O'Bannon talks FARSCAPE Part One (Mania.com)

By:Anna L. Kaplan
Date: Tuesday, September 11, 2001

FARSCAPE, the top-rated original series on the Sci-Fi Channel, now in its third season, tells the story of John Crichton (Ben Browder), an astronaut from our time thrown through a wormhole to the other side of the universe. In season one, Crichton began to learn about the Uncharted Territories and his fellow travelers on the living ship Moya as they fled from pursuing Peacekeeper Captain Crais (Lani John Tupu). By the end of the first season, a new villain, Scorpius (Wayne Pygram), came into his own.

In season two, Crichton dealt with true evil as Scorpius pursued him in conventional and unconventional ways, including placing a neural clone in John's head. As the season ended, Crichton turned into the Scorpius clone and killed Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black), an ex-Peacekeeper who is really the love of his life. Season three began as Zhaan (Virginia Hey) gave up her own life energy to revive Aeryn in the first episode, aptly titled "Season of Death."

Later in season three, in an episode titled "Eat Me," John was twinned into two perfect and equal Crichtons. One stayed aboard Moya, while the other went with Crais, Aeryn, Rygel (voiced by Jonathan Hardy) and Stark (Paul Goddard) on Talyn where the two crews stayed separated for a number of episodes. Aboard Talyn and under all sorts of stress and danger, Aeryn and John embarked on a full-fledged love affair. Eventually the two groups reunited in the 18th episode of season three, "Fractures," written by series creator Rockne S. O'Bannon.

The FARSCAPE equivalent to a crime scene investigation? From left to right: Virginia Hey, Anthony Simcoe and Ben Browder

"It's been a darker season than the first two," O'Bannon says of season three. "I think for me it's a natural extension of John Crichton's journey."

Although he has stayed very involved with all aspects of the show, at the end of season one O'Bannon stepped back to become executive consultant, leaving executive producer David Kemper in charge of the writing staff. However, he the series creator couldn't step away completely and, much to the excitement of fans, he ended up rewriting a number of scripts as well as penning three of his won.

O'Bannon recalls, "David's enticement to me was, 'Instead of coming in at the 11th hour and having to rush to rewrite someone else, why not save yourself' - and by extension him and his show 'the angst of having to come in with a not-perfectly-rendered script.' He said, 'Why don't you just go ahead and do them from the get-go. That way we'll have three places through the year, three scripts that we will know will be right.' That worked for me."

The first of the three was "Relativity," an episode focusing on Aeryn and her relationships with John Crichton, Crais and her mother (Linda Cropper). O'Bannon always enjoys the chance to further advance the story of Aeryn, a character who is close to his heart.

"With 'Relativity,' it was Aeryn meeting her mother for the first time," explains O'Bannon. "Having worked out the Aeryn arc in previous episodes, it was something that I was anxious to do myself. I felt it was of great interest."

Claudia Black plays Aeryn in the Sci-Fi Channel's FARSCAPE

"Claudia Black is such a revelation," he adds. "She's such a joy to behold. The character has got wonderful levels and she does them, and enhances them. I always love to see her."

In "Relativity" Aeryn's mother showed herself to be a cold-hearted Peacekeeper. She was trying to capture both Talyn and Crais, and was willing to kill her daughter or do anything else she needed to do to achieve her goals. In the end, neither Aeryn nor Crichton could kill Xhalax Sun, leaving the task to Crais.

Later, in the two-part "Infinite Possibilities," the John on Talyn learned how to create a wormhole that could get him back to Earth. Aeryn was prepared to go to Earth with him, but he died a hero, preventing the Scarrens from keeping the very dangerous wormhole technology.

In "The Choice," Aeryn was crazy with grief over Crichton's death. The audience learned, not unexpectedly, that Crais had previously cut a deal with Xhalax Sun -- in exchange for her life, she would tell the Peacekeepers that all of them had died. Xhalax was still seeking revenge during "The Choice." Shot by Crais, she fell off a ledge, presumably to her death.

Linda Cropper, who plays Aeryn's mother, is a well-respected Australian actress. Many cast members, including Black, expressed slight nervousness about working with someone they had seen on stage.

"In that environment, I guess she is very well-known," says O'Bannon. "I thought she was terrific. I can see why she has cachet there. That obviously helped with Claudia having to play off of this woman whom she's a little bit afraid of, and in awe of, which is very much in keeping with the character."

Stay tuned for part two of CINESCAPE's exclusive Rockne S. O'Bannon interview.