Captain Hornblower Rates the Farscape Episodes

The Captain gives "Natural Election" 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


"Natural Election" really showcases the producer's magnificent adeptness at creating an episode with multiple elements to the overall story. The story of this episode takes elements of an action/adventure story, a character drama, a teamwork story, and what's called a "ship in the bottle" plot and weaves it all together into one overall plot, with everything put into effective balance.

The action/adventure of the story sees Moya's crew engaged in a battle for Moya's survival with a plant infestation that is slowly killing their ship and Pilot. The character drama revolves around several elements, from everyone finding out about Aeryn's pregnancy, to Aeryn dropping the bombshell that the baby may not be Crichton's, to the crew's tense relationship with Scorpius, and in the way the characters have a lot of interaction with one another on very personal levels. The teamwork aspect of this episode is the fact that all of the crewmembers must work together to solve the problem presented to them. There is no one hero in this situation. Finally, the producers once again take a story that pretty much only takes place on Moya and does such a "ship in the bottle" episode much better than almost any other series could. Sometimes, the episodes that just take place on Moya can be better than the episodes that take place elsewhere. Its a familiar environment for the viewer, and the crew is well motivated to protect the threat to their home.

This episode really shows so much of what the producers, cast, and crew of Farscape do best. One could say this episode gets back to so many of the core elements of Farscape and showcases so much of what has been so captivating about Farscape from the beginning. This episode has such an effective balance of all of the before mentioned elements, and makes one feel the story would not be as good as it is with any one of those elements missing. The producers have been doing these kind of episodes from the very first season. When I think of "Natural Election", I think of it being in the tradition of such classic Farscape episodes from "Through the Looking Glass" to "Fractures".

Besides the great merits of this episode on its own, it also does quite a bit to develop the overall story of the show at this point and the undercurrents running through this episode. Scorpius is obviously the wild card on Moya at the moment. He is the unknown element for the crew. Just how do they deal with having him on board? He has proven helpful up to this point, but they seem to be waiting for him to make "his move", you might say. This adds a great deal of tension to the situation on Moya. As does Sikozu, who trusts Scorpius more than the others do, but as a result is not as trusted by the rest of the crew.

D'Argo's selection as Captain is surprising on the face of it. One would naturally think Crichton would be chosen since the series' overall story centers around his journey through this universe. The selection of D'Argo is a surprising one at first glance, but actually makes sense when one considers the voters. They trust him because he is the toughest, the strongest, the one who can kick the most but. Zhaan said way back during "Exodus From Genesis" that the crew is, for most part, made up of fighters. They trust actions, and D'Argo is the one who does much of the acting in crisis situations. It will be interesting to see how D'Argo's selection as Captain will effect his relationship with the crew, and also how it will mesh with Crichton's natural tendency to take command in a crisis situation (well displayed in this episode), and the fact that the crew naturally seem to follow John.

Another interesting element is Crichton's increasing mastery of working with wormholes. His growing ability to predict wormholes, and the near future possibilities of his being able to manipulate them, puts an increasing amount of power in his hands. What he does with it will be the question, and one that Scorpius is probably anxious to manipulate to his own ends.

Surely the most emotional undercurrent of the story at this point is the relationship between John and Aeryn. It seems that Aeryn has now finally accepted that this John Crichton is her John, the same man she has always loved, and her actions indicate she wants to be with him, and in a romantic way. But there is a snag. Her revelation that the child might not be Crichton's, rather she might have been made pregnant years ago, was an important one, and let's John know where things stand on that end. But Aeryn is not being as open with John as he would like. He is reluctant to trust her enough to be with her, and has pretty much put the ball in her court. Either she comes clean with him, no secrets about where's she been and what she has been doing, or no go. The final scene when he tells her that he can't trust her with his heart until she opens up to him is poignant, and is an interesting dichotomy to scenes in the past when he has come to her and she has pushed him away and he has been disappointed and often heartbroken. This time, the tables are turned, and she is the one who is disappointed and crushed. For once, Aeryn is going to have to pursue Crichton, and take some initiative to make things to work between them. John has also not closed the door entirely on their being together. He showed a willingness to be there and be ready when she takes the path she needs to take to get him to trust her.

"Natural Election" is an excellent episode on so many levels. It has so much of what is great about Farscape in its story and execution, and is a soon to be classic with so much of what I would call the Farscapean tradition.

What did you think of "Natural Election", or this review? Let your voice be heard. Feedback is always welcomed.

Captain Hornblower
Keeper of Jenavia's Jewel Gun
Worshiper of Aeryn's Remarkable Vessel
Caretaker of Porthos, the Enterprise Dog


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Originally aired in the US July 19, 2002

Written by Sophie C. Hopkins

Directed by Ian Watson

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