Wed
Jun 5 2013 2:16pm

Farscape Rewatch: “Infinite Possibilities II: Icarus Abides”

Farscape, Infinite Possibilities: Icarus Abides, CrichtonInfinite Possibilities I: Icarus Abides
Written by Carelton Eastlake, directed by Peter Andrikidis
Season 3, Episode 15

1st US Transmission Date: 3 August 2001
1st UK Transmission Date: 3 December 2001

Guest Cast: Jack Crichton (Kent McCord), Furlow (Magda Szubanski), Alcar (Thomas Holesgrove), Charrid Leader 2 (Noel Hodda)

‘They say it's a lucky or an unambitious man who goes when he's ready. That said, Scorpius is gone, I'm at peace, I don't hurt, I did some good things, I'm proud of my life, and I'm with you. Don't worry about me, I've never felt better.’

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Synopsis: John recovers, Harvey dies; Rygel continues to fight despite his wound; a Scarran scout sent ahead of the Dreadnought boards Talyn. Stark and Crais join forces, fool the Scarran into taking a neural transponder and thus give the ship time to recover enough to shoot the critter with its internal guns.

Farscape, Infinite Possibilities: Icarus Abides, Crichton, Jack

Jack and John convert the Phase Stabiliser into a Displacement Engine; it has no off switch, can only be used once, and 1.4 arns after activation it will meltdown. Furlow, who has been working with the Charrids all along, kills Jack, but when the two Charrids hiding in the depot doublecross her she kills them too and tells John and Aeryn that they killed Jack. She then steals the Displacement Engine and drives off with it. John and Aeryn give chase causing Furlow to crash, which in turn activates the Engine. Knowing it’ll be useless before she can sell it to the Scarrans, Furlow does a runner. The Engine is leaking radiation so John has to close the lid, but in doing so he receives a lethal dose. He uses the Engine to destroy the Dreadnought and returns to Talyn, where he dies in Aeryn’s arms.

Farscape, Infinite Possibilities: Icarus Abides, Crichton, Aeryn

Black T: ‘I wouldn't change it for the world. You made me a better person.’ Free of Harvey, and with all the wormhole knowledge unlocked, John tells Aeryn that he can finally go home mere minutes before receiving the dose of radiation that he knows will kill him. He flies the module, deploys the Displacement Engine, and returns to Talyn to die. He tells Rygel he’s going to miss him but he can’t have his stuff. Stark helps him pass by sharing some of his energy, and John dies. And you sobbed. Go on admit it, you bawled like a baby. No shame in it.

Farscape, Infinite Possibilities: Icarus Abides, Aeryn

You Can Be More: ‘I would have gone to Earth.’ Aeryn takes out a Charrid vehicle by dropping a grenade and then shooting it when the car drives over it; she doesn’t want to kill the driver but he decides to fight rather than run, so she has no choice—the Aeryn of Season One wouldn’t even have hesitated to shoot the Charrid instantly. Aeryn breaks down the last of her barriers when she decides that she will go with John to Earth. All her resistance to emotion and love is gone, eroded by two and a half cycles of John’s patience, kindness and love. And just when she’s finally committed, open and happy, the clumsy yotz goes and dies on her. No wonder she’s a total wreck at the end. The emotional fallout will be terrible and how will she react when the inevitable reunion with Green T John takes place?

Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Rygel the war hero fights on despite his wounds, although the discovery that the Charrids were never attacking properly because they were in league with Furlow all along somewhat detracts from his achievement. He tells dying John: ‘it will be hard not to think of you.’

Farscape, Infinite Possibilities: Icarus Abides, Stark

The Man In the Iron Mask: Stark earns some respect from Crais by playing a dangerous bluffing game with the Scarrans. He plays the part of menial, disaffected slave all too well and manages to save all their lives in the process. He displays no hint of his tendency to wig out either, so perhaps real pressure is what’s needed to keep him focussed. Crichton holds Stark’s hand against his head after he’s received his energy, and they seem to have some sort of unspoken understanding…

The Insane Military Commander: With the Scarran on Talyn killed, Crais and Talyn could leave—in fact John orders them too—but Crais insists on staying and risking his life and Talyn’s to help destroy the Dreadnought. John replies, grudgingly: ‘damn it Crais, knock it off. You're gonna make me start liking you.’ John tells Crais to ‘find the better part of yourself; you have to take care of them,’ and Crais promises that he will. Indeed perhaps he’s some way there already; his actions in this two-parter have been loyal and honourable to a fault.

