4.11 Unrealized Reality
|August 23, 2002
John is sucked into a wormhole during a spacewalk - and is suddenly faced with one of the Ancients, the implications of wormhole travel, and the possibility of dying if he doesn't figure out how to deal with both.
John: Kansas. In the winter.... D'Argo! Pilot! Oh hell, I'm gettin' that goin'-to-the-Island-of-Misfit-Toys thing. Just waitin' for the Titanic. Well, as long as this whole deal doesn't end up with me as the old man. Helloooo! Nanook! Beelzebub! [whooshy noise] Yeah, let's get it on. Get it over with.
John: [To Einstein] Nice threads. Helps to humanize you. Makes it easier for me to sympathize with your problems.
John: Wounds all heels.
John: ~Rosemary and thyme---~ [draws gun]
John: Stop! [John shoots; the flash-burst hangs in the air]
John: [muttering to himself] Either stop pointing guns at people or get
a bigger gun!
Einstein: Time is meaningless and yet it is all that exists.
John: Very Morrissey. My name is John--
John: And yours is--
Einstein: Unimportant to our encounter.
John: Exactly. I love how you lay it out there, Einstein. So, let me ask you without getting existential on me - why am I, why are we - here?
Einstein: You are present to perish, I am present to effect that outcome.
Premiere-Rygel: You look after me now, I'll look after you later.
John: No offense, Buckwheat, but you couldn't look after a Chia Pet.
John: What is! The matter with! You people! Tongue. [Points at back of neck; D'Argo zaps him] Uhh, thank you. [passes out]
Einstein: Movement at speed through space becomes movement through time.
John: Einstein again, 1905. You publish anything since?
Einstein: Wormholes bridge space-time, creating a unique ability to navigate.
John: Yeah, wormholes. Been there, done that.
Einstein: Many times it seems. And now you unerringly position yourself prior to them opening. How do you possess such knowledge?
John: Bad luck. Really bad luck. It's a long story, maybe later.
Einstein: Wormholes are the one feature that traverse both our realms, which adjoin, though never intersect. An aggressive perforation of one would allow an unacceptable incursion of material... from your existence into ours.
John: And who would want to do that?
Einstein: The biologics of your realm are infinitely more aggressive than ours.
Aeryn-Chiana: Oh c'mon, just once. You and me like we should have, from the very beginning.
John: [spluttering] Pip, knock it off! Let's just get out of here.
Aeryn-Chiana: C'mon, Crichton. I just want to die doing something fun. Something I like. Something that makes me feel.... gooood. Your plan didn't work. This is mine.
John: You give great, great illusion. Now I know how Copperfield got Schiffer.
Einstein: What you experienced is real.
John: Well, it felt real.
John: Real like the water's not wet? Real like you see with no eyes?
Einstein: Time. Wormholes. The knowledge to unravel events. For that alone, I should kill you.
John: Oh, no, this is that dream where I wake up in the cell, naked. [checks, sighs in relief] Thank heaven for simple mercies. One out of two. [Looks over, sees Aeryn] Then again, two of three.
John: Officer Aeryn Sun. Special Peacekeeper commando, Ikarian Company, Pleisar Regiment. My name Jose Jimenez. We got a lot to catch up on. [She attacks, there's sparring, John blocks her moves] Pretty good hunh? I learned from the best. Here.
Premiere-Aeryn: Why are you out of uniform? What is your rank, and regiment? [Punch, throw, slide, kick, drop. You know the drill.]
John: (choked) Baby, you had me at hello.
Premiere-Aeryn: Rank, regiment. And how do you know my name?
John: What you should really ask is, how do I know you've got a birthmark at the sweet spot on your hip?
[Aeryn breaks his neck]
Einstein: Every wormhole system has millions of exits , each to distinct time and space. Travel from A to B. Now attempt to travel back, and you could arrive at Point A a cycle later, or a cycle earlier, or ten or ten thousand. Millions of permutations.
