Saturday, August 24, 2002

Needless to Say, I Watched It at the First Possible Opportunity... (WARNING: SPOILERS for Farscape episode 4.11, "Unrealized Reality.")

Well, it was certainly an interesting episode... Very layered. Lots of very subtle stuff going on, lots and lots and lots of resonances back to earlier episodes (and not just in the obvious, flashback-y bits, either). Which is very cool, and is something that holds a great deal of appeal for me. Other aspects of it, though, were just... strange. And don't necessarily make a great deal of sense. If the alien brought John there to kill him, why did he change his mind? What was with all the talking heads? And what, exactly, were we supposed to take from some of those really out-there "realities"?

It did, at least, finally answer one of the Great Unanswered Questions of this season: who sucked Moya through the wormhole, and why? And, as far as it goes, it was a perfectly believable and satisfying answer. I'm not sure that it goes quite far enough, though. We still don't know exactly what they did to Pilot and Moya. They obviously didn't just scan them; they must have done something to keep them from talking about the experience, if nothing else. And a zillon other loose ends are still out there, dangling.

I was getting a very 2001-ish feel even before John got sucked into the wormhole -- something about the compostion of that scene with him floating in space -- and, needless to say, that just got stronger as the episode went on. And John, of course, got exactly the same vibe ("Long as this whole deal doesn't end up with me as an old man"). Some time back, I made a long, rambling post in here about how much of a difference it makes that John is a much of a science fiction buff as anybody in the audience and that he, like the audience, is going to think of the weird stuff he experiences in terms of the books and movies and TV shows he knows from Earth. It really does make him easier to identify with, because he's thinking exactly the same things that I'd be thinking in his place. It's often been said that Star Trek -- at least, these days -- requires a major dollop of suspension of disbelief if you stop to think about it, because you have to accept that the Star Trek universe is a universe in which Star Trek as a TV show never existed, and thus is very different from ours. (This is particularly noticable when they do time travel episodes.) But Farscape doesn't require us as an audience or John as a character to pretend that we've never seen anything like it before... Which somehow makes it feel more real, at least to me.

Speaking of which, John's line, "I am not Kirk, Spock, Luke, Buck, Flash, or Arthur frelling Dent. I am Dorothy Gale from Kansas," could make a great tag line for the entire show. Another part of Crichton's appeal, in my opinion, is that he's very much not any of the heroic figures he's named. Nor is he as hapless as Dent, although I do believe there are a few passing similarities (like chronic bad luck, for one). No, John is just one of us: a guy who likes pizza and football, who saw Star Wars as a kid and dreamed of going into space, who can quote The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and who -- while intelligent, adaptable, and overall a really decent guy -- is still a flawed human being who is quite capable of screwing up very badly.

It's interesting to note, by the way, that The Wizard of Oz does, indeed, seem to be his favorite metaphor for his situation. It's one he's used many times before. I'm tempted to go off into a long, thoughtful ramble about how the stories we're familiar with shape our perceptions, our expectations, our self-images, and how the stories that John brings with him from his own (in other words, our) cultural background determine how he responds and reacts to the situations he finds himself in, but a) this is going to be a long enough post as it is, and b) that particular thought is still only half-formed in my head. So I won't, at least not now. It is an interesting topic to think about, though.

And while we're bringing up complex philosophical topics in order to ignore them, it occurs to me that all this stuff about "unrealized realities" and there being one John Crichton with millions of potential realities and so on and so forth doubtless has some kind of implications for all that relgious/mystical stuff I was musing about at length a couple of weeks ago. I honestly have no idea what those implications are, though. I just keep wanting to match the idea of different wormhole destinations up with Stark's "different destinations" somehow...

All that stuff about wormholes enabling time travel and John talking about Einstein and relativity and so on, by the way, actually made perfect sense and was pretty much physically accurate (in an admittedly vague sort of way). Which impresses me. Some of the other aspects of the whole thing, though, I'm less sure about. Being able to pop through the wormhole system into different realities is a familiar and easily grasped concept, sure. But the nature of those realities is something that, I have to say, I'm rather less clear on. I'm inclined to think of them as alternate possibilities, realities in which things went differently at some point or another than they did in John's reality. Both "...Different Destinations" and "The Locket" would seem to support that, and what the alien says would, too, I think. But some of those universes -- hell, most of those universes -- were so bizarre that it's nearly impossible to imgaine how they could ever have come about.

Otherwise, it does seem to fit fairly nicely with what little has been established about time travel/alternate universes in this show before. Interestingly, in addition to the aforementioned episodes, I was also strongly reminded of "Through the Looking Glass," and it occurs to me to wonder if the being Crichton encountered in that episode was one of these same people. She(?) certainly did seem to have very similar concerns.

Some random, unconnected thoughts:

Aeryn is apparently making a serious attempt to learn English, which is very interesting. It would seem to indicate that she has her mind set on going back to Earth with John... And of course, where he would have been utterly delighted by that thought once, he now seems hardly able to bear being on Moya with her. It shows tremendous optimism on her part, that's all I can say. I do also wonder how she's learning English, as John's hardly going to be teaching it to her. I suppose Sikozu might be teaching her. And what's that book she's reading? Is it one of John's notebooks? Some sort of primer made up for her by Talyn-John? Something else?

So, someone's finally noticed John's drug habit! And if he's having to double the dosage, things are clearly getting worse. Increased tolerance levels, check. Psychological addiction, check. Physical addiction, quite probably...

Scorpy and Sikozu, sittin' in a tree... I wonder if he's really interested in her at all, or is just leading her on because she's useful to him? Scorpy is defintely the kind of guy who will use every weapon in his arsenal, and while, with a face like that, I doubt sex is usually one of them, if it works, it works. Poor girl still obviously has no idea who she's dealing with. I wonder exactly what kind of an alliance he was proposing to her? (Well, you know, besides that...)

I don't know why, but I found myself really, really happy to see DK again, if only as a weird, alien-generated talking head. This is a guy who has clearly been very important in Crichton's life, and I've always thought there should be more references to him. Why wasn't he in the wedding visions in "Dog with Two Bones?"

Like the weird alien dude, I, too, have been wondering just why "Jack" gave John the wormhole knowledge in the first place. The only thing I've been able to figure is that he felt bad for putting John through all that stuff on the fake Earth and wanted to give him a little present to make up for it. Which, if true, is deepy, richly, ironic. And also rather naive and stupid of him...

Raelee Hill does an amazingly good Stark. If they ever lose Paul Goddard permanently, maybe they can get her to switch roles and be Stark for us! Actually, everybody does an amazing job at... uh, at whatever the hell it is that they're doing. But Hill gets an extra gold star for managing to capture Stark in both manic and soulful modes.

When John started shouting "Harvey knew!," I must admit, my immediate response was to scream back, "See! You shouldn't have killed him, you jerk! He could be helping you out right now!" Heh. I knew that was going to come back to bite him on the butt. (Of course, how Harvey knew is an interesting question... Gee, if he was still around, maybe John could have asked him.)

Cliffhangers that end with John floating in space somewhere are starting to become routine. Or at least, to become a repeated motif. We had him and D'Argo floating above the destroyed Gammak base at the end of "Family Ties," him floating alone in his module at the end of "Dog with Two Bones," and now him floating alone above Earth... Seems to me that his chances of rescue are a hell of a lot slimmer this time, though. And, of course, the big question is: has he arrived earlier, or later? But we're going to have to wait until January to find out. Aaaargh.

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