|"The Peacekeeper Wars, Part One"|
Click here to read the Farscape World synopsis for this episode.
So here we are at last. Over two years since the cancellation of Farscape, and over a year and a half since the final episode of the TV series, "Bad Timing", aired in the US and UK. After the massive and persistent fan campaign to bring the show back to resolve the killer cliffhanger from that episode and continue the story, our work was rewarded, and this is the result.
In many ways, so far "The Peacekeeper Wars" is far better than any continuation most people probably could have imagined. It's not perfect, but then what is? It's closer than I ever thought we'd get, and while I admit there was scepticism in with my excitement and anticipation, as to exactly how they'd go about attempting to wrap things up, Rockne O'Bannon and David Kemper have managed to surpass even my lofty expectations in terms of the story and its scope.
True to Farscape, the mini-series picks up a little time after the end of the last episode (60 days, in fact), by which time the Scarrans and Peacekeepers are at war, and Crichton and Aeryn are finally put back together again. As I expected, there's little time wasted on the hows and whys of the reconstitution, it's just mentioned that the whole thing was an accident, and boom, Crichton and Aeryn are back in business. The dialogue following the reconstitution is hilarious, and it's obvious from how the scene plays out that this is going to be an outing true to everything we know and loved about the TV series. As if anything for the crew could go right first time, the twist here is that Rygel, having gathered the crystals of John and Aeryn in his stomach, is now pregnant with Aeryn's baby. It's a wonderful turn that is pulled off really well, as it paves the way for some great character moments with Rygel and Aeryn.
Things going wrong is pretty much the main theme of The Peacekeeper Wars as the first half plays out, what with the pregnancy switch, Moya getting caught by the harpoons on the way to Arnessk, and the whole visit to Arnessk itself. In some ways, the detours may seem a little contrived, but they really work well in linking together story threads that were left hanging.
I thought the link between the Eidelons on Qujaga and the temple that the crew revitalised on Arnessk was a masterstroke, and is undoubtedly one of the main threads that would have played out over the beginning of a fifth season, had it come to pass. But even more so, how it links with the overall beginnings of the Peacekeepers and how they originally came into being was excellent. The questions raised in the short conversation between Yondalao and Aeryn on the Decimator left plenty of room for speculation, and I'm sure it'll become a big discussion point. Certainly the hint is there that the Peacekeepers were engineered from humans, which would account for the similarities in appearance and other things.
The other key story thread is obviously the war itself, which was instigated by Scorpius in the 60 solar days that John and Aeryn were crystallised. The war is a fantastic backdrop as it really opens up room for some stunning visual effects, and some awesome space battles the likes of which we've never seen on Farscape before. Seeing all the ships flying about, shooting each other, and all the explosions really got the adrenaline pumping. But perhaps the best aspect of the war is that we finally see why the Scarrans are the way they are, to a certain degree. When Yondalao works his mojo with Staleek, we finally find out what Staleek's goals are, in this war in particular. Basically the Scarrans know how they're viewed in terms of diplomacy and so go all out in the opposite direction by dominating. The scene with Staleek sitting with Yondalao, Crichton and Aeryn, as Stark collected their drinks was just a classic scene, and amused me no end. Seeing the massive, threatening Scarran Emperor sitting by John's side, putting his hand on his shoulder and being all nice was just hilarious to watch, and the (rather unexpected, by me) twist of having Ahkna suddenly come in and shoot Yondalao just made the scene all the better.
The motives of the Peacekeepers are a little less clear, though Scorpius instigated the conflict that led to the two sides declaring war, and now all the Peacekeepers are paying for it. What I liked about this aspect though was the chance to get to see inside the ranks again, on the Carrier, and with Grand Chancellor Maryk, no less. He's an interesting character (though we really don't see that much of him), as he really seems to know that the conflict agains the Scarrans is pretty much hopeless. Sadly, he doesn't account for the Grayza factor, and what an impact she makes! Not only does she murder him because she knows peace won't work, but she is also pregnant. This raises even more questions, because although one of the scenes with Maryk makes it seem as though it is his baby, the possibility that it could be Crichton's (after Grayza raped him in "Sacrifice") will no doubt fuel oodles of speculation until it's settled by the writers in one way or another. And of course, from what we know of Sebacean pregnancies from seeing Aeryns, in particular knowing that it can be held in stasis for a long time, it is definitely a plausible possibility. Grayza definitely shows her ruthlessness through her actions here, though, and it's interesting how her position has changed given all that she's seen; originally, she wanted nothing but peace, but now she thinks the only way for her people's survival is to defeat the Scarrans, and as always she's not above dirty tactics to try and sway things her way.
