Madness versus Madness

It’s back to Earth for John Crichton on Farscape—or is it? Well, no, no it’s not, and this time he’s clued in right from the start.

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Season 2, Episode 15: Won’t Get Fooled Again

It was all a dream, at least that’s the bill of goods Crichton (Ben Browder) is presented with when he wakes up in an Earth hospital. It’s no surprise Crichton would be sceptical after the season one episode, “A Human Reaction”, in which an alien species had recreated Earth from Crichton’s memories for an experiment. But even given that history, Crichton is awfully quick to throw his father (Kent McCord) to the ground. Of course, he’s right about this all being an illusion, particularly when his alien crewmates start turning up as Earth citizens whom everyone else takes as human.

But even knowing “D. Logan” isn’t real—he looks and sounds just like Rygel (Jonathan Hardy)—is it reasonable for Crichton to throw him off a parking structure? What if it was truly Rygel forced to play a role, or even voluntarily playing a role for reasons Crichton hadn’t sussed out yet? It seems likely there’s more to Crichton’s reactions than merely his catching on to the trick. Maybe Scorpius (Wayne Pygram) is right when he tells Crichton the experience is breaking him.

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And this isn’t one of the lookalikes—it really is Scorpius, with knowledge of Moya and Peacekeepers and Scarrans, etc. Except, then again, it’s not Scorpius, to add another twist to this already spiralling rabbit hole, it’s a neural clone. We’d seen glimpses of him before, particularly in “Beware of Dog”, but it’s in “Won’t Get Fooled Again” we finally have confirmation that Scorpius had implanted this copy of himself in Crichton’s brain. And, in this episode, Crichton finally christens this copy “Harvey”.

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First Crichton can’t decide between calling him Clarence or Harvey—both are characters from Jimmy Stewart movies that only Jimmy Stewart can see. If you haven’t seen 1950's Harvey, I heartily recommend it—the Scorpius version gives kind of a false impression of the more mysterious rabbit pooka.

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But Farscape’s Harvey is an intriguing character in his own right and becomes moreso over the seasons as he gradually diverges from the real Scorpius. Already, though, Harvey serves some intriguingly paradoxical functions—he’s hunting Crichton for his brain but he has to do everything he can to keep Crichton alive; he’s doing everything he can to keep Crichton sane but he is in himself a sign most people would take for madness.

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The less crazy Crichton seems in this episode, though, the crazier things seem to get around him. We meet Crichton’s mother (Carmen Duncan) for the first time, or at least a copy of her, and it’s in her the illusion starts to really come off as something designed to torture him. First she plays on his grief, invoking feelings of guilt relating to her death, and then on sexual discomfort. The two forms of distress hit Crichton in such rapid succession it’s no surprise he’s not emotionally fortified for them.

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The actors seem to have a lot of fun playing different roles, particularly Claudia Black and Anthony Simcoe, who immediately start making out in their new personae when they meet in a bar. There’s a lot that’s funny in this episode but ultimately it comes off as far more ominous and disturbing than “Crackers Don’t Matter”.

. . .

Farscape is available now on Amazon Prime.

This entry is part of a series I’m writing on Farscape for the show’s 20th anniversary. My previous reviews can be found here (episodes are in the order intended by the show’s creators rather than the broadcast order):

Season One:

Episode 1: Pilot
Episode 2: I, E.T.
Episode 3: Exodus from Genesis
Episode 4: Throne for a Loss
Episode 5: Back and Back and Back to the Future
Episode 6: Thank God It’s Friday Again
Episode 7: PK Tech Girl
Episode 8: That Old Black Magic
Episode 9: DNA Mad Scientist
Episode 10: They’ve Got a Secret
Episode 11: Till the Blood Runs Clear
Episode 12: Rhapsody in Blue
Episode 13: The Flax
Episode 14: Jeremiah Crichton
Episode 15: Durka Returns
Episode 16: A Human Reaction
Episode 17: Through the Looking Glass
Episode 18: A Bug’s Life
Episode 19: Nerve
Episode 20: The Hidden Memory
Episode 21: Bone to be Wild
Episode 22: Family Ties

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Season Two:

Episode 1: Mind the Baby
Episode 2: Vitas Mortis
Episode 3: Taking the Stone
Episode 4: Crackers Don’t Matter
Episode 5: Picture If You Will
Episode 6: The Way We Weren’t
Episode 7: Home on the Remains
Episode 8: Dream a Little Dream
Episode 9: Out of Their Minds
Episode 10: My Three Crichtons
Episode 11: Look at the Princess, Part I: A Kiss is But a Kiss
Episode 12: Look at the Princess, Part II: I Do, I Think
Episode 13: Look at the Princess, Part III: The Maltese Crichton
Episode 14: Beware of Dog

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