Farscape Rewatch! — “Die Me, Dichotomy”

WEEK TWENTY-TWO
[Permanent Archive Here]

Hey, what’s this? Am I . . . am I writing about Farscape!? Why yes, it appears that I am. Forgive me, dear readers, for I have sinned. It has been two years, two months, and thirteen days since my last confession post. (That was a Catholic joke. I am allowed to make those because I am Catholic, just so we’re all on the same page here.) I don’t have any excuses for you, only sorrow, and determination. Unlike practically every other writing project I have ever embarked upon, I am determined to see this one through, no matter how long it takes, no matter if anyone is still reading.

Why now? Well, I’m tired of being lapped, for one thing. First it was Noel, Tessa, Weston, Adam and Kevin. Then it was those yahoos over at The AV Club. And now Mark from Mark Watches is doing one episode per day. PER DAY. I can’t beat that. But I can try and beat the yahoos at the AV Club, particularly, since those reviews are going on hiatus for an indeterminate amount of time. It’s funny. When I first started this project back in 2009, no one was really writing about Farscape (besides the people who’d been writing about it for years, of course). It felt like something that was mine alone. That is, of course, ridiculous. Farscape belongs to everyone. But I feel like it’s the special quality of a great story to make it feel like it’s only for you. And that feeling is one of the main reasons I can’t give up on this project. The other is that I’m only allowing myself to watch my DVDs as I write about each episode, and I want to watch Farscape, dammit. Especially now that we’re finally getting to the really juicy and weird stuff, which if you know me at all, you know is my bread and butter.

I’ve written about this episode before, twice actually, and it’s in my top ten favorite episodes of the series. This is probably the biggest reason I stalled in this project. I’d built the episode up so far in my mind, my fingers didn’t relish the challenge of writing about it. (Again.) But I want to move on, and so I’m just going to write to see what happens, and like Crichton with his messages to his father, I’m just going to hope that someone out there is still listening.

2X22 — “DIE ME, DICHOTOMY”

Moya is grievously burned. Crichton’s mind is currently being held hostage by the neural clone in his mind. Both of them are rotting from the inside out, and the Moyans have to figure out how to deal with both of them. For Moya, they’ve traveled to see a Diagnosan–an alien species known for their healing abilities–and they will use most of the treasure from the Shadow Depository to pay the Diagnosan’s fees. While they’re at it, he can take a look at Crichton and see about getting that chip out of his head. The Diagnosan believes he can remove the chip, but it is very dangerous for Crichton, and parts of his brain will need to be replaced. This doesn’t sit well with Harvey the neural clone. Harvey takes over John’s body, performs some pretty awful actions against Crichton’s friends (most notably Aeryn, but Rygel and Zhaan both get in his way as well), and steals away from Moya on Farscape-1, having activated a beacon that will call Scorpius to him to pick up his prize. The clone has apparently gleaned the information it was implanted in Crichton’s brain for and it’s now time to go.

Aeryn wakes up and pursues Crichton in her Prowler. Crichton, vacillating control between Harvey and himself, leads her over a lake, where Harvey destroys her Prowler. When she ejects, she realizes the mechanism that would allow her to escape has been damaged, and with a final word to Crichton telling him that she hoped he meant what he said to her earlier in the neural cluster (when she told him she loved him, it was Harvey leering back at her), she sinks beneath the icy waters and drowns before they can pull her out. Crichton is distraught. Later, after the Diagnosan has removed the neural chip–taking with it Crichton’s powers of speech, and some of his memories–he is left helpless to watch as Scorpius enters, mortally injures the Diagnosan, and takes the extracted chip. The episode, and season, both end with Crichton immobile, his brain exposed, right where Scorpius left him, unable to do anything but remember all he has lost.

