Wednesday, July 27, 2016

An Examination of a SciFi Hero

by Jess Anastasi

If you ever ask me about my favorite sci-fi heroes, one of the first that always comes to mind is John Crichton from Farscape. His journey from scientist without a clue of what he landed himself in the middle of, to badass space soldier who saves the universe is one of my favorite character tropes. 

Back in the late 90's and early 2000's, sci-fi shows were actually doing okay. Maybe it was the turn of the new millennium or something, but there were a number of them on TV at the time, with Stargate SG1 leading the pack. For a while through the late 2000s, a few new sci-fi shows popped up every year, but none of them seem to catch on. Shows like Terra Nova, Almost Human, and Intelligence never got more than one season. It seemed like sci-fi just wasn’t marketable anymore. But with the recent popularity of series such as Killjoys, Dark Matter and The Expanse, and Netflix ordering a remake of Lost In Space, I’m hopeful that’s about to change!

Considering the fact that Farscape, as whacky as it could be with all those puppets and what-not, managed to last for four seasons is pretty remarkable in the current cut-throat, ratings-driven television industry.

One of the things that really hooked me on this show in the beginning was the relationship between John and the ex-peacekeeper soldier Aeryn Sun. After recently re-watching the series, now I remember why.

From the first moment these two laid eyes on one another, the chemistry sparked to life. In the pilot episode, even when they didn’t know each other, they both put the other first to detriment of their own well being. Aeryn spoke up for John when the villain, Crais, threatened to lock him up and experiment on him. Crais turns on Aeryn, and accuses her of being contaminated. When John realizes this means a death sentence for Aeryn, he risks his own life to take her with them when they escape. 

From there the connection only deepened. I don't know if maybe the fact that they were the only two humans on board the ship Moya had anything to do with it or not, but John and Aeryn continually gravitated to one another.

The amount of body-on-body contact these two have in the first four episodes alone is more than some TV couples get in an entire season. They covered everything; when the ship was making an emergency landing on a planet (which structurally it wasn't designed to do), Aeryn and John wedged themselves into a corner and braced against one another. When the ship overheated and Aeryn started deteriorating because her people can't handle extreme high temperature, John lost it for a moment over the fact that Aeryn may die. When D'Argo put on a cuff that made him more aggressive and started shooting at them, they took cover in a corner, pressed up against one another. And let's not forget stuff blowing up and Aeryn landing on top of John. Yep, they were pretty much all over one another. It’s exhausting to keep up with!

The relationship with Aeryn aside, I really love the character of John Crichton. He started out as a scientist lost in space, who didn't know much about weapons or defending himself. In fact in the fourth episode, he blew up Aeryn's rifle when he tried to fire it. And there's several times when he runs instead of fighting. But as the seasons progress on, and he has no choice but to fight in order to save himself and Aeryn, John becomes the Alpha male, but still retains that sensitive side, the one which fell in love with Aeryn so easily and could still hold out hope, even when things were looking so dark.

One other thing that’s so great about John — he’s one of those tough guys who couldn't stop the tears. A bit like Dean Winchester on Supernatural. Yeah, they're tough guys who'll do anything to protect the ones they love, but if something really gets to them, they're not ashamed when a few manly tears roll down those handsome cheeks. And you always remember the first time. Like with Dean, when he made that desperate phone call to his dad, because he was worried about Sam.

For John, the first time we saw this depth of emotion was toward the end of season one. Crais had been relentlessly chasing them all over the galaxy to get revenge for John killing his brother in the first episode (though, it was an accident, a collision that happened only moments after he first came through the wormhole).

Moya’s crew manage to capture Crais, and while he's locked up, John goes to confront him about why Crais wouldn't listen to reason and just leave them alone. Until that point, no matter what had happened, John had just gone with it, adapting as best he could. But I think in that moment, everything that had happened finally caught up with him, and the knowledge that he may never get home to see his friends and family again, that he was stuck in this deadly galaxy he still didn't quite understand, just trying to survive, overwhelmed him, and the emotion needed to come out. Yeah, give me a tough guy who cries, and I'm a sucker.

If you happen to be a sci-fi fan and haven't watched Farscape, then you're seriously missing out. Yes, yes, I know the puppets and the hardcore costumes are a little much at first. But if you can manage to get past that, then you're in for some sci-fi romance gold. In fact, I wouldn't hesitate to say that Farscape has been to date the best example of sci-fi romance and how well it can work on TV, and will probably retain that title for a very long time. 

*This post was adapted and re-blogged from

Jess has been making up stories ever since she can remember. Though her messy handwriting made it hard for anyone else to read them, she wasn’t deterred and now she gets to make up stories for a living. She loves loud music, a good book on a rainy day, and probably spends too much time watching too many TV shows. Jess lives in regional Victoria, Australia, with her very supportive husband, three daughters, two hyper-active border collie dogs, and one cat who thinks he’s one of the kids.

Atrophy will be on sale for only 99cents from the 1st-8th of August!
Twitter @JessAnastasi

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