In the fifteenth episode of the second season of Farscape, Crichton is convinced that the Ancients are messing with him, but he’s so wrong. HE IS SO WRONG. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Farscape.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of consent and queerbaiting
This is how Farscape gets my attention. There was an easy path for the writers to take with this episode, one that would not only make this nothing more than a gimmicky premise, but would also tread ground we saw in “A Human Reaction.” And yet? “Won’t Get Fooled Again” feels nothing like that last episode that dealt with the manipulation of the mind. This episode is so much more chaotic, bewildering, and UTTERLY DISTURBING. It’s also part of a greater serialized narrative this season regarding the conflict between Scorpius and Crichton. CHRIST, I UNDERSTAND SO MANY RECENT THINGS NOW. How? HOW CAN THIS SHOW DO THIS TO ME?
In hindsight, I can see how this episode lulled me in with its premise of wackiness, made me appreciate how silly and funny this experience was, and then SHOVED ME OFF A CLIFF WHILE LAUGHING AT ME. The opening scenes of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” are fun, especially since they aren’t necessarily tainted by the horrifying Scorpius reveal. And gods all bless the cast of this show, who were undoubtedly given this script and decided that they’d make it EVEN WEIRDER THAN IT WAS INTENDED TO BE. Like, I had a distinct thought while watching this: I bet these actors were improvising a whole lot of what we saw here. And why not? All of them got to pull themselves out of their normal characterization and explore a different range than they’ve used in the show.
But this isn’t the sole reason this worked so well for me. Dreamscapes are a hard thing to capture, and I should also admit that this technically wasn’t even a dream. But there is an element of dream logic present in the way that the Scarran manipulates Crichton’s mind. I’m willing to bet that many of us have had dreams where people are in the wrong bodies or roles, and we see that in the early stages of “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” There’s Aeryn as Dr. Bettina Fairchild, Zhaan as Dr. Jean Kaminski, Rygel as the new IASA project head, D’Argo as the cocky weirdo Gary Regal… AND SCORPIUS AS THE DRUMMER OF A BAND, YES. Look at his vest! SO SWEET.
The absurdity of it all is a lot of fun, particularly since Crichton knows for certain that none of this is real. That allows him a freedom within the narrative that isn’t present in “A Human Reaction.” Without that tension (initially, I should say), the show can just drop us into all of this chaos and allow us to enjoy.
That is, until Scorpius shows up. THE REAL ONE. Which makes no sense because how is he in this delusion? How come he’s talking so plainly? HOW IS HE HERE? I honestly believed Crichton’s theory that this was all a trick to get him to reveal how he created a wormhole because that made sense to me. Given that this struggle was central to this season, it wasn’t a bad theory. That still meant that Crichton had the freedom to do as he desired within his imagination, which includes THROWING RYGEL OFF THE TOP OF A PARKING GARAGE. Which… fucking hell, y’all. I mentioned this in the video, but when Farscape commits to an idea, THEY COMMIT TO IT. It’s hard not to think of the whole “Look at the Princess” trilogy when discussing this, since that’s another good example of a premise that the writers took and then SPRINTED INTO THE DISTANCE WITH IT.
The parking garage sequence is an important turning point in this episode because it signifies the moment when this stops being very funny and starts being REALLY GODDAMN DISTURBING. That’s not to say that there aren’t humorous things here! The Zoolander-esque convertible sequence is ridiculous, as is Crais as a cop, as is Aeryn with her hair full of curlers. The show has no problem giving us a procession of visual non-sequiturs, either. But if this is some sort of con executed by Scorpius, it stops making sense as one as soon as Crichton’s dead mother shows up. To quote Crichton, it’s simply too cruel to fit that pattern. He knows that this isn’t believable at all, and if he’s aware of the delusion, how can it possibly work against him? I admit that I was certain that this wasn’t the Ancients again, but still. This didn’t make any sense to me! Who was making Crichton see these things? What value was there in making his own memories torment him? Actually, that’s not even technically what happens here, aside from the glimpse Crichton’s mother when she was near death. Crichton is rarely reliving his memories; no, his whole mind is a jumble of nonsensical images. It’s an increasingly chaotic world where any sense of regularity or permanence is twisted and trashed.
I can’t believe that it’s Scorpius who finally gives Crichton the help he needs. And lord, he really does help him, doesn’t he? Well, in his own twisted way, that is. Because of the events of the “Look at the Princess” arc, the Scarrans are now very interested in Crichton, which is why one captures him and subjects him to the mentally destructive interrogation technique we see here. This is about breaking Crichton, not fooling him. That is achieved by inducing delusions so strong that the subject has virtually no way of breaking out of them.
Which is how Scorpius helps Crichton. Because surprise! THERE IS A MENTAL COPY OF SCORPIUS INSIDE A NEUROCHIP WITHIN CRICHTON’S BRAIN. And if there was any sort of ambiguity about what this meant when it was first revealed in the episode, the writers sure do confirm just how fucked up this is by the end of “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Yes, this explains the glimpses of Scorpius in “Beware of Dog” and Crichton’s inability to kill Scorpius in “The Maltese Crichton.” BUT IT’S SO MUCH WORSE THAN THAT. Scorpius’s mental clone isn’t just sitting inside Crichton’s head; IT CAN CONTROL CRICHTON WHEN IT NEEDS TO. Which… oh my god. OH MY GOD THAT IS SO FUCKED UP.
And yet, before we even get to that part of the episode, the Scarran “interrogating” Crichton makes things even more horrible. There’s something fun about how chaotic everything gets, but I was made uncomfortable by the repeated use of queerness to be weird and funny. Like, Rygel in leather and with a whip is shocking, but when you combine this with Zhaan and Chiana nearly making out (for the titillation of Crichton) and D’Argo hitting on Crichton with an effeminate affectation to his voice, it sent a pretty clear message to me. Look how funny and strange it is to think of these characters as gay! It’s not like there’s a whole lot of canonical queerness within Farscape as it is, so when the only representation at all is for a joke, I have to roll my eyes. Come on, there are better ways of being wacky, y’all! Still, I recognize the importance of these rapid-fire images as the final assault on Crichton’s mind, all of which lead to that moment on the dance floor (BLESS “BOOGIE OR DIE!” VERSION OF D’ARGO) that is ANOTHER TRAP. IS EVERYTHING A TRAP.
Yes. YES. Because while there is a solution to Crichton’s predicament at the end of “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” it’s concluded with the reveal that Harvey!Scorpius was able to STOP CRICHTON’S BODY PROCESSES FOR A FEW MICROTS SO THAT THE SCARRAN THOUGHT HE WAS DEAD. He can control Crichton’s body, do so subconsciously, and also erase Crichton’s experiences so that he’s not aware of the neurochip. WOW. WHAT THE FUCK, THAT IS SO AWFUL. I mean, let’s just talk about the fact that Harvey’s last words to Crichton are, “Rest assured, I’ll be with you always… keeping you safe.”
HAHAHA NO. NO NO NO NO THIS IS TERRIFYING WHAT HAS THIS SHOW DONE.
Note: Please take care when discussing this episode to not use ableist terms in the comments. I realize that this episode deals with someone being forced to question their sanity. Because this is an international forum and because my moderators cannot determine who is reclaiming slurs and who isn’t, we ask everyone not to use them just for the sake of making this a space for all people commenting. Just be mindful of what you’re posting!
The video for “Won’t Get Fooled Again” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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