Mark Watches ‘Farscape’: S02E10 – My Three Crichtons

In the tenth episode of the second season of Farscape, I still kinda can’t believe this happened. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Farscape. 

LORD. This episode is… unreal. Disturbing. INCREDIBLY SURREAL. There was a lot of potential for “My Three Crichtons” to be nothing but a vehicle for humor, but no. NOPE. And that would have been a fun episode, surely, but good fucking god. This ends up turning into an examination of the value of human life. Specifically, does a clone have rights to life?

Actually… that’s not quite correct, is it? One of the things that makes this episode so hard to get a grasp on is that we never find out exactly what happened here. The writers are deliberately ambiguous about the source of the sphere or the reason for why it spit out three versions of Crichton or the reason those three Crichtons were like a fucked-up version of the Ghost of Christmas Past and Future, respectively. But those answers aren’t important to the story. The sphere, which seeks out the only life form aboard Moya that its unfamiliar with, reacts bizarrely to Aeryn shooting it. And within a few minutes, the crew has to deal with the fact that there are now three Crichtons on their ship, and all of them are most definitely John Crichton.

Sort of. Again, I can’t explain this shit. All of them have nearly identical genetic features and they all share memories, but they’re also… from the past? From the future? A possible genetic past and a possible genetic future? I like that idea (which I stole from D’Argo) the most, because it’s the best explanation for me. Regardless, the writers do a brilliant thing here. They drop these Crichtons into the ship, and then they introduce an extremely fucked-up conflict: one of them must be put back into the sphere or everything will get sucked into another dimension. No exposition for the sphere or the scientists who are responsible for it. Oh, no, that would help these characters understand this better! Nope, it’s just COMPLETE FUCKING CHAOS for half an hour.

Well, I should say that it devolves into chaos. I was totally fascinated by whom the show paired off with the Past Crichton and the Future Crichton. We’ve got Chiana with the Past Crichton for most of the episode, and I liked how it explored her friendship with him. I didn’t really see this as a romantic development because Chiana was drawn to the pureness of Crichton, stripped of his ego and his intellect. On top of that, she’s the only person along with Current Crichton to even bother defending Past Crichton’s right to survive. I think that gets a bit more complicated once Current Crichton runs out of ways to stop the inevitable pull of the sphere.

But even that is an important distinction in terms of separating the three versions of himself. Current Crichton refuses to accept that there is not another option, but he eventually relents and seeks out the past version of himself. It takes Chiana setting Past Crichton free for him to realize what he’s allowing himself to be complicit in. So I don’t want to ignore what a vital part Chiana plays in this. But I also noticed that the antagonistic element of “My Three Crichtons” comes from the “cold” logic of the intellect, not brutality and violence. (Though that’s a part of it, too.) Zhaan is the first to pick up on that, and it’s what Current Crichton eventually rejects. The most reasonable option here is to cast Past Crichton into the sphere, but Crichton rejects the notion that this is reason. It’s nothing but cruelty any way you look at it.

Still, I expected that the real Crichton would come up with a solution that could save all three versions. So yeah, I was incredibly surprised when I saw that Crichton was… well, giving up. Really giving up. And yes, he truly tried to find another solution, and I DIDN’T KNOW HOW THE SHOW WAS GOING TO POSSIBLY DEAL WITH THIS. Look, let’s say we had gotten the extremely disturbing ending where Past Crichton was sacrificed. THERE WOULD STILL BE A SECOND CRICHTON RUNNING AROUND THE SHIP, one who would definitely be impossible to ignore. And then I’m watching the real Crichton put his gun down and walk towards the sphere and HOW THE FUCK IS THIS HAPPENING. THIS IS NOT WHAT I WAS EXPECTING.

While I do admit that having Past Crichton kill Future Crichton and then sacrifice himself gives us a very tidy ending (I LIKE MESSINESS), it doesn’t ignore what an unsettling journey this was. It’s painfully ironic that Crichton, who hasn’t truly belonged anywhere since he shot through that wormhole, listens to two versions of himself say that they don’t belong. No one knows that better than John Crichton. So he tells himself that. In… the past. Or something. MY BRAIN HURTS. The point is that this really could not have been sustained beyond this episode, could it? Having multiple versions of the same character is hard to pull off, yes. (Hello, Fringe and Orphan Black. You’re out there laughing at me, aren’t you?) But I don’t think this was a matter of balking at a challenge. The show dealt with a pregnant spaceship over multiple episodes. However, they couldn’t just ignore the sphere anymore. It had to have one of the “specimens” handed over. At the very least, Past Crichton’s sacrifice was certainly a part of the real Crichton, since Crichton was prepared to give himself up to save the ship. The future version of Crichton? Well, as D’Argo points out, it’s just a possibility. Crichton can still choose to develop away from that sort of path.

Still, it’s an upsetting thing to witness because that was Crichton the whole time. And his teeth were freakishly straight and his accent was different and he looks much better with hair, LORD. Bravo, Ben Browder, for your work in this episode. It was believable and creepy. And I think that’s a good way to close this out. The writing was incredibly strong here, but Browder had to sell this idea to make it work for the audience. And he did! It’s a treat to watch after “Out of Their Minds,” since we just got an episode full of the cast acting like someone else.

Lord, what an episode.

The video for “My Three Crichtons” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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