Well, I woke up at about 8:00 this morning (I blame the cats), after about 5 hours of sleep, maximum, which I suppose is a good thing when it comes to switching off the night shift (since with any luck I'll be able to get to sleep with no trouble tonight), but which otherwise kind of sucks, as I don't really feel like I have the mental or physical energy to do much today except sit in front of this computer. (Or in front of the TV, but I've already done a lot of that today. Made considerable progress through the Buffy DVDs. More on that show at another time, I'm sure.) And I've already answered all my e-mail, so here I am again.
Is it starting to sound like I'm using sleep deprivation as an excuse to ramble incoherently about subjects nobody but me is likely to be interested in? Probably. But it's a good excuse.
So I think I'll do that psychological analysis of Captain Crais now. Just because I haven't beaten the Farscape horse nearly to death yet. You will soon discover, in case it hasn't already become abundantly clear, that this entire blog, from now until the end of time (or until I get bored with it and quit) is primarily going to focus on TV shows. Yes, this is my life. I analyze TV shows. That high school teacher who taught us we could do literary analysis on rock music probably has a lot to answer for, as I can handily excercise that skill on any of a wide variety of pop cultural phenomena. So here's my midterm essay for my degree in Farscapeology, entitled:
Captain Crais: What the Hezmana Goes on in This Man's Mind?
(Spoilers are pretty much inevitable, so you've been warned.)
Now, the interesting thing about Captain Bialar Crais is that he starts out as a very two-dimensional kind of villain... but he refuses to stay that way. Crais is basically the driving plot device for the entire first season: Coyote to Crichton's Roadrunner, so to speak. (And never mind for the moment that it was a different character who got cast in the Coyote role when they actually did the Looney Toons episode, OK?) Chrichton was responsible for the death of Crais' brother, so Crais is going to chase Crichton round the Antares Maelstrom and round the moons of Niveah, and... Oh, sorry, wait, that's Khan. Or possibly Ahab. Anyway, he's going to get Crichton for it if it's the last thing he does. No matter what it takes. Even though it was obviously an accident.
Now, the thing is, this is clearly a) insanely obsessive, and b) stupid. Crais disobeys orders, risks his career, and blows off whatever other important military missions he ought to be pursuing to go and chase John Crichton all over the Uncharted Territories. He even kills his second in command, who gives every sign of being completely loyal to him and willing to go along with this merry chase despite orders to the contrary, just on the off chance that she might decide to blab to Peacekeeper High Command. Like I said, insanely obsessive. As for the stupid part, Crichton himself does an excellent job of pointing out, in "That Old Black Magic," just how ridiculous the notion is that he either could or would have deliberately taken on a complete stranger in a heavily armed fighter ship with his own teeny little primitive unarmed module two seconds after arriving at this end of the universe.
However. The Crais we see in the second and third seasons, after his apparent "change of heart," is obviously anything but stupid. He is in fact quite shrewd, a strategist, a guy who figures all the angles. (See Crichton's analysis of his motivations in "Relativity," which I think is probably pretty close to spot on. Crais knew just what he was doing when he hooked up with Talyn. He'd calculated the odds of his own survival and lengthened them in the best way he could possibly manage.) He's also somehow gotten over that whole obsession thing. He tells Crichton that he now believes his brother's death was an accident, and he seems quite sincere about it. He's certainly no longer trying to kill Crichton, and, whether selfishly motivated or not, he is willing to function as Crichton's ally. What happened to the insane and irrational thirst for vengeance? That's not exactly the sort of thing you just "get over" for no good reason. So how do we reconcile this?
Well, the Aurora Chair almost certainly had something to do with it. Crais may very well be the first person in history to come out of the Chair more sane than he went in. Being forced to review his life over and over may well have given him some new measure of perspective on it, may have forced him to realize just how pointless and misguided so many of his actions have been. And, of course, simple necessity doubtless had a lot to do with it as well. With his life falling apart around him as he is reduced to the status of fugitive himself, it's perhaps not too surprising that his priorities change.
But I don't think that can account for all of it. The fact is, the Crais we see in the 2nd and 3rd seasons is a very complex character. And whatever uses the Aurora Chair might have, I don't think the ability to create a complex character out of a simple one or a smart character out of a stupid one is among them. The Crais of season one must already have been a complex and intelligent person, then. So the question becomes, what was going on inside this complex and intelligent person's mind that made him behave in such an irrational and simple-minded manner?
I think the answer lies in one very important, very fundamental observation about Crais' character, and one that does seem to be consistent over the course of the entire series to date: The man is a control freak. This comes out most clearly, I think, in "Meltdown." In that episode, Talyn is leaking some kind of stimulant mist that causes already existing impulses and personality traits to grow exaggerated. So Aeryn and John, rather embarrasingly (for them and for the audience!) find themselves overwhelmed by their newly-indulged lust for each other. Rygel goes on an eating binge of proportions unprecedented even for him. Stark's talking to invisible people and generally being utterly incoherent, so apparently it didn't actually have any effect on him. (No offense, there, Stark!) But Crais... Crais goes off into "I am the captain and you will obey me!" mode, waving his pulse pistol around trying to force everyone to follow his orders and generally getting very, very pissed off at the fact that he's not in control. This, I believe, is very telling.
So, OK, Crais is a control freak. What does that have to do with his vendetta against Crichton? Well, consider this: not only is Bialar Crais Tauvo Crais' commanding officer, but he also was charged by their parents, as the "recruiters" were dragging them off, to watch out for his little brother. So Tauvo's safety falls firmly in the category of things that Crais feels he ought to have control of.
So, here's my thought. Crais refuses to believe that it was an accident, because there's nothing you can do about an accident. Shit happens, and you just have to accept it when it does. Some things are simply out of your control. And Crais does not like things being out of his control. If his brother's death was murder, a deliberate act perpetrated by an identifiable enemy, than there's something Crais can do about it. He can hunt down his brother's killer, take revenge, and regain the sense that he's in control of the situation. The knowledge that it really was a stupid accident, perpetrated by an "inferior life form" in a ridiculously primitive ship, is intolerable to him... Because, if that's the case, there's nothing he can do about it. This is why, when Crichton tries to explain in "That Old Black Magic," his carefully reasoned explantion only whips Crais into a greater frenzy. He doesn't want to hear it, because he doesn't want to admit it to himself.
So, what changes? Again, the Aurora Chair is undoubtledly a factor, but probably not the only one. I suspect it has more to do with the fact that, by "Family Ties," Crais is experiencing a loss of control far worse than the one he felt when he was unable to prevent his brother's death. By the end of season one, Crais has lost control of everything. Scorpius has taken over his Command Carrier. His career is over. He is almost certainly going to be executed. He's hit rock bottom, in other words, and finally realized what it really means to have lost control. This, too, is bound to give him a bit of perspective on the irrationality of his former actions. Moreover, the only way he has any hope of being able to get control over his life back at this point is to put aside his old vendetta and make peace with Crichton. And the need to be in control his situation right now strongly outweighs his need to feel in control of something that happened a year ago to someone else, even if that someone was his brother.
SO, uh, Q.E.D.
Man, I love this stuff. Be careful I don't get started on the Blake's 7 characters, or we'll be here all night...