When it comes to the characters in the mini-series, in general they are spot on so far, and most make out really well. John is still struggling with being wanted by the Scarrans and Peacekeepers while trying to get married and have a family. It really says it all that he and Aeryn donít actually end up getting married despite two tries (nothing can go right for them first time!), and the same goes for transferring the baby back to Aeryn. But John is faced with a dilemma, as he had been more and more throughout the TV series. What can he do to get the two sides off his back so he and the crew can escape them? Sadly he just doesn't seem to be able to find the right answer. He can't give them the knowledge to make a wormhole weapon because he doesn't have it (though he did manage to once manipulate a wormhole to destroy a Dreadnought, in "Icarus Abides"), and no matter how much he tries, they won't listen. He even takes Staleek to Einstein, and while that convinces him, it doesn't stop him. It's really quite sad to see that John and Aeryn are on the verge of happiness and yet they just can't quite make the leap because of all the baggage following them around.
Aeryn is an interesting one, as we really see how much she's changed because of her experiences since she was forced out of the Peacekeepers. Having watched the TV series again from the start prior to seeing the mini-series, you can really see so much growth in her character and it's on fine display here. We see her wanting to fight for peace and follow the path of the Eidelons, she has a wonderful scene with Sikozu regarding relationships, and she gets some great interaction with D'Argo, notably when she tells him that she wants the baby because John wants it so bad. She's always been close to D'Argo as they've shared a warrior's mutual respect, and their interplay in this story is just a treat to watch. Her reasoning makes total sense as well, most Peacekeepers never really see procreation as anything more than breeding new soldiers, but now Aeryn looks on it completely differently.
D'Argo gets some interesting things to do, too. He remains the commanding person that we last saw, and he's just another character whose growth just shines when you revisit them outside of the usual TV series situation. His maturity shines through so much, as he gives advice to Aeryn and interacts with the other characters (just watch how he takes command when Stark and Noranti are babbling over the Eidelon connection with Arnessk). Even his own attitudes have matured, as he now wants to go and settle down on Hyneria, and he wants to take Chiana with him. It's interesting as this reflects back on his similar stance in "Die Me, Dichotomy" where he wanted to do a similar thing, but even in the two seasons since then, he's grown a lot and its reflected here. Of course, we can't forget the return of Jothee, which was interesting in itself. Certainly it's not something I expected, but it should provide an interesting dynamic going into the conclusion.
It should also be something of a relief to Chiana fans that she gets some decent action here, too. I have to admit that when I first heard the opening scene where Chiana jumps out of the transport, I thought Gigi Edgley was a little off key in her voice, but she soon seemed to get back into the rhythm, and certainly her movements were a throwback to earlier seasons, which was really nice to see. She now has new eyes, which apparently provide her with the ability to see through walls; an ability that comes in handy when trying to find the weak points of the new Scarran ship, as well as when the Tregans board Moya, and she and Sikozu get into a pretty kick-ass fight! She had some nice scenes throughout this first part, with D'Argo in particular. Their relationship also shows how much she has matured, and their time on Lo'La is great just to see how far both characters have come. While Chiana still retains her wild nature and qualities, she's definitely grown up.
Even Rygel gets a great deal in "The Peacekeeper Wars", what with his rather major involvement in the plot, given he becomes pregnant with Aeryn's child! It's an amusing, and oh so very Farscape, turn of events, but as silly as it may seem it really works quite well, as it gets Rygel into the thick of things, and as such he gets some great scenes with John, Aeryn, D'Argo and Chiana over the course of the first part. It's a lot of fun to watch him collecting all the crystals of John and Aeryn at the very start of Part One. It's also nice that the writers give the nod to some closure with Rygel's story, as we see the transmission from the cousin who deposed him saying that the war has destabilised Hyneria, and only he (as true royalty) should return to unite his people. It makes Rygel feel all the more important, and in turn it resolves the plot left dangling from the earliest days of the series. I also thought it was a great touch that he'd invited the whole crew to join him, too.
Scorpius and Sikozu get a few good scenes here, too. Scorpius still wants what John has, and despite instigating the war he won't let it get in the way of his goals. He shows by breaking off that he will always be working toward what he wants from things, and it's also evidenced in his dialogue at various points. He gets some cracking scenes with John, particularly the first one where he and Sikozu land on Qujaga and first meet with the crew again. Their relationship still seems in full swing, and I found the scene between Sikozu and Aeryn to be a real gem, as it really showed some vulnerability in Sikozu that we haven't really seen too much of before, as in many ways she doesn't seem to comprehend either her feelings for Scorpius, or why Aeryn is with John. Harvey also makes an interesting return, still playing the role of advisor. While I admit I began to get a little burned out on the whole Harvey concept at times as season four went on, I thought he served a great role here working as John's conscience once more, but always trying to sway him towards Scorpius' goals (such as by trying to get John to kill Staleek).
I enjoyed seeing Pilot with a fair amount to do compared to usual, as while it's still not a lot, he was integrated far better in this story than he had been in others, especially given the constraints of him being mainly unable to leave his den on Moya. The only niggle I had with Pilot is that the pitch on his voice is a little high; it's definitely not the same level as it was most recently in the series, and it sounds like he'd taken in some helium at times. But it's certainly not something I'd wax lyrical about because there's really not that much point.
