Wed
Sep 25 2013 3:00pm

Farscape Rewatch: “Natural Election”

Farscape, Natural ElectionNatural Election
Written by Sophie C. Hopkins, directed by Ian Watson
Season 4, episode 6

1st UK Transmission Date: 4 November 2002
1st US Transmission Date: 19 July 2002

Guest Cast: Raelee Hill (Sikozu), Melissa Jaffer (Noranti)

Synopsis: While hanging out to observe a wormhole, Moya is infected by a space-borne fungus. The crew have to race to clear it out of Moya’s systems before she dies. They manage it, with Scorpius’ help. John and Aeryn clear the air.

Buck Rogers Redux: John can speak at least some Spanish and he can sense the imminent arrival of a wormhole. It’s unclear how much of his affinity for wormholes is based on maths and how much is intuition, but he seems to predict its second appearance without any help from charts of what have you. The wormhole is naturally occurring, he doesn’t create it, so it’s still unclear how much his skills relate to creating wormholes or predicting them, or both.

You Can Be More: Women born on a Command Carrier can carry an embryonic fetus for seven cycles. Only a surgeon can release the stasis to let the baby grow. Aeryn only found out she was pregnant when they visited the Command Carrier at the end of Season Three, so she’s unsure how long it’s been there and whether it’s John’s. She left to track down a surgeon to get the parenthood tested, but was sidetracked into assassinating Lukythians. She confides in Chiana, which seems unlikely, but a deleted scene shows a lovely bonding moment between Chi and Aeryn that takes place beforehand and sets up the unexpected confidence. She eventually admits to Chi that she may not even tell John about the pregnancy, presumably she was considering denying the whole thing, at least until she could be sure it was his.

Farscape, Natural Election, Crichton, Aeryn

The Ballad Of Aeryn And John: There is no longer any distinction in Aeryn’s mind between the two Johns. She loves him and wants to be with him, but her slowness at confiding her pregnancy, and the unfortunate way Chiana led John to believe everyone knew first, convinces John that Aeryn doesn’t trust him. So he can’t trust her—with his life, yes, but not with his heart. He tells her to come back to him when she’s ‘got her story straight,’ but I’m not sure what that means—does he not believe her story about the baby being in stasis?

I Was A Teenage Luxan: D’Argo loves shooting things, gives great advice to both John and Rygel, and has made himself a new shilquin. He is voted captain of Moya, getting four votes out of the eight votes.

Farscape, Natural Election, Crichton, D'Argo

Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Rygel is a terrible captain, but he knows it and is totally grief stricken when it looks like Moya is going to die on his watch. D’Argo recognises his guilt and tells him not to sweat it because “there are so many other reasons you should hate yourself at the moment.”

Everyone’s Favourite Little Tralk: Chi really doesn’t trust Sikozu—it seems their little collaboration in ‘Lava’s A Many Splendored Thing’ hasn’t helped with that. In the deleted scene she tells Aeryn that she has to enjoy her life more and stop ‘getting so twisted’ about stuff. But when Aeryn responds by confiding her pregnancy to her, Chi can’t help but tell D’Argo, and then compounds the error by telling D’Argo she heard it from Rygel. She’s really freaked out by crawling through the pipes full of plantlife. Her skin reflects radiation.

Farscape, Natural Election, Chiana, D'Argo

In The Driving Seat: Pilot is badly affected by the fungus and goes mad, nearly scuppering the plan to save Moya. He votes for D’Argo as captain, so we can assume he’s happy with the result.

A Ship, A Living Ship!: The plant secretes an acid that eats metal, which it then ingests, secreting a gas as waste. Moya’s neural cluster is unaffected, as it is wholly organic, but there is metal in the syanptic regulators, which explode, causing non-permanent brain damage. Moya’s body contains mildly radioactive Silantrum, which kills the fungus when ignited. This is the first time we see Moya’s fan room.

Farscape, Natural Election, Pilot, Aeryn

Grandma, we love you: Noranti can sense the plant inside Moya. She eats it, cooks it, and devises poisons to attack it. She votes for herself in the captain’s election, referring to herself as The Divine Eternal. John calls her ‘school lunch lady,’ which tells you a whole lot about the kind of school lunch he had.

Bobblehead: Sikozu so digs Scorpius. She thinks of him after the initial attack, runs off to save him when he calls for help, lets him out, goes all dreamy when he points out the fires he didn’t start, and even votes for him as captain! John thinks she is way too smart. Ion radiation would dissolve three of her internal organs.

Farscape, Natural Election, Scorpius, Sikozu

Nosferatu in leather: Scorpy looks practically orgasmic when John predicts the appearance of a wormhole. He provides the key to saving the ship when he realises his coolant fluid repels the plant. He absorbs the radiation from the Silantrum gas, which makes him stronger—strong enough to break his chains, break Pilot’s grip on Rygel and save the day by igniting the gas. He very literally saves the day.

Blooper: The plant only eats metal, and avoids those parts of Moya that are wholly organic, why does it attack Pilot? Is he somehow metallic? And if so, why does he not get at least partly ingested before the ship is saved?

Backstage: This is the only Farscape episode written by Sophie C. Hopkins, and the last writing credit for her that I can find.

Farscape, Natural Election, Scorpius

The Verdict: Another Farscape bottle show, but at least this time the crew aren’t stupid enough to let yet another gang of obvious ne-er do wells aboard, and the addition of Scorpius and Sikozu really adds tension and variety to a tried and tested formula. The real meat of the episode, though, is the way fate once again screws Aeryn and John in the fine print. If they’d just had that chat a little earlier things would have been fine, but since when have things ever gone their way?

