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Farscape - Season 4 - Episode 01

Farscape - 4x01 - Crichton Kicks - Originally Aired: 2002-6-7

My Rating - 9

Fan Rating Average - 4.02

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Synopsis
Continuing work on his theories of wormhole technology, Crichton ekes out an existence on board Elack - an old, dying Leviathan. The peace is shattered by the intrusion of a female alien, Sikozu, and a squad of Grudek mercenaries intent on harvesting Elack's neural tissue. Crichton fights to save his new home, his struggle hindered by the Grudeks' pet: a vicious and deadly alien canine called the Brindz Hound. [DVD]

Filler Quotient: 0, not filler, do not skip this episode.
- Numerous major long term plot threads are serviced here.

Problems
None

Factoids
- The leviathan Elack and its pilot have lived for over 350 cycles.
- This is the first episode of Farscape in widescreen.
- The opening theme changed again in this episode. It is now comprised of clips from the previous three seasons and has a new opening monologue from John. Since the prior material was all not in widescreen, in order to make the opening theme widescreen as well, they simply zoomed in on the old shots and cropped them. To see what I mean, compare this still from season 3's opening theme with this still from season 4's opening theme, both of the same frame.
- Sikozu cannot accept translator microbes. She has to learn languages by hearing them. However, she learns languages fast. She can also reattach limbs with relative ease and shift her center of gravity such that she can walk on walls.
- John's beard in this episode is real, unlike the fake that was used in Jeremiah Crichton.
- This episode has a very significant deleted scene in which Braca openly defies Scorpius because he's pledged his allegiance to Grayza. There's also a longer conversation between John and Sikozu shortly after they first meet. Both deleted scenes are quite good and I highly recommend them.

Remarkable Scenes
- A heavily disheveled John hanging out with an old, similarly disheveled leviathan, a considerable time after Moya's disappearance.
- John's pet DRD, painted with the French flag, labeled 1812, singing the 1812 Overture, midi style.
- John encountering an alien who, unusually, takes a little bit of time to acquire the ability to translate his language.
- John to Elack's pilot: "We got bad guys on board. Can you space'em?"
- John yelling a Klingon phrase to the aliens.
- John: "It's a show of force! It's the only thing that Klingons understand!"
- John and "Sputnick" having a near miss with the blood tracker.
- John reuniting with Chiana and Rygel only to be told that Grayza is hunting everyone from Moya's crew who was involved in the attack on Scorpius' command carrier.
- John: "I've finally figured out wormholes."
- John imitating a goat and luring the blood tracker to the fake airlock.

My Review
That's it. John's finally gone crazy. And in the most delightful way. Riffing amazingly well off of the absurdity of the third season's cliffhanger, John's figuratively thrown his hands in the air and nearly given up on sanity after thanking his lucky stars for being rescued by another leviathan. He stayed just sane and coherent enough to focus on the only worthwhile thing he had left to focus on throughout all this time: cracking wormholes. But what's even more interesting is he seems to have made a breakthrough. Given a little more time, John seems confident he'll master wormholes.

But John's time on Elack isn't all Nobel Prize winning physics research, he has become an even more whimsical and reckless person than before. The non sequitur references to Earth have become an even greater crutch for him. So much so that he adopted a pet DRD, named it 1812, painted it with the French flag, and taught it how to sing the 1812 Overture. Not only that, but it actually seems to like singing the 1812 Overture. I love the cute little scene at the end where it nearly begs John to sing it with him. Him? Golly. Now I'm anthropomorphizing a DRD.

Indeed the charms of this episode are boundless. Elack, the 1812 DRD, John's burly beard, his erratic behavior, his surprisingly touching regard for Elack and Elack's pilot, and most of all his unwavering competence for survival in the utterly strange circumstances in which he lives. His increased whimsies and confidence seem like borderline hubris. Or maybe he just gets lucky all the time like Captain Kirk. Regardless, John's ever-deepening theatrical behavior is his own attempt to trivialize the farce he sees his life as and it plays out as both an incredibly good drama as well as an incredibly good comedy.

What works less well in this episode is Sikozu and her dizzying array of alien abilities. She learns languages super fast without translator microbes, can reattach limbs without much effort, and can walk on walls. There are ways to rationalize all this, but it seemed like the writers were just pulling new abilities for her out of their hat whenever they needed one. Likewise, Chiana's abilities seem to have... evolved somewhat. This is less annoying, but I similarly think giving Chiana mystical premonition abilities to use as a plot device is not the most terribly interesting development.

I am glad Moya is still nowhere to be found and that not all the characters have been reunited yet. It shows that the series is willing to take the cliffhanger's implications at least somewhat seriously. I'm a little annoyed that Rygel and Chiana appear to have come out of nowhere; it's not explained terribly well why they were able to locate John, but it's easy to fill in the blanks with something plausible. In any case overall this is Farscape's best season opener so far.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Hugo on 2016-05-23 at 5:34am:
    Something that Farscape suffers from, which I don't see in other sci-fi shows (e.g. BSG, Star Trek, Babylon 5 etc) - the direction and editing is a bit confusing, especially in that sequence in the end where Chrichton is going up and down through that shaft... I have no idea what he needs to do and what is really happening... !

    Also - how long has he been sitting in the module in the beginning? Long enough for him to grow a thick beard - like two weeks? I was under the impression that the module only had life support for short trips...

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