This is Season Four’s D'Argo episode,
and of the four D'Argo-heavy episodes (They’ve Got
a Secret from Season One, Vitas Mortis
from Season Two and Suns and Lovers from
Season Three) this one rates as better than Vitas Mortis (a blank screen is better than Vitas Mortis)
but far below the other two. In its favor, it finally snips one of the huge hanging
threads in D'Argo’s backstory and gives him a chance to confront his bête noire, Macton.
The ladies of Moya go their separate
way in search of some biomechanoid spare parts while the men zip off to Katoya’s
Mental Arts Training Camp. Scorpius has been there before when he learned to control his
Scarran half. He hopes that Katoya will be able to instill some of this powerful mental
discipline in the others, particularly John, to get them prepared for their upcoming
conflict with the Scarrans.
John only goes with the idea of finding
out information about the Skreeth who attacked his family on earth. Instead he spends
most of the episode locked in an oven-like cage. The only way out is to get hold of one
of the keys that are periodically dropped through the ceiling onto a bed of coals on the
floor. The idea is for him to overcome the pain of his burning hands in order to get the
key, thereby building up resistance to the Scarrans. Or something like that. Now, we
know that John is a rocket scientist. Why doesn’t he think of taking off his shirt and
wrapping it around his hands before digging the key out of the coals? Or better yet,
tying it to the ceiling bars to catch the key as it falls through? How about his boots?
John still has his boots, couldn’t he do something with those? He’s usually so good
at coming up with Plan B, Plan C, etc. He wouldn’t have given up the way he did.
Very conveniently, one of the students
at the training camp is a Charrid, the species that massacred Rygel’s people. Rygel
jumps at the chance to go one-on-one with the Charrid in an environment where he has an
equal or better chance of prevailing. Although it nearly kills him, he wins the war of
wills. Watching him struggle with the Charrid, it’s difficult to believe that Rygel is
a puppet. Between the magicians at the Creature Shop, the writers and the directors,
Rygel’s puppeteers and his voice, Jonathan Hardy, Rygel has become a real character in
every sense of the word.
The main part of Mental as Anything is centered on D'Argo and his
hatred for his brother-in-law, Macton. D'Argo has let it be known that he’s out to get
Macton and when Macton hears this, he comes looking for D'Argo.
For many cycles in a Peacekeeper prison
and several more cycles traveling on Moya, D'Argo was sustained by his desire for
revenge over the death of his wife at Macton’s hand. Macton says a few words and
D'Argo is shattered. He believes that he could have hurt Lo’laan and even worse,
murdered her himself during hyper-rage. He and Macton face off in Katoya’s VR chamber
where D'Argo “lives” through several possible scenarios, finally getting to the
truth – neither of them killed Lo’Laan, it was an accident. But in a way, it was
D'Argo’s fault since she was trying to protect him when she died. With Macton being
guilty of what…evidence tampering maybe…D'Argo still gets revenge without killing
Macton. He leaves him trapped in this VR chamber forever. But wouldn’t his body starve
to death long before “forever?” This is just one of several plot points that don’t
quite make sense.
Anthony did a phenomenal job within a
very sparse plot. Much of it involved D'Argo screaming and howling in hyper-rage.
However, the most powerful bits were his self-doubt, and his quiet contemplation once
he’d had his revenge.