Mark Watches ‘Farscape’: S01E14 – Jeremiah Crichton

In the fourteenth episode of the first season of Farscape, I can’t explain this one. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Farscape.

I’ve sat here for at least ten minutes, trying to sort out my thoughts on “Jeremiah Crichton,” and my rough draft is not helping. My thoughts aren’t all that coherent or organized, and I blame that on what I just saw because it was not coherent or organized. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever seen by a longshot, but lord. What was this?

The Good

Look, I think the writers were trying to tackle the concept of colonialism and oppression. So I appreciate that Rygel finally gets his wish here – to have worship and adoration – but comes to feel uncomfortable with his place in this culture’s oppression. Once he realizes that his own empire purposely subjugated these people and then abandoned them, he doesn’t really want anything to do with ruling them. THIS IS GREAT. I just wish that they’d taken this a bit further. It’s such a fascinating thing to do with Rygel’s character! I thought that “Jeremiah Crichton” would only deal with Crichton’s role in this village, so it was a surprise when the focus switched to Rygel.

Despite that I fully acknowledge that it’s underdeveloped, I’m totally in favor of scenes where Aeryn and Zhaan learn to get along to solve a problem. FANTASTIC. ENTERTAINING. MORE OF THIS. Oh god, I might just ship them soon enough if they keep smirking at one another.

The Bad

Where the hell do I start?

Crichton’s temper tantrum is tonally jarring and way too sudden. Let’s just begin with that. I’m fine with him being portrayed as flawed. By all means, go down that path! But how on earth does this character go from telling Aeryn in “Rhapsody in Blue” that she should experience more wonder and excitement as they travel the universe, to a bitter, angry, and frustrated man who hates space and the people who have helped him survive all these months? The cold open feels like we just missed an entire episode, and I don’t mean that in a good way. IT’S SO WEIRD. And then he’s a jerk to D’Argo and Rygel within minutes of them showing up to rescue him! DUDE. DUDE.

I should also start this point by stating that I thought the costuming here was a fascinating combination between East African garb and South Pacific wear. I’m not a part of these cultures so I can’t speak to any issues of cultural appropriation, but I was excited to see such a diverse cast! It’s done well if you accept that these people were descendants of a group of colonists. It would explain why they all look so different! And then everything just gets so weird. The trope of a tribal culture misreading someone as a god has been done a billion times in genre works. Then we’ve got the stereotype that tribal cultures are inherently violent. And then none of this makes sense. Are you telling me that every priestan for HUNDREDS OF YEARS lied about the power drain? None of them realized that they could obtain power by leaving the fucking planet? It’s so utterly unbelievable! It makes this story less about colonialism and more about the colonized oppressing themselves, which is a Pandora’s box of awful all by itself.

One of the main problems here is that the Acquaran culture is so haphazard. You’ve got too many ideas! Women choose who to marry, not the men, but then there are two leaders? Who is actually in charge – Neera or Koto-Re? I ask that because there are on-screen suggestions that Koto-Re cannot operate without the priestans’ approval, but it’s never really explored beyond that. Are they a primitive society? Then how come they all know how to work their electric pumps at the end of this episode? Are there seriously only a handful of people in one village on this entire planet? With no antagonistic forces, how are there not hundreds of thousands of people here? I’m glad that the writers were conscious enough of the white savior trope to not have Crichton sweep in and save Lishala, but then that story is complicated further by how marriages are arranged. Do the men not have to consent to the women choosing them? How the hell am I supposed to believe that Rokon and Lishala are into each other by the end of the episode? (That’s highly suggested by the way they look at one another and stand together.)

WHAT IS GOING ON IN THIS EPISODE. Like I said on video, I have a suspicion that the rest of the fandom doesn’t think highly of “Jeremiah Crichton” either. And it’s always hard for me to gauge that! I never really know, and I’ve definitely enjoyed episodes that other folks have DESPISED. But this is all over the place, consistently so, and I am at a loss for how to talk about it constructively. I mean, it’s basically an hour of John Crichton throwing a temper tantrum and deciding that Cast Away is how he wants to spend the rest of his life. IT’S NOT A GOOD EPISODE.

The video for “Jeremiah Crichton” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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