Created by Rockne S. O’Bannon
March 1999 to March 2003
Sci-Fi (now SyFy) Channel
Season one was a good start. Season two was amazing. Season three did not disappoint and was even better than the previous seasons.
The season three premiere brought Aeryn (Claudia Black) back but at the cost of the life of Zhaan (Virginia Hey). Zhaan conducted a spiritual union that guided Aeryn’s soul back to her deceased body. Zhaan also forcibly took some strength for this union from Stark (Paul Goddard). The cost to bring Aeryn back was a deteriorating condition that required her to rest and regenerate in the soil of a planet similar to her own.
In real life it was reported that Virginia was having problems with the Zhaan make up. She was having an allergic reaction to it and despite their best efforts they could not come up with a way to make her look like the character and prevent her body’s reaction to it. Her story arc from the moment she resurrected Aeryn to the point of her death was well within the characterization of the character. Nothing felt out of place or forced.
Often actors leave shows for any number of reasons and they write them out in one manner or another. It usually feels forced and rushed. Not so here. Quite possibly because they played it out over several episodes and that it was part of a storyline rather than an effort to dump the individual quickly. This is also a rare character death that continued to influence the show long after it occurred. Zhaan just was not written out and forgotten about. Her character was referenced in later episodes. And she was not referenced in an “Oh, remember her” type of way. Her death was motivation for the characters at times. It was an event that hurt them and continued to hurt them. It not only shows the quality of the writers but that the actress was also liked by the cast and crew.
Zhaan gave her life in “Self-Inflicted Wounds (Part 2): Wait for the Wheel.” The Moya and her crew had collided with a wormhole research vessel which fused both ships together. Long story short, the alien scientists were not being totally forthcoming. While the crew was under the assumption Moya was doomed, she could actually be saved and Zhaan gave her life to do so.
One important story during season three was when the crew encountered another Leviathan transport that housed the criminally insane and was adrift in space in “Eat Me.” A mad scientist had taken it over and had been conducting experiments on the crew. He was cloning them or “twinning” them as he called it and it was during this story that John (Ben Browder) got duplicated. Each version was John. There was no definitive answer on which was the copy.
Season three progressed and continued to mix things up in other ways. Moya’s child Talyn who had appeared at the end of season one and had become a growing presence during season two grew more erratic and dangerous during season three.
After reconnecting with Talyn, the ending of an episode necessitated that the two ships go off in different directions and this caused the crew of the Moya to be split between the two vessels with a John on each ship. One John was left without his love while the other was with Aeryn and fans got the romance and love story they wanted. Personally I knew how this was going to end. I didn’t want it to end like it did, but I knew how it was going to end. It was Farscape and nothing ended well on that show.
John and Aeryn were aboard Talyn and this was probably a fan’s wet dream in how it progressed. For the first few seasons the character of Aeryn had been a bit standoffish at times with John. Her life and upbringing to that point had made her fearful of genuine emotional connection. Not only was it socially forbidden by the Peacekeepers to fall in love, but it was also personally dangerous. But now she let her guard down and opened up to him.
And then that John died. He sacrificed himself and his death was absolutely heartbreaking even though you knew there was another him out there. And the emotional breakdown that followed for the character of Aeryn was so raw and real to watch. Claudia Black’s performance in “The Choice” was some of the finest acting I have seen on television.
Season three also saw the dissolution of the burgeoning relationship with between D’Argo (Anthony Simcoe) and Chiana (Gigi Edgley). Chiana was a mercurial character that was fearful of commitment and frightened by loyalty. She had a self-sabotaging streak which surfaced in the form of an illicit relationship with Dargo‘s son Jothee (Matthew Newton). How messed up is that! D’Argo eventually figured it out and this was a painful moment as you were kind of rooting for this relationship, but it also led to the joining of the crew of the character of Jool (Tammy MacIntosh).
Jool (full name Joolushko Tunai Fenta Hovalis) was an intellectual from a species called Interions that were biologically similar to humans. While fooling around a short had caused the remaining Interion cryopods to open. Jool was an annoying character at first but as she progressed on, she gained likable qualities and there were even hints of a burgeoning relationship between her and D’Argo.