John: The secret... is understanding time.
Einstein: Not so much understanding, as accounting for. Unskilled wanderings create... unrealized realities.
John: Does not compute. Are you saying that there's millions of me running around, with millions of pathetic lives?
Einstein: One of you, with millions of potential realities. Depending on where and when you emerge from the system... if you do.
John: Time. Going forward's not a problem, is it? Going backward, that screws the pooch.
John: Then why am I not dead already?
Einstein: I trust the one who entrusted you. But I need to know why he bestowed this ability. Are you afraid of this knowledge?
Einstein: There is still time.
John: Just take back what your Ancients put in my head.
Einstein: Impossible. Impractical. And possibly, imprudent. What do you desire with wormholes?
John: For starters? Go home.
Einstein: Your place of origin is where you can do the most damage.
DK: Since every destination is surrounded by similar unrealized realities
Teacher: (unrealized realities)
Carolyn: the closer you travel
D.K.: the more you must maintain absolute engrossment.
Teacher: And *never* return to a familiar place
Dr: prior to the last time you left
Coach: to the last time you left
DK: prior to last time you left.
Dr.: Your next journey may lead to a permanent
Teacher: permanent unrealized
Rev: permanant unrealized
D.K.: Unrealized reality.
Scarran-John: What do you want to talk about?
Scarran-Scorpy-Jack: You. The talk we should have had years ago.
Scarran-John: I don't think I'm still a virgin, dad.
Scarran-Scorpy-Jack: You can't beat this. And I hate to see you waste your energy on the impossible.
Scarran-John: The impossible's a daily part of my life.
Scarran-Scorpy-Jack: You remember what we were like centuries before the Scarrans conquered us. Weak genes. Disease, death. I think our health and longevity outweighs some personal freedoms, don't you son?
Scarran-Scorpy-Jack: You never change.
Scarran-Scorpy-Jack: I know I'm not much of a hero to you, son. But if it means anything -- I'd still like to walk on the moon.
John: I don't understand any of this.
Carolyn: There's nothing to understand. It's not a science, John.
Teacher: It's an art.
John: You failed me at art. Not to mention third grade English. And I still don't understand the proper use of the comma!
Teacher: You did not forget the A, Johnny. You wrote a report about Mark Twin.
John: Focus. Get back to Moya.
DK: *After* you have left her.
John: What if I screw up? What if I get there before?
DK: You afraid, buddy?
John: Yes. No. Maybe.
DK: If you get back to the ship before you left, the pebble that drops will be close to you. Ignore the ripples. Fix the first thing that goes ape.
John: Fix the first thing. Ooo, what was that about the ripples?
DK: The elasticity of time allows for unrealized realities to remain so. Events that match closely enough, of course... They have a way of restructuring themselves to familiar outcomes.
John: Harvey knew. Harvey knew. Harvey knew?! Scorpius knew. How? HOW?
Einstein: Destination is the key.
Aeryn-Chiana: You know, you suck worse as a Captain than you did in bed!
John: That was helpful.
Einstein: Your next journey may lead to a permanent unrealized reality.
Einstein: I almost could not retrieve you.
John: Yeah, I noticed. We're running out of real estate.
Einstein: This construct... disintegrates. Next time, your reality... forever.
John: No next time. Leave me.
Einstein: To die? Why?
John: Too risky. All of it. Best to leave me.
Einstein: Are you suddenly becoming afraid?
John: Yes. Of the damage I can do, yes.
Einstein: Fear. Fear is the correct answer.
John: Can't do it.
Einstein: You'd rather die?
John: Not particularly, but I like my childhood and I don't want to scramble the eggs.
Einstein: Should aggressive species puncture the wormhole the consequences to both our realms would be unimaginable.
John: Aw, screw it. But I am not Kirk, Spock, Luke, Buck, Flash, or Arthur-frelling-Dent. I am Dorothy Gale from Kansas, and *you* are gonna hire more Ancients.
