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Farscape - Season 1 - Episode 02

Farscape - 1x02 - I, E.T. - Originally Aired: 1999-5-8

My Rating - 4

Fan Rating Average - 3.63

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Synopsis
Unable to shut off an internal alarm within Moya that is emitting a Peacekeeper tracking signal into space, Pilot makes the desperate decision to crash land Moya on a planet. Once on the planet the crew discover the alarm is deeply embedded in Moya's neural system and they will need to operate to get it out. While searching for a pain-killing agent for Moya's operation, Crichton meets some of the planet's inhabitants - beings who have never before encountered extra-terrestrials. The surgery on Moya is hindered when local military capture D'Argo, and Crichton is forced to choose between Moya's safety and D'Argo's life. [DVD]

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- No significant exposition, events, or consequences. A fairly enjoyable episode, but completely arc-irrelevant.

Problems
- How could the natives on the planet understand the crew of Moya and visa versa without translator microbes? Do the microbes occur naturally on their planet?

Factoids
- Rygel's race the Hynerians are amphibious.
- Chlorium (a common element, an atmospherically induced isotope of trillium) is one of six forbidden cargoes on Leviathans because it numbs them.

Remarkable Scenes
- John unable to stop twitching due to the siren.
- Moya landing.
- John, regarding the planet: "Kinda like Louisiana. Or Dagobah." Aeryn looks confused. John: "Dagobah. Where Yoda lives." Aeryn: "Who's Yoda?" John: "Oh, just a little green guy. Trains warriors." Aeryn: "Oh."
- John being paralyzed by the boy with the alien energy weapon.
- John discovering that he's made contact with a species that's never seen aliens before.
- Rygel biting Aeryn's arm.
- Moya's lift off.

My Review
I, E.T. is an episode with a good premise that tackles an interesting issue but suffers from a fairly poor execution. The most interesting theme dealt with here is John's role reversal with our aliens of the week. It's delightful that so early in his journey with Moya that John should encounter a race which has never encountered aliens before. Unfortunately, these aliens diminish rather than enhance the episode.

While the boy and his mother who John encounters are fairly interesting characters, their potential isn't fully realized because of the irritating and clumsy military plot thread. Instead what I find interesting about the people on this planet is that they're so technologically primitive compared to the vast sums of advanced aliens they're surrounded by. I'm surprised they haven't encountered aliens before given how close they are to so many other aliens.

A better episode would have explored the implications of first contact in more depth. I'd like to have seen these aliens confront the fact that they're very close neighbors to a universe teeming with technologically advanced life. Instead they were merely a plot thread to present a secondary level of danger to Moya's crew as placing Moya's life in jeopardy by itself was apparently not enough for the writers, not to mention the threat of the Peacekeepers tracking them down too.

Other minor themes were touched upon in nice ways as well, but also with very little depth. John begins adopting alien curse words, saying things like "what the hazmana is it?" when referring to the Peacekeeper siren, mimicking D'Argo. Aeryn expresses dismay over repeatedly betraying her people. John tries to acquire star charts from the aliens to determine where in the universe he is relative to Earth. And Zhaan continues in her role as a stabilizing force among the crew, this time both physically and emotionally.

The idea to focus on a story about disabling a Peacekeeper tracking device on Moya was a smart move, but all the manufactured danger surrounding removing this device was unnecessary. It would have been enough that the device forced Moya to land (a dangerous thing for her), and that the locals had never seen aliens before. There was enough potential in those two implications alone to justify a decent drama. Instead, we got the kitchen sink and it comes off only partially satisfying as a result.

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