Of the first six episodes, this one is clearly the best. For the first time we see the actors, writers and production crew starting to come together to create an episode that is a starting point for the direction that the show would eventually take. An essentially 'all about Rygel' episode, there is quite a bit of character development for the little green guy which highlights the abilities of the puppeteers, led by John Eccleston (yes, boys and girls-Rygel is a puppet-despite being so incredibly lifeilke). The story is interesting-Rygel gets kidnapped by a group of drug-addicted bandits and held for ransom-which of course the crew doesn't have...because at this point, they're about a half step above the bandits on the social food chain.
There are a number of factors that stand out here:
1. This is where Ben Browder starts doing his famous (or infamous if you were a writer) changing the dialogue routine to reflect the 'American-ness' of John Crichton. And of course it works. I also like how they continue to play on his awkwardness and inability to adjust to his new environment. The scene where he blows up Aeryn's pulse rifle is a scream. It's also refreshing to see the hero get knocked out (easily) by a girl...and then argue with her about it, playing on male/female role reversal quite cleverly.
2. This is where the show started developing into the "Anti Star-Trek" vehicle that it is known for. Yes, there are societal issues brought into the story, principally drug abuse and the use of teen soldiers but instead of taking the easy way out, the show (in the form of Zhann) concedes that sometimes you're just not going to win a fight. In this case, the crew barely survives, without making anything better, even if they haven't made them any worse.
3. The supporting cast is very, very good here especially John Adam as the Bandit leader Bekhesh, who while violent and ruthless, is also shown to have a certain sense of honor and actually cares about his men. The show-down between him and Crichton is both funny and rather poignant.
4. The character development, while slow, is certainly there. Natural enemies D'Argo and Aeryn are beginning to understand one another and work together, with Crichton being able to be of at least some use.
Overall, I'd rate it an 8 out of 10.