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spikespeigel in ship_manifesto

John Crichton/Aeryn Sun: Formulaic Love? Not in My Frelling 'Ship!

Subject Line: John Crichton/Aeryn Sun (Farscape)
Title: Formulaic Love? Not in My Frelling 'Ship!
Author: spikespeigel
Spoilers: Seasons One through Four
Email: spikespeigel26@yahoo.com

So, I've been thinking about what I should write ever since I signed up to share the love that is John Crichton and Aeryn Sun. In all reality, I wouldn't have even contemplated signing up but just the fact that there was only one manifesto listed under Farscape, I felt it was my duty as a 'Scaper to tell the world (or this community, whichever comes first) why they should even care about the relationship between an astronaut and a soldier. But, where to begin?

There's the rub. How do I put into words just how special this relationship is? Because, no matter what words fly to my fingertips, they won't be the right ones. They'll ultimately be lacking something, that epiphany one only gets when one watches the show. It's not a simple 'insert plot A, conflict B, resolution C' type of science-fiction show. Not that I'm knocking that formula. It's worked well for many well-beloved science-fiction franchises that keep on chugging along, even after these twenty or so years.

And, I think that's why I initially fell in love with Farscape. Okay, that's not entirely true. The first time I saw the previews for Farscape, the only thought that flooded my mind was 'what the fuck is a puppet doing in space?' and that's pretty much my first encounter with Farscape. It wouldn't be until years later (late third season, to be more specific) that my interest was piqued.

Picture a college student, bored out of his mind on a Friday night, nothing to do because all of his friends already have plans for that night, leaving said college student inevitably channel-surfing through the dreck that is Friday night television. Now, picture the thumb easing off the channel up button upon seeing a handsome man in a tuxedo and a beautiful woman in a rather fetching dress, both standing on what definitely looks like some kind of spaceship. Not something you see on everyday television, hence piquing said student's curiosity.

It was at this point I realized I was watching a one-hour special for Farscape. You know, that show with the puppet? Imagine my surprise when I found out that there was actually more than one puppet on the show. 'Blasphemy!' I cried. But, I found myself compelled to continue watching, if only to find out more about this man and woman currently on the screen. I mean, how could I not? These people weren't even in character and they exuded so much chemistry that my television almost spontaneously combusted. Either that, or it was just a really old television. But, I'll go with the former since it sounds better. So, after an hour of fill in the blank, as these specials are oft to do, I gathered the requisite knowledge to watch what I would come to realize would be the third season finale. And, what exactly did I learn? In a word, enough. In two words, not enough.

Confused? I'm sure you are if you've never watched the show. But, if you have and can picture yourself entering the Farscape universe at the end of the third season, you know exactly what I'm talking about. These two figures that seemed destined for one another being pulled apart by someone going by the name of John Crichton. And, a dead John Crichton at that. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's fast forward a few months when I finally caught up on seasons one through three, awaiting season four anxiously.

To sum up the previous four seasons, boy works on Farscape project. Boy gets shot through wormhole to a distant part of the universe. Boy accidentally gets involved with a crew of prisoners escaping from a military presence. Boy meets girl serving in Peacekeeper military. Girl tries to kill boy for insubordination (you see, she thinks he's Sebacean when he's not). Boy tells girl she can be more than a soldier. Love begins to bloom between boy and girl. To be continued.

Sure, it's an extremely abridged summary, but it kinda gives you a feeling that this relationship is unique than other relationships displayed on television. It's a fully developed relationship under the confines of science fiction. But, as most fans of the show will tell you, Farscape is really a love story serial with a science fiction backdrop. But, be you hopeless romantic or diehard sci-fi fan, Farscape's got something for you. And, therein lies the beauty of the show.

