Farscape: Kansas

Crichton: “Einstein said if I came back before I left, it would screw things up. D, we need to go down there and check it out.”

Famous last words…

John Crichton worm holes his way to Earth. For real this time. But because Murphy’s Law exists, he arrives in the 1980s and has altered his timeline. His father, Jack, is now captain of the Challenger which, for anyone not born before 1980, was a very real space shuttle that exploded minutes after liftoff in 1986. This change in Jack’s timeline would prevent the Farscape Program from ever taking place and endanger the lives of most of Moya’s crew.

The need to right an altered timeline is a science fiction staple. Most of the time it is a risk-free method of addressing long-standing plot issues or exploring interpersonal relationships amongst the show’s lead characters. That does not appear to be the case here. While the episode provides Moya’s crew, particularly Aeryn (and Chiana), with insight into what makes Crichton tick, its true purpose seems to be to furnish John with closure regarding his earthly relationships. Although I may need to amend that theory after the next episode.

Crichton’s respect and admiration for his dad has been obvious since the premiere. After all, there’s a reason Crichton followed his father into space. Here we discover what we should have already known — no one is without their flaws. Apparently, treating his wife poorly and only hearing what he wants to hear are two of Dear Old Dad’s. Which makes Crichton getting his younger self to convince his dad to turn down the Challenger mission an impossibility.

Nor does his mother escape John’s resentment. Crichton may relish the opportunity to reconnect with the mother he lost, but it does not limit his contempt of her perceived lack of a backbone. However, memories are funny things and they don’t always bear much resemblance to reality. Viewing his parents through the lens of adulthood and personal experience gives Crichton perspective of the complexity of their relationship and that his parents loved each other despite their faults. And as for the plot, it’s his mother that convinces her husband to delay his trip, as John requested, not his younger self.

The delay bought him time, but it did not solve Crichton’s problem. He deliberately endangers Junior’s life, hoping that his father will turn down the mission to be with his son. This plan depends on Aeryn and D’Argo’s ability to calm a nosy neighbor and fend off local law enforcement, Chiana finding a way to distract young Crichton, Rygel refraining from stealing candy from Trick or Treaters, and Grandma concocting a potion to simulate a coma. What could possibly go wrong? This is what Farscape does best – blend farce and pathos in equal measure.

This goes about as well as you expect. Aeryn and D’Argo take a physical approach, knocking out the Sheriff and his deputy. Come to think of it, Chiana takes a physical approach as well. Grandma’s potion errs on the lethal side causing Crichton to reenact the end of Back to the Future. It comes in handy as he uses his ghost-like status to convince his mystical-loving mom that her son is in danger and her husband must save him. Jack’s rescue attempt, like everything else, does not go as planned but it gets the job done. Or so we are led to believe from Crichton’s last loving look at his dad and the upswell of music.

Meanwhile Grayza and Braca have tracked down Moya. Unable to starburst for fear of not being able to reunite with the rest of the crew, Sikozu and Scorpius convince Pilot to let Grayza, Braca, and 30 of the Peacekeepers’ Finest on board. It’s here that we get confirmation of Grayza’s alliance with the Scarrans. We also discover where Braca’s loyalties lie. He convinces Grayza that Moya is unoccupied, save Pilot. She may believe the ship is uninhabited, but that does not mean she’s convinced it will stay so. Just in case, she leaves a little “Welcome Home” gift for Crichton’s return.

Moya and the crew are reunited in orbit around the present day Earth. When John disembarks, he is greeted by his father and other Earth emissaries. Although Crichton has his doubts. And for the second episode in a row we are left with those fateful words “To Be Continued.”

I love any opportunity to see our heroes try to navigate the ins and outs of Earth culture, especially when they don’t end up on an autopsy table. Getting to learn more about the Crichton Clan was an added bonus. Just don’t look too closely at the plot.

3 out of 5 friendly greetings

Parting Thoughts:

John named his truck Betty.

