|"My Three Crichtons"|
As if one wasn't bad enough...
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"My Three Crichtons" is a pretty interesting episode, presenting some interesting moral dilemmas and giving us an unusual look into the possible future. Unfortunately, it stumbles in places and the story really lags, leaving you to twiddle your thumbs while you wait for the plot to get moving again.
Crichton is duplicated. Not once, but twice. By a ball of energy. Does the poor guy have any luck at all? Well, it sure doesn't look like it! The first one out after the "original," is a beast-like version of our John, who represents a "less-evolved" version of our resident human. The other duplicate is a more evolved version, with something that looks like a super-brain, who can do all these lightning quick calculations and has great reasoning, and so on... all the usual stuff you expect an "advanced" human to have. Now it turns out that the ball is sucking Moya into another dimension, and for it to go through it needs to take one of its "samples," i.e. any of the three Johns. And so the conflict develops... just which John will go through, and who will stay on Moya? It's this kind of underlying conflict that drives the episode, and its characters, and as I mentioned it brings up some interesting moral questions, most prominently, if one has to go, which one should it be? Who has the least right to stay?
Naturally, "super-brain" John reasons that it should be beast John, because after all he does little more than grunt a few words and doesn't really seem to be able to think much (or does he?). Of course, it's easy to see what the writers were aiming for here. Throughout the episode future John shows some less than kind traits, and exhibits at times what seems to be a blatant disregard for human life. He has no problem in sacrificing beast John (even though he does say he "feels for him"), as long as it saves him. He happily knocks Aeryn out so that he can go off and hunt the real John himself. And of course he later admits that he would not have gone through if it was only him on Moya, he would have left the others to fend for himself. In general, he comes off as a not-so-nice guy, very pompous and arrogant. He feels that since he has all these wonderfully advanced traits that he has qualities that could really help Moya's band of not-so-merry women and men, and in that sense he's right. But he shouldn't use that as an excuse to go acting all superior like he should be the one to live no matter what (even though he is originally a duplicate).
The real John obviously completely disagrees, and despite originally going along with super-brain, his natural compassion shows through and he lets beast-man roam free, and decides instead to offer himself. He is a man who respects life, and his morals would not allow him to willingly sacrifice someone else's life just to save his own. At his heart, the real John Crichton is a honourable man.
As for beast John, well who knows what he thinks! But he does exhibit a number of core human trademarks - compassion, friendship, lovingness, fear, all qualities that we have in abundance, but often we give in to our lesser qualities over the good ones. Beast John is different, in that although he has primal tendencies he is at his core a good guy, perhaps even more so than the real John. Future John's aberration for his beast-like counterpart is made apparent on the few occasions when they meet, or when super-brain talks about him. But beast John is well aware of what future John thinks, and he knows that he will be the one to go through. In addition, his instincts obviously tell him that future John will not go without a fight, so he takes it into his own hands. He goes down to the maintenance bay, where future John is about to force the real John into the ball, whacks him with a pipe (which kills him) and takes him through the ball. All very honourably, telling the real John that it's neither his time or place, and he knows it's the right thing.
So the ending is really just a metaphor. I see it as telling a classic tale, that as time goes by humans get more and more selfish, and as we evolve we become less and less compassionate, and generally grow less and less "human." But it was not always so. In days past, although similar traits existed, they were not so abundant. Despite any problems we had in the past we knew right from wrong, and were not as selfish as we are becoming. The real John's role seemed to symbolise that at the moment we have a choice, we can either go down the selfish road and only think of ourselves, or become more selfless and think of others. Indeed in the episode itself, John was originally considering the idea of sending the "lesser" of them through, but his morals held out in the end. But the clear idea is that it took a "less-evolved" being to do the right thing, as the "more-evolved" one was intent on doing whatever it took to save himself, no matter what that entailed. And to much of that notion, that we are becoming far too self-centred, I would definitely agree, and the worst of human traits are coming to the fore as morals (which in themselves are a pretty fuzzy subject) become more and more blurred. So definitely there was much more to the basis of the story than simply "John is duplicated, future one is bad, beast one is good, future one takes the evil route but beast one saves the day."
In terms of other characters and their relationships, Chiana's friendship with beast John is the one that interested me the most. She often exhibits somewhat animalistic instincts herself, and once she realises it's actually John behind the fur, she is immediately taken. As she tells John at the end, she realised that he represented all the things she likes about John, referring one would presume to his good qualities. It's nice that Chiana was really the only one to bond with beast-man, and that she knew John would do the right thing.
Rygel's reaction to the whole situation is typical of him – very selfish. Although he did seem reluctant (or at least didn't suggest) to let the real John go into the ball, which was nice! Aeryn's interactions with future John were good, and she came out with a few witty lines (particularly the one about his endowment!), and D'Argo was good in a friendship role, much like he has been for much of this season, even if he was a bit pressing at times. Pilot didn't really get much good stuff (but he rarely does), acting as more of an informant than anything else, although the one scene with real John was nice. Zhaan didn't get all that much to do either, but then she rarely does anymore either.
For the most part, "My Three Crichtons" was considerably engaging, although not reaching the heights of superb, it was nonetheless a very thoughtful episode that was good to watch. It did stumble though, and that brought down my overall opinion, in that it dragged in places. There were times when I found my eyes, and my mind, wandering off when the pace of the episode slowed down, and there wasn't really much going on. These moments were quite distracting, but the episode on the whole still presented some interesting food for thought. Actually, one other thought I had was, and no disrespect to the make-up department, that the other Crichtons looked very Trek-like. By that I mean that beast John looked little more than Ben Browder running around in a fur suit, and future John looked like little more than a Ben Browder with prosthetics on his head. It just didn't seem quite like the usual Farscape standards, and at times it looked very suspect. Although they didn't look awful, they didn't look great. Maybe it was just me! But all in all "My Three Crichtons" is an interesting episode that is well worth a look, and Ben Browder really shines in his three unique roles.
I love to hear your views, whether you agree or disagree, so feel free to e-mail me your feedback. Review by Dani Moure.
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Did You Know?
In production, beast John was dubbed "Neandro" and future John "Futuro".
This is Ben Brodwer's first time in full make-up on Farscape.
Claudia Black felt that the characters other than "Futuro" were all dumbed down a little in the script, and missed opportunities for conflicts with other characters.
Chiana: "It's like he's got your memories."
John: "Chiana, half of this galaxy has my memories."
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