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Farscape

1.02 - I, ET

By Dennis Matheson - aka tanstaafl

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

Cast and Credits:

Original US Air Date: May 8, 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:
Mary Mara.....................Lyneea
Cayde Tasker..................Fostro
Boris Brkic...................Ryymax
Mark Shaw.....................Alien Soldier #1
Dominic Bianco................Alien Hunter #1
Heath Wilder..................Alien Hunter #2

Writer........................Sally Lapiduss
Director......................Pino Amenta

Overview:

Moya is forced to land so that the crew can remove a Peacekeeper tracking device from Moya. But, the planet they are on has not yet made alien contact and the crew must avoid the local military while trying to find the substance they need.

Quotes:

It's kinda like Louisiana... or Dagobah... (confused look) Dagobah... Where Yoda lives. - John Crichton
Who's Yoda? - Aeryn Sun
Little green guy. Trains warriors. - John Crichton

We can stick our heads between our legs and kiss our asses goodbye... (confused looks) It's a saying. - John Crichton

I'm talking to an alien? You're an alien and I'm talking to you? In my kitchen?! - Lyneea

Summary:

Everyone aboard Moya is awakened by an extremely loud noise which continues unabated. The noise is causing John's eye to twitch, to Aeryn's annoyance. The source of the noise is found to be a device attached to Moya's primary neural nexus.

Aeryn identifies it as a Paddac Beacon, a device which transmits a signal to the Peacekeepers if it does not receive regular signals from the control collar, which the prisoners removed from Moya to allow them to escape. The others are angry with Aeryn for not warning them about it but she responds that not all Leviathans had them.
"And look." she tells them "I'm new to all this escaped prisoner crap, all right?"

Pilot manages to neutralize the sound but the beacon continues to broadcast Moya's position. One of the DRDs attempts to cut it loose but it is destroyed by a discharge from the beacon. D'Argo tries to crawl into the nexus but cannot and Pilot cannot shut down power to the nexus because of its importance.

John comes up with the idea of insulating Moya somehow until they can get the beacon removed. The system they are passing through has a planet containing water and he suggests landing under the water to muffle the signal. Pilot reports that he has only ever heard of one Leviathan ever touching down on a planet, and that is only a legend. No one is able to come up with a better idea so he agrees to land.

The only bodies of water on the planet are swamps so Pilot lands Moya in a swamp. She then sinks into the mud until she is almost completely covered. The signal is muffled but Moya is suffering from the gravity.

D'Argo tries to convince Rygel to enter the nexus to remove the device but he refuses. Pilot says the nexus is very sensitive and the pain caused by cutting the beacon free could kill Moya unless they find a way to anaesthetize the area. Pilot thinks that Clorium will work as an anesthetic. It is one of the six cargoes a Leviathan is never allowed to carry because it has a numbing effect on them. The others decide to venture out onto the planet to try to find some Clorium.

Aeryn, D'Argo and John exit Moya. Aeryn is upset that she has revealed a Peacekeeper tracking device to the escaped prisoners and even more upset that they are expecting her to help them destroy it. John points out that the Peacekeepers would kill her too if they found them. Aeryn reminds him that it is because she attempted to defend him.
John tries to be supportive. "Well, back home we call that being stand up."
"Well, I stood up." says Aeryn bitterly. "And I no longer have a home."

D'Argo fumbles with a detector but is unable to make it work and so tries to hand it to Aeryn. She refuses to take it since she was infantry and only techs use the detectors. John takes it and manages to get it to work but it only gives a weak reading.

The three hear a vehicle approaching and realize that they have been detected by the locals. Aeryn and D'Argo decide to attempt to lead the locals away while John searches for a concentrated source of Clorium.

Pilot is talking to Zhaan about the beacon. He tells her that it is very intricately intertwined with Moya's systems and that it may be difficult to remove. He is also concerned that Moya may be crushed by her own weight before they can remove the device.

John has found what looks like a barn and entered. He looks around and is surprised at how much everything resembles items from Earth. He contacts Aeryn and D'Argo, who are still drawing the searchers away but has to hide when someone approaches the barn and drops his comm.

A young boy, Fostro, enters the barn and calls to see who is there. John comes out to talk to him but Fostro runs for the house yelling for his mother. John runs after him and catches up with him in the kitchen. Fostro has picked up a weapon of some type and pointed it at John. John puts the detector down on the table thinking it may be mistaken for a weapon. Fostro calls for his mother again. John steps forward and Fostro shoots him.

