John Crichton -
Aeryn Sun -
Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan -
Ka D'Argo -
OTHER FARSCAPE SEASONS
The Peacekeeper Wars
OTHER SPACE TRAVEL SHOWS
The Next Generation
John Crichton takes his ship, the Farscape 1, into orbit in order to test his theory that he can use the magnetic and gravity fields of a planet to send spaceships far faster than anything that has ever been done before. Unfortunately, something goes wrong and he is catapulted into a far distant part of the universe and into a firefight between advanced spaceships. One collides with his ship and then explodes. Crais, the controller of the Peacekeeper Force decides that this was a deliberate act and since his brother was on the destroyed ship, he wants Crichton's head. Taken aboard one of the ships, Crichton finds a mismatched group of aliens trying to keep it from falling into Peacekeeper hands.
FARSCAPE doesn't hang about with long set ups, but gets on with the action as soon as possible. There's a space battle straight away with some impressive special effects and Crichton is thrown in with a bunch of wierd and wonderful aliens with no introduction. There are echoes of BLAKES 7 in the set up of a bunch of mismatched prisoners escaping in an advanced ship and (potentially) becoming a thorn in the side of a repressive regime, but the aliens are a major difference.
D'Argo is a big humanoid warrior with a temper problem and is reminiscent of Klingons from STAR TREK's Klingons. Zhaan is a blue woman with interesting sexual preferences (apparently), pilot is a multi-limbed creature responsible for the running of Moya, the living ship and Rygel is a squishy alien who moves around in a floating chair scheming for his own benefit. Ony Aeryn Sun, disgraced Peacekeeper officer, appears human. Rygel and Pilot are created by the Jim Henson monster shop and certainly up the alien factor of the show, although Rygel especially looks like what he is, a fancy muppet. That is distracting from the rest of the show's quality, but there is so much going on in this opening episode that it can be overlooked.
Ben Browder is a likeable hero and Claudia Black is going to make for an interesting love interest. As for the rest, this is an explosive opening episode that sets up the situation and the cast of characters. Where it goes from here we wait to see.Top
Exodus From Genesis
Moya is invaded by giant bugs that are capable of creating externally perfect copies of the crew. It's going to take everyone's individual talents to get out of this one, especially asthe high heat the bugs are generating is killing Aeryn and a shipload of Pacekeepers just arrived.
It's smart plotting to come up with a plot that binds the individuals together to gain success, but whilst the bugs are initially impressive their ability to clone people is a step too far. The quuen of the swarm also is too reminiscent of ALIENS for comfort.Top
Back And Back And Back To The Future
Whilst rescuing two aliens from an imploding ship, Crichton is hit by an energy discharge and starts experiencing the future, a future that sees both himself and D'Argo being killed. Since the aliens are of a species related to D'Argo's he isn't willing to listen.
It's a time travel storyline so there is a reset button allowing the writers to do whatever they want and then turn it into one of Crichton's visions. It's a trick they seize on, but manage not to overdo. Considering the killer is supposed to be acting undercover, she does some things that are pretty inexplicable, such as knocing Aeryn out, but not killing her so that she can rejoin the struggle later.Top
Throne For A Loss
Rygel is kidnapped and put up for ransom from his subjects, who are not going to be willing to pay even if they exist. The other members of Moya's c rew have to get him back since he stole a vital drive crystal from the ship.
The bad guys are made stronger, faster and given powers by a drug-fuelled bracelet and it's this that drives the two parts of the story. The rescue attempt requires each of the crew to try on the bracelet and fall under its spell whilst Zhaan stays aboard the ship and tries to help a prisoner over his addiction. In doing so, actress Virginia Hey bares her backside just to make the point that this isn't a show just for kids.
