Friday, December 6, 2013

Day Three Hundred and Forty - Farscape: Season 2, Episode 16, "Time Flies When You're Trapped in a Halo of It."

For all of you regular Whovian watchers out there, if you haven't seen Farscape, I'm pretty confident to say that it was much superior despite having similar aesthetics and budget. Maybe that's sacrilege, but I'm going to stand by it, and use this episode as an example... because it's one of the "time travel" ones.

The episode starts us off in mid-crisis as Aeryn Sun has been off-ship scouting a mysterious mass of interstellar mist and is late for her rendezvous with Moya. When she does return, she seems to have aged hundreds of cycles (years) and is an old woman. It seems as though the mist is a "Halo" of time in which Moya has become trapped and while only a small amount of time has passed for them, years and years are passing for the planet they observe through a disappearing vortex.

This is one of those great thought problem episodes that I believe Farscape is spectacular for. What are the implications of a thought experiment gone awry, as in "what happens to John and Aeryn when they get stuck in Time's passing lane for 55 years (200+ for Aeryn). It's one of those soft scifi conundrums that are only glanced upon in other shows (Doctor Who) or are merely used as a device (TNG, Deep Space Nine).

While it's not exactly the stuff of philosophical legend or anything, the premise is delivered with a good deal more tact and style than in other places, I think. But that's mainly just opinion. I can see where arguments would be leveled against me thanks to the very Deus Ex way the crew solves their "out of time" predicament, but I find that it's easier to forgive Farscape their shortcuts than the ones we find in other shows like Doctor Who.

I also really like the device of the eponymous locket, which holds the image of Aeryn's one true love of her life, which has disintegrated when the now memory stricken John and Aeryn look inside of it at the end of the episode. A metaphor for roads not taken or just the promise of things yet to come (fans of the series know which)... either way, great stuff. 

There is one thing I find a bit of a disservice, though. At the end of the episode, only Zhaan and Stark remember the events from inside the mist, to explain how they would choose not to enter the Halo to begin with. With those memories, they speculate that the offspring that Aeryn have quite possibly avoided paradox thanks to the infinite universes theory.

Let me say that such an aside really annoys me... especially since Deep Space Nine had done a similar episode several years earlier (Children of Time) that took the brave path and made the consequences for rewriting history very harsh indeed (the complete erasure of the Defiant Crew's descendants from the continuum). I definitely would've gone the brave route, not because it's been done before, but because it would add to the emotional burdens of Zhaan and Stark to know that the crew of Moya, in order to save themselves, doomed probably dozens of innocents to nonexistence. This would be especially poignant from Stark's perspective, considering his "dispersal" the very next episode.

I have to admit, though, that THIS is what I wanted Doctor Who to be in terms of soft scifi adventure. A pity that it rarely comes close.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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