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Farscape Rewatch: “Exodus From Genesis”

“Exodus From Genesis”
Written by Ro Hume, directed by Brian Henson

1st US Transmission Date: 26 March 1999
1st UK Transmission Date: 10 January 2000
1st Australian Transmission: 17 June 2000

Guest Cast: Damian de Montemas (Melkor), Jodie Dry (Kyona)

Synopsis: Moya evades a PK Marauder ship. A cloud of space bugs infests Moya and begins to raise the temperature. Crichton kills one for study. Replicants of the crew begin appearing, setting the temperature controls to maximum and sealing them with gunk that prevents anyone turning them down again. Rygel finds a huge alien nest with a queen churning out replicants and eggs that hatch into insects.

Farscape, Exodus From GenesisAeryn reacts badly to the heat (see Alien Encounters). Zhaan is possessed by the Monarch of the bugs; a race called the Drak. Crichton realises killing the bug was interpreted as an act of war and he talks to the Monarch and explains they want no conflict. The Monarch accepts this and explains that when they have spawned they will leave; it also agrees to lower the temperature to help Aeryn as long as the crew will allow themselves to be confined to one room. The Marauder turns up and five PK commandos board Moya. At first, the Monarch believes that Moya’s crew have broken the truce, but Rygel explains. She releases the crew and, on Crichton’s instructions, turns up the heat. The Commandos succumb to Heat Delirium and are confronted by lots of replicant Crichtons. John tells the PK leader to return with a message that ‘next time Crais sees my face, his crew will be dead and he’ll be staring up from a pool of his own blood.’ He hopes that the multiple versions of Crichton will convince Crais that humans have special powers and he will abandon his pursuit. The Drak finish spawning and fly off into space.

Buck Rogers Redux: ‘I’m getting the hang of a few things.’ John is finding life problematic; even the simple things—like opening a door—give him a hard time. He realises that his chances of survival depend upon his ability to adjust. Zhaan thinks he will do fine in the end. John attended JFK High School, and was beaten up by Eddie Marx in Seventh Grade. When confronted with an alien insect, he jumps up on a table like a housewife in a bad ’60s sitcom. Wuss.

You Can Be More: Aeryn is still having trouble with her new life as a runaway but her relationship with Pilot seems to be helping her adjust. She had put in for a transfer to a Marauder crew before joining Moya. She had always thought that lesser life forms were for squashing, but Crichton, who she still sees as inferior, is helping her change that view.

Big Blue: ‘The answer is a reverence for all living things.’ Zhaan dissects the Drak and examines its DNA, so she’s quite a biologist. Her solution to all problems is patience and time. She is providing John with emotional support and a sympathetic ear, and she knows that she can lean on him in return.

I Was A Teenage Luxan: The problem: how to distinguish between the real crew and the replicants. D’Argo’s solution: ‘we will cut off the tip of our small finger for identification.’ When it comes to negotiating with the Monarch, D’Argo wants to fight, and without Crichton’s level headedness, he would have consigned the crew to conflict and probably death. He admits that Aeryn and Crichton are now his comrades, and he even acknowledges Rygel’s contribution. He has seen Peacekeepers dies from heat exposure before and found it ‘most enjoyable.’

Buckwheat the Sixteenth: ‘I am Rygel, sixteenth of my lineage, Dominar of the Hynerian Empire. I am at once your equal and your humble petitioner, requesting an audience.’ Rygel’s mother had his elder brothers banished because he was her favourite. Again Rygel saves the day because he’s the only one small enough to go into the bulkhead and find the Drak nest. He handles the final negotiation very well and effortlessly wins the respect of Monarch.

In The Driving Seat: Pilot cradles the dying Aeryn tenderly and tells her ‘it is strange to be so close to a Peacekeeper I do not fear. That is a compliment.’ He agrees that he and Aeryn work well together.

Farscape, Exodus From Genesis

A Ship, A Living Ship: Zhaan: ‘Moya is alive, she’s our protector, but she’s also our servant. She relies on us and we rely on her. It’s a mutual, symbiotic relationship.’ Moya has a terrace that is open to space but is protected by a force shield so the crew can go outside; she also has water showers.

The Ballad Of Aeryn And John:

John: Everybody on board has had their lives derailed from what they thought they were going to be, should be. We’re stuck together. As long as we are, we might as well be…

Aeryn: What?  Family?  Friends?  I want neither.

John: Somebody’s got to be there when you need it.

Aeryn: No offence, human, but what could I possibly need from you?

John: Oh, I don’t know.  Manners, personality, stock tips….

Aeryn’s weakness forces her to rely on others for the first time and John promises to kill her before she enters a coma. He then takes the huge risk of telling Monarch to turn the heat up to disable the PK commandos, even though it endangers Aeryn’s life. By taking the risk, and making the promise, John wins Aeryn’s respect and even earns a smile from her. He tenderly strokes her cheek when she’s ill, which is a dead giveaway.

