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Farscape

1.05 - Back and Back and Back to the Future

By Dennis Matheson - aka tanstaafl

[Cast/Credits]  [Overview]  [Quotes]  [Summary]  [References]  [Questions]  [Commentary]

Cast and Credits:

Original Air Date: April 2, 1999

Regular Cast:
Ben Browder...................John Crichton
Claudia Black.................Aeryn Sun
Virginia Hey..................Zotoh Zhaan
Anthony Simcoe................Ka D'Argo
Jonathan Hardy................Dominar Rygel XVI (Voice)
Lani Tupu.....................Pilot (Voice)

Guest Cast:
Lisa Hensley..................Matala
John Clayton..................Verell

Writer........................Babs Greyhosky
Director......................Rowan Woods

Overview:

After rescuing a pair of Ilanic scientists Crichton starts experiencing visions of the future; visions which show the destruction of Moya!

Quotes:

He says he is experiencing the future. - Zhaan
The future? He can barely function in the present. - Aeryn Sun

Would you listen to me? Look, open your ears, or your tentacles, or whatever orifice it is you listen with. - John Crichton

I am normally unaffected by females during a crisis. It is just... it has been so long. - Ka D'Argo
Now that, I understand. Man, do I understand. - John Crichton

Summary:

Moya has come across an unidentified ship which is breaking apart in a cloud of green energy. D'Argo and Rygel want to leave the area immediately while Zhaan wants to search for survivors. Pilot refuses to move the ship until the crew reach a consensus.

A shuttle launches from the ship and starts broadcasting a distress call. D'Argo sees the two passengers in the pod and tells Pilot to bring it aboard. Zhaan agrees, since they now have a consensus.

D'Argo, Aeryn and John go to the docking bay to meet the shuttle. D'Argo and John pull the two passengers off the shuttle to safety and John goes back in to check for other survivors. There, he touches a panel and a green electrical discharge envelops him. He is slightly stunned and, when D'Argo comes to him to tell him that there are no others on board, John seems to hear him several times.

Back in Command, Zhaan watches the ship continue to break up. She is concerned that there may be others on board but it suddenly collapses in on itself and vanishes.
"Not anymore." says Rygel, with some amusement.

Down in the docking bay, the rest of the crew are talking to Matala and Verell, the two passengers from the shuttle. They are Ilanic scientists who were studying "deep space gravitational fluctuations". They were on their way to a rendezvous with their main ship when their phase couplers overloaded. They were the only crew and barely had time to evacuate.

Matala assures Verell that their cargo is safe. Aeryn asks what the cargo is and she tells her that it is scientific instruments. She also asks if John is all right and says that a ruptured power conduit probably caused his shock. She then asks D'Argo if Moya can take them to their rendezvous and D'Argo readily agrees.

As D'Argo leads her out, John suddenly has a flash vision and sees himself being physically molested by Matala in a very suggestive manner. The vision ends and Aeryn asks if he is all right and suggests he get some rest.

D'Argo, Rygel and Zhaan are in Command with Matala and D'Argo finishes entering the coordinates for the rendezvous. Pilot tells them that they will reach the coordinates in 12 arns.

Rygel tries to negotiate a payment from Matala and Verell for rescuing them but D'Argo cuts him off and tells them to ignore Rygel. He then explains to the others that Ilanics are related to Luxans and that their two peoples have been "blood allies" for over 1000 cycles. He says that the two are to be treated with all courtesies while on board.

Later, Aeryn, John and Zhaan are discussing the two Ilanics. Aeryn thinks it is odd that two scientists would have been out in deep space all alone. Zhaan is trying to reassure her when John experiences another flash vision. Again he sees himself being molested by Matala, this time even more aggressively. He snaps back when Aeryn starts talking to him.

Aeryn says that she specifically doesn't trust Matala. She says that she obviously has a major influence on D'Argo and is starting to affect John. John denies this, saying that he and Matala are different species and that he has no interest in her.

His response is cut short by yet another flash vision. Matala is holding him up against a wall and grasping at the front of his pants. "John, hold still." she is saying "You'll like this."

In the vision, John is clearly not "enjoying this" and snaps back again. Aeryn and Zhaan are looking at him in concern. Zhaan asks him what is wrong and John, shaken, says that he needs some air and leaves. Aeryn and Zhaan are confused by his behavior but decide that it is just typical of him.

D'Argo enters the workshop and finds Verell working there. He apologizes for interrupting but Verell waves him on in. He tells D'Argo that for over a cycle his only companion has been Matala so he is happy to talk to someone else.

