Significantly, however, Aeryn is genuinely angry at Talyn in a way she has never been before and so she doesn’t simply give him a sweet, encouraging speech. Instead, she first conveys to him just how important John is to her, in a sense that she may not have even fully processed herself before now. But seeing him floating out there, with his life in very real danger, forces Aeryn to realize something–not only does she love John but she needs him, a feeling she’s likely never had for another person in her life. And just as she can see all of Talyn, she shows him all of her, allowing him to temporarily feel her feelings for John, and then she disconnects the transponder from the back of her neck, a much healthier example of parenting than Crais has ever given him. Rather than letting him walk all over her as Crais allows him to do, Aeryn shows him that there are consequences for his actions, and so she punishes him before he even agrees to open the door, which shows remarkable strength on her part. And it’s all the more powerful given that we as viewers know that, just as in the previous episode, since there are two Crichtons, this one very well could die here, which adds a level of danger that they would never have been able to accomplish under any other scenario. But he doesn’t. Talyn realizes the gravity of what he’s done and likely that Aeryn would never forgive him if he doesn’t open the door, and so he finally does.
This episode is important on multiple levels. On one level, it finally drives Aeryn to accept her feelings for Crichton and to accept that they are in a relationship. And I love that it’s done via a relatively small bottle episode with a standalone plot. Sometimes it isn’t the huge epic occurrences that cause people to have epiphanies. Sometimes it’s a comparatively minor occurrence that manages to reassert all of the feelings that one has buried for so long. It was one thing to almost lose Crichton in such an operatic way in “Die Me Dichotomy,” but to see him floating right outside, still alive, but just outside of her grasp forces her to realize that no matter what she does, she will never be able to escape her feelings for him.
And on a second level, it refuses to allow us to think of either Crichton as a “copy”. Had they simply killed him in the previous episode, we would have always thought of him as less legitimate. By not only allowing him to survive the explosion last week but to go through this serious romantic upheaval with Aeryn this week and to again survive a near-death experience, we come to care for him fully and completely. Given that he’s the one who gets the big romantic arc with Crichton, we might even come to think of him as the “more legit” Crichton, and the show does a great deal of work to get us to that point…and only then does it finally kill him, causing turmoil for everyone, not only Aeryn and the others aboard Talyn but for the other Crichton, as well, who still longs for Aeryn just as much but knows that she has come to think of him as the copy. They are the same exact person with the same memories up to a point, but he isn’t the Crichton that Aeryn ended up having a real relationship with, and so for a long time, he will simply be a painful reminder and echo of her one true love, until she learns to accept that they truly are one and the same.
For now, however, we have a beautiful, triumphant, blissfully romantic conclusion in which we see John and Aeryn’s faces overlaid against an awe-inspiring starry backdrop, and yes, it might be the tiniest touch schmaltzy but it also completely works because after all they’ve been through, we feel like they and we have truly earned this, particularly because every single moment rings completely true. It may be a classic Hollywood way to end this episode, complete with a twinkling star, but the characters don’t suddenly transform into people who they are not. They are raw and real. As Aeryn says, “I had this life. I liked it. It had rules. I followed the rules, and that made everything right. And then you come along and you frell everything up. Strange human with arrogance, stubbornness…You are like a plague, John Crichton, and you have ruined my life.” But what he ruined was that orderly life where she didn’t have to think or be anything more than a robotic Peacekeeper. What he gave her in return is so much more. The scene continues:
JOHN: Let me show you something…This is a star chart. These are the names I give the stars.
AERYN: They’ve already got names.
JOHN: Yeah, I know, but Mintaka 3 sounds boring to me. Anyway, that’s Huey, Louie, and Duey. You see that one? That star right there, the bright one: that’s my point of reference, my guide, and it always becomes the center of my chart. I always name it Aeryn.
AERYN: You say it’s your guide?
JOHN: It’s my one constant. Would you like to name some stars?
AERYN: There’s a lot of them.
JOHN: We could take our time.
And there we have it, one of the most breathtakingly romantic moments in Farscape history. I love it because it’s the moment that they both really acknowledge not just that they are attracted to each other how important they are to one another, how they have both forever altered the courses of one another’s lives, but Crichton also tells Aeryn how he feels through the star metaphor, which is the perfect way to tell her this sort of thing, because having directly said that this is how he feels for her might have made her uncomfortable or scared her off. He’s taking Zhaan’s advice from so long ago and speaking to her in a way that puts her at ease. It’s a brilliant example of John’s empathy that also reasserts why Zhaan called him “innocent Crichton,” even after all he had been through, for once you peel back all of the pain and suffering he’s been through, that spark is still there. All the way back in “Rhapsody in Blue” in season 1, John had criticized Aeryn for never allowing herself to experience the wonder of the universe, but here she finally does. She looks at these stars the likes of which she has lived amongst for her entire life and which she had never taken notice of before, but this time through Crichton’s eyes (just as Talyn had earlier seen through hers), and by so doing, she finally starts to realize just how wondrous they actually are. Crichton is probably the first thing that has ever brought her joy.
Other odds and ends:
–The episode’s other best dialogue sequence is when Aeryn tells John to “stop acting like a drannit,” and he replies that she has no idea what a drannit is. “Don’t play dumb with me. That hasn’t worked for over 2 cycles,” she says, and he responds, “Aeryn, I am dumb! I don’t understand you half the time, and I have no idea what a drannit is!” “Fine, forget the drannit!” she replies, to which he says, “Fine! Screw the drannit!” And at that point, the tension breaks and she laughs, “You really have no idea what a drannit is, do you?” It’s such a great scene precisely because they never do reveal what it means. Therefore, this silly alien word comes to represent all that stands between John and Aeryn, symbolic of the fact that no matter how much time he spends out here, there will always be some things that are completely commonplace to Aeryn which he will never understand because he’s a human from Earth and she’s an intergalactic warrior. What I love about it even more, though, is that she does laugh here. And Claudia Black plays it so brilliantly, because you can see in her eyes that in that moment, she remembers all over again why she loves him–that innocence and sincerity, and how very alien he is to her.
–After some squabbling in the previous episode, this one really establishes Stark and Rygel as a fantastic, odd couple comedy team. Their clashes in the transport pod are fantastic and culminate in the glorious moment when Stark actually shoves his arm down the Hynerian’s throat to retrieve the comm piece he’d swallowed. Classic Farscape.
Next: “Losing Time” and “Relativity”
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