After continuing our journey with John Crichton last week with “Thanks for Sharing” and “Green Eyed Monster,” our Farscape re-watch continues this week with the ninth and tenth episodes of Season 3.
Just one important note: if you are new to Farscape, you may NOT want to partake of these posts, as I plan on including potentially major spoilers for later events. They are written not for the Farscape virgin but more for the viewer who–if not as obsessive about the show as I am–has at least seen it once through and can appreciate the bits of foreshadowing and long-term arc progression that the show sets up often far in advance.
3.09: “Losing Time” Original airdate: 29 June 2001
And now we return to our other cast for the first Moya-set “split cast” episode of Farscape, “Losing Time,” another one that isn’t a fan favorite but which I’ve always liked for a number of reasons, including its eerie, bizarre atmosphere, and Gigi Edgley’s phenomenally weird performance as the energy alien who takes over Chiana. Now, I do understand why people aren’t as thrilled with this one, and I think it largely has to do with it starting out in an extremely mysterious, cryptic sort of place but ending in a relatively underwhelming one. In other words, the ultimate revelation about what is going on is actually far more straightforward than it initially seemed and not nearly as clever or surprising as most other episodes of its type. Usually, when Farscape pulls back the layers of its mysteries, it gets more fascinating rather than less. The show had done “aliens take over cast members” in the past, and more inventively than this, at that.
With that said, although it may not be a superior outing, it has a number of strong points, and they are as follows:
–The early scenes in which Crichton keeps losing time are genuinely creepy, particularly when he seems to be attacked by some sort of energy and then floats unconsciously in the air, blood dripping rhythmically from his nose, and awakens an unspecified amount of time later, his face reflected in a river of his own blood. This becomes all the weirder when he returns an instant later with Chiana and it’s gone. Later on, they learn that they’ve all been knocked out again for about half an arn. They know this thanks to a DRD–who Crichton names “Pike” after the Star Trek character–having recorded them. In the tape, they’re all talking and an instant later are all knocked out, the same sort of energy that had attacked Crichton seeming to pulse through them. What I love most about it is how it seems to take the sort of alien abduction mythology we hear about on Earth and transplants it to these already alien characters in the Uncharted Territories. And, at the start, it also allows the show to toy with the audience and John, over the possibility that the reason he’s bleeding might be because something went wrong in the doubling process and perhaps he‘s the copy. In fact, in a deleted scene, Crichton asks Pilot to contact Talyn to see how the other John is doing, but he responds that he can’t, due to the need to maintain complete radio silence until Talyn contacts them. And, of course, as it turns out, nothing is wrong with John.
As the episode progresses, we learn that this creature is a “rider,” who is being hunted by an adult from her race called “Tallip,” who possesses Pilot and tells Crichton and D’Argo that this other rider has possessed one of them and that he has to “taste” each one of them to find out where she is–an extremely painful procedure. They eventually learn that she’s inside Chiana, which John initially tries to hide, not trusting Tallip, but which Jool eventually reveals. She had been the first one tasted and is still in agony from it. After Tallip learns the truth and destroys the rider inside Chiana, he then realizes that he actually likes controlling Pilot too much and refuses to leave, causing John to have to whip up a plan to destroy him, using Starburst energy to fry him. It’s quite cool, but it’s still a bit of a shame that there’s not much more to the conflict than that. We never learn whether Tallip was right and this rider did have to be punished, or if Tallip was lying and corrupt the whole time, which is a mark against it, but having said that…
–…again, Gigi Edgley is absolutely electric as the rider. Take Chiana’s usual alienness and multiply it by about a million. Her strange, slow enunciation, the hypnotic way her body moves…it’s an absolutely stunning performance. Edgley even manages to make the character oddly sympathetic. We know from Tallip that it’s a child, and through Edgley, we sense its rebelliousness, and its fear of being caught, so even though it’s technically a “bad guy,” it’s difficult not to sympathize with it, even when it turns on them. And, not unlike “Eat Me,” a seeming standalone that set up Crichton’s major arc for the season, this rider actually leaves it marks on Chiana, in the form of supernatural powers she begins to exhibit here and which grow over the course of the series, the first sign here being her realizing D’Argo is about to enter the room at the end an instant before he does.
–Jool continues to evolve here, gradually and subtly. She is, of course, still abrasive and not quick to embrace the others, but she also has been ever-so-slowly warming to them underneath the surface, and here she finally makes real progress in her friendship with Chiana when, after Tallip kills the rider within our favorite Nebari, leaving her weak and exhausted, Jool holds her in her arms, consoling her. This is the first time they exhibit any fondness for one another, and this develops from this point on.
–The episode also has some fantastic special effects, in the form of the visual representation of the riders (they look kind of like flying, colorful, translucent manta rays), as well as adds yet another new bit of Farscape mythology to the series in the form of the Starburst chamber, in which the rider first reveals herself to John, and in which Chiana sets out of the spark that ends up destroying Tallip.
–I also absolutely love the aforementioned DRD, “Pike,” who becomes Crichton’s direct link to Moya while Pilot is down for the count. He exhibits a great deal more personality than most other DRDs and at times is clearly taken over by Moya–a neat parallel to the other possessions in the episode–so that she can communicate with John. His personality asserts itself so much throughout that we even feel genuinely sad when he ends up getting accidentally trapped in the Starburst chamber at the end and destroyed in the burst of energy that takes out Tallip. As usual, it’s amazing how much life can be infused into an inanimate object to the point that we forget it isn’t real.
–Meanwhile, on Scorpius’ new wormhole base, he’s starting to experience some of the frustration Crichton had thanks to him. Because although his team has managed to create a wormhole, presumably due to some of the information from John’s head, they haven’t been able to successfully navigate one. For some reason, every Sebacean who goes through as a test pilot becomes completely liquified inside their Prowler. In the case of the second person, Scorpy sends him in deliberately, because he was overly cocky. As with the hubristic young pilot in “Season of Death,” Scorpy loathes loudmouthed over-confidence.