Trivia

  • “Die Me, Dichotomy” was written by David Kemper and directed by Rowan Woods.
  • Hugh Keays-Byrne (Grunchlk) originally auditioned for the part of Ka D’Argo.
  • Claudia Black, when she first read the script, became worried that she had been fired.
  • David Kemper knew the final image of the season at mid-year and worked backward to reach it.
  • The piece sung during the funeral is the famous litany Agnus Dei, in its requiem version. (The second and third piece are sung twice each here): Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona eis requiem. This is repeated three times. Translation: Lamb of God, Who taketh away the sins of the world, give them rest.
  • The makeup and performance of Ben Browder as “Scorpius-John” was originally so good that producers had trouble telling the difference between he and Wayne Pygram. Because of this, the makeup was made less accurate to make sure the audience understood what they were seeing.
  • Puppeteer Fiona Gentile’s vocal performance as the Diagnosan Tocot impressed the producers during the shooting, so they asked her to repeat it for the final version of the episode. Usually the puppeteer’s voice is replaced by an actor’s during the ADR.
  • The shot of Aeryn ejecting out of the Prowler was done overnight by one of the CG artists who knew that it was needed for the episode.
  • According to the DVD commentary, the gibberish uttered by John after the surgery was not random utterances, but scripted.

Metaphorically Speaking

First things first: if you are of the persuasion to just sit back and enjoy this episode without really turning your brain on, you may certainly do so, for it is a fine tale of love lost and found, relationships severed, and people drowned and getting their brains cut open. If you’re just looking to get your emotions wrangled and ensorcelled and bound up with twine, then dropped off a cliff, then this episode is for you! It will do all of those things to you, and more, and it will do so with fine character work and beautiful visuals. But I have this wacky theory that the reason this episode is so emotionally affective, and so engaging on a superficial level, is because while it’s working at you on all those levels you’re aware of, down deep under those icy waters, that iceberg runneth deep and large. Seriously, the more I think about “Die Me, Dichotomy”–and remember, I’ve been thinking about it for years now–the more impressed with it (and intimidated to write about it) I am.

So let’s start with that title, eh? Because what the hell is that. I don’t even know if anyone has ever been able to come up with a 100% surefire answer for WHY THAT TITLE specifically, but it sure does suggest a lot of things. It suggests death, and not just literal death (although there is some of that, too) but metaphorical death, and perhaps by the end, a death wished for rather than earned. Then there’s the ‘me’, which I’ve always read as referring to Crichton, but it could probably be universally applied if we wished it to. And then, as far as I’m concerned, the most important part of the title: dichotomy. It’s a weird, word, dichotomy, and a strange concept to wrap your head around. Basically it suggests things that do not mingle, or things that contradict one another but held in tandem. There are probably as many dichotomies as there are words you can think of: dichotomies between people, between ideas, even between two conflicting ideas in one’s own mind. Walt Whitman wasn’t referring to the more black and white division of dichotomies (more like multiplicities) when he wrote, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes,” but he got the general idea of it.

While Crichton certainly does contain multitudes like old Walt said, I think what we’re most concerned with though, the precipitating event, is the full emergence and hostile takeover of Harvey the neural clone. Crichton is Crichton, yet Crichton is also Harvey. And no one can tell the difference if Harvey doesn’t want them to. That’s why Harvey (and Scorpius) are still the scariest thing to ever happen to this show. That clone has been sitting up in Crichton’s mental digs, making copies and learning all John has to know. Mostly, it’s all about the wormholes, but why not everything else as well, while he’s at it? What’s the best way to harm your enemy? To attack him from the outside, or to know and control him, utterly and without exception? Only a fool would choose the former, with the latter available. Harvey knows everything that John knows. Everything. He knows the way John speaks, the way John thinks. He’s mapped the neural pathways for his Southern accent, the way it comes out when Crichton is feeling emotional. He knows the feelings John has for his friends, the way Aeryn smells, the way she kisses. He knows what John knows about his friends, which is quite a lot. There is no better way to defeat these people than to invade their most perceptive and loving member and eat him from the inside out.

But that’s just Crichton. While he and Moya are busying dying by increments, the rest of the crew gets busy pairing and splitting off in increasingly frantic combinations of miscommunication, bad timing, and impassable barriers. D’Argo has his son back at long last, but Jothee is not what he had been picturing, and their relationship as father and son is not what he thought it would be. Jothee is angry and rebellious, and in a shocking moment for D’Argo, very bitter about his heritage as a Luxan (he mutilated his own tenkas). As D’Argo tries harder to reach him, Jothee pushes back and the gulf between them grows wider. And then there’s Chiana and D’Argo, who it becomes clear are in two very different headspaces. D’Argo has been practicing proposals with Pilot, and Pilot shows one of the videos to a shocked Chiana and Jothee, whose shared D’Argo problems and rebellious immaturity (which D’Argo has mostly grown out of in the last two seasons) bring them closer together. But even there, there’s a gap, and their connection is superficial at best. They confess to one another they don’t handle long-term relationships well, one always staying too long (Chiana), the other not long enough (Jothee). And then of course, there’s John and Aeryn.

