The Wonders I’ve Seen: 1×14, “Jeremiah Crichton”

“The slug who would be king.”

There are a lot of things that make “Jeremiah Crichton” a bad episode. The acting from nearly all of the guest stars. Ben Browder’s fake beard. The racist undertones.

But probably the worst thing about “Jeremiah Crichton” is that it just doesn’t have anything to say. It’s not providing a twist or subversion of any kind of sci-fi trope—it’s pretty much just coloring inside the lines that Star Trek drew with “The Paradise Syndrome.” It’s not providing any insight on the characters. It barely builds the world.

There are things that this episode could say, if it wanted to. The idea of John reaching a breaking point in the Uncharted Territories is kind of interesting. Farscape is, in its heart of hearts, a show about culture shock, and examining the understandable irritation that arises after months of being in an unfamiliar place has some merit. John is a curious man by nature, but he also just wants a toothbrush, you know?

But Farscape isn’t really interested in John’s discomfort. That’s mostly just a device to get him out of Moya and stranded on an ocean planet. There’s some lip service to the idea throughout the episode that John feels more at home on Acquara than he does in space—that he might be able to make a life there—but it’s not delved into very deeply, possibly because it’s kind of a silly idea. Acquara isn’t all that much like the parts of Earth that John is from, and Crichton’s laser focus on getting home is a major element of his characterization and arc. Am I really expected to believe that 90s astronaut John Crichton, he of the endless pop culture references, would be happy living the rest of his life outside a village that literally cannot develop electronics or modern transportation?

Speaking of which, the set-up of Acquara could have been interesting. In particular, this is the first insight we’ve gotten into the history or culture of the Hynerian empire; it’s the first time we’ve ever seen Rygel interact with any of his subjects, and the first time we’ve gotten anything like a real philosophy of governance out of a man who once ruled 10 billion people.

But “Jeremiah Crichton” isn’t really all that interested in that, either. The Acquarans were abandoned by Hyneria and kept under the thumb of a device that prevents them from leaving the planet. But, uh, why? The episode never explains or even questions the motivation behind stranding a bunch of colonists on an unsettled planet. The most we get out of this potentially rich plot is that Rygel’s ancestors were major jerks, but Rygel is somewhat less so.

Meanwhile, Zhaan and Aeryn are alone on Moya. Zhaan and Aeryn have shown the ability to be a great character match-up, and to be fair, their plot is probably the closest this episode comes to anything like an interesting character dynamic. But their plot is also brief, and doesn’t really say anything about the characters. They bicker a little bit about what to do. Then they do it. The end.

Everyone seems either underwritten or out-of-character, the guest stars are paper thin and badly acted, the plot is a racist trope with zero subversion or introspection, and Ben Browder didn’t even get to actually grow the beard that was the entire reason this episode was written in the first place. What’s to like?

Random Bits

  • The best thing that can be said of “Jeremiah Crichton” is that by the time it aired, everyone involved knew it was bad. The season one DVDs have an audio commentary for the episode titled “When Bad Things Happen to Good Shows.”

  • I didn’t bother rewatching the commentary in preparation for this review, but one thing I remember from it is that they intentionally cast actors of color for the Acquarans in an attempt at racial sensitivity. This attempt was a failure, but it is worth noting, I suppose, that this is one of the very few episodes of Farscape to incorporate actors of color other than Lani Tupu in any way.

  • Of the guest actors, the best is Deni Gordon, who plays the priestan Neera. Gordon also played the Priestess in The Matrix.

  • This is also an episode that centers around Rygel going a lot of places and doing a lot of things, which results in more bad CGI than the rest of the series combined.

  • I think this is the first time we’ve seen D’Argo use the qualta blade as an actual sword.

  • Weird alien biology: D’Argo has “hearts.” We’re not told how many.

Alien Words

Amnexus, Delvian wanta chant, John got out of Moya “like a barken out of hezmana.” Plus a million Acquaran words that I didn’t keep track of.

Please remember to tag spoilers for future episodes in comments.

Next Monday, Farscape gets monochromatic, in 1×15, “Durka Returns.”