Peacekeeper Wars – Episode Two
Written by David Kemper & Rockne S. O’Bannon, directed by Brian Henson
1st UK Transmission Date: 16 January 2005
1st US Transmission Date: 18 October 2004
Buck Rogers Redux: John returns to Einstein in order to get the knowledge of wormhole weapons, expressly stating it’s so he can force peace. Perhaps surprisingly, Einstein grants his request. He’s initially thrown for a loop by it, horrified at what he’s now capable of (and how does he get the cut on his head that’s bleeding so obviously upon his return to Moya?) In the end, he takes the responsibility in order to protect Aeryn and the baby.
When Pilot and Moya refuse to endorse his plan, he tries to use the Eidelons to initiate peace but there aren’t enough of them to stop the battle. Even when that’s failed, and Pilot demonstrates that he’s changed his mind by presenting John with the wormhole weapon, he still can’t quite bring himself to do it until Aeryn gives him the final push.
When he unleashes the weapon, he reveals that it will swallow the universe unless he stops it, and he won’t stop it until peace is declared. Is this his finest moment, or the most selfish thing he’s ever done? You could argue both ways. Certainly he’s willing to put his money where his mouth is and sacrifice himself and everyone he’s ever loved. He can’t help his resentment of his situation from spilling out as he taunts everyone that this is what they had always wanted; it’s not an attractive response, but it’s very human.
And then he switches it off, job done. Einstein removes the knowledge from his brain, knocking him into a temporary coma, and when he comes round it’s to a peaceful universe in which he and Aeryn can raise their baby. He’s done what he set out do, but at huge cost, and great risk. Maybe now he’s brought peace to the universe, he can find some himself. What are the odds?
You Can Be More: ‘You don’t just protect me, we protect each other’—Aeryn, wondering how she can protect John from the consequences of the actions he’s taking to protect her.
She gives birth in a fountain in the middle of a firefight, insists she’s married while in labour, carries her baby unscathed through a battle and then, at the end, is the one who finally convinces John to use the wormhole weapon, after all the times she’s argued against it. When it looks like John has doomed them all, she still backs him—her loyalty to him, and faith in his choices, is impressive but never seems weak or thoughtless, it’s a typically finely judged performance from Claudia Black. She finally embraces motherhood, loves it, and all her fear is forgotten.
I Was A Teenage Luxan: ‘This is the other side, I was hoping to go back!’ When D’Argo leads the attack on the Scarran ship, he demonstrates the kind of close-quarter combat techniques you’d expect from a seasoned soldier—nice to see. He’s proud of Jothee and, happily, gets the chance to tell him so right before he is skewered in battle, saving Chiana. He gets so close to his happy ending only to have it snatched from him. He dies defiantly, taking down as many bad guys as possible, saving his friends. He bequeathes his Qualta blade to Jothee.
It’s the kind of death you suspect he would have relished back when he first met John, and it’s tempting to see it as a fitting end for Farscape’s great warrior. But he never really was that warrior, he was more complex, more peaceful and really, all he wanted to do was grow plants and make babies. It’s a cold, cruel end for a wonderful character, and it breaks my heart a little bit. He had evolved so far beyond the noble warrior, but it is as if the universe refuses to let him bloom and casts him, finally, irrevocably, in that role almost as a way of humbling him, of preventing him getting above himself. Thought you could be a man of peace? Nah, you’re just a soldier, always were, foolish mortal.
(Not, perhaps, most people’s reading of it, but it seems to me there’s something of the Greek tragedy about D’Argo’s quest to outgrow his limitations only to find that at the moment it looks like he might break free of his destiny, it catches up to him. Maybe I’m just feeling morbidly tragic today, I dunno.)
Everyone’s Favourite Little Tralk: She admits she changes her mind too often and then says that she will come with D’Argo to Hyneria. Despite her protests, nearly ends up midwife to John and Aeryn’s baby; she seems au fait with water births, so has she been present at a birth before?
And Chiana too, so close to accepting the life she’s fought against all the time we’ve known her, willing to settle down with D’Argo and build a home, finds it snatched from her. She decides to go to Hyneria anyway, but what kind of life awaits her?
Buckwheat the Sixteenth: He’s a weepy hormonal mess once the baby is removed. He was holding onto the ring as his reward for picking up all the pieces of John and Aeryn. He has decided to return to Hyneria. He has the measure of Chiana, knowing that she would not hurt him. But he gets no real send off, no crowning final moment, which seems a shame.
In The Driving Seat: Great scenes with John and Aeryn discussing the rights and wrongs of using the weapon. But as much as Pilot says he won’t do it, he eventually does—indicating that John’s final plea to the importance of family, and Aeryn’s sober appraisal of their chances, got through to him.
This Living Ship: Moya finally snaps after the pounding she’s been taking, takes control from Pilot and plunges herself into the ocean in order to recuperate and hide.
