|"Back and Back and Back to the Future"|
Crichton sees the future over and over and over and over and...
Click here to read the Farscape World synopsis for this episode.
I have to say, Farscape has one of the best first seasons I've ever seen on a show. I mean, yes, it has its ups and downs, but there's really only one real stinker in the whole season. It also has a few outstanding episodes, and some other excellent outings. Add a couple of poor shows and you end up with a handful of good ones. So where is this introduction leading? Well, Back and Back is one of the good ones. Not outstanding, or excellent, but good.
For starters, the plot was intriguing. Though the travelling back in time over and over episode is a pretty hackneyed plot in the world of science fiction, it nonetheless makes for some interesting stories. In particular in this case, since it seemed different. The future flashes started with a seemingly harmless "fantasy" where John is getting it on with Matala. The next few were also involving Matala, but they gradually got more and more sinister, until they eventually spawned into the full on visions of the future. It was this approach that I liked, it made it interesting since the first time you see Matala attacking everyone you can't be certain what's going on, then the episode would suddenly switch back to John. It gave the episode a certain amount of unpredictability, since you could never be really sure (until the end) whether we'd suddenly switch back to John or whether it was for real. I also thought the flashes gradually substantiated Matala as a formidable enemy, since they made her look more sinister each time. John was clearly not enjoying the fantasies.
There was also the intriguing element of exactly what cargo they were carrying, and what they intended to do with it. Zhaan knew that they lied about its true nature; she sensed the phase imbalance on Moya (she said Moya sounded different) and hence suspected there was something wrong. Of course, it was a black hole! Boy, don't you just want your own personal particle of one? Well, obviously the Ilanics did, but they forgot the one rule of sci-fi, and the universe in general – black holes usually have disaster written all over them. But he was driven by the fact that his people were at war, although little did he know that his aide is actually a spy for the enemy. That was an interesting revelation, too, and worked well within the plot.
Then there was the all-girl battle: Aeryn vs. Matala. Well, it was allegedly just practice, but I think we know there was a bit more to it than that. Perhaps Aeryn was angry she was seemingly after John. She basically whoops ass, until Matala hits back with the Scorvian neural stroke (which seems somewhat similar to Spock's move of choice – the Vulcan neck pinch). That knocks Aeryn out, and when she awakes she alerts the others. Of course, by the time reality comes round, John knows this, so perhaps the fight wasn't worth it for Aeryn after all. But would John have found out had it not been for that fight? (Hint: Don't ask me!) Suffice to say I enjoyed the action. Anyway...
Another interesting factor was Matala's apparent "hypnotic" effect over D'Argo – she really did have him quite literally wrapped around her finger. She let him in to their secret, separated him from the crew, invited him away – basically everything you do to try and get someone on your side, she did. D'Argo even killed for her in one of John's visions – perhaps she did really have some telepathic reign over him. One of the most interesting revelations of the first few episodes comes when she invites him to join them in the war. D'Argo turns her down, saying that the crime he committed was so heinous he couldn't leave. He in essence has to stay on the run. Also, no one on Moya knows the true reason for his imprisonment. This is something that has not been alluded to before, and it will be very interesting to find out how this will be explored, and how we will find out what the truth is.
But despite all of this, the main point of this episode was to build the foundations for a relationship between D'Argo and John. For the first few episodes, John's been pretty intimidated by D'Argo, and to a certain extent scared too. He's tried to prove his worth (see Exodus from Genesis), and he's taken an active role in things and stood up to him (see Throne for a Loss). But in this episode it's about building the most fundamental quality of a relationship – trust. John has to get D'Argo to trust him, or else Moya and everyone aboard would be doomed. The way it played out was great. We went through a couple of bouts of jealousy over Matala on D'Argo's part in the future flashes, where D'Argo even ended up killing John over her. But it takes a potential revelation to force D'Argo to believe John about the premonitions, and that leads to trust. D'Argo's got a secret, and although John doesn't know its nature he knows of it, D'Argo knows he couldn't have found out from anyone but him so John must be having premonitions, and in turn must be telling the truth about Matala. He trusts John, and they go and attempt to sort her out. Though she gets the upper hand, she's the one that ends up dead, which leads to a nice final scene where John and D'Argo get food, and John asks about D'Argo. He refuses to answer – he's still not a good friend of John's – but he does apologise for falling for Matala during a crisis. "It's been so long," he says. Well woman-starved John understands that, so it's common ground, a start, and paves the way for a great friendship to develop.
If you bothered to read all of the above, then you'll know there were good elements in this episode. It had an interesting story and some good character revelations and relationships. It was also very well directed by one of Farscape's best, Rowan Woods, who kept the episode moving along at a nice pace, and kept the intrigue factor high, and the episode had good visuals and symbols, such as Zhaan's mask breaking each time. But there is one fundamental problem with this episode, and it's hard to explain. It was a good episode, but there was something missing, something keeping it from being outstanding or excellent, it's hard to explain, but it just didn't have the "WOW!" factor. It's nonetheless good though, and well worth watching.
I love to hear your views, whether you agree or disagree, so feel free to e-mail me your feedback. Review by Dani Moure.
Did You Know?
This was the last out of order episode in the UK, and suffers a little for it, since I, E.T. aired after it all the progress between D'Argo and John appears to be thrown out the window. That's why it's best to watch these early episodes in production order; otherwise it can be highly perplexing.
The carpet on which Aeryn and Matala fight is actually based on a Russian painting called "Beat the Whites with the Red Witch".
Aeryn: "What's the matter with him?"
Zhaan: "He is Crichton."
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|Season 1, Episode 3 - "Back and Back and Back to the Future"|
|Writer: Babs Greyhosky|
Director: Rowan Woods
|Production number: 10105|
First UK Transmission: 13th Dec 1999
First US Transmission: 2nd Apr 1999
John Clayton (Verell); Lisa Hensley (Matala)