Death and the Stone

Now for another story about youth versus age. Or relatively young versus somewhat older. I’m not sure how old Chiana is on Farscape (the Farscape wiki doesn’t know either) but it’s pretty clear she’s much younger than everyone else, maybe late teens. It’s enough to make for a nice episode about two generations misunderstanding each other.

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Season 2, Episode 3: Taking the Stone

We learn a little bit more about Chiana’s past, namely that she had a brother she looked up to. I say had because she learns in this episode, thanks to an implant in her belly, that her brother has suddenly died.

Crichton (Ben Browder) blows her off when she says she needs to talk, not catching on that it’s an urgent topic from her tone. So runs away and falls in with a gang of misfit youths, apparently about the same age as her, who live on an otherwise deserted planet. They live in caves below the tombs of their dead ancestors, one of whom Rygel (Jonathan Hardy) expeditiously robs.

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This leads to an amusing subplot about cursed loot, though the funniest part is when Rygel discovers a worm in the decayed face behind a jewelled mask. Instead of screaming in horror, he gasps and says, “Bonus!” and promptly puts the critter in his mouth. We’ll never have another Rygel.

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Meanwhile, Crichton and Aeryn (Claudia Black) play Chiana’s surrogate parents. Crichton is the dad who doesn’t like the dangerous games she’s been playing with her friends and Aeryn is the wiser mother who continually reminds Crichton his aggressive techniques are going to backfire.

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Chiana directly tells him he’s not her dad or her lover or even her “tralk”. We return to the series’ thematic premise about lost people bonding as a new kind of family—it’s not unlike Rebel Without a Cause, really. One of the main problems with a new kind of family is that it lacks the reinforcement of tradition so when trouble arises there’s no device to keep anyone from splitting when they feel like it, even if staying is ultimately in their best interest. We’ve seen this already with Talyn.

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The episode also follows on from “Vitas Mortis” in contrasting physically appealing youth with unappealing age. Here, Crichton eventually discovers the “lost people”—people older than 22—among the tribe Chiana’s fallen in with are people shamed into hiding because their flesh shows signs of damage from the local radiation.

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The young dislike age because it reminds them of death, it’s an indication that they might not be as indestructible as they think they are. The priestess in the previous episode was almost ready to sacrifice Moya just to forget about being old. In “Taking the Stone”, the kids defy death with crude extreme sports, most prominently a free fall down a chasm only to be caught by a “sonic net” created by their own carefully tuned screams.

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Use the wrong intonation and you’re dead. And Chiana’s raring to give it a go herself—no wonder Crichton’s worried about her. But is she really disgusted by age or does she really want to kill herself or is there some other issue that Crichton just can’t understand? It’s a good episode for her character—not her best, but good, though I think anything Chiana touches is gold on Farscape.

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. . .

This entry is part of a series I’m writing on Farscape for the show’s 20th anniversary. My previous reviews can be found here (episodes are in the order intended by the show’s creators rather than the broadcast order):

Season One:

Episode 1: Pilot
Episode 2: I, E.T.
Episode 3: Exodus from Genesis
Episode 4: Throne for a Loss
Episode 5: Back and Back and Back to the Future
Episode 6: Thank God It’s Friday Again
Episode 7: PK Tech Girl
Episode 8: That Old Black Magic
Episode 9: DNA Mad Scientist
Episode 10: They’ve Got a Secret
Episode 11: Till the Blood Runs Clear
Episode 12: Rhapsody in Blue
Episode 13: The Flax
Episode 14: Jeremiah Crichton
Episode 15: Durka Returns
Episode 16: A Human Reaction
Episode 17: Through the Looking Glass
Episode 18: A Bug’s Life
Episode 19: Nerve
Episode 20: The Hidden Memory
Episode 21: Bone to be Wild
Episode 22: Family Ties

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Season Two:

Episode 1: Mind the Baby
Episode 2: Vitas Mortis

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