Farscape 2.13-2.14: “Look at the Princess,” Part 3; “Beware of Dog”

And, although that doesn’t end up happening, Crichton ends up returning in the nick of time, helping D’Argo defeat Cargn and free Chiana, and all of them finally turning on Scorpius, who was weakened from his fight with the Scarran, who before his death reveals some more key details about Scorpius’ physiology: his leather suit and coolant rods are all meant to help him regulate his core temperature, a constant struggle given the fact that his Scarran half craves heat like oxygen while his Sebacean half could be destroyed by it, as apt a metaphor for liminality and internal conflict as I have ever seen. D’Argo then leaves John alone to finish Scorpy off once and for all, but just when John is about to, he stops, we get another quick flash to the Aurora Chair, and he instead lets him live, saying, “I’m not your enemy. I’m not your friend. You leave me the hell alone, or the next time we part, one of us’ll be dead.”

On any other show, the reason John would spare the villain’s life would be because he is the hero, and that is what heroes do to uphold their moral code, even though it’s illogical and dangerous to allow such an enemy to live. What’s interesting is that, on a first watch, a viewer might think the same thing is happening here, even while the flash seems to indicate something else, though it’s not immediately clear what. On a rewatch, it’s clear, however, that the reason John can’t bring himself to kill Scorpy isn’t a question of morality or of being worried about becoming the very villain he’s fighting as it would be on another show–and here there’s the additional worry that the flash is meant to further imply he’s going crazy, which he actually is but due to…shall we say external/internal influence–but because he literally cannot. Just as the neural clone protects him and won’t even let him kill himself, so does it protect Scorpius from John–another of many examples of a nuance in a Farscape episode playing differently once later information is taken into account.

After this disquieting moment for John, we come to the crushing blow I referenced at the start of the post, which is that John learns that Katrala is pregnant. At first, he is insistent on not becoming a statue again, but the Empress manipulatively informs him about the child. They had impregnated her with Crichton’s DNA before the wedding had even happened. “Did you really think a system this stable would leave so important a detail to chance?” she callously asks. When he learns this, without hesitation, he asks to be restored to his frozen state, yet Tyno informs him it would be sadly impossible. One time back and forth was hard enough on his non-Sebacean system, but a second would surely kill him. And thus John Crichton is left with the cruel knowledge that he has a child who he will never know, who won’t even be born until after his death (assuming John is in his mid-to-late-thirties at this point, he would have to live to around 115 just to be around for her birth)–a final gut punch to what has been an overwhelmingly dark experience for Crichton. At the same time, he leaves knowing that his daughter will have two parents who will love her very much–Katrala and Tyno, who the Empress reluctantly allows to take his place as her daughter’s husband–and that the kingdom will remain in good hands.

But this doesn’t make his final goodbye any less heartbreaking. In his scene with the holographic representation of his future daughter, Browder’s acting is even more breathtaking than with the boy in the previous one, since that time around, John was seeing a potential hope for his future, whereas here, he is ironically getting a more solid glimpse (now that they know it’s a girl and how the genetics will blend) of a future he won’t live to see. His reaction to her is quietly devastating, as in the understated way in which he tells Tyno, “You take care of my little girl”. Rarely does a sci-fi series put its hero through the wringer to this extent, demanding such a true, human, lasting cost to his lifestyle as Farscape does. In this case, Crichton was finally able to escape from an impossible situation with his life but he loses a piece of his heart in the process.

And the subsequent scene in which D’Argo discusses what happened with Chiana is equally moving. He can’t bear to see his friend suffering like that, and he can empathize completely, given that he has also been separated from his child, possibly forever. Earlier on in the trilogy, he had been almost living through Crichton, nearly envious of him for the future he was to have with Katrala and their child, and now his heart hurts for his friend, the very man who only last season he thought could never be any more to him than an ally. What D’Argo doesn’t know, however, is that his dream of finding his son again is very close to being realized at this point, but also that it won’t go nearly according to his plans, either.

And I haven’t even touched on the Aeryn thread yet. Aeryn spends the majority of the episode trying to avoid both John and her emotions, going on an outdoors adventure with Dregon, the Sebacean guy who had been hitting on her all week and who she finally takes with her in order to distract herself and maybe even to get a little revenge on John, albeit the sort where just the knowledge of what she’s doing satisfies her, as she never actually tells him. In a typically Aeryn twist, however, not only do they not end up having sex but they have a miserable time. While she’s a seasoned warrior, trained in such activities as rock climbing and endurance, the pampered Dregon has no experience and ends up getting them both injured, inspiring her to have to take on the stereotypically masculine, stoic role of gritting her teeth through her pain and dragging him through the wilderness on her broken leg. And yet she’s equipped to handle this sort of pain, but with emotional pain, she is out of her depth. Dregon, on the other hand, is very perceptive when it comes to these things and so is even further cast in the “feminine” role:

DREGON:You’re not trained to deal with emotions, so you’re afraid of them. Emotional pain. You [meaning “one] wear it like a badge. It means you’ve been there. And it can’t get callused, because each fresh hurt stings like the first.

AERYN: But why would you want that?

DREGON: Because of all the days before it hurts. The good days, when you’re in love.

He then encourages her to at least tell Crichton how she feels when they get back, another sign of what a sweet guy he actually he is. Underneath the more cocky exterior, when it comes down to it, he’s very emotionally mature. He understands that she’s in love with someone else, and he pushes her to express those feelings.

Ironically, just as Aeryn’s plans to distract herself from Crichton basically blow up in her face, that same night, John has a brief, healthy, and ultimately meaningless fling with Jena. Just as with the only other time we’ve seen an indication that John has had sex since boarding Moya, with Aeryn in “A Human Reaction,” it isn’t a life-altering experience for him. Jena and he aren’t suddenly in a relationship. It is just a short-lived means of release and connection with another person. Browder actually said he was surprised and pleased that the fans weren’t upset about it, and I think it’s because the sense is that with Aeryn having pushed him away coupled with all of the torment he goes through in this season and these few episodes in particular, he deserves a few moments of uncomplicated pleasure.

Author: Robert Berg

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  1. Farscape 2.15: “Won’t Get Fooled Again” | DreamPunk - […] continuing our journey with John Crichton last week with “Look at the Princess,” Part III and “Beware of Dog”, our Farscape re-watch continues this week…

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