|Season 1: Best of...|
The top half of the season... with commentary!
By Dani Moure
In my opinion, Farscape has the best first season of a television show I've seen in a long time. To that end, over half of the first season scored 4 or above out of 5 in our episode reviews. Whilst to some this may seem over the top, perhaps a fan going a bit crazy, I want to mention that I've watched each episode at least four times (that's not an exaggeration), and then analysed each. I like to think I don't give out high scores lightly, but I think that the episodes fully deserve the scores they've been given. If you disagree, feel free to e-mail me (I enjoy a good discussion), but the reviews are merely my opinion.
I decided to rank the season one episodes in my favourite order, and I've split it in two. Over the next few pages you'll see the top half – labelled "The Best of Season 1", and to see the bottom half, click here. They ended up in order of score too, but obviously there are numerous ties so I then ranked them on the merits of the episode itself and my opinion of it. Finally, as regards the format for this article, the top five will have longer comments; with the other six only brief comments. The original review score appears in brackets after the episode title, clicking it takes you to the review. So here, without further adieu, are my top eleven episodes of season 1.
No. 11: PK Tech Girl (4 out of 5)
This was the first episode in which Aeryn and John really showed their feelings for each other, with Aeryn surprisingly coming out with the revelation first. The triangle between her, John and the PK Gilina was interesting, and there was a good sense of drama throughout.
No. 10: The Flax (4 out of 5)
Justin Monjo teases us all with the most "shippy" episode of the season, and probably the one that spawned numerous new shippers too. It's a great story, in which Aeryn and John face possible death and have to come to some early choices about their relationship, Rygel shows his deviousness, Zhaan gets things wrong and a female (that looks like a man) falls in love with D'Argo.
No. 9: That Old Black Magic (4 out of 5)
Crais returns for the first time since "Premiere", and this episode has is all about John trying to persuade him he did not intentionally kill his brother, but after numerous confrontations John has to make an important choice between life or death. But in choosing life, he has to take actions that he initially fought against. Plus Zhaan puts in a stunner on her path to the dark side.
No. 8: Through the Looking Glass (4 out of 5)
A great showing in which the crew must work together, all of them for the first time to overcome the splitting of Moya between four dimensions which would eventually cause her death. They succeed and this seems to bring them together as a family more than ever before. Plus there are great performances all round, including Pilot.
No. 7: Durka Returns (4 out of 5)
Unsurprisingly, Durka does indeed return, but he's been mind-cleansed by a race called the Nebari. Rygel's assassination attempts undo this transformation, which leads to him taking over the ship. This leads the crew on a race to regain control whilst he's holding Aeryn and Rygel hostage, but there's the added problem of a savage criminal roaming freely on board – the newest member of Moya's crew – Chiana.
No. 6: A Bug's Life (4 out of 5)
Very nearly making it to number 5, but just missing out, "A Bug's Life" highlights the tone that the rest of the season, and the series as a whole, is about to take – darkness. Dark, brooding and tension-filled, the hunt for an intellant virus brought on board by PK commandos leads the crew to doing some ghastly things, including John committing murder whilst under its control. The PKs all end up dead, but not before Aeryn's been near-fatally wounded.
Click "next page" to move on to numbers 5 to 1...
No. 5: DNA Mad Scientist (4 out of 5)
My favourite out of the first two thirds of the season, "DNA Mad Scientist" was just a chilling tale depicting exactly what lengths each of Moya's crew would go to get home. The episode incorporated some ghastly and brutal scenes, including a truly tragic moment in which Zhaan, Rygel and D'Argo are so overcome by the thought of going home that they chop off one of Pilot's arms. They then fight amongst each other in a bid to be the one whose map is saved so they can get home. In the end, their efforts are in vain because the maps from the deceitful scientist NamTar are corrupt. Aeryn, so full of loneliness has to seek out NamTar because she's afraid of being alone when everyone else returns to their homes, because she cannot. But NamTar uses her as a test subject and injects her with Pilot's DNA, creating quite a gruesome half Sebacean, half Pilot hybrid. Eventually everything's made better, but we're finally aware of what dark impulses reside in some of the characters, and just how much they all yearn for home. This episode was a landmark for me, as it showed just how good Farscape could be at an adult drama, and just how deep and real the characters are.
