Apr 3 2013 3:00pm

Farscape Rewatch: “Eat Me”

Farscape, Eat Me, ChianaEat Me
Written by Matt Ford, directed by Ian Watson
Season 3, Episode 6

1st US Transmission Date: 20 April 2001
1st UK Transmission Date: 1 October 2001

Guest Cast: Jool (Tammy MacIntosh), Kaarvok (Shane Briant), Belima (Lisa Griffiths)

Synopsis: After a transport pod accident John, D’Argo, Chiana and Jool are forced to seek refuge on a diseased PK Leviathan that still has its control collar. The ship is full of zombies—the degraded remains of its crew—who are eating the ship, the Pilot, and each other.

The Leviathan, Rovhu, was a prison for the criminally insane and was transporting its sole prisoner, Kaarvok, when it was ambushed by Scarrans and left to drift. Kaarvok is loose and he sucks something out of D’Argo’s brain and injects it into his own in front of a horrified John and Chiana; they burn D’Argo’s body.

Farscape, Eat Me, D'Argo

Kaarvok next attacks Chiana and doubles her—producing two equal and opposite copies of her, one of which he kills and brain sucks. It transpires that D’Argo was doubled too and Kaarvok chains up the remaining Luxan and tries to make him breed with one of the PK zombies, which are the product of degradation caused by too many doublings. Chiana rescues him.

John, believing both his friends dead, tries to repair the pilot’s connections with the ship, but Kaarvok kills the pilot before John is finished. Instead John sets the ship to StarBurst, knowing it is so damaged it will explode. Kaarvok tries to stop him and in the struggle John is doubled. Everyone escapes, the ship is destroyed, the zombies and Kaarvok are killed. But we are left with two John Crichtons!

Farscape, Eat Me, Aeryn, Stark, Rygel

Meanwhile, Moya finds Talyn dead in space, severely damaged, with Crais unconscious. They take Talyn in tow and bring Crais aboard for medical treatment.

Buck Rogers Redux: ‘I don't think so, brain-sucker. I can arrange my own death!’ When D’Argo won’t agree to his plan, John just walks away and goes to do it himself. The independence that caused so much trouble in ‘Different Destinations…’ is still there and he hasn’t learnt his lesson; he later blames his stubbornness for D’Argo’s death. He is able to reconnect Rovhu’s pilot to the ship, and knows the control sequence to initiate StarBurst. He’s willing to die if it means he takes Kaarvok with him. When he leaves Chiana with Jool in the Maintenance Bay, Chi warns him that she’ll kill Jool and he murmurs ‘whatever’; when he returns he’s surprised to find Jool still alive—does she annoy him so much he was willing to let Chi kill her, perhaps even hoping she would? The two Johns play Rock/Scissors/Paper and both choose the same thing every time.

Farscape, Eat Me, John Crichton

 I Was A Teenage Luxan: John’s plan—find the pilot, get things sorted out—makes perfect sense, but D’Argo is so freaked out by being on a PK ship that he refuses to endorse it and just wants to grab the stuff they need and run, even though the chances of him making it without the pilot’s help are slim. The surviving D’Argo does not seem hugely bothered by being doubled and even speculates that he may be a copy.

Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Rygel rips out Crais’s neural transponder and tries to persuade Aeryn to leave Talyn in case whatever shot him up returns to finish the job and decides to attack Moya as well. When Aeryn goes to collect John and the others, Rygel says he will give her 300 microts before cutting Talyn loose and StarBursting away.

Farscape, Eat Me, Chiana

Everyone’s Favourite Little Tralk: Chiana is horrified by D’Argo’s apparent death and burns his body to stop him being eaten. When she is doubled she leaves her other self to be eaten by Kaarvok, even though the doomed one begs for help. She is so traumatised and guilty at her actions that she refuses to accept that the doubling creates two equal copies and tries to convince herself that she is the original and the dead one was a clone. Chi punches Jool a couple of times until she punches her back, apparently to teach her how to behave violently, but more likely because she just felt like it.

Jool In the Crown: ‘I don't think this is right, I shouldn't be here. I'm a civilized being. There's got to be someone here who recognizes that. I just need to find them.’ Jool grabs the control of the Transport Pod for no adequately explained reason, and manages to cause critical systems breakdowns; she would, had they not stumbled across Rovhu, been the cause of all their deaths. It’s a miracle that a few punches from Chiana is the worst treatment she receives. She is left to guard the Transport Pod, but is so scared that she tries to shoot herself in the head with a pulse rifle; Chiana’s disappointed that she can’t even get that right. Jool’s world has no violence or war. Her parents were very supportive of her when she was young.

