Won’t Get Fooled Again
Written by Richard Manning, directed by Rowan Woods
Season 2, Episode 15
1st US Transmission Date: 18 August 2000
1st UK Transmission Date: 30 October 2000
1st Australian Transmission: 21 December 2001
Guest Cast: Wayne Pygram (Scorpius), Kent McCord (Jack Crichton), Murray Bartlett (D.K.), Thomas Holesgrove (Grath, the Scarran), Lani Tupu (Capt. Bialar Crais), Carmen Duncan (Leslie Crichton)
Synopsis: John wakes up back on Earth a week after crashing the Farscape module during his test flight. He still has memories of Moya and assumes, correctly, that everything is an illusion a la ‘A Human Reaction.’ That his psychiatrist is Zhaan, his new boss is Rygel, and D’Argo is a fellow astronaut, confirms that everything’s a bit screwy.
Chiana crops up as an Astronaut groupy, Crais appears as a dog-carrying, red-high-heel-wearing cop, and Pilot plays bongos in a local club. Unlike ‘A Human Reaction,’ D.K. is present this time, as is John’s dead mother.
One person breaks the paradigm—Scorpius, of whom there are two versions. The one that isn’t a jazz drummer turns out to be an unlikely ally. He reveals that Scorpius inserted a neurochip into John’s brain when he was in the Aurora Chair. This chip contains a neural clone of Scorpy’s personality that lives in John’s subconscious and only reveals itself when it has to.
The neural clone tells John that he has been captured by a Scarran, who wants to find out why Scorpy is after him. Their interrogation technique involves using a mind control machine to drive the subject insane. He stops John’s brain function, convincing the Scarran that John is dead and releasing him from the machine. John then overloads his gun, rams it down the Scarran’s throat and blows its head off.
Buck Rogers Redux: ‘Life sucks, nothing matters, let's PARTY!’ John’s mother (who may or may not have been English or Australian, because her accent is all over the damn place) died of an unspecified illness five years ago (although it’s unclear whether that’s five years from now or from the time of the test flight). John’s opinion of D.K., hinted at in ‘My Three Crichtons,’ is less than flattering given that he’s supposed to be his best friend—he seems to think he’s a bit of a whiner, play-it-safe kind of guy.
Not for one second does he believe he’s back on Earth. He checks the papers and the ladies room, because they were what gave the game away in ‘A Human Reaction.’ Once he’s accepted that he’s not going to play along, he starts playing with reality—he throws his new boss (Rygel) off a car park, shoots everyone and drives into a truck. When this doesn’t change things, and as the world gets more and more surreal, he comes very close to losing his mind, and the madness that’s been creeping up on him all season becomes even more extreme.
He’s on a reconstruction of Earth and finds, to his surprise, that he’s homesick for Moya. He does not boogie. His reaction to his mother’s pleading for him to remain with her when she dies is horrible, and Ben Browder pulls out all the stops, turning in a shocking and powerful performance.
That Damn Peacekeeper Bitch: ‘I found new places to take your temperature.’ Aeryn Sun is Doctor Bettina Fairchild (good name!)—nurse, wearer of amazing curlers, party girl extraordinaire, fancier of men with tentacles, and capable of doing the most amazing thing with her tongue!
Big Blue: ‘Shared Unity. Interesting euphemism. No, Mr. Crichton, you and I have never had sex. I'm sure I'd remember it if we had.’ Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan is Doctor Kaminski—alien psychiatrist; she’s blue but she’s got a green card.
I Was A Teenage Luxan: ‘I was wondering if you wouldn't mind participating with me in a little Luxan bonding ritual… here's what we need: some chains, my Qualta blade, just a squirt of Lutra oil, and oooh, Chiana… she wants to watch!’ Ka D’Argo is Gary Ragal—astronaut about town, hard drinkin’, fast drivin’, woman lovin’, party dude who likes beer, bad cardigans and swings both ways.
Buckwheat the Sixteenth: ‘This is for calling me Sparky! This is for calling me Fluffy! And this is for Buckwheat, whatever that means!’ Dominar Rygel XVI is D. Logan—disabled boss of the Farscape project with a taste for cigars, a motorised chair and an inability to fly.
