Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [3.15] – “Infinite Possibilities Part II: Icarus Abides”

Today, on Farscape

“It’s too late already. The reaction’s building too fast. I think we both better get out of here.”
“No, you go.”
“Don’t be the hero, John. Always be the one to walk away while the hero dies. That’s my motto.”

Jack and Crichton complete the wormhole weapon for use against the Scarrans, only for Furlow to show her true colors. With Jack out of the way, she makes her move to deliver the weapon to the Scarrans while John and Aeryn try frantically to stop her.


Tessa

There is so much that this episode does absolutely right. I’m actually at a bit of a loss for where to start.

I’ll start, I guess, with a minor gripe, and get it out of the way. The opening of this episode disappointed me. There were two major events that formed the cliffhanger for last episode, and both are shrugged aside fairly easily. Harvey’s possession of John is a last ditch move by him as he’s “dying”. I get that it allowed him to have his dying words, but it feels a little cheap to have brought out that seemingly huge kink in the works for a cliffhanger and to have such an anticlimactic payoff for it. We’re barely 5 minutes into the episode and it’s totally resolved and everyone’s past it. Along the same lines, Rygel’s wounds are not anywhere near as fatal as the last episode (and the beginning of this one) made it look, and he’s soon back on his feet and manning the cannon again. His selfless heroic moment where he insists that he remain at the cannon was cool to see, but again, the tension built last episode over it seems to be for nothing. Both cliffhangers just felt a little unnecessary, especially when it could have easily been replaced with the Scarran boarding Talyn, a real crisis that took actual work to overcome.

That out of the way, holy crap was this a great episode once we passed that point. We get a bit of a resolution to the whole “What is Jack planning” thing fairly early on when Crichton confronts him directly. Jack insists that he doesn’t perceive Aeryn to be a threat to his ends, but that Furlow may be one. He also tells John that he has no doubts about his intentions anymore, which presumably means he was going to allow him to live and head off with the information intact in his brain.

The real danger winds up coming not from Jack, but from Furlow, who it turns out was trying to sell the technology to the Scarrans the whole time. This isn’t incredibly surprising given her personality and values, but it’s interesting that it seems like she wasn’t necessarily all in for either side from the start. It seems evident that she was working with the Charrids from the beginning, and that in all likelihood the Scarrans were on their way not because the Charrids went calling for help, but because Furlow called them there, but at the same time she waits to make her move until she works out that the odds of Jack succeeding may not be perfect, and she has no issue with letting scores of Charrids die, and kills the two that try to backstab her.

This does bring up a bit of a question, mainly whether or not the Scarrans really did get the wormhole data that Furlow claimed they took, or if that was part of her bluff. With the dreadnought destroyed, it may not matter too much (unless of course they did have a way to send that data onward), since I seriously doubt Furlow would have handed that data over willingly in advance.

And then… that ending. I won’t lie, I saw John’s death coming as soon as Jack died. That doesn’t for a second take away from the impact of it, however.

It’s worth recapping on something that was brought up and tossed around a bit when we wound up with two Johns. Everything pointed to the idea that there wasn’t a “real” John Crichton between them. Kaarvok’s device didn’t create a clone of John, it split the original John into two separate, identical people. The two were each their own people, legitimate characters in their own right, and I would argue that the argument that they were the same person ceased to be valid the second they parted ways. The two went through different experiences, grew in different ways from them, and it’s no longer valid to say that the John back on Moya makes for an easy replacement for the John that was here on Talyn.

And so, here we have John Crichton meeting his end, in such a way that totally does justice to his character. I was very relieved that they didn’t have the attack on the Dreadnought be what killed him, but rather the radiation he exposed himself to when he closed the casing on the device that broke open while Furlow is attempting to make off with it. This both gave him a chance to have his long goodbye with the crew face to face, which was far more powerful than one over a com would have been, but it also meant that his death shouldn’t have had to happen, and the only reason it did was because the situation spiraled as far out of control as it did. There were multiple ways in which, had one thing less gone wrong, he would have lived, and that makes the whole thing so much more tragic. There’s a good twelve minutes or so between the time he arguably realizes he’s going to die to his actual death, too. It’s a decent chunk of time, but it doesn’t feel too drawn out or forced. Both he and Aeryn know pretty early on in that bit that he’s not going to make it, and yet they both lie to themselves and each other trying to deny that it’s going to happen.

