Wed
Feb 12 2014 3:00pm

Farscape Rewatch: “Bad Timing"

Farscape, Bad Timing, Crichton, AerynBad Timing
Written by David Kemper, directed by Andrew Prowse
Season 4, episode 22

1st UK Transmission Date: 10 March 2003
1st US Transmission Date: 21 March 2003

Guest Cast: Raelee Hill (Sikozu), Melissa Jaffer (Noranti), David Franklin (Braca), Duncan Young (Emperor Staleek), Francesca Buller (War Minister Ahkna), John Adam (Pennoch), Kent McCord (Jack Crichton)

Synopsis: The Scarrans are racing to the wormhole that leads to Earth to subdue the population and steal their hummingbird feeders. Rejecting Scorpy’s offer of an alliance, John comes up with a plan to collapse the wormhole and isolate Earth. He succeeds, killing Ahkna’s lover in the process. Then he proposes to Aeryn, and they get blasted into tiny pieces.

Farscape, Bad Timing, Crichton, D'Argo, Chiana

Buck Rogers Redux: Although offered a chance to save Earth by making an alliance with the Peacekeepers, John chooses to go it alone. It may seem riskier, but he obviously thinks that the eventual cost of a PK alliance would be just as bad as a Scarran attack, and he’s probably right. Still, it’s a huge risk to gamble on his ability to pull out the knowledge to destroy the wormhole in the right order in time. He rejects Noranti’s offer of drugs to break the mental block on wormhole knowledge. He always envisaged his life being full of derring do and space adventures, he just pictured a couple of kids too.

After talking with Harvey, he changes his mind and is willing to do a deal with Scorpy, but is talked out of it again by Chiana and Pilot. Jack left a photo of his family stuck to the stars and stripes on the moon.

Farscape, Bad Timing, Crichton

I would write something about John’s farewell conversation with Jack, but I have something in my eye…

In the end, John has made his choice. He’s sealed Earth off forever, probably. He has no prospect of returning home and he seems to be okay with that. Moya, Aeryn and their baby—they’re his home now.

Farscape, Bad Timing, Aeryn

You Can Be More: Even when he’s convinced he’ll fail, Aeryn never doubts or second guesses John, and even if she does, she doesn’t voice her concerns. She expected to retire after her years as a Peacekeeper, which is surprising given that you wouldn’t expect them to have such a concept as retirement. She insists on going through the wormhole with John so that if he’s stranded on the other side, they will at least be together.

The Ballad Of Aeryn And John:
John: “You know what scares the hell out of me? From the first moment I laid eyes on you, I could never see the end.”
Aeryn: “What scares me is I always could.”

Farscape, Bad Timing, Crichton, Aeryn

After it’s all done, John and Aeryn rustle up a rowing boat (from where, exactly?) and take a sea break so John can propose. Before he does, Aeryn reveals that the baby is now developing, is his, and is fine. He’s overjoyed, even though she was obviously worried he wouldn’t be. Then he proposes, she accepts… and they get blasted into little bits by an alien space ship.

I Was A Teenage Luxan: Even D’Argo believes John would be wiser to make a Peacekeeper deal than go it alone. He is devastated by John and Aeryn’s apparent death.

Farscape, Bad Timing, Chiana, D'Argo

Everyone’s Favourite Little Tralk: Chiana is furious when John looks ready to deal with the Peacekeepers. She uses her slowed-down vision to remember the sequence of commands Stark needs to pilot Moya in Pilot’s  absence. It seems that Chiana is now permanently blind, but D’Argo promises to take her to a nearby Diagnosan for treatment.

Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Rygel tells Pilot that he should help Crichton collapse the wormhole, admitting that he wouldn’t do it, even though he thinks Pilot should. So in the final analysis, Rygel is key to the saving of Earth—once again proving that a few words from the little green slug can spin an episode’s plot on it’s ear.

