Farscape: A Constellation of Doubt

"E.T., she is not."

Farscape reviews are back, with one of the more thought-provoking episodes of the series.

This is an episode of desperation, specifically Crichton’s as he tries to force himself to remember a fragment of a memory. He’s sure he recalls the word 'Katratzi,' but the only source he can rely on is an awful documentary on Moya’s recent visit to Earth. While the previous episode with the actual visit to Earth had a specific plot, this one acts as almost a highlight reel of the stuff we didn’t get to see.

The framing device for this episode is somewhat familiar, used before in other science fiction shows like Stargate, Star Trek and Babylon 5. Yet this feels different, not just because it is a show set in modern times, but because it deals with things that are very alien. Our core cast of characters are well known to us, but seeing an outsider's perspective feels jarring. We haven’t seen Aeryn, D’Argo or Chiana as ‘alien’ since the first season, because they are part of the family.

Yet that is exactly what they are, because this isn’t an episode from John’s point of view, it is about ours. How would we view these friendly aliens visiting us suddenly? I think it is a bit closer to reality that we would try to understand them with guarded curiosity rather than just killing and dissecting them. Yet, seeing ‘experts’ voice their opinions on the actions and words of Moya’s crew is a sobering portrait of how separated we (as a planet) truly are in our thoughts, beliefs and worldviews.

This episode tackles a lot, from our place in the universe, religion, sex and even war. While the documentary paints Moya’s crew as alien and possibly dangerous, the implications of their visit are far more broad; with one short visit humanity is permanently and fundamentally changed, and challenged to think outside of ourselves. The small snippets of each member of the crew will be pored over indefinitely as a turning point in society. Whether that leads humanity towards a greater destiny, knowing that the stars are within reach, or back to our more savage tendencies is anyone’s guess and I’m glad the show doesn’t try to make one.

Yet with all the sociological, metaphysical and political issues this episode raises, the core of the story is all about John. His existential crisis is centered around love, and finding Aeryn before the Scarrens can kill her or worse. In the end he does find it, a small reminder from an unrealized reality shown to him by the wormhole aliens and he turns to Scorpius for help. I guess he really is desperate.

Character Bits:

Chiana is shown to be a playful, sensitive and a bit naïve. Her inner beauty is so clearly defined, when allowed to be herself.

D’Argo is quiet and contemplative, the thoughtful warrior he has always tried to be. His words hold wisdom and purpose, as he tries to explain his world to ours.

Aeryn tries to fit in, clearly wants to with all her heart, but cannot allow herself to let go because she doesn’t know where she belongs anymore. It’s all the more tragic that John doesn't know where she is, either.

Rygel is perfectly at home on a world where he is by far the most alien. The only non-humanoid of the group allowed on planet, Rygel enjoys what Earth has to offer in a way only an outsider can fully appreciate. He shows us we take our world for granted, even when we give into indulgences.

Bits:

Aeyrn and Noranti only appear in this episode through footage in the documentary.

Jack is conspicuously absent from any of the footage.

Ben Browder did a fabulous job here, playing Crichton at the edge of desperation.

D’Argo’s tongue uses an adaptive venom, and could theoretically be used to kill.

Quotes:

Sikozu: "The Scarrans have managed to build one of the most extensive empires in the galaxy. In part – and I shall repeat this because it does not seem to sink in – by not advertising the location of their secret bases."

Monroe: “Recall the same extraterrestrials that we behold with wonder as they learn our language and dance to our music, also bear weapons, as well as potential illness which could destroy us. Alien visitation is a reality. They've been here once and we seem to have dodged the bullet. The truth is, can we be as certain the next time?”

Crichton: "You set me up. Not that I care. I don't care about much. War... death... and wormholes. I don't care about the things you care about. Peacekeepers rule the Scarrans. The Scarrans rule the Peacekeepers. Let them rule together. Put your ass in a cage. I care about one thing. One. God have mercy on my soul. I think I'm going to need your help, Mr. Scarran half-breed, to get Aeryn back. Help me get her, and I will give you wormholes. I have an idea of how to find the Scarran base. Aeryn for wormholes. That's the deal."

Crichton: “Sikozu Shanu?”
Sikozu: “No.”
Crichton: “Nothing?”
Sikozu: “A reasonable interpretation of the word 'no'.”

D'Argo: “I've seen lots of your movies, and in every film, the aliens are always evil and Earth always is victorious.”
Bobby: “You mean we have to learn that there are good aliens?”
D'Argo: “No. I mean you have to learn you won't always win.”

Bobby: “You've spent three years in deepest, darkest space, battling aliens and evil races. What was the worst part?”
Crichton: “The worst part, um, was the complete and utter lack of toilet paper.”

Bobby: “Do religions hate each other where you come from?”
Noranti: “Oh, good heavens, no. Religions are grand, lofty ideas. Religious followers, now that's another story.”
Bobby: “Wars.”
Noranti: “Unspeakable.”
Bobby: “So we're not so different.”
Noranti: “That's nothing to be proud of.”

While this episode was tonally uneven, it was kind of brilliant.

4 out 4 Aliens from a distant part of universe

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

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