But first, I want to talk about language.

Language, when you think about it, is really fucking cool, but also really fucking scary. It is a tool that humanity has evolved in order to bridge the gap between my brain and yours, the vehicle through which we attempt to communicate our thoughts, emotions, and ideas. And it is an imperfect vehicle, at best. Even when we “successfully” use language to bridge that gap, there is still an infinite amount of stuff lost in the translation. And, let’s be real here, most of the time we aren’t so successful. Hell, that doesn’t even take into account purposefully leaving out information, let alone the things we simply don’t say out of habit, or because we’re not even aware of them. Picture two black holes, one on either end of a galaxy. I don’t know which galaxy, just pick one, and anyway it’s not important because this metaphor is not scientifically feasible in the slightest. And because we’re talking about Farscape here, let’s say there is a tenuous but determined little wormhole connecting the two black holes, one which they’ve struggled to build up over eons, and that’s the only way the two wormholes have to send information to each other. One black hole decides it wants to convey to the other black hole what his side of the galaxy looks like: that cute little nebula, that asteroid field he’s about to suck up, and how he likes the way all those suns look shining over his black hole backyard, and how sad it makes him to think of how he and his black hole mom and dad used to eat up planets together when he was just a little baby black hole. And then he takes all that information and sends it through the wormhole, hoping the other black hole not only has the ability to understand the basics of what he’s saying, but the insight and life experience to glean as much as possible from it. But even before that happens, some stuff falls out of the wormhole, some of it gets mangled and altered and turned around, some of it fades and changes color, and by the time the black hole’s emotion waves finally reach his black hole friend on the other side of the galaxy, the black hole friend basically has to construct a 3-D picture of his friend’s message out of what is essentially a stick figure drawing. You know, some swirlies and dots that are stars, and some nice lines for light. And that’s not even taking into account that the black hole friend is a black hole. It is his nature to consume and destroy. So he sucks up his friend’s mangled message and incorporates it into himself in the way that his life has prepared him to do.

And that’s language, my friends. As I type this to you, my brain is a black hole embedded in its own unique galaxy of experiences, sucking up the world and futilely trying to spit up words with enough escape velocity to overcome my basic inability to convey even my most basic thoughts and feelings, and you in turn as a black hole will suck them up and interpret them to the best of your ability, which no matter how similar we are (both being human beings descended along the same evolutionary chain), is just different enough to destroy the original message so that you may have it for your own. That’s how we go about our lives. And that’s what I think this episode is all about.

The scene between John and Aeryn is probably the key moment here, and not just to illustrate my weird point about language. Here we have two characters telling each other ‘I love you,’ but somehow neither one actually receives the message. Aeryn has spent the past two seasons completely shifting her worldview by degrees, and it has all culminated in the moment when she closes her eyes and bares her heart to a man she believes to be John Crichton. I don’t think we can overemphasize just how significant that moment is for her as a character. What it took for her to say those words out loud. The self-awareness she possesses now may have led her to realize her feelings before this moment, but actually saying it is quite another matter. Saying those words to another human being, offering yourself up like that, is probably one of the biggest ways we make ourselves vulnerable. She’s trusting him with herself, believing that the love they share will be enough to keep her safe. So the fact that it’s overwhelmingly NOT John, but Harvey, hearing this confession is the worst perversion you could possibly think of. (Later, John will make his confession of love over Aeryn’s dead body.)

