Season 1, Episode 5: “Back and Back and Back to the Future”
*** out of *****
“He says he is experiencing the future.”
“The future? He can barely function in the present!”
So it’s a bad idea to store a piece of a black hole in your glove compartment. It’s almost as bad to stick your hand into it. (Seriously, Crichton, even in episode 5 you should know better than to touch the sparkly green light!)
This episode isn’t great, but it was good enough to hold my interest the first time, as I recall. It doesn’t hold up too much to repeated watching, however, as figuring out what’s going on is a great deal of the episode’s charm. Nevertheless, the tone is actually a rather creepy, mostly because, like John, we don’t know what’s going on at first, and then when he does find out he’s the victim of “temporal dislocation,” everything he thinks of to try doesn’t seem to work. It clearly disturbs John, and Browder really sells that to the viewer.
So what’s it about? Moya rescues to Ilanic scientists named Matala and Verell. They’re genetic cousins to Luxans and at war with a race called the Scorvians (er, Ilanics in general are, not just these two). But as it turns out, Matala’s a Scorvian spy, because hey, D’Argo’s not allowed to be happy, right?
Their presence affects D’Argo profoundly, from bending over backwards making sure Verell is comfortable to getting territorial over Matala’s affections. Like, really territorial. He even goes so far as to stab Crichton in the stomach in one particular future-flash. One can’t blame him TOO much. He’s been in jail and she’s the first compatible female he’s seen, really–plus I’m sure he misses others of his kind, even if the Ilanics are only “genetic cousins.” We also learn that he’s not been truthful about his reason for being a prisoner in the first place, and hints at his current situation being more complicated than he lets on.
So D’Argo gets the most development, as does Crichton as he tries to figure out just what the hell is going on. Pilot gets almost nothing. Rygel spends most of the episode eating. Aeryn’s mostly just Aeryn, though she does have a small role to play, figuring out that Matala’s a Scorvian. As for Zhaan, she’s the first to notice something feels out of balance with Moya. Zhaan takes it upon herself to question Verell and get to the bottom of it. With this and her helping take Moya’s pain in I, E.T., she’s already sliding into her role as Moya’s unofficial protector.
And speaking of Aeryn’s role, the martial arts form that Aeryn and Matala practice is rather kooky. Or maybe just bad. It seems to be brawling punctuated with flamboyant and pointless arm waving. (Scorvian “neuro-strike” notwithstanding.) Though I’m no expert. It also seems odd to me that Matala would be so foolish as to use her neuro-strike in such a way if it’s such a big indicator of her true nature. But hey, nobody’s perfect.
And damn, but Matala’s voice is irritating, both in tone and cadence. I’d forgotten that completely. It does a nice job of making her seem a little alien, but…it’s annoying.
“Now that, I understand. Man, do I understand.”
This is the first episode where D’Argo’s eyes are not green. In the first four episodes, Anthony Simcoe wore contact lenses, but they wound up irritating his eyes (I think he was actually briefly hospitalized), so they dropped that. I think he looks better without them anyway–or maybe I’m simply used more used to seeing him without them.
 And Crichton being Crichton, he will of course at one point refer to them as “Scorpions.”
 This is also the first mention that D’Argo’s building a shilquen, though we aren’t told what that is just yet…
 I wonder if the puppeteers needed a rest.