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Farscape Rewatch: “Bad Timing”

Bad Timing
Written by David Kemper, directed by Andrew Prowse
Season 4, episode 22

1st UK Transmission Date: 10 March 2003
1st US Transmission Date: 21 March 2003

Guest Cast: Raelee Hill (Sikozu), Melissa Jaffer (Noranti), David Franklin (Braca), Duncan Young (Emperor Staleek), Francesca Buller (War Minister Ahkna), John Adam (Pennoch), Kent McCord (Jack Crichton)

Synopsis: The Scarrans are racing to the wormhole that leads to Earth to subdue the population and steal their hummingbird feeders. Rejecting Scorpy’s offer of an alliance, John comes up with a plan to collapse the wormhole and isolate Earth. He succeeds, killing Ahkna’s lover in the process. Then he proposes to Aeryn, and they get blasted into tiny pieces.

Farscape, Bad Timing, Crichton, D'Argo, Chiana

Buck Rogers Redux: Although offered a chance to save Earth by making an alliance with the Peacekeepers, John chooses to go it alone. It may seem riskier, but he obviously thinks that the eventual cost of a PK alliance would be just as bad as a Scarran attack, and he’s probably right. Still, it’s a huge risk to gamble on his ability to pull out the knowledge to destroy the wormhole in the right order in time. He rejects Noranti’s offer of drugs to break the mental block on wormhole knowledge. He always envisaged his life being full of derring do and space adventures, he just pictured a couple of kids too.

After talking with Harvey, he changes his mind and is willing to do a deal with Scorpy, but is talked out of it again by Chiana and Pilot. Jack left a photo of his family stuck to the stars and stripes on the moon.

Farscape, Bad Timing, Crichton

I would write something about John’s farewell conversation with Jack, but I have something in my eye…

In the end, John has made his choice. He’s sealed Earth off forever, probably. He has no prospect of returning home and he seems to be okay with that. Moya, Aeryn and their baby—they’re his home now.

Farscape, Bad Timing, Aeryn

You Can Be More: Even when he’s convinced he’ll fail, Aeryn never doubts or second guesses John, and even if she does, she doesn’t voice her concerns. She expected to retire after her years as a Peacekeeper, which is surprising given that you wouldn’t expect them to have such a concept as retirement. She insists on going through the wormhole with John so that if he’s stranded on the other side, they will at least be together.

The Ballad Of Aeryn And John:
John: “You know what scares the hell out of me? From the first moment I laid eyes on you, I could never see the end.”
Aeryn: “What scares me is I always could.”

Farscape, Bad Timing, Crichton, Aeryn

After it’s all done, John and Aeryn rustle up a rowing boat (from where, exactly?) and take a sea break so John can propose. Before he does, Aeryn reveals that the baby is now developing, is his, and is fine. He’s overjoyed, even though she was obviously worried he wouldn’t be. Then he proposes, she accepts… and they get blasted into little bits by an alien space ship.

I Was A Teenage Luxan: Even D’Argo believes John would be wiser to make a Peacekeeper deal than go it alone. He is devastated by John and Aeryn’s apparent death.

Farscape, Bad Timing, Chiana, D'Argo

Everyone’s Favourite Little Tralk: Chiana is furious when John looks ready to deal with the Peacekeepers. She uses her slowed-down vision to remember the sequence of commands Stark needs to pilot Moya in Pilot’s  absence. It seems that Chiana is now permanently blind, but D’Argo promises to take her to a nearby Diagnosan for treatment.

Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Rygel tells Pilot that he should help Crichton collapse the wormhole, admitting that he wouldn’t do it, even though he thinks Pilot should. So in the final analysis, Rygel is key to the saving of Earth—once again proving that a few words from the little green slug can spin an episode’s plot on it’s ear.

Farscape, Bad Timing, Rygel, Pilot

In The Driving Seat: Moya uses a hitherto unmentioned technique to extend starburst. It leaves the crew slightly out of phase, much as the crew on the alternate Moya in ‘Unrealized Reality.’ Despite the necessity for perfect timing in order to collapse the wormhole from Earth’s end, Moya cannot bring herself to travel down the wormhole. Pilot and Moya have a huge row about how to help John. In the end Pilot decides that, despite Moya’s objections, he will allow himself to be cut free of Moya so he can pilot the transport pod and ensure the wormhole bubble is pierced properly. If he is not re-attached within an hour, he will be unable to re-attach and will die. Both he and Moya are dazed and confused while separated—Moya unable to take commands from Stark, Pilot barely able to remain conscious. They are successfully re-connected.

