Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Farscape S1 Ep3: Exodus From Genesis

Sun gets all wet in Exodus From Genesis. OK, mind out of the gutter people. Though, I'll grant you- this is Farscape. Anything is possible.

The latest entry of Farscape is flight from birth, or so translates Exodus From Genesis. This is at the heart of the third installment from the creators of Farscape. This is Farscape, Season One, Episode 3, Exodus From Genesis.

Astronaut John Crichton learns about a teeth-cleaning alien lifeform the size of a worm dubbed the Dentick [funny how they riff on Earth language, coincidence?]. Moya happens upon a debris cloud. A visual scan indicates a Peacekeeper Marauder vessel [piloted by PK commandos] is on the other side of the cloud. Pilot, Moya's symbiotic navigator, thanks former Peacekeeper Officer Aeryn Sun for her assistance in the command module of Moya. "We work together well Pilot." This is the first in a chain of information suggesting a connection between Sun and Pilot. Meanwhile, the alleged debris appears to be finding its way into Moya. A closer look inside of Moya reveals tiny alien bugs- tiny being a relative term. The ship is quickly infested by a swarm of critters. Sun and Crichton discuss the fact Sun was awaiting potential transfer to a Marauder vessel before getting caught up with the Moya crew. Sun complains of feeling warm. D'Argo reports of strange thermal readings on Moya. Little do they know, the bugs are influencing and impacting Moya's systems. Unbeknownst to Sun, one of the critters sits in a darkened corner. Without warning a splinter is fired into Sun's hand. She is pricked for blood. She throws down what she believes to be a metallic splinter. The alien bug retrieves the nail-sized instrument complete with blood sample. Ka D'Argo too has been pricked. Sun is growing warmer due to the cooling blockage on Moya. Rygel declares it should be found and cleared as only the royal Hynerian could declare without lifting a finger. Crichton is making efforts to understand his new surroundings.

"Umm, we could use some RAID here!" [A missing John Crichton line]
In Crichton's quarters the alien roaches are collecting DNA samples. His room is crawling with the critters. Crichton's reaction to the creepy, little, space bugs is a perfectly natural one in the strangeness of this new universe. He is absolutely skeeved-out by the giant, space roach as any one of us would be. He manages to bag one for study by Zhaan. Zhaan determines upon cracking the parasite open that traces of Crichton's DNA are within the creature [DNA truly is the building block of all life].

Meanwhile, D'Argo is making efforts to remove some kind of bug substance that has sealed off a room. The room is being utilized as an egg-laying or hatching facility a la Aliens [1986]. You've gotta love the science fiction homage built into Farscape. As Sun becomes more faint as a result of the rising temperatures, D'Argo informs Crichton that Sebaceans lack the necessary gland needed to regulate thermal changes or heat increases. Sebaceans can suffer from heat delirium. Crichton makes an observation comparing the Sebaceans to reptiles. He calls Bialar Crais and the other Peacekeepers "cold-blooded literally." D'Argo calls it a weakness not enough Sebaceans die from. Nice. Pilot is none pleased that D'Argo is using a laser to slice into Moya's walls. A DRD zaps D'Argo's foot in protest as only a protective DRD can in defense of Moya. The crew desperately needs to get inside. Sun describes her condition succinctly regarding the heat delirium, which can lead to something referred to as the Living Death.

Things go from bad to worse when Crichton runs into Zhaan, or rather a fully grown copy of Zhaan birthed by the bugs. She hocks some "blue snot" and walks away. Crichton is naturally freaked out. His reactions keep us in the moment and his responses in Farscape are classic.

Moments later he runs into a replica of Sun who is attempting to increase the heat on board Moya. He accidentally kills the creature when he pulls at her arm and it is severed from the body. Blue guts indicate it is a creation of the alien bug species referred to as Draks. Analysis by the crew deduces a lack of speech in the duplicates. D'Argo recommends the crew cut off the tips of their fingers for identification purposes to distinguish themselves from the duplicates. Crichton wisely concludes the measure too harsh and decides a red spray marker should be less gruesome and "less permanent." Sun is beginning to lose short-term memory due to the extreme heat.

Meanwhile, D'Argo throws Rygel into a makeshift hole to see if he can find the source of the bug nest via the ducts. Sun visits Pilot and is quickly becoming dismantled by the heat. This is an interesting moment. It builds on a moment Sun and Pilot shared earlier and is clearly building to something much bigger down the road. It's also rather sweet.

