The Wonders I’ve Seen: 2×09, “Out of Their Minds”

Okay guys, it’s been a solid month since I watched this episode and frankly I’m not any less busy now than I was last week, but it’s time to bring Farscape reviews BACK, so we’re doing this one quick and dirty, in a style I like to call Five Things. Without further ado: Five Things About Farscape 2×09, “Out of Their Minds.”

  1. Like “Crackers Don’t Matter,” this episode is entirely about sucking the marrow out of a standard sci-fi premise. In the case of “Crackers,” they did that by pushing things to a darker and darker place. In “Out of Their Minds,” it’s all about having fun with the physical. Most body swap episodes find their fun in letting the actors take on each other’s characters, and to be fair, that’s very fun, and the Farscape actors are obviously having a good time copying each other too. But the episode pushes past that to ask questions, both silly and serious, about what these people’s bodies mean. So we get Crichton teaching Rygel how to pee, and the sex farce between Crichton and Aeryn and Chiana and D’Argo (and John and D’Argo’s bodies). But we also get Pilot and D’Argo’s real terror at inhabiting each other’s bodies, and an investigation of what it means for Pilot and Moya’s bodies to be linked. This is exactly the kind of territory that Farscape thrives in, and it’s not surprising that “Out of Their Minds” is one of the most memorable and beloved episodes of this series.

  2. On the topic of that sex farce, let’s go ahead and label this bullet point the Farscape Gender Corner. There’s something so simultaneously transgressive and traditional about the way this episode handles the intersection of sexuality and gender. On the one hand: a scene where a man in a woman’s body claims that every man has dreamed of having breasts, and a scene where one character played by a male actor propositions another character played by a male actor by, uh. Giving him a hand job. On the other hand: John is looking at Aeryn’s breasts without her permission, and the scene between John’s and D’Argo’s bodies is, in actuality, a scene where a young, highly sexualized temptress tries to seduce a man to get her way. I don’t have a point to make with all of this—it’s just one of those distinctly Farscape dichotomies.

  3. That said, because it’s Farscape, all of the body obsession and heavy sexual overtones are also in service of stories with real emotional weight. This is one of the most convincing romantic episodes that Farscape has put forward in a long time, possibly because telling romances through the lens of sex and bodies is a natural fit for this show. D’Argo awkwardly telling Chiana that he “really enjoyed being in your body” does more to sell me on that relationship than the last eight episodes combined. The final scene of the episode—“You were in my shoes… I was in your pants…”—clarifies the status of John and Aeryn’s relationship without anyone ever having to explicitly define it.

  4. It’s a shame that Zhaan spends the entire episode on the enemy’s ship, both because it feels like Zhaan often ends up sitting out the fun ship-wide shenanigans—it happened in “Crackers,” too—and because I think Farscape could’ve gotten a lot of material out of someone switching bodies with a plant.

  5. One of the fun bits about this episode is that because of the body-switching aspect, all of the character interactions feel a little bit more intentional than usual. There’s a moment at the very beginning of the episode where John-in-Aeryn checks on Chiana-in-D’Argo. It’s totally tossed off, just a brief aside, but because the actors are different, you know that someone involved must have put real thought into which characters should check in with each other.

Please remember to tag spoilers for future episodes in the comments.

Next Monday, August 9, Crichton has a big brain moment, as we cover 2×10, “My Three Crichtons.”