Farscape, Bad Timing, Rygel, Pilot

In The Driving Seat: Moya uses a hitherto unmentioned technique to extend starburst. It leaves the crew slightly out of phase, much as the crew on the alternate Moya in ‘Unrealized Reality.’ Despite the necessity for perfect timing in order to collapse the wormhole from Earth’s end, Moya cannot bring herself to travel down the wormhole. Pilot and Moya have a huge row about how to help John. In the end Pilot decides that, despite Moya’s objections, he will allow himself to be cut free of Moya so he can pilot the transport pod and ensure the wormhole bubble is pierced properly. If he is not re-attached within an hour, he will be unable to re-attach and will die. Both he and Moya are dazed and confused while separated—Moya unable to take commands from Stark, Pilot barely able to remain conscious. They are successfully re-connected.

Grandma, we love you: She’s very free and easy with the drugs this week, and her tenderness towards Stark continues the impression that she’s taken a shine to him.

Farscape, Bad Timing, Stark, Pilot

The Man in the Iron Mask: Stark takes Pilot’s pain when he’s cut free, but it overwhelms him. He’s manic and over-caffeinated again, but Noranti soothes him.

Bobblehead: Sikozu leaves Moya with Scorpius, mirroring Bizzaro Stark’s appraisal of humans: weak species. Then she and Scorpy get all bondagy.

Farscape, Bad Timing, Sikozu, Scorpius

Nosferatu in leather: After intercepting the Scarran message about Earth, Scorpius tracks down Moya and offers John a deal—the Peacekeepers will declare an alliance with Earth, making it impossible for the Scarrans to attack without initiating war. On the face of it, it’s a generous offer, but John rejects it outright. Presumably he thinks Scorpius is only trying to gain leverage that will help force John to give him wormhole weapons. He orders Braca to bring Noranti aboard the Command Carrier unharmed the next time they encounter Moya, which is, to say the least, a bizarre and unexpected request, and we never find out why he makes it.

Hi Harvey: He’s an Easter Bunny who basically convinces John to make a deal with Scorpius. Again, makes me wonder how much control he actually has—is he the harmless passenger he seems?

Farscape, Bad Timing, Harvey

Captain lickspittle: He’s tickled pink to have Scorpy back on board and, as we established earlier in the season, he still likes to watch—we last see him enjoying some light voyeurism as the chains come out for play.

Servalan Redux: Grayza is under sedation, having difficulty adjusting to her reduced circumstances.

Stats: Pilot can see the bubble that forms before a wormhole appears, whereas John kind of smells it. By puncturing the bubble just before the wormhole opens, the wormhole can be collapsed, but the timing of the intervention must be perfect.

Farscape, Bad Timing, Moya

Wormholes again change from being something that can’t be predicted except by complex semi-mystical mathematics, to stable events that have predictable cycles, and from forking networks with millions of exits that can only be navigated by a specially gifted pilot, to being a single tunnel route from point A to point B that any old Scarran can fly through.

The UN Secretary General now speaks for Earth on all space matters, indicating that Earth is beginning to unify as a result of Moya’s visit. But even though there are five hundred of the planet’s best and brightest ready to go with John, they still are being asked to carry weapons, so there’s a long way to go.

Farscape, Bad Timing, Aeryn, Pilot

The Verdict: Cards on the table—I love this episode to bits. The confident and funny intercutting of conversations in the teaser sequence gets things off to a flying start, and the episode’s race-against-time plot is tense but linear enough that the main focus of the episode can be, as it should be, the relationships between the characters. John’s dilemma and Aeryn’s unswerving support, Rygel’s canny intervention, Chiana’s selflessness, Noranti’s nurturing, Stark’s mania, D’Argo’s sage leadership, Pilot’s bravery, Sikozu’s scorn, Scorpius’ bafflement at John’s lack of trust, Braca’s oleaginous loyalty—they all get an outing, as each character gets their moment in the sun.

The two standout scenes are both tear jerkers. The first, between John and his dad, is the most heartfelt scene Farscape ever did, and that’s saying something. It’s beautifully written and performed, and it gets me right here every time. Then John and Aeryn finally—FINALLY—make peace with their love, John proposes, Aeryn accepts, and the audience cheers.

Farscape, Bad Timing, Jack Crichton

And that is, arguably, where they should have left it. They knew the show was cancelled, that this would be their last episode. They didn’t need to end on a cliffhanger. The defiant decision to end the episode the way they did was a huge middle finger to Sci-Fi and could be seen equally as a middle finger to the viewers, killing off our heroes and offering a To Be Continued when in fact there was no guarantee that it ever would be.

