CAT | Farscape Marathon
Won’t Get Fooled Again
Synopsis: John awakes in a hospital and is told that it’s shortly after he crashed Farscape-1 and blew the experiment. But John is not falling for this again. Still, in the beginning everything is much more realistic than the holo show the Ancients created. But then his shrink is a blue woman that looks suspiciously like Zhaan. Now the question is where is he and what does the person want that keeps him there.
My Opinion: One of these wacky episodes take that place in John’s head and where even more weird things happen than in a usual episode. Funny to see this episode one day after Galactica’s Six Degrees of Separation with the difference that John ignores Head-Scorpius (or “Harvey”) in his head and Baltar ignored a real Six in the real world. What I also find really enjoyable, is when these alien characters are placed in a real-world environment. On Moya it all feels natural but when Dargo and Chiana ride a cabriolet on a highway somehow that looks really strange.
Synopsis: In order to hide from the Peacekeepers, Moya has entered a nebula that strongly reduces sensor range and makes it hard to navigate. Aeryn takes a shuttle to take a look at the other side but when she returns she is 165 cycles older and claims to have lived a long and peaceful life on a planet. Then she returns to her granddaughter. But John won’t give up on her and follows her only to get stuck, too. But it’s not them who live in the wrong time frame, it’s the nebula where time stands still and Moya has to get out of there quickly.
My Opinion: Faster aging (at least from the POV of the viewer). Another common theme throughout science-fiction series. I like this kind of episodes, especially when more than one character is involved, even when it’s always undone at the end of the episode. It gives the authors and the characters a chance to undergo a certain developement, to create a relationship that might not be possible under normal circumstances (e.g. when they are both military) or that so far is only an allusion. So yes, that was a good episode.
Dream a Little Dream
Synopsis: Zhaan has still nightmares from the time when John and D’Argo destroyed the Gammak base and Moya couldn’t find them or Aeryn. When she’s alone with John in a pod she tells him what happened during their search. On the very last planet they had any chance to find them Zhaan was arrested for a murder she didn’t commit. On that planet 90% of the population are lawyers and the planet is ruled by the leading law firm. When no one is willing to defend Zhaan because she won’t plead guilty, Chiana and Rygel step up. The problem is: Under no circumstances are they allowed to deceive or lie to the court without facing the most severe punishment.
My Opinion: A planet full of lawyers and Rygel and Chiana mustn’t lie. Of course they couldn’t hold up and used some trickery to win the case but it was great how they did it and how they used the most ancient law against the most powerful law firm. And it was so funny to see Chiana (who’s very exuberant even under normal circumstances) under stimulants.
Out of Their Minds
Synopsis: Moya is under attack and the shields are only at 62% capacity. When the energy weapon hits the shield a chain reaction somehow causes everybody to jump into another body. And that’s not even their biggest problem. The enemy is recharging its weapon and will ultimately destroy Moya if they don’t find a way to show that they are no threat to them.
My Opinion: The body-switch episode. A standard plot in a sci-fi or fantasy show. But here they are more honest about the consequences than most (all?) other shows. Here they show what a man in a woman’s body would actually do. But I also thought they played each other’s character very well.
My Three Crichtons
Synopsis: An energy ball penetrates the hull of Moya and floats through the ship. When Aeryn shoots at it it expands and encapsulates Crichton. Shortly after Crichton and some animal is spat out of the ball. As it turns out the animal is some pre-historic version of Crichton’s. And then the ball spills out another Crichton, this time a more advanced version than the regular one. When they finally understand what the ball is, they are forced to return one of the three “genetic samples” or Moya will be destroyed.
My Opinion: A typical “transporter accident” episode, this time not with a “good” and “bad” guy but with three guys that live on a scale from emotional to logical whereas the future guy could easily join the Vulcans. It was OK, but nothing special.
Look at the Princess – Part I: A Kiss is But a Kiss
Synopsis: Most of the crew – except for Zhaan – goes down to a planet where a renegade Sebacean society lives. They have lived there peacefully for 1900 cycles and aren’t allied to the Peacekeepers nor to the Scarrans. And now the crown shall be passed from one generation to the next. But unless the princess finds a compatible partner, her brother will become emperor – and he is in league with the Scarrans.
