|Episode no.|| Season 1|
|Guest star(s)||Kent McCord (Jack Crichton); Lani Tupu (Cpt. Bialar Crais); Murray Bartlett (DK); Christine Stephen-Daly (Lt. Teeg); Damen Stephenson (Bio Isolation Man #1); Colin Borgonon (PK Weapons Officer); Greg Blandy (PK Guard #1); Lawrence Woodward (PK Guard #2)|
|Writer(s)||Rockne S. O'Bannon|
|Original airdate||19 March 1999 (US); 29 November 1999 (UK)|
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This is the story of John Crichton, IASA astronaut, somewhere in the universe...
John Crichton takes one giant leap too far.
IASA Astronaut and Scientist, Commander John Crichton and his best friend, Douglas "DK" Knox propose a theory that a manned spacecraft can overcome atmospheric friction to increase its velocity to previously unrecorded speeds by using a planet's natural gravity.
Farscape One is a module designed by Commander Crichton to test this theory, and Crichton is nervous as the time for the launch of the Space Shuttle approaches. His father, Jack Crichton is a legendary astronaut and a tough act to follow. But as Jack gives his son a Turkish puzzle ring originally given to Jack for good luck by Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, he tells John that he will get the chance to be his own kind of hero.
The launch goes well. However, at the moment of 'critical apogee' Commander Crichton is ordered to abort; an electromagnetic wave is fast approaching Crichton's position. With no time to react as the wave hits, Farscape One is swallowed by a wormhole and sent spiraling across the Universe to points unknown.
Expelled from the wormhole, Farscape One is suddenly shaken as three small, sleek spaceships streak past, in pursuit of something. Crichton barely has time to adjust before the module is clipped by a fourth ship, which spins out of control and explodes against a small asteroid. But now the module is pulled by an unknown force towards a huge, organic looking spaceship, under attack by the smaller ships. Farscape One is drawn into the vast, tiered interior then released and Crichton glides to a safe landing in an alien hanger.
A small, rounded, yellow drone with 'eyes' on stalks appears, startling John as it peers down at him through his module's canopy just as an internal warning siren alerts Crichton to a more immediate danger. Fire! John hits the canopy release button, catapulting the drone across the hanger as he fights to save the module. He succeeds then turns to retrieve the module's canopy as the drone, now with one broken eyestalk, struggles to escape from under the canopy. It makes an odd, electronic chittering sound, as if hurt. Two similar drones quickly appear and forcibly guide John through the alien ship to a large, open command center.
Now things turn really weird for John. Two aliens wrestle with control terminals, as the ship shakes under the continuing attack. A squeak from a drone alerts the attention of the aliens and one, a tall, hirsute warrior-like alien in red with tattoos, tentacles and a mean expression, strides across the deck, grabbing Crichton by the throat and lifting him off his feet. John is choking. The alien demands something of him in strange guttural tones. The other alien, an elegant, bald blue female humanoid looks on indifferently. John tries to explain that he can't understand but is injected through his boot with something by one of the drones. The aliens' languages begin to make sense as they interrogate Crichton about his ship and its technology. John's confusion and apparent lack of help frustrates the Warrior who throws Crichton across the deck where he lands in an undignified heap by a wall.
The Warrior then demands manoeuvrability from a third alien he calls 'Pilot', whose image appears on a clamshell-shaped communications device, but the obviously stressed pilot says he can do nothing whilst the 'control collar' remains in place. The infuriated Warrior yanks at tubes beneath a control panel as a fourth, smaller, toad-like alien on a hovering throne barges past Crichton. He announces that he's discovered they were all being transferred to a Lifer's Prison. The Warrior vows never to be taken prisoner again and continues to yank at the tubing, spilling fluid in the process. Toad floats across to Crichton and quietly tells John that he will look after him now if John will look after him later.
Suddenly the elegant blue alien announces the 'codewall is dimming.' The Warrior's random vandalism has made a difference and the 'control collar' is disengaging. The Warrior calls for everyone to prepare for 'Starburst' but Pilot states that 'Moya' has been restrained too long. The Warrior brusquely reminds Pilot that 'Starburst' is their only option. A build-up of electric-blue energy ripples along the ship's hull, creating a vortex ahead and the ship surges forward with Moya's Starburst dragging one of the small, sleek fighters behind it.