This could have been the end. Imagine how spectacularly pissed we’d all be at them if they’d not managed to make Peacekeeper Wars!

Farscape, Bad Timing,

Happily, they were able to deliver on their promise, and this isn’t the final end. But even now I find it hard to decide if the cliffhanger was ballsy and admirable or reckless and annoying.

Anyway, this is a fabulous episode to bow out on. Next: PK Wars!

 


Scott K. Andrews has BIG NEWS!

Farscape Rewatch on Tor.com: ‹ previous | index | next ›
10 comments
Colin R
1. Colin R
Looking back, Farscape is a show that makes very little sense on paper, probably could not get made at any other time and should not have lasted as long as it did.

Going out guns blazing, both middle fingers pointed toward the sky and making out while getting blown to bits is really the only way I can ever picture Farscape getting killed. It is such a Farscape way to go out. According to the cast and crew, Season Four is the only season where they felt confident that they were going to get another season. Every other season finale, everyone assumed there were at least even odds that it was the last episode. So this is totally in character.

And yeah, it's great. After this, the Peacekeeper Wars are kind of bittersweet.
Colin R
2. Cybersnark
See, I thought this was a perfect finale because of John & Aeryn's death and the "to be continued," and the implicit "take that."

I remember (at the time, as I was starting to seriously consider screenwriting as a career) being inundated with the "Well-known advice" that humans can't sympathize with non-human characters, which ("they" say) is why every story needs to have a human (or "human-in-a-funny-animal-suit") protagonist, and why alien characters can only be used to offer commentary, never to lead.

I've always hated that and taken it as a direct challenge.

By the end of this episode, I doubt there's a single viewer who doesn't want, desperately, to know what happens next. . . but, no humans to witness it. Sorry, the end.
Colin R
3. DavidB
Wait till you read my ending for this series. You may not like it but it's sure to be interesting ;)
Post on the last PK wars
Which I presume is going to be a two parter?
I did read season 5 was going to have a lot of closure including exposing grazers part in the mimbari peace plan..
I was somewhat skepital of how they closed off a wormhole, any fool accidently playing close to a wormhole entrance and, by sheer luck of timing, could close a wormhole.
Plus the wormhole is on a network I find it highly dubious that only one exists close to earth. Why did they need pilot for the controls they could have programmed the shuttle to so the same thing with much more accuracy.
John and Aeryn? So what? If they had started John and Aeryn in at "the locket" then I'd be happy. But they wasted that entire episode. Meantime while most of the other shipmates are making out or sharing bodily fluids, John is yet again whining about using a nuclear bomb which has far more positive results than the negative. With respect he should have been giving Aeryn the high hard one not whining like some little bitch.
With John and Aeryn all it is was put em together, pull em apart, shove in the angst to the power of 10 and get Aeryn a bit knocked up and see how we go. It wasn't until we see the series cancelled that they actually ended up together only to, wait for it.. DIE!!!
Gimme a break.
Colin R
4. ChrisG
Thanks for a great review. I agree about both the quality of the episode and the bittersweet reaction to the ending. I would add D'Argo's reaction to the the disintegration to your list of powerful moments. It's short but I find it authentic and moving.
Colin R
5. Froonium Ricky
Well, just so's you know, we did consider other options for ending ol' Ep 88...

http://froonium.com/?p=1193
Colin R
6. Ryan H
I've read that this episode was in the can before they found out the show was canceled. There was never the opportunity to re-edit/re-shoot for a proper conclusion.

That said, I always felt that (minus the 'to be continued text') this was a perfect ending for the show. Emotional high points, earth saved, war averted. And then John and Aeryn getting offed by some random critter due to wrong place/wrong time.

