“I’m on another planet.”
That’s how he gets me. That’s the moment I fall for John Chricton. Not his pop culture wisecracks. Not his bravery or his resourcefulness (which his vast ignorance of the situation he’s in never stops him from making use of). It’s that, on a squalid commerce planet covered in burning trash barrels and rejects from the Mos Eisley cantina, John Chricton’s first reaction is one of awe. He’s on another planet.
Chricton is a different kind of sci-fi hero, and Farscape a different kind of show, despite its shopworn “Lost in Space” premise. In another show, John would be the captain, the two-fisted action hero. But Moya doesn’t have a captain - the crew makes most of its decisions by yelling at each other until things get so bad there’s only one, insane choice left to make, and John Chricton’s not a warrior, not a leader. He’s a scientist. An explorer.
Pay attention, as you watch the first season. Count the number of times Chricton fires a weapon. He’s a guy raised on Next Generation, always favoring diplomatic, non-violent solutions. The difference is, he’s not traveling through the universe on a mission of peaceful exploration with a crew of Federation-raised utopianists. He’s sharing a ship with an anarchist priestess, a rage-filled warrior, a lifelong solider, a greedy-driven royal, all of them desperate to survive.
One of the (many) joys of Farscape is watching that idealism warp, change, evolve, mature under the pressures that are coming.
And to see whether, when it’s all over, John Chricton can still look at the universe with awe.