Farscape, Eat Me, John Crichton

In The Driving Seat: Rovhu’s pilot’s arms are cut off and eaten every time they regenerate.

The Insane Military Commander: Crais may not recover from his wounds. Removing his neural transponder causes Talyn to shut down.

A Ship, A Living Ship!: Since Leviathans are living beings, parts of them are edible. They can survive for a long time while being eaten from the inside out. They ooze puss when they are diseased.

Big Baby: Rygel: ‘Listen, you bartantic bitch, Talyn's supposedly the meanest, deadliest, all-time yave-of-the-yuvo fighter ship. But somebody, something, beat the yotz out of him.’ Talyn has been seriously damaged and is unable to communicate with Moya, but he will recover.

Farscape, Eat Me

Alien Encounters: Although the Scarrans and the Peacekeepers are not openly at war, Scarrans will ambush PK convoys. Kaarvok can patch himself directly into Rovhu’s controls using his own Biomechanoid parts.

Disney On Acid: John calls himself and D’Argo ‘Abbot and Costello in the House of Horrors’ again referring to the 30’s comedy double act he likes so much. He refers to Kaarvok as a ‘sick, Hammer Horror son of a bitch,’ which is nice since the actor, Shane Briant, starred in a number of Hammer Horror films.

Get Frelled: Kaarvok wants fresh food, so he ties D’Argo up and chains Belima to him hoping that they will breed. When Chi finds them, D’Argo is receiving all kinds of attentions and he claims to not be enjoying it at all. So why didn’t he tongue her unconscious then? Pervert.

Farscape, Eat Me

Seen It All Before: As John points out, this is all very Night Of The Living Dead, even down to the fact that Kaarvok sucks something out of his victims brains and injects it into his own.

Stats: John and D’Argo go in search of Narium Coil and three-k wire with which to repair the Transport Pod. D’Argo’s Qualta Blade and Winona are not doubled—Chiana finds them in a locker near chained D’Argo.

Logic Leaps: It’s a little hard to believe that Jool simply grabbing the controls could so catastrophically damage a Transport Pod. The doubling process also duplicates clothing.

Farscape, Eat Me, Jool

Guest Stars: Shane Briant has appeared in many TV series and films, most notably Lady Chatterley’s Lover, The Naked Civil Servant and Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell. Sean Masterson, normally a voiceless puppeteer, gets to voice Rovhu’s Pilot.

The Verdict: Pure horror movie, with a great score from Guy Gross, excellent camera work and lighting, scary zombies, brain sucking, gruesome deaths and lots and lots of puss. Definitely the scariest Farscape so far and chock full of atmosphere. And then the ending, which is a stroke of genius and will dominate the rest of the season, takes a similar premise to ‘My Three Crichtons’ and actually runs with it, which is nothing any other show has ever had the mivonks to do. Should be interesting…

Verdict-Redux: Kaarvok takes exception when hearing the word clone, and insists that his process is more complex. But what evidence do we really have for that? The reproduction of clothing implies that this is far more complex than a simple DNA-based genetic replicant, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that whatever tech he uses doesn’t just copy the entire contents of the bubble he pops around the original, kind of like a photocopier.

Farscape, Eat Me, Aeryn, Crais

In fact, the ‘doubling’ process leads, after some generations, to degradation—which strongly implies that there is copying going on, unless the act of being copied degrades the original, which seems unlikely. I’d argue, therefore, that the evidence we have lends itself more strongly to the idea that there is a copy and an original rather than two equal entities.

In which case, we simply never know if ‘our’ Chi and D’Argo die on board Rovhu, or which Crichton came first.

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.

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1. Nymeria
I think the "equal copies" theory makes more sense...or, at least, as much sense as something like this can make. To use a photocopier analogy, if there was an original and a copy, the original would remain undamaged and each copy would be of the same quality each time (assuming you could tell the difference, and weren't accidentally disposing of the original(s)). If, on the other hand, it created two identical copies, that would explain it -- as if you took an original, made two photocopies, and then could only use those two photocopies for further copies. Each subsequent generation would have a step down in quality, but they would both be the same at each step.
2. Colin R
I think that this episode probably gets remembered mostly for introducing the duplicate Crichtons, but that's not really fair. This is a fantastically creepy episode all on its own; great direction and great acting. Gigi Edgly does fantastic work both as the doomed Chiana and the horrified survivor. And the sets are really creepy, even though they're just using re-using the normal sets and covering them with goo, debris, and weird lighting and angles.