Einstein: Fear is your providence.
John: Feel the Force.
Einstein: Adjust. Maintain focus.
John: When this is over, you're gonna take this crap out of my head.
Einstein: Someday. Should you survive.
Einstein: Do you now know what it is?
Holy bovines! Here's an ep that ties in all the dangling plotlines that haven't been explored for three seasons, and then turns them inside-out. It's the very definition of a mind-candy mind-frell; and if you didn't follow the hairpin turns, explanations and justifications perfectly the first time through - hey, you're in good company. John barely managed to keep up, and he was the one participating. Your Loyal Tour Guides were just really glad for the rewind function on their VCRs.
The John-Einstein confrontation works for several reasons, and since this is the main frame of the ep, it's a good thing it does. While this is far from the first time John's confronted arrogant semi-omniscient aliens, or even the first time he's dealt with Ancients, *this* is what they're really like, if you get them on their home turf, and the threat level goes up considerably with that change of venue. They're very intelligent, instinctively comprehending concepts that we need a chalkboard and a Ph.D to understand, and let's not forget - desperate to save themselves, without screwing anyone else over too much. John Bach nails the portrayal of a non-human person dressed up in a human body; body language, intonation, and expressions are all simultaneously flat and intense, a nice trick if you can pull it off. The barren-but-lovely iceberg and black-ocean set keep the focus on the actors while hinting at dangerous isolation, and the real risk John is running of not getting out of this one.
Ben Browder manages the difficult task of making us root for John against Einstein at the beginning, then slowly learn along with him that his No Fear attitude is exactly the kind of thing that can not only kill him, but screw up his life irrevocably if he doesn't let it go. Watching him comprehend how to navigate unrealized realities on fast-forward is a trip, since the instructors are echoes of his real past and the past he could unmake if he screws up too much; the message is the medium, since there's no time to spare here. We simultaneously get more fun backstory, a look at John's wishful-thinking version of how people see him, and several other possibilities of what could/might/did happen if the unrealized realities are solidified. For what it's worth, a physicist friend of ours said that the explanation of wormholes and how time-travel works, as well as the flipping in and out of unstable timelines (with John being the constant, but *not* the center of the freakin' universe), is at least theoretically possible, too. I can't begin to imagine the work that went in to getting this script coherent, rapid-fire fast, and fun to watch at the same time - most physics lectures don't include a "This is Your Life!" sequence while they quiz you on engrossment and the consequences of time distortion. (And TGUT is extremely gleeful about the Hitchhiker's reference. Just had to say that.)
Plus, alternate universes! The old Star Trek standby gets an acid-trip update when John revisits the premiere episode with more knowledge of what's going on, flips into a world where he may be a traitor and Aeryn may be played by Virginia Hey (or Paul Goddard. Hunh. Moving on...), side-steps into the world where he was welcomed by the PK's, instead of hunted by them, then backtracks to what could've been if the Scarrans had found Earth long before Farscape 1 was launched. Niiiiicely creepy touch to have Wayne Pygram play Jack in Scarran makeup, 'cause that was just... disturbing. On several levels. Not to mention giving John that clue to the fact that Harvey knew about his wormhole knowledge before he did. The other actors are clearly having fun playing each other's tics again - I picked up on the fact that Claudia Black was playing Chiana by a trick of the light and an angle of her face after several minutes, *not* because she wasn't absolutely note-perfectly in character. Raelee Hill losing it as Stark was another hysterical little mind-bender, and Gigi did a great job as Noranti as well. These people may be spending too much time together. Well, at least they're filming their insanity for our benefit while it happens.
And then, there's that hideous cliffhanger of an ending.... (No, wait. I sent my postcard. I signed the petitions. I wrote my letter. I believe, I believe, I *do* believe we'll be picked up, I do I do!) John may be hanging out over Earth, but *when* is he? How is he going to get back? Can he get back? And what's going to be changed if he does? Will he stay an agent of the Ancients, or is Scorpy going to screw that up for him?