No. 4: A Human Reaction (4 out of 5)
This was another great Justin Monjo episode, and another landmark episode. It kind of foreshadows the later looks inside the heads of our characters, as we find out what John really thinks of the crew, and just how much he's changed and how far he's come. Though it's fairly devoid of action from Pilot, Chiana and Zhaan, and only briefly features D'Argo and Rygel, for Aeryn, and to a much greater extent John, it marks a great turning point in their characters. From here on in, John still yearns for Earth, but he becomes more hardened and takes a step away from his humanity, realising that he's in a whole new playing field now. The story is quite amazing; with subtle hints as to what was really going on throughout the entire show. It featured many beautiful scenes between various characters, and gave Aeryn, D'Argo and Rygel a look into what life might be like for them on Earth, with the result not being the one they may have expected. It also introduces what becomes the focal point for the rest of this season and the next, without ever showing it on camera. This barely missed out on a "5", purely for the reason that the episodes receiving the maximum score are just a cut above everything else.
No. 3: The Hidden Memory (Part 2 of 2) (5 out of 5)
Despite not quite being as good as the, quite frankly, phenomenal episode that is Part 1, "The Hidden Memory" is nonetheless a fantastic piece. Focussing more on the character side of things, the episode contained some wonderful moments as well as disturbing ones. Scorpius continues to torture John, attempting to extract the wormhole technology from his mind, and from here on in, he will stop at nothing to get it. That includes Crais, who Scorpius has the audacity to put in his memory-extracting Aurora Chair when John and Gilina construct a fake memory that involves Crais talking of his collaboration with John. Scorpius is now in full control, and proves to be the most ruthless villain in a long time. John and his cellmate Stark bond when, in a beautiful scene, Stark helps take some of John's pain. Aeryn, still recovering from her wound has to take charge and bust out John and Stark. They manage to escape, but poor old John has been transformed through such pain, suffering and torture. But there's also a great loss in this episode, as Gilina, the woman who made John's escape possible, dies when they all return to Moya. Beautifully crafted, superbly written this was just an amazing episode that should be missed by no one.
No. 2: Family Ties (5 out of 5)
The first season of Farscape comes to a close with an absolute corker of an episode, which only just misses out on the top spot for season 1. A true character romp through and through, "Family Ties" brings the characters around full circle, and contains one of the most amazing cliff-hangers I have ever seen (and I've seen loads). Rygel begins the episode by going to sell out the crew, who were hiding in an asteroid field along with Moya's newborn baby. He tries to persuade Crais and Scorpius that he can give them John Crichton for his freedom. But Crais, at his whit's end, persuades Rygel that Scorpius will kill him once he gets what he wants, so after Crais does a bit of sweet-talking with the now all-powerful Scorpius, they leave, and Crais joins the crew on Moya! He's locked up, but eventually allowed to sit in with the crew as they discuss how they will get out of hiding. After many touching scenes filled with proclamations of "we are family", "this is the end" and "goodbye", they begin an amazing plan in which John and D'Argo jump freely into space leaving their transport pod to ignite the oil surface of the moon below, whilst Aeryn joins the PK prowlers waiting to rescue them. But she can't break away without being discovered, and Crais escapes aboard Talyn (Moya's son), and Moya has to starburst to safety, leaving John and D'Argo drifting in space. A stunning episode, fuelled by emotion and some gripping action, this was so close to Farscape's best of season 1. But that honour goes to something else...
No. 1: Nerve (Part 1 of 2) (5 out of 5)
Well, what can I say? This is quite honestly an amazing episode. Enough said. Well, I'll say more. Aeryn's still injured and needs a transplant or she'll die, so John and Chiana infiltrate the top-secret Gammak Base posing as a PK Captain and his slut-like "assistant" of sorts, to try and procure a cure. John manages to make his way past a DNA scan for ID, because none other than Gilina is here! She agrees to help, and goes to find a cure. Meanwhile, Chiana chats up just about every man in sight to keep attention away from John, fearing they may realise he's just being a bit of a blagger. The episode sees the introduction of a new major force of evil, the "man" who, in my opinion, is simply the greatest villain of all time. He's cold, calculating and driven, and he's driven to John after realising he's an impostor. He puts him in his Aurora Chair, when he discovers that John has just what he's been researching – wormhole technology. And so begins his quest for John's mind. John also meets Stark, and Crais returns for John, but whilst he's been captured Gilina and Chiana have managed to get a cure, with Chiana taking it back to cure Aeryn. But John's still captured, and Scorpius doesn't plan on letting him go.
"Nerve" is a real turning point in the season. The seeds had already been sown in previous episodes, but from now on the situations just get worse for our crew, the show gets a darker overtone, and a new evil looms. One who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. We really get a chance to look into John's mind from here on in, and the whole series up until now is turned on its head from here on in. I cannot sing this episode's praises highly enough. Its conclusion may not be quite as stunning, but as the first part of Farscape's first two-parter, "Nerve" is quite simply the very best of this season.