In the fifth episode of the first season of Farscape, Crichton begins to suspect that there is something amiss with a group of scientists they take aboard Mora. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Farscape.
I do like time travel more than most things. I do! So, I enjoyed this episode despite that it didn’t really stray from a familiar genre concept. This is Groundhog Day-lite. It’s “Monday” from The X-Files, it’s “Shadow Play” from The Twilight Zone, or “Window of Opportunity” in Stargate SG-1. Not that any of these episodes necessarily borrowed from one another! It’s just that the repeating time-loop or the story of getting to re-do the future to get a specific end is a narrative trope that appears in a lot of science fiction or genre shows.
But there are glimpses of themes and a tone hiding in this episode that make me wonder if Farscape is going to shed some of these genre trappings and become it’s own thing. While I found the three future flashes entertaining, I was way more interested in the details surrounding Luxan, Ilanic, and Scorvian culture. I actually correctly guessed that D’Argo was somehow related to the fleeing aliens that the crew saved from imminent destruction. Through D’Argo’s interactions with Verell and Matala, we get to learn about the Scorvian-Ilanic War and some light is shed on D’Argo’s background. AND I WANT SO MUCH MORE OF THIS. That sort of stuff is what’s most compelling about this show.
I’ll get to that in a bit. The main thrust of “Back and Back and Back to the Future” involves Crichton’s “infection” by a particle of a black hole. It’s shaky premise, I’ll admit that. I don’t really see how a black hole could dislodge a person from time, but only up to a certain point. I’m not going into this show expecting scientific realism, for the record. I just thought it wasn’t all that believable. Also… how could you possibly contain a black hole? Wouldn’t whatever matter it was in inevitably fall into the black hole? Whatever, THIS IS NOT IMPORTANT. It’s through this thing that Crichton begins to get flashes of the future!
The first of which are a couple glimpses of him having EROTIC RELATIONS with Matala. I completely misinterpreted them as Matala trying to kill Crichton. I DID! I was so confused and thought that in the future, Matala was turning into Hannibal Lecter or something. I THOUGHT SHE WAS TRYING TO EAT HIM. (Literally, not metaphorically, LOL.) Was that a possibility, then? Why did it never come to pass? Regardless, I liked that the show went in such a starkly sexual direction because it showed me that the writers were willing to address sexual desire fairly openly. And while Crichton kept denying that he was even remotely interested in Matala, WE ALL THAT’S NOT TRUE.
And before shit gets real, that’s played humorously, since D’Argo actually believes that Crichton is trying to head him off and get to Matala before him. (Oh god, this plotline will end SO SADLY, jesus christ.) But this humor gives way to a remarkably dark and gritty tale of betrayal. Crichton’s flashes of the future always end the same: pretty much everyone dies after Matala betrays her partner. But we don’t find out why she’d do this. Why would she be willing to kill her own kind for the weapon that Verell is developing?
There’s a neat trick in the use of the flashes, since Crichton actually lives through them up to his death, and then we snap back to Zhaan’s quarters. (I think that’s the explanation for the title, isn’t it? He flashes to the future three times in a row, each time trying to find a way to stop the inevitable.) Because of this, we find out that Matala GOT SURGERY TO APPEAR AS ANOTHER RACE. Like???? Look, the details of this war between the Scorvians and the Ilanics is all just a story to us, but with this one twist, we’re shown how desperate and vicious the war is. SURGERY. TO BE A SPY. That is some fucking commitment, y’all!
That’s why I’m quietly hoping that these are tonal hints for the future of this show. That is fucked up. When D’Argo later refuses to talk about the “real crime” he committed and admits to his weakness around Matala, we are suddenly forced to accept that D’Argo is LONELY. I don’t know how long eight cycles are relative to Earth time, but it’s clear that this man’s exile from his people has had an emotional toll on him that he’s kept to himself for a very, very long time. Oh my god, what did he do? What could be worse than killing a commanding officer? Is he deeply ashamed of what he’s done? Now I’m curious about the other passengers, too. Did they tell the truth about what they’d done?
I don’t think Farscape has hit a stride yet, but I have no problem admitting that I’m intrigued. I just hope the show reveals more to me than it has so far.
Completely unrelated: Oh my god, Claudia Black is the voice of Morrigan from the Dragon Age series and Chloe in the Uncharted games. I KNEW HER VOICE SOUNDED FAMILIAR.
The video for “Back and Back and Back to the Future” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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