This entire show has been about being in the wrong place at the wrong time and it's never been a particularly safe universe. Their death on the heels of their greatest triumph was emotionally true to the show as a whole, particularly with how well it was played by all the actors involved.
Mimi Epstein
7. hummingrose
The last five minutes of this episode, as it aired, are the first Farscape I ever saw - I'd heard it was a great show that was being cancelled, but I can't remember why I decided to tune in at the very end. Even though I had no idea who any of the characters were or what was going on, I remember being incredibly impressed by the ballsiness of that ending.
Colin R
8. lvsxy808
Colin R said:
According to the cast and crew, Season Four is the only season where they felt confident that they were going to get another season. Every other season finale, everyone assumed there were at least even odds that it was the last episode. So this is totally in character.
Yeah, the story is that for the fourth season they were renewed for a full 2-season purchase. So they planned their story lines accordingly. When it got to the end of the fourth season, the suits decided the show was costing too much money and getting too few viewers, so they pulled the plug on the only time they’d been promised that wouldn’t happen.
Ryan H said:
I’ve read that this episode was in the can before they found out the show was canceled. There was never the opportunity to re-edit/re-shoot for a proper conclusion.
I understand the truth is somewhere in between this and what Scott said. They had already completed the show, but they were told in time to have re-edited it if they wanted. But the specifically chose not to, and instead to go out the way they’d planned all along. It’s like they were daring the universe to defy them.
Scott wrote:
orders Braca to bring Noranti aboard the Command Carrier unharmed the next time they encounter Moya, which is, to say the least, a bizarre and unexpected request, and we never find out why he makes it.
It’s time again for lvsxy808’s Wacky Theory Hour!

Spoilers to PKW

I have a theory about Noranti that I think this fits into.

We know that Noranti was supposed to have a bigger role in PKW than she ended up having, but because of the actress's bad reaction to the new makeup, the script had to be rewritten and Noranti's part reduced. So that leads us to speculate about what her original role might have been.

It has been suggested that she might have been the Scarren spy rather than Sikozu. But I don't think that's right. I think she would have been the connection to the Eidolons, the one carrying their secret after Staleek kills the last Eidolon, instead of Stark.

And I think.... she's a long-lost descendent of the Eidolons. Effectively an Eidolon herself, even if she doesn't know it.

We know that the original concept for the season 3 finale was that which would later form the core of the "What Was Lost" two-parter. It's not inconceivable that Noranti was created for those episodes, and when the change was made to "Dog with Two Bones," the character just hung around and appeared in that episode too.

In "WWL: Sacrifice," Noranti creates a vision for John, and even she herself is surprised at the power of the vision. She says it shouldn't have worked the way it did. She says she can hear the chanting of the Arnessk priests. In the vision, John sees an image of Noranti wearing the same robes the priests were wearing in the vision. Maybe that's more than just John's screwed-up mind. Noranti has a connection to Arnessk that is stronger than even she realises.

Look at that third eye. Look at the Eidolons' middle eye, and the way they glow when they're using their peace powers, affecting people's minds.

After the original set of characters in the first season, every new addition to the Moya crew was created as a connection to an upcoming storyline. Jool was the connection to the Interions, who we learn are important because they are genetically compatible with humans. Sikozu was the connection to the Scarrens, because she was from a race who were slaves of them. Why not believe that Noranti was created with a similar purpose?

She recognizes the Eidolon markings when they're in the Qujaga city, and knows all about them.

We never did find out why he had her prisoner before “Dog With Two Bones,” but Scorpius doesn’t do anything for no reason. They never really spent any time together while they both lived on Moya - the only scene I can remember them sharing was in “La Bomba” (“Oh, I do admire your compartmentalisation of deceit.”). But immediately, as soon as he’d back in a position of power, he makes it a priority to get her back.

I think he knows she’s Eidolon-descended, and he’s planning on using her for information in some way. He had Stark imprisoned for years before we found out why - I see no reason why he wouldn’t have done the same to Noranti. (It even makes the nascent Stark/Noranti relationship more poignant.)
Colin R
9. LovesAeryn
@lvsxy808
I enjoyed reading your theory about Noranti. It goes to show why I love this show so much. There is always something new to learn (real or imagined). And you may be right in what you said.
Debbie Caputo
10. challenge62
I have to ask, Am I the only one that noticed in the beginning of this episode a DOG running across the bridge where Pilot is on Moya? Yes, a cute little dog running out of Pilots section........
(A big fan of Farscape)

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