Unfortunately, Rygel is a character that is still just for kids, the puppet still not being able to look like anything other than a puppet. The alien sharing his cell and those kidnapping him are much more impressively realised.Top
PK Tech Girl
The fugitives come across a peacekeeper vessel of legendary standing adrift and almost utterly destroyed. Boarding it, they find the peacekeeper team put aboard to salvage the ship has been killed and only one lowly technician survives. She will, howver, be vital to their survival when other aliens arrive wanting to salvage the ship and with big weapons to back up their claim.
Surprisingly, it is Rygel the muppet character who gets the real emotional story at the heart of this episode as he was once tortured on the old vessel and must face his fears. As for the rest, it's slickly put together space adventure, but hardly anything memorable.Top
Thank God It's Friday...Again
D'Argo and Crichton are fighting again. When the alien takes a ship down to a nearby planet and doesn't return, the others go in search of him and find him happy and contented amongst a planet of happy, contented workers. Workers' Utopia? Crichton learns otherwise.
For a second week running drugs is the subject of choice for the muppets in space series. In this case, the drug makes the workforce contented, but stunts creativity and efficiency, leading to a stagnation in the society. Which makes the episode sound more interesting than it actually is. Even having the puppet Rygel pee explosive streams is not enough to raise up any real enthusiasm.Top
A Peacekeeper beacon onboard Moya starts to signal their position to anyone who will listen and the only way to remove it is to cut it out. Since Moya is a living ship, she needs some sort of anaesthetic. The ship lands on a nearby planet that hasn't gotten spaceflight yet and where he is recognised as an alien.
OK, so the plot here is horribly familiar from a dozen shows that have gone before it, but the relationship that builds up between Crichton and the female astronomer and her son is enough to paper over the familiarity and story weaknesses to come up with something that is almost moving.Top
That Old Black Magic
Crichton is taken prisoner by a man whose power is so great that it is akin to magic. He also takes Captain Craik from his Peacekeeper ship and pits him against Crichton, stirring up his hatred and feeding off the negative energy. The only chance for escape is for Zhaan to become more fearsome than she can stand.
Beings that live of hate and fear and ten a penny in science fiction shows, so there's a heavy sense of deja vu in this episode, but it is rarer to find a character as conflicted about the powers that they have and what they can do as is the case here with Zhaan.Top
DNA Mad Scientist
Whilst dealing with a scientist who can use a being's genetic material to provide a map back to that being's birthplace, Zhaan and D'Argo attack Pilot to remove one arm as price for their maps, but that is nothing to Aeryn's price, which is to be turned from human into a Pilot herself.
One thing that you have to say about the aliens in FARSCAPE is that they certainly look alien. The lead alien in this episode certainly looks the part, though never really convinces. The attitudes of Zhaan and D'Argo have to be put down to being manipulated since they make no sense otherwise and the rest of the story is standard space operatics.Top
They've Got A Secret
Whilst searching for other Peacekeeper systems in Moya's interior, D'Argo breaks open a shield and unleashes what Crichton takes to be a virus. Moya's systems start to shut down and the life support systems start to fail. Whilst Crichton tries to find the source of the problem, Aeryn plans to cut off Moya's higher brain functions - permanently.
This is a much better episode as it plays with the mythology of the show including Moya's existence as a living vessel. The whole story plays out within the confines of the ship, but has some interesting twists, such as exactly what is Moya's 'problem'.
Kudos also goes to Anthony Simcoe who makes the revelations as to how D'Argo came to be on a prison transport in the first place believable and tragic despite the alien makeup.Top
Till The Blood Runs Clear
Crichton is researching the conditions required to create a wormhole when he actually manages to do just that. The Farscape ship is damaged, though, and has to land for repairs. On the planet, Crichton and Aeryn discover that a bounty has been put on the heads of their companions and Crichton must pretend to be a bounty hunter to keep his friends from harm's way.
A fairly standard space adventure romp gets a bit of a boost from some moments of FARSCAPE detail. Zhaan's rather inconvenient 'photogasms' for one and Aeryn's being struck blind by another, not to mention the masterful manipulations of a master mechanic.
