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"Crichton Kicks"

Summary

Taking place "sometime later" than "Dog With Two Bones," a shaggy-haired, bearded Crichton has taken refuge aboard a dying Leviathan who had come here to the sacred grounds to die peacefully. And, he's about as slap-happy as you'd expect our already off-the-cuff John Crichton to be after months alone with no one to keep him company but Harvey, the Pilot of this Leviathan, and a few dying DRDs. One of the DRDs is painted red, white, and blue and named "1812." He and Crichton together play/hum the 1812 Overture. Just to give you an idea of Crichton's state of mind.

The Leviathan's name is Elack and Pilot is apologizing that she can't do more to help John escape before she and Elack die. John is just grateful for the help they've given him so far. John's main hangout here seems to be the hangar, where he has a homemade still, walls and crates full of equations, and is pretty certain he's cracked wormhole theory. But, does anything go so well for our beat-up little hero? An out-of-control craft comes barreling into Elack's hangar, destroying a good chunk of data, not to mention the still. Crichton takes it in stride, calmly aiming his pulse pistol at the young, red-headed woman who steps out of the craft. She insists though that she's not the threat, the people chasing her are.

Pleasantries are quick, but with a twist. Her brain can't tolerate translator microbes and she must learn John's language. Obviously, she's a fast learner as she picks up every word he speaks and the alphabet quite easily. She already speaks "Pilot" and understands quite clearly when Pilot says there's a vessel approaching and no, Elack can't starburst. She quickly asks John to keep speaking, in whole sentences, so she can continue to pick up his language. She speaks of the approaching Grudeks, that they'll shock the hull and incapacitate what little function Elack has left, but keeping Pilot alive to harvest toubray tissue. Indeed, no sooner does she say it than another ship rams Elack. They need to find somewhere self-contained to hide out while the Grudeks fumigate. Farscape One is the obvious choice.

The new arrival tells John the Grudeks are toubray hunters; toubray being Leviathan neural cluster tissue, consumed by some species to enhance higher brain function. She used to work for them, hired to become an expert on Leviathans. Why she's fleeing from them, we don't know yet. She had come to the Leviathan burial grounds looking for prey for a number of reasons; older ones are easier targets, the toubray is richer with age, and her reasoning, the creature is near-dead anyway and it's better than harvesting a healthy creature and killing its crew.

Quick trip into Crichton's brain. Harvey is fed up with this beach-scene fantasy John apparently spends a lot of time in. He's trying to convince John to stay focused on wormholes, an attainable goal in the real world. As Harvey goes off for sno-cones, Aeryn takes over the conversation. John asks why she leaves and, in a bikini and full-term pregnant, Aeryn tells him she's just not right for him. He tells her it's his kid. She says it's her's.

On Elack, the Grudeks find Farscape One empty. No matter, they are eager to get down to harvesting. Their ship is sent off to look for more Leviathans. Crichton and the new woman are in Pilot's chamber, trying to wake Pilot up. She hasn't the strength or the will to fight but Crichton isn't giving up that easy. Referring to the Grudeks as Klingons and the newcomer as Sputnik (see photos of her hair and you'll see why), John yells at the Grudeks in Klingon. They aren't threatened and offer him safe passage but he knows he can't take it with his module nearly out of fuel and hardly a speedster in vast, open space. When John yells that he isn't going anywhere, they start firing and a gunfight ensues. Sort of amazing that John survives it, as he's in full crazy-John mode and running headlong through the gunfire. As he and Sputnik take cover and start to re-group, one of the Grudeks yells to release the brindiz hound.

John is all for letting the bloodhound find them so he can blast the thing with his pulse pistol. Sputnik just wants to run. As she gets flustered looking for a hatchway that "should be" right here, John realizes that this Leviathan expert has never actually been on one before. That she hasn't taken into account that a Leviathan grows to accommodate its passengers and its Pilot's whim. As John leads the escape, the bloodhound catches up to them. John fires at it. Sputnik crawls up the wall and can't understand why John doesn't just shift his gravity center and do the same. They manage to get away but not before the hound takes a chunk out of Crichton's leg.

