In the twelfth episode of the second season ofÂ Farscape, what have I done? WHAT IS THIS SHOW??? Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watchÂ Farscape.
I wasn’t ready. I WASN’T.
I honestly went and made lunch and ignored writing this for nearly an hour because I was so bewildered by where this show went in just forty-five minutes. I’mÂ still upset because… the writers committed to their premise EVEN MORE THAN THEY EVER HAVE BEFORE. Moya and Pilot appear to be truly dead, Crichton got married AND CONVERTED TO A STATUE, and Aeryn is gone. Oh my god, HOW?Â HOW?
I don’t know what to do with my life.
In case you’re not a video watcher, I feel like I should provide some emotional context for this particular episode so you can understand why I’m so distraught. Through a twist of fate, I’m not actually going to find out how this is resolved for EXACTLY A MONTH. I’m writing this review on July 25th; I had a five days off between Detcon1 and Comic-Con, so that’s when I wrote all the reviews ofÂ Farscape for the last week of July and all of August. Of course, when I plot out my schedule, I have no idea if I’m splitting up multi-part stories or anything. As it happens, the third part of the “Look at the Princess” arc will go up on Monday.
BUT NOT FOR ME. I WON’T GET TO THE NEXT PART UNTIL AT LEAST AUGUST 25TH.Â I’M FUCKED UP EVERYONE.
Yes, that’s a part of the reason this hit me so hard, but I don’t want that to be some sort of poor justification for how I feel. This is a huge, risky gamble that the show is WILLINGLY TAKING, and I’m in awe. It’s bold and weird. It’s a combination between some highly serialized storytelling and a self-contained tale, and I just… who does this? WHO DOES THIS IN THE MIDDLE OF A SEASON?
Let’s start with some heartbreak because WHY NOT? Everything already hurts.
Moya and her creators
HOW? HOW THE FUCK DO YOU GET BEYOND THIS? While there were plenty of upsetting aspects to Crichton’s story and Aeryn’s frustration, nothing steamrolled me more than what happened to Moya. I still don’t know what these beings are called; I got the sense that Kahaynu was theÂ name of that god. Regardless, Kahaynu reveals himself to Zhaan as one of the creators of Moya. I loved the smoky introduction to Kahaynu because it helped establish him as this otherworldly force, one that’s contrasted with the physical realness of Moya and her passengers. That’s an important dynamic because it’s a metaphor for what Zhaan becomes so enraged over. These beings have decided to place a harsh judgment on Moya because of some theoretical understanding; they have no concept of her physical reality or they choose to simply ignore that. Their theology states that Moya and other Leviathans were created to be peaceful vessels, and since she gave birth to a creature that could inflict violence, then she must be decommissioned to prevent this from ever happening again.
There’s no nuance here. There’s no care for context, since Moya didn’tÂ choose to become impregnated, nor did she purposely create a being like Talyn. But Kahaynu doesn’t care, and even worse? Moya believes it’s time for her life to end. In one of the saddest scenes IN THE HISTORY OF FOREVER, Moya finally speaks aloud, informing Zhaan of her willingness to expire. She’s ready for her life to end. Of course, I didn’t know that an evenÂ sadder scene would follow this. If Moya dies, so does Pilot, and the Kahaynu have no intent in giving Pilot a new Leviathan to bond to. Pilot’s goodbye to Zhaan is too much, y’all. Both Moya and Pilot speak of fulfillment as they (seemingly) pass, and I think that’s what hit me the hardest. They both got to see the stars together, and that’s all they wanted. To travel the galaxy. It means they have no motivation to resist their passing because they’re satisfied.
HOW IS THIS EVER GOING TO BE RESOLVED? I mean, granted, we don’t know for certain that Moya and Pilot are dead, but they’re so close to it, and there hasn’t been a single hint of another possible outcome. Oh,Â Farscape, don’t do this to me. DON’T.