But, enough about the show. What about John and Aeryn? Well, that's a funny story. When you first see them interact, you can tell that Aeryn sees John as inferior to herself since he doesn't even know what a DRD is, let alone starburst, Peacekeepers, or Scarrens. However, this doesn't dissuade John from quickly learning about this side of the universe. After all, he was the head of the Farscape project that ultimately slingshot him into his current predicament. He's an astronaut with the degree and intelligence going for him. That, and his boyish charms and infinite catch phrases (Can I get a hell yeah!). And, slowly but surely, you see Aeryn begin to change because of John. She begins to accept him, this lowly human that never quits. If it's a run in with Peacekeepers, a shipmate being held hostage for ransom, or being stranded on a planet by accident, John does what most of his shipmates wouldn't be able to do. He adapts to his conditions. And, therein, Aeryn begins to pick up these strengths from John, herself beginning to push the soldier to the background, the woman in her emerging to the forefront.

However, it wasn't love at first sight as I stated earlier in my summary. Far from it. Instead. Aeryn and John begin to form a friendship, each learning from the other, each comforting the other in times of need, each just being there for the other. Sure, there were other shipmates to talk to, to confide in, but in the end, it was always John and Aeryn. It was Aeryn that told John about her betrayal to her first love just to get a promotion. It was John that told Aeryn that he'd take her back with him to Earth since she no longer had a home (rogue Peacekeeper, after all). Then, came the big tease. A Human Reaction, wherein John assumedly makes it home only to find out that he's not really welcomed back with open arms. Instead, the military takes him hostage, dissects one of his shipmates, and prepping another for more knowledge. It was here that John and Aeryn (on the run from the military) shared their first kiss. And maybe something more? Depends on who you ask. However, based on the kiss alone, you can see the walls coming down around Aeryn as she hesitantly presses her lips against Crichton's, both eventually succumbing to the moment. It was the first meaningful gesture between these two. It wouldn't be the last.

Fast forward to the second season, where we find our might be couple coming to terms with their feelings for one another. Sure, there's intergalactic intrigue and space faring action, but there's also something else, something sinister lurking beneath the surface. It turns out John's slowly losing control of his mind courtesy of a Peacekeeper named Scorpius. Apparently, both John and Scorpius are looking for the key to wormholes, Crichton to find a way home, Scorpius to develop a weapon to destroy the Scarrens. However, it turns out that John already has the holy grail to wormholes in his head, courtesy of a wormhole alien in the guise of his father. Confused? No worries. All you need to know is that Scorpius wants this information, so he puts a neural clone of himself inside Crichton's brain, the clone beginning to take control of John when the second season begins.

And, herein lies the dilemma. John becomes detached from the rest of the crew because of this dichotomy, leading to misspoken words between he and Aeryn. What looked like a lock for romance and happiness becomes convoluted because of the neural clone, or as John calls him, Harvey. When it looks like John's about to let Aeryn in, Harvey inevitably steps in and pulls John away from her. This is partly because of Harvey, and partly because of John, because he finds himself unable to trust his capacities around his friends, his mental faculties continually giving ground to Harvey. However, we finally get a glimmer of hope when John kisses Aeryn once more (this time they're trying to escape a Shadow Depository). John needs to tell her how he really feels about Aeryn before he totally loses himself to Harvey. However, he never gets the chance to because Aeryn tells him that she already knows, and their love continues to strengthen. Unfortunately, happiness rarely lasts long, and Harvey ultimately takes control of John, none of the shipmates the wiser. It's a shame really, because it's at this moment that Aeryn finally tells John that she loves him. John's response to the admission? He slams her, head first, into a wall, knocking her unconscious. Then, the unthinkable.

Their ship crippled from the previous encounter with the Shadow Depository, John tries to contact Scorpius as to his whereabouts, wherein a Peacekeeper Command Carrier will inevitably be on its way to retrieve John and destroy his friends in the process. So, what's a former soldier to do? Simple, really. She has to shoot down John's module, possibly killing John in the process. However, slipping into Peacekeeper mode also makes her slip back into her preconceived notion that she is indeed the superior pilot in this situation. Little does she know, John also knows a thing or two about flying, especially when gravity's involved. And, while it looks like Harvey's about to give up, he turns the tables on Aeryn. Aeryn loses her Prowler, ejecting safely. However, Harvey informs her that she's descending into a lake of ice. Then, as to rub salt into the wound, John recovers control of his body, finally realizing in horror that he's forced Aeryn into this situation. With her last words, Aeryn tells John that she hopes he meant what he said about loving her when Harvey was in control. Because she meant every word. Then she descends into the icy depths, John screaming in anguish over the loss of the woman he's truly fallen in love with.