The main villains, the shape of the bounty hunters, are so inept that they undermine any real sense of danger, however.Top
Aeryn and Crichton get themselves caught up in The Flax, an inescapable energy web that doesn't show up on sensors. They could rely on the others to save them, but D'Argo is more interested in getting information on how to get home from an equally trapped warship from his home planet.
Crichton and Aeryn get to acknowledge their mutual attraction as they stare death in the face and there is some real chemistry between Ben Browder and Claudia Black, but the comedy pirates that the plot forces upon the audience, not to mention the steam-powered spaceship, are too much to bear.
The main villains, the shape of the bounty hunters, are so inept that they undermine any real sense of danger, however.Top
Rhapsody In Blue
A false message brings Moya into orbit around a planet where a community of Zhaan's people is stranded. Though they have great powers, they are assailed with the madness that all of her people can fall prey to. They want to share Zhaan's ability to suppress that madness. Whilst she is willing to help, they want more and distract the rest of Moya's crew with mental images of lost children, wives, abilities and size.
The backstory to Zhaan's people here and their relationship with the madness that assails them is interesting and gives a context to the emergence of the crime for which Zhaan was put on the prison ship in the first place. Next to that, the side story of Crichton being distracted by the sudden arrival of his wife makes so little sense that it proves to be really annoying.
What really stands out, though, is the art direction with the startling images of Zhaan's joining with the leader of the community and the overall striking design of the rest of her people and their community. Though the plot can't measure up to this, it makes for the most memorable episode yet.Top
John is fed up of not getting any respect from his alien shipmates and so storms off the ship in the Farscape 1 for a quick cruise to clear his head. Moya starbursts and leaves him stranded. When they come looking for him months later, he is living near a primitive tribe who thibnk Rygel is a god come to raise them up to Heaven. Of course, if he can't then they will just have to kill everyone.
This has all the hallmarks of a Prime Directive story from the STAR TREK franchise (without the Prime Directive, of course) and is so simplistic as to be uninteresting whilst also managing to be offensively condescending about the less developed peoples on which the tribe is based.
Easily the worst of the show to date.Top
A Human Reaction
Moya discovers a wormhole that appears to lead back to Earth. After a tearful farewell, John jumps in his ship and passes through. The reaction he gets from the people back home is less friendly than he was expecting and when his friends show up shortly afterwards that welcome becomes downright hostile.
The familiar is just not quite right, which leads to questioning just what is real and what is not. This is a standard science fiction plot familiar from the STAR TREK, and other, franchise. That it's all an image in Crichton's head put there by an alien comes as a surprise to nobody (unless this is the first science fiction show they've ever watched), although it does allow Crichton and Aeryn to get it on without spoiling their will they/won't they relationship.
That's two hackneyed old plotlines in two weeks. FARSCAPE needs to up its game.Top
The legendary peacekeeper who tortured Rygel and was believed to be dead (see PK Tech Girl) returns to the ship as a docile servant in the service of a group of aliens who believe brainwashing to be a suitable punishment for 'inappropriate' behaviour. When his handler is killed by another prisoner they have in custody, Durko slips his conditioning and goes after control of the ship.
This story introduces Chiana, another blue alien, though not of Zhaan's race. She was first glimpsed in a short scene in A Human Reaction, which makes us wonder if this is meant to be flashback or merely that the episodes were scheduled out of order. The story is straightforward enough and has been used elsewhere before. It again calls on the puppet Rygel to be more than it can be emotionally speaking, though it is doing better all the time.Top
Through The Looking Glass
Moya attempts a starburst even though the baby has weakened her power reserves and ends up split four ways. In one alternate Moya there is a disorienting redness, in another a screaming sound, in the third just laughter. The crew are going to have to work together to get out of this.