I love Pilot. He's a sweetheart.
Pilot moves to open the cargo bay doors in the hopes the cold of space might help flood Moya enough so to bring down the internal temperature and aid Sun [ironic that name]. This is one of a number of combative moments building between D'Argo and Crichton. It's a perfect bit of character drama.

Pilot continues to bond with Sun who suffers from overheating. He is quite pained by her suffering. Meanwhile, Rygel finds the alien queen's egg-laying lair, which reminisces of the scene from Aliens on a smaller scale. Zhaan reports she has found a substance that will dissolve the bug's door sealant. She turns and an insect slams her with a huge stinger-like insertion. Rygel is on the run. Sun is nearly unconscious.
In the meantime, Crichton meets his twin and learns that it will easily adapt when necessary. Crichton's clone notes the red mark on Crichton's hand and quickly modifies the change to its own hand's skin coloration. The two face off in a fisticuffs brawl. Crichton wins telling the duplicate he knows his moves. "That's why Eddie Marx kicked your ass in the 7th grade- you fought fair!"
"Fill my eyes with that Double Vision!... My Double Vision gets the best of me!" [Are you getting the irony here?]
Crichton reconvenes with D'Argo and Sun bringing them the severed head of his twin [call it Bring Me The Head Of Johnny Crichton]. Rygel confirms the queen is spitting out replicants and that he's surrounded. Zhaan arrives and she informs her comrades she cannot get the stinger out. When D'Argo offers to cut it out, Zhaan stands erect and her voice changes into something guttural and strong and less feminine or Delvian. The voice acts as a representative for the alien queen and informs the crew that she has been attacked during genesis and they must all die. Crichton figures it out. The aliens are spawning and live in the cold vacuum of space until the queen needs heat needing to spawn. It is then and only then that the Draks need a warm place to birth. The queen asks why they have been attacked, which began with Crichton's initial killing of one of them. Crichton knows now the creatures will exit to space when they have finished spawning, but reacted with hostility out of self-preservation, like anyone of us would have acted, earlier on. Crichton asks how much time the creatures will need to finish their "cycle." The queen indicates she is half-completed. The Queen is clearly a half-full rather than a half-empty kind of girl. The Queen indicates the heat is excessive. Crichton informs her they are aboard a host of sorts in Moya. Crichton pleads with the Queen informing her that their habitat is killing them.

In the final analysis, the Moya crew realizes they need to ride it out a bit longer. D'Argo removes the communication stinger from Zhaan's neck. Sun is getting by barely. While D'Argo wanted retribution at the tip of a sword, good ol' John Crichton delivers some old-fashioned human diplomacy to the table to strike up a truce with the Draks.

Now here is where Farscape dials it up a notch. Things were bad enough right? Well, with the cargo bay doors opened by Pilot, the Peacekeeper Marauder arrives and docks inside Moya. This adds a whole other layer and dynamic to an already popping episode. The PK commandos fire upon the replicas killing them. This in turn forces the Monarch alien to jack up the heat again believing the truce has been broken. Sun pleads with Crichton to kill her before the Living Death takes hold. Crichton won't do it, but it's clearly because he hasn't given up on her. Elsewhere, the commandos, obviously Sebacean, complain of the rising heat too.

Meanwhile, Crichton pleads with Rygel to communicate with the Monarch. So Rygel requests an audience with the Monarch. There appears to be a clear hierarchy to a variety of alien racers within Farscape. As he crawls up the slimy passageway to the Queen one can't help but think, despite all its ickyness, Henson and company's message in Farscape, is that communication is a valid option amidst all races and all creatures however odd or futile it may sometimes seem. I'm sure there will be exceptions where communication simply isn't an option. Crichton, despite his situation, is always trying.

Zhaan has somehow retained her connection to the Monarch despite the stinger's removal. She feels the pain of the Queen's offspring dying. Crichton pleads with her to free the crew from their confined quarters so they may help her fight the invading PK commandos. Although the Monarch complies and then agrees to lower the heat, Crichton looks to Sun in an effort to receive her blessing to crank the heat up in intensity to smoke out the Peacekeepers. Crichton tells the Monarch to crank up the heat as part of their plan to remove the PK commandos. D'Argo expresses some concern for Sun as well and places his hand on her arm willing her to hang in there. Crichton's influence in bonding this mismatched band of misfits continues.
Excuse me ladies, but is there room for one more.
In an effort to stave off the Living Death, Zhaan showers down Sun. I'd love to shower down Sun. The commandos are beginning to fail themselves as they reach the command center overheating. Crichton tells the commandos to exit now or meet their untimely Living Death. In a bit of terrific strategy, Crichton uses the numerous doubles to his advantage suggesting to the PK commandos that Crais is messing with a species that can somehow duplictate one being into thousands of Crichtons. The marauders are sent off packing. Internal temperatures are restored.