Grandma, we love you: When the shit hits the fan, she rounds up the surviving Eidelons and takes charge of them—she’s even made an honorary Luxan Commander. But due to the makeup problems she also gets no grand send off, simply appearing in the background, bossing the Eidelons around.
The Man in the Iron Mask: Stark’s initial distress at holding the knowledge from Yondalao seems mostly to be based upon his sense that he is not worthy to carry such a cargo. He finds some calm but when Moya crashes he runs and hides. Once Yondalao’s knowledge is out, he gradually calms down until he reveals at the end that he has found inner peace—a reflection of the peace that John has forced in the outside universe. His face heals up, he takes off his mask and walks away, a changed man.
Bobblehead: Her ability to shoot fire from her fingers also, apparently, allows her to direct the flow of the fire she ignites. Scorpius seems to work out she’s the Scarran spy during the assault on the temple—is it because she’s too prominent during the fighting, taking uncharacteristic risks because she knows they won’t shoot her? He says he’s known for a while, but it seems likely he’s lying.
She explains she turned traitor because Ahkna promised to free her people. This is the biggest logic leap in the history of Farscape, because I just don’t see Sikozu being that dim. The decision to make her the spy was taken on set and while yes, it is a surprise, it’s the kind of decision I like to think they would have backed away from after more reflection, or at least not without a better explanation being offered.
We last see her tied to a rock in a cave, left to die by Scorpius. In a deleted scene, Grunchlk, who finds her, makes a comment about the beginning of a new opportunity, hinting that maybe she and he could escape the destruction of the planet together. With that line cut, it seems we’re supposed to assume they both died. I find myself quite annoyed at the way her story ended—it’s as if they made her the spy to retroactively justify how horrible everyone was to her during Season Four, when she really didn’t deserve everyone’s scorn and suspicion.
Nosferatu in leather: His overheated coolant rods can burn through heat-resistant metal. He finally gets his fondest dream come true, is impressed by how insane John is, and then looks very happy indeed when peace breaks out.
In fact, Scorpius wins.
Let’s be honest, he gets everything he ever wanted (although he does lose Sikozu, and seems a bit pissed off about it, but not, y’know, desolate or anything—he’s not going to lock himself in a room and play The Smiths all night). With the shit-eating grin on his face when we last see him, it becomes possible to see Farscape as primarily the story of Scorpius’ long, hard and ultimately successful campaign to use anyone and anything to hand to achieve his ultimate goal of keeping the Scarrans in their place.
It’s his story, his show, and he gets his happy ending. The dick.
Hi Harvey: Once Scorpy gets his way, Harvey deletes himself with one final Kubrickian flourish—opting for 2001 rather than Strangelove.
Captain lickspittle: Hard as nails, he’s leading a gang of PK and Eidelon survivors in a last stand at the Great Temple. He survives, wounded, to fight another day.
Servalan Redux: Now the Grand Chancellor is dead, Grayza takes control—it seems her rank was not stripped from her following the debacle at Katrazi (which I find a bit of a leap). She leads her forces into battle, all the while crying ‘death before subjugation’—but when she’s actually offered death or peace she opts for peace, the implication being that she does so for the sake of her unborn child. (Is It John’s!?) So she’s a softy, really.
Alien Encounters: It seems Staleek is ready to abdicate his throne in favour of ruling the universe, creating room for Ahkna to become Empress. Shame she gets her head blown off by Aeryn.
Stats: Sebacean babies are born very quickly indeed.
Logic Leaps: It’s incredibly convenient that the thing you need in order to create a wormhole weapon is in a leviathan.
The Verdict: Leaner and more focused than the first part, this is essentially the three-part finale to Season Five with each episode boiled down to half an hour—escape to water planet / battle on water planet / wormhole weapon. The dramatic beats all land, and the final confrontation is hugely satisfying, managing to take something we’ve been waiting to see all along—the wormhole weapon—and turn it into something powerful, satisfying and unexpected.
The endings we are given to our characters’ stories are, for the most part, satisfying and appropriate, but there’s enough tragedy in the mix that it doesn’t feel easy, and enough threads are left unresolved that a continuation is never off the cards.
Would it have been nicer to have a proper fifth season? Of course. And the mini-series is an imperfect beast—narratively unbalanced, hyperactive, hand-wavy and hectic. But it lands the big punches right, particularly in the final half hour, so that it feels like we’ve had the best compromise ending we could realistically have hoped for.
And so ends arguably the greatest TV sci-fi saga of all. Less coherent than Babylon 5, less iconic than Star Trek, less fawned over than Firefly, but bolder, bawdier, riskier, cleverer, funnier and more emotionally involving than any of them. Farscape was unique and wonderful and I miss it.
It’s been a blast. Thanks to all who’ve watched along, especially everyone who ever took time to comment, it was greatly appreciated. I have a book to write now, but there should be an ebook of the whole Farscape rewatch hitting the ‘net in a few months, once I have a moment to collate and revise it.