The thing that kills me about this scene, though, is that as over the top as it seems, it’s really, really not. I mean, yes, it’s HIGHLY unlikely that any of us will ever have neural clones implanted in our brains that will someday take over said brains and use our most private thoughts against us. But just the fact that Aeryn couldn’t tell the difference, y’all. SHE COULDN’T TELL IT WASN’T JOHN. And that’s not a judgment on her, or on John. It’s actually a pretty scary reminder that no matter how much we tell ourselves otherwise, our relationships are built on nothing more than the trust we place in them. We have absolutely no way to verify whether the outward appearance and behavior of our friends, family, or other loved ones (hell, even more perfunctory relationships like co-workers or service workers) matches what is on their inside. We have what they give to us, and nothing more, and in order to even function in this world and not go mad, we have to we HAVE to trust that our perceptions and our beliefs about our friends and loved ones are correct. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the ultimate dichotomy, that divide between any two people, and it’s like everything we do (language included) is designed to erase that dichotomy, make a “real” connection. (The fact that this scene takes place in Moya’s neural cluster is not lost on me, either.) What’s beautiful about John and Aeryn’s story to me (and by extension other stories about love and the human connection) is that they keep trying anyway to reach that place where you know someone so well that the barrier doesn’t matter, just the trust and acceptance that comes from truly being understood and seen by another human being.

Unfortunately, “Die Me, Dichotomy” doesn’t let them reach that place. If language is a tunnel between two black holes, and words are fragile, faulty vessels with which to express feelings or the truth, then this is an episode about how vast that gulf can feel, how fragile that tunnel. How it can all be gone in an instant.

It’s not just John and Aeryn, either, and I swear I’m not making this shit up. It’s EVERYWHERE. It’s in Chiana and D’Argo, Chiana and Jothee, Jothee and D’Argo. It’s in Moya and EVERYONE. Like, except for Pilot, the others don’t even have a way to communicate with this person they are totally just like, living inside of! (Remember that episode she almost killed them with her DRDs because of the baby? Or that time she heard them and Starburst and got them all stuck in between dimensions?) It’s with Rygel and everyone; we see Zhaan misjudging him at the beginning of the episode, assuming his words meant he was being greedy, when really he was expressing sorrow for Moya. And it’s not just the relationships between the characters, either, it’s little things all the way through. When Stark and D’Argo get high from the anesthetic they’re using on Moya, the first thing to go is their language (and it’s very funny to watch, might I add–Anthony Simcoe in particular has a mean comic streak he doesn’t get to utilize very often). Pilot, too, has a moment of miscommunication with Chiana (which is again, very funny) regarding a misunderstanding of the word “high”. And then of course, there’s the Diagnosan and his grimy associate, Grunchlk (both of whom I inexplicably love very much). The Diagnosan doesn’t speak very well and requires Grunchlk to translate, but it’s obvious while watching that Grunchlk is not really translating at all. I have a hard time believing that kind, weird alien would ever hike up prices so badly, or say some of the things Grunchlk says he does. In this case, it’s Grunchlk that’s the tunnel: a greedy, disgusting tunnel. (As a sidenote, when he does speak, the Diagnosan is adorable.)

Anyway, it’s all moot because for basically no reason at all, other than Harvey is an asshole, Aeryn is dead. By the time Crichton actually ends up strapped to the table, ready to remove his tormentor from his brain, it seems rather pointless. The damage has already been done. For me at least, watching the Diagnosan flip through Crichton’s memories–asking him which ones to save and which ones can be sacrificed–is agonizing. “Necessary?” the Diagnosan asks of all Crichton’s memories of his dogs. No, says John, but keep ’em if you can. And no, none of it is NECESSARY, strictly speaking, if you’re talking about only his ability to function biologically, but mentally, as far as I’m concerned, all of it is necessary. To quote another great science fiction episode, “There are many parts of my youth that I’m not proud of. There were . . . loose threads – untidy parts of me that I would like to remove. But when I pulled on one of those threads – it unraveled the tapestry of my life.” I suppose you could say that’s what this episode does for Crichton: it begins to unravel the tapestry of his life. First goes his body, then goes Aeryn, then his memories (the literal framework of his personality), and then, his language. That’s right, the neural chip is right smack dab in the middle of his language center, and removing it will literally prevent him from using it. “What the hell,” he says to the Diagnosan, “There’s no one I really want to talk to. Not much worth remembering.” So out goes the chip, out goes Crichton’s language, and the unraveling is complete.

