Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Insect Swarm of Copies

The crew of Moya have their first of many encounters with duplicates or alternate versions of themselves and Rygel is the first to find a little validation in the fun and slightly gross third episode of Farscape.

Season 1, Episode 3: Exodus from Genesis

By the way, some of you might remember this as the second episode, not the third, and in fact Amazon Prime is now streaming it as the second episode. This is because "I, E.T.", though originally meant to be the second episode, was shuffled to the seventh episode slot in the first broadcast. I'm not sure why though "Exodus from Genesis" may be better representative of the series as a whole.

Crichton (Ben Browder) discovers a bit more about the intricate layers of symbiosis involved in the biological technology of this distant part of the galaxy he's found himself in. One of the opening scenes of the episode finds D'Argo (Anthony Simcoe) trying to convince him to brush his teeth with some kind of slug.

The overall plot of the episode involves a less common form of symbiosis as Moya, a living ship, is infested with insects who need the large craft's warmth to incubate their eggs. These insects also happen to be shapeshifters and soon the crew find themselves encountering dozens of mute, zombie-like versions of themselves roaming the corridors and tampering with the environmental controls.

It eventually falls to Rygel (Jonathan Hardy) to negotiate with them, to act as the brilliant politician he considers himself to be. He's assisted in this by Zhaan (Virginia Hey) who spontaneously decides to paint a portrait of him which reminds him of a distinguished ancestor.

Which says something about the symbiotic relationship of art with our conception of reality and our roles in it. Incidentally, actress Virginia Hey happens to be an artist and when I met her at Comic Con in 2009 she was selling some of her art based on Farscape.

Later, Zhaan and Crichton have a chat about his difficulty in adjusting to this place after he has trouble operating a simple lever to adjust the environmental settings. As the incident with the dental slug demonstrated earlier, it's not just big things that are different, it's all kinds of little things. He mentions Animal House casually in talking to Zhaan, one of the many pop culture references Crichton will compulsively make throughout the series. They're funny for the viewer to hear these unexpected invocations of the familiar amid the alien but they're not fourth wall breaking, post modern Deadpool-ish asides. Crichton is so disoriented, so fundamentally exiled from his cultural reality that he compulsively invokes his culture in his language whenever he can.

Aeryn (Claudia Black) also finds herself having trouble adjusting to this new environment. The heat caused by the insects' sabotage turns out to be anathema to her biology--her species, Sebaceans, experience a debilitating "heat delirium" that eventually results in a "living death". This leads to a sweet, curious moment when Pilot (Lani Tupu) finds himself having to assist Aeryn, even catching her when she starts to fall. These strange circumstances have compelled him to exhibit mercy for one of his former enslavers, a plot thread that will become more significant in future episodes.

. . .

This entry is part of a series I'm writing on Farscape for the show's 20th anniversary. My previous reviews can be found here:

Episode 1: Pilot
Episode 2: I, E.T.

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