My Opinion: Chiana and D’Argo are finally a couple and John and Aeryn start to become one – but as usual they have a long and bumpy road ahead of them and this three-parter won’t really help in bringing their relationship forward. But I really liked these three episodes, it had a number of good elements in it. It gave Scorpius and John the chance to meet on neutral grounds, it introduced the Scarrans, it revealed Scorpius nature and why he has the cooling device in his head. And it introduced the fact that Humans and Sebaceans can be genetically compatible.
Look at the Princess – Part II: I Do, I Think
Synopsis: Moya had to starburst away because Scorpius’s Command Carrier has found them. But now she’s following a call into a nebula – to her gods. The Builders who gave the Leviathans intelligence and a soul have decided that Moya’s journey is over because she gave birth to a gunship.
Meanwhile Crichton has agreed to marry Princess Katralla, because otherwise he would be handed over to Scorpius and the planet’s neutrality would end with Prince Clavor’s inauguration. What he didn’t know: He and his wife will be made into statues for 80 cycles to observe and learn how to rule.
My Opinion: The middle part was OK, but I found it a bit ridiculous that Crichton would survive a drift from one spaceship to another without the protection of a spacesuit. It might sound a bit pedantic because D’Argo has done it before, but he’s an alien, he gets a bigger concession on such things. I still found it fascinating how many (rivalling) parties with their different agendas were involved in this entire affair and how they blocked and (involuntarily) helped one another.
Look at the Princess – Part III: The Maltese Crichton
Synopsis: After his plan has failed, the Scarran decapitates John and throws his bronze head into an acid bath. This way the prince could still become emperor. But apart from the gang there’s someone else who can’t let that happen: Scorpius, the Sebacean/Scarran half-breed who still wants the wormhole knowledge.
Meanwhile Zhaan is still trying to convince the Builders that they should let Moya (and subsequently Pilot) live and not condemn her for things that were out of her control.
My Opinion: It was a really nice twist that the Builder’s decision to kill Moya wasn’t about Moya at all but to test Zhaan and her intentions. After all, she could breed a fleet of gunships if she wanted to. That the three of them would leave the nebula was a given and that’s why I liked that they didn’t choose the most obvious solution to that plotline. I also liked the solution to the main story, especially since John was willing to fulfil his responsibilities even if everyone he knows would be dead in 80 cycles.
Beware of Dog
Synopsis: The crew has bought some new food supplies but it might be infested by a parasite. Thus Dargo and Chiana have bought a Vorc that is supposed to kill that parasite. Soon the question arises whether the Vorc is some kind of hoax sold to strangers. But there is actually some larger creature on the ship and it is attacking the crew. Or is the Vorc itself the parasite?
My Opinion: Evertime I watch this episode I had forgotten how the parasite story turns out, the only thing I remember is that the little critter is innocent and dies in the course of his duty. It’s a very sad moment when he dies in Aeryn’s arms who holds him like a baby. As I said before, it’s amazing how real all these puppets on the show feel. Reminds me of “There is … another … Sky … walker”.
Crackers Don’t Matter
Synopsis: D’Argo has brought an alien onboard who claimed that he could cloak the electromagnetic field of Moya’s. They would become invisible to sensors which has become necessary since Scorpius deployed wanted beacons all over the place. Thy make a test run on Farscape-1 and it actually works and then they agree to follow T’raltixx to his home planet, but they have to pass a cluster of five pulsar stars and their light has side-effects on less-developed life-forms. Soon the crew starts to get aggressive and suspicious towards one another but it doesn’t stop even after they passed the pulsars. Something else is going on.
My Opinion: The funny thing is that John didn’t wear the “armour” shown in the picture above when he was nuts, but when he started to get a clear head again. I love it when fictional characters go crazy and paranoid, it’s a lot of fun to watch them: “Why don’t you want to show me the record, what are you hiding? … So now you suddenly want to show it to me? Why? What’s on it?” and so on. And why was John the hero of the day? Because Humans have less precise senses and aren’t affected as much by the light. Inferiority can help survive.
