My vacation continues, and so does this column’s look at the best episodes of Farscape. In Part One, I covered the best episodes from the first two seasons of the show. This time around, I’ll look at seasons three, four and beyond.
Season of Death: Season Three picks up where Season Two left off, as “Season of Death” is the second part of the story started in “Die Me, Dichotomy.” The betrayals continue. The danger heightens. Aeryn is believed to be dead. D’Argo breaks up with Chiana and disowns Jothee. Jool is freed from being frozen and becomes the newest addition to the cast. And, oh yeah, Scorpius and a Scarran are both lurking about trying to kill or capture John Crichton.
Wounds, Part I and II: Continuing the quality from the second
half of season two, with yet another strong multiple episode story.
This time, Moya’s hull is fused with that of another ship while
going through a wormhole. The two ships are suddenly linked
together. The two crews supposedly have a common goal- to extricate
their ships. But that common goal falls apart when the crews realize
that freeing one ship could destroy the other. The other captain,
Neeyala, is quick to send spies and assassins. Meanwhile Crichton and
the rest of Moya’s crew can barely keep from tearing each other
part. This story also features a couple of great character
complications as Chiana feuds with the newest member Jool, while
Stark professes his love to the dying Zhaan.
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One of my favorite episodes from any season. John Crichton is
duplicated. There are now two Crichtons running around. But rather
than being a one-episode gag, as you’d expect, it becomes the
new status quo for the season. Before we get there, though, there’s
this fun story of love and betrayal with a son and a daughter who are
both interested in seeing their father leave them the throne and
D’Argo’s famous line, “I’m your daddy.”
Plus, there’s the great ending in which the crew is split up
between the two ships of Moya and Talyn.
Green-Eyed Monster/Relativity: Season Three is a real up-and-down year for the show. It has some of the best episodes, and some of the worst- both before the crew splits up onto two ships and after. At first, the Talyn crew is featured in the better episodes. “Green-Eyed Monster” does a great job of creating a love triangle between John, Aeryn and Crais, with the living ship Talyn picking sides and choosing to make life difficult for John. “Relavitity” further complicates matters by brining Aeryn’s mother into the picture as a Peacekeeper agent sent to capture them. John’s mistrust of Crais boils over as he thinks Crais is about to accept an offer to rejoin the Peacekeepers. Meanwhile, Stark and Rygel are along for the ride, providing some needed humor and commentary for both episodes, not unlike R2-D2 and C-3PO from the Star Wars saga, or Statler and Waldorf from the Muppet show.
Incubator: The best episode for the Moya half of the crew isn’t actually about them at all. “Incubator” tells the origin story of the villain Scorpius. Not every villain needs an origin. And not every origin story is worth telling. But Scorpius’ birth, brutal childhood and eventual betrayal of the Scarrans for the Peacekeepers is a gripping, sometimes disturbing tale. Scorpius was already one of my favorite characters in the show, even though he’s the bad guy. This origin story made me interested in him even more.
Fractures: There aren’t a lot of good choices from the second half of Season Three. That’s one of the problems with Farscape. It does occasionally go into prolonged slumps. But “Fractures” is certainly a second half highlight. The two crews are about to be reunited, but before that happens the Moya crew has one last adventure. Moya picks up a ship of escaped prisoners, including a Nubari, a Scarran and a Hynerian. Moya’s crew quickly develops divided loyalties for the new arrivals, especially Rygel who falls in love with the Hynerian female. There are betrayals in bunches and not-so-friendly rivalries between crewmates before the big reunion can finally take place. The anticipation and delayed tension make this one of the best episodes of the year.
Crichton Kicks: For the second time in the series, John Crichton is abandoned for a long period of the time by the rest of the crew. This time, he’s stuck on a dying Leviathan. But he still gets to grow his hermit beard. This episode also introduces Sikozu, an alien who specializes in Leviathans and who brought a group of hunters to the dying Leviathan. It’s an often quiet episode that still manages to draw you in. It’s fun to see Crichton a little off-kilter as he’s developed a bit of isolation madness, and great to see him thwart the villains on his own. Sikozu will quickly develop into one of my favorite characters on the show (though I could say that about almost everyone). And the reunion at the end of the episode is both heart-touching and heart-breaking.
Promises: Crichton and the rest of the crew finally make it back to Moya but there’s an unexpected surprise waiting for them. Scorpius- who had previously been defeated by the new big villain Graza and was last seen groveling and digging his own grave- is already there. Worse, he’s been invited aboard and given sanctuary by Aeryn who is suffering from heat delirium and needs Scorpius’ cooling rods and technical skills to keep her from a fate worse than death. It’s a melancholy episode as it’s emotionally heart-wrenching to watch Aeryn suffer. Plus, there’s the tension with Scorpius and the mystery of how Aeryn got the disease.
I Shrink Therefore I Am: When Farscape shoots for a comedy episode, it can really misfire, as with the awful “John Quixote.” But when Farscape goes for an action episode, it can be hilariously funny as well. That’s what happens with “I Shrink.” A Scarran cadre boards Moya and takes the crew captive. It’s a tense episode as John has to keep away from the Scarrans while trying to rescue his friends. But it’s also a funny episode as the Scarrans shrink their prisoners for safe-keeping and the miniature crew members roll around in metal cups.