D'Argo offers the opinion that having Matala as a companion would not be such a burden and Verell assures D'Argo that he and Matala are colleagues, nothing more. In fact, he suggests that if D'Argo finds Matala desirable, then he should begin the "Luxan Chase". He also tells D'Argo that Matala is obviously interested in him.

At this point Matala enters the room from where she had apparently been listening for some time. She thanks D'Argo for the use of the workshop and, noticing something, asks if he is building a "shilquin". D'Argo confirms that he is and asks how she knew what it was. She tells him that she has always been interested in Luxan objects and seductively suggests that his hands must be "quite skilled".

She is suddenly interrupted by the arrival of John. He is obviously uncomfortable around Matala and pulls D'Argo out into the corridor to talk to him.

He asks D'Argo if Ilanic women have any "special powers" to attract men. "Special pheromones, telepathic powers of seduction, psychic Spanish Fly, that sort of thing."

D'Argo wants to know why John is asking and he tells him about his visions and their sexual overtones. D'Argo accuses John of being interested in Matala and of fantasizing about her. He becomes angry and tells John to forget her, to which John responds that he is trying. D'Argo stalks off.

John suddenly has another of his flash visions. This time, Aeryn walks up to him asking where D'Argo is and if D'Argo is still acting like the Ilanic's "personal servant". John just stares at her and she waves her hand in front of his face then walks off.

Suddenly, the vision ends and Aeryn walks up to him asking where D'Argo is and if D'Argo is still acting like the Ilanic's "personal servant". John just stares at her and she waves her hand in front of his face. The exact scene from his vision just reoccurred.

"Did you hear me?" she asks.
"Yeah." he replies. "Twice."
Aeryn shakes her head. "You are very odd, Crichton" she says as she walks away.

John realizes that since what he had seen happened, then he is somehow seeing the future. At this point, Matala leaves the workshop and glances at him seductively as she walks by.
"Oh, boy." says John, suddenly uncomfortable again. "That's the future."

John makes his way to his cabin where experiences another vision. He is in the workshop looking at Verell, who has been stabbed in the back. He and D'Argo rush over to look at the body and Matala comes up behind them, breaking D'Argo's neck. She then turns to John and kills him.

The vision ends with a scream and John runs down to the workshop, stopping D'Argo from entering. He tries to explain his latest vision to him but D'Argo thinks John wants Matala and is just trying to dissuade him from seeing her. The door to the workshop opens, revealing Verell. Verell tells them that Matala has just left with Aeryn and John leaves, confused.

He catches up with Aeryn and Matala who are heading down to the cargo bay for a workout session. Matala takes John's hand and asks if he has recovered from his shock earlier. She and Aeryn leave as does John, wiping his hand on his pants leg.

Rygel is eating and Zhaan approaches and asks if he hears anything odd in the sounds Moya is making. Rygel claims not to and goes back to eating but Zhaan still looks concerned.

Aeryn and Matala are in the cargo bay on a large mat bearing the Peacekeeper logo. They assume fighting stances and begin sparring with each other. Both appear to be matched as fighters. They trade several verbal barbs with each other as they fight. Matala suggests that Peacekeeper women have no need for science, culture or skill at attracting males. Aeryn responds that that is better than only being able to get what you want by seducing male after male.

Aeryn wins the first two rounds, knocking Matala down both times. The third time however, Matala uses a strange move with her arm held high and her fingers together. She hits Aeryn with this, knocking her to the ground unconscious. She bows and thanks Aeryn for the exercise then leaves.

Zhaan encounters Matala in the corridor and asks her how the problems on her ship begin. Matala claims they had no advance warning of the disaster. Zhaan wants to ask Verell but Matala insists he is busy. She then asks Zhaan to explain Crichton to her. Zhaan responds that Crichton is too complex to explain in the time they will be together.

John walks in where Rygel is still eating and speculates on how he can keep D'Argo and Matala apart. Yet another vision occurs. This one is the same as the last, he and D'Argo enter the workshop and find Verell stabbed in the back. This time, D'Argo goes to examine the body while John hangs back. This allows him to grab Matala when she emerges from hiding. "I don't think so!" he tells her.

She shoves him aside and kills D'Argo, then turns back to John and attacks him. The vision ends with John flinching from the attack in the vision and inadvertently hitting Rygel. Rygel starts choking and Zhaan enters, asking what is going on.
"This is gonna take a lot of explaining." John tells her.

Back in the workshop, D'Argo is talking to Matala and Verell. They tell him that they were really out field testing a new weapon that they can use in their war with the Scorvians. The weapon was what destroyed their ship because it needed a containment field and they did not get it working in time. The weapon is now in containment in their shuttle. They ask for D'Argo to remain silent and help them and he agrees to do so.