A great deal of this “Look at the Princess” arc is ambitious as hell. Creating a believable and complex set of politics in less than 90 minutes andÂ then executing a story as emotional as this is REALLY FUCKING HARD. But I’d like to think that the show has pulled this off! I understandÂ why Crichton is stuck between a rock and a hard place, given what options he has. The resolution of the last episode’s cliffhanger gives us another piece of the puzzle, since Jenavian is revealed to be a Peacekeeper secret agent who believes thatÂ Crichton is also a secret agent. So, if the ScarransÂ and the Peacekeepers are both fighting over this peaceful empire, what role does Crichton want to play in this?
He wavers between staying and leaving over the course of “I Do, I Think,” and it’s understandable that it takes him so long to figure out what he wants to do. AfterÂ two assassination attempts on his life, it’s clear that Clavor and Cargn aren’t going to stop trying to remove him from the picture. Even then, the assassinationsÂ themselves upset the marriage ceremony, since Crichton had no idea that he was committing a socialÂ faux pasÂ by accusing Clavor of trying to kill him. Thankfully, Rygel, of all people, is the one who helps the current Empress design a plan to keep Crichton safeÂ and smoke out the real culprits.
EXCEPT LITERALLY A SECOND AFTER THE PLAN IS MADE, WE FIND OUT THAT IT’S BEEN RUINED. And that’s another aspect of the political complexity of this conflict. Ro-NA’s culture as a Jakench has kept her a servant without personal property for her entire life, so Scorpius uses this to convince her to betray Crichton and the Empress. While she does serve the story in a major sense, I appreciated that they were still able to put this kind of worldbuilding into the episode.
This isn’t all politics, though, and I don’t want it to come across that this is all that I got out of the developments in “I Do, I Think.” Sure, Crichton has his own political reasons for being practical about marrying Princess Katrella, and he tries to spell them out to his friends. He succeeds in doing so with D’Argo, but with Aeryn? It’s a lot more difficult. Again, we see the same challenge she has in being straightforward about her love for Crichton. (She’sÂ real direct with rejecting other men, though.)
But Crichton, who has spent more than a year away from home, having his life threatened over and over again, is in a different headspace than she is. There is a haunting and thrilling scene onboard Ro-NA’s ship that I think was the first hint at what Crichton would eventually choose. It’s an entertaining sequence because Ben Browder gets to just… well, he lets go. But I think theÂ reason he has this breakdown is out of an accumulating sense of futility and exhaustion. I think that he sat in that ship, realized he’d been capturedÂ again for something that didn’t matter at all, knew that even if he escaped Scorpius he’d have to keep running, knew that the only option in his life that offered any sort of stability was the one where he wasÂ literally a statue for eighty years.Â
When you have a show likeÂ Farscape, you ask the audience to suspend disbelief because life doesn’t occur in episodic fashion forÂ anyone. There are certainly huge, dramatic moments in our lives; it’s all serialized, but it’s a linear mess of emotions and motivations and trauma and biases and internal history. Our ups and downs are not created and solved within a day, only to move on to the next adventure twenty-four hours later. But we accept that this is how television works because it’s a medium of storytelling. In making Crichton choose marriage out of exhaustion, because he’s tired of being a hero in a never-ending adventure, the writers pull us into a sense of realism we don’t really get from genre fiction. It’s sad, sure, especially since Aeryn views Crichton’s choice as him giving up. Like she said in the last episode, she was always certain that she and Crichton could weather any stormÂ together.
But why should Crichton have to keep weathering storms?
I kept expecting some stray plot to sweep in and stop the wedding. I really did. That’s what often happens in these stories! But the cliffhanger (OH GOD WHY DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF) in “I Do, I Think” has nothing to do with some last-minute plot twist. There isn’t one. Crichton really does marry Princess Katrella, guaranteeing that Clavor won’t take the throne. He pisses off Scorpius, who knows he won’t be able to steal the wormhole technology from Crichton’s brain. He bids goodbye to his friends, and he’s turned into a statue.
It happened. IT HAPPENED. I don’t understand, but that’s the point.Â Farscape bucked expectation by doing exactly what they promised to do, and now, I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF.
The video for “I Do, I Think” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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