Whenever a friend of mine whom I’ve told to watch Farscape comes back to me and says, “I’m sorry, I really tried…but I couldn’t get past the first couple of episodes,” I want to show them this image and this shot and read them this analysis of it:
This next bit is both good and bad, because it provides a major plot point for the episode, gives you some serious visual symbolism about the Peacekeepers and Aeryn herself, and is wonderfully done….The squared circle in which their “physical conditioning” is [done is] a mat, maybe six yards on a side, emblazoned with the Peacekeeper emblem. Which we’ve seen before, but it’s never taken up the whole screen, so let’s get that out of the way. The PK symbol is taken from a Third Revolution Russian agitprop poster from 1919, and people get really excited about it because it’s one of maybe five things that even if you’re completely disinterested in this stuff, you have to pay attention to it, because the way it’s used is always choreographed to an almost balletic extreme. It’s a red Communist wedge breaking through a white area, into black. The black space into which it’s intruding is soft and curved, the red wedge is pointed and hard. Okay?
Back to an overhead shot: Aeryn unconscious, almost completely contained within the red PK wedge, one hand thrown over the line and into the white. It’s the percentage of her that’s—so far—out of her black radius: the hand [John is] holding. And as though that wasn’t enough of a slap to the head that you should pay attention (no camera angle is by accident; it’s weird how you eventually have to realize that nobody ever just dropped the camera and let it roll, except student filmmakers), one leg is cocked up (there’s a discontinuity here as well, slightly, that tells you she was positioned this way for the shot and I’m not always making this shit up): Trump XII, the Hanged Man. (Originally “the Traitor,” okay.) The Hanged Man’s about going through turmoil and storm in order to change: not because you’re strong enough to ask for it, but because the universe demands it of you. The saint who looks demonic, unrecognizable, anathema to the people she leaves behind, heading out of the red and into the white, dragged by that one tiny hand. The woman becoming something different, something better; the woman dying in her change. The woman just beginning her tutorial. The woman who could be more.
, Jacob Clifton’s recap of Back and Back and Back to the Future, Farscape 1.05, on Television Without Pity