In the sixth episode of the fourth season of Farscape, Moya is attacked by a space plant and everything’s awkward. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Farscape.
Well, at least this episode wasn’t all that complicated, especially compared to what we’ve seen this season.
If you take out Aeryn’s story in “Natural Election,” you’ve got an episode that would fit perfectly within season one. It’s competent, it’s creepy at times, but it feels slightly out of place. After everything that just happened in “Promises,” we’re given a bottle episode that feels like familiar territory. This is not the first time that the show has dealt with the random aspects of nature that are found in deep space, and there practically nothing here that feels new or exciting. We’ve already had an episode about an outside agent that eats the metal in Moya! There’s not some big twist to mess with our expectations. There’s no lasting effect of what happens here either. In most senses, it’s a by-the-numbers episode that feels like it would be more at home earlier in the show.
It’s not without potential. I was eager to see if the story would explore the concept of a revolving captain, which was introduced here as Crichton passed his control over to Rygel. It would have been a lot of fun to get a chance to see each character in this role or to examine Rygel’s experience in a bit more detail. There is a scene where Rygel mopes over his perceived guilt in getting Moya captured by the metal-eating plant. I loved seeing D’Argo interact with Rygel in this context, but it’s a very brief moment. By the end of “Natural Election,” D’Argo is captain and the potential is lost. It was also neat to see that Crichton was now able to accurately predict when and where a wormhole would show up. (I don’t really understand how that’s possible, but I also don’t need to know the specifics. Crichton just knows shit at this point because of the Ancients, so I’m not going to question this.)
But what else here is new? Scorpius is criminally underused, despite that his cooling rods end up being the one thing that is able to kill the plant permanently. I think I understand why he’s so limited here, though: these people aren’t ready to involve him in much of anything because they have no reason to trust him. (Well, aside from Aeryn, of course.) So he spends almost the entire episode behind bars or chained to Pilot’s command terminal, annoyed by how he’s treated. I suppose I just want something more from all of this! I know it might be unfair to judge “Natural Election” on the merits of “Promises” because that episode is ridiculous, but this one truly feels like it pales in comparison.
Now this was compelling to me, and I was very eager to see how Aeryn and Crichton would deal with her pregnancy being out in the open. I think that Aeryn might have told Crichton the truth had the space plant not interrupted them at the beginning of the episode, but alas, that did not happen. So she chose to confide in Chiana, and I imagine it at least helped her alleviate some of her own guilt and fear, but it wasn’t enough. So she tried to take it back, unaware that Chiana had already betrayed her trust and told D’Argo, who then told Crichton the truth, which then made everything even more awkward and uncomfortable than it needed to be.
Here’s where Crichton loses me, though. When Aeryn finally does tell him the truth, it is VERY UNDERSTANDABLE why she resisted telling him that she was pregnant. Due to the way that Peacekeeper biology works, it’s possible that she became pregnant up to seven cycles earlier. And now we know why Aeryn left at the end of season three: she wanted to hopefully find a surgeon who could release the baby from “stasis,” allowing Aeryn to carry it to term. It’s clear that Aeryn knew that Crichton would have a problem with this, so she wanted to have all the information possible before she told him that she was pregnant. And instead of empathizing with Aeryn about all of this, Crichton tells her to get her story straight.
Which… doesn’t make sense? Is that his ultimatum to her to find out the paternity of the child? Does that mean he’ll only conditionally be with her based on who the child’s biological father is? I don’t understand this reaction, and I find it to be kind of callous on Crichton’s part. I get that there are trust issues at hand, and I sort of understand that Crichton feels betrayed by Aeryn. But I don’t really get what he’s asking from her! To be less confusing or complicated? To find out who the father is? To meet some unspoken demand? I think Crichton needs to define himself better, particularly since he is far more experienced at companionship than Aeryn is. Aeryn is still fairly new to romantic relationships, remember? So this is going to be confusing for her, and she’s going to mess up. Not that I think this was a mistake or anything; I feel like I understand Aeryn better than I did before.
So what’s next for these two? How can they rebuild trust with one another? Is Aeryn going to seek out another surgeon now? BABIES, Y’ALL.
The video for “Natural Election” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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