Brace yourselves for re-entry, compadres. Whatever the outcome in *our* unrealized reality, the consequences for Farscape's version is going to be a doozy. (Due to extreme stress levels among our passengers, chocolate has been provided in the side-compartment next to your chair.)
First off, let me just say that the huge delay in reviewing this is not due to the episode not being good. Complicated, confusing and occasionally frightening as hell, yes. Bad, no. It's just that life happens. (Along with cons -- a big howdy and thank you go out to everyone I met at BurbankCon who were cool enough to recognize me/tell me they liked the site (and/or vids)/applaud/tell me to breathe when I was hyperventilating after any of the above. The Save Farscape crew in particular made a good con great!). That said -- I gotta go with a great big "Huh?" after this one. Well, there was about three seconds of "Huh?", followed by intense discussion and a resolve to go grab the nearest astrophysicist we know (and yes, we do know one; scary, isn't it?) and make her explain what the hell was being discussed. Cath claims it's all theoretically possible, so we'll trust her. Even if we're still trying to grok it all...
Nice quick overview of 'the world as we know it' to start the episode -- we get to see everyone, get reminded of basic personalities and interactions (as if we could forget Noranti the Happy Drug Pusher), before being tossed into, you know, 'the world as we fervently hope it will never be'. D'Argo being overprotective about the drugs was very cool, as D'Argo always is, and I love Aeryn trying to watch over John and learn English -- I keep going away, but every time I come back, I still get sucked into caring about those two. And the irony of Chiana telling Aeryn how to get John back, even as D'Argo is telling John to let her go, is not lost on me. Sikozu continues to annoy -- not sure if it's the character or the delivery, or possibly a hideous combination of both, but she was really getting on my nerves this time around. And that's entirely aside from her horrific taste in allies...
But we lose them fairly quickly, and start on the Wormhole Ride from Hell. I'm not going to object, given how many beloved old friends come along for the trip (Crais! DK! Whee!). I honestly cannot tell how much of the Day One stuff was original aired/cutting room floor footage, and what was added; it was integrated way too well. And far too amusingly, with John having the tongue timed perfectly. And then things get more and more bizarre....
I'm not sure how I feel about the interview segments -- they were kind of cool, following the change in the people's feelings towards John as we watched, when he goes from being a hero and a great lover, to a loser and lousy in bed? Lacking in pointiness, yes, but they did add interest to massive amounts of techobabble exposition, and bring back people we adore. Which are, you know, not bad goals, so I won't complain.
And I can't say I don't love any reality where Braca buys it, but in what reality is Sikozu a Scarren spy? How much changed from that reality to ours, or was she just still working for that weird corporation? It's damned disturbing to see John and Jack as Scorpius sans leather, but a very cool makeup effect. And obviously, I love all of the truly wacked-out realities -- Anthony Simcoe in Jool's outfit is the possibly highlight of my life, rivalled only by Rygel in D'Argo's dreds. Everyone had the usual fun being everyone else, with the usual ensuing hijinks and hilarity. I particularly loved Gigi as Noranti, and Claudia as Chiana, both of them dead-on. I have no idea how John coming out three or four years ago leads to everyone being a different species (I suspect the universe needs a stiff drink and a long vacation), but I enjoyed the manifestation.
Some backstory on the Ancients at last -- coming from another 'realm' (one that exists in time the same way we exist in space? the headache begins...) explain some of their better tricks, but I don't like the sound of 'when they disappeared' -- and weren't they looking for a new home the first time we saw them? And found one after much searching? If they have wormhole tech, why couldn't they have jumped to someplace else on the space-time continuum, or created a new reality for themselves? Were they lying or are they being retconned? Plus, now we know what happened to Pilot and Moya in the wormhole, which is always nice. But then we're left with trying to figure out what's happening to John in the wormhole.... And Your Faithful Yet Linearly-Chronological Tour Guides begin to babble, trying to make sense of it all.