Your Favourite Little Tralk: ‘You're an astronaut too? Oooh I like astronauts!’ Chiana is Jessica—bisexual astronaut groupie.
The Insane Military Commander: ‘I like your style, hombre.’ Captain Bialar Crais is Officer Gordon—high heel wearing, dog carrying, gun toting keeper of the peace.
Worlds Apart: John is captured on an anonymous Commerce Planet.
Alien Encounters: The Scarrans are now after John as well, although only to find out why Scorpy is after him. Their standard interrogation technique is to drive their prisoners insane.
Hi, Harvey: The needle we saw in ‘Look At the Princess’ was a memory of Scorpius implanting a neurochip, which explains why John’s been having flashes of Scorpius since the Aurora Chair, why he saw Scorpy in ‘Crackers Don’t Matter,’ heard him in ‘Look At The Princess II: I Do, I Think,’ was unable to kill him in ‘Look At The Princess III: The Maltese Crichton,’ and was hallucinating him in ‘Beware of Dog.’ It also explains the regular moments of instability that began in ‘Mind The Baby.’
The neurochip contains a neural clone of Scorpius’ personality that can appear to John and has the power to kill him at will. It is there to extract the wormhole information from his brain no matter how long it takes.
John tries to decide if he’s Clarence (the guardian Angel from the Jimmy Stewart film It’s A Wonderful Life) or Harvey the invisible rabbit (from Stewart’s other great classic Harvey). He eventually settles on Harvey.
Having revealed itself in order to save him from the Scarran, Harvey then forces John to forget he exists.
Disney On Acid: The references to Wizard of Oz begin immediately. John says he feels like he’s been ‘hit by a house’; he refers to the ‘giant blue twister that sucks me down to Oz’; he quotes a song from the film: ‘come out, come out, wherever you are, and see the young man who fell from the star’; he accuses Scorpy of being ‘the man behind the curtain’; and Crais’s dog is called Toto.
Get Frelled: Aeryn in a nurse’s uniform, Chiana as a schoolgirl, Zhaan in black PVC and Oh. My. God. Rygel in S&M gear. Sparky in leather with a whip is enough to give anyone nightmares.
Seen It All Before: In Season One, which is this episode’s masterstroke.
WHAT did you just say? Officer Gordon: ‘Freeze! You're under arrest! You have the right to the remains of a silent attorney. If you cannot afford one, tough noogies! You can make one phone call. I recommend Trixie, 976-555-love. Do you understand these rights as I have explained them to you? Well do you, punk?’
Backstage: Wayne Pygram is a drummer and has played professionally for twenty years.
Guest Stars: Carmen Duncan has been a regular on a number of TV shows, most recently Another World.
The Verdict: An instant classic, demonstrating Farscape’s incredible nerve by taking a story that’s already been done and doing it again, this time with the realisation that it’s all a trick coming before the titles.
By pre-empting the revelation it becomes a surreal trip; outrageously funny, genuinely mysterious, allowing all the actors to let loose and play against type and yet still managing to further the ongoing storyline of John’s madness. It doesn’t put a foot wrong and Ben Browder’s performance is nothing short of astonishing.
Many other sci-fi shows would, and have, done riffs similar to ‘A Human Reaction,’ but no other show except Farscape would dare try the same trick twice and pull it off with such panache. A masterclass in balls, and a clear demonstration of why this show is unique.
Verdict Redux: Simply glorious. My favourite episode to date, and certainly in my top five episodes, maybe top three, I’ll let you know when we hit the end. The moment when Crichton moans ‘this is cruel’ is gut-wrenching, a moment of truly heartbreaking emotional reality in the midst of surreal madness. It demonstrates, not for the last time, how amazing Browder is and the kind of creative courage Farscape is beginning to display.
Scott K. Andrews has written episode guides, magazine articles, film and book reviews, comics, audio plays for Big Finish, far too many blogs, some poems you will never read, and three novels for Abaddon. He is, patently, absurd.