In the sixth episode of the third season of Farscape, I don’t think I’ve ever been so messed up by a show. Okay, maybe Hannibal, but that’s for different reasons. If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to watch Farscape.
Trigger Warning: FOR A LOT OF THINGS. Gore, cannibalism, tons of violence, molestation, consent, body horror, suicide.
This show is not going to stop reminding me that the first episode of season three was called “Season of Death,” is it?
Look, how the fuck do you talk about this episode? How do you even begin to address the multiple ways in which it destroys practically every trope it uses, one of which THE VERY SHOW USED IN A PAST EPISODE? How do you talk about how revolting and terrifying it is, how it refuses to look away from the unbearable implications of what it creates? How do you even begin to deal with the fact that there are two identical Crichtons on this show now?
I yell a lot. That’s how I’m gonna do it.
In terms of pure, visceral horror, I don’t know how Farscape is ever going to top this episode. Put simply, the show has never created something this frightening. I think that there are a lot of horror movie tropes spread throughout this episode that add to the tension, but I think it’s also important to acknowledge that it’s the surreal nature of the threat that makes this all so upsetting. By the end of “Eat Me,” we are given a glimpse at a revolting and sickening world, and then the writers close the curtains. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and that’s the point. The experience provides no closure for these characters. They don’t find out the sinister motivations of the bad guy and thwart him because of it. Kaarvok is terrifyingly non-sensical, as is the device he uses to “twin” people. His idea of what a family is is absurd and gross. His interest in others makes it seem like he views living things as toys to play with.
But, again, he’s never really meant to make sense. He’s both a vague and a specific threat. He represents the existential chaos of space while also being completely fucking horrifying. Like many of the best Farscape episodes, we’re thrown into the nightmare that Kaarvok has created, and the writers don’t make it at all easy for the audience or the characters to figure out what’s going on. It’s technically worldbuilding, isn’t it? The universe inside Rohvu the Leviathan is full of details that help explain what’s actually going on, but until we have a good portion of the pieces, it just feels nonsense. Where are all the Peacekeepers? Why does it look like this Leviathan is diseased? What are all those sounds, and where are they coming from? Where are all the Peacekeepers?
The way the writers reveal each of these pieces is meant to disorient us. We see the Xarai first when Crichton finds Pilot’s den, and it’s a jarring image. Who are they? Why are they bunched around Pilot? ARE THEY ATTACKING PILOT? BUT WHY? WHY? And then, in rapid succession, we learn the truth: the scavengers are cutting off Pilot’s arms and eating them. It’s not just Pilot, either; Rohvu is so diseased because the Xarai have been eating him as well. THEY’RE EATING THE SHIP. AND THEN THEY’RE TRYING TO EAT CHIANA AND FUCK THIS EPISODE NOW AND FOREVER. FUCKING WHY. WHY ARE YOU INTRODUCING THIS TO MY LIFE.
Because everything in this show has to get worse. And even that’s an understatement, because then we meet Kaarvok in the worst way possible: he captures D’Argo and then sucks D’Argo’s brain out in front of Chiana and Crichton. In just a matter of minutes, the show manages to communicate that Kaarvok is in control and that he is ruthless in his quest to eat whatever the fuck he wants. There’s seemingly no other aspect to his personality, and D’Argo’s dead. HE’S DEAD AND WHAT THE FUCK, YOU JUST KILLED OFF ZHAAN, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING TO ME.
Despite that I should have learned, I still held out hope that this was a trick or that he’d be revived, but then Chiana sets him on fire, and I am forced to accept that this goddamn show just made D’Argo’s death real. How? How could he possibly come back from that? He was SET ON FIRE and dumped down into Rohvu’s chamber and it’s real. What show does this? What show calls their fucking premiere “Season of Death” and then commits to it by killing two major characters two episodes apart?
Well, Farscape does, and then the make it even worse. I’m still certain that there will be few moments of me in Mark Watches history being more done than when two Chianas popped out of that bubble thing of Kaarvok’s. So much had happened prior to that point, and I was overwhelmed and distraught, and I could not possibly be asked to accept what I’d just seen. But there it was. Two of them. TWO VERSIONS OF THE SAME CHARACTER.