At the end of season two when they journeyed to the ice planet John had a portion of his brain removed and had been left on a medical table by Scorpius (Wayne Pygram) who claimed that portion since it contained the chip with the neural clone. Harvey (Wayne Pygram AGAIN!!) was not completely gone as it was learned there was a bleed over effect between the chip and John’s brain. At this point Scorpius was a very popular character among fans and it was a stroke of genius to have the neural clone be mixed in with John’s mind in order to keep the actor appearing regularly on the show. If not for this stroke of genius it would have been difficult to get the character/actor in as often as they did without it being awkward.
Season three ended with one hell of a bang. Following the reunification of the crew they launched into an audacious plot to destroy Scorpius’s research and everything connected with it by destroying his command carrier.
One of my favorite character interactions in this season is between Rygel (voiced by Jonathan Hardy) and Scorpius when they along with Braca (David Franklin) and D’Argo meet up on an out-of-the-way planet to discuss the terms under which Crichton would be allowed onto the command carrier to work with Scorpius on wormhole weaponry. To backtrack a little bit the plot involved them pretending to want to help Scorpius in order to destroy his research while claiming they view the Peacekeepers as a better option than the Scarrans.
In “I-Yensch, You-Yensch” they meet up in a diner on an out-of-the-way planet to discuss the terms and the meeting is quickly screwed up by the arrival of a group of inept robbers who turn out to be hired by the diner’s owner as part of an insurance scam. It is a pretty basic plot really. They pulled real gold often from very mundane things. We also get an appearance from Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One, The Dark Knight Rises, Darkest Hour, Ready Player One, Captain Marvel and Spider-Man: Far From Home among many other credits). You can barely recognize him under the blue makeup.
The characters of Rygel and Scorpius play off of each other very well. Rygel in my opinion for much of the series was very underutilized and often relegated to the background or close to it. Here in this episode however he was front and center and his character and all the skills he had were fully utilized.
A side story in this episode also helped set up part of the season finale. Talyn’s growing instability caused him to destroy an unarmed medical vessel while they were offloading some characters from a previous episode. How exactly it would affect things was not immediately clear, but you knew something big was coming.
As with all their plans it started out well but fell apart. A new character in the form of Commandant Mele-on Grayza (Rebecca Riggs) showed up and screwed everything. She had no love of Scorpius and no real faith in his ability to deliver wormhole weapons, so she deposed his authority and imprisoned the crew. This called for the crew to be creative.
Grayza was an amazing character. They showed she was as cold and manipulative as Scorpius was. It could be argued both were cut from the same cloth. Both believe their ends justified the means and were willing to do anything to accomplish their goals. In fact she was much like Scorpius in how she seized power by slowly undermining his authority much in the way he did with Crais.
The finale also led to the death of Bialar Crais (Lani Tupu). As mentioned earlier, Talyn had become increasingly erratic and he had been brought into the command carrier as part the groups guise of helping Scorpius with his research for surgery in order to make him less crazy. When John and friends were imprisoned their original idea was off the table so they decided to use Talyn as a weapon instead. And it was one of the most dramatic and shocking scenes. It was a slow destruction and one of the better scenes visually in the series.
Crais finally got his revenge on Scorpius as he stood on Talyn’s bridge and activated starburst. He delivered some of his finest acting as the character in this moment. It sends chills up my spine.
This return to the command carrier also severed Aeryn’s connection to her old life. She realized it was a way of life to which she could never return in any form. She had grown beyond it and the people that she thought were her friends either never were or no longer were.
The finale finale-the episode that wrapped everything up-found the crew heading their separate ways after destroying the carrier and John outside of Moya for a little bit of alone time. It was then he experienced a recovered memory and realized that Aeryn is pregnant after being forced to choose between Earth and Aeryn by Noranti (Melissa Jaffer-more to come next season). It was at that moment when John watched as Moya was sucked down a wormhole to parts unknown and he is left alone in space.
Season three was perhaps one of the meatier seasons. There felt like there was so much packed into it that content wise that it felt like it was one season that was two seasons long but the episode count was no more than any other season of the series. They just packed so much story in season three. Season three was outright amazing. It left the status quo in doubt and tossed in significant change to the featured relationship of the series. With that final revelation the wait for season four to premiere was excruciating for a fan of the show.
Coming next week: the fourth and final season of this amazing series.