Monday, April 23, 2012

Classics: Farscape 4:11-4:13 - The Wormhole Trilogy

Overall Rating: 7.2

There are lots of really cool elements...elements that get overshadowed by annoying gimmicky editing and a deeply frustrating arrogance in re: human nature.  But's an engaging trilogy and they obviously put their best foot forward.

Plot Synopsis:

Well...there are three episodes to cover and they are tied together in the serial format (I call this a composite trilogy, rather than a three-part episode), so they'll be summarized separately at the Farscape Wiki.

Part I - Unrealized Realities
Part II - Kansas
Part III - Terra Firma

The Skinny:

There's so much going on in this three-parter that I need an abacus and a slide rule to figure out the final rating.  In the end, I just said "F*** it, I'm going with my gut."  But let's bullet-point summarize what went right here and what went wrong, as far as I was concerned.

The good:

  • Happy happy joy joy, happy happy joy joy!  They' THE PLOT!  We're dealing with the cosmic stakes and the real character drama during this three-part episode, rather than admiring the urine of an annoying minor character or watching our heroes do drugs!  w00t!
  • Their science is actually plausible.  The wormhole theory remains consistent with the show's concept that you could use them to navigate in both space and time.  They even got it right that if you went back in time, you would be entering another universe, not affecting your own, per say.
  • The final lesson John learns in the first part - that the knowledge in his head is something to be feared and defended, not merely an inconvenience with the possible benefit of getting him home - is on point.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and this is power in its most absolute form.  This is the ability to alter the nature of space and time and affect the outcomes of realities beyond your imagining.
  • The dynamic between John and Jack Crichton was wonderfully layered and well-conceived.  I know much more about John's demons now than I did before this three-parter...that's the kind of stuff that makes Farscape a great show...not cross-cut filmapalooza or strangeness for the sake of shock value.  When Jack weeps and begs his son not to leave him forever, I deeply care for him...this character we've seen only twice in the flesh.  It was, IMHO, a stroke of genius to first show the angry young Johnny and explain where that anger came from before giving us the mature John's fairer treatment of his father.  Bravo!
  • I must say...I rather like John's old girlfriend.  She's insightful and gets to the heart of the matter very quickly when talking to Aeryn.
  • The writers were a little more balanced this time in their portrayal of the human reaction to alien life.  In the first season episode on this topic, we see Rygel getting flayed, Aeryn in a holding cell, and D'Argo getting poked and prodded.  This time, they put the aliens up in a spacious mansion on the beach, escort them to shops and family functions and do their best to accommodate them while providing for their security and the security of the surrounding humans.  There are still problems with this rendition, but they're getting closer.
Now...what went wrong:
  • Does Chiana REALLY need to have sex with EVERYONE!  Even the fifteen year old version of Crichton?  Even random government officials she flirts with just to liven up a dead party?  I get it...she's got a different attitude about sex than I do...but...dayam!  This is just getting annoying now.
  • Why do we need to get subjected to more elitist rambling about how we'd be off our rock if we weren't so "paranoid" and didn't constantly fight with each other?  How does that serve the plots being advanced in this story?  Or are you just grinding axes.  Bottom is NOT paranoid to sequester the first ALIENS! that we meet until we know more about them.  It is NOT paranoid to have misgivings about giving rival nations that want to destroy you access to technology that might empower them to do just that.  It is NOT paranoia that leads to our struggles funding extraterrestrial space exploration.  And we are NOT more paranoid now than we were before 9/11.  Just what the flying f*** does 9/11 have to do with the discovery of extraterrestrial life anyway?  Was that in there just because you weren't pleased with our decision to go to war with Iraq?  Just STOP with the moralizing and tell us stories that make sense.  kthx
  • On that note, as well, doesn't it rather bear out the point that caution with ALIENS!! is justified when we see more of those aliens PLOTTING TO DESTROY EARTH! in the same episode?  Holy crapping crap!  I think we have a right to be prudently cautious with alien technology and to ask that visiting aliens let us look at their advanced technology.  *sigh*
  • John isn't wrong that Earth would need to pull together to defend itself against the Peacekeepers or the Scarrans, but he can't expect Earth to realize this if he doesn't TELL them such threats exist.  Why, exactly, couldn't John tell anyone about these threats?  They never justified that.
All in all...this is a good story told in a lopsided and sometimes confusing way, but still a big step up fro most of the rest of fourth season.

Writing: 7.0

Many pros and cons...lots of hidden humor, wonderful character building, and fate-of-the-universe stakes (love those!)...but certain elements didn't add up for me.

Acting: 8.0

The acting is the strength of this trilogy, in my opinion.  Jack and John steal the show, but the rest of the main players do their parts.

Message: 6.5

It's a real mixed bag here...see my comments above.  Bottom line...although the behavior of the humans seems much more believable in this episode than in John's imagined encounter from first season, the elitist reaction to that behavior is out of line.  On the other hand, a respect for the natural forces of the universe and for the acquisition of knowledge that could manipulate creation on a grand scale is certainly worth remembering in this age of genetics and geopolitics.

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