So, we're presented with Schroedinger's Wormhole, where all things are possible -- everything exists while you're in the wormhole, because you're outside of the limitations of space/time, of those two sets of coordinates. Nothing becomes concrete -- "real" -- until you leave the wormhole and redetermine those coordinates -- redetermine when/where you are. And everything else in your reality follows from there. I can see why Einstein is so freaked -- imagine 100 John's cruising catlike through wormholes, changing reality every time they emerged. Yeah, I'd kill him, too; that's going to be a noisy enough party to keep you awake ten blocks away, much less one house over.
John reappears in the timeline five years before Farscape 1 was launched, creating a paradox -- John cannot be in space when he's still on Earth dreaming about the stars. Yet there he is. The universe hates paradox, but John is real, so reality shifts to accommodate him and resolve the paradox, and suddenly the Scarrens invaded centuries before John could go out on Farscape 1. The further back in his timeline he goes, the more events are in paradox, and the more the universe has to shift until the paradox is resolved. So why does everyone freak out about being most careful when he's closest to his own space/time? You'd think there'd be fewer potential realities the closer to your own you are -- DK even mentions fixing the first thing that goes wrong, as if that's all you need to do for the universe to repair itself, right?
Unless their definition of close is 'anything within your personal timeline', which begins making sense again, almost -- relative to the timeline of the universe, five minutes, five days are nothing, there's no time for any serious paradox to develop. The universe springs back to normal as soon as it's given a chance, as soon as the first thing is fixed. Five years, ten years -- still tiny on a universal scale, still 'close'... but more than enough time for paradox to set in in a big way. Go back before your timeline starts ("far"), and there is no paradox, because you never existed. Drop four people in the middle of a historic battle long before any of them were born, and the little things change -- but the big thing still happens, the young PK officer still dies. (Great job tossing in the flashes from ...Different Destinations here, and my God, how long have they been setting up this episode and these weird-ass relativity theories? And where's Sam Beckett when you need him to explain it all?).
And in 'close', since John is the focal point of the paradox, his reality supercedes everyone else's? Rotates around him as the constant point? This is nothing new, actually; John has always determined his own reality -- it was John who was the catalyst to bringing Moya's crew together against all odds, John who has kept them together. John, who has held onto his faith in his friends, in his ability to fix everything around him that's broken -- from Moya to his relationship with Aeryn to entire freaking galaxy -- and, somehow, made it happen through sheer force of will and belief and never, ever, giving up.
From technobabble to philosophy; I need a drink. Is any of this what the writers were after? No clue, but it's the nearest I can come to figuring it all out. Everyone head for the bar -- drinks are on us.
|January 10, 2003
Moya's crew, meet Earth, 1986. Try to fit in, try not to change anything, but make sure you change the most important thing of all -- Jack Crichton's shuttle flight. On Challenger.
Almost two years down the road, and this episode is still a trip. I adore Halloween eps. "Eat Me" is at the freaky end of the Halloween spectrum, but "Kansas" gets into the spirit of Trick-or-Treat and time travel, and does Sam Beckett one better by turning some of the conventions of 'fix the timeline' inside-out.
October 30, 1986 (where were you? I was drinking. Happy birthday to me! Heh. Legal in Colorado for 3.2 wine coolers. oh, the memories) -- only a couple days before the Challenger accident, and John's incursion backwards in time has now frelled things up so that Jack Crichton is scheduled to be on that flight. (Hunh?) Or maybe he was always going to be on that flight, and John didn't remember it? Well, whatever. The point is, Jack must be saved! Both for his own sake, and the sake of the Future, where John grows up, becomes an astronaut, and goes shooting off in the Farscape, and sets off our series' chain of events. It's a tribute to the show that they don't cheapen that event by including it in their universe; the sad fact that they can't change the central tragedy remains a regret that you can palpably feel from John and the others at the end of the episode.