As Sputnik tends to John's leg, he insists on knowing why she's running from the Grudeks. She's reluctant, but he says they have to work together. She says in short that she was too good. All they expected was a travel route. Not a goldmine like the sacred burial grounds. So, they're looking to get rid of her so she can't leak the info to anyone else.

The one thing predictable about the Grudeks is that they should be looking for the Y'Tal cavity; Elack's first neural cluster and the richest source of toubray. When they find it, we can expect a complete systems shutdown. Sputnik and Crichton are laying in wait to ambush the Grudeks as they come through. At the most inopportune time though, Chiana comes over John's comm, saying she and Rygel are in the maintenance bay looking for him. Realizing they're trapped and the Grudeks now know they're there, Sputnik tries a new approach. She comes right out into the open and asks for Warlord Ilkog's tolerance. He calls her by name; Sikozu, and denies her request, preferring to guarantee her silence with death. John jumps in though with pulse pistol aimed, saying he'll happily reconsider the offer to let him run away, and takes Sikozu with him. The Grudeks aren't so interested in extending that offer. Ilkog orders them to prepare to fire on Crichton and Sikozu on his mark. Crichton's a half-step ahead of them though and yells for 1812 to fire on the Grudeks from behind, assisting in the getaway.

They get away, but not before Sikozu's hand is ripped off by the hound. Meeting up with Rygel and Chiana in the maintenance bay the reunion is very ... well ... Farscape. Crichton takes this very inopportune moment to cut his hair and shave the beard off. When Rygel asks why, all he gets is a crazy-Crichton glare. Chiana is showing signs herself though of having slipped a little from the edge. For starters, she shows Crichton a wanted beacon. Peacekeeper Commandant Mele-on Grayza offering large rewards for the entire Moya crew. They're everywhere according to Chiana and she and Rygel had nowhere else to go.

Crichton falls into his natural facilitator position, suggesting Rygel go find Sikozu's hand (she says it will re-bond with her arm) and taking Chiana with him to find the hound. Chiana is belligerent though. Very belligerent. Crichton decides she needs to open up about whatever's bugging her whether she wants to or not. She does, telling him that her premonitions that were evolving last season have continued to evolve. It's not so much seeing the future anymore than seeing the present slowed way, way down. The downside is blinding headaches afterwards. When this started to surface, she decided to make a few bucks on an otherwise cheat-proof game of chance. When she won, they arrested her and tortured her. So much for what Chiana did on her Summer vacation.

Crichton takes a quick journey back into his head to visit pregnant Aeryn. He's feeling for the baby and when it kicks, he is quite the mushy father-to-be, saying it's definitely a Crichton kick. Then again, he wonders if the baby really is his. Crais'? Stark's? Rygel's? He simply goes back to feeling the baby kick.

On Elack, Rygel, with severed hand in tow, catches up to Crichton, seeing him obviously obsessed. Obsessed with Aeryn, wormholes, Aeryn, Scorpius, Aeryn, Earth, Aeryn... John asks Rygel if she had said anything to him before leaving. Nothing. Rygel offers some advice though; when a woman leaves you repeatedly, take the hint.

Chiana happens upon Sikozu striking a deal with one of the Grudeks. Chiana shoots him and a catfight between her and Sikozu ensues. Crichton breaks it up and demands some answers. Chiana points to the currency Sikozu was paying with; Scarran currency. Sikozu fails to see the negative in that, saying the three of them are from Peacekeeper territory. Is she Scarran then? No. Kelish, and she hates the Scarrans, but they do live in Scarran territory. Her deal with the now-dead Grudek was that he would leave his small craft behind when they leave so she and the others could get away. As this is going on, an explosion is her sign that they've found the Y'Tal cavity and the ship will be dead soon.

