Look At The Princess III: The Maltese Crichton
Written by David Kemper, directed by Andrew Prowse and Tony Tilse
Season 2, Episode 13
1st US Transmission Date: 4 August 2000
1st UK Transmission Date: 25 September 2000
1st Australian Transmission: 25 August 2001
Guest Cast (for the whole trilogy): Wayne Pygram (Scorpius), Felicity Price (Princess Katralla), Bianca Chiminello (Jenavian Charto), Matt Day (Counsellor Elka Tyno), Tina Bursill (Empress Novia), Felix Williamson (Prince Clavor), Aaron Cash (Dregon Carzenonva), Gavin Robins (I) and Thomas Holesgrove (II & III)(Cargyn), Francesca Buller (ro-NA), Jonathan Hardy (Kahaynu)
Synopsis: Prince Clavor and Cargyn cut the head off the Crichton statue and drop it in acid. Scorpius fishes it out but is shot by Jenavian, who reconstitutes Crichton and takes him to a tent outside the city to recover. She realises he is not a PK, but she senses he can still be a useful ally in stopping the Scarrans.
Cargyn kills Clavor because he dissolves their partnership. Cargyn and Scorpius are both looking for John, so the Scarran kidnaps Chiana to use as bait. D’Argo and Scorpius unite to attack Cargyn.
John and Jenavian return to the city where everyone is very glad to see him alive, because the Empress had been threatening to have all off-worlders executed in punishment for his disappearance and Clavor’s death. John kills the Scarran, D’Argo rescues Chiana, and Scorpius is left for John to kill. But for some reason John can’t kill him, and walks away.
Crichton is about to leave the planet when he discovers that Princess Katralla was impregnated with his DNA, and he insists he be refrozen for the sake of his child. Unfortunately his human physiology would not survive a second freezing, so he convinces the Empress to freeze Tyno instead – the public will never know there’s been a switch, and Katralla and Tyno love each other. John leaves knowing all is settled, but he will never see his daughter.
In the barren lands Aeryn and Carzenonva have a climbing accident and Aeryn has to haul the useless idiot back to the city with a broken leg.
On Moya, Zhaan takes revenge on the Builder by sucking him into the engine of the WDP module. However, he re-appears and reveals that Moya and Pilot are fine – they were only testing whether Zhaan was worthy of being Moya’s protector. They conclude that she is and they are all released.
Buck Rogers Redux: ‘I’m a regular boy scout, I do what I have to do.’ It’s a defining moment for Crichton’s character when his decision to leave is instantly revoked the second he knows he’s going to be a dad: ‘A child deserves two parents. My child deserves a father. Make me a statue.’ Could you ever imagine Jim Kirk saying that, or Buck Rogers? Crichton is a 21st Century hero. When the machine shows him the daughter he will never know, his heartache is palpable, and it forges another bond between he and D’Argo – both separated from their only children. It’s his idea to let Tyno be the regent, because he knows he’s a good man and will be a good father to his child: ‘you take care of my little girl.’
That Damn Peacekeeper Bitch: Aeryn gets it all out of her system by climbing rocks, but when it all goes wrong and she breaks her leg it’s hard not to conclude that it’s exactly what she wanted – something extreme to take her mind off things. Carzenova, like Chiana, reads Aeryn like a book and tells her: ‘you’re not trained to deal with emotions, so you’re afraid of them.’
Big Blue: Zhaan’s fury is something to behold, and though she instantly regrets her action, she ruthlessly sucks the Builder into the WDP’s engines. When he reveals the true nature of his mission, she is unforgiving and throws him off the ship immediately. She and Pilot never tell the others what happened with the Builders.
Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Rygel was initially intending to remain on the planet as an advisor to Crichton, which implies that although he’s already very old, 80 cycles is a drop in the ocean to him.
