrying the crystal and offers it to Aeryn, who reaches for it then hesitates.
"I did wash it." he tells her.
She takes the crystal and starts to walk away.
"Well..." Rygel adds "I think I did."
Aeryn pauses briefly then continues on her way. Rygel smirks.

In Command, Zhaan is talking to Kyr and asking him how he is doing. He says he is fine and raises his arm.
"Now that I have the gauntlet back on. My choice." he signs off.
Zhaan looks downcast. "No sermons..." she says.

References:

Unanswered Questions:

Commentary:

Well, after several episodes taking place entirely on Moya this one finally lets our crew down to a planet. It's also pretty much an action episode but the action is balanced by the scenes between Zhaan and Kyr.

Once again Zhaan is in the role of mother and guardian. She is trying to help Kyr but he doesn't seem to want her help. In the end she fails, to her dismay. The anti-drug message is obvious here, the difference is that, in this case, it failed.

This is one of the hints of that darkness that I mentioned in my commentary for the first episode. Compare the result here to how this episode would probably have played out in Star Trek. Trek tries to take the higher route in which good (almost) always wins. Kyr would have learned to live without his Gauntlet and become the core of a group working to free the Tavleks of their dependence on them. That didn't happen. We got the (unfortunately) realistic ending, not the happy TV ending.

It is also interesting to me to note that, while Zhaan is trying to free Kyr from the Gauntlet, both Aeryn and John both happily use it in the rescue attempt. Yeah, it may be harmful but it is also so very useful. Doing the wrong things for the right reasons, remember?

It should also be pointed out that John did not attempt talking to Bekhesh at the end until his Gauntlet ran out of the drug. Only then does he abandon violence as a solution. What would have happened if they had been up front with Bekhesh about their situation at the very beginning? Would Bekhesh have released Rygel then? We will probably never know.

The Gauntlet itself was a very interesting plot device. I do not remember seeing anything quite like it used before elsewhere and liked the way it worked and was used in the show. It is a temptation to the characters all through the episode, an item of great power that carries with it a great risk. I thought it was handled very well.

We see some additional development between the characters in this episode. First, it looks like all of them would have considered leaving Rygel if he had not taken the crystal with him. Would they have tried as hard to get him back if he had not had it? Doubtful. Rygel apparently does not care what the others think of him however, as his baiting of Aeryn at the very end of the episode shows.

The relationship between Aeryn and D'Argo continues to evolve. Despite calling each other "barbarian" and "coward" throughout the episode D'Argo trusts her to protect his back while he and John enter the Tavlek camp. Later, Aeryn works to cleanse D'Argo's wound and so saves his life. It appears that they at least respect each other as warriors and recognize the assets the other brings to the crew.

Also, Aeryn is insistent that John come with her to the planet on the rescue attempt. Despite her comments about his plans earlier, it seems that she feels he can make a contribution as well and she seems to trust him too.

There is what seems to be a minor continuity error in this episode. In the US, this episode aired after Back and Back and Back to the Future. In that episode we see D'Argo's Qualta Blade used as an energy weapon whereas in this episode everyone seems surprised when D'Argo reveals that feature of it. That is because this episode was actually produced before Back and Back... but not aired until later.

A few more comments. Every major character was knocked unconscious at some point in this episode, sometimes more than once. Also, did Jotheb look suspiciously Cthulhuoid to anyone besides me?

Overall I consider this a very good episode, especially for early first season.

Dennis Matheson - tanstaafl@earthlink.net
Farscape and all related characters and elements are © & ™ The Jim Henson Co. Ltd. All rights reserved.

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