Chiana reluctantly goes with Sikozu to find the Grudeks. Rygel acts as bait for the hound while Crichton has 1812 painting a fake doorway over an open hatch that is otherwise sealed only with a very thin membrane. Crichton has tied himself with a rope and starts making goat noises, daring the hound to come for the tasty Human. Rygel comes zipping past almost as if on cue, saying "You wanted him, you got him!" Crichton's plan - get the hound that likes to literally bounce off the walls to bounce into the fake door and out into space - is easier said than done. It takes much longer than John expected and with too many close calls, but the hound hits the target and the rope holds Crichton, allowing him to drag himself through a second doorway and get it closed behind him.

Sikozu is still trying to make a deal. She happens upon Warlord Ilkog and again asks for his mercy. He concludes that Crichton must not be a promising escape route if she is continuing to bet on his mercy instead. She says that Crichton will fight. Ilkog makes a deal with her; keep Crichton, Chiana and Rygel out of their hair and he'll take her with him. She no sooner thanks him and gets out of earshot than Crichton grabs her, having heard it all. He introduces her once again to Pilot, playing on her sympathies. Pilot had 6 children before joining with Elack. "You're a mommy-killer. How does that make you feel?" Sikozu is quick to defend, saying she doesn't choose her assignments. She studied hard, sacrificed much, and Crichton has no right to moralize. Well, there are 2 reasons to choose a particular path; because it is morally right, or fear of punishment if you don't. Crichton's moralizing doesn't work, so Chiana takes the fear of punishment approach. She plays back an audio interception that Ilkog's returning ship bears news from Sikozu's employers; her own error in judgment cost her her life. She can't believe the unfairness of it. Chiana says "Welcome to the universe." Crichton gives Sikozu an ultimatum; help save Elack, or be dumped. She opts for "help."

All is set. Crichton has to shoot out the air hoses but if he does so in the wrong order, the whole ship will explode. Asking Chiana if she's sure about this, she says it's a go. With Chiana tied to one end of a rope on a pulley at the bottom of the Pilot's chamber, and Crichton on top, Crichton jumps, letting his weight pull Chiana up. As she goes past him, she takes advantage of her evolved mind's eye to get a solid, frozen-in-time look at their setup. And indeed, when she said blinding headaches, she wasn't joking. Her eyes glaze over and she can barely see when she gets to the top. So much so, that when she grabs for Sikozu's hand, she gets just the hand - the severed one that wasn't done attaching itself yet. Making a grab for Chiana, Sikozu slips and falls, grabbing onto Chiana. Instead of the planned dead weight to pull Crichton back up, it's Chiana and Sikozu. But not before she'd had a chance to give Crichton the order in which to shoot the hoses. As John approaches the cluster where the Grudeks are working, he yells to 1812 for cover fire. John shoots out the hoses and explosions ensue, presumably, the job is done. There always has to be a final hitch though, and the rope is breaking right above John. He hopes against hope he'll make it to the top before it breaks, but no such luck. The rope breaks, John falls, Rygel passively goes to try and catch him, and fails. John falls into the bilge (excrement) at the bottom of the Pilot's chamber.

Pilot and Elack are taking Crichton and friends to the planet where they think Moya might be. Crichton offers to take Sikozu with them now that she's a fugitive. She insists she'll get her life back and not end up like him. Crichton says to Pilot that she doesn't have to do this. It was her's and Elack's dream to die in the sacred space. Pilot says that part of the grace of aging is to accept that no dream is guaranteed. Sikozu seems to hear this and absorb it. Pilot says that besides, had they stayed, the returning Grudek ship would have destroyed them. She wants to repay Crichton.

Crichton revisits the chamber where the remains of his wormhole work resides. He also revisits Aeryn in his mind. Still on the beach, but no longer pregnant. He tells her he can't come here anymore. It changes nothing and it makes him sad. What's left? Wormholes. Got to get back to work since the new girl smashed up his equations. Aeryn exclaims that new is good, as a stranger calling her "babe" brings her a sno-cone. He asks who Crichton is and when she pauses, Crichton calmly says "no one," and walks away. Back in front of his wall of equations, 1812 pays John a visit, bumping into him intentionally a couple of times. John takes the hint and starts whistling the 1812 Overture, letting 1812 play along with him as he paints equations on the wall.