So when Scorpius walks in, attacks the Diagnosan, takes the chip and leaves Crichton (spitting out nothing but angry gibberish) tied to the exam table, his brain out in the open, it makes a sick horrible sort of sense. “I condemn you, John Crichton, to live.” Leaving Crichton like that is a fate worse than death, and Scorpius knows it. He doesn’t even have to lift a single leather clad finger–his neural clone has done all the work for him, and done it all too well. I didn’t watch this episode (or any of the series) as it aired, but I can imagine the agony viewers would have experienced upon that final image of the screaming Crichton. I know it certainly drove me to seek out the season three premiere as soon as possible. We don’t want this to be the final word, and it won’t be. As Aeryn said of Crichton in the neural cluster scene, Farscape is a show that brings the hope, that finds the beautiful in the strange and the weird. We just have to trust that while it brings its characters to the dark edge of the abyss, it won’t let them fall in. In Farscape, we escape black holes. We aren’t destroyed by them.

Other stuff: John is the only one not crying at the funeral. I’ve always taken this as a sign that he’s just completely shut down by then. And yet, he takes that lock of Aeryn’s hair (a nice touch that the others present almost don’t give him the knife he’s requested because they don’t know what he might do with it). It’s a courtly gesture befitting a southern gentleman. I was reminded this time through the episode of Crichton’s reaction to his body having murdered someone without his consent back in “A Bug’s Life,” except this is A THOUSAND TIMES WORSE, because it’s Aeryn. I really like how Aeryn’s life is described as “a series of strides toward enlightenment”. Makes it all the much worse that such a sentiment is expressed over her lifeless body.

Trash Bin

I got nothing.

– – –

Crichtonisms

  • STARK: “How do you feel?”
    JOHN: “Like a popsicle. Gotta love the sphincter end of the universe.”
    STARK: “They’re just going to have a look, an examination.”
    JOHN: “Make sure he puts the KY on the glove.”
  • “You’re gonna tell me my health plan doesn’t cover this, right?”
  • “You’re gonna take my memories, and I’m gonna talk gibberish? Why not just take my mojo while you’re at it?”

PuppetWatch!

  • The Diagnosan is just fabulous. I love him. So tall. Such muscular arms. That cooing voice speaking such mangled vocabulary. Such a weird, gentle, vagina-like face. Love it.
  • The puppeteers did a masterful job making Pilot look totally, completely high off his lobster ass. It think it was the eyes. That, and the drooping and loopy movements.

– – –

“Crackers Don’t Matter!”

  • A Farscape Glossary: An Interion is a humanoid species genetically similar to humans, possibly from the same original offshoot race of beings.
  • Interstellar Swearing: “Critada” is analagous to “crap,” can be paired satisfyingly with other swears, i.e. “frelling critada.”
  • Pop Culture References: “Ride of the Valkyries,” Austin Powers, Mork & Mindy.
  • Everyone has magically contracted Crichton syndrome, in that no one can remember (or cares to try to remember) what Grunchlk’s name is. They call him Greenchalk, among other epithets.
  • CHIANA: Pilot, you’re high.
    PILOT: (clearly out of it) I am no higher than I’ve ever been. My position is fixed.
  • “Now replace brain.” Only in Farscape.
  • We learn that the Diagnosan was the one who installed Scorpy’s cooling system. Will this become important for later? Hmmmmmm.
  • Number of times each character has “died” as of “Die Me, Dichotomy”: Crichton, 9; D’Argo, 4; Rygel, 3; Aeryn, 3 (+1 for drowning after a dogfight with Harvey/Crichton); Zhaan, 1; Pilot, 1; Moya, 1; Chiana, 1; Stark, 1.

