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Farscape Retrospective Part One

A Viewer's Guide

By Anna L. Kaplan     March 06, 2001

At the end of Farscape's second season, John Crichton (Ben Browder) was lying strapped to a surgical table with part of his brain gone. Scorpius (Wayne Pygram) had retrieved the chip from Crichton's head, and Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black) was entombed on a frozen planet, dead.


If this confuses you, and you haven't been watching FARSCAPE, the Sci-Fi Channel's highest-rated original series, here is your chance to catch up. We are going to look back at the first two seasons to prepare you for the third season opener, 'Season of Death,' on March 16th.


The first episode ever of Farscape, 'Premiere,' set up the series. We meet the main characters, as they see each other for the first time. An astronaut from our time, John Crichton, out for a test run of his experimental Farscape module which is piggybacked on the space shuttle, gets sucked into a wormhole and spit out on the other side of the universe. He suddenly finds himself in the middle of a space battle, between a military group we learn are called Peacekeepers, and a ship trying to escape from them. Crichton's module accidentally impacts a Peacekeeper craft, causing the death of its pilot. The pilot is the brother of Captain Crais (Lani John Tupu), who is leading the battle. Crais manages to get a glimpse of Crichton, and vows revenge. The Peacekeepers, of the Sebacean race, look human, but are not. Crais is the first Farscape villain, set out on a mission to catch Crichton at all costs.


Crichton's module gets brought on board the escaping ship, a living, biomechanoid Leviathan named Moya. Moya is physically bonded to the huge being called Pilot, one of The Jim Henson Company's amazing animatronic puppets, voiced by Lani Tupu. The other beings on board are just getting out of their cells, meeting each other, and trying to free the ship from her control collar. They hope Crichton can help, but have to inject him with translator microbes before they can even communicate with him. They quickly discover he is not Sebacean.


On board, Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan, is bald, blue, beautiful, a Delvian priestess of high order, played by Virginia Hey. We do not yet know her crime, but she has spent her time in prison attaining priesthood. Ka D'Argo is a Luxan warrior. Played by Anthony Simcoe, his prosthetic makeup was also made by The Henson Creature Shop. His crime is said to be that he killed a commanding officer. Rygel is a diminutive but nasty Hynerian monarch, deposed by his cousin hundreds of cycles in the past. Voiced by Jonathan Hardy, Rygel is also a sophisticated Henson puppet.


As Crichton struggles to figure out what is going on, Moya uses a maneuver called Starburst to get away from the Peacekeeper force, pulling along a small Peackeeper ship called a Prowler. The Prowler's pilot, Officer Aeryn Sun, is soon in a cell with Crichton. When the group puts down on a Commerce Planet for supplies, Aeryn tries to escape with Crichton, thinking they will be safer back with the Peacekeepers, not knowing of Crais' rage. Instead, Crais deems Aeryn contaminated by her time with Crichton, and she must flee or face death. Finally, D'Argo, Aeryn, Crichton, Rygel, and Zhaan, escape along with Pilot aboard Moya. They flee deep into the Uncharted Territories, where no one knows the way home.


These are the initial players. Season one, Crichton tries to learn his way around this corner of the universe, figure out how the living ship functions, what to eat, and how to live with these strange alien beings. All of these prisoners trust no one, but over time friendships and alliances are formed as they are forced to help each other to survive. In some ways, they are more alien than anything Crichton could have imagined. In other ways, they can be understood, each trying to reach safety, and home.


We learn along the way that Sebaceans can't tolerate heat in 'Exodus From Genesis.'
Luxans can survive briefly in space ('They've Got A Secret'). By the end of the season we learn that Zhaan is an evolved plant, with clues planted all along the way.


In 'DNA Mad Scientist,' Zhaan, Rygel, and D'Argo cut off one of Pilot's arms to sell in exchange for star charts of their home worlds. This shocks Aeryn, Crichton, and sent a loud message to the audience that things were going to be different, and real, on Farscape. In this episode, Aeryn is injected with some of Pilot's DNA, one of the many reasons that Pilot and Aeryn develop a more complex relationship.


Crichton achieves a measure of confidence and comfort, helping his shipmates and learning to survive. He and Aeryn grow close, in episodes like 'The Flax' in which the two face death together in a transport module. 'Shippers,' those fans who want Aeryn and John to get together, seem to get their wish in some episodes, but it is complicated. Crichton is a human trying to understand aliens, and Aeryn is an alien raised to be a commando, learning to trust her feelings and other people.


Zhaan seems to be a peaceful, almost matriarchal presence on board Moya, but in 'That Old Black Magic' and 'Rhapsody In Blue,' her dark side comes out, and we learn that she killed another Delvian


D'Argo, on the other hand, didn't kill a commanding officer. In 'They've Got A Secret' he causes an accident on Moya, breaks out into space, and returns hallucinating about his past. He married a Sebacean, and they had a child, Jothee. His wife's brother murdered her, and framed D'Argo for the crime. D'Argo is set on finding Jothee some day. In the same episode, D'Argo's accident releases contained male and female Leviathan parts, and Moya becomes pregnant with a baby ship.


Rygel is selfish, nasty, and fairly useless, except when it comes to negotiating, bluffing, and crawling into small spaces. No one really trusts him.


By the episode 'Durka Returns,' the audience sees that these beings can work together for a common purpose. A young and wild Nebari named Chiana (Gigi Edgley) joins them at the end of this episode, and they don't trust her, for good reason. But she becomes part of the wandering group which heads into the last four episodes of season two, where they will meet the greatest threat yet. Aeryn, who is mortally wounded in 'A Bug's Life' needs a nerve graft, and Chiana and Crichton masquerade as Peacekeepers to get onto a secret Gammak base to get a tissue transplant. There they meet friends - Gilina (Alyssa-Jane Cook, from 'PK Tech Girl'), Stark (Paul Goddard), and foes - Crais, plus the even more terrifying half-Sebacean Scorpius (Wayne Pygram). Scorpius puts Crichton in his memory-extracting Aurora Chair in 'Nerve' and 'The Hidden Memory,' and finds evidence that John knows how to make wormholes, knowledge he may have gotten from the Ancients in 'A Human Reaction,' but which is in his subconscious. Scorpius wants this wormhole technology at any cost. When Crais, who is now a renegade in pursuit of Crichton arrives, Scorpius gets the upper hand with him too, in the Aurora Chair. By the time Crichton escapes, Scorpius is now the pursuing villain. Crais is losing control, and Scorpius had damaged John more than he knows.


As the season ends, Moya has had her baby, a half-Leviathan, half-Peacekeeper gunship who Aeryn names Talyn. Moya is trying to hide her baby in an asteroid field. Scorpius is in pursuit. Rygel, looking to make a deal, brings Crais onto Moya, to the dismay of everyone. Aeryn is trying to help control Talyn, but Crais steals him. In a desperate plan, D'Argo and Crichton crash an explosive-filled transport into the Gammak base, destroying it. The two are floating in space, waiting for Aeryn to rescue them in time. Talyn and Crais get away, while Moya, with Chiana, Zhaan and Rygel aboard is forced to Starburst to safety. 'Family Ties,' aptly titled, ends season one.


Look for part two of the Farscape retrospective tomorrow.


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