Coup by Clam: This episode reminds me of the earlier seasons when the crew would land on an alien planet for some standard business and trading only to be drawn into difficulties by the locals. This time, the doctor who’s supposed to clear them for space sickness gives them a disease that simulates the other, putting their lives in danger. This is a real fun episode as the clams that they eat cause them to feel each other’s bodily functions. Plus, there’s a lot of fun as the crew members infiltrate an all-female underground rebellion. There are a bunch of great scenes such as D’Argo experiencing one of Nuranti’s orgasms, John trying to pass himself off as a woman and Scorpius’ surprising attempt to save the crew.
Unrealized Reality: This is one of the most ambitious episodes and one which could easily have become pretentious. Yet it works and it works brilliantly. The dialogue between John and “Einstein” is sharp and quick. The alternate realities are amusing, helping to offset the seriousness of the main story. Its fun to see Claudia Black play Chiana and Anthony Simcoe play Jool. And, its great to finally get the answers that we’ve been looking for since late in season one.
Kansas/Terra Firma: With the knowledge of wormholes finally accessible, John Crichton makes his way to earth for two eventful and memorable episodes. The first, “Kansas,” takes place in the past. John meets his younger self, a sulky, moody teenager and gets one last conversation with his mother who would die of cancer a few years later. Plus, the rest of the crew tries to pretend that they’re just dressed up for Halloween, a masquerade that’s easily pierced by some of the locals. Alternately funny and intensely personal, “Kansas” is a great episode. “Terra Firma” finds our characters back in the present as John finally finds his way home to the right place and the right time. The others become the first alien visitors to Earth. It’s an occasionally tense arrival, especially for those of us who remember season one’s “A Human Reaction.” But it’s great to see John take control of his destiny, to see the others fit in or not as the case may be, and to see Aeryn struggle with her feelings for John. Plus, it’s not all fun and games as Graza found a way to send an assassin to Earth after John. The Earth episodes continue a string of outstanding mid-season stories.
We’re So Screwed, Parts I through III: After some late season clunkers, Farscape’s fourth season finishes up with this epic encounter. It’s the best big story since season two’s “Liars, Guns and Money.” Aeryn had been captured earlier by the Scarrans. This trilogy tells the tale of their attempt to rescue her, and then their attempt to rescue Scorpius after he was left behind in the first rescue. There are the political machinations of the Scarran Emperor Staleek, War Minister Ahkna, Peacekeeper Commander Graza and Brace. There are the racial alliances, underground rebellions, pretenses, bluffs and fusion bombs. There’s the return of Stark and the torture of Scorpius. And, of course, there are plenty of betrayals and big explosions to go around. “We’re So Screwed” is an intense, action-packed thriller full of twists and turns. The prologue, “Prayer,” and the epilogue, “Bad Timing,” are great as well, giving season four the best send-off of any year.
The Peacekeeper Wars
Farscape was canceled after season four, irking fans who thought that the show was at its peak and dismaying fans due to the cliffhanger ending of “Bad Timing” in which John and Aeryn were apparently killed. Thankfully, Farscape came back for one more story with the TV mini-series “The Peacekeeper Wars,” tying up loose ends and satisfying most fans. And thankfully, Farscape came back better than ever as “The Peacekeeper Wars” is one of the greatest Farscape epics.
The crew of Moya is caught in the midst of a war between the Peacekeepers and the Scarrans. Both sides want to destroy the other. And both sides think that John’s wormhole knowledge will give them the edge that they need. However, John only wants to be left alone. He finally admits that’s not going to happen and goes off on a quest to bring tranquility to the galaxy by reintroducing a race of peacemakers. Naturally, the plan goes awry. The crew is captured by the Scarrans. The last peacemaker is killed. Jothee and D’Argo mount a daring rescue of the others. They retreat back to the planet they started from. They fight a losing battle. Aeryn has her baby. They escape back into space. And John builds his wormhole weapon, showing both sides the uncontrollable power that such a weapon entails.
And that’s just the story. The details and the character moments are just as good. D’Argo gets one of the best final scenes of any character. John and Aeryn get to be happy and in love, even if they’re on the run from more than one army. There’s a lot of fun as they try to get married on multiple occasions only to have the service interrupted by one attack or another. Scorpius and Sikozu get to be another romantic couple, in a deliciously creepy way. Sikozu has a great scene in which she uses her gravity-negating and fire-starting powers to explosive affect. Even Emperor Staleek has a great scene in which he’s influenced to negotiate for peace and argues that Scarrans are underappreciated. Plus, everybody comes back for the finale, including Jothee who’s now a leader of a war party, and Jool, who’s now a wild native.
The equivalent of four episodes, “The Peacekeeper Wars” is the longest Farscape epic and arguably the best. And that’s it for “Farscape.” But that isn’t it for my look at some of my favorite science-fiction shows. Come on back next week for “The Best of Babylon 5.”
Thanks again to farscapecaps.com for providing these amazing screen-caps.
Image from Fractures from, Farscapeworld.com
Images for the PeaceKeeper Wars from Henson.com