In a Moyan transport pod, Zhaan catapults awake from her guilt-ridden dream of Crichton and the others dying horrible deaths. Crichton is poking around in the pod's guts and finds Rygel's leftover meal sizzling against the nav linkage. Looks like he and Zhaan are stuck for awhile. Zhaan passes the time by reflecting on the search for Crichton and the others. Zhaan and Pilot searched through 24 planets, countless moons and asteroids with no sign of them; Litigara was their last hope. Moya was anxious to leave Litigara's orbit to search for Talyn. So, in her search, Zhaan was getting desperate...
Flashback: Zhaan, Rygel, and Chiana hit the streets of Litigara, asking people if they've seen two Sebaceans and a Luxan. Zhaan comms Pilot and pleads for more time to find the others, but Pilot and Moya are obdurate. Meanwhile, Rygel is falling-down drunk, and Chiana is partying it up with the locals. Zhaan exhaustedly agrees to Pilot's timetable, then overrules Rygel and Chiana's resulting protests by tearfully accusing them of being useless in the search. Unaware that she's being tailed by one of the Litigarans from the bar, Zhaan charges off alone. However, she's stopped by a yelling intercom ordering her not to enter the crosswalk. A female Litigaran peeks around a corner while holding a remote control. The crosswalk tells Zhaan she can now cross. She does, and nearly gets run down by a car. A few beefy cops yank Zhaan and drag her off to jail for... jaywalking.
With Zhaan in the clink, Chiana tells the panicking Pilot to chill out. A public defender named Dersh arrives on the scene and speedily extrapolates what Zhaan's minimum sentence will be - 10 solar days. Chiana grumpily suggests getting another lawyer, and Dersh says they're welcome to try; over 90% of the population are lawyers.
Meanwhile, a powerful attorney named Ja Rhumann is on the phone with a nervous-sounding policeman, who is complaining that tonight's not a good night for him. Rhumann says they have the "perfect subject" and orders that the plan be carried out, then hangs up. That night, the Litigaran woman from earlier approaches Zhaan's cell and opens the door, giving her a map to the exit. Zhaan takes this obvious bait and makes a break for it. In the streets, Zhaan finds Chiana and Rygel (yay!) but trips over a dead body (uh oh!). Convenient cops rush to arrest her, and Zhaan's map burns up in her hands. The cop who was phoned by Rhumann earlier arrives on the scene, announcing that she's under arrest for murder.
Back in the pokey, Dersh reveals that the man Zhaan "killed" was Wesley Kenn, a rising young advocate for the utilities; the 10% of the population who aren't lawyers. The charge is that she murdered him with her bare hands, although due to Kenn's radical politics, nobody's too cut up about it. Chiana balks at the lawyer's limp defense, but Dersh says that if he pleads a defense he even suspects is false, he'll suffer the same fate as his client.
In court, Zhaan is led to a standing prisoner's dock. Rygel explains to Chiana that Litigara is ruled by law firms, and the one currently in power is run by Ja Rhumann. The judge is about to give the verdict, when Zhaan asks if it matters that she is innocent. Her counsel immediately panics and withdraws his representation. The judge says that she can't change her plea without counsel, so Chiana runs up to Zhaan's dock and says it's all dren and that she can't let Zhaan be condemned. Zhaan hisses at her to shut up and orders her back to Moya. Chiana ignores her and nominates herself and Rygel as Zhaan's lawyers.
In the same bar from the opening, Chiana and Rygel are sifting through some hefty law tomes. Chiana sees a Utility get maltreated by some esquires and asks if they get a lot of that. They're lawyers, the bartender seethes. It's their right. Chiana complains about the complexity of Litigaran law, prompting the bartender to covertly slide over a slim book. It's the basis for all the Litigaran laws, before they got all clogged with red tape. Barkeep taps The Axiom and tells them it's the only book they need.