Spoiler (mark to read):
And I am not sure whether or not we’ve seen the introduction of Harvey. When John sees the transmission by Scorpius during his aggressive phase, Scorpius seems to become real and gives him advise. And Harvey is the mental image of Scorpius which lives in an implanted chip in John’s head. He will be introduced later in this season.
The Way We Weren’t
Synopsis: Chiana finds a Peacekeeper recording device which documents that Aeryn has been on Moya before and that her squadron has killed the former pilot. Aeryn didn’t know that it was Moya because she had been on many Leviathans. Slowly she begins to remember what happened back then and how Pilot became Moya’s pilot. But she’s not the only one remembering, Pilot does it as well and he’s not amused.
My Opinion: Everyone has a past and naturally Aeryn’s isn’t one painted in pink. I really liked the flashbacks because it gave both Aeryn and Pilot more background and once again it wasn’t all black/white. OK, Aeryn’s past was black, but Pilot’s past wasn’t exactly white. And again there are some parallels to Stargate SG-1: Both Teal’c and Aeryn had to leave everything behind even though Teal’c’s leaving was more a choice than Aeryn’s. Both were necessary to get the show moving but both seemed sudden. And both series showed in later episodes such as this one that it wasn’t such a sudden move after all. It just seemed that way because we the viewers didn’t know their past.
Picture if You Will
Synopsis: Rygel and Chiana trade for some items and Chiana discovers a picture that seems to depict her. But the picture is changing, it seems to predict the future: First her legs get broken and then she dies in a fire. The crew is still shocked about this when the picture suddenly shows D’Argo and his death. Every attempt at destroying the picture fails and they fear to get picked one-by-one. Back at the trading ship they find out that the picture is a creation by Maldis – the sorcerer who captured John and was defeated by Zhaan.
My Opinion: I’d would have liked to see Maldis longer, he’s such a good diabolic character. But to introduce him earlier would have meant to reveal the answer to soon. This way the episode turned from “weird in the beginning” to “really weird in the end”. I love it. The special effects may not be so special but you have to have the idea and the ultimately go through with it and tell the story.
Home on the Remains
Synopsis: The crew is seriously starving and Zhaan begins to blossom (literally). She needs meat or she will die. So Moya lands in the corpse of a Budong*, the greatest space-living creature known. There is a mine and a colony in which Chiana and her brother have lived a while ago. The minerals in the Budong’s bones are valuable, but it’s dangerous because there live other creatures, too, who feed from the rotting corpse or a miner.
My Opinion: I loved the way John killed the Keedva. It simply had to be a homage to Luke’s killing of the Rancor in Return of the Jedi. But I also liked how Chiana was willing to do anything to get meat for Zhaan and how D’Argo couldn’t bear it because he cares for Chiana. We’ve seen traces of this development in previous episodes but after the kiss in the end it’s very obvious.
*The classification of the Budong on the Farscape Wiki is also fun to read:
Height of average adult: Big
Average length: Really big
Average wingspan: Really REALLY big
Mind the Baby
Synopsis: Moya and what remains of her crew can’t return to the asteroid field as long as the Command Carrier is there. But she wants to go back to her son who is still hiding there and is now under the command of Crais. Fortunately Aeryn has found D’Argo and John floating in space and has brought them to an asteroid that has an atmosphere. There they’re biding their time in the hope that they will somehow get out of there.
My Opinion: Until short before the end of the episode it remained unclear where Crais’s loyalties really lie and whether Aeryn’s loyalties may have shifted (it’s a new season after all). I also liked how John taught D’Argo rock-paper-scissors and how the latter insisted that rock should defeat paper. But at the end if the episode everything returned to the way it was before the Gammak story. Ok, not everything, Crais and Talyn will go their own way but they will cross paths with Moya and their crew again, but not for a while.
Synopsis: D’Argo has the great honour to meet an Orican – a holy woman of the Luxans. She’s the only one of their race there and she will die soon. After Ka D’Argo has proven his strength he’s allowed to participate in the Ritual of Passing. But when she senses how powerful he is she changes it to the Ritual of Renewal and is suddenly young and strong again. But something must have gone wrong because Moya’s systems begin to break down and Pilot is dying.
My Opinion: A rather uninteresting story. And it didn’t happen much either.