The remainder of the fighters, now identified as 'Prowlers', is ordered to return to a gargantuan Carrier-like space vessel. On the bridge of the Carrier, a humanoid officer, Captain Crais enters to receive news that the Leviathan ship, 'Moya' has escaped. Crais learns that two Prowlers are missing, one of which is his brother's and a replay from a reconn satellite clearly shows his brother's Prowler clipping Crichton's module. Crais angrily demands to see who the pilot of the module is. Someone will pay for his brother's death.
Back onboard Moya the Warrior is demanding to know where they are. Pilot is unsure. Toad takes a dislike to Crichton and spits in his face and a shocked John leaps to his feet. 'What is the matter with you people?' he demands. For an answer, the Warrior shoots out a very long tongue and knocks Crichton unconscious.
Following their escape, the aliens introduce themselves to each other. The blue alien tells the Warrior she is Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan, a Delvian priest, imprisoned for anarchy on her home world. The Warrior says his name is Ka D'Argo, a Luxan, imprisoned for killing his Commanding Officer. He has seen two battle campaigns but seriously doubts this escape will last long enough for the 'Peacekeepers' to note in their logs.
Crichton wakes up naked in a cell. Outside, the toad-like alien prods at buttons on a small panel. Crichton finds his clothing in an alcove and quickly dresses, asking the toad-like alien why he was stripped? The alien haughtily states that he is Rygel XVI, Dominar to over 600 billion of his Hynerian subjects but his throne was usurped by his cousin. He explains Crichton was stripped to examine him and that the yellow drone had injected him with "translator microbes" so he could understand them. John tries to explain that he is no threat but Rygel counters by saying that they can no more trust him than they can trust 'that' and points to another occupant in the cell. 'That' is the Prowler pilot Moya's starburst ensnared. 'That' removes its helmet to reveal a very human looking, female face.
John introduces himself to the female, who responds by kicking his butt around the cell then pinning him to the floor and demanding to know his rank and regiment and why he is out of uniform? But she gets no coherent answer from Crichton so turns on Rygel, demanding to be let out. He counters by calling her a 'peacekeeper' and Crichton realises that she was part of the attack on Moya.
The female is Officer Aeryn Sun, Crichton learns shortly, a special Peacekeeper Commando. Again she demands of the human his rank and regiment so Crichton explains that his rank is Commander and he is not military but a scientist.
Rygel's prodding at the panel yields a result and a shelf with the prisoners' possessions lowers. D'Argo and Zhaan arrive. D'Argo is eager to regain his weaponry whilst Zhaan calmly deflects the human's questions, adding that they now know he is not a Peacekeeper. She says it is time to eat. Crichton wonders just what or who they intend to eat?
Back onboard Crais's Command Carrier the 'techs' have finished extrapolating Crichton's image from the reconn data and, with a shock, Crais's X.O., Lt. Teeg, exclaims 'He's Sebacean.' Crais promptly orders pursuit of the escaped Leviathan, Moya.
On Moya, the handcuffed Crichton and Aeryn Sun are being fed. Crichton tries to make sense of things. Zhaan pre-empts his questions by explaining that Moya is a Bio-Mechanoid; a living ship, but a ship that cannot travel fast because of D'Argo's earlier vandalism. Moya is approaching a commerce planet. Zhaan asks Aeryn if there is Peacekeeper presence ahead. Aeryn says nothing. John doesn't know either. Rygel farts helium, causing everyone's voices to become squeaky, confusing John still further. Aeryn steals a fork but is caught by D'Argo.
Later, with John and Aeryn secure in a cell, the escapees take one of Moya's Transport Pods, visit the commerce planet for vital supplies and Rygel enters a bartering session with a huge, disagreeable alien. Aeryn test the cell door as John ponders about wormholes and how he got here. The Peacekeeper suggests that if the human wants to make one of these wormholes then how does he expect to do so from inside a cell? John watches her struggle for a moment longer then reveals that he too had stolen a fork and slips it from his sleeve.
With their escape underway Aeryn plans to sabotage Moya, which shocks John. The crew has done nothing to harm them but compassion is an 'alien' concept to Aeryn. They argue briefly and John decides to stay on Moya. Aeryn says fine, he'll die here with the others then, so John reluctantly goes with her down to the commerce planet and Aeryn transmits their location to Crais' Command Carrier.
