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"Season of Death"

Summary

Even this review is split up a bit as I've put the biggest jaw-droppers at the very end of the review for those who want the general spoilers but still want a little something to discover when they finally get to see the episode. Your basic TV show starts the new season by just answering the rather predictable cliffhanger at the end of last season. When have you ever known Farscape to be your basic TV show? I admit that I expected the whole show to revolve around the revival of Aeryn Sun, which would finally happen in some big, really dramatic, climatic scene at the very end. Oh, how I sometimes think so small!

"Season of Death" opens with the Moya crew nervously awaiting word on John's operation, unaware of Scorpy's interruption to said operation. As the crew await word, it's apparent that our suspicions about Greenshlick being less than honorable are not unfounded as he speaks with Scorpy and his soldiers speak of payments and we-had-a-deal. Scorpy's plan it seems was to sneak in quietly in his marauder, get the chip and/or John, and quietly sneak back out and meet up with his command carrier. Turns out though, there's been a delay and the carrier can't be there for another 5 arns. Scorpy doesn't like spending more time in the area than he has to. Not that the Moya crew poses a threat to him, but Crais and Talyn does.

Back in the operating room, the Diagnosian remains left for dead and John remains without speech as his brain lies flapping in the wind. But now there's a new catch. Even with the chip removed, the Scorpy clone remains in John's head and is trying to talk him into suicide, or at least wanting to die. In floats Rygel who promptly notifies the crew of doc's situation. D'argo insists that Chiana and Jothee stay behind and Starburst away at the first sign of trouble. Neither of them are too thrilled about being expected to play the role of the hand-wringing relative while the man of the house goes off to save their butts.

Scorpy's crew detects Moya's transport pod approaching the planet. Rather than trust Greenshlick not to give their presence away, he injects Greenshlick with what we assume is a neural chip which allows him to control Greenshlick and see and hear through him. Zhaan, Stark and D'argo reach the operating room and revive the doctor who thankfully wasn't as fragile as Scorpy or the rest of us had been led to believe. One of the three Interons - species found to be compatible with John for fluid and possible tissue transplant - is present in his cryogenic frozen state. Where Zhaan was able to sense that the donors are still alive, frozen a microt before death and unrevivable according to Greenshlick, Stark is able to hear their souls. He is outraged, saying that the donors are suffering a fate worse than death. To make matters worse, doc reveals that John's operation would now involve killing a donor rather than a mere fluid transfusion. John had said prior to the procedure that he wouldn't accept the death of a donor and a debate ensues over whether to respect John's wishes and kill him.. Stark ends the debate by killing the donor; a mercy killing. Save John.

Quick break to check in on Jothee and Chiana. If these two were showing an attraction in "Die Me Dichotomy," it's full blown sexual tension now. They are making dinner. Sound strange? Not really. If and when the crew returns, they're going to be hungry and what else are two sexually tense crewmates to do if not cook … something.

After the doctor repairs John's brain, Stark urges John to get rid of the Scorpy clone once and for all. He explains to John that it's all in his own head now and he can take control of it. he does, in a very John Crichton, teenage-boy-at-heart, humans-are-superior kind of way.

Right about now we're all starting to think that they won't even address the Aeryn issue at all in this episode. So, right about now is a perfect time for one of the cryogenic pods to begin an auto-release restoration sequence. Hmm, wasn't Aeryn in one of those pods? Doc is the one who's there and finds the sequence in progress. Greenshlick urges him over the comm to get away from the pod. Greenshlick obviously knows something. Doc ignores him, approaches the pod, and out steps … a Scarran, who promptly kills the doctor and leaves us falling off the edge of our seats as that tease was just too cruel. With some persuasion, Greenshlick confesses to Scorpius that the Scarrans found out this is the doctor who installed Scorpy's cooling system. They'd sent a spy to be frozen and resurrected if and when Scorpy came back for a checkup.

Quick comic relief break on Moya. Rygel walks in on the kitchen where Chiana and Jothee shove food at him in hopes he doesn't notice the … tension … between the two.

Greenshlick meets up with the Scarran, telling him that Scorpy isn't around but offers Crichton - still recovering in the operating room - instead. The Scarran goes after Crichton.

Quick cut to Aeryn's coffin/cryogenic pod. Yes kids, they do address Aeryn's death after all. Zhaan and Stark are there, preferably to transfer her body to Moya or Talyn for an eventual burial in space. The first thing they discover is that the controls on her pod are set the same as with all the other frozen bodies in storage; to keep her kind of sort of alive, supposedly unrevivable, to be used as a donor. Well, we now know that isn't beyond Greenshlick's shallow conscience. Stark reminds Zhaan that doc pronounced Aeryn dead. Zhaan reminds him that just because the doctor's gifts couldn't save her… Stark reaches, but can not find Aeryn's soul. He tells Zhaan that it's too dangerous to try a unity, but Zhaan's such the little anarchist isn't she? She forces an unwilling Stark to help her. She reaches Aeryn, but Aeryn resists. As Zhaan begs Aeryn, one of Scorpy's men comes in primed to kill. Even as Zhaan is convinced that Aeryn is unreachable, Aeryn comes out of the pod like the "chickwithgun" we all know and love, though looking a little deep and disoriented. I guess she has good reason, eh?

Crichton and D'argo meanwhile are confronted and chased by the Scarran. They lead the chase to the frozen outdoors of this icy planet, partly in hopes that the cold will slow the Scarran down. It doesn't work as well as they'd hoped, but they get a little help from a now predictable source. John is unbelieving at first, but quickly embraces Aeryn and the fact that it really is her and not a clone, a fem-bot, or a figment of his imagination. His nightmare is over. Before leaving the planet though, John insists on one thing; that they take the remaining two 'donors' with them. It seems that he feels he owes it to them to try and save them after the third was killed to save him. As all this is happening, Scorpy's marauder takes off from the planet and is promptly destroyed by Crais and Talyn. Oh come on guys … do you really think Scorpy was inside of it?