His goodbye speech to the crew back on Talyn is heartbreaking. I cried during most of it, but his final words hit me hard, and I totally lost it after that. This is, without a doubt, the most emotional and well told death scene in the series thus far.

You could argue that the consequences of his death are minimal because of his double back on Moya. To an extent, that’s true. There is still a John Crichton around, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the two crews came back together again by the end of the season (or even really within the next few episodes, although I hope they don’t play that quite so quickly). The impact to the crew on Moya is likely to be pretty small, since the last time they saw T’John there wasn’t much differentiating him from M’John. At the same time, though, to the crew on Talyn, there’s a huge difference, and it’s highlighted spectacularly by his death speech. The John on Moya didn’t go through all of this with them. Sure, they all have a past with him too, but the recent events set the two apart. The trust and respect that’s grown between this John and Crais, the strengthening of the bonds with Rygel and Stark… none of it happened with the John on Moya. You could even make an argument that Aeryn only completely fell in love with this John, which means it isn’t certain that she’s still going to have those same feelings for John back on Moya. It’s not (or at least, I hope that it isn’t) as easy as just throwing M’John back in there and saying “yay, we had a backup copy, all better!”. He really isn’t the same person, and it’ll be interesting to see how the others react to meeting back up with him. For that matter, Crais still isn’t even aware that another John exists, so that will be very interesting to see.


Kevin

Farscape is about a bunch of people, trying to do the right thing. Often times, of course, “the right thing” means “staying to fix the problems that started with us trying to do the right thing earlier”, but the sentiment is there. They’re trying to get by.

It’s a reoccuring theme, then, that Our Heroes are placed in situations where not only is it very difficult to do what’s right, but they’re faced with people who have radically different worldviews.

Take Furlow, for example. It’s all about the personal compensation. She’ll do whatever she can to come out ahead, even if it means handing the keys to the Universe to the two factions that shouldn’t even know they exist. Sure, she’s not crazy, she’d rather give it to everyone as a deterrant (while making money off of the massive sales). Barring that, she’d keep it for herself and charge the Peacekeepers to not give it to the Scarrans, and vice-versa. But the point is that it’s all about Number One with her.

John: “Furlow, is it always about the money?”
Furlow: “Is there anything else? I mean, how much sex can you have?”
John “I don’t know, I haven’t maxed out yet.”

Furlow’s problem, of course, is that she’s up against John CrichtonT, Astronaut. A man so not all about personal gain that an Ancient Being with semi-phenomenal nearly-cosmic powers who we’re all pretty sure was originally planning on killing everyone after wiping out the wormhole knowledge decided to leave him alone and give him the chance he needed to save everybody. And let’s be frank here, the look on Not-The-Father’s face when Crichton calls him out on it? All the proof I need. Pseudo-Jack isn’t ashamed, he isn’t offended, and he isn’t trying to deny anything. He simply says that he now believes Crichton at his word.

Because Crichton is that kind of guy. He’s so much that kind of guy that Rygel XVI has been subtly changing himself since the first season:

Rygel: “Look, I know I can be selfish, but given a chance I can usually -“
John: “Do what? Do the right thing?”
Rygel: “Yes.”
John: “Rygel, I figure the right thing starts at the beginning of the day. Not after you’ve been caught.”

You’ll notice that it takes a minimal amount of persuasion from Aeryn to get him into the cannon – he’s still Rygel, after all – but when she comes to see how he’s doing and offers to take over (so he can nurse his shrapnel wound), he flat out refuses. The right thing, in this case, is for him to stay where he is, because she is far more mobile than he, and he can still do good with his itchy trigger fingers. Gone is the Dominar who would gladly sell out his comrades for the chance to survive – although the fact that he’s up against Charrids might have something to do with it.

The point, though, is that Crichton has had an effect on him. Just like the effect he’s had on Aeryn, and Stark, and even Bialar Frelling Crais. CrichtonT‘s last moments are surrounded by these people, who are genuinely sorry that he’s gone. There lies John Crichton, Astronaut. He did the Right Thing.