Wait, so she's dead? That's not special. In fact, that's a pretty stupid ship. Au contraire. There's a reason I fell in love with this show, the fact that it doesn't pull any punches and assumes that the viewer has a modicum of intelligence. Take the third season premiere where Aeryn is brought back from the dead, but at a terrible cost. If there's one rule that remains stringent in this show, it's that there must always be a balance. Cause and effect. Action and reaction. A life for a life. There are no shortcuts in the world of Farscape. So, when we pick up with our couple, John is finally rid of the neural implant and Aeryn is reunited with him. So, now is where we get the happy ending, right? If you said yes, you obviously haven't been paying attention to this piece and should go back to the beginning and reread every word. That's right, every word.

So, where was I? That's right, John and Aeryn together once again. However, there's a slight hitch. Remember that 'terrible price' mentioned earlier that was ultimately responsible for Aeryn's resurrection? Well, that event's weighing pretty heavily on Aeryn's conscience. So much so that she's unwilling to let anyone else get that close to her for the fear that they might sacrifice their life for hers once more. And that, my friends, brings us back to square one. Okay, maybe one and a half. John loves Aeryn. Aeryn loves John. But neither knows how to proceed from here.

Distance begins to grow between our two intrepid starcrossed lovers. After laying to rest a friend, things get weird when Crichton and company come across a dead Leviathan (think living spaceship). Turns out there's a madman on board that can make exact duplicates of living matter. Neat trick if you feed off of brain matter. More food for you, less people to capture. So, while everyone on board the dead Leviathan is twinned, one being used as a food source, Crichton comes out ahead in the deal. Yep, you've guessed it. Two Crichtons. But surely they're different. One's less than another. Turns out they're not. Each are John Crichton. How do we know? Simple. A simple game of rock, paper, scissors, wherein the Crichtons end up in a stalemate for every throw. While this is going on, Aeryn looks on in confusion, the relationship between John and Aeryn becoming more confusing than ever before.

Another jump ahead, and our crew is forced to separate under uncontrollable circumstances. So, we end up with John, Aeryn and half of the ship's crew on the run from Aeryn's mother (long story) while John and the other half of the crew starburst in another direction to escape the Peacekeepers. So, from here on in, we'll refer to the John currently with Aeryn as TalynJohn and the John not with Aeryn as MoyaJohn. The descriptors are simply the names of their respective ships at the time.

So, we've got MoyaJohn being extremely jealous of TalynJohn because he's with Aeryn, doing God knows what. Then we've got TalynJohn, who's extremely happy to be with Aeryn, even though they're being hunted by Aeryn's mother. Turns out TalynJohn's gotten the better of the deal, Aeryn's newly formed distance crumbling over time until we are absolutely sure how each feels about the other as we see them in a tangled mess under the covers. Things between Aeryn and TalynJohn are going so well, that when TalynJohn brings up the matter of taking Aeryn back to Earth with him, she wholeheartedly agrees. She's made her decision at this point. This is it for her. Her life rests with this man. But, this is Farscape, and everything has a cost. Everything must balance. For every moment of happiness, there must be a moment of loss. And, do we ever get it.

Remember that wormhole alien that took the form of John's father way back when? Well, he's back. And he's on a mission. Turns out someone else other than Crichton's gotten hold of wormhole knowledge and it needs to be stopped before it falls into the wrong hands. Unfortunately, the Scarrens are closing in with a Dreadnaut (big ass battleship) and the information's about to leak out. So, it's up to Aeryn, TalynJohn and the rest of the crew to stop this from happening lest the Scarrens unlock the secrets of wormholes and create a weapon capable of shifting the tide of the war. Luckily, our heroes do indeed stop the Scarrens (rather brilliantly at that), but one of our heroes fall. To stop the Scarrens, TalynJohn makes the ultimate sacrifice, and dies in Aeryn's arms. She finally figured out what she wanted from life, and it's taken away from her.

