Recap / Farscape S 01 E 14 Jeremiah Crichton

Season 1, Episode 14:

Jeremiah Crichton

John is having a bad day and decides to go "cruising" in his module to get some time away from the others. He no sooner gets outside when Moya makes a surprise Starburst, leaving him stranded.

Cut to three months later, a well-tanned and bearded John is fishing on an idyllic tropical beach; he was lucky enough to find a nearby planet and land before running out of fuel or air. Unluckily, something on the planet saps power, preventing any technology from working.

The planet also hosts a primitive tribe of very human-looking people who dress entirely in purple and orange. Lisala, the chief's daughter, has become sweet on Crichton, which angers Rokon, the son of the head priestess, who used to have her eye. Rokon's power-hungry mother eggs him on to do whatever it takes to get Crichton out of the picture, so he can marry Lisala and be the next chief.

Meanwhile, back up on Moya, the crew has been searching for John. Zhaan floats the idea of giving up, but the others aren't ready, especially D'Argo, who feels they drove John into leaving. D'Argo tells Aeryn he'll leave it up to her to decide when to give up. Fortunately, they spot John's module on the next planet they check, and D'Argo and Rygel come down in a transport pod. The pod loses power near the surface, stranding them too, and D'Argo's Qualta rifle and Rygel's throne-sled soon run out of juice. D'Argo heads off to search for John, while Rygel, whose tiny legs can't keep up, naps in John's shelter.

D'Argo arrives just in time to save John from an ambush by Rokon and friends. John has spent three months thinking that the others Starbursted away on purpose because he was being a brat, so he's still peeved until D'Argo explains what happened. Lisala shows up and tells them that Rokon is accusing John of bringing D'Argo to threaten the villagers, so they head to the village to explain things to the chief. On the way, they're ambushed again, and netted this time, while a couple of the tribesmen collect some of John's belongings — including a bag in which Rygel hid.

Up on Moya, Aeryn and Zhaan work out the problem with the power drain, and look for a way to help. They decide to send down a message, as soon as Zhaan can track down their coordinates and Aeryn can design a missile to hit the spot.

The tribe's laws demand death for anyone attacking the chief's guards; but the chief, out of friendship for John, condemns them to ten years hard labor instead. The head priestess immediately jumps on this show of weakness and demands that he follow the law. As they argue, Rygel makes a noise and the chief tells a guard to open the bag. Rygel emerges, and as the villagers all fall to their knees, bowing and chanting, John realizes that the stone monolith behind Rygel has a bit of a Hynerian shape to it — the villagers think Rygel is some sort of god.

Cut to Rygel being bathed and fed in the chief's hut, as the villagers prepare a great feast to celebrate his return. The guys find out that Rygel is expected to do something at the celebration, but they don't know what, so Rygel asks to see the "sacred text." (As he says, every religion has one.) In it, he discovers the truth about the tribe's situation: they were placed there as colonists by one of his ancestors, and the power draining device was placed with them to prevent them from ever leaving. Over the years, the priestesses, to enhance their own influence, built up the legend of Rygel's predecessor from dominar to god, adding the expectation that he would return someday to "rise up and lead his people to the light."

Rygel tries to delay, then tries to tell the people that it's a metaphor, but they're not having it. The priestess declares him a false god and the chief commands them all seized, but John and D'Argo get away. As they're deciding what to do next, a missile from the sky slams into shallow water a few yards away. Pulling it out, they find Zhaan's map inside showing that the power drain device is somewhere back in the village. Returning to the village, John tries to explain the power drain and the false history created by the priestesses, but the head priestess shouts him down and tells Rokon to kill him. In the melee John gets a look at the Rygel-shaped stone and sees two small hand-prints in it. He's able to slip through the battle and grab Rygel, running him over and pressing his hands into the prints.

The stone glows, blows its top, and shoots a column of blue light into the sky. Rygel's throne-sled powers up and picks him up, and Rygel "rises up and leads them to the light." The people begin prostrating themselves again; but Rygel protests, explaining that he's not their god, he's their sovereign.

The guys make their goodbyes. The chief tells Rygel the villagers have decided to stay on their happy planet, but they're glad to be staying out of choice rather than being stuck. They send Rygel off with a load of fresh food, and we see them starting to use some of the old machinery that hadn't worked since they were stranded generations ago. John says goodbye to Lisala, and tells Rokon to take care of her. Lisala still encourages John to stay, but he's realized that although he was happy there, it's not his home.

Tropes present in this episode include:

  • Beard of Sorrow: John goes full mountain-man in his three months in paradise. Since all the village men are clean-shaven (chin and chest), it must not be for lack of sharp blades.
  • Corrupt Church: The priestess and those who came before her purposefully elevated Rygel's people from sovereigns to gods as a means of increasing their own political power.
  • Creator Backlash: The commentary consists entirely of the producers and stars ragging on the episode as the single worst in the series.
  • Did Not Think This Through: The priest class leaves all the details of how they've manipulated the colony and built up the religion for their own ends in their holy book confident in the fact that only they can read ancient Hynerian. Then when an actual Hynerian shows up the current one just hands it to him, even though if he can read his own language (which he can) she's frelled.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: About halfway through the first season, this is the last episode before the major wormhole/Ancients arc starts. The self-contained, planet-of-the-week style feels strange compared to how continuity-heavy the show soon became.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Rygel may be a greedy, glutton, back-stabbing toad at times, but even he doesn't like the concept of his people being deified.
  • Honor Before Reason: D'Argo is particularly insistent that they rescue Crichton—feeling that they drove him to leave the ship.
  • Human Aliens: The locals look and act utterly human; John could have landed on an isolated tropical island on Earth.
  • Mighty Whitey: Stranded on a primitive planet, John builds a number of labour-saving devices and is romanced by the chief's daughter. Played with, in that everyone but the chief and his daughter (who's affections he keeps trying to deflect) clearly think he's a harmless doofus at best.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Zhaan says it's long past the point where they should've given up searching for Crichton.
    D'Argo: You've become so cold.
  • Unwanted False Faith: Rygel wants to be feted as their sovereign, but doesn't want to be worshiped as a god, especially when he finds out it could be fatal.