Captain Hornblower Rates the Farscape Episodes

The Captain gives "Unrealized Reality" a rating of:

4 Moyas

Captain's Rating Scale:
5 Moyas-one of the best episodes
4 Moyas-an excellent episode
3 Moyas-a good episode
2 Moyas-a fair episode
1 Moya-a less than fair episode
0 Moyas-a poor episode


"Unrealized Reality" is an interesting departure for Farscape in several respects. The first has to do with the fact that Farscape has never really been a show to go the Star Trek way of engaging in heavy techno babble. For example, its never explained fully how Starburst works, or how the energy flow through Moya propels her into Starburst. Whereas on Star Trek, there is plenty of stuff about how the warp core pumps energy into this and that. On Farscape, things just generally work because they, just work. And for this series, passing over the techno babble has worked quite well because it has not been a necessary part of the show. But with "Unrealized Reality", the episode is almost entirely techno babble stuff on a very high level, and needed to be in order to create the substance of the story. We are talking Steven Hawking level almost, with all kinds of discussion of time, parallel realities, unrealized realities, permanence of realities, the effects of changing history, etc.

Perhaps the one time Farscape went so far into the realm of scientific techno babble was "Self-Inflicted Wounds", with Neala and the Pathfinders and discussions of the wormhole network running through the universe. But in that case, it made things confusing at times and rather difficult to follow the story. In the case of "Unrealized Reality", the techno babble is far less confusing, though still quite complex and well thought out, due to the fact that the theoretical elements are well accompanied by real world, visual examples. These examples consisted of unrealized realities or flashes into the past or possible futures that were experienced by Crichton. Its almost as if we the audience were students in a temporal physics class, and the professor gave us the definition with plenty of visual aids. This was a very well crafted way to handle such high levels of complexity and theoretical discussion.

Though, I wonder what a real scientist like Steven Hawking would have to say about the theories of time presented on this episode. Did the Farscape producers perhaps read Hawking's or Einstein's stuff to get the answers? Now, I am no scientist, but the theories they presented sounded very scientific and well researched to me. Perhaps someone who goes to a Farscape convention sometime and goes to the Q&A sessions with Kemper or one of the producers might ask them if they did indeed consult scientific references for this episode.

Another major departure for this episode was the cerebral aspects to it. While Farscape has done cerebral stories before, most of the time they go into the realm of "what is going on in Crichton's head?", like "Won't Get Fooled Again" or "Dog With Two Bones". But in this case, the cerebral aspects of the episode were on a very serious, and far more complex level. In this case, the cerebral plot points were connected to the interaction of wormholes and time, and Crichton's interaction with both, added on to his experiences since going through the wormhole in the Premiere. The story is not all about what is in Crichton's head, but rather what wormholes really are and how they interplay with time, and with Crichton's life.

A final aspect of the departure elements for this episode is the fact that Crichton's apparent mission has changed. Its not like he was on some grandly designed mission before, but his main purpose was to get home to Earth and survive, while at the same time keeping the wormhole knowledge out of Peacekeeper and Scarren hands. Now, the wormhole aliens in this episode seem to expect Crichton to become the guardian of wormhole knowledge.

This sets Crichton into a place entirely apart from anyone else, and almost makes his journey now a little bit separate from that of his comrades. While Moya's crew will, I'm sure, always be there for him like they have been, many aspects of this new mission of his will probably have to be undertaken on his own, with his friends not able to help him. The survival skills he has learned since coming through the wormhole in the Premiere have helped to prepare him for this task.

Of course, the end of this episode will probably be the most remembered aspect about it. We the audience are left with a mid-season cliffhanger, with Crichton hanging in orbit around Earth. What happens from here is anyone's guess. But, this time, I hope the producers at least do some things to resolve the cliffhanger elements of this episode in the next installment. While they did answer the question about where Moya went when she was sucked down the wormhole at the end of Season 3, there are still some questions left unanswered from THAT cliffhanger. Now, we've got ANOTHER cliffhanger with a lot of stuff still unresolved from the PREVIOUS cliffhanger.

This was truly an excellent episode, and one with a story that was adeptly handled so that the audience was not left totally confused and dumbstruck by the cerebral, techno babble nature of it. The implications that it has on the future of the show are astounding to be sure. This episode, while it does not make up for all of the shortcomings of Season 4 to date, does reflect a good amount of improvement in terms of the substance of the story and gives me a great deal of hope for a better direction for the rest of the season to follow.

What did you think of "Unrealized Reality", or this review? Let your voice be heard in a reply below. Feedback is always welcomed.

By the way, I apologize for this review coming later than usual. I attended a party last night, and was quite busy reading a book for graduate school today. I only got a chance to see the tape I made of the episode an hour ago.

Captain Hornblower
Keeper of Jena's Jewel Gun
Worshiper of Aeryn's Remarkable Vessel

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Originally aired in the US August 23, 2002

Written by David Kemper

Directed by Andrew Prowse

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