Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [2.10] – “My Three Crichtons”

Today, on Farscape

“Listen to this! Double the Crichton, and you double the waste of time!”

An energy construct invades Moya and swallows Crichton, before spitting him out – as well as evolved and devolved copies. Now the three Crichtons race against time to keep the construct from forcing Moya through to another dimension…


Kevin

On the surface, this is a pretty simple episode. Freak of the Week causes Crichton to be cloned, and it has to be resolved or everyone dies.

Scratch a bit deeper, though, and it’s a wonderful study of human nature, about the role of passion and emotion versus the role of logic. We have John Crichton split into three; one is the Crichton we know and love, circa 2000 AD. One is regressed to a post-Lucy neanderthal state, before logic and reason came into play. The other is a possible genetic future of humanity, with an enlarged brain and – according to Aeryn’s reaction – a somewhat diminished Farscape Module.

Neandro-Crichton acts on instinct, emotion, and passion, and is a lot simpler. You see him react with glee at the sight and mention of shipmates he likes (“Zhaan blue! Zhaan good.”), panic and hide at the first sign of trouble, and strike viciously at the head of his enemies when roused.

On the other side of the coin is Futuro-Crichton, who operates on cold logic and reason, seldom panicking and thinking out his plans as he makes them. He thinks nothing of sacrificing those around him, because logically his survival is the most important thing to him.

I applaud Farscape for making these identities not only distinct, but fully-developed people in their own right. They’ve got Crichton’s genetics and memories, but the moment they started making their own decisions, they became individuals. (Oh, Michael Keaton, you left your mark in some pretty unexpected places.)

One thing I’d like to touch upon before getting to the Things To Note This Episode is that each of the Crichton Carbon Copies gravitated towards specific items of clothing. Notice how Neandro-Crichton immediately went for his IASA flightsuit, the piece of clothing that represents hope, family, and good memories of the past. Whereas Futuro-Crichton, though there were still articles of Crichton’s old clothing left to choose from, went for something different: The Peacekeeper uniform. It’s extremely telling that humanity’s possible evolution would choose such an outfit, especially with the mental connotations and implications that went along with it.

While we’re on the subject of costuming, Our Crichton has kept in the Peacekeeper-esque vest and black leathers ever since returning from the mission to Scorpius’s base, but it’s messy, rumpled, and put together with a definite human flair. It’s a sign that – as we’ve mentioned before – he’s acclimating to his new surroundings, going native if you will, but instead of conforming to his new surroundings he’s forcing his surroundings to conform to him. He’s making it his own, and that’s the Crichton we know and love.

The Take Note List:

  • Ohgod extreme panic closeup on Pilot.
  • Futuro-Crichton, as soon as he showed up, started speaking in careful, almost Vulcan-like phrases, but very quickly developed a kind of slurred Southern drawl. In fact, he sounded exactly like Gary Oldman as Zorg. I’m not sure if that was intentional or not, but if it was, that was awesome.
  • Seriously, now that I’ve put the thought in your head, watch it again and try not to think of Gary Oldman. YOU CANNOT HOPE TO SURVIVE MAKE YOUR TIME.
  • You’re welcome.
  • I love that D’Argo is the one consoling Crichton at the end, saying that Zorg!Crichton was only a possibility for humanity’s evolution. Also, this is a significant conversation in hindsight; I’m not going to say anything more on the matter but oh man.
  • Humans might be Zorg in the future, but at least they’re not salamanders.

Noel

Kevin is spot on. I can totally hear the Gary Oldman twang of Zorg!Crichton, to the point where I kept waiting for him to talk about The Stones. There’s also a bit of John Travolta in there, especially when he’s first talking to Aeryn and John from his cell. It’s interesting how the voice kind of mutates over the course of the story as his own personality and separation from the others sinks in. Speaking of, excellent job on the part of Browder when it comes to the divergent personas. What I love most about Zorg!Crichton is that, instead of simply rattling off all the answers, they show that John is still processing things and coming to all the same conclusions, just not as fast and not with the same level of absolute certainty. And then Neandro-Crichton cuts to the simple heart of the matter and just does what the other two are too busy thinking about.