Worlds Apart: The Luxan planet is called, imaginatively, Luxan, and it’s a hot world.

Farscape, Exodus From GenesisAlien Encounters: Dentics are an insect species that clean your teeth by eating bacteria and food particles. The Drak are a hive insect species with a queen (Monarch) and drones (the aggregate). They live in space, but require heat to give birth. They can replicate other life forms perfectly, which helps them infiltrate ships, although they cannot speak and must possess a host to speak for them. They’re actually pretty reasonable and friendly once you get to know them, and when they’ve spawned they fly away again, so no harm, no foul. Sebaceans are cold blooded and heat affects them terribly. First they lose short-term memory, then motor functions, and then long-term memory. At that point they slip into a coma they call ‘the living death,’ upon which their fellows will kill them out of mercy, the only situation in which Sebaceans will do that. The more we learn about Hynerians the dafter the fact that they’re aquatic becomes. For example, Rygel is a painter – how exactly does one paint underwater? (Please don’t email me to say ‘with water colours.’)

Disney On Acid: John promises to rent Zhaan a copy of Animal House

Farscape, Exodus From GenesisSeen It All Before: Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers; and the nest is very Aliens. This is the first time Farscape pulls what will become one of its trademark tricks – taking a done-to-death sci-fi standard story and playing it pretty much as expected but then, just when you think you’ve seen it all before, adding an extra twist in the final third that takes it to new places. Star Trek: Voyager would have concluded the story with the truce, but on Farscape they throw in the Marauder and explore the ramifications. The writers always push the idea that bit further, which is what enables the show to be original in a genre where most tales have already been told before.

Logic Leaps: So the Drak replicate people, fair enough, they use the DNA to do that, but surely it’s a leap too far that they replicate people with all their clothes on and, in D’Argo’s case, with a Qualta blade as well. Why do they never replicate Rygel or Pilot?

Bloopers: D’Argo says they could never outrun a PK Command Carrier, but they’ve done it twice before, once by StarBursting and once using Crichton’s slingshot technique.

WHAT did you just say? Yotz, which basically means Hell, appears, as in ‘what the yotz was that?’ Rygle calls the rest of the crew ‘bastards,’ another example of the early episodes letting real swear words creep in.

Stats: Moya’s scanners can detect the Marauder, but the Marauder can’t see Moya through the Drak swarm – so the Leviathan has better scanners than PK standard. The Marauder’s maximum speed is Hetch 7, and it carries a crew of five PK commandos whose success is measured by body count.

Guest Stars: Damian de Montemas played Jason in the Aussie twentysomething soap The Secret Life Of Us and then went on to a long run on Home and Away. Jodie Dry went on to be a regular on White Collar Blue.

This is the only Farscape episode written by Ro Hume although he or she contributed the storyline for 113 “Rhapsody in Blue.”

With this episode, executive producer Brian Henson took on directoring duties for the only time until he reclaimed the rights and called the shots on The Peacekeeper Wars. (Aside: BH is the man who directed The Muppet Christmas Carol, which, as far as my family is concerned, makes him a god among men!)

Backstage: The Drak queen was originally called the Sultana, until someone pointed out to the American writers that in Britain and Australia a Sultana is a kind of raisin. This episode was filmed at the same time as the premiere. When Aeryn’s replicant kicks John, Claudia Black actually floored Ben Browder on set. This is the only time you’ll see Peacekeepers with facial tattoos, the idea was dropped after this episode. The voice of Monarch is Virginia Hey’s, treated to make it lower. The US DVD release of this episode includes a commentary track featuring Brian Henson and Virginia Hey.

Farscape, Exodus From Genesis

The Verdict: A key episode for the development of the crew. Zhaan and Crichton bond, as do Aeryn and Pilot, and even D’Argo expresses some regard for each of his crewmates in turn, if grudgingly. It’s the character work that really stands out, although the bugs impress, especially when they stand up and the sense of threat is well established. Not a standout episode, but not a turkey either and, for a show still finding its feet, perfectly acceptable for this stage of the game.

Verdict redux: I’m a little less well disposed to this episode now. The extraneous four minutes of character material—filmed to bump up the episode length for Europe and designed to be cuttable for the shorter US edit—screws up the pacing of an already quite slowly paced episode. They’re nice scenes in themselves, though. On balance, I don’t think the episode has aged as well as some others—the slow frame rate they use for some dramatic moments and puppet shots, and the increasingly irritating (to me at least) burbling music, date it badly, as do the new-romantic PK face tats. Not actively bad, just a bit meh.

This time around I’m watching the show with my wife, who is by no stretch of the imagination a sci-fi fan. Her only comment on this episode, which I think bored her to bits, was ‘Is Crichton ever going to get rid of that awful uniform?’ I showed her a photo of his subsequent leather-clad look and her interest was suddenly rekindled… can’t imagine why.

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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