Things to note this episode:

  • Why did Furlow copy the IASA and American Flag on the module? They meant nothing to her. I understand there’s only one module that can be moved from set to set, but the prop department could have covered those up to make it look even a little different. They’re usually so good at that.
  • The Charrid helmets have Predadreads. What purpose could they serve? Is it simply for intimidation?
  • A previous comment on this site informed me that Magda Szubanski, the actress who plays Furlow, is a very well-known actress in Australia. I certainly don’t doubt it; her performance in both these episodes were phenomenal. Just the right balance of grody, selfishness, contempt, and fear.
  • I’m going to agree with Crichton on this one. Damn it, Crais, don’t make me start liking you. I mean, I’ve loved you as a character since the beginning, but stop making me like you as a person.
  • Not to cheapen the CrichtonT‘s final scene – which I certainly agree, best on the series so far – but it’s definitely a good thing they happen to be travelling with a death god.
  • I’m just going to put this here. After such a hard-hitting sequence, we probably need a breather episode, huh? And I just happen to be going first next week. I WONDER WHAT WILL HAPPEN.

Noel

*sniff*

*sniff*

Hang on a second. Lemme grab a tissue.

*honk*

*sniff*

Okay, I think I’m good.

Lord, what a powerful punch in the ribs T’John’s death is. I didn’t expect it to be so strong, given the visible plotting that was this arc, but they pulled it off beautifully. By visible plotting, I mean they have one of the Johns hook up with Aeryn, which guarantees he’ll die so she’ll be stuck with the one she didn’t cross that emotional bridge with. M’John didn’t share the experience of Aeryn’s mother with her. M’John isn’t still thinking victory has been achieved through the “death” of Scorpius. Furthermore, T’John is cured of Harvey and has the ultimate wormhole knowledge unlocked in his brain. So they of course have to kill him so we, the audience, will be haunted by the taste of what could have been and the knowledge that, while T’John took some major steps in his growth as a person, M’John is likely still getting wasted and arguing with everybody. I’m not criticising it, it really is a finely sculpted bit of plotting, but there really was no other way for this story to turn out. It was predictable way back when I first saw it, and it’s plain as day to me here.

But, as mentioned, it’s no less powerful. It has far less to do with John, though, than it does Aeryn. Way back in “Premiere”, she had the stiff line “Compassion? What is compassion?” Look at how far she’s come over the years, alternately questioning and clinging to what’s been ingrained into her versus recent life lessons, and see the woman she’s become as we end the episode with hear pained, compassionate face, shedding tears for the man she loves as life slips away from him. Just thinking about it now I… I… *sniff*

As an even better example, we have the fantastic chase scene where we see both the warrior she was raised as and the woman she’s become when she tosses out an “I love you” and gets a playful smack on the bum before she leaps out of a car and stares down an enemy vehicle that’s bearing down on her at high speed. She doesn’t even flinch before shooting it aside, yet as she marches up to the spilled craft and its struggling driver, she repeats, “Run away. Just run away.” She no longer has a taste for killing, but she’ll do it if she has to, equally unflinching, as she does when he goes for his gun. She’s become the ultimate pragmatist: hoping for the best, willing to do the worst. Equal parts terrifying and inspiring.

I’m still not as impressed with Furlow as the others. She was fine the first time around, became a bit grating in the first half of this two-parter, and she didn’t change this time around. She’s fine for what she is, but there’s an awful lot of trust put in a character that we know, they know, will ultimately betray them for profit. Why she’s allowed to roam free and carry a pulse pistol is beyond me. There was never a moment where she sold herself to the others or us, where she questioned where the cards lay and whether or not profit really was the ultimate answer, which would make it even more powerful when she shrugs off doubts and goes back to her old ways. We get a line about how she’s too old to start over, but we never feel that desperation. She’s just the used car salesman looking to score a tasty profit. There’s nothing beyond it but that.

And the weapon, wow the weapon. We finally witness the awe inspiring destructive power of a wormhole as John manipulates one to go all SDF-1 main cannons on the Scarran Dreadnaught. While the knowledge is lost with the death of T’John, the power has been hammered home for his companions, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens when they meet up with Moya again and swap stories. Will the others still roll their eyes at crazy John and his annoying wormholes?

All in all, it’s a good episode. I agree with Tessa that Harvey’s takeover and Rygel’s wound were wasted, especially with Rygel going to sleep for no reason, with seemingly no further ill effects once he wakes up. I also have my issues with Furlow and how the story pushes thing so far forward only to take half as many steps back with the death of T’John, but it’s a solid piece of Farscape drama, action, and slimy aliens. And man did it make me tear up. Just thinking about John, his skin all veiny and lifeless *sniff* and Aeryn pulling a sheet over them as she buried her *sniff* tear-streaked face in his dead shoulder….