Or is it?

Remember our friend MoyaJohn? Identical to TalynJohn in all respects? But, how does Aeryn cope with the loss of TalynJohn when MoyaJohn's still alive and kicking? Good question. So much so, when the two crews are reunited, Aeryn has once again created distance between herself and the living John. In fact, she's been so traumatized by TalynJohn's death that she regresses back to her Peacekeeper roots. She doesn't want to hurt anymore, so she shuts everyone out and falls back on her military training. It's what made her strong. It's what made her callous. It's what's kept her alive for so long. And damn if it won't help her through this loss.

But, what about John (only one John at this point so begone descriptors)? Well, he's different from TalynJohn in one aspect now. He's still pining for Aeryn whereas TalynJohn has passed that point. So, John's really back at square one unlike Aeryn, who's at a totally different point emotionally. Mix equal parts of angst and love, shake thoroughly, and you have a crossroads. One where Aeryn leaves the crew for her own reasons and John's left stranded in space with Aeryn's secret.

She's pregnant.

Wha? Pregnancy in a sci-fi show? Ludicrous! What have I been saying? This isn't your typical sci-fi show. It's a romance dammit. Now pay attention as we wrap things up.

So, we're left with a disenchanted John, working on wormhole calculations. Thing is, he's finally starting to get the hang of it. How good is he? Sure, Homer Simpson can hear pudding, but John Crichton can smell wormholes. That's right, he can smell them before they open. So all John has to do now is open a wormhole for Earth and go home. Right? If you said no, you're finally paying attention. There's still some unresolved business with Aeryn Sun, who's now in the company of Scorpius (the dude that planted Harvey in John's head) when they're reunited.

As one can imagine, this is not the definition of comfort. You're on board a ship with the woman that ran away from you and the man that's trying to get the wormhole knowledge in your head for his own means. This does not a happy Crichton make. Aeryn, on the other hand. She's finally had time to cope with the loss of TalynJohn and accepts that John and TalynJohn are one and the same person. She's been given a wonderful gift. A second chance with the man she loves. Slight problem. John doesn't want anything to do with her. I mean, can we blame the guy? Last we saw him, Aeryn turned her back on him and he was left stranded in space by an odd occurrence. Couple this with the fact that the knowledge of wormholes might be more dangerous than John initially realized, and John's got enough problems to deal with without having to open himself up for more heartache.

But, how does this bode for our heroine, Aeryn Sun? Not so good. After confronting John about the baby and the fact that she left because she wasn't sure if the baby was his, John's or TalynJohn's (Sebaceans can keep an embryo in stasis for seven or so cycles), John tells her where she stands with him.

Just come back when you've got your story straight.

Needless to say, Aeryn's starting to understand how John's been feeling all these years. She's now on the other side of this unrequited love. She's deeply in love with John, but John is just indifferent at this point. Callous maybe? It's an odd predicament he's in. However, like I've said before, this show's all about balance.

Shift forward once again and John finally makes it home. No trick this time. He's actually mastered wormholes to the point that they've become almost second nature to him. Thing is, his friends also make it back to Earth as well. And, let's just say Earth is more than a little startled to discover there are indeed other life forms in the vast universe. But, that's not really the crux of this arc. It's John and Aeryn. It's always John and Aeryn. Aeryn discovers that she can indeed live on Earth. But, John's more than adamant not to let Aeryn back into his heart. How adamant is he? He's currently taking a drug that will eventually eliminate his feelings for Aeryn. She finally figures this out, but not until John and company are back in space (Earth was not ready for the wonders he'd seen).