Farscape, Infinite Possibilities: Icarus Abides, Aeryn, Harvey

Hi, Harvey: Harvey is beaten by John and Jack, but as he dies he manages to seize control of John long enough to convince Aeryn that John is dead. She is just about to shoot John when Jack stops her, and the neural clone’s last gambit fails and he dies, leaving John’s mind free. As he dies he tells Aeryn: ‘next time be more decisive, shoot quicker. A soldier must not be weak. Weakness means defeat.’ Of course Green T still has a Harvey, so there may indeed be a next time.

Big Baby: Talyn can use his neural transponder delivery system to immobilise a person, perhaps by electrocuting them. His impulse to panic and fire when in danger also seems to be better under control—he allows Crais to use him as bait and doesn’t fire on the Dreadnought, even when targeted. Perhaps the neural graft has given him a cooler head courtesy of Crais. Talyn has two Docking Bays.

Farscape, Infinite Possibilities: Icarus Abides, Crais, Stark

The Ballad Of Aeryn And John: When Harvey is finally expelled, Aeryn just can’t keep her hands off John—she’s groping, kissing, hanging onto him for dear life even while he’s discussing technical matters with Jack. Grief, get a room!

Get Frelled:

JOHN: Furlow, is it always about the money?
FURLOW: Is there anything else? I mean, how much sex can you have?
JOHN: I don't know, I haven't maxed out yet.

Farscape, Infinite Possibilities: Icarus Abides, Crichton, Furlow

Alien Encounters: Scarrans always send a reconnaissance scout, or a scout party, ahead of their Dreadnoughts.

Stats: John does not perform a slinghot to open the wormhole so the Displacement Engine must create it, but it still seems to require the presence of solar flares. The module circles the wormhole with the Displacement Engine doing whatever it does until the wormhole touches the surface of the star and then ejects a huge ball of burning star material. The target is burned up and swallowed by the wormhole until both target and wormhole burn out. This weapon is so powerful that John reckons it could destroy a planet. He also claims he can now build a device to get him home and that Aeryn can come with him, which implies that the liquidation problems being experienced by Scorpius are solvable.

Farscape, Infinite Possibilities: Icarus Abides, Crichton

Logic Leaps: Okay you’re probably going to hate me for this but it’s got to be said… why didn’t John just walk behind the Engine and close the lid by throwing something at it? A well-thrown shoe or gun could have closed the cover at no risk at all to John. I don’t want to take away from his noble sacrifice and all that, but come on, what a dumb way to die!

Bloopers: Furlow’s recreation of John’s module has IASA and United States logos painted on it.

Farscape, Infinite Possibilities: Icarus Abides, Crichton, Furlow

The Verdict: Heartbreaking and unbelievably cruel to the characters, this is top-notch drama. To have all John and Aeryn’s dreams come true, only to have him condemned to death minutes later, is horrible beyond words and will surely have repercussions for Aeryn’s character throughout the rest of the show’s run. Claudia Black and Ben Browder act their socks off, really convincing us of how in sync these two are and how dreadful it is to be separated after everything they’ve been through. Also, we now know that Green T can be freed of Harvey and can conceivably build a wormhole device to take him home. Plus Furlow is still out there—she’s lost her lab and her data but she’s got all the knowledge in her head necessary to start again.

Verdict redux: Carleton Eastlake makes a huge impression with his first pair of scripts and nails the characters perfectly. It's all the prop department's fault that it goes wrong. If the Displacement Engine had the radiation pouring out from the top, rather than one side, and if the lid had been a detachable piece that Crichton had to drop into place from above, rather than a lid that could be flipped back, the manner of his death would have made sense. As it is, he dies simply because he can't be bothered to take the three seconds needed to walk around the device. The fault isn't in the writing it's in the prop, which accidentally renders John a moron. Try as I might, I just can't get past the hamfisted realisation of what was written so well. It bugs me SO much.

Farscape, Infinite Possibilities: Icarus Abides, Crichton, Aeryn

Anyway, moving on—the writing is great, and the performances during the death-bed scene are note-perfect. Also the explanation of the Charrid's complicity with Furlow somewhat makes up for their cannon-fodder behaviour in the second half of part one (but not the first half). This is the show at the top of its game, with a key episode in the middle of its strongest run.


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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14 comments
Eric Saveau
1. Eric Saveau
And you sobbed. Go on admit it, you bawled like a baby. No shame in it.
Yes. Yes, I did. And I do. Every time.

My wife was dumbstruck. She really didn't think the show would go there.
Keith DeCandido
2. krad
I was never impressed with this two-parter, because I saw it coming from the moment they twinned John. It enables them to eat their cake and have it, too. It's way to construct artificial pathos, which is meaningless, because there's a backup John on Moya.

And I didn't sob. Sorry. I was more put out by Gilina's death...

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Tyler Sprenger
3. Kappi
It seems pretty cruel to give John everything he's wanted, and then doom him to die. Still, I liked the episode, and always thought the "twinned" Crichtons was an interesting plot mechanic.
Eric Saveau
4. Colin R
If this episode had been the end of Farscape--or even if it the show had simply gone off the rails and sucked after this--it would still have been a fantastic run. The action and the science are silly, but for pure drama this is top-notch stuff.

What I love about Farscape is that this is the beginning of another great story arc, which continues through the season and on to the end. They give Crichton a big moment here, unquestionably heroic. And yet only a handful of episodes later, the other Crichton is questioning some of the conclusions being drawn here. And it seems perfectly reasonable then! Right now it seems like the Wormhole weapons are unquestionably terrible, but soon giving these weapons to Scorpius might seem, however briefly, like the lesser of many evils.

Even at the darkest moments of the show up to this point, it's felt like Crichton will pull it off--he might find his way home, he and Aeryn might work it out and go back together. The surviving Crichton doesn't know it yet, but none of that can happen now, and he's going to spend the rest of the series coming to grips with that.
Eric Saveau
5. Colin R
@krad

That one of the Crichtons would have to go was unavoidable and obvious; fair enough if the way it went didn't affect you. But, I do think that the whole twinning plot has effects that go way beyond this story arc that are kind of great. John and Aeryn's relationship on Talyn is what the audience wants to see--romantic and affectionate. And Farscape kills it off. Even though they (obviously) are going to get together again, it's never a romance like this one again. Their relationship after this is much more mature and tinged with sorrow after this.
treebee72 _
6. treebee72
@krad

I saw it coming from a mile away too, but for me, it just didn't matter. The performances given by CB & BB get me every. single. time.
Rob Rater
7. Quasarmodo
The 2 Johns and the 2 Harveys makes me think they could've done a pretty cool story about the 2 Harvey's conspiring to team up with one another somehow. Just an idea.
Christopher Hatton
8. Xopher
I saw it coming, but the acting was so good that it got to me anyway. And Claudia Black never misses a note or nuance, here or for the rest of the show, in her depiction of Aeryn's grief, pain, and difficulty dealing with the other Crichton. Browder is also note-perfect, but Crichton's reaction is less complex.

The next Talyn ep is where we really see Aeryn come apart.
Iain Cupples
9. NumberNone
@krad: maybe it is a little obvious, but it's still a clever and creative way to deal with the main character issue the series had at this point.

Like a lot of other shows, Farscape relied on a will-they-won't-they sexual tension between the two leads, and that's a hard thing to sustain over several seasons. The audience want to see some progression, and it becomes difficult to credibly maintain the status quo - if people are attracted to each other and spend a lot of time together, you eventually run out of reasons to keep them apart.

Here, the Farscape writers managed to eat their cake and have it, as you say, but the way it's done is genuinely heart-wrenching. The performances of the leads sold it for me - particularly as I had been expecting them to go in a very different direction, a reunion and then conflict between the two Johns over Aeryn. And then, bam. Yeah, ultimately, maybe it had to happen, that one of the two Crichtons would die - but by doing it after he got together with Aeryn and seemed set to have his happy ending, it carried a punch, and reset the Aeryn/John will-they-won't-they subplot in a powerful and interesting way.
Christopher Hatton
10. Xopher
The twinning and splitting the party thing is why Ben Browder is the only actor to appear in every episode of Farscape. The next Talyn-track episode is the closest to the edge: Crichton is dead, but Browder appears anyway (actually there's another episode where this happens, but it's Zhaan hallucinating rather than Aeryn imagining).
Eric Saveau
11. ChrisG
We all knew the twinning had to resolve, but that it went on so long, that it ended in such an effective and heartbreaking manner (despite the lid snafu), and that it set up a powerful tension in the later relationships among the characters was, in my view, both unprecedented and fantastic.
Eric Saveau
12. DavidB
Logic leap 2
Why didn't furlow close the engine?? As she wanted to take it with her anyways..
Jack asked J/A to leave the hanger cause of the radiation. But Furlowe was with Jack when he was installing it.
Kinda glad the twin died though ..
Elizabeth Heckert
13. silhouettepoms
Cue my heart breaking into a million little pieces :~(
Eric Saveau
14. Mashara
When I was watching this episode last night (I'm power-watching though this entire thing, I cannot believe I never watched it before) I remember thinking "If they kill this one, which has been with Aeryn and leave the other duplicate as the only John, I'm going to be so mad". I'm so mad, but I was sort of prepared, I'm a Selina-Bruce and Rogue-Gambit long suferer.

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