Xhalax Sun

There were high points in the story arc featuring Aeryn's mother, but her frequent after-death returns blunted one too many stories, and the pair's final encounter was weak. Nothing against either Linda Cropper or Claudia Black, though, who had fantastic mother/daughter chemistry.

Story arcing

Possibly the beginning of the end, the Season Three arc was superb for those watching the lot, but casual viewers must have been confused enough seeing occasional episodes, let alone trying to determine which of two crews they were watching.

TVZ51SeasonThree01.jpg (29278 bytes)It was clear from the beginning that Farscape was something a little more 'out there'. Season One had a lot of difficulties to overcome, particularly two major stumbling blocks that would continue to be a burden on it as the years went by. The first of these was the casting. Not the casting of the leads as such, but the plaster casting of two of the show's stars, namely Pilot and Rygel. With the series made by the Jim Henson Company, what better way of playing to its strengths than integrating puppets with the live-action stars?

It was quickly apparent that this annoyed as many people as it pleased. Critics were swift to latch onto the 'muppet' presence in order to run the series down, while those paying closer attention quickly realized that Pilot,

TVZ51SeasonThree04.jpg (26591 bytes)Rygel and other rubber-based life forms added a certain je ne sais quoi to the show that no other Sci-Fi production could match. It might have taken some getting used to, but in the end it could pay handsome dividends, especially as puppet characters could get away with so much that the living, breathing actors couldn't; after all, would it have been reasonable to have Ben Browder or Claudia Black's character fart helium instead of Rygel? Probably not, although quite possibly just as funny.

The second issue viewers had to deal with was the show's Australian provenance. We all love the Aussies, but so far our main imports from that country have been Neighbours, Home and Away and Prisoner: Cell Block H. All have their fans, of course, but it's more than likely that images of these programmes crossed the minds of many potential Farscape watchers, who decided it wasn't for them. Again, however, those who did tune in were rewarded. Yes, it does take a while to get used to aliens speaking with an Australian accent rather than the American one we're used to, but, like the puppets, it adds a degree of otherworldliness to the show that makes it stand out from the crowd.

Despite these awkward beginnings, Farscape bloomed. The first year itself was a pick and mix batch of good and bad episodes as the show gradually found its feet. Some stories proved vital in the long run, introducing plot strands that would be built on and revisited over the years, while others were throwaway nonsense. Most notable, however, was the introduction of Scorpius in 19th episode Nerve, which brought in a more threatening villain and laid the foundations for a journey that would last until the show's end. 

Revenging Angel

Surely the best episode of the entire run, it was decided early on that this story would be partly cartoon, in a Warner Brothers style. The result is a comedy masterpiece, with D'Argo as Wile E Coyote and Crichton as Road Runner in a work of slapstick genius.

Duplicates

As executive producer David Kemper explained, he wanted to really explore the old SF concept of duplicates without it being over after a week. The dual Crichtons were the foundation for much of the best of the third season.

Talyn and Crais

At last the twosome found a place in the series, with Crais becoming a more likeable yet still untrustworthy character and Talyn experiencing growing pains. Their noble sacrifice topped off a year that really defined the characters


Fewer characters

While it would have been difficult to deal with a cast the size of Season Three's, the reduction in regulars seemed to somehow result in D'Argo and Chiana getting less to do as well, with Crichton and Aeryn getting the lion's share of material.

The ending

There was just no need, was there? Okay, so ending on a happy note isn't really the Farscape way, but surely Crichton and Aeryn's ultimate fate could have been edited into a more upbeat version once the show's cancellation was announced?

TVZ51SeasonFour01.jpg (25219 bytes)Things were very much in flux at the end of the third season, and the start of Season Four added fuel to this Observation. Playing the old 'some time later' card once again (see Season Two), this time viewers received precious little in the way of cliffhanger resolution until halfway through the season, and even then hard facts were difficult to come by.

This was the main failing of the fourth year; a reduced number of truly excellent episodes and a slimmed-down cast left many wondering what had happened. If anything, the problem was the show's success. Promised two more seasons by The Sci-Fi Channel, the producers seized the chance to come up with a two-year arc. If anything fails to make sense by the end of the season - and there are a fair few things - it's more than likely a result of the show's curtailment before all of the answers could be spelt out.

TVZ51SeasonFour04.jpg (16480 bytes)Season Four, therefore, is something of an odd mixture. The first three episodes are near-incomprehensible, shifting all of the characters into times and places we're unfamiliar with and telling a story that seems to suggest a lot of things that aren't followed up on. Whatever planet Jool and other members of her people are excavating in What Was Lost, there's a hint that the inhabitants are somehow linked to Humans, yet we never discover how.

Much of the rest of the season is similarly unenlightening; where has Aeryn been, what is the significance, if any, of her baby, what does Scorpius want, whose side is he, Braca and newcomer Grayza on, where did Noranti come from, who and what is Sikozu and why does Scorpius fascinate her so? Some of these questions are answered at least partially, while others remain ignored. Of course, quite how many of these would have been answered in time may now go unknown.

It certainly wasn't all bad though. While Grayza is in no way of the same villainous calibre as either Crais or Scorpius, she does serve a very different purpose in the show. The mystery surrounding Sikozu and Noranti's origins and motives keeps them fresh and interesting throughout the year, plus Crichton finally gets to go home, leading to some tough decisions, a disturbingly realistic portrayal of how we modern Humans would react to the arrival of aliens, and some touching family moments, especially in the final story Bad Timing. Overall, the season isn't as consistent as the two that came before, but it's still Farscape, and it's still leading the Sci-Fi pack right through to the end.

Earth

Again, it's the way Farscape works. The one thing the hero wants in SF is the one thing he usually never gets. But not here. It becomes quite clear from Crichton's visit to Earth that it's far more dramatic to give the hero what he wants, then force him to give it all up.

Scorpius

Putting him on Moya not only provides a fantastic new dynamic that tests the boundaries between hero and villain, but allows Ben Browder and Wayne Pygram to do some of their best work together and provides some close proximity insight into how Scorpy's mind works.

Aeryn's pregnancy

Babies tend to soften female characters in certain ways, but Aeryn's determination in the face of all manner of adversity shows how much she cares for her child's life, and how much she wants to leave her horrific past behind and walk a new path.

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