Chiana calls Pilot to demand a little more time. Pilot says imperiously that Moya will give them until one more revolution of the planet. After that they're out of there, with no promises to return. Chiana notices the officer who arrested Zhaan has conspicuous burns on his face. The bartender mentions that it was a dual full moon the other night. Litigarans with blue eyes usually stay indoors because the moonlight burns them. Chiana thinks this cop might know a thing or two that might be worth their knowing as well, so she trots off to make a new friend. Meanwhile, Rygel asks the bartender about the "Light of Truth" mentioned in The Axiom and learns that it goes back to the very origin of the law a burning stick which burns brighter when someone is lying.
Court is back in session. Back to questioning the cop, Chiana notes his purpled complexion. He admits he got it the night of the murder. Chiana notes that while he got burned, the victim — also blue-eyed — didn't. Chiana also brings up the fact that the cop once worked for Ja Rhumann's law firm — something she learned last night. Rhumann looks uncomfortable as muted hubbub fills the galley. Afterward, Chiana gets caught in an electro-net and taken to see Ja Rhumann. Rhumann sweats Chiana in his office by demanding that she stop her line of questioning, or else she and Rygel will be brought up on false charges. The next morning, Chiana takes Rygel's comm and tries desperately to get Pilot back on the line. All she hears back is static, but eventually Pilot responds and tells her that Moya overheard the whole conversation with Rhumann through the comm. She's decided to give them a little more time.
In court, Chiana calls Ja Rhumann to the stand. Chiana breaks a chair and designates one of the legs the Light of Truth. Rhumann blusters that the Light of Truth is a parable, and Rygel argues back that The Axiom would disagree. Chiana ignites the wood and holds it aloft. Rygel and Chiana proceed with their line of questioning, confirming that Rhumann stood to benefit from Kenn's death and that getting an "off-worlder" to take the fall would be mighty convenient. Rhumann covers himself by answering with "speaking hypothetically" and "it doesn't necessarily follow." Rygel reminds everyone that the cop got moonburn, but the victim didn't. Chiana goes on that maybe Kenn was murdered elsewhere and dragged to the alley where Zhaan was sure to be. Rygel whispers "Now." under his breath. Pilot pushes some buttons and Moya sends a beam of light to the planet. The stick explodes with light. With each denial of the murder conspiracy, the stick glows even more bright. Rygel asks if the judge will believe a guilty man or the symbol of her world. She orders Rhumann arrested and drops all charges against Zhaan.
Back in the present, Zhaan tells Crichton that she keeps seeing them die, even though they live. She says that the experience shows that her spirituality was lacking, but he says that since she recommitted herself to the Seek it may have been worth it.
Tropes in this episode:
- Alien Sky / Weird Moon: Litigara's dual moons. They also loom quite large.
- All Crimes Are Equal
- Amoral Attorney
- Army of Lawyers: Combined with a Planet of Hats (right down to the hats).
- Audience Murmurs: Follows Chiana's dropping the bomb on her witness' conflict of interest.
- The Bartender: Chiana and Rygel get legal advice from a useful Litigaran bartender.
- Big "NO!": Aeryn getting fragged in her prowler. Luckily, it's just a dream.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: On days when both moons are at their fullest, blue-eyed Litigarans are prone to "moon burns" on their skin. This becomes a plot-point later in the episode, when a blue-eyed police officer who happened to "stumble" across Zhaan at the murder scene is being cross-examined by Chiana, who points out that it was odd he was out that night when blue-eyed Litigarans tend to stay indoors. A very important deleted scene revealed that the murder victim was also blue-eyed but was not burned, suggesting he had been killed elsewhere and dumped where Zhaan could find him.
- Bound and Gagged
- Call-Forward: The episode fills in a few blanks with regards to events in "Mind the Baby", specifically explaining why Zhaan spends most of the episode in an apparent trance, what Chiana was referring to when she mentioned a trial, and why Zhaan initially thought she was still hallucinating Crichton when he returned (see "Out of Order").