Now this is something new. Oh, the idea of a hyperspace jump going wrong happens all over the place in science fiction television, but it isn't often as bizarre and messed up as the consequences here. Each of the three alternative Moya's is original and sufficiently different to be intriguing and it is fun that the aliens are affected in different ways by each. This is the sign of a show that has its own voice to speak with.Top
A Bug's Life
A small force of elite Peacekeepers arrive on Moya with a secret cargo that Rygel just has to get his hands on. The cargo, though, turns out to be an intelligent virus that can take over a host just by touch. Crichton masquerades as a Peacekeeper officer to keep the peace, but that proves harder and harder as paranoia begins to run rampant.
JOHN CARPENTER'S THE THING gets the FARSCAPE treatment. The set up is remarkably familiar and the key scene were a blood test reveals the the person inside whom the alien is living is played out almost in full (without the toothy chest bit of course). Since the story is such a strong one that it proves to be a tense episode that works pretty well apart from the distinct feeling of having been here and done this before.Top
Aeryn is in need of a transplant of DNA from a compatible Peacekeeper. Since they aren't likely to give that away to convicted criminals on the run, Crichton once again masquerades as a Peacekeeper officer to obtain the necessary sample. He finds that he has a recent friend to help out, but there is also a disfigured scientist known as Scorpius who wants his knowledge of wormholes and is willing to use a telepathic mind probe to get it.
Probably the best episode of the show to date, this is an exciting slice of behind-the-lines action with a few surprises and then a swift turn for the dramatic as Crichton is taken prisoner and the torture begins. The mind probe, or Chair as it is called here, is not a nice device and the pain it brings is harshly realistic. FARSCAPE is proving to be a show that is willing to go to far darker places than we would have expected.Top
The Hidden Memory
Crichton is resisting Scorpius' mind probe to protect the peacekeeper helping him and he is lucky enough to have a cellmate with the power to ease some wounds. He also has a crew of friends who are willing to risk their lives to save him, but the cost will be high and as Moya is giving birth a quick getaway is not on the cards.
This episode picks up exactly where the last one left off with Crichton being tortured for a memory that he does not have. Ben Browder's performance as a man in pain and losing the fight is excellent and really gives this story some serious gravitas. As a result, the high adventure rescue shenanigans are less ridiculous than they ought to be with a base on high alert being penetrated once again with impossible ease.
There's also some nice character work as Aeryn visits Crais, locked in the chair, and takes her revenge, whilst Wayne Pygram's Scorpius continues to impress as a villain.
And then there's Moya's labour which gives time for some nice comedy moments between Chianna and Rygel and comes up with the interesting twist that Moya's child is unique - a Leviathan with huge armaments.Top
Bone To Be Wild
Whilst hiding Moya and the newborn Leviathan from the Peacekeepers in an asteroid field, the crew pick up a distress signal and go to the aid of a female alien apparently under attack from a monster. The monster, however, has his side of the story to tell and soon Crichton is left in more than two minds as to whom he ought to believe.
The wierd alien designs continue in this episode with a meat-eating alien made up of colour-changing bubbles and a plant man with two mouths. The production design remains one of the unique things about FARSCAPE.
Crichton changes his mind about whose side to be on so many times as the plot twists and turns to reveal mainly that neither alien is to be trusted or to turn a back on. By contrast, Aeryn's trip aboard the newborn is straightforward and rather sweet, in an odd sort of way.Top
Rygel goes to the Peacekeepers to betray the rest of Moya's crew for his own freedom, but ends up coming back with Crais, but this Crais is looking for help and asylum as Scorpius takes over his ship and position. Crichton comes up with an escape plan, but it's one that he's not going to be coming back from.
It's the season finale of FARSCAPE and that means a story that puts the main characters in danger and Crichton once more says goodbye to the creatures that have become his family. He's done this before and not too long ago, so some of the impact is lost, though the scene in which Chianna offers her body because it's the only way she has of saying 'thank you' is quite touching.
When the action kicks in it rattles along and it all comes to a finish that is closed enough for the show to stand as a one season wonder, but open enough for many more episodes to come.Top
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