Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Petty Time Theft

Farscape is a show about criminal fugitives in space. We know they're not bad people, but could you be sure if you'd just met them? One episode puts the question in a particularly tricky way to the fugitive crew themselves.

Season Three, Episode Nine: Losing Time

There are two unrelated stories in this episode, one set on Moya and one set aboard Scorpius' (Wayne Pygram) command carrier. Now that he's got the neuro-chip in his hot leather mitt, he's putting the knowledge into practice, experimenting with ways of using it to actually make that wormhole he's always wanted. So far things aren't going so well, as evidenced by a prowler that returns from one of the first attempts at making a wormhole. The fighter craft comes back filled with liquid instead of a pilot.

We've known all this time that Scorpius has mainly wanted the technology for the diabolical purpose of making a weapon. This episode throws some moral ambiguity on that motive by revealing it's part of an arms race with the Scarrans. It turns out the Scarrans believe the Peacekeepers already have a wormhole weapon and this is the only thing keeping an all out war at bay. The episode is obliged to show Scorpius brutally punishing some subordinates to remind us he's a villain.

Right decisions aren't much clearer on Moya where Crichton (Ben Browder) is attacked by some kind of spectral entity. He wakes up to find a pool of his own blood--only to later find it's gone when he tries to show everyone else.

Everyone else includes Jool (Tammy MacIntosh), Chiana (Gigi Edgley), and D'Argo (Anthony Simcoe)--Aeryn, Rygel, and Stark don't appear in the episode because they're still off with Crais and the other Crichton in Talyn. So the show is now split between two ships, two plots, two Crichtons.

As the title suggests, "Losing Time" has a plot element about lost time. Crichton's blood didn't just disappear--like an old fashioned alien abduction, he's lost a period of time without realising it. So's everyone else. But this plot element is resolved quickly enough when it's revealed the spectral entity has been "tasting"--temporarily possessing--members of the crew. Pilot (Lani Tupu) becomes possessed a little more permanently.

There are two of these entities. The one in Pilot claims to be pursuing the other, a criminal, and claims to intend no harm to Moya and her crew. When Crichton is finally able to confront the fugitive, he's told another story, that the fugitive is the innocent victim.

I don't know why it especially occurred to me while watching this episode except that I'm in the middle of moving out of my apartment but it seems to me Farscape is a particularly good show about dealing with change and instability. A lot of action/adventure shows don't spend the kind of time and poetry on just how difficult it can be to deal with change that Farscape does, or the time and poetry on how not all changes are for the better. Sometimes things just get worse and you have to struggle to hold the pieces together, something beautifully illustrated by all those shots of everyone running around Moya trying to keep bulkheads and cables in one piece while sparks are flying everywhere.

This episode has two changes--Chiana has her first premonition at the end of this episode, a power that will have a profound impact on her, and Jool gets a new costume. Obviously the latter is a bit trivial in comparison. It's another skimpy ensemble, which is great, but I kind of miss the excessive absurdity of her first costume. It amuses me to think there's an alien species that's more at ease wearing a huge rigid skirt, corset, and neck brace.

. . .

Farscape is available now on Amazon Prime.

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 (episodes are in the order intended by the show's creators rather than the broadcast order):

Season One:

Episode 1: Pilot
Episode 2: I, E.T.
Episode 3: Exodus from Genesis
Episode 4: Throne for a Loss
Episode 5: Back and Back and Back to the Future
Episode 6: Thank God It's Friday Again
Episode 7: PK Tech Girl
Episode 8: That Old Black Magic
Episode 9: DNA Mad Scientist
Episode 10: They've Got a Secret
Episode 11: Till the Blood Runs Clear
Episode 12: Rhapsody in Blue
Episode 13: The Flax
Episode 14: Jeremiah Crichton
Episode 15: Durka Returns
Episode 16: A Human Reaction
Episode 17: Through the Looking Glass
Episode 18: A Bug's Life
Episode 19: Nerve
Episode 20: The Hidden Memory
Episode 21: Bone to be Wild
Episode 22: Family Ties

Season Two:

Episode 1: Mind the Baby
Episode 2: Vitas Mortis
Episode 3: Taking the Stone
Episode 4: Crackers Don't Matter
Episode 5: Picture If You Will
Episode 6: The Way We Weren't
Episode 7: Home on the Remains
Episode 8: Dream a Little Dream
Episode 9: Out of Their Minds
Episode 10: My Three Crichtons
Episode 11: Look at the Princess, Part I: A Kiss is But a Kiss
Episode 12: Look at the Princess, Part II: I Do, I Think
Episode 13: Look at the Princess, Part III: The Maltese Crichton
Episode 14: Beware of Dog
Episode 15: Won't Get Fooled Again
Episode 16: The Locket
Episode 17: The Ugly Truth
Episode 18: A Clockwork Nebari
Episode 19: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part I: A Not So Simple Plan
Episode 20: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part II: With Friends Like These . . .
Episode 21: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part III: Plan B
Episode 22: Die Me, Dichotomy

Season Three:

Episode 1: Season of Death
Episode 2: Suns and Lovers
Episode 3: Self-Inflicted Wounds, Part I: Would'a, Could'a, Should'a
Episode 4: Self-Inflicted Wounds, Part II: Wait for the Wheel
Episode 5: . . . Different Destinations
Episode 6: Eat Me
Episode 7: Thanks for Sharing
Episode 8: Green Eyed Monster

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