The plot is serviceable but ultimately unmemorable; the great strength of this episode is the interaction between the regulars—each scene feels real and earned, especially D’Argo’s scenes, pretty much every one of which is a gem. It’s a shame Sophie C. Hopkins didn’t return to write for the show again, as she really nails the character voices and writes lovely dialogue. This is actually some of the best writing of individual scenes the show’s seen in a long time.


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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9 comments
Colin R
1. Colin R
Meat and potatoes Farscape. If it's hard to make challenges that are fresh the way they were in the first season, they've only gotten better at character melodrama. Thanks to Sikozu and Scorpius, and all the other hurts that the characters have been through, the tension hasn't been this high since Season 1.
Robert Dickinson
2. ChocolateRob
I don't get how John was not outraged that he didn't get a single vote, I'm not saying he'd want to be captain, I'm certainly not saying he'd be a good choice for captain, but for crying out loud even Scorpius got a nomination.
Rob Rater
3. Quasarmodo
Considering most people just voted for themselves, it's probably not a big deal.

Having not seen the deleted scene while I was watching the ep, I thought it was ridiculous that Aeryn would confide in Chiana about not knowing who the father was. I don't remember the two of them ever being close in the least. So when every time that storyline came up, I kept saying Why the frell did she tell Chiana in the first place? Add in the plant plot (the plant episodes never seem to do very well with me), and I found it a bit of a chore to get through.
Colin R
4. Eugene R.
That D'Argo line to Rygel ("so many other reasons you should hate yourself at the moment") is killer. Just for lines like that I would keep going back to Farscape.
Colin R
5. Colin R
I doubt Crichton wants votes for himself--one of the underlying questions posed to Crichton throughout Season 4 is if he really trusts himself or his own judgment anymore.

I imagine Aeryn told Chiana because she feels alone and she needed to tell somebody, she didn't know how to tell Crichton, and Chiana is one of the two or three friends that she has who is not Crichton.
Colin R
6. DavidB
I always thought that they wanted Dargo as Captain so they voted for him, so no reason for John to be upset. Imagine them having a round table in private saying lets vote for Dargo.
Given the circumstances on board they would need a friendly as Captain.
I thought it was kind of a character reset for Aeryn, that the writers wanted her to be nicer, so she trusted Chi with her secret. They also tried to make her smarter by having her write a subroutine to activate the DRD's firing command, if you notice DRD's can easlily be voice activated as they are on a network. "All DRD's fire" voice command would have worked just as easily.
If you notice from now on Aeryn gets nicer but too late I think John had it up to here with Aeryn and her crap.
John actually should have dumped her some time back and moved on.
I tend to agree with Colin that John doesn't really trust himself , it's clear he doesn't trust Aeryn with his heart given their past and probably suspects she played him about Scorp but his obsession for her was so overwhelming that he just let it go.
All in all not too shabby and it is time that Moya had a Captain.
Colin R
7. Colin R
Well... later episodes may call into question how much Crichton really means what he is saying to Aeryn here. He is upset at her, but I think future episodes make clear that he's angrier at himself--that he blames himself for Aeryn being in the position of being in Scorpius' debt in the first place. He thinks that he should have tried harder to stop her from leaving in the first place.

The whole coin toss was a stupid whim taken by John and Aeryn at a time when neither of them felt like they were in control of their own lives. Now that they've both allowed themselves to be blown where the winds of fate take them they are realizing that it was a stupid decision to split up, and yet it's not easy to take back what was done.
Colin R
8. vjieapojveiopa
I don't think that Noranti meant herself by "the divine eternal".
Colin R
9. cshenk
A couple of points: John already knows about the pregnancy (as he told Aeryn at the end of "Promises"), so it's actually the father of the baby part Aeryn doesn't want to discuss with John. Also, I have a theory that John and Aeryn have been "together" for most of Season 2 (see the cuddling at the end of "Mind the Baby," the playfulness at the end of "Out of Their Minds," and after the result of the kiss test at the end "Look at the Princess" trilogy, I'm pretty sure they were together). I also think that they decided to go ahead and have sex at the end of "Suns and Lovers," and then of course, there is the whole Black-T Crichton on Talyn time. My questions are about the timeline, plus the coversation that John and D'Argo have. First, how much time has elapsed since destroying the Command Carrier? I'm assuming close to 6 months, so shouldn't Aeryn be showing, even a little? Maybe John assumes alien physiology is really different...And then, D'Argo tells John, "Aeryn's not sure if it is John Crichton's," meaning neither Green-T nor Black-T, and John answers that the thought had crossed his mind. So, is he thinking Crais? He would be the only other guy with her on Talyn (well, I guess there is Stark). But, when Aeryn says she's not sure who the father is, John assumes she means it's Talyn John's, but she says no, there is no distinction in her mind anymore. So, confusing.
Also, the comment about "Getting her story straight," I think is more about what she wants with John in the future. John isn't even sure at this point if she would've come back if she wasn't sick. Or, if she was going to tell him about the pregnancy. So, he wants to know that she wanted to come back to him and have a future with him. Which in (spoiler) is what VR Aeryn says to him in "John Quixotic," and it tips him off that it isn't reality. Because in reality, Aeryn is still not ready to commit. And, I must say, I was glad that he finally grew a pair and told her to come back after she figured it out. It was nice to see Aeryn having to be the one striving for their relationship for a change.

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