Sexual Protocol on a Living Ship

In its first two seasons, Farscape had already been extraordinarily frank about sex for a space opera but the third season takes things even further. At the same time, Moya’s crew might have to deal with a dangerous solar storm.

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Season Three, Episode Two: Suns and Lovers

Taking their Shadow Depository loot to a space mall, the crew’s shopping experience is interrupted by calamity when the station is rocked by a storm. In the chaos, Moya’s crew are compelled to play heroes (for once) and help repair the station as well as rescue some children trapped on one of the levels.

Crichton (Ben Browder) and Aeryn (Claudia Black) take on the latter task, and Aeryn takes the opportunity of being alone with Crichton to propose having recreational sex despite not committing to a real relationship. This connects two Peacekeeper ideas previously established about relationships—we’d seen in “The Way We Weren’t” that casual sex was common and encouraged in the ranks but later we learned that Peacekeepers are not permitted to form attachments, or relationships of commitment and emotional depth. This seems like a much more sustainable idea in a culture built around it, the idea of Aeryn pulling it off with Crichton (pardon the pun) sounds less feasible.

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Meanwhile, Chiana (Gigi Edgley), Jothee (Matt Newton), and D’Argo (Anthony Simcoe) are busy proving Aeryn’s point. Chiana and Jothee’s rapport has indeed led to the two having sex with each other and they’re discovered in the act by Rygel (Jonathan Hardy) who now has a hidden perv cam.

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He clearly seems to be getting off on it but when he confronts Chiana in the corridor later he indignantly calls her a slut. That’s some pretty credible sexual hypocrisy for a puppet.

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Of course, D’Argo eventually finds out and spirals into drunken depression. I don’t feel a lot of sympathy for him—early in the episode, when D’Argo bought some tattoos for himself and Chiana, Crichton tried to gently tip off the big Luxan that Chiana might not be marriage material. We’ve seen her try to frell Crichton a few times since she and D’Argo had been together and she never seemed especially enthusiastic whenever D’Argo talked about plans for the future. It seems like the Chiana who exists in D’Argo’s mind is a bit different from the real Nebari girl. Similarly, his attachment to Jothee is based on the fact that the two were separated for most of Jothee’s life. Arguably, D’Argo’s even less acquainted with his son than he is with his girlfriend.

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This returns us to the first season theme of characters trying to find their way back to their homes and their cultures. D’Argo’s imposition of his cultural concepts is so strong it blinds him to the real nature of the people he’s dealing with. Chiana and Jothee, as young people who have both been exiled from and in some ways rejected their heritage have an easier time freeing their minds. Though whether that’s ultimately good enough for Chiana remains to be seen. As for Jothee, this is the last we see of him until the Peacekeeper Wars when he curiously seems to have gone full Luxan.

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One might be forgiven for thinking this episode was conceived after 9/11 because it features essentially a suicide bomber from a religious cult (Leanna Walsmann) but this episode first aired in the U.S. in March 2001. Which makes the character’s treatment in the episode rather curious—she’s finally foiled in a way that makes her look ridiculous and even Pilot (Lani Tupu) indulges in a very uncharacteristic sadistic laugh at her demise. Altogether, this episode does not paint a rosy picture of commitment to cultural values, unless maybe it’s Aeryn’s.

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. . .

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
Episode 15: Won’t Get Fooled Again
Episode 16: The Locket
Episode 17: The Ugly Truth
Episode 18: A Clockwork Nebari
Episode 19: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part I: A Not So Simple Plan
Episode 20: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part II: With Friends Like These . . .
Episode 21: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part III: Plan B
Episode 22: Die Me, Dichotomy

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Season Three:

Episode 1: Season of Death

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