– – –

Classic Moments in Farscape, #22

[Aeryn enters Moya’s neural cluster. Crichton is tinkering with something in there.]
Aeryn: Crichton? Um, Pilot says you’re reconfiguring a comm signal outside his control.
John: [still tinkering, has answer immediately ready] I want to eavesdrop on Crais’s radio traffic without him knowing about it. I still don’t trust him, Aeryn.
Aeryn: Crais and Talyn saved our lives. They saved yours.
John: Look, Aeryn if you’re worried about the [makes circling motion with his finger and a cuckoo whistle with his lips] inside my head, don’t. He’s under house arrest. Remember what you said? Strength.
Aeryn: That’s great, John, but you need to stop what you’re doing.
John: Aeryn. [pause, grimace] As long as I stay busy, he leaves me alone. [gets up] Sometimes if I sing, he leaves me alone. [He hums “Ride of the Valkyries” as he faces Aeryn.]
Aeryn: [sits next to John] Look. Once the Diagnosan is finished with Moya, he’s going to take a look at you.
John: It won’t help.
Aeryn: [pause] I am reminded at this point of a word that you actually brought to this vessel. Hope.
[As they get in a more intimate position, their faces almost touching, we see it’s not actually John speaking, but the neural clone, ‘Harvey’. John is in full Scorpius makeup, even as Aeryn confesses her deepest feelings to him.]
John/Harvey: I would be lost . . . without you.
Aeryn: [pause as they gaze into each other’s eyes] Then you’ll never be lost.
John/Harvey: [He eskimo kisses Aeryn; she smiles.] No matter what happens, you have worked your way into my heart.
Aeryn: You showed me that I have one.
[He takes her face in his hands. She closes her eyes.]
John/Harvey: I love you.
[A long pause, as John/Harvey nuzzles her with his nose, then finally she speaks.]
Aeryn: I love you, too.
[She moves in for the kiss, but he bashes her head into the wall instead.]
John/Harvey: [sniffs the unconscious Aeryn] Mmmm. You are so my girl.
[He licks her from the tip of her nose to the top of her forehead. End scene.]

– – –

Coming Up on the Farscape Rewatch: “Season of Death,” “Suns and Lovers”

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Comments
13 Responses to “Farscape Rewatch! — “Die Me, Dichotomy””
  1. Friso says:

    Happy to see and read your reviews! As long as you keep posting, we’ll keep reading ! Many thanks !

  2. tribble314 says:

    What’s this? A ping on my RSS reader?

    I’m rewatching along with Mark Watches, but I’m always happy to hear another opinion! I binged through your Farscape archive not long before you stopped posting, so I’m glad you’re back!

  3. Rob says:

    It only seems fair to actually go back and rewatch the episode, after reading your essay but before commenting on it. Having just become a fan of Farscape over the past six or eight months, it’s great to find these kinds of blogs and find that people are still talking about and discussing this show, which is so worthy of the time and effort, I think. I’ve been following the guys over at AV Club, where they are about to end season 3 and then take a long hiatus, as I think you mentioned. So, it’s great to come across your blog and find another place to read about and discuss Farscape.

    While I’m not sure this episode is in my top 10, I can see why it would be in yours or the top 10 of any fan. Watching it again reminded me of just how classic it is, just how perfectly Farscape it is. By that I mean, it does so well exactly the kinds of things that Farscape always did well. The things that made it great. Like you, I’m more impressed with the episode than ever, and for the exact reasons you mention. It really works on so many levels at once, it’s kind of amazing. It’s a fantastic sci-fi action epic complete with spaceship chases through icy valleys and ravines. But it’s also a touching, emotional, poignant, heartbreaking character study. It’s always impressed me about the show in general the way it balances all these elements so well, so perfectly, combining action, comedy, romance, tragedy and science fiction all in a gorgeous package. And most importantly, the writing and the characters, the story, never suffers for the spectacle. The snazzy special effects and CGI wizardry service the story and don’t detract from it. Deep down, it’s all about the characters and their lives and emotional connections, which is another thing that makes the show great. This episode certainly features more emotional moments, people connecting or not, than most sci-fi shows contain in an entire season. Personally I love how the show minimizes the technobabble and typical sci-fi clichés in favor of focusing on the relationships and dynamics between the characters. This episode alone has electric moments between John and Aeryn, D’Argo and Jothee, Chiana and Jothee, Crais and Aeryn, even Rygel and Grunchlk, it could be argued. As you state, they’re sort of furiously pairing off or the pairs are breaking apart.

    I’m with you on your idea just what a perfect piece of evil Scorpius/Harvey really is. While Scorpius will become more and more complex and fascinating as a character later on (sympathetic, even??), at this point he is just pure evil. It’s interesting to me in this episode that we never really get the exact, definitive answer about what John does or does not remember about the times when Harvey is in control (at least, in the way I see the episode). He talks about trying to be in control, or tries to proclaim that he is in control when maybe he isn’t. When he asks Aeryn about what happened in the neural cluster and seems to not remember, she basically says, “are you kidding? Do you really not remember” and he does not get the chance to answer. When she says, “I hope you meant what you said… I did,” he doesn’t look dumfounded, like he has no idea what she’s talking about, he just looks agonized. Later, when Grunchlk says it wasn’t his fault, John says that yes, it was. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s interesting to think that maybe John did have some kind of knowledge, an idea or feeling even, about things that happened and things that “he” did while Harvey was in control, which makes him blame himself even more. Or blame himself even more because he wasn’t strong enough to completely take control back from Harvey.