Chiana also took a very interesting turn this episode. She’s the one who forges a bond with Neandro-Crichton because he’s all about heart and instinct and doing what he feels in the moment, all of which are aspects that initially drew her to John. I think it’s a bit of a stretch that she sets him loose despite the fact that the entire ship, including herself, would be doomed as a result, but when she’s confronted by Rygel, who asks what happened to her typical ruthless self preservation (remember, she was about to skip out on everybody just one episode ago), it’s interesting to see the same question in Chiana’s eyes. She’s changed. She’s grown. She’s becoming so attached to these people that she’s no longer willing to throw them away. Even if one is a mere shadow of a copy of someone she now cares for.

The rest of the episode is just as strong, with the rapidly deteriorating defense screen providing a nice ticking clock. I liked the visual of the energy sphere, as well as the likely painful crumbling of Moya’s floors. Aeryn and Zhaan do their parts to juggle the situation. Rygel is his usual spoiled self, at one point threatening to take out the first Crichton he meets just to save his own ass. D’Argo was great with how he helped John, but I got a little tired of the way he was constantly barking at Pilot. The last episode did a great job of opening the Luxan’s eyes to the way Pilot sees the world and is connected to Moya, but it was somewhat ruined here as no explanation is good enough for D’Argo. He’s back to “Faster!” and “I need it now!” and even just simply screaming “Pilot!” as though that would get his point across. He was kind of a dick.

But, all in all, a good episode despite largely being filler that leaves nothing left hanging for consequences down the road. It would have been interesting to see how things would play out if one of the clones had survived and now had a chance to start its own life…. but then I remember that this is Farscape and, if memory serves, this is a possibility they do take advantage of when a similar situation pops up down the road.

Stark Unexplained Episode Count: 12


Weston

I must admit, this is one of my least liked episodes of Farscape. The characterization is fantastic, yes. The differences and interactions between Proto-Crichton and Zorg!Crichton are wonderful, maybe more so for the brief duration of their appearance on the show.

It’s the production that gets me. The super-slow-motion stutter cam of Action! really throws me off, and the truly horrible green screen effects when Moya starts cracking up completely break my suspension of disbelief. The giant green blob of Science! was okay once it stopped moving, and I really liked the sunk halfway through the ceiling bit, but… the effects in this episode were sub-standard for the series.

Maybe because they were saving the budget for next episode, mwahahaha.

I wasn’t terribly fond of the fisheye camera they used for Pilot’s dramatic scenes, either. More Pilot is always good, but he looked anorexic in those shots.

Crichton has always had a southern accent – it’s part of his good ol’ boy charm, and tends to come out stronger when he’s having a bad day. Aeryn got to play around with it a bit last episode. That Zorg!Crichton emphasizes it while Proto-Crichton drops it entirely (when he can actually get a word out) is an interesting touch.

A moment of silence for the defense screen. You were the sonic screwdriver of season two, the go-to gizmo when Something needed to happen. The body-swapper, the dimension-vacuum-container, the “I need more power!” doohickey. Godspeed, little plot device.

Crichton’s hair: Surprisingly calm.


Tessa

I’m not sure what I can say that everyone else hasn’t already said, but one thing in particular bugged me about this one.

I agree with Noel that some of the characterizations feel off, and I’m not entirely certain they can be put down to “character growth” when they’re this big a whiplash turn this fast. Chiana was more than willing to leave her crew-members behind to die last episode to save her own skin (one of whom was in the process of dying right then and there because he couldn’t adapt to her body, the others would have been blown up eventually also), even to the point of going off on homo-erotic adventures with a body-swapped Rygel while in someone else’s body herself if it meant keeping herself alive. To suddenly have her do a heroic sacrifice to save someone other than herself one episode later (who, it should be noted, was technically among those she would have left to die last time) is a bit too much to swallow, given the magnitude of what she just attempted to do before without any hint of remorse. I have no problem with characters changing and developing (that’s the majority of what draws me to this show, after all), but a total 180 turn this quickly with no real explanation just doesn’t work for me. It cheapens the whole thing.

