|Season 3: Best of...|
The first half of the season, ranked from best to worst...
By Dani Moure
Season 3 was, for me, Farscape's most consistent season so far. While season 2 perhaps had a higher number of truly outstanding episodes, it also had a number of stinkers (in Farscape terms, of course). On the other hand, season three was consistently good for me, with a number of fantastic, outstanding episodes and the rest being at least good, if not very good. I gave five episodes top score this season, and a number of fours. Only one episode got a "2" from me, much better than season two in that regard. In fact, while this lists the top half of the season, none of the episodes in it scored below a "4", and one of those that did score a "4" had to be put in the bottom half of the list (click here for that list). Not only did the episode quality in general go up, but also season three presented Farscape's most bold story arc yet, and the season really was quite heavily arced. Add in some fantastic performances, and it was a great season. The only place I think it could be faulted is that it was pretty much the season of Crichton and Aeryn, and as such the story really was focussed around them. But I personally felt that the other characters got decent screen time, too.
What follows is the "top half" of the season as I've ranked it, in reverse order.
The format for this article is the same as for previous seasons, so 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 3.
No. 11: Eat Me (4 out of 5)
Vying for the honour of best Farscape episode title, this episode has the most shocking twist the series has yet delivered. But before that, it's rather creepy and dark, but well-written and interesting. The twinning idea is pretty innovative, in that it's not the usual cloning, and Kaarvok comes off as quite the madman. Add in a few good subplots, including some real character fleshing for both Jool and Chiana, and you have an early winner.
No. 10: Infinite Possibilities, Part 1: Daedalus Demands (4 out of 5)
A great episode, beginning a huge plot that will spell the end for one of the crew. This episode brings back some characters not seen since season one, the Ancient and Furlow, and manages to involve them in an intricate wormhole plot that also involves the Scarrans and one of their new allies – the Charrids. It's pretty action packed, but also high on plot, and ties up a couple of threads hanging from season one, while introducing a number of new ones. Another fantastic Farscape cliffhanger only adds to a great experience.
No. 9: ...Different Destinations (4 out of 5)
An early episode, and also one of the few season three episodes that isn't a part of an overall story-arc. It's also Farscape's first attempt at a proper time-travel episode, but true to the show it doesn't go the way you'd expect, and ends up being a real tragedy – there's no happy ending here. It includes some of the best performances from a guest cast yet seen on the show, and packs oodles of characterisation into the short time it has. It's the sort of episode that you could show to someone to highlight exactly why this show is so different – it takes all the time travel clichés and turns them completely on their head, and it's all the better for it.
No. 8: Into the Lion's Den, Part 1: Lambs to the Slaughter (4 out of 5)
Really kicking off the season ending arc with a bang, this episode features the first real exposition of what it's like to live as a Peacekeeper. It features some great action, and the uneasy alliance between Scorpius and Crichton always adds to the tension. "Lambs" also features the introduction of a new character, who is not only ruthless but could be a formidable foe for both the crew and Scorpius. Add in some real exposition on the political situation, and how we see that Scorpius' hands are often tied, and you have a great episode from Ricky Manning.
No. 7: Revenging Angel (4 out of 5)
A wonderful episode to watch, this story really gives us an insight into Moya-John's thoughts and feelings, but in one of the most innovative ways possible – much of "Revenging Angel" is animated! It's amazing at how well it all actually ties in together, and it's interesting to see how, in his mind, everything eventually comes together, and gives him a reason to live. Despite on the surface possibly appearing to be just pointless filler, it's far from it – David Kemper provides some excellent characterisation for Jool, Chiana and D'Argo, and a real insight into John's character, including how he relates to Harvey and of course Aeryn.
No. 6: Green Eyed Monster (5 out of 5)
An interesting episode in that it's the first episode to be penned by series lead Ben Browder, and excellent because it manages to really focus on the characters and their relationships after the split of the crew. With no guest stars, it's almost entirely devoted to the relationship between Aeryn, John, Crais and Talyn, and as the name suggests the jealousy between the three men, vying for the attention of one woman. The characterisation is spot on for all the characters, and there are truly excellent performances from Claudia Black, Ben Browder and Lani Tupu. When you add the humorous pairing of Rygel and Stark, you have a real winner.
No. 5: Relativity (5 out of 5)
Series creator Rockne S O'Bannon writes his first full script for the show since the first season, and boy is it a corker. Aeryn is finally reunited with her mother, but with the added twist that they're fighting on opposite sides. The dramatic tension between Aeryn and Xhalax is really something to behold, and Linda Cropper shows why she was perfect for the role of Aeryn's mother. This episode puts the characters through a number of emotional situations, from Aeryn fighting Xhalax to Crais and Crichton's exploits to Rygel's near-death experience. Crichton finally finds out the truth about why Crais really went after Talyn, and many of Aeryn's questions as a youngster are answered. With the tight scripting and superb plot, backed by an excellent score and top-notch performances, this is a truly outstanding experience. The tragic ending is just the epitomy of Farscape's excellence at great drama, and all in all this is a truly must-see episode.
