Created by Rockne S. O’Bannon
March 1999 to March 2003
Sci-Fi (now SyFy) Channel
This was an amazing series. There was nothing like it before and there has been nothing like it since. Today I discuss season two in as much of its glory as I can without giving it all away.
Starting with season two Scorpius (Wayne Pygram) became the series main villain. And honestly Scorpius became one of the best villains in science-fiction. In my mind he ranks right up there with Darth Vader and Khan from Star Trek. He was devious and creepy and complex. To be honest at times though what he did was more a plot device than naturally occurring from the character. However Wayne Pygram consistently turned in a brilliant performance as the character.
Scorpius genuinely believed what he was doing was the right thing and in the backdrop of the Farscape universe that was a common character trait for both the good guys and the bad. Some were arrogant. Some were bigoted, but most thought they were doing the best thing either for themselves or for the situation at large.
Talyn becomes much more prominent from season two onward. Talyn had made his first appearance in the next last episode of season one called “The Hidden Memory” in which he was born. The disgraced Bialar Crais (Lani Tupu) had slipped onboard Talyn of escaping to Moya and following helping John (Ben Browder) and D’Argo (Anthony Simcoe) survive he becomes neurally bonded with the living gunship and makes his escape.
In season two we finally got to see full blooded Scarrans who would go on to become a threat to not just the Peacekeepers but to the galaxy at large. They along with the Peacekeepers are attempting to develop wormhole weaponry in order to have a tactical advantage over the other. Up until I saw this show I can’t recall wormholes ever being used as other than rapid forms of travel. Here they turned a fun science fiction idea into something dangerous.
The Scarrans were a little physically underwhelming in their first appearance in “Look at the Princess Part 1.”. They were a great villain idea that was not well executed there. Physically anyway. The makeup and everything that was used just did not work completely in my opinion. It was a good start, and I just chalked up the issues to being a rough draft. The actor’s movements were stiff and honestly it looked like the guy could not even see. Eventually they worked everything out and the Scarrans looked awesome whenever they showed up thereafter.
Farscape was definitely experimental in everything it did and the Scarrans were probably one of the early experiments that pushed the creator’s abilities to the edge. Nothing wrong with that. I appreciate that they did not pretend that that original design never existed. They incorporated it into the existence of the show as there being different types of those aliens around. Too often science-fiction shows when they introduce a species and the design doesn’t work as well as they had hoped just pretend that design never existed and embrace whatever new design no matter how different as being what always was. The trills in Star Trek for example. Their first appearance in TNG is radically different to how they appeared in DS9.
Originally John and his companions had to hide from the Peacekeepers because they were all escaped prisoners or wanted for perceived crimes. With the revelation at the end of season one of John possessing wormhole knowledge they now had to hide from Scorpius who sought to rip the knowledge from John’s brain in order to hasten development of wormhole weaponry. As the series went on the knowledge slowly began to unspool and John gained an increasing level of mastery over it.
I always had a question. John would have full access to the knowledge only if he was able to use it wisely. How this was supposedly determined I do not know or would work for that matter. My personal head canon on all this is that the wormhole at the beginning of the series along with giving John the knowledge was all a plot to make wormhole weapons unpalatable to the galaxy in which the ancient resided. Believing this all occurred by chance just relies too much on coincidence and this show was not like that. That is my personal theory.
While the season one finale/season two premiere changed the direction of the show, the season two finale showed they were not afraid to do serious things to the main cast. It was perhaps one of the most shocking finales in television. At least for me.
Towards the end of season two Stark (Paul Goddard) returns after having been dispersed earlier in “The Ugly Truth” when he took the blame for an attack on a group of aliens known as Plokavians that was actually the result of Talyn’s growing psychosis. He has a plan to save D’Argo’s son Jothee (Matthew Newton) who has been sold into slavery as well as some of his own people by raiding what is referred to as a Shadow Depository where resources of questionable origin are stored. It turns out this theft brings them into direct conflict with Scorpius since it’s his money that’s being stolen.
D’Argo’s reunion with Jothee was not all smiles and happiness. His son was angry and bitter and held a great deal of resentment towards his father. A much more realistic meeting than everybody smiling which is what you would normally get in a series.
Between bugs disguised as ingots and most of the hired crew that they brought together dying, the plan went far from perfect as usual but the crew did leave with a great deal of money which solved their hunger problem which had been an ongoing plot point since the beginning of the series.
But it also brought Harvey (Wayne Pygram AGAIN!!) into near total control of John. And that set up the meat of the final episode of the season.
From the beginning the creators had been inching towards a relationship between John and Aeryn (Claudia Black). On the final episode of season two it looked as if it were going to finally happen, but by this point in the show the Scorpius neural clone referred to playfully as “Harvey” was exercising a growing level of control over John in its efforts to get the ancient wormhole knowledge back to Scorpius.
They had gone to an ice planet controlled by a Diagnosan (think doctor) and his aid Grunchlk (Hugh Keays-Byrne). While at the planet Harvey took over John’s mind and hopped into his ship and started broadcasting a signal to Scorpius with their location. Aeryn climbed into her prowler and attempted to stop John. John under the influence of Harvey feigned acquiescence but instead lowered his landing gear and crashed right through her cockpit fatally damaging her ship. Aeryn ejected but this was a frozen planet and she came right down on top of a frozen lake and the jets on her ejection seat weakened the ice and she fell in and froze to death.
You just could not believe it if you were a fan of the show. She was dead. You actually mourned her death. It packed an emotional punch. You were horrified by what you saw. I was convinced until the season three premiere that Claudia Black would not be returning to the show. And that funeral when they put her into the cryogenic pod was heartbreaking.
Characters died. Some came back. Unhappy reunions occurred. The villain took over the mind of the hero. Season two was a crazy character driven ride with some of the most amazing stories you would find on television at the time.
Next week season three.