In the second episode of the first season of Farscape, the crew must deal with a complication within Moya, which forces them down on a bog-like planet to search for a solution. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Farscape.
Goddamn, that was cool! I appreciated that this was a combination of serialization and a standalone episode. It fit perfectly after the pilot because it allowed us to get a better introduction to these characters. At times, it was much slower than “Premiere,” but that’s okay. It needed to be. I still don’t know very much about these characters or the setting. And while “I, E.T.” doesn’t shed much light on the whole Peacekeeper thing, it does help me to get a better sense for Crichton, Rygel, and Zhaan.
So! This plot reminded me of a less intense version of the early Battlestar Galactica episodes, when the show was exploring the necessary needs and requirements of the ship. Here, the crew* realizes that Moya was fitted with a Paddoc beacon during her captivity, which sends out an exponentially increasing signal that’ll certainly bring a Peacekeeper force to their current location. There are a few more clues as to Peacekeeper behavior in the universe revealed by this. Apparently, it’s quite common for Peacekeepers to kidnap these giant creatures and use them for their own transportation. Anyway, this gives us the main plot thrust of the episode: the crew has to get rid of the beacon, which is why Crichton compels the pilot to land Moya on a planet full of bogs. It’ll muffle the sound!
I was incredibly impressed that this show is already onto its second planet in two episodes, and we’re introduced to yet another race of people. The planet is unnamed, as are the people. Which actually makes sense! It’s not like these people are on some mission to catalogue the universe; they’re simply here to find clorium and get the hell out. There’s no time to do research! This is precisely why “I, E.T.” is so fun, though. This dynamic is completely reversed, and John Crichton, who has grown up on a planet that largely considers space travel impossible and alien life improbable, is now the actual alien. It’s a fascinating writing choice because it highlights his difference from the people onboard Moya and from Fostro and Lyneea. In every sense, Crichton is an alien.
The whole thing is a loving tribute to some of the great alien films and tropes that are so prevalent in science fiction. The title is a reference to a movie that plays heavily into Crichton’s experience. It’s not lost on me that he first interacts with a young child, who eventually brings the alien home to meet his mother. The native family is terrified of John, but they slowly begin to understand him and express their excitement and admiration of him. Plus, Lyneea is just SUCH an amazing character. She’s been searching the stars for any sign of life, using her military funding with few results at all, and we get the impression that without any proof, she was probably ostracized in her community. Maybe that’s a strong word, perhaps too strong. She did have funding and the backing of the military, but until Moya crashed in the swamp nearby, Lyneea never once had any physical proof of her beliefs.
It’s an astounding experience, and I’m so happy that the show treats her with so much respect. Her concerns about Crichton’s treatment at the military, who Lyneea describes as less than “tolerant,” plays a big part in what happens in the second half of this episode. John is complete validation of her work, and she even admits that he is her guarantee of funding for the rest of her life. Hell, he is the impetus by which this society will be forced to change its perception of the universe, of science, and of the nature of creation. And shit, he’s busy going through that fundamental change in consciousness himself! I’m guessing that it’s only been a couple “days” in Earth time since he was shot through that wormhole and ended up… well, wherever he is. And for what it’s worth, I think he’s doing a great job processing the absurdity and weirdness that he’s been facing, you know? Not only that, but he’s already developed an intense loyalty to the people who he’s traveling with. I imagine that he knows it’s not going to be easy to make friends, and he also knows he is massively ignorant about this part of the universe. It’s a practical thing to be loyal, but I don’t get the sense that this is solely a selfish thing for him.
Meanwhile, AERYN AND D’ARGO HANGING OUT IN A TREE, NOT K-I-S-S-I-N-G. Holy shit, I’m so into this? Here are two beings that are, largely speaking, utter enemies of one another, and now they’re forced to hang out (literally), and y’all. One of my favorite tropes is enemies/antagonists becoming friends. (Shout out to Avatar: The Last Airbender.) That’s not to say that this is what is happening here, because they’re clearly going to bristle at one another for quite some time. But hey! They momentarily bond while insulting John. I GREATLY APPROVE OF THIS.
But holy shit, I love everything happening between Rygel and Zhaan. I still don’t really understand all the finer points of Delvian culture. All I know is that Zhaan was an “anarchist” relative to the rest of her people. She’s a peaceful character here, one who is eager to understand others. That includes Moya, as Zhaan actually shares the pain of the ship in a touching display of literal empathy. She does this so that Rygel can begin the painful process of untangling the Paddoc beacon from Moya’s neural system. Rygel himself is forced to contend with the fact that despite that he’s got royal lineage and is used to being treated as such, he’s got none of that here. If he’s going to survive, he has to contribute. But it goes further than that! Some of his reluctance to help out isn’t because he’s haughty; it’s because he doesn’t believe he’s capable of helping. How do you suddenly make yourself useful to others when you’ve spent your life having others do your work for you? Bless Zhaan, who patiently encourages Rygel to do his best by telling him that she’ll be there alongside him to help.
I still don’t know what I’m in store for on Farscape. Is this season largely going to be about them staying away from Crais? Probably? I DON’T KNOW.
*For the sake of simplicity, I’m calling this ragtag bunch of weirdos a “crew,” even though they are HARDLY a crew in any conventional sense. They’re only barely beginning to get along, but I don’t know how else to refer to them. Do they have a fandom name? I like Ragtag Bunch of Weirdos. Has a nice ring to it.
The video for “I, E.T.” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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