Farscape: John Quixote

And now, on Farscape…

It’s another trippy episode where strange circumstances force Crichton to face his fears.

It’s old home week on Farscape as some memorable characters from the past join Crichton and Chiana in playing a weird game that originated from Stark, of all people. Evidently, Stark sold John’s memories, which seem to mingle with Stark’s unique way of looking at things to become a wonky virtual reality experience.

I was delighted with this story in the first few dozen viewings, but the more I watch it, the more the seams start to show. That’s not to say that I don’t love it; I do, I just wish that they had been able to get out of that boring parking garage and spend some time in an enchanted forest or something. Fillory (The Magicians) this is not. The budget for set design and location shooting seems to be practically nil, but with Ben Browder (who also penned this) giving each moment his all, as he always does, it makes the result some good, clean (almost) fun.

I didn't really appreciate some of the body humor (I usually don't) and seeing Zhaan as a large blue man isn’t my favorite thing either. But… I do love seeing John as Max Headroom and I love all the riddles and rhyming that’s in this tale. Bizarro Stark is fun and I love the elevator rides. Soft Muzak plays in the background as John talks to himself as John Headroom. The Uma joke (used in quotes, below) is funny as I remember when David Letterman really wasn’t funny as he hosted The Oscars in 1995. He kept repeating “Uma” (as in Uma Thurman) for some obnoxious reason.

In John’s mind, there’s an even bigger problem than trying to get himself and Chiana free from Stark’s game. He thinks that Scorpius has escaped back on Moya and that he’s plotting with a brain-washed Aeryn. John’s biggest fear still seems to be about what Scorpius may be secretly planning for him and Aeryn. Scorpy has put John through the ringer, but John seems overly paranoid where Scorpius is concerned. He might be right, though, to worry. Aeryn’s behavior has been baffling to poor, stressed out John and he's one confused guy.

It’s fun the way that John and Chiana seem to be going in and out of the game when they really aren’t, and we do get a John and Aeryn shipper bonus. We get their first kiss in a long time and they are interacting quite nicely as some spine-tingling music starts to play. Aeryn goes quite still and robotic suddenly, as John realizes that she’s just saying things that he wants to hear, plus she shows no concern for the other residents of Moya as they must “save themselves.” Oh crap, we are still in the game. I found it interesting that there’s a Moya section of the game, but it does makes sense as Moya has become a major part of Crichton’s life.

It gets sinister as John finds out that Stark seems to want to kill him. I had a problem with that one as I couldn’t really see Stark wanting to hurt John. I guess that John was involved with the passing of Zhaan, but he didn’t directly cause it or want it to happen. Stark’s mind must be a deep dark place, though, as he crosses souls over so often.

I did love the part where John runs over Rygel with the van and John’s glee as he does so. The fight scene in the ogre’s chamber – hello Crais! – was a bit cheesy with Aeryn’s weird interjections. Claudia Black was having a good time as the lisping Princess Aeryn, but it’s just a little over the top, for me. Her facial expressions are fun and I guess she’s making a statement that she (Aeryn) isn’t anyone’s princess and doesn’t need rescuing anyway, thank you very much.

School House Rock - Interjections!
John resets the game and solves the puzzle by finding the real Zhaan hiding in plain sight. Seeing Zhaan again isn’t much of a treat for me, as I prefer the crew the way it's now. Virginia Hey does look beautiful, though. We are reminded, however, that Zhaan died so that Aeryn could live and be with John, so that sacrifice shouldn’t be wasted.

Helpful Noranti is waiting for John when he actually makes it back to Moya. She wants him to forget his longing for Aeryn and gives him a drug that will help. I’m still not sure of Noranti’s motives. She does seem wiser than she acts, sometimes. Maybe she can see that John isn’t ready for a relationship with Aeryn yet and time will be good for both of them. Who knows? This isn’t my favorite act of Noranti’s, but I’ll give her time to redeem herself.

I really don’t like the ending when Aeryn is sitting against a wall of Moya’s and she speaks to John, but he ignores her and passes right on by. Rude! At least give her a nod, a small smile… anything! Not so long ago, John would have sat next to her on the floor and there might have been some head-on-shoulder dropping. No such luck. Darn! That’s the end.

Like I said, I do love this episode, it’s just not perfect. I enjoy John and Chiana’s adventures together, seeing Jool and D’Argo acting wacky, seeing John get smooshed by a television — plus the antenna sticking out of his head is genius. The reason I love this episode is that despite its small budget it’s an intriguing game of misdirection, crazy quotes, references to pop culture, and pure fun. It’s also tragic that John’s so messed up that he can’t see that Aeryn just wants to forget the trauma of the past and just be with him. Unfortunately, John doesn’t seem to be able to do the same.

Space Oddities:

Max Headroom was a series on ABC in 1987. It only lasted fourteen episodes, but it’s remembered quite fondly. Matt Frewer starred in this tale of a future where TV rules the world. I can’t remember that much about it, except for the fact that I enjoyed it. Huh, I’ll have to find a way to watch it again.

Gilina came back to confuse John, some more. (Yay?) I was never a big fan of her character, but I guess her return is appropriate as John is really confused about his feelings for his (not) Princess Aeryn, right now.

It was surreal to see Claudia Black on The CW's Containment.  See the similarities?


Containment
                                                                                                     
Princess Aeryn
                                                                                                                             Quotes: 
                                                                         
John Headroom: “That's a nice sword you've got. Ever slay any dragons with it? You should give it a name! How about - Cameron? Or Uma-Uma-Uma?”

John Headroom: “Yes, I know. This elevator sucks. My job suck-suck-sucks. Day after day the same-the same thing. Up. Down. Up. Down-down. Just once - just once it'd be nice to go - sideways... Just-just - sideways. N-n-not that I plan on doing this forever-ever. I have plans you know - Big PLANS! I-I-I'm studying to be an astronaut. And... Penthouse! Have a good day.”

Jool: “What am I, chopped liver? How come nobody ever wants to eat me?”

Zhaan: “What is it that you wish of me John Crichton? A kiss? Have you wasted my death… and the deaths of so many others?”
John: “I don't know.”
Zhaan: “Then I suggest you find out - before anyone else dies for the love of you.”

I’m really very fond of this episode, despite its flaws. Ben is very funny, both as John Headroom and as John Crichton. The story is terrific, even when it’s nonsensical. I just get a kick out of the video game portion and also like watching John run around Moya not knowing if it’s real or not. The rudeness of the ending, I could do without, but it is continuing the story of the season…so I’ll let it go, for now.

Three and a half out of five Matt Frewers.

Mallena loves Ben Browder when he’s on any screen.

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