Halloween being the next day means our gang of lunatics fits in just fine in the festivities--- for people who are mistaken for drug addicts and crazy people. Hehehe. If this were another series( *cough*Voyager*cough*Star Trek*) , D'Argo and Chiana's rudimentary knowledge of English and Earth culture would be enough for them to get by as natives. It's much, much better that even Aeryn's more carefully learned English and perfectly human (for Cher) looks still don't reassure anyone that she is "normal." I adore D'Argo's mastery of the basics ("Yes. No. Bite me.") and Chiana's misinterpretation of a "friendly greeting".
OOooooo. And what *about* Chiana, hunh? She's Karen Shore! Karen Shore in the 4x4! John's first! Okay, that's just hysterical. Wonderful continuity, totally plausible, and again, did we see this coming? No! We should've - Chi's made moves on John semi-jokingly since they first met. Why the heck would she let this chance go by? For fear of weirdness with John later? Fergeddaboutit! It is against all the 'conventions' of 'don't screw up the timeline any more once you're there.' But it's not like Chiana would ever pay attention to that stupid rule. She and Johnny's interactions are believable and kinda sweet-- and I love her whispering to him to remember her after Noranti mindwipes him. I would've loved to see a fallout scene with Chi and John about this later, though.
Offsetting the goofy and silly is the pain. John is having a rough time of it seeing himself, his dad, and most especially, his mom. He just wants to dopesmack himself for every stupid thing the kid has already done and is about to do. [And we have yet *another* instance of two John's onscreen at once. I think John must hold the record for most times doubled for any scifi character.] Of course he had to go spy on his parents; that's a stronger need than even self-and-timeline preservation. His warning to Leslie Crichton to see a doctor, after the message he gives her to save Johnny, is just... owie. Owie, owie.
In direct contrast to all the silliness and pain are Scorpius and Sikozu sneakily avoiding Grayza and her people. That reunion of Scorpius with Braca had me screaming "I knew it! I knew it I knew it I knew it! Braca would never diss the Man!" Finally, after half a season of thinking he sold Scorpy out, we find out that yes, to quote someone: their love is so pure! Which is mostly gratifying because I hate Grayza even more than I hate Scorpy (I still hate Scorpy. But I love Harvey. I think some of that hallucination-fondness has slopped over onto his originator, though. Eugh. ).
The Things That Stick With You:
Rygel carving a pumpkin that looks like Scorpius, high on sugar and demanding more M&M's from John. Then terrorizing the neighbor kids to get more by doing his "E.T. doll" impression. I fell off the couch, unable to breathe for giggling.
Aeryn learning her letters from... Sesame Street. Oh, god, this is *perfect*, and for once, it's okay to use the most easily recognized kid's program on the planet, because they're made by the same people as the Farscape crew. I think Rygel would *eat* Kermit if it came to a smackdown. Although maybe the Cookie Monster could take him. And now I'm wondering if he and Oscar are distantly related... ahem. Anyway.
That poor, beleaguered cop, completely right about the aliens, being watched through the two-way mirror by a Mulder& Scully-esque pair who shake their heads and walk away as he shows the "evidence".
John and Jack, exchanging one last long glance outside the burning building, Jack confused but suspecting *something* -- and John knowing way too much, aware of all that's happening and all that will happen, and unable to change any of it....
...which is so nicely contrasted with Jack's surprise appearance on Moya at the end, with John pointing a gun at him, asking him "Trout or bass?" Only scifi characters have these kind of conversations, checking for duplication/possession/mind-melting. This exchange isn't bad, on that scale. Although the fact that we have to wait a week to find out what it was is enough to make you--
Heh. Fortunately, *I* am now two years away from this, and can watch my DVD to find out the answer.
Am so very glad they're working on the miniseries for this show. So very much.
Something. Eventually. But not now.