John is in Zhaan's quarters talking to her while playing with a blue, crystalline looking mask. She has heard his story and is fascinated by the concept of seeing the future but John reminds her that he may simply be going crazy.

He thinks about hiding away from Matala until they have left but is still afraid that she might kill D'Argo and Verell. He also cannot figure out what she is up to. In his frustration, he accidentally breaks the mask.

Zhaan admits that she does not believe Verell with his story about the phase imbalance so John goes down to the workshop to talk to him. Verell is not there but Matala is. She moves towards him and he grabs what looks like a large board and brandishes it between them. The door to the workshop opens and D'Argo enters. Matala drops to the floor, yelling for help and saying that John attacked her. D'Argo immediately runs John through with his Qualta Blade.

Verell enters and asks what D'Argo is doing. Matala then attacks the two of them using the same combat move she did with Aeryn, knocking out or killing both of them.

The broken pieces of Zhaan's mask come back together in John hand and he shakes his head. He has had another vision, this time without any indication of it occurring. He is still in her cabin and has just finished telling his story.
Zhaan is talking to him. "If these future flashes are indeed occurring as you say, then you could simply alter the sequence of events and change the future."
"I just did." he tells her, shaken. "I changed the future. And I made it worse!"
He clenches his fists in frustration, breaking the mask again.

John explains what he has seen this time, including D'Argo's action. Zhaan says she will talk to D'Argo but John is not sure it will work. At this point, Aeryn enters and tells of her fight with Matala. She has recognized the fighting move that Matala used as a "Scorvian Neural Stroke". Matala is not an Ilanic, but a disguised Scorvian!

The three agree that they need to separate D'Argo from Matala and Verell. Pilot interrupts to tell them that the phase imbalance is getting worse. Zhaan calls D'Argo and asks him to meet her in Command and he agrees to. John speculates that Matala will go to Command with D'Argo leaving Verell alone in the workshop.

John goes to the workshop but sees D'Argo and Matala and hides. Matala asks D'Argo if he would consider joining them, joining the Ilanic army in their fight against the Scorvians. D'Argo says he cannot, because of his crime. Matala says she knows of his crime and it would not be important but D'Argo interrupts her. He says that what she knows was not his true crime. His true crime was something no one else on Moya knows and it was such that he would never be accepted back in Luxan or Ilanic society. Zhaan calls again to summon them to Control, interrupting the remainder of the conversation.

After D'Argo and Matala leave John goes to Verell and tries to convince him that Matala is a Scorvian spy. Verell does not believe him and asks how he knows so John tells him about his visions. Verell uses a scanner on John and finds odd phase signatures. He tells John he is experiencing temporal dislocation after being exposed to the containment field for the weapon they were testing.

The weapon is a quantum singularity, a "piece of a black hole". This would be a devastating weapon and cannot fall into the hands of the Scorvians.

D'Argo and Matala enter and overhear the last of the conversation. Verell accuses Matala of being a spy. She knocks out D'Argo using the Neural Stroke then knocks John aside. She then grabs D'Argo's Qualta Blade and shoots Verell before fleeing the room.

Aeryn enters and gets John and the two of them run after her. Matala attempts to escape in the shuttle and Aeryn shoots at it despite John's yells for her to stop. The containment on the singularity ruptures and both the shuttle and Moya collapse and disappear into the resulting black hole.

Once again, John finds himself in Zhaan's cabin just after having explained what is happening to him. Looking at her, he stands up and deliberately breaks the mask he has been holding.

Aeryn enters the room but before she can say anything John tells her that Matala is a Scorvian. Then, Pilot contacts them but before he can say anything John tells him about the phase imbalance. Both Aeryn and Pilot want to know how John knows these things and Zhaan tells them about John's visions. They discuss what to do but everything they suggest John says he has already tried and they don't work. He then says that D'Argo is the key and they have to get him away from Matala.

Zhaan shows up in the workshop and finds D'Argo, Matala and Verell. She tells D'Argo that Rygel has drawn up a bill for rescuing Matala and Verell and D'Argo goes off with her to talk to him.

Instead, he finds himself in a room with Aeryn, John and Zhaan. They try to convince him that Matala is a Scorvian spy and that John has learned this through his visions of the future. Aeryn and Zhaan accept John's story but D'Argo is still skeptical. John sends Aeryn and Zhaan out of the room and tells D'Argo about the vision where D'Argo talked to Matala about his true crime. D'Argo is stunned to find that John knew about the crime.