John marvels at the alien planet but nearby D'Argo is telling Zhaan that their prisoners have escaped and worse - a command carrier is approaching. They have to leave now. Aeryn sees the Transport Pod lift off and is determined to recapture the prisoners when D'Argo suddenly appears to recapture her and Crichton! John tries to warn D'Argo about the Command Carrier but Crais appears with soldiers and quickly recaptures D'Argo, demanding of Crichton who he is and where he came from? Crais accuses Crichton of murdering his brother in the 'white death pod' and as Aeryn unexpectedly offers an explanation, Crais rounds on her, accusing Aeryn of being "irreversibly contaminated" from spending time with the human. All three are handcuffed and lead away.
A soldier searches John and discovers the ring. Crichton explains it is a puzzle then uses the distraction to seize the soldier's gun and demands the keys to the handcuffs. D'Argo and Aeryn want to be released immediately but John gets D'Argo to release him first, saying that they are all criminals now. Crichton asks if D'Argo can get them all away but he will only take John. He insists that if Aeryn has to stay then they all stay. D'Argo begrudgingly gives in but Aeryn resists. She is a Peacekeeper, bred for service. 'You can be more', Crichton says.
Escaping back to Moya, D'Argo orders the Leviathan to enter the 'Uncharted Territories' but Crais' Command Carrier is closing fast with its 'Frag' cannons charging. Pilot needs to know the range of the cannons. 45 Metras, Aeryn reveals reluctantly. John asks why they don't just starburst again but Zhaan explains that Moya's energy reserves are low. John asks for paper. The others look at him oddly so he writes on the floor, explaining to a curious Zhaan his theory for overcoming atmospheric friction. They have to head back towards the planet. Rygel says Crichton is insane but with a little brusque persuasion from D'Argo, Aeryn takes manual control of Moya.
The frag cannons fire and Aeryn banks to avoid a further weapons lock. Moya accelerates towards the commerce planet. Following Crichton's instructions, she pilots the Leviathan into the atmosphere, increasing velocity until John tells her to pull up and Moya streaks away at incredible speed into open space. Crais can do nothing to stop the escaping Leviathan. With some distance between Moya and the Peacekeepers at last, Crichton thanks Aeryn and, in turn, Zhaan thanks him with an odd embrace that leaves John pleasantly stunned.
Later, after Crichton retrieves some equipment from his module D'Argo grabs him and holds a sword to his throat, threatening John's life if he endangers his freedom. Aeryn witnesses the encounter and after D'Argo leaves she tells John that Luxans are a brutal race. John counters by saying that her people were no better. Aeryn blames John for all that's happened, adding that Crais will continue to hunt for Crichton, even into the Uncharted Territories.
Alone for a while, Crichton repairs the yellow drone he had earlier damaged as he records a message for his father, saying "There's life out here, Dad. Weird, amazing, psychotic life". But John Crichton vows he will never give up hope of finding a way home.
- John: "They haven't hurt us! How about we show them a little compassion?"
- Aeryn: "Compassion... what is compassion?"
- John: "Compassion? Wha... you're kidding right? It's a feeling you have when you see someone else's pain, and instead of taking advantage of their weakness you help them."
- Aeryn: "I know this feeling."
- John: "Yeah, well it is a fairly common human feeling."
- Aeryn: "I hate it!"
- John: Uh, Canaveral?
- Zhaan: Pilot, does Moya know where we are?
- Pilot: Yes, of course. We're someplace else. I'll... get back to you on the specifics.
- John: Freeze! Don't move! Or I'll fill you full of... little yellow bolts of light!
- John: You can be more.
- John: Hey! What the hell are you doing!?
- Rygel: Your equipment may be worth something in trade.
- John: My equipment. It's mine.
- Rygel: Are you a sound sleeper? Hmmmm?
- John: There's life out here Dad. Weird, amazing... psychotic life. And, uh, in Technicolor.
- Work began on Farscape around 1992 when the Jim Henson Company wanted to do a show that showcased what their creature shop could do in feature films at the time. According to Brian Henson, it "started as something like Star Wars' bar on a weekly basis." Rockne S. O'Bannon was invited into discussions in 1993, and O'Bannon suggested putting an American astronaut into another galaxy as the lead character. (DVD commentary, "Farscape Chronicles" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.1)
- The initial script came in at almost fifteen pages long than a standard one-hour episode, and consideration was given to making the show a two-hour opener. A number of scenes were reworked and changed to suit the time constraints. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.1)
- In the original script, Zhaan was named "Pa'u Zotah Zenn".