    Really great points about communication along with the fantastic black hole analogy (can I use that someday, with due credit given to you, of course?). It’s very true that in many cases, when we try to communicate, we’re just playing the childhood game of telephone or we might as well be speaking through two tin cans with a string in between them. And you’re absolutely right, I think, that it all boils down to us having to trust that other people are just going to understand us, to get what we are sending across the string to their tin can. Or trust ourselves, that we are understanding what they are sending to us. Looking at John and Aeryn, it’s really interesting to view their relationship over the entire show in the context you provide. How that trust builds between them, then is destroyed, then is built again, then destroyed again. And it comes from different ends of the cans on a string (or the two black holes). At times, Aeryn doesn’t know if she can trust John (and in this particular episode, she believes she can when she should not). Other times, John says flat out that he can’t trust her. And that lack of trust keeps them apart. A lack of communication, whether it’s because of trust or for some other reason, keeps them apart. It’s a huge part of their story, whether they are able to trust each other and whether they are able to communicate with and understand each other. They are both so alien to each other and try so hard to make the other one understand the way they feel or think or act, but it so often fails. Regardless, as you say, they keep trying and keep working at it, keep finding ways to communicate and to find their way back to each other. You say, “they keep trying anyway to reach that place where you know someone so well that the barrier doesn’t matter, just the trust and acceptance that comes from truly being understood and seen by another human being,” and I think that states it perfectly. It’s one of many reasons why I think theirs is one of the best love stories ever portrayed in a television show. And it’s an interesting lens through which to rewatch these episodes, watching how their communication and their relationship changes and evolves.

    You’re right that this is the most vulnerable we see Aeryn up to this point in the series. We probably don’t see it again until the end of season 4. It’s really interesting to watch this episode again in the context of the series as a whole. While this is an episode, I think, where someone could come in and watch it, having never seen the show before, and still really enjoy the show, it’s also an episode that has so many ripples going through it. Ripples from past episodes and ripples that reach into future episodes. Crais’ relationship with Aeryn, his obvious feelings for her, are explored here and will be in the future. Zhaan and Stark really come together at the end of this episode and that directly impacts major events in the next season. And of course all of the D’Argo/Chiana/Jothee stuff, which causes ripples throughout the rest of the show’s run. Even small moments are echoes of other episodes, like when Crichton cuts off Aeryn’s hair, her hair being something that came into play in the past, in at least two episodes when Crichton lovingly touches or plays with her hair (good call about the knife, though, it’s a great moment of wondering what the hell he’s about to do).

    Have to agree with you as well about Grunchlk and the Diagnosian. Both are great characters with some fantastic moments, in this episode as well as when they reappear again later. The Diagnosian has such a great contrast of big, burly alien body with soothing, gentle voice and it really isn’t certain whether or not Grunchlk is lying when he says that the doctor is the one who wants to increase the price. It sure seems like Grunchlk is lying and is the one who wants more money but it’s kind of fun to imagine that maybe the Diagnosian is really behind the “operation” these two run, if you will.

    This is also an episode that shows how ballsy the creators and creative team behind Farscape were. Leaving their hero strapped to a table with no speech and perhaps no memories and god knows what else is gone as well. And really leaving a doubt in the mind of viewers about whether or not Aeryn really dies. Many shows would have brought her back by the end of the episode. Not these guys, they have a long, drawn out funeral scene as if to say, “nope….she’s really dead…see?…really dead!” As you say, John has lost his girl, his memories, and his language. It’s just about as low as he could possibly be at the end of a season (except maybe for where he is at the end of the next season). As you mention, it makes the viewer today glad to have Netflix and a way to watch the next episode immediately.

    Good catch about John being the only one not crying at the funeral, I hadn’t noticed that before. Again, it has shades of another time in the series when it’s Aeryn who is completely shut down and emotionless after a loss. Farscape is amazing for how much it puts its characters through the wringer, gives them such highs and equal lows, then brings them back out of it only to go through another tragedy the next day. But as you mention, the viewer trusts that the show isn’t going to let that tragedy define or overwhelm the characters, at least not for too long. They’ll get out of it somehow because, as Aeryn says to John/Harvey just before he bashes her head in, there is hope.