No. 4: The Choice (5 out of 5)
An absolutely stellar episode, "The Choice" is a true-to-life portrayal of a great loss. Focussing almost entirely on Aeryn and what's going on around her, it really gets inside her character and shows us just how hard she was hit by the loss of John. While the return of Xhalax wasn't exactly unexpected, it only serves to put Aeryn even further through the emotional wringer, as she has to deal with so much death around her. Again, the characters make some difficult choices, and where other shows would shy away Farscape dives straight in, and although the approach put some people off there's no denying how "real" the whole story is portrayed. In a time of pain Aeryn's emotions lash out at almost everyone, with one scene with Crais and Stark outside her hotel room being particularly disturbing. The introduction of a fake father, as part of an elaborate plot by Xhalax was an interesting way to take things, and there's only more tragedy at the end following a near reconciliation between Aeryn and Xhalax. This really is an Aeryn story inside out, and Claudia Black steps up to the plate delivering what is quite possibly her finest performance in the series to date.
No. 3: Dog with Two Bones (4 out of 5)
Although I rated this lower than a few other episodes, on repeated viewings I have really come to enjoy its nuances all the more. David Kemper once again delivers a stunning season finale, but it's not exactly what anyone was expecting. Taking place both in visions in John's head and in reality, "Dog" can on a couple of occasions be a little difficult to follow, but that only makes it all the more enticing. The addition of yet another new character in one of the most bizarre roles ever only adds to the mystery and intrigue surrounding the episode, which partly focuses on the choices that John has, and whether he can really go home or not. By the end of the episode it's made clear what choices are no longer an option, and the point that he really can't return home is rammed home in an interesting fashion. Although the burial plot is rather out of place, it's more a vehicle to serve the plot than anything else. But where the episode works best is in setting up some new plot threads for the upcoming season, and it does that in truly jaw-dropping style. Beginning with one of the finest Crichton-Aeryn scenes in the show so far, and continuing through to the end that provides numerous levels of shocking cliffhangers, this one episode sets up so many possible future plot threads that it's difficult to guess where things might go, and as such it works as an excellent season finale.
No. 2: Infinite Possibilities, Part 2: Icarus Abides (5 out of 5)
An awesome treat, "Icarus Abides" provides a mix of exhilarating action and all the more tragedy. At the heart of the episode, it's all about the John and Aeryn relationship, and the two characters ruled the screen in every scene in which they were together. So much between them was said without words, and the chemistry between Ben Browder and Claudia Black just shines through. There are some awesome scenes down on Dam-Ba-Da, with Furlow yet again showing her true colours, and John being left to do the right thing and pick up the pieces. Jack Crichton, the Ancient, finally meets his end at her hands, but first manages to rid John of the Scorpius clone once and for all. One of the most important scenes in the series to date is the result of the wormhole weapon that the Ancient and John had been building, as its true power is revealed to completely annihilate a Scarran Dreadnought. The scene is truly spectacular, but by that point John has already been exposed to massive radiation, leading to his ultimate demise. His final scenes are just magnificent to watch, with his final moments with Crais, Rygel and Stark used perfectly, exactly as one would expect in that situation. But the most poignant moment is the absolutely beautiful scene between Aeryn and Crichton as she sits by his bedside and watches him die. While Claudia played the scene magnificently, Ben Browder deserves all the credit in the world for this episode in which he pulls out a truly stunning performance easily deserving of an Emmy award.
No. 1: Into the Lion's Den, Part 2: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (5 out of 5)
Probably the show's greatest two-parter comes to an end in truly amazing style, in an episode that I have raved about and raved about, but just can't get enough of. "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing" just fires on all cylinders, with action, drama, emotion and tragedy all wrapped up in a ball of wonders. I really can't praise Rockne O'Bannon's script enough, as it shows just how well he knows the characters he created. Everyone gets a couple of superb moments and lines, even down to the characters that are somewhat peripheral to the primary plot, such as Rygel and D'Argo. There's just so much attention to detail in the episode that every line, every scene seems to really fit, and everyone on Farscape truly deserves credit for this episode not even being the season finale, as this story is easily one that could be placed as the very final story of the series. But bold as ever, it comes out of nowhere. The episode is quite simply gobsmacking, feeling like the end of an era by tying up so many threads that have been running throughout the season. Crais' character is brought full circle as he realises that he is the only one that can destroy Scorpius' Command Carrier, with Talyn's help, and for once the plan works, with his tragic demise. But it finally allows Crais to get the revenge on Scorpius that he's longed for, and his thoughts are put into words so well in the script, and Lani Tupu gives a standout performance in delivering them. Likewise, Scorpius gets his dues, but you can't help but feel somewhat sorry for him, as the two-parter as a whole subtly shows what he's fighting for and why, and that he's trying to do what he thinks is best for his people. The final scenes depicting Crais and Talyn's final moments are heart-warming, and the scenes as the Command Carrier implodes are just awe-inspiring. The final moments between Scorpius and Crichton show how far both characters have come, and what they've lost along the way. Everything, from the writing, directing, acting, production just all fits perfectly, and this is undoubtedly one of Farscape's best episodes yet – a bona-fide classic, fully deserving to be called the best episode of season three.