- Catapult Nightmare: The episode starts with a reenactment of last season's finale, but events play out a little differently: Aeryn's Prowler is blown up by Peacekeepers, D'Argo dies in space, and Crichton's space helmet cracks and 'splodes his handsome face. Luckily, it's just one of Zhaan's nightmares. (Had this episode aired in its original format, the anticlimatic deaths of the heroes would have been pretty alarming).
- Changed My Mind, Kid
- Continuity Nod: Crichton complains that Rygel left his keedva barbeque simmering next to the navigation circuits of his pod, leaving him adrift in space. Oh that wacky Rygel.
- Courtroom Antic: The "Light of Truth," a burning chair leg manipulated from orbit, even if it's nominally sanctioned by the Axiom.
- Courtroom Episode
- A Day in the Limelight
- Deleted Scene: An opening sequence in which Zhaan and Pilot comfort each other in their stress over the loss of Aeryn is cut, as is the original epilogue which established Zhaan's reentry into being a Pa'u.
- Even more significantly: Dialog in which it's revealed that the murder victim is a blue-eyed Litigaran, was removed from the broadcast version (the scene can be viewed in its entirety in the Deleted Scenes on the DVD and is restored on Netflix). This makes the scene in which Chiana cross-examines a blue-eyed police officer with moon burns who claimed to have "stumbled" across the murder scene a bit confusing when she mentions the victim was not burned, implying he must have been killed elsewhere.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Rygel getting hammered in a Litigara bar. (The original version of the episode had Rygel having the nightmare with John's head exploding.)Zhaan: Getting dren-faced is not helping, Rygel.Rygel: Well, it's helping me!
- Fan-Disliked Explanation: The thing that left Zhaan in such a terrible state in "Mind the Baby" was...being accused of murder?
- Fantastic Drug: Following her 'questioning' of the arresting officer, Chiana's nursing a hangover. Rygel nudges her awake and gives her some Nashtin cleansing pills, warning her not to take them all at once. Smash Cut to the courtroom, where Chiana is buzzing around the room on a caffeine-pill freakout.
- Fantastic Racism: The "Utilities" are what they call the poor sods that make up the other 10% of Litigara's population. They are the blue collar workers. It's not entirely clear if they're actually another race or not; they are the only ones with hair while the few others we see without head coverings have unidentified black markings on the back of otherwise bald heads, but that isn't necessarily genetic.Rhumann: You see, this is all about "Utilities' rights", my dear. Utilities don't need any more rights.Finzzi: They need to work harder.
- Femme Fatale: The crosswalk-tinkering attorney, later revealed to be Finzzi (a flunky of Ja Rhumann).
- Foregone Victory: Zhaan tells Crichton the story of how she was framed for murder with Rygel and Chiana acting as her attorneys, long after it happened. Yeah, they won. This would have been averted if this episode aired first as originally planned.
- Frameup: Poor Zhaan keeps getting set up to go into court as the defendant!
- Fridge Logic: The streets are monitored at all times, but not the jail cells? For that matter, nobody even questions how Zhaan is supposed to have melted the bars without help. There's not even a Hand Wave for either.
- Good News, Bad News: Once Zhaan is back in the slammer for murder, her weary attorney Dersh announces that he has good news: "You're no longer facing trial on the traffic violation."
- Hallucinations: Zhaan is tormented by hallucinations of Crichton, Aeryn and D'Argo returning from the grave. Luckily, Zhaan knows she's hallucinating and can remark with some irritation on what she thinks is going on. Crichton is consolatory but distant; Aeryn is accusative, guilt-tripping Zhaan to the point of Taking the Bullet at her trial; D'Argo plants a kiss on her (Huh. That's a surprise.) and urges her to become a Seek again.
- High Collar of Doom: Finzzi's snazzy coat.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: He who lives by the law, dies by the law.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As Zhaan sits in her cell and chants quietly to herself, Rygel calmly sits by her side and holds her hand. When Chiana arrives, Rygel pulls his hand away and complains about Zhaan's mumbling.
- Klatchian Coffee: Chiana's OD on Rygel's hangover cure.
- La Résistance: Wesley Kenn, the slain advocate for "Utilities" rights. Kenn is considered a "troublemaker," and not too many are sad to see the end of his radical, equality-seeking ways.
