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01 August 2008 @ 08:01 pm
Sabacean Theater Presents: LEFT BEHIND, Episode Two, a review (in Limbovision)  
Another short chapter, so we'll do this one in complete form. As the original comments at Kansas no longer exist, and I hav eno extant notes from that period, I'm going to comment blind, going on immediate impressions, since I haven't read this piece in a few years, and have forgotten much of it.

Left Behind
Timeline placement: earlyish season 3, spoilers for “Eat Me”
Rating: PG-13
Words: 1,179
Disclaimer: The Farscape universe, and all that is in it, is not mine, but rather belongs to the Jim Henson Company. This is a work of fiction based in that universe. No copyright infringement is intended and no money has been or will be collected. No betas were harmed in the writing of this fic.

“Harvey, not now!” John Crichton snarled between clenched teeth. “This is not a good time!”

Why did the frelling neural clone always pick the damnedest times to show up? John wondered as he continued to try to get through to the terrified Pilot. In a psychotic sort of way, he was lucky the Xarai had eaten the poor guy’s arms, otherwise he would have flung John right off the control console and into the abyss that formed the majority of the den. Course, that would probably be a more comfortable fate than that promised by the pounding fists that could be heard at way too many entrances to the vast room.

Now, right here I could have used an opening one liner from Harvey, Crichton's imaginary neural clone of his nemesis Scorpius, before Crichton speaks to him. In an actual episode, we'd at least have a visual cue that Harvey had arrived and was preparing to comment. However, I'm not entirely sure SabaceanBabe had any idea what Harvey would say at a time like this. I haven't read much of her Farscape Fic in a few years now, but I don't remember reading too many Harvey episodes in the past, at least in part because I don't think she was ever entirely comfortable with Harvey's voice. Still, that could just be me projecting here, because I've never written any Harvey dialogue myself. I would do some serious research before trying that myself.

“Did you say something, Cr-Crichton?” Chiana still sounded scared, but she stood firm, pointing Winona at first one closed door then another, as the sound of the heaviest pounding shifted. Having taken out six of the cannibalistic Xarai – he prayed those six were the only ones in the room – she was more than ready to vent a bit more of her terror at those still waiting in the wings.

Here we see the use of one of SabaceanBabe's old standbys, the em dash -- a parenthetical thought device that has largely gone out of vogue in the 20th and 21st Centuries -- which I used to pick on her mercilessly for overusing. Mind you, I used to do the same thing at great length with parentheses, and occasionally catch myself doing so even now, so really, I'm no one to talk. If memory serves me correctly, she did cut way back on her use of this device as time went on. Still, it makes me smile whenever I see it, because it's a device so rarely seen in commercial genre fiction, so it sticks out whenever I catch it in her work. I know of almost no other Farscapers who used this device, and none to the extent SabaceanBabe did.

“Well, John, are you going to answer her?” Harvey’s voice near his left shoulder made him swing at the specter in an attempt to banish him. It didn’t work, though. It never did. Placing one hopefully reassuring hand on Pilot’s heaving shoulder, John looked over his own at the clone. He about choked with hysterical laughter when he saw Harvey’s get-up this time – gerry curls, mirrored sunglasses, a big-shouldered jacket and one sequined glove – and realized that Michael Jackson’s Thriller was playing somewhere in the back of his mind.

Hoping that Chi wouldn’t make the connection between his first words and the reappearance of Harvey, he played off his lapse. “Uh, yeah. We’ve got to get Pilot here to seal us off and vent the rest of the ship.”

“Vent the…the Xarai into space?”

Now, here I have two thoughts. First off, SabaceanBabe makes up for a slightly clumsy entrance by giving us the sequence she had been building to, Harvey in Michael Jackson's Thriller outfit. A lovely image I'd actually fogotten until rereading it, but one that should have stuck with me for ages. I probably lost it after seeing too many internet images of Jackson with his botched plastic surgery. Which, when you think of it, looked a lot closer to Harvey impersonating him than anyone would have liked.

My other thought is that, in the first episode, SabaceanBabe introduced us to her idea of how Crichton and Chiana could have survived the coming Xarai hordes, by suggesting that he wanted Pilot to vent the ship (minus the control room). If this were being written in a more novelized form --or even in a planned serial fic-- that bit of information would have been better to hold on to until this moment, if not a little bit later, fo r tension purposes. It's understandable in hindsight that SabaceanBabe wasn't even aware that she had a serial on her hands when she wrote that first episode, originally just a ficlet. However, if we were preparing this story for a show or a novelization, I'd imemdiately suggest to her that she edit that bit, to avoid telegraphing her moves too soon.

A grunt of humorless laughter escaped him as he replied, “Yeah. Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out.” What the hell was he turning into?

He felt a light tap on his shoulder, which he tried to ignore.

“John, John, John.” Now Harvey sounded as if he were speaking to a child. A slow child. “John, don’t you think the Peacekeepers that remained trapped on this Leviathan would’ve tried that, had it been a real option?” The ghoul with one sequined glove shook his head. “This Leviathan can’t do that sort of thing while he’s wearing a control collar. Don’t you know anything?”

Ah, and there we have it. She's thought her way around this problem and come up with a novel means to drag out the drama inherent in her proposed solution. No easy outs for John, moral dilemma or no moral dilemma.

“I dunno nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ no babies…” John muttered. “Shit.”

“What’s the matter now?” Chiana hadn’t been privy to his more-or-less internal conversation.

“I think we’re going to have to get the control collar off Rohvu before we can deal with the rest of his, uh, passengers.”

“How do we – how do we do that?”