Crichton connects with Rygel. Rygel is truly brought to life by Henson's team and the lively, invigorating voice of Jonathan Hardy. He offers a truly wonderful voice performance.

Through Zhaan the Draks bid goodbye and speak directly to Rygel who brought a bit of his own diplomacy to the party. This is a lovely moment between Zhaan and Crichton. Zhaan also speaks eloquently of the symbiotic relationship between Moya and her crew.

You'll find some of the finest moments and emotionally resonant ones in the series come at the conclusion of each episode of Farscape. I like that aspect of the series. It's like you can take a deep breath. The moments are sometimes bittersweet and at the very least thoughtful.

As for that promise Sun wanted Crichton to keep- would he have taken her life? Did he ever really make that promise? I suspect Crichton deals very much in the present and how could he not? Certainly there's no way he'd make a choice on Sun's life, a woman with whom he is gradually making his deepest connection. The third installment is not wildly refreshing or different within the genre, but it does manage to inject a whole lot of energy into some classic ideas with Henson at the helm. "All things considered, there are worse ways to end a day."
Exodus From Genesis: B+
Writer: Ro Hume
Director: Brian Henson
Pop Culture Reference: "How fast can they go?... thing's a Hyundai, why don't we stop playing hide and seek and just smoke 'em." + Animal House reference [see video clip].


Will said...

Good summary (as usual).

I love Pilot as well. What I really love about him is that he is literally stuck in one place. In one way, that creates some great tension and/or vulnerability but in another, in less capable hands, it creates a sense of boredom. I'm glad they managed to make Pilot not seem boring even though he can never really go anywhere. He's got a cute voice too!

Um. . .and here, here to showering Sun!!!!!!!

SFF said...

Thank you Will.
You are right on about that aspect of the show. While Pilot may be immobile, he offers a wonderful level perspective for other characters to interact.

Through those interactions we learn much about the crew of Moya as well as our dear Pilot.

I think Pilot's character is fascinating to be honest and look forward to learning more.

Additionally, the voice of Pilot, as you know, is well delivered by Lani Tupu who also plays the part of soldier Captain Bialar Crais. He does superb work on both characters.

Thanks for the input Will.

Will said...

Hey man,

Crais took some time to grow on me (as you'll see in future seasons). I thought that they really gave him a crap motivation to force feed a 'villain' to the viewers (Chricton's ship very clearly pops up out of nowhere and by complete and obvious accident and/or Crais' brother's crap flying, Crais' brother runs into Chricton and he dies). His motivation just did NOT work for me. . .but once Scorpious comes on the scene, Crais becomes a bit more believable with better motivations and less plot device brain damage.

I won't spoil anything, I promise! I hope I haven't told you too much already!

As for Tupu. . .extremely fan friendly. He shows up at all the cons and interacts with the fans exceptionally well. He never acts like he would rather be doing something else.

SFF said...

That's nice to hear about Tupu.

I couldn't agree more. While I haven't made too much of Bialar's motivation, whenever he screams "you killed my brother!" It's hard to swallow. You are entirely right on that Will. It was not the greatest motivation. It's dodgy at best and while I'm with you I accept it begrudgingly.

Great point though.

I have only completed Season One. I loved it on the whole and it got stronger along the way. I'm rewatching now for these entries.

Farscape really gets fantastic when Scorpius hits the scene. Pygram is amazing. More on the development of Crais and his changing character and Scorpius to come, but it is really good stuff.

Thanks Will.

M - are you with me?

Anonymous said...

Sorry for being late ... this one strongly reminded me of the Horta episode in TOS.

Good character development with Aeryin and the Pilot.

The clone part was a bit much, and of course completely impossible from a scientific perspective.


SFF said...

Hey M. Ah, I see the reason for your connection to the Horta episode. The crew of Moya certainly come to realize there is more to these creatures than meets the eye in a similar vein to the Horta. I understand your point completely.

As I said, nothing radically new or different, but some nice refreshing energy into the premise.

Couldn't agree with you more on the cloning, but that's one of those leaps I'm willing to make to enjoy the ride. Thanks for swinging by M. Hope all is well.

Anonymous said...

Also that balcony John and Aeryn are standing on, is that in sheer vaccuum?


SFF said...

I'm not sure I follow, but I love that image. How that is achieved I'm not certain. Do the walls of Moya become transparent? Is it a bridge-like spot on Moya that is open to viewing space? It's a beautiful shot just the same.