...I don't even want to try to make sense of the duplication technobabble though.
George Brell
3. gbrell
I don't love this ep. It's a B-level plot that's well-executed, but it's still a B-level plot.

I was surprised that you didn't comment on the fact that the two Johns are pretty obviously playing rock-paper-scissors for their lives. Hence why Winona is placed on the table between them.
4. reyler
The doubling process does have a logic to it if you look at it the right way. If you take a 1-liter bottle of your preferred beverage, divide it evenly between two 1-liter bottles, and use water to make up the difference, you've got two equal and identical bottles made from the same original bottle. Equal and identical to eachother, anyway, if not necessarily to the original. And consider that Kaarvok has done this over many, many generations of doubling, the "degradation" is really just the current crop of doubles being too watered down to be particularly nutritious.

For a more technobabbly look at it, I'd say his "bubble" rips in half whatever it encloses at the molecular level, and then adds a filler that takes on some of the molecular composition of whatever's around it; drywall paste, basically. And over many repetitions, the ratio of original-to-filler has gone so skewed, that with each generation there's a greater chance of the filling-in going wrong and creating a deformed accident.
Rob Rater
5. Quasarmodo
The 2 Johns were probably just playing to see he gets Winona, but the loser would just use some other pulse weapon that was lying around. Winona actually doesn't have a great track record up to this point.
6. Colin R
Yeah, considering that their argument over who owns their stuff continues into the next episode, I think it makes a lot more sense that they were playing for Winona, not for life.
Theresa DeLucci
7. theresa_delucci
I will never forget that other pilot yelling "They were eating ME!"" Ew. Gave me chills. I loved Farscape for always having the balls to go places other series at that time never went, like dealing with two Crichtons for more than just a cute little hour. So cool.

I remember a lot of people hating this ep at the time. I think viewers don't really like having their fictional reality questioned much, more than the creepy bits. I think of that season 6 Buffy episode, "Normal Again" where Buffy may or may not be some delusional girl in a mental hospital.
8. Eric Saveau
The doubling plot device was completely nonsensical - but it doesn't matter one bit. What they did with the results for the rest of the season was marvelous, and the episode's depiction of the doomed, rotting Leviathan and every awful body horror thing that was happening within was absolutely terrifying.
9. politeruin
The start of my favourite story arc in 'scape. Especially when they split up and have wildly different experiences, which leads to the rock/paper/scissors game having a wonderful payoff at the end. I'm sure i thought at the time this will just be conveniently reset but that's what a diet of trek will do to you i guess.
Christopher Hatton
10. Xopher
I like this episode, mostly because of the two Crichtons that result, but I like it in other ways too: Chiana doing funeral rites for D'Argo, Chiana punching Jool (Jool's outrage), Crichton's reaction to the other Crichton.

I didn't like the final scene with the two Crichtons doing rock-paper-scissors. Not sure if they just couldn't sync it because of limitations of motion-capture, or if they thought it shouldn't be perfectly synched, but it should be (mirror neurons are specifically designed* for that sort of thing).

*for strictly scientific/evolutionary values of 'designed'
Christopher Hatton
11. Xopher
And politeruin, this is one of the reasons I love this series: things that happen have consequences.
13. Crusader75
If memory serves, Kaarvok explicitly describes duplication as a sort of whole body "mitosis", which is abusive of a real world scientific concept. The best way to look at the duplication process is that the orginal is destroyed and what is left are both copies that do not quite equal the original in some essential quality, which results in the degradation over enough duplications. The important thing to take away is that the subsequent angsting by the two Johns over who's the copy is meaningless.
Iain Cupples
14. NumberNone
I loved Farscape for always having the balls to go places other series at that time never went

Exactly. And this episode does it in spades. Not only with the two Johns surviving, but with Chiana too. Is she the 'original'? Does it make a difference to what she did, anyway? A pretty unflinching look at one of the main characters.
Jack Flynn
15. JackofMidworld
I watched this on Netflix (back before they pulled it from streaming *spits on floor*) and remember thinking that I'd wished I could've seen it around Halloween, that's just how creepy it was.

