Mark Watches ‘Farscape’: S04E01 – Crichton Kicks

In the first episode of the fourth season of Farscape, well, that was sad. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Farscape. 

This is an utterly bizarre premiere episode, but I dig the risks that the writers take here. I can only imagine how much weirder this must have felt for anyone who had to wait months and months to get… well, this. And what this is, is an episode about loneliness, about obsession, and about the limits Crichton will go to in order to have some sense of happiness.

In short, it’s a goddamn bleak episode. “Crichton Kicks” opens with Crichton drifting in his module, months later, and I DON’T KNOW HOW HE’S ALIVE. Was there food in that thing??? He’s sporting a wicked beard and he’s communicating with the only living being he’s come across in a long time: the Pilot of a dying Leviathan. (Now I know why it was important that they were in the Sacred Space! See, I CAN LEARN THINGS.) And if last season’s opener set the tone for season three, then this is somehow worse than just death. If there was anything I took away from this episode, it’s that you can survive – barely, even– but your dreams can die instead.

And isn’t that so much worse?

Crichton’s dreams die over and over in this episode. From his dream of being with Aeryn, to his dream of completing the wormhole equations, to the horrible reality that Chiana and Rygel discover outside of Moya, to their missing friends, it’s failure after failure. We open this season with a dying dream, as Elack and her Pilot save Crichton, only to warn him that it’s a matter of time before Elack finally dies in the Sacred Space. Their pact – to die together in the Sacred Space, 350 cycles after they were joined – is then continually interrupted and ultimately prevented, though out of all the characters whose lives are disrupted, they’re the least upset about it.

Why is that? I found Elack’s Pilot’s reasoning to be utterly fascinating: with age comes the grace to accept that all dreams cannot come true. On the surface, that has such depressing ramifications for Crichton. Scattered throughout “Crichton Kicks” are his glimpses of a beach and Aeryn, calling back to the flashes of the future that Crichton had in “Dog with Two Bones.” Crichton’s imagination has always been a central part of this show, so it’s not surprising that he copes with Aeryn’s absence and his possible child with her by imagining unlikely scenarios with her. But by the end of this episode, he begins to accept that maybe fate isn’t going to work in his favor. What then? Does he just give up on life or on the few friends he does have left? Or does he accept that his dream life with Aeryn is nothing more than that?

I don’t think this episode is suggesting that they’re never getting back together, Taylor Swift-style. But Crichton is forced to temper his expectations. After Chiana and Rygel locate him (WHERE THE HELL DID THEY COME FROM, Y’ALL, AND WHY ISN’T THIS EXPLAINED) and reveal how horrific their experience has been BECAUSE THEY’RE ALL WANTED BY COMMANDANT GRAYZA. Both of their dreams – Chiana’s desire to find her brother and Rygel’s desire to return home and reign again – are rendered impossible by this. And with this sort of disappointment hanging over everything in “Crichton Kicks,” it’s easy for this to feel really bleak.

Amidst this all, there’s an actual plot that’s not nearly as interesting, but in one sense, I like that the writers show us that life must go on for these people. Yeah, it is weird that the cast is spread out over the galaxy, and we don’t even know what Aeryn, D’Argo, Jool, Pilot, or Moya are up to or where they are. It’s a strange choice, but I think this is something I’ll come to appreciate more once I understand the bigger narrative in season four. I won’t deny that it was great getting to meet another Leviathan and her pilot, and I am UTTERLY INTRIGUED by Sikozu. There are only hints to a larger characterization for her, but what little I did learn here is compelling enough that I’m hoping she becomes a part of the crew. It seems that Moya and her crew collect as many stowaways, criminals, runaways, and stalwarts as possible, and despite that Sikozu swears she won’t become like everyone else, I’m not really sure that’s possible.

Like a lot of the characters on this show, she’s on the run, she’s got a whole lot of mystery surrounding her origins, and someone’s trying to kill her. In this case, the Grudeks, a group of pirates who harvest fibers found only on Leviathans, are determined to kill her so she won’t tell anyone else of the location of the Sacred Space. Now, the cat-and-mouse game that unfolds here isn’t all that entertaining by itself. The sentry dog (whose name I cannot begin to guess how it is spelled) is pretty cool, but I was more interested in Crichton, Chiana, and Rygel than anything else. Which makes sense! Sikozu is brand new and I have no attachment to her. I was shocked when she lost a hand, but apparently she can just reattach it through SCIENCE. Also she can float???? What the hell, y’all. I NEED TO KNOW MORE.

I also need to know more about Chiana’s developing abilities. Seriously, is there a source for them? A catalyst to explain why they’re happening? Why the hell can Chiana now observe the present at a slower rate of time? And why does it cause her to go blind? My poor Chiana. What is happening to you?

So I liked this episode, and I think I make like it more in hindsight. I think it’s not nearly as good of a premiere as “Season of Death,” but that’s a hard one to beat. But I can also admit that it feels like a part of a greater narrative that I don’t know at all at this point, so I’m definitely excited to see where this goes.

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

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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