Ok, so we’re doing this thing.
Sometimes, if you’re me, you get the need to do something kinda crazy. I am the person who wrote a PhD dissertation in 4.5 months, after all. And sometimes, you need a slightly self-indulgent project to embark upon as a respite from the pressures of keeping a small human alive and the care of souls. That’s pretty much the origins of the whole Geekually Yoked project (pre-baby). So, my friends, I am going to be blogging my current re-watch of Farscape (you can blame/thank Leeman for compelling me to take this on).
Sure, I might have done a comprehensive re-watch of the whole series back when Amanda was a newborn sack of potatoes (along with all of Babylon 5, and Community, and Call the Midwife … it was a really bad winter to get out with a baby, ok? Don’t judge me!). But there’s something about watching the story of Farscape unfold–or John Crichton’s mind unravel, depending on how you look at it–which makes it really hard for me just to sit down and watch a random Farscape episode. So, I figure I might as well just begin at the beginning again and whenenver I feel the need for Moya’s crew, just pick up where I left off. Along the way, I shall share my comments with you, dear readers. By which I mean faceless void of the internet. Also, so we’re clear, this is not going to be an episode-by-episode commentary or anything (if you want that, check out the AV Club). More, an outlet for me to gab about what fascinates me in the unfolding chaos that is the Farscape universe. Because if this podcast has taught us anything, it’s that Rachel has no shortage of thoughts on Farscape.
That brings us to the Premiere, in all of its John Crichton’s football-helmet wearing glory. I never know how to approach this premiere. It’s a perfectly servicable pilot. We get a good understanding of the characters, see how they all came to be aboard our fair living ship Moya, and get a sense of what will serve (at least initially) as the source of ongoing tension.
The real work of the Premiere, however, is introducing us to the central character of John Crichton. And in that, we come to the question of intent vs. outcome in our interpretation of the text as offered us. I’ve made no secret of the fact that–rabid fangirl though I am now–I wasn’t all that into Farscape on my initial viewing. Largely because I just thought Crichton was bland, military-style, All-American good ole’boy in space doing a lot of “aw shucks” moments at the strange world he was encountering. Little did I know that John Crichton was absolutely, frelling insane. On repeat viewings, though, it’s precisely that stark contrast between the John Crichton of this premiere and the John Crichton of the Peacekeeper Wars that is so compelling. The premiere does not set up an episodic series about a bumbling human goofball who fumbles his way through the galaxy. Rather, the premiere (and indeed the whole early part of the first season) are the first chapter in the story of how that All-American hero will be utterly broken by the universe and will struggle to maintain some sense of his humanity. Did the creators of Farscape know the dark places to which they would take Crichton? I have no idea. But it is still a compelling narrative either way.
Authorial intentions aside, there are a couple moments in the Premiere which give tiny glimpses even at this early stage of a Crichton who is already ever so slightly unhinged. This is the Crichton who grabs a pulse pistol, aiming it at a Peacekeeper with the great line: “Freeze! Or I’ll fill you full of little yellow bolts of light!” He has no plan in that moment. He’s not even sure what kind of weapon he’s hold it or how it works. But this is John Crichton! There is no situation he cannot bumble his way into! The Crichton who is pig-headed enough to insist on bringing an irreversibly contaminated Peacekeeper on the run with fugitives. These are the qualities that will allow Crichton to survive all that will happen to him in the Uncharted Territories, even if the cost of survival is his sanity.
Tune in next time when we try to find something redeeming in any episode up to PK Tech Girl! Maybe we’ll talk about Aeryn. You can never talk enough about Aeryn…