Finally confronting John, Aeryn discovers that John has been keeping his distance from Aeryn because of Scorpius. He's sure that Scorpius is onboard to get the wormhole knowledge. And, if Scorpius discovers that Aeryn is John's Achilles, he'd most likely use it against John. Worse yet, John would let him if it meant getting Aeryn back. That's right. All this time, he's still been in love with Aeryn. But, with Scorpius in the mix, he had no choice to keep her at arm's length.

So, now we get the happy ending, right? Well, somewhat. After some kidnapping, torture, lots of things going boom, and a wormhole being closed permanently, John and Aeryn finally have that talk they've been meaning to have ever since Aeryn came back to Moya. This is where we find out that Aeryn is indeed pregnant with Crichton's child. Happy moment number one. Then, we have John proposing to Aeryn in the middle of a lake, Aeryn accepting. Happy moment number two. But, like I've said many a time in this piece, balance is the thing. Remember that brief synopsis I gave way back when? Well, that's how our lovers' story ends.

To Be Continued.

I'd say more, but I think I've said way too much. Needless to say, it's been a long and crazy ride for these two people. And, the final chapter in their story still needs to be told. Mark your calendars. October 17, 2004. The Peacekeeper Wars are upon us. Where shall John and Aeryn end up? I'll let you know as soon as I figure that out. Or better yet, check it out for yourself. I promise, you won't be disappointed.

So, here's where I give out cool links and stuff, right? Well, here's a few.

Farscape Fantasy: A site devoted to the ins and outs of this great show.

Watch Farscape: Originally Save Farscape, this site was instrumental in resurrecting the show from cancellation. Now, it's trying to get the message out that the mini-series is upon us and everyone should watch it to ensure more Farscape projects in the future.

Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars: And the big one. The trailer for the upcoming mini-series. Just choose a trailer size, sit back, and enjoy.


Loved the summary! That was a nice summation of the reasons I love Farscape and J/A. And you managed to get the whole thing written down and it's not 80 pages long! The show can certainly be complicated enough to require that. *g*

I just wanted to pass along another link for you:

It's a site dedicated to trying to get new fans and catch them up on the story and such before the mini. Might be helpful for people reading this essay who are curious.

Glad you liked it. I wasn't really sure how to tackle this essay since there was so much to talk about, so I just illustrated the major plot points and went from there. Thanks for the link. Here's hoping people avail themselves of it and the marathon going on right now. We need Farscape back in a big way :)
What an amazing summary of a complicated show, never mind relationship. Great work!
Thanks for the kind words. It really is a complicated relationship, but it's such a unique one that I had to write about it to get it out there in this community :)
I kept coming back to this because I swear it sounded familiar even though I didn't watch Farscape.

But I do recognize the ship, and I got a good glimpse at Farscape too!
Glad this essay opened your eyes. Here's hoping I was able to persuade you into looking into the Farscape phenomenon. Sci-Fi's currently in marathon mode regarding the original eps so if you need a primer, there's no better place to be than Sci-Fi right now :)


How many 'ships exist where the woman is the combat-trained, hardened individual, and the guy is the eye-wide-open idealist? (At least at the beginning, before they started being able to finish each other's sentences.) Did you ever think you'd root for a reformed Nazi-type to get together with an almost-mad-scientist? 'Course not.

And yeah, it doesn't pull punches. They've both died. TWICE. heh. They've each pulled away. For good reasons, not stupid ones. They've come so damn far in four years, though, that anything else, from here on in...

well, we'll see in two weeks, won't we?

*dance of GLEE!*

Kiki at TGUT

Re: Exactly.

That's the beauty of this ship. It's so utterly original that it's fantastic. Never did I think these two characters would have gotten together. But, as the show progressed, you could actually see the character development. Comparing the first and last ep, there's such a change in their dynamic that it's awe-inspiring. And, I shall be with you in front of the television for October 17 :)
Excellently done spike!

Another good site for the J/A ship is The John and Aeryn Site
Thanks, glad you liked it. And thanks for the link. Shall check it out (hopefully with anyone else that reads this piece). *Goes back to watching marathon* :)
That's a very entertaining summary-- I read the whole thing.
And they're not hard on the eyes either. :)
blue by darkhavens

January 2018



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