Aeryn and Zhaan reappear and announce that the Ilanic ship has arrived earlier than expected. D'Argo, finally accepting what John is saying, says that it may only look like an Ilanic ship and may really be Scorvian. They will know if the ship refuses to make visual contact. Sure enough, the other ship claims to have a communication malfunction and Aeryn prepares to take manual control for evasive manuvers. D'Argo and John head for the workshop.

There, the two of them confront Matala. She pleads innocence at first then suddenly pulls a knife and threatens Verell. She tells D'Argo to throw her the Qualta Blade but he tosses it behind some crates instead. She then stabs Verell and runs. D'Argo retrieves his blade and he and John run after her. Matala gets to the shuttle and escapes. D'Argo starts to shoot the shuttle but John convinces him not to. Verell manages to pull himself up to the workbench and does something to the console he had been working on before collapsing for the last time. The weapon on the shuttle is released from containment and the green cloud starts forming around the shuttle. John sees this and yells for Starburst. The shuttle collides with the Scorvian ship and both collapse into the black hole as Moya Starbursts to safety.

Later, John is in the galley with a sick Rygel. He waves a food cube in Rygel's face and he leaves as D'Argo arrives. John tries to sympathize with D'Argo but he does not want to talk and goes to leave. He stops in the doorway and turns to John to try to offer some explanation.

"Crichton. I am normally unaffected by females during a crisis. It's just... it has been so long." He leaves.

John stares into space after him. "Now that, I understand. Man, do I understand."

References:

D'Argo told his supposed crime to the others in the Premiere episode.

The title of this episode is obviously a play on the title of the movie Back to the Future.

The Peacekeeper logo seen on the floor when Aeryn and Matala are having their sparring match is taken from a piece of Russian art known as "Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge". You can see the original piece of art here.

Unanswered Questions:

What is D'Argo's true crime?

Commentary:

The idea of having a character see the future is a bit of a science fiction cliché but Back and Back and Back to the Future still manages to add a few twists to an old idea. It is unclear if he is just seeing the future or if he is actually experiencing it over and over again (sort of like in the movie Groundhog Day). Possibly he is experiencing both, visions in the first part of the episode and actual experience later. Certainly the transitions between the future and the present are different at different times in the episode.

When John first begins experiencing his visions of the future he sees himself being "seduced" by Matala. I put "seduced" in quotes because John is very obviously not enjoying himself in these scenes. Of course, things go from bad to worse and we never see these scenes play out in "reality" but John's reaction is of interest. We don't know if his obvious discomfort is due to his future knowledge of what Matala really is or if he is just that disturbed by the thought of sex outside of his species. Apparently he doesn't completely rule this idea out; the fact that he had to leave Aeryn and Zhaan after his vision there and his reaction when Matala walks by after he realizes he is seeing the future show that he is at least considering the idea on some level.

Of course, it could also be related to his and D'Argo's conversation at the end of the episode. "It has been so long..."

This was also the first overtly sexual tone to appear in the series. Farscape has never shied away from sexual themes. Indeed, it has acquired an S rating (sexual themes) on more than one occasion.

From the opening, we see that there is still no clear leader on the ship; Pilot is flying the ship by consensus. Still, everyone follows D'Argo's lead fairly readily after he takes the Ilanics aboard. They have their doubts but no one directly confronts him over it.

One thing that bothered me about this episode is how completely under Matala's control D'Argo falls. He says that Luxans and Ilanics have a blood alliance but his behavior towards them is almost one of subservience throughout the episode, not one of equality. It also appeared that he was interested in Matala. Of course, "It has been so long..."

It is interesting that the crew is starting to accept John. Zhaan seems to readily accept his visions of the future and Aeryn is convinced when he reveals that he knows about Matala. Even D'Argo eventually accepts that John is correct when John reveals that he knows his secret.

Ah yes, D'Argo's secret. In the first episode, D'Argo tells us that he was imprisoned for killing his superior officer. Apparently, that is not true. His real crime is something that his people would never accept him back for. This will become important in later episodes.

It is interesting that John keeps D'Argo's secret as best he can by sending Aeryn and Zhaan out of the room before confronting him with it. (As a side note, I wonder if Pilot was listening in?) D'Argo will hopefully realize that John was working to keep his trust.

D'Argo and John both find a piece of common ground at the end of the episode. John apparently knows only too well what D'Argo means.

A good episode with some interesting ideas and development. Recommended.

Dennis Matheson - tanstaafl@earthlink.net
Farscape and all related characters and elements are © & ™ The Jim Henson Co. Ltd. All rights reserved.

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