And, yeah, totally agree - Farscape definitely is definitely heading down into some dark and even ballsier places.
16. Nicholas Winter
Both Farscape and Babylon 5 are no longer availible on Netflix for streaming. Indeed a lot of sf has vanished including all of the Robocop films!
17. Kvon
I don't think you should use the idiom 'dead in the water' in relation to a living ship. My first thought was 'he didn't die!'

Agreed that keeping both Johns distinguishes Farscape from just about every other sf show in terms of imaginative arcs.
gary blaney
18. scifitattooguy
LOVE LOVE LOVE this episode.
creepy as hell, Shane Briant chews up some scenery, and as others have suggested, Farscape takes a familiar sci-fi TV device and uses it to create absolute fucking magic thru the rest of the season. Gives me goosebumps just thinking of the episodes to come...
Steven Lyle Jordan
19. Steven_Lyle_Jordan
It's the not knowing who was original, who was copied, and who survived, that makes this episode stand out so well. It would have been an interesting mind-frell if, a season or so later, some character with hyper senses or something told Chi or D'Argo that he/she was a copy and not the original, recalling this episode and freaking everyone out!
20. Eclectic Mayhem
This episode. THIS episode is one of the best examples of the way this show takes familiar Sci-Fi plotlines and then twists them into something brand new. I always got a huge kick out of the fact that 3/4 of the way into an episode they'd generally have a plan to get out of whatever dodgy situation they were in and then it'd all get worse!

I've never really been that bothered about whether the Crichtons are equal or one is a copy but what Scott K. Andrews had to say, last week, about Crichton's 'sense of self' taking such a progressive beating in every episode of this season got me thinking about the two Crichtons we see from here on in...

I'm not sure how you're going to differentiate between the two Crichtons going forward (Talyn John/Moya John or Black (t-shirt) John/Green John...?) but Talyn/Black John definitely handles the situation better than Moya/Green John - right from the get go. He's more decisive, more proactive, and more comfortable in himself. I suspect he really is the newer version of John because - having just winked into existence - he doesn't seem to be AS bothered about all the crap that's just gone down. Whereas Moya/Green John gets worse and worse, especially while separated from Aeryn.
21. Colin R
I don't believe there was ever supposed to be a 'real' Crichton. Or rather, they are both as Crichton as can be. But man, the writers sure knew the audience would side with one Crichton or another, and they played that to the hilt--and then delivered a sucker punch. It's masterful audience manipulation.

The two Crichtons simply live through different experiences, and have to deal with their issues in different ways. Crichton-Black is constantly fighting for his life--he has to keep it together. Crichton-Green meanwhile is given all the time in the world to stew in his own fears and doubts, without Aeryn to anchor himself and without any firm purpose.
treebee72 _
22. treebee72
There was always a theme of John makes Aeryn a better person running through the series. The upcoming arc makes it perfectly clear that Aeryn very much makes John a better person. Which I LOVE!
23. Eclectic Mayhem
@treebee72 - I'm in agreement. Here's a favourite line from The Dog with Two Bones.

"You see, you leave and then you come back and I, I can't handle the in between."

I don't remember if I prefered one Crichton over the other... but I was very invested in the John/Aeryn relationship so it was definitely a case of wanting to get through the Moya episodes and get back to Talyn.

I do remember being gobsmacked by the sheer, bare-faced, audacity of the Farscape-powers-that-be at this method of having their cake and eating it and, effectively, allowing us - the audience - to do the same. But - oh Yotz - the trauma. I'm glad Alyx Dellamonica will be done with The Body on the Buffy rewatch before we get to Icarus Abides here. It's going to be a weepfest.
Elizabeth Heckert
24. silhouettepoms
I remember thinking the double Crichton plot was very clever and really enjoying it.. up til the horrible moment when I realized, They Can't Keep Doing This Forever... and that one of them had to go. And in the pit of my stomach I knew WHICH ONE had to go... :(
26. James Spangler
Obviously this is way late, but I'll leave it here for FUTURE GENERATIONS.

My assumption on watching this episode was always that the doubling process was simply psychologically destructive, not that any significant genetic degradation was going on. Chi is freaked out enough over having had a double consumed by Kaarvok; repeat that a few dozen times and you'd have a total breakdown of self-identity and, in all probability, sanity on your hands.

The only person who doesn't seem super bothered by it was D'Argo, and a lot of that probably has to do with Big D simply not being especially predisposed towards philosophical angst. For him, one supposes, the thought "I, myself, am alive, and nothing Kaarvok did changes that" is presumably enough.

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