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Farscape Rewatch: “My Three Crichtons”

“My Three Crichtons”
Story by Gabrielle Stanton & Harry Werksman Jnr, teleplay by Grant McAloon, directed by Catherine Millar
Season 2, Episode 10

1st US Transmission Date: 14 July 2000
1st UK Transmission Date: 2 October 2000
1st Australian Transmission: 1 September 2001

Synopsis: An alien research vessel, which takes the form of a ball of glowing light, enters Moya and scans the crew. Whilst scanning Crichton, Aeryn shoots it, which causes a malfunction. It expands into a huge, sealed globe, swallows Crichton, and eventually spits out three versions of him – the normal one, a hairy caveman version (Neandro), and a brainy, highly evolved model (Futuro). The globe then begins dragging Moya through a hole into another dimension.

While Neandro is locked up and makes friends with Chiana, Futuro and John use the defence screen to counteract the globe and keep Moya in our dimension – but it is only a temporary solution. The globe transmits a message stating that the generation of the two Crichtons was a side-effect of its scanning process and wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been shot. It needs to take one of them back with it for study within a few arns otherwise it will take every living think within a metra.

Despite trying to find another solution, normal John eventually accepts Futuro’s assertion that Neandro must be sacrificed. Chiana, however, has released Neandro, because she thinks it’s cruel to assume that he is the disposable one. John finds Neandro but can’t bring himself to condemn him. Futuro then tries to force John, who he sees as inferior, into the globe not realising that John intended to sacrifice himself anyway to save Moya and his friends. Neandro kills Futuro in order to rescue John and walks into the globe, knowing that this is not his place.

Farscape, My Three Crichtons

Buck Rogers Redux: When the Farscape project had its funding approved John went out for champagne with his dad, D.K. and Alex (‘Rhapsody In Blue’). This settles a discussion we had when I recapped that episode – Alex was real. John and D.K. argued because D.K. thought things had gone too smoothly and was expecting something to go wrong.

John’s willingness to sacrifice himself rather than condemn an innocent creature to death is big heroic stuff, but since Neandro is as much Crichton as John, his act of self-sacrifice is both consistent with his character and not the cop out it would otherwise be. Chiana says that Neandro is warm and sensitive, ‘everything I ever liked about you.’

Futuro sees John as a primitive and is willing to risk taking Moya through the dimensional hole rather than risk his own life. He is the epitomy of logical realpolitik, but Zhaan tells him ‘your logic may be firm, but it’s cold.’ John also has little patience with Futuro’s expediency and we get a statement of John’s greatest strength, and the thing that’s kept him alive in the Uncharted Territories: ‘I am widening my perspective. That is what I do, that’s what makes me, me!’

Farscape, My Three Crichtons

After it’s all over John is left to ponder his initial decision to sacrifice Neandro, and the fact that the least evolved of him was the one that did the right thing. But since he was willing to do the right thing as well he’s not got anything to beat himself up about.

Neandro wears John’s flight suit from the Farscape test flight, something John abandoned long ago in favour of PK black and leather, emphasising how far John’s evolved since his arrival on Moya. Futuro wore the full PK captain’s uniform, perhaps indicating that John is evolving into a more expedient and dangerous person and that he is halfway between the innocent who arrived on Moya and the ruthless killer he may need to be if he is to survive.

Farscape, My Three Crichtons

That Peacekeeper Bitch: Aeryn doesn’t trust Futuro one bit, and is willing to throw him off the ship when it looks like it’s a choice between him and John. Uncharacteristically for her, however, she lets her guard down for a second and Futuro knocks her unconscious.

Buckwheat the Sixteenth: Rygel agrees with Futuro: ‘let’s just give the sphere the hairy bastard and get it the frell out of here!’ When Chiana lets Neandro go, Rygel calls her a ’stupid bony-arsed little bitch’ and decides that the first John he finds he will stun and throw to the globe – favouritism be damned, he just wants the situation resolved so he can go about his merry business.

Your Favourite Little Tralk: Something about Neandro’s vulnerability attracts Chiana and she forms a strong bond with him immediately, even though he initially throws her across the room in confusion and rage. She tells John that she knew Neandro would be heroic, because he was Crichton as well, and she knows him.

Farscape, My Three Crichtons

In The Driving Seat: Catherine Millar, who hasn’t directed Farscape before but who will return, shoots Pilot in a new and interesting way – close up with a fish eye lens effect – which works well. Unusually, there is discord between Moya and Pilot – Moya is willing to sacrifice herself to save the crew, but Pilot lacks Moya’s fatalism.

A Ship, A Living Ship: Rygel says he is underneath ‘Maintenance Bay two,’ which is a surprise because in dialogue the characters never refer to one or two but merely say ‘I’ll be in the Maintenance Bay.’ Aeryn is fixing her Prowler with Moya parts taken from John’s modified WDP.

Alien Encounters: We don’t know what race sent the survey vessel, but they live in another dimension and have encountered all the races on Moya before, except humans.

Disney On Acid: ‘I’m in Bill and Ted Land here, so I’m open to suggestions.’ John tries to formulate a strategy but happily resists the temptation to play air guitar and scream ’bodacious, dudes!’

Farscape, My Three Crichtons

Get Frelled: When Futuro emerges from the sphere he is naked (and give a hearty cheer because many prudish sci-fi shows would have had him clothed and never bothered to explain why). Aeryn gets a good look at his mivonks and finds them very amusing indeed: ‘John has more hair… amongst other things. You going to blame that on feeling cold?’

Seen It All Before: Star Trek most notably split Kirk into two people in ’The Enemy Within,’ and it’s been done hundreds of times since on numerous shows.

Backstage: Ben Browder on playing Neandro: ‘I loved having the freedom to crawl around on the floor with Chiana.’ The two Johns were named Neandro and Futuro on set. In the U.K. this episode originally aired after the ’Look At The Princess’ trilogy.

Farscape, My Three Crichtons

The Verdict: Very Star Trek in many respects – alien menace enters ship, does something nasty to our hero and we get an examination of human nature capped with a final heroic act of self-sacrifice. Given its familiarity it’s surprising that this is such riveting stuff. Ben Browder is excellent as all three Crichtons, managing to make Neandro sympathetic and Futuro sinister.

It is a little disturbing to realise that we’ve evolved from hairy guys with big teeth, to middling folk with normal teeth, but will end up as Texans with huge teeth and speech impediments – obviously mankind’s current incarnation is at the optimal tooth stage of evolution.

Neandro was a disaster waiting to happen, so it’s a credit to the make up people that he is as credible as he is and doesn’t inspire gales of laughter. Because each of the three Johns has Crichton’s memories up to the point where the globe absorbed him, each at first believes himself to be the genuine article. Since the globe only wants to absorb one of him, it seems possible, for a while, that one will remain alongside our John on Moya. That was not to be, and the status quo is restored at episode’s end. But be realistic – there couldn’t be two John’s running around, it would be daft and impractical and no show would ever take that kind of risk… would it?

Farscape, My Three Crichtons

Verdict Redux: Although the episodes pitches Neandro as an evolutionary throwback, and Futuro as the opposite, it’s really a case of dividing John into emotion and intellect and contrasting the two. This is fun, not as great as its predecessor but enjoyable enough. This is about the level an average episode should be, but it stands well above a lot of this season’s earlier eps despite its hokey premise, so it’s above average, at least for now.

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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