Friday, January 20, 2012

Farscape First Watch: Premiere

Today is our first Friday in the Farscape First Watch! Woohoo!! Unsure what this is? Check out this post. But basically, I've never seen Farscape before, so I'm chronicling my first watch of the show. Basically, I'm going to summarize the episode with my feelings and reactions!

We start out with Commander John Crichton, who is an "IASA" astronaut. What IASA stands for, I had to google. It's apparently the "International Aeronautics and Space Agency." Is this a rename of NASA because for some reason they didn't want to use the name of a well known oft used government agency? Possibly. Is this the future and NASA has morphed into a true international organization? I doubt it, because John's father who we meet shortly was an astronaut who walked on the moon and knew Yuri Gagarin, so his father was in his prime in the 60's. My parents weren't even in double digits of age in the 60's and it's 2012, so I doubt this is the future considering how old John's father looked. Another possibility is that it's an alternate Earth: same time we're in now, things just developed differently. This is possible. However, we didn't really spend enough time in this Earth to really determine the truth.

Anyway, John is getting ready for his third time in the shuttle (another reason why it's not the future, they're still using such outdated technology). Strangely, a mission control guy helping him out is a friend from childhood. Why? I have no idea. This adds absolutely nothing to the story, since the emotional connection of a friend can't compare with the emotional connection with his father who works there also and is there to see him off. So, yeah, pointless, not to mention unrealistic friend. (No way to childhood friends would end up as an astronaut and a mission control guy. No way. Trust me on this. I worked at Kennedy Space Center.)

John takes off in the shuttle and when we get to space it is revealed that his experiment is a spacecraft he designed. As if ONE SINGLE person could design a spacecraft. Right. Because John Crichton is an expert in propulsion, structures, avionics, computer engineering, electrical engineering, and every other subset that goes into designing a spacecraft.

While John is in his specially designed vehicle so he can prove a theory--a theory I couldn't quite understand. Is he just slingshot around the planet? Was that a cutting edge theory when this show was created? Because now that's pretty much how every satellite going out to the boonies of the solar system gets where its going. If there was something particular about his theory, I couldn't figure it out.

His friend down in mission control sees a strange electromagnetic wave heading towards John's craft as he's trying to do his maneuver. (Another faux pas. Once launch is over, control of a space mission is given over to Houston. It doesn't stay at Kennedy. But that's besides the point. Let's also forget that every wave is in the electromagnetic spectrum, so...yeah. Mysterious EM wave? What part of the spectrum?) This strange occurrence throws him into what is obviously a wormhole and John finds himself in the middle of a space battle, without Earth in view. So he's definitely traveled some distance away from the Earth, and knowing wormholes in sci-fi he could also be in the future. Though I suppose its also possible that he's in a future where the Earth is merely destroyed, hence it's lack in the field of view of the craft.

Anyway, one of the small fighters hits John's craft, which is doing nothing at the moment, and gets thrown off course and into a nearby asteroid--blowing up. At the time this seemed unimportant. Just another fighter dead in this weird space battle.

The small fighters are attacking a much larger ship, which for some reason attaches a tractor beam to John's ship and pulls him in. And yet no one is there to greet him when he arrives except for a strange little roomba looking thing. John follows the roomba to the bridge where he meets several non-humans. They apparently brought him aboard because his ship is strange and they wondered if it could help them. (Seems a sketchy reason to me. Not to mention, since this is a group of people who live in an obviously spacefaring society, you would think his craft would seem retro or just wrong, not advanced and special).

The attack ends and the fighters leave, though I'm not sure why. Something about a device attached to the outside of the ship. Before all the fighters can leave, the crew of the ship John is on captures one of the fighters.

John is knocked unconscious. The most humunoid aliens hold a conversation from which I took two facts: (1) the Klingon-esque guy is young but doesn't feel like it because he's a warrior and (2) the blue chic is some kind of priestess.

When John wakes up he's naked and in the brig. The small alien who floats on a platform like Yoda's in Episode 1 talks to him and John realizes he's not alone in the brig. A heavily armored person is also there. Turns out its a woman who is a "peacekeeper", the people who were attacking them, who look human but apparently don't recognize the word when John says that's what he is. She's apparently brainwashed into being a peacekeeper, firmly believing everything the peacekeepers stand for.

The aliens on the ship are apparently escaped prisoners. They head towards a nearby planet where a colony lives, and it seems EVERYONE heads down to the planet, leaving the prisoners alone on the ship. (Except possibly the engineer, who we never see except in communications with the main crew). So of course, alone, John and the peacekeeper girl escape. Using a fork. Such fancy technology these spacefaring people have.

They take her ship down to the planet, because she's intent on recapturing the prisoners and she told him the peacekeepers might help him get home. The aliens realize the humans have escaped. The priest alien heads back up to the ship with the Yoda-flying seat alien leaving the Klingon-like alien behind. He then jumps the humans, but then the peacekeepers show up. Turns out the guy that died when he hit John's ship was the brother of the head peacekeeper.

And for some reason peacekeepers who brainwashed Claudia Black (who's fictional name I don't know) didn't brainwash the head peacekeeper enough to not make him take obviously stupid revenge on something that couldn't have been stopped. John's ship was obviously not attacking anyone. His brother obviously accidentally hit it.

The Klingon, Claudia, and John are taken captive by the peacekeepers. Turns out because Claudia spent so much time with John she's been irreversibly contaminated, which is something that makes a lot of sense. If the peacekeepers rely on brainwashing to keep people like Claudia around then over exposure to people who could make her realize she's been brainwashed would be a bad thing for the peacekeepers. I really liked that touch.

John is able to overtake his two guards and get a gun and the keys. He sets the other two three and convinces them all to head back to the ship of the escaped prisoners (our main aliens). Claudia is hesitant, but John and the Klingon make her realize if she stays she's dead. The Klingon doesn't want to take her, but John convinces him to. So all three go back to the ship.

The priest is glad to see them all. The Klingon threatens John. The Yoda-chair dude tries to steal John's stuff. And of course Claudia is still mostly brainwashed. So basically we're given the impression that John is completely alone on this ship.

John makes a recording for his father, promising he'll try to find a way back home, while fixing one of the ship's roombas. The episode ends.

I really wish that end had contained a better sense of John's loneliness. He's in a strange land, all alone, with no real hope of getting home. I don't expect him to be broken (yet), but I do expect him to be really really sad. I expected a little break down and I think the ending would have been more satisfying, made him seem more realistic. I get he's a determined astronaut, but still! He's in a ship with escaped alien prisoners and a peacekeeper who thinks they should all go back to jail. No one has heard of Earth though the peacekeepers look human. Heck, no one has heard of humans. This is ALIEN. And that should be scary and frightening, even for an astronaut.

Anyway, I did like this first episode, though the names of none of the characters (aside from John) stuck with me. I hope they do a better job of getting the names across in the next episode.

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