Or: The One Where We Learn the Farscape Euphemism for Testicles
This is basically Groundhog Day, except that Groundhog Day is fun, and this is boring. The whole POINT of a Groundhog Day scenario is to show a) the fun of consequence-free actions, and b) how a simple situation can turn out differently based on a few simple choices.
Instead, what we get is Shouty D’Argo (have I mentioned my distaste for Shouty D’Argo?), super-simple characterizations, and (ugh)… Matala.
Look, I have no problem with the idea of the femme fatale. And it’s actually pretty clever to have a character who combines D’Argo’s desire for a home with the fact that he hasn’t had sex in 8 years. But the whole subplot where Crichton wants to or does not want to have crazy alien finger sex or whatever with her feels like padding with no point except to get D’Argo jealous, and a red herring to make us think she might have sexy mind control powers or something.
The only upside to the whole tangent is the scene where Zhaan tells Matala to keep her hands off Crichton, because Zhaan is like the blue alien queen of sexual politics and the only person on the ship (except maybe Rygel) who has no hang-ups on the subject. That’s the one moment in the episode where it feels like Matala is actually being responded to on a natural level, instead of people doing things because the script told them to.
And the voice! Argh, and it’s not even one irritating voice, it’s two. Your choice of sonic displeasure, either breathy or gravelly. Hate, hate, hate.
And everyone else is in their most simple incarnations. Rygel’s greedy! D’Argo shouts! Zhaan’s nice! Aeryn likes to fight and is kind of repressed! Crichton’s confused! With the exception of D’Argo, there’s no nuance at all here. Worse than that, this is one of those episodes where everyone else just stands around and watches Crichton do stuff. For a show built on the great interactions between its cast, it turns this one into a chore.
There’s a neat idea at the center of this, that D’Argo is still so distant from the crew that it’s not hard for the Illanics to break him away from them. It reinforces the idea that these characters are individuals, with separate goals. That any loyalty that exists between them has to come, not from duty to a shared cause, but from their attachment to each other - attachment which hasn’t had time to form yet.
The climax, with John convincing D’Argo to believe him about the time skips, skirts close to this, but then backs away. John doesn’t convince him by using knowledge of how D’Argo reacts, gleaned from his experience of myriad bad futures. He doesn’t call on their (limited, admittedly) shared history. Instead, he uses a piece of info he learned via time travel-assisted eavesdropping to prove the truth. In essence, the episode is resolved by a victory of plot, instead of character. And in Farscape, putting plot before character is like putting the space-cart before the space-horse (that was a space joke.)
Random thoughts (Totally stolen from the A.V. Club):
From my notes: “I’m really in the mood for some physical activity.” - Fuck you, lady. I really cannot stand Matala’s simpering sexuality thing.
The Peacekeeper logo is basically an abstracted red penis thrusting into an empty circle. Keep it classy, Peacekeepers (and Aeryn, defeated by Matala, laying firmly in the phallic triangle, is just more weird sexual politics from this episode).
Zhaan Condescension Moment: “What’s the matter with him?” “He is Crichton.”
I totally dig the way D’Argo tries to fake jolliness when around the Illanics. His “Friend! Chricton!” busts me up.
I love how Aeryn headbutts Matala during their fight. 1000 times sexier than Matala’s “seductive” schtick.
There’s some good Crichton mocking in this one. My favorite is Aeryn’s “The future? He can barely function in the present.”
And maybe it’s earned, given the way Crichton gets zapped because he was curiously poking things in a clearly damaged ship.
Light on the pop culture stuff this week, so all I have to offer the John Crichton Reference Watch is “Psychic Spanish fly?”
The effects shot of Moya being imploded by the black hole is actually pretty cool.
And the testicular euphemism to add to your Word-a-Day-Nonsense Calender? Mivonks. Write it down!