Grandma, we love you: She’s very free and easy with the drugs this week, and her tenderness towards Stark continues the impression that she’s taken a shine to him.

Farscape, Bad Timing, Stark, Pilot

The Man in the Iron Mask: Stark takes Pilot’s pain when he’s cut free, but it overwhelms him. He’s manic and over-caffeinated again, but Noranti soothes him.

Bobblehead: Sikozu leaves Moya with Scorpius, mirroring Bizzaro Stark’s appraisal of humans: weak species. Then she and Scorpy get all bondagy.

Farscape, Bad Timing, Sikozu, Scorpius

Nosferatu in leather: After intercepting the Scarran message about Earth, Scorpius tracks down Moya and offers John a deal—the Peacekeepers will declare an alliance with Earth, making it impossible for the Scarrans to attack without initiating war. On the face of it, it’s a generous offer, but John rejects it outright. Presumably he thinks Scorpius is only trying to gain leverage that will help force John to give him wormhole weapons. He orders Braca to bring Noranti aboard the Command Carrier unharmed the next time they encounter Moya, which is, to say the least, a bizarre and unexpected request, and we never find out why he makes it.

Hi Harvey: He’s an Easter Bunny who basically convinces John to make a deal with Scorpius. Again, makes me wonder how much control he actually has—is he the harmless passenger he seems?

Farscape, Bad Timing, Harvey

Captain lickspittle: He’s tickled pink to have Scorpy back on board and, as we established earlier in the season, he still likes to watch—we last see him enjoying some light voyeurism as the chains come out for play.

Servalan Redux: Grayza is under sedation, having difficulty adjusting to her reduced circumstances.

Stats: Pilot can see the bubble that forms before a wormhole appears, whereas John kind of smells it. By puncturing the bubble just before the wormhole opens, the wormhole can be collapsed, but the timing of the intervention must be perfect.

Farscape, Bad Timing, Moya

Wormholes again change from being something that can’t be predicted except by complex semi-mystical mathematics, to stable events that have predictable cycles, and from forking networks with millions of exits that can only be navigated by a specially gifted pilot, to being a single tunnel route from point A to point B that any old Scarran can fly through.

The UN Secretary General now speaks for Earth on all space matters, indicating that Earth is beginning to unify as a result of Moya’s visit. But even though there are five hundred of the planet’s best and brightest ready to go with John, they still are being asked to carry weapons, so there’s a long way to go.

Farscape, Bad Timing, Aeryn, Pilot

The Verdict: Cards on the table—I love this episode to bits. The confident and funny intercutting of conversations in the teaser sequence gets things off to a flying start, and the episode’s race-against-time plot is tense but linear enough that the main focus of the episode can be, as it should be, the relationships between the characters. John’s dilemma and Aeryn’s unswerving support, Rygel’s canny intervention, Chiana’s selflessness, Noranti’s nurturing, Stark’s mania, D’Argo’s sage leadership, Pilot’s bravery, Sikozu’s scorn, Scorpius’ bafflement at John’s lack of trust, Braca’s oleaginous loyalty—they all get an outing, as each character gets their moment in the sun.

The two standout scenes are both tear jerkers. The first, between John and his dad, is the most heartfelt scene Farscape ever did, and that’s saying something. It’s beautifully written and performed, and it gets me right here every time. Then John and Aeryn finally—FINALLY—make peace with their love, John proposes, Aeryn accepts, and the audience cheers.

Farscape, Bad Timing, Jack Crichton

And that is, arguably, where they should have left it. They knew the show was cancelled, that this would be their last episode. They didn’t need to end on a cliffhanger. The defiant decision to end the episode the way they did was a huge middle finger to Sci-Fi and could be seen equally as a middle finger to the viewers, killing off our heroes and offering a To Be Continued when in fact there was no guarantee that it ever would be.

This could have been the end. Imagine how spectacularly pissed we’d all be at them if they’d not managed to make Peacekeeper Wars!

Farscape, Bad Timing,

Happily, they were able to deliver on their promise, and this isn’t the final end. But even now I find it hard to decide if the cliffhanger was ballsy and admirable or reckless and annoying.

Anyway, this is a fabulous episode to bow out on. Next: PK Wars!

 


Scott K. Andrews has BIG NEWS!

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