Wrap up: D'argo returns to Chiana and Jothee who have their happy-family faces on over their sexual tension faces. The Moya crew believe Scorpius to be dead (emphasis on 'believe'). Then there's the inevitable tag scene with John and Aeryn. Though we haven't had time to see much of her since her revival, she is obviously changed and feeling very introspective. Considering all that has happened, what could these two possibly have to say to each other? If you want the jaw-dropping spoilers, read on through the end of the review.


Review

Ending one season by killing off the most popular character only to find out she's not really dead in the first episode of the next season is hardly an uncommon plot device. Neither is putting the show's central figure in some dire medical situation only to have it miraculously turn out fine. What sets Farscape apart is the way it's done. What makes "Season of Death" so exceptional is the simplicity in which these issues are addressed. I've been following most every debate over on the scifi.com bulletin board regarding these situations and how they'll be resolved. Of all the complex theories I heard about saving John, I don't recall anyone saying, "Maybe the doctor just plain isn't as fragile as he and Greenshlick led us to believe." Most of us suggested that Aeryn could have been thrust into hypothermic shock or something and Greenshlick froze her "a microt before death" as he puts it. But of all the complicated ways to bring her out of it, I never heard anyone suggest unity with Zhaan; simple in that all it took was the right person (or plant) with the right frame of mind to simply talk to Aeryn.

It would have been so easy for The Powers That Be to center "Season of Death" or even the first few episodes of season 3 around these two issues. Instead, they chose to deal with them swiftly. With powerful elegance - especially in the case of Aeryn - but swiftly enough to introduce at least as many new cliffhangers, lest we think that the momentum of the series is slowing down in the least. Back up a moment to the elegance with which Aeryn's revival was delivered. Zhaan's unity with Aeryn showed Aeryn simply hovering in neutral limbo, still strapped to the chair in which she died. It could have involved fireworks and fanfare, but instead it looked like a peaceful, quiet painting. Claudia looked like a fine painting come to life. Few actresses could have pulled off the depth of emotion that both Claudia and Virginia portrayed; especially Claudia who projects a wealth of emotion behind an exterior which is in a near vegetative state. Where so many depend upon flash and f/x, Farscape ultimately shines the spotlight on the talent of the actors involved.

Finally, "resolution" is the word so often kicked around when one season ends with such a cliffhanger. Few think of "growth," "expansion," "evolution." In "Season of Death" Farscape evolves on two major fronts. The first is in the opening credits themselves. They still feature a voiceover of John Crichton, except that getting lost in the wormhole is now only one small part of it. The rest deals with a struggle over whether or not he should even share this world he's discovered with Earth if he were to find a way back. He refers to Moya's crew not just as "strange alien life forms," but as his friends. It's apparent that the core of the show is growing and expanding well beyond lost in space. The other front, well, if you don't want the jaw-dropping spoilers, now is when you should stop. If you've seen the episode or just have to have the really good stuff now, read on.

Oh, those tag scenes between Aeryn and John! They're the brightest spot of the show for many fans and their appeal goes so far beyond a basic tragic romance. Ben and Claudia have a definite onscreen chemistry and timing which the writers take full advantage of. So many fans, ready to explode if these two don't admit their feelings for each other, countered by the fact that making them a happy, mushy couple would take the spice of the show into an instant nosedive. Where lies the middle ground? Well, Farscape has managed to do it. Again without fanfare, without drawn-out drama, very quietly and simply, John and Aeryn each say to the other that phrase we've been waiting for: "I love you." And, with no interference from neuro chips or alternate realities or the like. The kiss this time is not out of lust, opportunity, or heat of the moment, but out of love. When Aeryn breaks the kiss, it's not out of denial of feelings. For the first time that I've seen she knows exactly what she's feeling without fear, conflict, or hesitation. She also knows that her Peacekeeper superiors had a point; emotional attachments can get people killed in battle situations. She is not willing to let someone else die or sacrifice their life for hers. The 'shippers are given much of what they're looking for, but while still keeping the relationship very uneasy. The writers have managed to take it to the next level, which they can take as many seasons as they like to explore. In fact, Claudia's portrayal here hints of a third new front. Aeryn is obviously changed by her experience. Oh, she's definitely Aeryn Sun, but she possesses a look and manner of deep introspection which we've never really seen in her before. I can't imagine that this change isn't a permanent one.

Back up again. Not willing to let someone else sacrifice their life for hers? Oh, did I mention that it took everything Zhaan had to bring back Aeryn. At the episode's end, Zhaan is dying.

Talk about a ride that never lets up!




Agree? Disagree? Comments? Questions? Email me! Written by Mary Wood.

Reader Reviews
Average Reader Score
5
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Click here to read Dani Moure's review for this episode.

Click here to read Dani Moure's synopsis for this episode.

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Episode Credits
Season 3, Episode 1 - "Season of Death" (Part 2 of 2)
Writer: Richard Manning
Director: Ian Watson
Production number: 10301
First UK Transmission: 27th Aug 2001
First US Transmission: 16th Mar 2001
Guest Stars:
Hugh Keays-Byrne (Grunchlk); Matt Newton (Jothee); David Franklin (Lt. Braca); Thomas Holesgrove (Diagnosan Tocot / Plonek the Scarran); Aaron Catalan (Officer Kobrin)
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