I get that they probably needed someone to take Proto-Crichton’s side for the story to work (although I’m not even sure that’s a given). The only other character I could see stepping into that position would be Zhaan, and the conflict would have played out entirely different if that had been the case (though the idea of Zhaan and Zorg!Crichton having an epic Compassionate Wisdom vs Advanced Logic debate would have been fun, I think), so for the way they wanted things to go, I guess Chiana was the best choice for the part, but it doesn’t seem worth it to me.

I also don’t like that, as Noel also pointed out, we’re seeing little to no development carried over from the last episode. I guess it’s too early really to say for certain that they’ve thrown the idea away completely, but the characters don’t seem to relate to one another any differently given that they’ve spent time in each other’s bodies. D’Argo barking orders to Pilot is probably the most glaring example.

All in all, this wasn’t a bad episode, it just feels totally out of place after last week’s. I think I’d feel better about this one if it had put even one episode in between it and the last one. With both using very stock sci-fi plot devices, it almost feels like they had the ideas for both at the same time, and decided that they wanted to do both right away instead of saving the second idea for later.


Episode [2.09]: Out of Their Minds||Episode [2.11]: Look at the Princess Part I: A Kiss is But a Kiss

7 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Great reviews as always. I now wait anxiously until your Friday reviews.

    I had a different understanding of why Chiana championed Neandro!John. Last ep, Chiana was doing her “kick, kiss, or cry” her way out of a jam. It was a different situation because Moya’s crew was faced with an attacking ship that they thought was provoked by Crais. This week Chiana is just Chiana who loves John like a brother and has been watching him turn hard and calculating. Suddenly, here’s Neandro who seems to echo the parts of John she loves — compassion without judgment. So she sticks up for him. She lives in the moment. Last week’s body changing was that experience, this is John she is defending. Our John feels rather put off by her defense of Neandro. Notice at the end of the ep we leave him crouched sobbing over his lost humanity as represented by his flight suit and the “most human of us three”‘s sacrifice. The episode has a lot to say about John’s view of himself and his fears that he’s loosing his humanity. I think that’s why he hates Futuro so much — it is a possible evolutionary path and one that he’ll see in Season 4 in the same uniform. Scares the dren out of him.

    I notice that Aeryn really doesn’t like Futuro’s coldness either. Look how far she has come.

    The Companion Books have Ben Browder quoted as saying he needed to differentiate Futuro’s voice over the coms from his own, so he chose Clinton’s Arkansas accent for Futuro as well as perfect teeth. I thought he did a fantastic job in the prosthetics. Can you imagine changing back and forth?

    Reply
    • You do raise a very good point, and I think we were maybe too quick to dismiss Chiana’s choice. And her wanting to bail on Moya in the last episode was before she then jumped into Pilot’s body, so maybe that had an affect on her views, as well.

      Reply
  2. This was definitely Ben Browder’s episode. I wonder he got paid triple for it ? Playing three distinctly different but same characters is a challange….Not since Star Trek TNG episode “Brothers” where Brent Spiner played three distinct characters I have seen anything like it…

    Reply
    • Weston

       /  February 21, 2011

      Only if Lani Tupu got paid double for any episode where he appeared as Crais.

      Reply
  3. Weston

     /  February 21, 2011

    Oooh, forgot about this. The shot with Crichton and D’Argo walking down the corridor to pick up Proto-Crichton made it into the Season 3 opener. Badass walk for the win.

    Reply
  4. Interestingly, in the Australian DVD set, the viewing order has the Look At The Princess three-parter come before My Three Crichtons. So if the Australian DVD order is right, that massive adventure in between Out of Their Minds and My Three Crichtons might account for Chiana bonding more with Past!Crichton–she’s had more time to soften.

    Reply
  1. Episode [2.14] – “Beware of Dog” | Deconstructing Moya

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