Aeryn learning English from Kermit the Frog. Awesome!

Rygel on a sugar high. Best. Thing. Ever.

Watching an adult Crichton get tongue-tied talking to his childhood sweetheart was both touching and vaguely creepy.

We found out Crichton lost his virginity to Karen Shaw in season 1, but little did we know it would be Chiana. I guess it’s better to have young Crichton cheat on Kim than adult Crichton cheat on Aeryn.

Braca and Scorpy? That is a Ship I did not see coming!

The less said about Crichton kissing his younger self’s forehead, the better. Narcissistic much?

Quotes:

Crichton: “Hey, you’re early. I still have a six pack.”

Crichton: “Home. I really am home.”

Rygel: “Not to be insensitive, but in the scheme of things, what does it matter if your father flies and dies.”

D’Argo: “The dust on this planet is playing havoc with my sinuses.”

Young Crichton: “Yo, hero, read the middle finger.”

Crichton: (to his younger self) “You’ve got problems. You’re going to outgrow most of them.”

D’Argo: “Chiana has already told me a few words. ‘Yes.’ ‘No.’ ‘Bite me.’ That’s all I really need to know.”

Crichton: “Somebody got a sugar high. You been stealing candy, Mr. Burrels?”
Rygel: “Crichton, how illegal is this dren? You have to get me more. I don’t care what it costs!”

Crichton: “Grandma, fix me!”
Praiatong: “Haven’t you ever died before?”

Crichton: “I’m Casper the Frickin’ Joke.”

D’Argo: “Why do our plans never work?”
Crichton: “Murphy’s Law.”

Sheriff: “There was this guy. He was invisible. Then there was this other thing with a long tongue. He knocked me out with it.”

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and anything with a cape.

3 comments:

Mallena said...

Years ago, I skipped season 4 on live TV because I was busy and the show kept moving time slots and was hard to follow, anyway. After I rediscovered Farscape on DVD, I decided to buy season 4 instead of watching the library's scratched copy. (They break up the DVD's into parts and I saw the first few eps of season 4 before deciding to give up on the library.) Anyways, I choose the wrong person to buy the season 4 DVDs from on Ebay. ($90.00 used) It came from Canada by truck and took 2 weeks. I spent those two weeks dying to know what happened when John and company went to Earth. There was no Netflix, back then. When I finally received the DVD, I was both happy and disappointed by the episode.

Aeryn looked ridiculous with all that hair hanging, everywhere. She was also too silly at times. I missed battle Aeryn and the battle ponytail. I didn't like the Young John subplot and the way that Farscape forgot that John had 2 sisters. That's what he says in the early episodes. However, there was physical contact between John and Aeryn and it was Earth! So it was fun.

Shari Houtman said...

I totally agree. John getting to Earth is a BIG DEAL, and this story felt kind of small in comparison. But it was a fun episode as long as you take it at face value.

I had completely forgotten he had 2 sisters. Good catch!

Diane C said...

I was a little underwhelmed by this follow-up to "Unrealised Reality". I was expecting something with a bit more bang but ended up on a bit of a whimper.

I do think they tried too hard to give the whole John-returns-to-Earth-in-the-past some extra zazz so that viewers wouldn't think it was a thinly veiled attempt at revisiting "Back to the Future" - which these days most people instantly think of with these SF story tropes.

It doesn't quite come off because there simply isn't enough time to fit what would have been a better story into the 40 odd minute episode. This wasn't helped by the far more interesting secondary storyline of Grayza and Braca tracking down and boarding Moya in the vein hope of finding Crighton.

Despite the emotional connection between John and his "in the past" parents, there was too much else going on to really get too deeply involved: ironically, time (or lack of) saw to that.

It is also a great shame we did not see more of Scorpius and Sikozu on board Moya trying to hide from the 30 odd Peacekeepers ordered to track down Crighton.

Fortunately, all is not lost because yet again we have a surprise at the end, followed by an ominous "To Be Continued..."