  4. eporter70 says:

    Wow. That was an awesome explanation of dichotomy. I especially liked this: As far as I’m concerned, that’s the ultimate dichotomy, that divide between any two people, and it’s like everything we do (language included) is designed to erase that dichotomy, make a “real” connection. (The fact that this scene takes place in Moya’s neural cluster is not lost on me, either.)

    This is one of my favorites. I watched it during the original airing. Aeryn is my favorite character. That hiatus was the longest six weeks of my LIFE! 😱

  5. Charlene says:

    I read your other article about this episode and it made me cry, because I re-lived the episode again. Please keep re-watching and analyzing!

  6. Larry says:

    I remember seeing this finale shown on SciFi back in the day, and was so infuriated with the buildup and hoopla, how much they gave away in the previews, and then all the bombast over Aeryn’s death, such melodrama. I hated how greasy and unkempt Grunchlk was (visual reference to his greedy and weaselly nature), the dynamic between Jothee and Chiana, that the Crichton/Scorpius hybrid spoke with such measured ambivalence to any problem presented, “oh yes, you’ve got me there, oh wait, now I have you” :: polite titter :: and how Scorpius always manages to show up at just the right time and undo things.

    It’s been years since I watched this episode. I have distance and the benefit of excellent analyses like yours (thank you very much!), so I can appreciate all those things I missed in my long-held irritation.

    I enjoyed your analysis of dichotomies and language a lot; the miscommunications and how they fragment and separate us. The other thing about dichotomies is that they are mutually exclusive states. The moment they aren’t, the state changes and you no longer have a dichotomy.

    The obvious dichotomy is the Crichton/Harvey separation. Crichton was still Crichton, Harvey still the neural clone, but that state fell apart the moment Harvey took over. Now there’s a Crichton/Harvey hybrid. The dichotomy died, changing Crichton forever as well as how the others will view him hereafter. The more subtle dichotomies were relationships. John and Aeryn were separate individuals, gradually changing through their relationship to each other. When Aeryn finally reciprocates affection to Crichton, their dichotomous/separate state collapses, bringing about change. Sadly, because that coincided unluckily with the Crichton/Harvey hybridization, it brought about actual death. To boot, the reunion of Jothee to his father collapses their previous dichotomy, and heralds change in Chiana and D’Argo’s relationship.

    But you know, I still have one thing in my craw: the Aeryn and Crichton/Harvey battle. Why would a seasoned pilot fly UNDER the ship she is trying to force down? And as Aeryn was falling to the frozen ice lake, why didn’t Crichton (now freed of the clone’s control) put the Farscape module under her so she didn’t fall through the water? C’mon!

    • Jason says:

      If you rewatch the flying sequence aeryn loses sight of Farscape 1 and though they are in communication the words exchanged show this.

      For aeryn comments that in space or gravity flight she is the superior pilot, and Harvey/Crichton acknowledges this with “darling uncontested” reply. Hence this verbal sparring is his only ploy to enact the fatal descent,coming from out of the sun, another oft used trick of pilots in dog fights.

      The reason for not placing Farscape 1 beneath aeryn as she descends is the same reason that she ultimately drowns, the braking jets. If it is powerful enough to melt the frozen lake’s surface it would be similarly powerful to severely damage Farscape 1. Which after all is of human design, built to a weight and thickness for space shuttle transportation. Not peacekeeper military design such as the prowler. This is also why the landing gear is used to damage the prowler as this always has to be strong.

      So were he to place the module beneath those flaming jets it is likely they both would die or he not be around to pinpoint aeryns position. Probably calculations we may conclude he has to make, if that is not taking this tvshow too literally.

      That is my reading of it anyway and as such is just my humble opinion.

      • Larry says:

        All right, I get the dogfight thing now. Aeryn probably didn’t think Farscape 1 would be a threat because it has no guns.

        As for saving Aeryn’s chair, I think Farscape 1 is rugged enough to take the braking jets (It’s survived atmospheric re-entry countless times, and a few solar flares), but I can see the problem being how to come up under the chair without a bad collision.

        I concede both points :)

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