Review

First episode of a brand new season; and to boot, a season that The Powers That Be promise to be bigger and better than before. But then, shouldn't every season carry that promise? I can't recall a show advertising, "Well folks we decided to go smaller and a little worse than what you've seen in the past."

Cliffhangers to be addressed, looming questions, big promises, big expectations, tons of excitement. What often happens is that we're so stoked, Farscape can do no wrong. Mr. Lucas could just toss in some familiar names and references and make sure the FX are really big and distracting and we won't even notice... oops. Wrong show. But you get my point. The other end of it is that we're so stoked, nothing could live up to our expectations and an otherwise decent episode turns out to be anti-climatic. I think I might have been suffering from the latter when I first watched "Crichton Kicks." That, or lack of sleep and an unnatural 3am viewing hour. Second time 'round was much better. So, what got addressed? Did the season opener deliver? Deliver what?

Timmy's stuck in the well! How ever will he escape?

When we last saw John Crichton in "Dog with two Bones," things certainly looked pretty sucky for him. Not just stuck in a well, but more like stuck in a smooth-walled well that's fast filling up with water, there's not a soul around for a hundred miles, and Lassie is unconscious. With that, I really enjoyed the first few moments of "Crichton Kicks" that starts out very much like "Dog with two Bones" ended; John adrift in space in his not-exactly-a-speedster module, calling to Pilot that he's almost out of fuel. It really made me wonder for an instant, "He hasn't really been just sitting in his module all this time, has he? Is he dreaming? Is he stuck in some quantum flux loop? Nope. It's just Farscape innocently toying with our minds for a moment. I also really liked the idea of John taking refuge aboard an aged Leviathan who has come here to breathe her last. There are like a zillion poignant and poetic elements about that.

And Moya? What do you mean we don't find out what happened to Moya in the first 5 minutes of the ep? And what about Aeryn's pregnancy? Huh?

Another one answered by saying, "That's Farscape for you." I find it amusing to read thoughts from fans that amount to "Anything not resolved by the end of the episode will never be resolved and the whole series is ruined now." Well, this reviewer loves a show that can take its time with such things once in a while. Besides, we shippers know we love the torture of still not really knowing. If we didn't enjoy the pain, we wouldn't be hooked on Farscape!

Bigger? Better? Grander in scope? Eye-popping?

Not so far, but there are 21 more episodes to go this season. As a season opener, "Crichton Kicks" held its ground, but not much more than that. It was simple, and maybe some of us wanted something really, really complex. I actually found it really confusing the first viewing. Second viewing, I wondered what I was on during the first viewing because it wasn't so confusing at all. Picking it apart for my summary, I did come across some discontinuity though that might explain it. For one, the episode starts out with Pilot apologizing to Crichton that there's nothing she and Elack can do for him as they're on their deathbed. At the end, they're flying John not just to some planet, but specifically to where he thinks Moya might have wound up. If they're in good enough shape to do that after being beaten up and ripped apart by the Grudeks, why couldn't they have at least just taken John to the nearest habitable planet somewhere?

For another, there are a small number of scenes where the sense of danger and urgency are completely lost. For instance, one moment John and Chiana are looking for the hound, the next, he's sitting alone in a corridor dreaming about Aeryn. Just sitting there. The two just don't mesh.

Then there's always the element of "hero running through a hail of gunfire without getting a scratch, yet every one of his shots hits the mark." It's sort of a given on TV, but it just happened way too much here. I have no sense of danger if the hero is apparently impervious to weapons fire.