- Crichton was going to be a NASA astronaut, but NASA requested script approval for the use of their logos, so "NASA" became the "IASA". ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.1)
- The Space Shuttle Collaroy was named by the director, Andrew Prowse, after a beach in the northern suburbs of Sydney. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.1)
- Kent McCord spent over 100 hours as a round trip to film his scenes for the episode. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.1)
- The scenes on the commerce planet were filmed at White Bay Power Station. The location was later used in "PK Tech Girl". ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.1)
- The scene showing DK and Jack trying to contact the module after it enters the wormhole were a late addition to the edit of the episode. It was added so that viewers would realize that the Earth was not destroyed when John left. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.1, DVD commentary)
- Early versions of the crew aboard Moya included a male version of Zhaan and an insectoid version of Scorpius. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.1)
- When the production had trouble casting the role of Jack Crichton, David Kemper called his friend Kent McCord and McCord was on a plane within 24 hours on his way to Sydney. (DVD commentary)
- This was the only episode where there is no voice over during the credits.
- The early scene between John and his father about John trying to live in his father's shadow and living up to his image was an important scene for O'Bannon trying to set the stage for John's adventure and growth. (DVD commentary)
- The sequence after Crichton arrived on the other side of the wormhole was difficult to shoot for Ben Browder because the module was on a gimble and he had no references for what was going to be happening in the CGI around him. (DVD commentary)
- According to O'Bannon, when the casting lists for D'Argo and Zhaan had been whittled down to three candidates on each list, they were all brought in and paired up to perform a scene between the two characters. When Anthony Simcoe and Virginia Hey began their scene, O'Bannon turned to Matt Carroll, one of the producers, and said "If we had a 35mm camera here we could start shooting the show." (DVD commentary)
- There was a large grated floor in the first scene with the Peacekeepers on their ship. The grate was so noisy with people walking on it that all of the dialogue had to be redone with ADR later. (DVD commentary)
- Ricky Eyres based his designs for Moya on a Spanish artist, Gallais/Gaudi/Garcia?, while his designs for the Peacekeeper ships were based on an early 20th century Russian industrial look. (DVD commentary)
- When Crichton is waking up naked in the cell, Rygel is being animated by five puppeteers. Generally, John Eccleston managed the head with one hand while doing lip-sync with his other via a cable control on his belt. One puppeteer handled Rygel's facial expressions and eye movements, and one puppeteer worked each hand. A fifth puppeteer was called into duty to handle the character's pupils to ensure correct line-of-sight. (DVD commentary)
- After seeing Rygel eat for the first time, O'Bannon was struck by how good it looked and insisted on having Rygel become "a glutton after that because it really does look good when he's stuffing his face." (DVD commentary)
- The Proprietor of the shop was built at the wrong scale by accident by the Creature Shop and ended up taking up the entire set. According to Brian Henson, it took almost three hours to wedge him into the space. (DVD commentary)
- Pilot was a large "puppet" standing between six and eight feel tall from his waist. His head was three feet deep and two feet wide. At the time, it was the most sophisticated puppet built by Henson's Creature Shop. The entire puppet was controlled by a computer system allowing a single puppeteer to handle his movements. (DVD commentary)
- In the scene where Aeryn manually pilots Moya, the shot that pans out to show Moya "slingshoting" into Starburst is the same shot used in the opening titles.
- In the scene where Zhaan meditates naked in her quarters, she chants the same mantra she used throughout the series.
Links and references
- Ben Browder as John Crichton
- Claudia Black as Aeryn Sun
- Virginia Hey as Zotoh Zhaan
- Anthony Simcoe as Ka D'Argo
- Murray Bartlett as "DK"
- Greg Blandy as PK Guard #1
- Colin Borgonon as PK Weapons Officer
- Christine Stephen-Daly as Teeg
- Damen Stephenson as Bio Isolation Man #1
- Lawrence Woodward as PK Guard #2
Command Carrier; Commerce planet; control collar; cycle; Delvian; docking web; Dominar; DRD; Farscape-1; food cube; Gagarin, Yuri; helium flatulence; hetch; hurlian stone; Hynerian; Hynerian cream soap; IASA; iriscentant fluid; irreversibly contaminated; janeray syrup; Khalaan; Leviathan; Luxan; Luxan tongue sting; metra; Micar 7; Pa'u; Peacekeeper; prowler; puzzle ring; Qualta Blade; Sebacean; space shuttle; starburst; star chart; Tarran Ra; translator microbe; transport pod; Uncharted Territories; wormhole; yotz
- Farscape World Synopsis by Dani Moure