Here’s the thing: if this episode had focused entirely on the plot, I would have loved this. But the show doesn’t ignore the complicated character motivations at work here, and there are a number of important developments for these people. I actually wanted to start with Jool, who fascinates me because she straddles this line between being irritating and sympathetic. I think that she’s been forced into an unimaginable situation with these people regardless of what happens in “Eat Me.” None of these people like her, and she’s not making it easy for them to do so. She’s so far from home it’s nearly comical, she doesn’t have a single friend or ally in her life, and she’s not prepared to deal with the life of renegades and criminals. And yet? She’s got to figure it out. Does she do a good job of that? Of course not, and I actually appreciate that the writers are making her assimilation in the crew a simple thing. It’s not ever going to be, and Chiana’s a great example of that. She took a while to feel like she was a part of the team, you know? And that’s not even addressing her reaction to what happens here in the episode. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to wake up after 50 cycles and find yourself in this nightmare. I mean, she legitimately tried to kill herself here out of fear that some horrible fate would befall her. I FEEL BAD FOR JOOL OKAY.
Chiana’s role in “Eat Me” is so endlessly heartbreaking that I just want to put her on a different show so that nice things will actually happen to her. She has to watch her friend and ex-lover die in front of her eyes; she then sets his corpse on fire and bids him goodbye; she’s then copied and, in order to survive, allows her copy to die in her place. Self-preservation has always been a core part of her character – understandably so! – but this moment marks a chance for Chiana to reflect on the unbearable cost of saving herself. If the copy that Kaarvok creates is indeed a perfect equal as he says it is, then she allowed a full person – not a clone – to die. It’s clear this is going to haunt her, but what will the long-term ramifications be? D’Argo also saw his “twin” and is dealing with the surreal nature of it all, but he didn’t have quite the experience Chiana did. (I so desperately wish that the scene where Chiana finds D’Argo being molested by that Xarai woman was not played for awkward humor, because molestation isn’t funny. At all.)
With Crichton… well, this one is a bit more complicated. I’m not certain if this is character development so much as something that could be explained by the circumstances, so bear with me. I could be wrong here! But did Crichton seem particularly brutish and ruthless here? Actually, I think that’s not contained to this episode, as you could see this sort of desperation in a few of the episodes this season. Here, however, I think it’s pretty obvious to me that the way he treats the Pilot is pretty rude. Normally, he’s a lot more… understanding? Eager to negotiate? Willing to empathize with someone else? Again, I COULD BE SO WRONG ABOUT THIS. I wagered whether or not to say anything, but the way Crichton yelled at Pilot seemed like yet another example of his growing exasperation or lack of patience. He didn’t exactly looked pleased to survive at the end of this episode, either.
Which I also get, because sweet mother of gods, there is perhaps nothing more surprising than the end of this episode. Just when we think that they’re able to get off Rohvu unscathed, there’s that evil moment where we see Crichton caught in Kaarvok’s bubble as he’s running away. It’s a brief flash and the show immediately cuts away from it because it’s fucking rude. That, of course, is because they want to do this to us. They wanted to have Crichton arrive with D’Argo, ready to escape, only for the second Crichton to show up, say the exact same thing that the first one did, and THE SHOW COMMITS TO THIS.
I talk about that a lot, the concept that Farscape commits to what it introduces. Is there a better example of this? Because there are two Crichtons, they’re both on Moya, and they’re both alive and fully human. They’re both real. And they’re here.
I haven’t even addressed the entirely separate second plot in this episode. THERE’S ANOTHER PLOT THREAD. ANOTHER ONE! I was convinced that the distress signal that Moya picked up would be from the other Leviathan, taking the rest of the crew to Crichton and company, but nope. NOPE. Talyn is a mess, Crais is nearly dead, no one knows what the fuck did this to either of them, and that’s the second plot.
How. HOW THE FUCK IS THE SHOW GOING TO DEAL WITH ALL OF THIS. Does the second Crichton also have Harvey in his head? What creature or force or ship fucked up Talyn that badly? I AM TOO MESSED UP BY THIS. Fuck this show, fuck it.
The video for “Eat Me” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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