Unfortunately though, while most of the characters are integrated well, Noranti gets pretty much shafted after the first twenty minutes or so. Stark gets a fair amount to do here, but Noranti is left on Qujaga so once the crew depart she's nowhere to be seen. It's a real shame, as (and I know I'm in the minority here) I really enjoy her character, and while it's easy to go and overdose on her it'd have been nice to see her in a few more scenes, even if we do get to see her interact with most of the crew members, and of course, it's her that makes the link between the Eidelons and Arnessk.
The first part of the mini-series also heralds the return of Jool. One of the things that leaked out at an early stage was that Jool would return here, but I have to say even I didn't expect it to be quite like that. She's suddenly dressing like Tarzan's Jane, and I have to say, initially seemed totally out of character to me. Considering when we last saw her (in "Resurrection") early in season four, she had developed feelings for D'Argo that were blossoming, that was completely forgotten here as they barely exchange a word, and she just pounces on John and tries to come on to him until Aeryn interrupts. It's something I'm sure a few Jool fans won't be too happy about, as it did seem a little silly, but it was great to see her again, and her interaction with the Eidelons. Unfortunately, the few scenes here were her swan song, as she was killed along with the Eidelons when the Scarrans destroyed the temple. It's a bit of a shame as I'd always wanted to see more exploration of the Jool character, and her demise doesn't really get enough time to sink in, but it's another point I will forgive because there's really no point in harping on about it. This is what we got, and I'm glad that we got to see Jool at all (and of course, with Tammy MacIntosh tied up, her permanent departure isn't surprising).
One of the aspects I really liked were the three scenes, one at the start, one at the end and one in the middle, with sound clips from Part Two, set to the image of John looking worse for wear on a bed, foreboding what is to come. It really set the atmosphere and seemed like a dark prelude of things to come, and I thought it fitted exceptionally well (how could you not want to see Part Two after the snippets dropped in these scenes?!?!).
The big question that has been focused on in the past though, is will this mini-series hook new viewers? Well, it's really hard for someone like me to say. I can never look at the series from a truly new viewer's perspective because my judgment is clouded, but honestly I don't think there's too much that you couldn't pick up from the dialogue here. The recap at the beginning is fun ("Once upon a time...") and is a good way of recapping events thus far, and there are a few lines of dialogue added to most of the early exchanges which you can almost see were added mainly to outline briefly what is going on for someone new. But to be honest, the pace of the episode is as frantic as usual and, more than anything else, it will no doubt be overwhelming to people who have never seen the series before. Farscape has always had a slight edge and unusual pace, and that carries over here, and it'd probably be hard for a new viewer to adjust to. It would be nigh-on impossible to actually have a plot running and re-introduce the characters to a sufficient level, since the Farscape saga became so complex over the years, so it's something that would be impossible to expect. So while I can't see a new viewer who really wants to watch it being that put off, I can see why it might overwhelm the casual viewer.
But from a fan's perspective, "The Peacekeper Wars" thus far is everything I could've hoped for. It maintains the whit and intelligent writing (at least for the most part) that the series was so loved for, and is basically one big thank you to the fans who have supported the show. It looks like it's going to provide some sort of closure to many of the character's stories, and that is what most hoped for. One thing I loved about it was that it was absolutely hilarious in places, as well. It balanced the more tense moments with some of the best one-liners ever to come out of these characters' mouths. Almost everyone gets in on the action, providing a laugh here or there, and it really makes it all the more enjoyable. I laughed hysterically at the exchange just after John and Aeryn are reconstituted, and there were so many moments like that. The acting was also excellent for the most part, and the regulars deserve so much praise, and I can't stress that enough, for being able to step into these characters once again after such a long break and ease in so quickly. The chemistry is all there as it was before, and it just makes things all the more pleasurable to watch.
It's almost silly to even bother grading this episode. After waiting such a long time for this, given that even this first part delivers on several levels, and sets up what is shaping up to be the biggest finale the series has ever seen, I can forgive all the minor inconsistencies and plot conveniences, and a couple of sillier moments that take place in this part. Because it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things; this is a hugely enjoyable kiss to those that love Farscape, and it works so well. It was pretty obvious to me as soon as I turned this episode off that the score would be a 5, and having seen it a few times more since, that hasn't changed. Lap it up and enjoy it, because this is Farscape how it was meant to be.
I love to hear your views, whether you agree or disagree, so feel free to e-mail me your feedback. Review by Dani Moure.
Did You Know?
Rygel: "I want this thing removed immediately!"
John: "It's not a thing!"
Rygel: "Fine, I want this miracle of life the frell out of me!"
John: "You know who it's gonna be, don't ya?"
D'Argo: "I know who it is."
John: "Bet me. C'mon D, bet me. How much?"
D'Argo: "You're on your own my friend."
Scorpius: "Hello, John!"
John: "Easy money."
Stark: "What about me?"
Aeryn: "How best can you help?"
Stark: "I can stay out of your way."
D'Argo: "Excellent. I'll be able to stop them cold with three perfect shots!"
Chiana: "Why three? You usually slay me with just one."
John: [to Ahkna] "It's a question of balls. Ball's in his court."
Sikozu: "You should be dead."
Crichton: "And how was your day?"
Staleek: "You will die when I order it."
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