Whip John through a wormhole and take him back to Earth? Boring! Seen it all before. But hang on - Kansas puts a different twist on the tale and makes a subtle and affecting story out of John’s return home.
By putting John on Earth at the wrong time, Justin Monjo gives Farscape the chance to have some fun with generic SF premises. There’s a lot that’s familiar from the Back to the Future and other time travel stories, but Kansas adds some lovely touches just for us.
Farscape’s aliens have never seemed quite so alien before. Claudia Black’s performance as Aeryn is particularly stunning, making it clear how different from humanity she really is. Sweet little motes of humour lighten the episode, including a brilliant piece of self-referentiality as Aeryn settles down to watch Kermit on TV.
The big problem any return to Earth episode faces is avoiding anti-climax, a difficult challenge after three and a half seasons of buildup. Kansas cleverly manages this through its time-travel element, moving the focus elsewhere.
This leaves space for John’s feelings at seeing his home and family again to be subtly and movingly explored. Out of place, and feeling it, his emotional turmoil is beautifully underlined by the haunting soundtrack.
Kansas is superb. If only it had been shown before the cancellation decision, maybe Farscape would be headed for a fifth season now.
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