Mark Watches ‘Farscape’: S04E09 – A Prefect Murder

In the ninth episode of the fourth season of Farscape, the crew head to their first Tormented Space planet, and everything is weird. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Farscape. 

Trigger Warning: For consent issues

Oh, Farscape. I don’t know that I’ve ever watched a show that has made me teeter between such different emotions in the span of an episode or two. Point-blank: I didn’t really care for this episode all that much. It’s not terrible, it has a number of great moments and scenes, but I ultimately just couldn’t bother to feel like I needed to be concerned with all these new characters. Let us discuss.

The Good

Again, this is not without merit or interest. I admit that I like the idea that Aeryn and Crichton are forced into a situation where their trust issues are tested in an extreme manner. Crichton trusts Aeryn with his life, but what if all the evidence points to her taking lives? We get some neat little moments between them as they try to cope with this horrific situation, and the second half of “A Prefect Murder” was a lot more intense than I expected. E’Alet turning them against each other got pretty damn scary, and THAT COIN TOSS COMMENT. OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. Perhaps one of the most unfair things on this whole show. NOW COULD YOU TWO ACTUALLY HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT THAT? PLEASE? Or how about that moment when they tenderly touch each other’s hands after E’Alet’s control is cut off? Yeah, thanks, Farscape. Thank you for destroying me.

While I couldn’t really connect with all of the one-off characters, I appreciated the world building in this episode. Even though the species isn’t named, I got a good grasp of the complex political nature of this culture. It had been historically chaotic, but Gaashah wanted something more dependable and less violent. And having a different leader every six months was FASCINATING. That’s so cool! Of course, it was a way to stave off total chaos, and this is precisely what the other Prefect tried to destroy. I like political intrigue and complex webs of conspiracy, but I just wish I liked this story more.

ANOTHER GREAT THING: D’Argo as captain. He’s such a good leader!!! I LOVE IT.

The Not-As-Good

I know that Farscape is not an easy show to watch, and I’ll be the first to admit that this is part of its charm. However, it’s distracting to have to worry about whether or not the show is going to explain some fairly basic things. There is a beauty in leaving things open to interpretation, and then there’s the frustration that comes from constant confusion. This episode is incredibly confusing for half the running time because we’re dropped into this crisis with very little context, and then that context rarely arrives.

Why do we get a truncated version of the events up to the shooting, only to have it followed by an extended version of the exact same scenes? That’s a very deliberate technique, but it’s one that makes no sense here. I love a good use of in media res, but it’s not like we got the market shooting in the cold open and then reversed to find out why it happened. No, we don’t even get to the main conflict until twenty minutes into the episode. So I felt listless while waiting for this episode to get to its point. On top of that, once we get to that super disturbing scene, we have less time for the story to develop from that point on. I wanted more of Aeryn and Crichton, but the story was split between so many plots at that point that it felt rushed. Which wasn’t always a bad thing, since it upped the intensity at times.

But being dropped into chaos doesn’t always work towards the eventual goal of the story. For example, it’s just confusing to have all of the romantic and sexual stuff happen with no explanation. What exactly did Chiana do??? How long have Zerbat and Sikozu known one another? Are we supposed to believe their romance or affection if it came out of nowhere? Hell, if it weren’t for the Aeryn/Crichton plot, there’d be nothing here to anchor me to the story. You can tell that this is going to be a temporary stop for Moya and her crew, so I didn’t feel compelled to care about the tribe characters. And while Farscape is certainly known for taking genre tropes and utterly destroying them, I didn’t get the sense that the writers would do anything like that for this specific story. From beginning to end, it felt like a one-off, unconnected to anything else.

I suppose Farscape itself has spoiled me. The show has impressed me and shocked me and toyed with me, and that means when I get to stories like this, I’m going to feel like the show isn’t meeting the bar it set for itself. Here’s a great example: Tormented Space. Doesn’t that sound terrifying? Intimidating? The perfect fabric by which this show can weave stories that will ruin our lives? And then our first example of that is on a planet that doesn’t have much of anything that separates it from what we’ve seen in the past. Nothing is tormented, the story doesn’t convey the fact that they’re in a part of the universe that no one will go to, and I’ve let myself down because of my expectations. Is that partially my fault? Sure! Expecting things that weren’t promised isn’t fair, but at the same time… Tormented Space. SPACE. Where is it? What does it look like? TELL ME MORE.

So yeah, I’ll probably forget this episode when all is said and done.

The video for “A Prefect Murder” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

- Mark Does Stuff is now on Facebook! Feel free to Like the page, which I’m running myself, for updates and SILLINESS.
– My older sister needs help with her transition, so I’ve agreed to read all of Fifty Shades of Grey on YouTube if we can help her reach her goal!
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– Please check out the All Mark Watches videos for past shows/season are now archived there!
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– I will be at quite a few conventions and will be hosting events throughout 2014, so check my Tour Dates / Appearances page often to see if I’m coming to your city! I have events in Reno in the next month, and more will be added soon!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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