Fostro's mother, Lyneea, enters the room, upset at Fostro for interrupting her "in the middle of what could be a very real extraterrestrial event." She suddenly sees John and stops in shock.

John has only been stunned and manages to get back to his feet. Lyneea takes the stunner from Fostro and points it at John. He tells her that he is from space and Fostro says he must have arrived on the object his mother tracked the night before. She yells for him to get their vehicle but John tries to stop her by claiming he came specifically to contact her.

Back on Moya, Zhaan is talking to Rygel. She tells him that Moya is in pain and that they need to start the removal operation as soon as possible. She says that as a Delvian Pa'u she can relieve another beings pain and she will do so for Moya if Rygel will perform the operation.

Outside, Aeryn and D'Argo are hiding in a tree from their pursuers. Aeryn is obviously annoyed and compares hiding in a tree to typical Luxan strategy. D'Argo takes offense and she reminds him of their battle with the Grezodians. D'Argo is surprised and wonders how she knew of that battle and she tells him that everyone knows of the battle from which the Luxans went screaming in retreat.

D'Argo interrupts her and says that they only retreated because the Grezodians killed thousands of their women and children. He also points out that they took their revenge.
"And killed thousands of their women and children." she says.
D'Argo defends himself. "We had no alternative to that, either."
Aeryn smiles coldly. "I'm sure the Grezodians said the same thing..."

John is still talking to Lyneea. She is still recovering from her shock and tells John he can't understand how important this moment is to her.
John does. "You've learned that you're not alone in the universe. That space travel is possible, that a zillion of your empirical facts about science and religion are wrong. Or, at least are completely suspect. I do understand."

She is also surprised that John looks so much like them. Fostro has realized that his ship must be in the swamp since many people saw a large object fly over there and wants to tell someone but John continues to tell Lyneea that he has come to specifically contact her. He claims they chose her because she had a radio telescope in her yard. She tells Fostro to be quiet and not tell anyone.

Back on Moya, Rygel is ready to start cutting the beacon free from Moya but is surprised at the knife he is holding. Zhaan tells him that he could not use a metal knife so she brought him a bone one she found in D'Argo's quarters.
"This is a Tokkar knife." he says, horrified. "Do you know what ceremony young Luxans males use this for? On themselves? At that certain age?!"
Zhaan is unfazed by his reaction. "Then I suspect that D'Argo will want it back unharmed."

Zhaan presses herself against the wall of the corridor and her eyes turn blue. Rygel starts cutting and Zhaan moans as she feels Moya's pain.

Aeryn and D'Argo are still in the tree. Aeryn remarks that this planet reminded John of home. D'Argo starts describing his own opinion of the planet, and of John. "No interplanetary travel, retrograde technology, fossil fuel burning ground vehicles. He's a savage." He asks if this bothers Aeryn, to which she replies that it doesn't. She decides that John has had plenty of time to get the Clorium and, since they cannot contact him, heads back to Moya to see if he is there.

John is still talking to Lyneea. She tells him that she has been getting funding from the military for her extraterrestrial research but that it has almost been completely cut off. John realizes that if she turns him in she will get all the funding she ever wants, but she also realizes what the military would do to John if they caught him.

She fixes some food for Fostro who says she isn't hungry and offers some to John. When she places it on the table the detector starts beeping. John takes it and searches her kitchen with it, finding a bag of something that seems to be Clorium.

Fostro suddenly runs in to tell them that the military has arrived. Lyneea tells Fostro to hide John up in his room.

Back on Moya, Zhaan suddenly screams and passes out. Rygel runs back to the corridor to check on her and finds everything dark. Eventually, he is able to get in contact with Pilot who tells him that Moya is starting to succumb to her weight.

The military personnel enter Lyneea's house, lead by Ryymax. He confirms that something definitely entered the atmosphere and that it landed in this area. Lyneea tries to downplay the significance of the data they have and Ryymax is suspicious of why she would be trying to divert him from what she has been pushing for for so many years. The military sets up base in her house. She goes up to tell John who tells her that he has to let his ship know about the Clorium he has found.

Aeryn arrives in Moya and finds Rygel and Zhaan. Zhaan tries to get Rygel to start the operation again but he refuses, even when Aeryn threatens him if he does not. Zhaan sends Aeryn away and Rygel admits, with some embarrassment, that he has never had to do anything himself. Even when he was in prison he found ways for other people to do things for him. He has never held a tool. Zhaan tries to encourage him and he goes off to think.

