Monday, November 19, 2012

Farscape: Exodus from Genesis

My Farscape rewatch continues with "Exodus from Genesis." The third episode produced, it's still very clear the series is awkwardly finding its way. At the same time, we see the emergence of some of the personality and world building that will come to define the series down the line.

The story is straightforward--Moya encounters a particulate cloud in orbit around a star, uses this cloud as a shield to hide from a Peacekeeper Marauder scout ship filled with a detachment of commandos. The cloud is actually a spacefaring species of insect, which spawns in hot environments. The swarm boards Moya and begins manipulating the ship's environmental controls to increase the heat. Crichton discovers one of the roach-like creatures in his quarters, and in a panic, squashes it. The swarm takes samples of the crew's DNA and uses that to construct automaton duplicates of Crichton, Zhaan, D'Argo and Aeryn in an effort to take over the ship. The increased heat inside Moya sends Aeryn into a state of fevered delirium. Turns out that Sebaceans (the Peacekeeper race) cannot tolerate excessive temperatures--that rules out Peacekeepers ever colonizing Texas--and will slip into a permanent coma if she can't cool down. Through Zhaan, the crew establishes contact with the swarm and realize the hostilities were a mis-understanding, that the alien "Drak" didn't realize Moya was a ship when they boarded and Crichton impulsively attacked the insect in his quarters out of fear. They establish a truce, with Moya's crew moving to an isolated part of the ship that will be kept relatively cooler while the Drak completes its spawning process. Unfortunately, the Marauder returns at this point and the Peacekeeper commandos attempt to storm Moya. They kill several of the automatons, and the Drak believes Moya's crew has broken the truce and begins raising the heat precipitously across the ship. Crichton negotiates a plan with the Drak--he, and a dozen of his automatons confront the now-delirious commandos. He subdues the commander, and then sends them packing with a warning to Crais not to continue pursuing Crichton or else he'll use his powers of duplication against Crais. The Drak finish spawning, the ship's temperature returns to normal, and Aeryn survives.

Commentary: The episode is a bit reminiscent of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes, in that an alien life form invades the ship and conflict springs from misunderstanding. That's been done before. That said, scriptwriter Ro Hume threw the kitchen sink in here with Peacekeeper commandos, alien doppelgängers, spacefaring insect swarms and whatnot. There's a lot going on here, with alliances and broken alliances and general mass confusion for most of the episode, with pretty much every side in the dark as to what's going on for the majority of the episode. The most significant development is the introduction of Sebacean heat delirium, which will play a much more prominent role further on in the series. Whilst barely hanging on to her sanity, Aeryn demands that Crichton kill her if she slips into a coma, as permanent brain damage will take hold then and Peacekeepers consider that vegetative state a fate worse than death. At the end, Aeryn asks Crichton whether he'd have gone through with her request and he pointedly doesn't answer. Regardless, a bond--however tenuous--has been established between the Sebacean and human.

The most unfortunate aspect of the episode is the physical appearance of the Peacekeeper commandos. Each of them has very heavy eyeliner applied in a stylized fashion. Dear lord in heaven, who thought this was a good idea? I assume the intent was to project the impression of bad-ass warpaint used by a hard-core fighting unit. Instead, they looked like wannabe glam rockers pissed off because they couldn't get into the Gary Glitter show. It's just flat-out embarrassing.

Crichton Quote of the Episode: "We call 'em linebackers. Or serial killers. Depends on whether they're professional or amateur."

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