- Left Hanging: The crew bugs out immediately after the trial and never learn what happened to the planet afterwards.
- Lie Detector: Exploited with The "Light of Truth."
- Look Both Ways: If only Zhaan had done so...
- Loophole Abuse: To be expected on a planet full of attorneys. The bartender claims the legal code was deliberately made more complex over the years just to enable these and eternal arguments over them.
- Motor Mouth: Chiana after she downs a couple of stimulant pills.
- Naming Your Colony World: A planet of lawyers named Litigara. In a part of the galaxy where the English pun doesn't even make any sense. Yeah, guys, you really could have put a bit more effort into that one.
- Never Tell Me the Odds!: An apparition of Crichton consoles Zhaan over her choice of abandoning him, saying the odds of them even surviving were ten million to one.
- Nice Hat: Litigarans take that "Planet of Hats" thing literally. They pale in comparison, however, to the giant strawberry Oreo cookie on the judge's head.
- No, Mister Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Played with, as Ja Rhumann tosses Chiana's comm badge into a glass of bubbly rather than offer her some.
- Obligatory Joke: Rygel farting helium at the trial, to Chiana's consternation. "We're in court. So sue me!"
- Oh, Crap!: Rygel realizing that he's not allowed to lie in court.Rygel: How could you not tell me that?! I thought we might even pull this off! But you and me, not lying?? Are you mad?!
- Out of Order: This episode was first filmed for the season premiere, however it was held to allow Mind the Baby to air instead after the producers decided that it wasn't good enough to justify the viewer outrage that would result from the end-of-season cliffhangers being left unresolved. Several additional scenes were shot and the episode was aired later on as a flashback story.
- The original cut of this episode, "Re: Union", aired as a special presentation on Sci-Fi in 2001, during reruns of the third season.
- Passing the Torch: With half of her shipmates presumed dead, Zhaan's been saddled with leadership responsibilities and isn't weathering the burden very well. She confides that Rygel and Chiana are "like children."
- Planet of Hats: Litigarans are almost all attorneys.
- Posthumous Character: Wesley Kenn.
- Prophetic Name: "Litigara"?
- Race Against the Clock
- Sanity Slippage: Zhaan.
- Say My Name: In the dream sequence, Crichton screams Aeryn's name as she's being shot down.
- The Dream Sequence in which John's head explodes when his spacesuit visor cracks is reminiscent of a similar death depicted in the film Outland.
- When Zhaan hallucinates seeing Crichton, Aeryn and D'Argo coming to break her out of jail, they Power Walk down the corridor in silhouette. This is allusion to the 1983 movie The Right Stuff where the astronauts walk in slow motion upon entering the hangar.
- Space Jews: The names "Dersh" and "Rhumann" are vaguely derived from Jewish origin.
- Static Stun Gun: Zhaan gets tazered on multiple occasions. Later, Chiana is snared by an "electro-net" before being taken to see Rhumann.
- Survivor Guilt: Because Zhaan has forsaken up the spiritual path the Pau, she has no healthy way of reconciling her feelings of grief at the loss of her comrades, and her guilt at having survived at their expense. By the end of the episode, Zhaan has her head on straight.
- This Page Will Self-Destruct: Zhaan's escape map conveniently burns up in her hands just before the police swoop in.
- Throw It In! / Title Drop: According to Ben Browder, the scenes where he sings "Dream a Little Dream of Me" were not in the script, but rather ad libbed.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: Moya decides to stay in orbit after after overhearing Chiana's scene in Rhumann's office.
- Tricked Into Escaping: The villain sends someone to break Zhaan out of prison (which she was only in because they'd secretly arranged it). They don't intend her to get far - rather, they're committing a murder and want to ensure there's a "dangerous escapee" in the area who they can pin it on.
- Unwanted Assistance: Zhaan didn't want Chiana as her attorney.
- Whole Episode Flashback: Viewers see the aftermath of the episode before they see the main events of it.