Aeryn meets back up with Zhaan and asks how Zhaan is holding up. Zhaan laughs and tells Aeryn that she almost sounded concerned for her. Aeryn denies it, saying she is only concerned that Zhaan is able to help Moya bear the pain.

John and Lyneea are trying to modify a TV as a transmitter so he can contact the others. He tells her how he came through the wormhole and doesn't even know where he is and she realizes that he really didn't land to contact her after all. Before she can comment further, they manage to make contact with Pilot, who she stares at in horror.
"Is this guy more what you were expecting?" John asks her.
Pilot rapidly fills in John on what is happening on Moya.

Ryymax has found the analyzer lying on the kitchen table and is examining it when one of his soldiers calls him. D'Argo approaches the house and is stunned by several of the soldiers.

D'Argo is tied up in the barn and Ryymax, Lyneea and Fostro are looking at him. He tries to get several of them with his tongue but fails. Ryymax tells Lyneea and Fostro they will have to evacuate the area.

Lyneea returns to John and asks what is going on and who D'Argo and Pilot are. John is forced to admit that Moya is a prison transport and most of them are escaped prisoners. She becomes angry with him, throws the Clorium at him and tells him to leave. John says he won't leave without D'Argo and Lyneea tells him that D'Argo will be on an autopsy table soon, as will John if he doesn't leave immediately.

Lyneea is showing Ryymax a recording of the communication from Pilot. Ryymax is excited and asks if she knows the source of the signal. She says she does.

Fostro is in the barn and finds John's comm badge. One of the guards there asks him to leave and John enters and knocks the guards out.
"You took your time." says D'Argo in way of greeting.

John is saying goodbye to Lyneea and Fostro. Lyneea sent Ryymax and his men in the opposite direction from the swamp so he and D'Argo should be able to return to Moya undetected. John thanks her and says he wishes there was more he could do.
"You've altered the perceptions and beliefs of an entire planet." she tells him.
"Yeah." he says. "I guess that's enough for one day."

D'Argo and John leave. His last words to her are "Keep watching the skies."

D'Argo and John arrive on Moya just as Rygel cuts the last connection and disables the beacon. Pilot still cannot take off because of Moya's pain and John throws the bag of Clorium to Rygel, telling him to spread it around everywhere he had to cut Moya. Rygel does so, as well as taking several mouthfuls of it for himself.

Pilot regains control of Moya and she takes off. From her front porch, Lyneea watches them fly away.

In Command, John is watching the planet recede behind them. Aeryn enters and, slightly surprised, asks if he is going to miss that rock.

"No." says John. "Not that rock."

References:

The title of the episode obviously derives from the Spielberg movie ET and probably the movie I, Claudius as well.

Unanswered Questions:

How was John able to communicate with Lyneea and Fostro? He is carrying translator microbes and so could understand them but how could they understand him? Are translator microbes common throughout the environments of the Uncharted Territories?

Did Ryymax realize that Lyneea was holding information from him? If so, what price will she have to pay for helping John and D'Argo?

What are the other five cargoes that a Leviathan is not allowed to carry?

Besides the Paddac Beacon, are there any other Peacekeeper devices on Moya that the crew should be worried about?

Commentary:

Every series, no matter how good, has some less-than-good episodes.

Unfortunately, I, ET is one of these.

OK, it's really not a bad episode, but there really isn't anything outstanding either. This is a typical "alien arrives on Earth and gets chased by the military and only the one true believer will help him" story which we have seen many times before. Yes, it has the slight twist that this time the "alien" is a human on another planet but otherwise this could have been an episode of X-Files, The Twilight Zone or any of a dozen other shows I could name. We all knew what would happen and basically we just watch the episode follow the numbers.

There are a few good character development moments here. Rygel's admission of his lack of abilities is one and it was good to see his reaction when he succeeded. Zhaan’s reaction when she realizes that Aeryn is actually concerned about her was interesting too, even if Aeryn did try to deny it.

Aeryn is still angry at being thrown out of the Peacekeepers but seems to be slowly aligning herself with the crew of Moya. She complained but did help them remove the beacon.

When this episode was first shown in the US, it was shown out of order. The second episode produced, it was aired seventh. This produced a slight continuity problem in that the characters had started to work together and were suddenly more hostile to each other again.

Overall, this episode really didn't do that much for me and I rank it towards the bottom of the first season episodes. Watch it if you come across it but I wouldn't go out of my way to catch this one.

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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