*manly sobs*


Weston

Harvey’s dying words at the beginning of the episode will come back to haunt Aeryn. “Next time, be more decisive. Shoot quicker. A soldier must not be weak. Weakness means defeat.” Immediately following that, we see Crichton’s pure relief when he realizes that his mind is his alone. No longer does he have an inner dialog to deal with; now it’s down to an inner monologue, and his joy at this is so wonderful.

He takes a few too many sieverts trying to save the galaxy, and then he dies.

Furlow and Jack have a discussion about exactly what will happen to the device she’s built, and from it she determines that he has no intention of allowing her to profit from this technology. Or, possibly, to even live after the Dreadnaught is destroyed. Jack turns away from her, confident either that she won’t shoot him or that his natural immunity to radiation will protect him from pulse fire.

She puts two rounds in his back, and then he dies. Furlow blows the non-existant smoke from the barrel of the pulse pistol.

Two Charrids rappel from the ceiling (not Australian-style, amusingly) and confront Furlow over the wormhole device, the number of Charrids that have been killed over the course of recent events, and Furlow’s continued usefulness to them and to the Scarrans.

She shoots both of them, and then they die.

A Scarran scout using a single-crew pod boards Talyn and interrogates Stark and Crais about the unusual vessel. Crais is defiant, but Stark takes control of the situation. He gives the Scarran just enough information to convince him that accepting seizing a neural transponder would be a great idea. Stark doesn’t mention the neural feedback or the dominance issues.

Talyn hits the Scarran with the transponder, uses it to mentally overload him and target him with the anti-intruder weapons, and then he dies.

Crichton manages to figure out how the phase stabilizer, now a displacement engine, works. Between intuition and gut feeling, he completes it and realizes to his horror that it couldn’t just destroy a Scarran Dreadnaught… it could destroy a planet.

He uses it to fling a fireball of solar plasma at the Dreadnaught, and then everything on board dies.

Season of Death, indeed.

Rygel manages to get himself bandaged by the time Aeryn pops out to see how he’s doing. He passes out sometime between finishing the bandage and Aeryn’s arrival, but manages to stay conscious after that long enough to keep the Charrids away. The food helps.

Across the various episodes of Season Three, we’ve seen Stark babbling out various prayers. Zhaan’s prayers, prayers for the dying, prayers for the dead, prayers for the ship, but for this? For a bolt of sunfire that obliterates a ship carrying twice the firepower of the Peacekeeper vessels that have been the major antagonistic force through most of the series? For a destructive force that could burn a planet into charcoal, consume its iron core, and leave no trace that it ever existed? No. There are no prayers for that.

Wormholes. Forget depositing fleets in enemy orbit. Forget landing troops directly on their planets. You can even forget abducting enemy leaders, depositing tiny spiders on their optic nerves, and returning them without anyone knowing. If you can get a white death-pod within a hundred thousand metres of the planet, you can just fling a star at them. Heck, why bother with the death-pod? Fling it from another solar system halfway across the galaxy. Wormhole technology is the ultimate first-strike weapon. Nothing destabilizes international relations like effective first-strike weapons. It forces a preemptive strike mindset on every party involved; the first person to pull the trigger wins. Imagine a galaxy rife with these devices.

Aeryn. In the previous episode, Crichton revealed that he had planned on bringing her back to Earth with him. She wouldn’t want him to go back alone and they table the topic, intending to talk about it later. During the dune buggy chase, they revisit the topic. Crichton believes that he can use his newly unlocked wormhole knowledge to return to Earth, and she says that she’ll go with him. Not eventually. Not next week. As soon as they’re off-planet. It’s the last conversation they have before John gets irradiated, and the timing is perfectly tragic. How will she react to his death? Will she remain as the well-developed person who’s come to know love, or will she withdraw into her military past to escape her misery?

That last, desperate kiss. Man, that’s painful to watch again.

The last solar flare, the one that Crichton uses to create the wormhole. He doesn’t flinch when he sees it. His vision has already been so damaged by the radiation that he can barely see.

Crichton infamy: +1000. He’ll never live this down.

…well, one of him won’t.


Episode [3.14] – Infinite Possibilities Part I: Daedalus Demands || Episode [3.16] – Revenging Angel

23 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Sorry for ruining your scheme there, guys, but I just personally prefer CrichtonT and CrichtonM to T’Crichton and M’Crichton.

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  3. Weston

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