Taking the Stone
Synopsis: Chiana was just informed that her brother has died but no one takes the time to comfort her. In her grief she leaves the ship and flies to a planet. John and Aeryn follow her but when they find her she seems to be a different person. And there seem to be no elders there, nobody older that 22. As it turns out everyone participates in a ritual of “taking the stone” where one jumps down an abyss and is caught by a sonic net enabled by one’s own voice. But that’s a trickery business and if one fails, one is dead. And Chiana is planning to make that jump herself.
My Opinion: I really like it how John tries to keep the crew together and how he tries to care for each and every one of them – this time for “Pip”. That’s of course because he’s the main character, but I still really like it. Everyone contributes their strength and his strength is to keep them together even if that means that he has to eat weird drug mushrooms.
But sometimes I wonder where the Australians find so many strange people to let them be seen on Mad Max or Farscape.
Synopsis: John Crichton is a scientist and an astronaut and he wants to prove that one can use Earth’s gravitational pull to accelerate a spaceship. But something goes wrong and his tiny ship “Farscape-1″ is sucked into a wormhole and John gets stranded … somewhere. He’s thrown directly into a fight between a Peacekeeper command carrier and a prisoner transport ship: Moya, a Leviathan, a living ship. Aboard Moya he meets the hynerian Dominar Rygel XVI, former ruler over 600 billion people, the delvian priest Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan and the luxan warrior Ka D’Argo. Unfortunately for him he looks like a Sebacean – a Peacekeeper. And he gets imprisoned with another Peacekeeper: Peacekeeper Special Command officer Aeryn Sun.
My Opinion: Just like John we are simply thrown into the story and have to figure out what’s going on. I liked the idea of “translator microbes at the brain stem” for the translation issues. The problem wasn’t forgotten and yet easily solved. I also liked all the “Muppets” (most animatronics were created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop): Rygel, Pilot (Pilot is the pilot of Moya, living in a symbiotic relationship with her) the aliens on the first planet John visited. I also liked that Aeryn didn’t simply switch sides “just because” but was forced to run.
I, E. T.
Synopsis: John has still a hard time getting accustomed to this whole new universe when they find a homing device deep in Moya’s guts that has been activated recently. To remove it would be too painful for Moya and so they have to land on a planet and sink the ship into a swamp to dampen the signal. They have to find a way to anesthetize the entire ship in order to remove that device. And suddenly Crichton finds himself in front of people who have never seen an alien before.
My Opinion: With this episode Crichton’s tradition of making cultural references has begun. In this case it was Dagobah and Yoda. And it was funny to see John (who has just learned that Humans aren’t alone in the universe) explain to a woman that her race isn’t alone in the universe and that he can fully understand how she feels right now.
Exodus from Genesis
Synopsis: Some sort of space bug has entered Moya and is crawling through the walls. They begin to disturb Moya’s operations and they are somehow turning the heat up. John is able to capture and kill one and Zhaan dissects it. But soon after copies of the crew members begin appear and start to attack the real crew. And Aeryn’s condition worsens because Sebaceans can’t stand heat and their body functions begin to break down. As if this wasn’t enough a Peacekeeper Marauder closes in and tries to re-take the ship.
My Opinion: This episode introduces another common theme of the show: That not everything is as it appears to be and that such misunderstandings can have fatal consequences. I thought it was a great idea of John’s that he tried to convince that Peacekeeper that Humans can multiply by thousands in no time (nobody knows Humans after all) and that Crais (the command carrier commander) should stay out of his way.
Throne for a Loss
Synopsis: Rygel is pretending to be still the monarch of his people to get a contract for a transport job. But then he is kidnapped because of his “importance” and Moya couldn’t leave orbit even if she wanted to because Rygel used a control crystal as “jewel” in his scepter. D’Argo, Aeryn and John try to get him back and for this they use a strength-enhancing gauntlet which they got from one of the attackers. But unfortunately it makes one not only stronger but also hightens one’s aggresive traits.
Farscape is one of the more unusual sciene fiction shows. The characters are thrown into a wild variety of storylines and we can watch how they behave and have fun with it. The first few episodes weren’t aired in production / logical order and thus I will shuffle them in the right order.