And on a related note; I'm normally a huge fan of leaving the technobabble to the imagination, but up to a point. So Sikozu doesn't have translator microbes and must learn a language by hearing it. Got it. But she learned way too quickly for it to be believable. Even if she only has to hear a word and its definition once to memorize its meaning, there was way too much assumed here and way too many words with no frames of reference that one just couldn't pick up that quickly. For instance, if I hold up the cup in my hand and say "ixnya" how would you know I just said "wine" and not "cup," "liquid," beverage?" Especially since she'd have no way of knowing that the beverage in the cup was indeed wine. What about abstract concepts? I can't just point to something and say "professional" and have you know what professional really means. The idea of a microbe-less character is intriguing, but I think it would have sold a whole lot better if she spent at least this episode struggling a whole lot more with the language. Better yet, the next few episodes or the whole season struggling with language.

Speaking of which, what about the new chick?

What do you know? Fan speculation was right. Sikozu and John jumped straight into bed together and Aeryn is yesterday's lay. ;-)

Seriously, I really liked this character intro. Much smoother than Jool's in my opinion. There was just way too much else going on in "Self Inflicted Wounds." Plus, Dani reminded me when we chatted about the ep, there were far fewer characters involved in this episode. Only four main characters if you include Sikozu and one bad guy group leader who even then was barely in it. We hardly know all there is to know about her, but she definitely shows some intrigue. I recall David Kemper saying that Raelee Hill and Ben Browder have great chemistry and they do. Fantastic rapport and comedic timing there. Raelee is just alieny enough without trying to overdo it. It will be interesting to see where this character leads.

And Rygel? And Chiana?

Again, much of that story is left to the imagination. Though I do commend Farscape once more on allowing the hero to get hurt once in a while. Seriously hurt. It's hard not to feel for Chiana the way she tells of torture like it's a normal way of life for her. And her evolving gift/curse continues to intrigue as well. I sound like a broken record here, but once more, Gigi captivates and holds a spotlight with tenacity whenever she's onscreen.

More Crazy-John? Ugh. Not more Crazy-John.

I can sympathize with the folks getting tired of Crazy-John. I was actually kind of tired of the neural chip in Season 2 after a while. It would be easy to bundle this episode up with those. But on the other axis, it's easy to see that this isn't neural-chip crazy or Harvey crazy. This was a portrayal of a man separated from the few allies he has in this strange universe and left with no one but the company of a dying Pilot and an aging DRD or three. His relationship with 1812 actually reminded me just a little of Tom Hanks' character in "Castaway" and Wilson the volleyball. You get a definite feeling that 4 more years aboard Elack and John would have ended up a lot like Tom Hanks did.

I also enjoy the long-term shift we're continuing to see in John from reactive to proactive. From being awed by this universe to an "I dare you to try and surprise me. Really, I dare you." If he was good at going with the flow when he first arrived in this part of the universe, he's becoming an expert at it now and using that flow to his own advantage whenever necessary.

So...

In all, "Crichton Kicks" had its ups and its downs, its pros and its cons. It didn't knock this reviewer off her feet, but it didn't disappoint. Does a season opener have to knock us off our feet? This episode feels like a slow buildup to something else, something ... well ... bigger and better than last season.




Agree? Disagree? Comments? Questions? Email me! Written by Mary Wood.

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Fun Factoids
Rygel: "When a woman, whether she's your wife, your lover, or a slave you purchased to be your wife or lover, leaves you repeatedly, take the hint."

John: "Well, that was the plan. But you know how my plans go."


Click here to read Dani Moure's review for this episode.

Click here to read Dani Moure's synopsis for this episode.

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Episode Credits
Season 4, Episode 1 - "Crichton Kicks" (Part 2 of 2)
Writer: David Kemper
Director: Andrew Prowse
Production number: 10401
First UK Transmission: 23rd Sep 2002
First US Transmission: 7th Jun 2002
Guest Stars:
Raelee Hill (Sikozu); Peter Whittle (Ilkog); Dinah Shearing (Voice of Elack's Pilot); Bob Nisevic (Nukana)
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