"Nerve" is not only the best of Farscape to date, it's also some of the best television I've seen. It's edge of the seat excitement, one crisis after another, and even the ending doesn't resolve much, because we're left with John screaming and the dreaded "To Be Continued" staring us in the face.
We open with Aeryn furiously beating the dren out of that upside-down-pyramid Peacekeeper punching bag thing. Crichton comes along to call her for dinner (he's really checking to see if she's okay after Larraq stabbed her last week) but Aeryn just keeps thumping the bag until she spits up some blood. Crichton tries to find out what's wrong but Aeryn takes a swing at him and misses - a pretty good indication that she's unwell. John compels her to tell him (and us) what's wrong with her. It seems that Larraq's stabbing really did come closer than we thought - it pierced her paraphoral nerve. This bit of Sebacean anatomy works somewhat the same way as a human liver in removing toxins from the body and once damaged, it doesn't regenerate. Only a tissue graft from a compatible donor will save her and there aren't any other Sebaceans around, never mind compatible ones. Aeryn intends to jump into her prowler and fly off into space to die alone. But John won't hear any of that. He reminds her of the Gammak base that's not too far away. John comes up with a plan to impersonate a Peacekeeper and head off to the Gammak base in search of tissue graft for Aeryn. His last gig as a Peacekeeper didn't work out too well (see "A Bug's Life") but it's the only way to save her, so he practically forces the rest of the crew into going along with his plan. And all of this happens before the first commercial break!
John dresses in a Peacekeeper uniform taken from one of the recently deceased commandos that invaded Moya last episode. He gets a good luck handshake (that's much more than a simple handshake) from Aeryn, who appears absolutely stupefied that anyone would do this for her. He then heads to the hangar to preflight the prowler. Chiana, wanting to go with him, shows up dressed in her traveling clothes. At first John refuses but she's persistent, offering to cause distractions and keep some of the focus away from him while he searches for the tissue graft. She's also a pretty good thief, and proves it by giving him the ident chip she stole from Larraq. John relents, and they decide to play the same roles they played before: Peacekeeper officer and his personal "server".
This time around John has a much better grasp of his role: the head tilt, the thumbs hooked in his belt, the arrogant stance all combine to fool Javio, the base commander, and Lieutenant Heskon, the chief of security, into thinking that he's "Larraq. Captain.". The superior way he makes Heskon come to him to get the ident chip doesn't hurt, either. Chiana does a great job as personal server, too, managing to get both of these officers focused on her. In fact, a short time later in the Officers' Lounge, Chiana flirts with Heskon while Javio tries to pry information from Crichton about her such as how much she cost and if she gives good…value. During this conversation we can see Gilina (the PK Tech Girl from several episodes ago) over Crichton's shoulder.
Heskon is showing John and Chiana to their quarters when he asks for the ident chip again and, after a tiny hesitation, John gives it to him. He then tells John to put his hands into a genetic verifier. He tries to bluff his way out of it but Heskon insists and John must comply. He slowly removes his gloves and slides his hands into the machine. After a very long commercial break the scan is verified and we can see Crichton trying to hide his surprise from Heskon.
A few minutes later he and Chiana are walking down a corridor trying to figure out how they got away with faking the scan when we hear a voice whisper "Larraq". They go in the direction of the voice and find Gilina. Crichton nearly panics when he thinks Crais is also there but Gilina tells him she's been reassigned to the base to work on the development of new weapons. She's the reason he passed the genetic scan, having overridden the security program as soon as she saw him on the base. He asks her to help him find a match for Aeryn's tissue sample and without hesitation she agrees to take it to the med techs.
Meanwhile, back on Moya, Aeryn isn't doing very well. In fact, she's very close to dying. D'Argo comes up with the idea of postponing her death by hooking her up to Moya in order to filter out the toxins that are building up in her body. They hope to keep her alive long enough for John and Chiana to return with the tissue graft.
When Gilina returns, John is amazed to learn that she already has the cure for Aeryn. Gilina, who's in love with John, makes a pass at him but he's too distracted by thoughts of getting back to Aeryn. He takes the tissue and leaves, not realizing how he's hurt Gilina by this abrupt departure.
As John is walking down the corridor carrying the tissue, a dreadful looking creature dressed from head to toe in black leather somehow intuits that Crichton's a fraud and demands that he be seized. Knowing he's outnumbered and has no chance of getting free, John still manages to put up enough of a fight to distract the Peacekeepers from seeing him hide the Aeryn's tissue transplant. The scene ends with the camera focused on the hidden hypodermic and John in the background being dragged away by the Peacekeepers.
We return to find John strapped into a dreadful device called an Aurora Chair. Scorpius (the leather-loving villain who uncovered John's disguise) is hanging over him, calling him a spy and asking questions which John refuses to answer. Unfortunately for him, the Aurora Chair has the ability to extract the thoughts right out of his head and project them onto a circular screen, a process that causes John enormous pain. Although John tries to fight it, we know that Scorpius is relentless and will not stop until he has what he wants. The chair is operated by a Peacekeeper-colored (red hair and lips, black eyebrows and clothes) babe named Niem, who takes great delight in pushing the controls to maximum. They extract enough memories to see Captain Crais and when Javio recognizes him, they put out a beacon summoning him to the Gammak base.
They dig still further into John's memories and find the Ancients who, unknown to Crichton, had planted wormhole information in his mind. Scorpius now thinks he knows why John is spying - the Gammak base was set up to develop wormholes for use as weapons. He's sure that John has the key and will keep digging through the layers of his mind until he reveals it. He doesn't want to kill John before extracts the wormhole information, though, so he dumps him into a cell for a short recovery period. The current occupant of the cell appears to be quite whacko - Scorpy's put him it the chair one time too many - and John now knows that he has insanity to fear along with all that pain.
Gilina is able to discover where John is being held and she and Chiana (now disguised as a Peacekeeper) are able to contact him in his cell. He tells them not to worry about him, just get the tissue back to Moya to save Aeryn. Gilina can't understand why he's so willing the sacrifice himself for Aeryn unless he loves her, but Chiana tells her that Aeryn's just a shipmate and John loves her, Gilina. Once Aeryn's cured, Chiana promises, they'll come back and rescue John and take her with them.
Meanwhile Crais responds to the beacon and shows up at the Gammak base demanding that Scorpius give him Crichton. Scorpy refuses and tells Crais he can have John after he has the information. Of course, Crichton could be dead by then. Scorpius acknowledges that Crais knows John better than anyone else (he thinks) and asks him what would make him give up the information. Crais swaggers into John's cell and claims that he has Moya in custody and if John wants to keep her crew alive and in good health, he'll stop resisting and let Scorpy probe freely through his mind. John knows he's lying and lies right back to him, agreeing to let them into his memories while all the time knowing that he must protect Gilina.
Thanks to Gilina's tinkering with the base's computer, Chiana is able to grab the tissue sample, get to the prowler (frying Javio along the way), and escape from the base. Following the targeting system's Gilina-induced blind spot, she makes it back to Moya in time to save Aeryn's life.
Scorpius now knows that John's been working with someone on the base so he now has two things to probe for, wormhole information and the name of John's accomplice. And we know he's not going to give up, no matter how much pain he causes John, who's already screaming even though Scorpius has just begun...
To Be Continued…