“Lemme think. Just gimme a minute to think.” Yeah, right. Like that was going to happen, with the pounding on the doors and the glittering light of the disco ball Harvey seemed to have brought with him, not to mention poor Pilot, moaning incoherently. John sat on the surface of the console, running the fingers of both hands through his hair, surprised it wasn’t already standing on end.

“You could always ask the Pilot, you know,” Harvey suggested. “Poor bugger’s had nothing but time on his hands to think, when he’s had hands, that is.”

Here we see SabaceanBabe putting Harvey to use as a Deus ex Machina, delivering suggestions that Crichton himself is havign trouble arriving at. This was soemthing we saw sporadically throughout the series, and though I'm sure clever mediaphiles would complain that it's an overused plot device, personally, I'm quite fond of it, used in moderation. Plus, how often does your deity in a swing set drop down wearing bunny slippers, or leather jackets with too many zippers?

Chiana wasn’t sure if Crichton was talking to her or to Pilot when he asked, “Where are the main controls to the collar?”

Okay, here's a small problem, but one that SabaceanBabe gets better at resolving over time; the problem of shifting perspectives. Most of this chapter and all of the previous one were entirely in Crichton's perspective, but for just this one line, we're suddenly, briefly, in Chiana's head. Minor gaff, and if she'd had me around to beta it for her back inthe day, i would have mentioned it to her.

Pilot’s den seemed to fade around him, the room taken over completely by the smoky atmosphere of an 80s disco. “Just a guess, John, but I really don’t think the controls’re in here, where Pilot could have set his DRDs to the task of removing ‘em,” Harvey replied.

John stood and walked across the floor, black and white tiles lighting up under each foot as he took a step, going dark as he moved on to the next, advancing on the neural clone. Backing the irritating clone into a wall, John adjusted the collar of his bright red shirt so that it was standing straight up, brushing against his hair. “Harvey. Shut. Up.”

“I’m just tryin’ to help, Johnny.” The Sebacean-Scarran hybrid was the picture of wide-eyed innocence.

This is the sort of sequnce that's fun to read, and actually makes you think of how thie scene mike have looked in the regular series.

I can't recall if or how often Harvey slipped into accented voices, as he is doing here, clearly mocking John's southern twang.

Another moan from Pilot broke through John’s hallucination, snapping him back to the unpleasant reality of his – their – current situation. He shifted to his knees and leaned toward the frightened creature. Placing both hands on Pilot’s face, he leaned in closer, resting his forehead against Pilot’s. “Pilot, listen to me.”

*snerk*... em dash strikes again...

Enormous orange eyes locked onto intense blue ones. Pilot said nothing, but he did stop moaning and he did stop struggling.

I like this line. Needs a comma, but I like how she fine tunes the image and slows the pace for that infinite second.

“Pilot,” John repeated.

“Yes?” The word was tentative, barely audible above the other noises. At least the Thriller soundtrack had gone silent.

“Pilot, I’m John. My friend here is Chiana.”

Chiana threw a still panicky look over at Pilot and said, in an attempt at her usual cocky voice, “Pleased to meet you, Pilot,” before returning her attention to guarding their perimeter.

Nice. A definitive Chiana moment I can picture in my head.

“We’re going to get through this, Pilot, but you have to help us. Do you understand?”

The Human was relieved when Pilot nodded his agreement. “What do you want me to do, John? Rohvu and I have no DRDs. They were all destroyed cycles ago by Kaarvok and the Xarai.”

“That’s okay, Pilot,” John reassured him, even though that wasn’t okay at all. “I need you to tell me where the master controls to Rohvu’s control collar are. We have to get the control collar off him.”

“We have tried, John.” Pilot sounded despairing.

“I know you and Rohvu can’t do it yourselves, Pilot, but if you can tell us where to go, Chi and I can get it off.” Hell, if D’Argo could do it for Moya, without a clue as to what he was doing, he and Chiana ought to be able to figure it out. Right?

Good dialogue. The narrative in the final line reads like inner monologue here, which contrasts with some of the other narrative segments, which read more like third person omniscient. And she used one too many commas. *grins*

Pilot took a deep, shuddering breath, then said, “The master controls are in Command.”

Makes sense, John thought. “Pip, I need you to stay here with Pilot.”

“Huh uh! No way, Crichton. You’re not leaving me here!” She shook her head violently.

“Somebody’s got to stay here and keep Pilot safe. You stay here with Winona. I’m going up to Command and see if I can figure out how to disable that collar.”

“How – How’re you gonna do that? Do you even know what…what the frelling thing looks like?”

“I’ve got an idea, yeah.” He didn’t, really, but he was pretty sure his constant companion did. Harvey didn’t want to die on this insane ship any more than John did.

“What do I do if the Xarai break through?”

“Shoot ‘em.” With that flippant answer, John rolled off the console onto a catwalk. He felt naked without Winona, but Chi needed her more than he did right now. He’d find something he could use as a weapon while he made his way up to Command.

If I had beta'd this, I'd have told her not to use 'With that flippant remark', and would have explaiend that it's unnecessary and breaks down the flow of the line.

And then she would have put it right back in before publishing. :)

He hoped.

And there you have it. It took me two years to get back to this, and with any luck, I'll start taking some time out to continue with the rest of the series. As stated before, I don't plan on doing a line by line, blow-by-blow account of the later episodes, as some of them get fairly lengthy, IIRC. However, as this is being inspired by SabaceanBabe's own recent interest in the 2008 (Fanfic) DVD Commentary Community here on LJ, I figured it might be nice to see if I still have any ideas in my head about how I'd proceed if I did take part in that.

See you again soon.

He hoped.

Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful