Aug 14 2013 3:00pm

Farscape Rewatch: “Crichton Kicks”

Farscape Crichton Kicks, SikozuCrichton Kicks
Written by David Kemper, directed by Andrew Prowse
4, episode 1

1st UK Transmission Date: 23 September 2002
1st US Transmission Date: 7 June 2002

Guest Cast: Raelee Hill (Sikozu), Peter Whittle (Ilkog), Bob Nisevic (Nukana), Dinah Shearing (Voice of Elack’s Pilot)

Synopsis: This episode takes place ‘some time’ after the events of ‘Dog With Two Bones.’ A dying leviathan called Elack arrived at the Leviathans’ sacred place intending to die, shortly after Moya was snatched by a wormhole. John took refuge aboard. He’s been hanging out there, drinking hooch, covering the cargo bay in wormhole equations and growing a truly resplendent beard. A small ship crashes in, destroying his equations. On board is Sikozu, an employee of a race called the Grudeks. They harvest dead and dying leviathans and Sikozu’s job is to find them. Unfortunately, by identifying the Leviathans’ sacred burial ground she has rendered herself both superfluous and a liability—they are chasing her, intending to kill her to prevent the secret getting out to their competitors.

The Grudeks board and begin harvesting Elack. John decides to try and fight them off, with predictably dismal results. The Grudeks release a Brindz Hound—a hunting dog—to track them down. Chiana and Rygel turn up; the hound gets flushed out into space; John, Chi and Sikozu do some baffling up-and-down thing; there’s a lot of shooting.

Oh who the hell knows what happens, it’s completely incoherent. And dull. NEXT!

Farscape Crichton Kicks

Buck Rogers Redux: John has let himself go. He’s manic, mad, drunk, hairy and oddly obsessed with Tchaikovsky. He daydreams about pregnant Aeryn, but eventually manages to stop, realising that it’s not helping.

You Can Be More: Nowhere to be seen.

I Was A Teenage Luxan: Nowhere to be seen.

Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Rygel’s attempt to reclaim his throne has been scuppered by wanted beacons scattered everywhere by Grayza. He is worth 7 million. Hynerians bruise pink. Since he turns up with Chiana in tow it seems they left together in ‘Dog With Two Bones.’

Farscape Crichton Kicks, Chiana Rygel

Everyone’s Favourite Little Tralk: Chiana’s attempt to find Nerri has been scuppered by Grayza’s beacons too. Chi is worth 5 Million. Chiana’s precognitive abilities have changed—she can now see the present in slo-mo, but it leaves her with literally blinding headaches.

Jool In the Crown: Nowhere to be seen.

Sputnik: Sikozu Svala Shanti Sugaysi Shanu is a Kalish. Her people live in Scarran territory. Her race cannot tolerate translator microbes, but they can shift their centre of gravity, which means they can climb walls. Her hand is bitten off but she is able to re-attach it—because although it bit off her hand, the Brinz Hound apparently spat it out again so Rygel could conveniently find it and pick it up and could use it as a flyswatter. She is an expert on Leviathans, but this is her first time aboard one.

Hi, Harvey: Harv’s hanging with John on the beach and running off to get snowcones.

A Ship, A Living Ship!: Grudeks hunt toubray, which is the neural cluster tissue of Leviathans. The best toubray is found in the etal cavity. Some cultures eat this tissue to improve their brain power. Leviathan’s shape themselves to their occupants, so none are the same. The doors on Elack don’t work because he is dying (until the plot requires one to work, when it miraculously does). Elack has been bound to his pilot for 350 cycles. Elack’s Pilot is a female, while he is male; given Moya is female and her Pilot is male, this implies the Pilot is always of the opposite gender to the Leviathan.

Farscape Crichton Kicks, Elack

Alien Encounters: The Grudeks have some kind of metal thing stuck through their foreheads.

Stats: John’s cracked wormholes, and can get everyone where they want to go if he can find ‘the wormhole network.’ The what-now? Never mentioned before, but suddenly it seems wormholes are part of a network, kind of like the London Underground. Or something. But instead of being able to create wormholes wherever and whenever he wants, which is how we’ve always understood it to work, John has to find ‘the network’ first. This seems to be a completely arbitrary new limitation introduced to get around the fact that John now has practically god-like wormhole powers. Boy, does it infuriate me when the rules get changed mid-game. Yes, I suppose you can retcon it to make some kind of sense when stacked up against ‘Self Inflicted Wounds,’ but you shouldn’t have to.

Farscape Crichton Kicks, Sikozu

WHAT did you just say?: John speaks Klingon to the Grudeks. Amazingly, he speaks good Klingon, which makes Crichton even more of a geek than we suspected.

Backstage: Maintaining the tradition whereby the episodes where John has a beard are the worst episode of the show to date, this at least has a real beard, which Ben Browder grew between seasons. There is a deleted scene which illustrates the changing dynamics between Scorpius, Braca and Grayza, and establishes the Interon world that will be the location for the next two episodes.

The Verdict: I take no pleasure in putting the boot in quite this hard, but it has to be done. Brace yourselves, this ain’t gonna be pretty...

Farscape Crichton Kicks, Sikozu

So it’s a new season, you’ve been a ratings success and have been rewarded with a two-year renewal and a prime timeslot after the channel’s big hit show, Stargate: SG1, a far more mainstream show in which clean-cut U.S. Soldiers make the universe safe for people who want to live like good Americans1.

1—I love Stargate, I’ve even written for it, but compared to Farscape it’s the most vanilla show imaginable.

You’ve got a completely clean slate—all your major plotlines have been squared away, and your main cast is scattered far and wide, each pursuing their own personal quests. Basically, it’s time for a soft reboot—a chance to re-establish your universe and core cast simply and dramatically for new viewers, and forge ahead with a bright new future.

Farscape Crichton Kicks

You open with John Crichton—outlaw, hero, man of action with a brain, good looking, cutting a dash in black leather—in a short vignette designed to show new viewers what he is about in one short sequence. He should be heroic, slightly oddball, rescuing someone perhaps, or facing off against a really bad guy. Lots of humour and excitement. A broad strokes re-establishment of the character, setting out your stall for the newbies, convincing them this is a character they want to spend time with. Either way, you have to begin with him being active in the story and in media res; anything else would be madness.

Then, probably a sequence where you establish that he’s lost, alone, trying to find one of his friends, that leads into him tracking down either D’Argo, Rygel or Chiana and getting involved in their personal story. It is essential that you keep him pro-active, moving forward, with a clear goal. During this episode you re-establish the secondary character of choice, and then they head off, a duo, to track down the next crew member on their list.

Farscape Crichton Kicks, Aeryn

It’s not rocket science. Given the setup left behind at the end of ‘Dog With Two Bones,’ any decent jobbing writer could bash together a season opener that would, at the very least, do the job. I realise that what I’m outlining may sound a bit vanilla, but the season opener has a very specific job to do, and as Farscape has proven time and again, this is a show that does very well at taking an initially straightforward plot that feels familiar and giving it a whopping great tweak in the third act. The skills necessary to deliver a blindingly good episode that secures Farscape’s future have been demonstrated time and again.

Instead we get ‘Crichton Kicks,’ the single most baffling season opener of any season of any show ever broadcast. And yes, I’m including Andromeda. I even reckon I can tell you the exact moment the show doomed itself—it’s about 90 second in, when John cries ‘bring in the horns’ and a dodgy synth version of ‘The 1812 Overture’ kicks in and he begins to caper in slow motion down a corridor. Every Stargate fan in the U.S. went ‘what the hell is this?’ and reached for the remote. 90 seconds. That’s how long Farscape’s brave new world lasted. They blew it that quickly.

Farscape Crichton Kicks, Sikozu

Then where do we go from there... we introduce a new character, Sikozu. How do we do that? With a completely incomprehensible piece of business about learning English. It has no bearing on her character, no plot relevance and, because we hear both her and John speaking English anyway, it makes no sense whatsoever. It’s not a bad idea, it’s just the wrong time and place for it, and it’s executed horribly.

Then the bad guys. Essentially, they’re space-whalers. Fishermen. Not inherently bad, just jobbing fishermen. Ethically a bit murky, no doubt, and we certainly want to see them sent off with their tales between their legs, but they have no beef with John. They offer him safe passage off the ship. And his response to these guys, who probably live in an economically depressed part of the galaxy and are trying to feed their families? He decides he’s going to Kill. Them. So here’s our hero—a bum who guns down people kind of at random.

Farscape Crichton Kicks, Harvey

Then we reintroduce two other lead characters. Characters who are extremely visually striking. How do we do that? Over a radio link. Yes, we completely throw away the reintroduction of two of our leads in a way that gives no initial indication of their importance or backstory. Why are they here? We never really find out, except that they are on the run. Why are they together? Who knows.

We do get some backstory from Chiana but only after John, for no readily apparent reason, slams her against a wall in a manner that is both threatening and sexually aggressive. This is our hero, the misogynist creep. Seriously, what the holy fracking frell is going on with that scene? It’s appalling.

Now let’s throw in Harvey and dream-Aeryn in such a way that a new viewer has no real idea what the hell is going on, just to make things extra-confusing.

Let’s have a CGI attack dog that, um, doesn’t often attack so much as run around very fast. Let’s have it bite off and eat Sikozu’s hand—but no, in fact let’s have him spit it out so Rygel can find it. Coz that makes perfect sense.

Farscape Crichton Kicks, Rygel

Finally, we have two action set pieces.

The one where John lures the Brindz Hound into an enclosed space and flushes him out into space in a manner both absurdly contrived and really poorly realised. It’s funny, but it’s a very confusing sequence, both on paper and in execution. Plus it relies entirely upon a working door, something we’ve already established ain’t happening on Elack.

But it’s nothing compared to the sequence where they set up a pulley system to kill the Grudeks. I literally have no idea what is happening here. There are some pipes that have to be shot in the right order, I think, but the explanation is so garbled and out of the blue, and the sequence itself so confusing, that it’s basically just noisy pictures.

And then we’re done, and John’s heading off to a planet where he thinks his friends are. How did hear about this planet? Why does he think his friends are there? Why is he only going there now? Who knows. Who cares. We’ve already established time and again in this episode that nothing on Farscape makes any kind of sense any more, so why bother explaining.

Farscape Crichton Kicks

Here’s the thing – this episode took everything that was good about Farscape—edgy hero, bonkers sets, grungy aliens, over the top action sequences—and turned them up to 11 until all the elements that made the show work became so exaggerated that the show lost all cohesion and collapsed. This episode is exactly what Ronald D. Moore2 was talking about when he said that Farscape disappeared up its own arse. This is a show so in love with its own edginess that it has lost sight of the fundamental principles of good storytelling.

2—Ironically, the man responsible for the single worst series ender ever written.

This is the episode that killed Farscape3.

3—I’m not letting Sci-Fi off the hook – they handled the show really badly and made some egregious errors, not least season four’s timeslot and lead-in. But those errors were hugely compounded by the dren that they were handed.

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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Zayne Forehand
1. ShiningArmor
Wow, that was....bracing. I don't completely disagree but I do think your premise as looking at this from the perspective of needing to be a soft reboot that can pull in the SG-1 crowd is flawed. I think even if SciFi told them they should be bringing in new viewers, it's season 4 of an operatic sci-fi. People can't just hop on and anyone watching the network in the first place knows that.

I remember really hating this episode at first because it dealt so little with the plot threads I wanted to pick up, ie Aeryn. However, once I watched the rest of the season and came to like Sikouzu, I find it more enjoyable. It's still rough, but there is some good in there you glossed over just a bit.

Side note: I'm glad you mentioned BSG having one of the most incoherent finales (and final seasons for that matter) when mentioning his quote about Farscape. Granted, I think he made that comment in season 2 when the show was firing on all cylinders but I find it mildly amusing that he fell into the exact same trap he mocked Farscape for. I think we can all agree that BSG's head was firmly up its own ass for a large majority (let's say 80%) of season 4, and at least Farscape dislodged it's head around the halfway point and created one of the best final run of episodes ever.

*Just for reference, I love SG-1 too, own all 10 seasons (and all 5 of SGA and both of SGU) so I'm not knocking viewers of that show.
Philip Thomann
2. normalphil
Strange. This is the episode that got me into the series (after drifting away in the middle of season one). Watched the rest of season four avidly. Well, I am contrary.
3. lvsxy808
I didn't love it, but I certainly didn't hate it as much as you.

I do recall feeling that this episode was so strange and off-kilter that I wasn't sure it was really happening. Like, I was expecting some kind of reveal that it was all a dream or something. I had the same feeling about Supernatural's s4 opener "Lazarus Rising."

Anyway, some thoughts:
Chiana’s precognitive abilities have changed—she can now see the present in slo-mo, but it leaves her with literally blinding headaches.
I never really got what they were trying to do with Chiana. They slowly and carefully introduced this power in season 3, with the assumption that it would turn out to mean something down the road. Then for some reason completely change the power for season 4. So did they change their minds what they wanted to do with her character? Or did they just not have any idea in the first place? It does turn out to be useful in this season, but then they change it again for PKW. Was there ever any plan?
We introduce a new character, Sikozu. How do we do that? With a completely incomprehensible piece of business about learning English. It has no bearing on her character, no plot relevance.
I don't know about that. The intolerance to translator microbes, and all the other weird physical abilities she exhibits throughout the season, might be because she's a Kalish, or they might be because of... you know... the other thing. So the 'learning English' scene is a part of that whole thing, and not completely irrelevant.
John, for no readily apparent reason, slams her against a wall in a manner that is both threatening and sexually aggressive. This is our hero, the misogynist creep. Seriously, what the holy fracking frell is going on with that scene? It’s appalling.
You need to watch Chiana very carefully in season 4, but it's all right there. This scene is not 'for no reason.' Chiana explains exactly what happened while she was away. They were at a casino colony to raise funds. Chiana used her powers to cheat, and got caught.

If she used her powers, that means she was made blind. And then what happened? "A little torture, a little fun, nothing new." In other words, she was raped. While she was blind. That's why she's so freaked out.

And look at the way Rygel protects her against Sikozu. "Back! Back!" with his weapon out. Rygel was the one who got her out of there after she was raped.

Why does John slam her against the wall? Just to get her to stop, talk to him. He knows she'll never talk about it unless he makes her, and he also knows that she needs to talk about it if she has any hope of getting over it, and that he's the only one who can make her. Tough love, that's all.
How did hear about this planet? Why does he think his friends are there? Why is he only going there now? Who knows. Who cares.
As you said, this information is in deleted scenes going back to "Lambs to the Slaughter." But I entirely agree that it's annoying that this seemingly vital information was cut out in favour of more action scenes. One shouldn't have to wait for the DVD boxset to understand what the hell is going on.
Ironically, the man responsible for the single worst series ender ever written.
Are you talking about BSG's "Daybreak"? If so, BULLSHIT.

On the whole, yes, it's a confusing mess of an episode. But I wonder if that's deliberate, as it represents John's mental state at this time. He's disconnected, a little bit unhinged, doesn't give a shit about anything that's going on in the universe that isn't about either wormholes or Aeryn. In that way, this is actually more true to the character as he is right now than any more traditional season opener would have been.
Philip Thomann
4. normalphil
...and now I've made people look at me askance. For laughing at the memory of when a robot is told to give "covering fire", exposes itself, and starts playing a MIDI bombast.

Because conceptually, it would be the same thing to it.
5. Colin R
I could probably write pages about this episode, but needless to say I disagree! First things off the back: 1812 is one of my favorite gags, particularly Crichton's paint job. And Chiana's bitter zinger to Sikozu near the end--"Welcome to the Universe!"--sums up a lot of the ethos of Farscape.

Anyway, clearly some people would have preferred that this be a different kind of episode, but it's not. As it is, I don't think the plot and conflict are particularly contrived--not any more than any episode of Farscape is. And it hardly seems crazy or weird that Crichton, Chiana, and Rygle would try to defend Elack--the pirates are trying to kill the Leviathan and Pilot after all, and all three of them know a ship and its pilot pretty intimately by now. I honestly don't get that criticism.

For the meat of the episode we have some of the crew, working with the new character Sikozu. As is traditional for new members of the group, she's an escapee and she is bit difficult to work with. If this was all there was to it, I think it's entertaining enough.

But of course this is the season opener, following Dog with Two Bones. The case against Crichton Kicks is that, I guess, it's not a 'normal' season opener. The previous three season openers were basically just about setting the stage, and clearing up loose ends from the previous season cliffhanger. They were okay, but none of them stand out as excellent episodes on their own--in Season 2 and 3 they were just clearing up the debris of a previous, better episode.

Crichton Kicks is setting the stage too, but I think it's brave what they're doing here. They took seriously the ending of Dog With Two Bones. John Crichton lost everything. The plucky naive from Season 1 has plunged into total despair; climbing back from the abyss is going to take more than an episode of getting the band back together. The entire season focuses on Crichton coming to grips with what he has lost, what he has done, what he still has, and what he can do. Will he end up with Aeryn? Yeah, of course, but the heedless romance that the other Crichton had with her in Season 3 has slipped from his grasp--that will never happen again. Any future relationship with her is going to be different. And it will almost certainly mean giving up Earth.

Sure, Farscape could have just rebooted, and tried to be a plucky picaresque with farts again. But that could just has easily backfired; they tried to do that in Season 2, and it was deathly boring. Season 4 instead takes seriously the fact that John Crichton is a different person than he used to be. He has been tortured, brainwashed, duplicated, and abandoned; he has gone from killing zero people to killing a LOT of people. Rather than ignore that and just let him keep being the same, they acknowledge that he has lost his innocence.

Season 4 doesn't have quite the streak of sheer drama and dread that Season 3 had, but I appreciate its maturity. Most shows aren't brave enough to go this way. And stuff like ratings seem beside the point, a decade later--I don't think the tone of Season 4 had anything to do with Farscape getting cancelled anyway. The documentaries on the discs suggest that Farscape relied on basically three different networks in three different countries for funding, and the deal between them just fell through at the 11th hour.
Rob Rater
6. Quasarmodo
I was checking out Crichton's beard, and I still thought it looked a little fake! Otherwise I didn't think it was all that bad.

As for John wanting to shoot the whalers, well for 1) I don't think he really trusted them fully (he was warned they execute on sight) and 2) he probably felt he should try to protect the pilot and leviathon who had saved his life when he ran out of fuel, and possibly felt a little obliged to at least find out what the situation was with the new girl, since they were hunting her.

Edit: Obviously posted before reading Colin R's post.
7. Crusader75
Wasn't Moya's original Pilot in "The Way We Weren't" a female?
8. JD23
I love this ep, lots of fun, action and good bad guys(space whalers !!!). A soft reboot may have attracted more viewers but wouldn't have been very rewarding to those of us who had been watching the show for years. The next two episodes however are complete crap.
Iain Cupples
9. NumberNone
Yeah, I have to disagree on this one. This is a solid episode. It even works as a season opener: they don't flood the episode with characters and do an all-round update, but instead focus on John. We get introduced to Sikozu, Rygel and Chi and that's enough for one episode. Harvey and Aeryn we could have done without, but they're really no more than teased here, something to pick up on later.

For new viewers, the bit with Sikozu being unable to use translator microbes is a smart way to recap that they exist in the first place. Chi and Rygel's appearance informs them that the team are fugitives and intros the idea of the Peacekeepers. And there's a bit of Leviathans 101 too.

And as to the complaint about John fighting the Grudeks, I can't even see what that's about. John clearly has a bond with the dying Elack, and wants him to have some dignity. Meanwhile, the Grudeks are characterised pretty obviously as bad guys, more like pirates than whalers. Never for a second did I consider that off.

The ep has its flaws, it's not perfect, but it's not the disaster being suggested here.
10. lvsxy808
@ no 7:
Wasn't Moya's original Pilot in "The Way We Weren't" a female?
Yes, she was. And I believe that Rovhu and his pilot from "Eat Me" were both male. So that theory is definitely wrong.

There's a lot to recommend in season 4. It's a different tone to 3, certainly. When they said season 4 would be "Farscape Extreme!", they weren't kidding. The drama, the emotional trauma, the body-count, the sex, the crazy, the mind-frell... they're all pumped up to 11. And so is the complexity of the writing. This is not straightforward ABC storytelling. There are layers and hints and subtexts that season 2 couldn't even dream of.
11. PadanFain
Completely erroneous review. While not THE best episode ever, it's certainly very good, and very entertaining.The problem for most people is, it's just too different in tone. But Farscape was always experimenting, and that's what kept it at the top of it's game.
Season 4 is the best season of the lot, and that's saying something about a series whose 1st season was excellent, and it only got uphill from there.
The problem for most people, they can't get used to the show evolving. And it has to evolve. Otherwise it will end up either like the Battlestar Galactica reboot (unwatchable after season 2) or Stargate SG-1 (completely boring from start to finish).

So yeah. Very good episode and an uncoventional introduction into the best season of Farscape.
Rob Rater
12. Quasarmodo
And also, since when are whalers considered ok guys? Aren't we wanting to save the whales?
treebee72 _
13. treebee72
This post reads like 'They didn't do exactly what I wanted them to do, therefore the whole thing is bad!', which is a really poor way to review something. If you don't like it, fine. If you don't like it because it didn't follow your plan & you can't bring yourself to review it for what it is - total BS. Disappointing for what has been an enjoyable rewatch so far (even when I don't always agree with what you say).

And let's be honest, Farscape was never ever going to get the SG-1 audience. Even SGA couldn't get the SG-1 audience.
14. PadanFain
@treebee72: Farscape was never aiming for the SG-1 audience. That much has always been clear, and the process of making season 4 was mentioned numerous times in the season 4 blu-ray commentaries and the documentaries included in the same edition. They were always doing their own thing, which David Kemper put so nicely in his comments. But the thing was, they were renewed for 2 seasons (season 4 and 5), so they planned ahead for a two-season story arc from the beginning. They had no idea they would be cancelled before that last day of shooting s4
Thankfully, we got Peacekeeper wars :) I was one of the ones who first saw Farscape when it was most definitely cancelled and there was no talk of the miniseries. That season 4 cliffhanger... it's still the best cliffhanger of any series, ever.

But let's face it, Farscape was never going to be as massively watched as SG-1. That's because one series is watered down for the masses, and the other one isn't.
treebee72 _
15. treebee72
@14 - Oh, I know that Farscape wasn't going for the SG-1 audience, but the OP makes a point about the show blowing it by 'losing' that audience in 90 seconds. But the fact is, even if they had tried they would have failed. SGA is a show that actually did try and failed because despite being pretty vanilla, it was still too 'different' for many in the SG-1 audience. If SGA couldn't pull that audience, Farscape never ever would.

I was also there for the original run of the show and remember how it all went down (which was more complicated & messy than just the ratings the OP focuses on). Peacekeeper Wars was a triumph of fandom. And it's hard to imagine the Firefly/Serenity situation happening if Farscape hadn't done it first.
16. PadanFain
@15 - yeah, Serenity might not have happened if it hadn't been for PK Wars. It was like a mini-trend that ended there, though, since there weren't any other series in need of endings. I'm just sorry that Serenity, quite frankly, turned out total dung.

Just thought I'd mention, my very favourite episode ever is season 4's Terra Firma. The culmination of everything John Crichton was trying to do from the beginning of season 1, and it happened in the middle of s4. Simply beautiful.
17. Colin R
Well, de gustibus non est disputandum--if people don't like the tone of the episode or the season, they don't. Since I already defended the direction of the show though, I thought I'd defend the more basic elements of the episode. The hound also looks pretty good, a lot better than some of the CGI critters they've worked with in the past. For one thing, it looks great. The sets and the camerawork really capture the tone of the episode. I think Sikozu's meeting with Crichton is pretty great, establishing a lot of things about both characters in a very short time frame. That the first thing Crichton does upon meeting a stranger is to point a gun at her speaks volumes about how John Crichton's experiences have shaped him. And Raelee Hill has interestingly weird mannerisms. The reunion with Rygel and Chiana also establishes a lot without much fuss--that Crichton's friends are hunted, and probably didn't get as far as they thought that they might. Chiana and Rygel don't stay mad for very long, but with the three new shipmates this seasons I guess there was no need to overload the tension between the established characters. Ben Browder really carries this show. The episode starts with Crichton in a dark place, and his entire performance sells how bitter he has become. His more manic turns aren't really unexpected--we already saw how unhinged he can get when he is pushed to his limits back in Season 2. His chemistry with his fellow actors brought the whole thing together, but he does fine work here too when he is mostly isolated from those actor. Finally, the plot of the episode itself runs counter to the idea that the season is irredeemably dark. Ultimately Crichton is pulled out of his funk by the desire to help the Pilot and Elack. A more pragmatic person would do just what the review suggests--bail out, the ship is dying anyway right? But the Leviathans and the Pilots are creatures of immense dignity and selflessness--at the end, Elack is giving up its dream to help out some strangers. How long could the ultimately good-natured Crichton wallow in self-pity when that is going on?
18. merdiolu
I think this was the weakest season opener so far But it does not mean it is bad. I always viewed Farscape a character development piece at first. After huge emotional roller coaster of Season 3 finale everybody swept up in different ways of their own. Now it is time to pick up pieces to make a new beginning with this series. Chriction has fallen since Dog with Two Bones finale. It is reasonable it would take some time and effort to pick himself up , to focus , rearrange his priorities. Bad guys in this ep were one shot I agree (SCI-FI Channel cn be blamed for that for a non serialized approach)

And I truly despised Stargate franchise. Clean cut PG-13 correct US soldiers saving universe in every Canada like planet from evil god like aliens and religions and bringing civilization to backward (!) tribal like people? Pffft....As some one who can be considered a backward (!) like person living in a geography where US bringing "democracy and freedom" I have a considerable grudge on this attitude.
Rob Rater
19. Quasarmodo
For some reason, I've never had any interest in watching any of the Stargate shows, even though it's Sci-Fi, and I liked the movie (I even own it on DVD!) The fact that Ben Browder and Claudia Black joining up still couldn't pique my interest pretty much says it all.
Keith DeCandido
20. krad
FWIW, Scott, I'm right there with you. "Crichton Kicks" is what killed Farscape, for all the reasons you gave.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
21. PadanFain
@krad: hahahaha, you kill me ;l
22. RinnicBob
Well, that was a rather scorching review. Not that I completely disagree, but at this point in its life Farscape had moved way WAY on from any typical sci-fi or any other drama on TV. If any new viewer was confused or lost by it all, well, tough toenails. One of the things I appreciated most about Farscape was that it WAS so differrent and willing to take risks that up until then no one else on TV would have tried. Was the episode bumpy and seemingly disjointed? Yes. Was it sloppy storytelling? Perhaps. But then I don't approach TV shows from the strict aspect of storytelling that a professional writer would.

As for Ronald Moore, as a fan of the BSG reboot I appreciate his talent. As for his opinion? Couldn't care less.

When it comes to Stargate, vanilla is an understatement of massive proportion. Boring, boring, dull, and again....boring. The military bullshit factor alone would have wrecked any project of the magnitude of Stargate so thoroughly that suspending my disbelief and following the story was impossible for me. I spent nine years on active duty, so I think I have enough of a handle on that.
Keith DeCandido
23. krad
If any new viewer was confused or lost by it all, well, tough toenails.

The problem wasn't just that they weren't getting new viewers, they were losing the existing ones, which is why the show was cancelled. It was barely hanging on at third-season ratings, because it was so expensive. With the show hemhorraging viewers in the fourth season, it was cancelled a year sooner than expected.

If the viewership didn't like the cancellation, well, tough toenails. :)

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Christopher Hatton
24. Xopher
"Elack’s Pilot is a female, while he is male; given Moya is female and her Pilot is male, this implies the Pilot is always of the opposite gender to the Leviathan."

It implies no such thing. It MAY imply that it's a common pattern, but a sample size of two is hardly statistically significant. Most kids have opposite-sex parents, but it's not always the case. HINT. Also, Crusader75@7 is correct; Moya's original pilot was female.

Your footnote link is frelled. I'm quite interested to know where it was supposed to go, but it doesn't work.

Others have commented sufficiently on your Verdict, except for the part about the whalers. Leviathans are sentient beings; would you have such sympathy for "guys just trying to feed their families" by sucking out humans' brain tissue? Killing them is the right answer, there being no other way to stop them.

I guess I'm one of the few people (lvsxy808 may be another) who thought the ending of BSG was beautifully handled. Everything in it made total sense if you'd been paying attention for the whole series (and I predicted it was all happening in the distant past halfway through Season 1, so that part wasn't a shock), mysterious things were nicely explained, and if some egregious characters escaped sufficient punishment, that was at least in keeping with the theme of the series. It was certainly tragic...but the whole series was about tragedy; you were expecting maybe a happy ending? Nahhh.

Stargate SG-1 had severe suspension of disbelief problems (their math was wrong, and their knowledge of the history of language could have been improved by reading a cereal box), and also insulting to every non-Abrahamic religion in the world, including living traditions like Hinduism. I kept waiting for them to meet the cruelest of all Goa'uld, Yahweh, but of course that never happened.

Someone who worked for Sci-Fi (as it then was) told me at the time that new episodes of Farscape weren't getting anywhere near the ratings of reruns of SG-1. So it was all sad and stuff. I'm less sure that this one episode killed it, but I don't know enough to categorically deny that, either.

ETA: RinnicBob, I didn't know the military part was bullshit too. That's appalling, given that they had Airforce advisers. Guess they were just listing them, not listening to them. A friend was an adviser on The Craft, and while she told them that Wicca doesn't work that way, they put the Christian redemption message in there anyway. Sounds like SG-1 did the same with their military advisers.
25. lvsxy808
@ 24 Topher:
I guess I'm one of the few people (lvsxy808 may be another) who thought the ending of BSG was beautifully handled.
I suppose I didn't really clarify, did I? ;-) Yes, I do like "Daybreak." It had its weaknesses, I don't deny. The resolution of the Opera House vision was a bit lackluster, and the excuse given for abandoning their technology could have used some work. But as a series finale it was exciting, emotional, mysterious, satisfying, and offered "all the feels," as I believe the children say nowadays.

A friend was an adviser on The Craft, and while she told them that Wicca doesn't work that way...

I have had friends in the Wicca tradition also, and they were equally frustrated with Buffy's insistence on calling Willow a "Wicca." She was nothing of the sort. Tara was Wicca. Willow was just a witch.
26. PadanFain
The problem wasn't just that they weren't getting new viewers, they were losing the existing ones, which is why the show was cancelled. It was barely hanging on at third-season ratings, because it was so expensive. With the show hemhorraging viewers in the fourth season, it was cancelled a year sooner than expected.

If the viewership didn't like the cancellation, well, tough toenails. :)

I guess that's why the fans went into a year long campaing to save the series, because they didn't like it any more.

In fact, if series 3 was barely hanging on, why renew it for, not one, but two more seasons? It makes no sense. Also, season 3 was WEAKER in ratings than season 2.

By the way, the ratings are bogus. Firstly, season 4 did NOT get any media coverage, marketing or advertising campaigns from Sci-Fi. Therefore, it was not exposed to a wider audience, in a time when the internet was not an all-present thing.
Secondly, there were no marathon runs, and no re-runs of season 4. This would all include in the Nielsen ratings. Here is a direct quote from the SaveFarscape campaign:

"...the combined ratings average for Farscape’s 10 pm and midnight showings was 16-17% HIGHER then the combined ratings average for the previous summer’s 9 pm and midnight showings."

Ratings did not decline. However, Sci-Fi expected them to grow too much, since they thought Farscape would attract the SG-1 crowd.

Thirdly, if I remember correctly, right about before season 4 aired, Sci-Fi had a change in managment. Sci-Fi was starting to create reality series at about that time.

So yeah.

But at least we got the comics several years later. Too bad that, y'know, they aren't that good.
27. merdiolu
Main reason of Farscape cancellation is bankrupcy of Vivaldi ( or Vivendi I am not sure the title ) a Euro based entertainment corp and main funder of Farscape. Once it got out of picture in 2002 Sci-Fi Channel couldn't and plus unwilling to handle all extra costs and charges. With lower ratings (SCI-FI Channel itself was responsible for bad marketing and messing with story content insisting stand alones ) it was bound to be cancelled.
28. PadanFain
@merdiolu: Vivendi's bankrupcy isn't much of an issue, at least not as much as one might think. Even the Jim Henson company's owner ( was having financial problems at the time, which caused them to sell Henson Company (in turn, the Henson family bought it back).

However, SCI-Fi had just acquired Stargate SG-1 from showtime (previously, it was only a syndicated show). Which means, they had a new show to fund. With a limited pool of resources. So one series had to be cut down. Plus, the new president of programming (Michael Jackson, that's his name, I kid you not) did not like "space shows".

At first, they offered Farscape's producers less money for season 5. They declines, saying the show would be impossible to be made up to standards with less money. So Sci-Fi used a loophole in the contract to get out of S5 completely. The plan was to announce the cancellation just a few weeks before airing the final s4 episode. However, the very same day that the Farscape crowd found out about the cancellation, Ben Browder, David Kemper and Rockne O'Bannon held an impromptu (unauthorized) chat with Fscape fans, where they announced the cancellation.

Had the announcment been made later, Fscape would have been dead and buried. The sets would have been destroyed. However, such as it was, the SaveFarscape campaign caused sci-fi to reconsider. And in the end we, the fans, WON!

I'm not saying PK Wars is perfect. The first half was rushed, with too many plotlines that needed to be resolved from s4. The second half was dark and beautiful, with everything that made Farscape Farscape, along with a fantastic ending.
Christopher Hatton
29. Xopher
I have had friends in the Wicca tradition also, and they were equally frustrated with Buffy's insistence on calling Willow a "Wicca." She was nothing of the sort. Tara was Wicca. Willow was just a witch.
Yep. Not to mention that they got the grammar wrong. Nobody is "a Wicca." They're Witches or Wiccan. And magic is only part of Wicca.

I'm not saying PK Wars is perfect. ... The second half was dark and beautiful, with everything that made Farscape Farscape, along with a fantastic ending.
I agree.

Am I the only one who was hoping that SG-1 would have an episode where a little kid comes through the gate from an AU, calls Cam "Dad" and Vala "Mom," and tells them his name is D'Argo Sun-Crichton? (Yes, I do know exactly why this didn't happen.)
30. Colin R
Nothing I've heard from the docs or the Farscape crew suggested that Farscape was killed because of ratings--it was always more of a project of prestige and love than of practicality. The bitterness seems a bit misplaced.

Even if it was though, who cares at this point? I wouldn't want Farscape to be more like Stargate. If Farscape had just kept on going on as it had been in the first season, we would have three seasons that were just like the first half of Season 2--booooring. Farscape would have been a show with a great first season that got tired fast. Instead they dared to ask a lot of the viewers in Seasons 3 and 4--I don't think there's anything in Crichton Kicks that asks more of the audience that Season 3 did.
31. PadanFain
@ColinR: I agree completely. And I for one am glad that Farscape ended on a high-note. So many series don't have such a thoroughly satisfying ending as it did.
32. Jack The Lizard
Fucking hell that premier sucked. It wasn't a premier, it was a holding pattern.

I don't care about the ratings, the cancelation, SG1 or anything like that. I care about this episode. This episode was boring and stupid to me and I won't watch it again
marmot smith
33. marmot.smith
This episode was enjoyable for me, even with all the flaws of science and story telling. Crichton had to start from a place of emotional depression after what had happened over the last 3 years and the loss of Aeryn, Moya, his home, and his best friends.
I agree that they lost a good deal of the SG-1 crowd early in this episode. It would have been better to have had a space chase scene of sexy Sikozu on the run from the 'whalers' then cut to the scene of John and 1812.
The episode has plot failures that irritate me the most being the fail of one brained translator microbes functioning. Without a group of microbes in the other sentient cretures brain interpreting the synapse firing, having a database of the host's thought patterns and their idiosyncracies of language use sending this information to the other hosts translators there is no possibility of real-time translation. Sikozu is a very cunning and intelligent person but learning English in a few minutes without translator microbes is highly suspicious and totally unreasonable ability for any biological sentient being to have. The science advisors should have recommended a language computer made to be a sexy piece of jewelry, crown or neck piece to overcome the Kalish inability to tolerate translator microbes. Farscape missed a lot of chances to push interesting concepts of science fiction forward.
Although, thinking about what comes later, they either did this scene properly or adjusted her plot arc for it to make sense. An apparent piece of technology would have been better cover for her.
As for other bothersome plot flaws, I agree the door situation was ridiculous, the hunting dog obviously swallowed her hand and I was left wondering how Rygel got the hand back. When the dog was biting Crichton's ass why did it let go and leave? It had the prey down so rip the flesh out then take off his leg or wait for the masters to come. No way Crichton got away from the dog at that point. The dog took off her hand but couldn't bite a Crichton that was barely moving in an enclosed area after jumping around was also ridiculous.

The whalers had so many chances to go ahead and just shoot Sikozu at point blank range so why didn't they? They 'shoot on sight'. And yeah, the pulley scene was just odd and it was Storm Troopers all over again. Guys with advanced plasma weapons shooting at a target that was dropping not that fast unable to hit it with 30 shots.... Owell.

Visually intersting episode and the scene with Chiana would have turned off some new viewers but it made emotional sense to me. She wasn't going to talk about being raped until John made her talk. She likes some violence with her love and John was forceful but didn't go past her safe point. The scenes with Aeryn on the beach were classic Farscape and maybe they could have added a transition with John gaxing off into the distance and the camera slowing aproach his eye then enter a random scape of images and finally dropping into the beach scene. They could have used Harvey to narrate or help new viewers grasp the John daydream scenes.
For a season opener that needed to relate to new viewers they certainly did make some mistakes.
34. todd hooper
That show sucked ass after maybe a quarter way through season 2. ALl it was from one episode to the next was the insufferably dull Romeo and Juliet retelling between Aeryn interspersed with shots of the pointsless chiana character backhandng rygel.

The cartoon episode was the worst though.
followed by the virtual reality one. the 1812 episode was worth it for the music alone
35. LovesAeryn
"I even reckon I can tell you the exact moment the show doomed itself—it’s about 90 second in, when John cries ‘bring in the horns’ and a dodgy synth version of ‘The 1812 Overture’ kicks in and he begins to caper in slow motion down a corridor. Every Stargate fan in the U.S. went ‘what the hell is this?’ and reached for the remote. 90 seconds. That’s how long Farscape’s brave new world lasted. They blew it that quickly."

Funny, but always thought this part was brilliant. And overall, I like this episode. However, I also agree with some of your points. For instance, the pully system sequence was a bit confusing. While I agree that the episode was not designed to bring new viewers in, I also don't care. The show was already on TV for three seasons. If you weren't watching by then, you weren't watching. So, in the words of Crais, "Tough noogies."

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