Nosferatu in Rubber: Scarrans love heat; Sebacens are killed by it. Scorpius, as a Scarran-Sebacean hybrid, is a slave to heat. He wears a thermal regulator suit, and the rotating thing that comes out of his head contains cooling rods to maintain his body temperature. He hates Scarrans, and they consider him a ‘biological mistake.’
He again promises D’Argo that if given Crichton, he will release him unharmed after he has extracted the wormhole information. He sampled John’s DNA when he was in the Aurora chair and can use it to track him, even when he is a disembodied bronze head (really!?).
D’Argo assures Scorpy that John will never be taken alive, but Scorpy replies, cryptically: ‘you underestimate the strength of a relationship, even your friend does not yet understand.’ John tries to throw Scorpy into the acid but cannot, and after he’s left Scorpy runs his fingers through the liquid, indicating that it wouldn’t have hurt him anyway – he was very much in control of the situation.
A Ship, A Living Ship: Moya could be used to breed an army of warships, but the Builders know that both she and Pilot are pure souls. They need to ensure that her crew will not misuse her, so they test Zhaan. Moya is given a voice one last time and requests that Zhaan sing to her.
The Ballad Of Aeryn And John: Back on Moya, Aeryn produces the compatibility chemical and she and John share a kiss that will tell them whether they are compatible or not. Judging by the smiles on both their faces, they are. Of course any relationship they did embark on would be adulterous, because John is now a married man.
The Ballad of Chiana And D’Argo: D’Argo dives across a vat of acid to save Chiana, and she tells him how proud she is of him, and gently mocks that he ever thought they weren’t compatible. There’s a genuinely tender edge to their scenes alone and they seem happy and on the same wavelength.
Alien Encounters: Scarrans are extremely hard to kill – Cargyn takes numerous gun blasts and still remains standing. It takes an acid bath to finish him off. He again tries to force the truth out of someone using his special powers, this time D’Argo, and again gets only lies.
Hi, Harvey: Why could John not kill Scorpy? When he tries, he has more flashes back to the Aurora chair and this time we see Scorpy inserting the needle he brandished in the previous episode’s flashback, and burying it in the back of John’s head.
Disney On Acid: D’Argo’s acid-spanning leap makes John shout: ‘how Batman was that!’
Get Frelled: John and Jenavian do the deed, so his sex life no longer consists solely of his right hand.
Seen It All Before: John being frozen is very Han Solo.
Logic Leaps: The Empress and her cohorts want to know who beheaded Crichton, who reconstituted him and where he is now. Since they can communicate with the statue of Katralla using headsets, why don’t they just ask her? A plot-hole this big really, really bugs the crap out of me. John’s head is in the acid for at least an hour or so and he didn’t even lose any hair!?
Bloopers: Just after D’Argo saves Chiana look closely at his nose – it’s all askew where it’s come off Anthony Simcoe.
WHAT did you just say?: Jenavian’s response to John’s life story: ‘That’s either the most pathetic fabrication I’ve ever heard, or the most pathetic life I could ever imagine. Either way…’
The Verdict: Were the Cargo Ship section of episode two, the un-engaging Barren Lands section of episode three, and the Builders subplot removed, this would have been a tight, focused, scorching two-parter. But it’s nice that the show felt confident enough to do something epic and took its time with the story to allow the characters and the situation room to develop and deepen. Certain elements don’t gel, but while the trilogy may not be the most water-tight, economical piece of storytelling, you’ll ever see it still has lots to recommend it, and the world of Farscape is a lot richer and more complex after it than it was before, which can only be good.
Verdict redux: When Jenavian jumped John, my wife lost all patience with the episode and there were cries of ‘it’s all gone silly’ (she did not baulk at any other elements of the episode!). Again, not much to add. The trilogy’s a bit sprawling, a bit of a mess at times, and on an episode by episode basis is narratively quite unbalanced, but there’s far more good than bad here, and the effect is to deepen and broaden the characters and the wider Farscape universe in ways that will impact the ongoing storylines hugely, and for the better.