Peacekeeper Wars – Episode One
Written by David Kemper & Rockne S. O’Bannon, directed by Brian Henson
1st UK Transmission Date: 16 January 2005
1st US Transmission Date: 17 October 2004
Synopsis: John and Aeryn are reconstituted by the race that crystalised them, who turn out to be Eidelons. So our gang take one to Arnessk and try to reignite their ability to inspire peace, so as to end the PK-Scarran war. Naturally, this plan goes horribly wrong.
Buck Rogers Redux: He’s done, out of the game, had enough, going to retire somewhere peaceful with Aeryn and raise kids. He asks if they can stay in the hidden city, presumably to wait out the war and let the baby come to term. But the Eidelons refuse them sanctuary and then Scorpius turns up and tries to drag him into the war. When he realises he’s can’t hide from the war, and may even have a way to end it peacefully, he feels he has no choice but to take on, as it were, One Last Mission.
You Can Be More: They try to get married twice. The first time Aeryn seems grumpy and says that John owes her, probably for putting a flower in her hair. The second time, she’s far keener and even pulls a gun on Rygel for spoiling her wedding. When talking to D’Argo she implies that she only really wants the baby because John does. She actually cracks a joke! She tells Sikozu that she sees John as her equal, and carries a LOT of weapons.
I Was A Teenage Luxan: It’s D’Argo’s decision to invite Scorpius and Sikozu aboard Moya for their journey to Arnessk, since they can provide the Peacekeeper codes needed to pass safely through the war zone. He’s still dreaming of a quiet life growing stuff—now on Hyneria, at Rygel’s invitation—and he still seems to think that Chiana would want to come with him, though her reaction is less than ecstatic, just as it was first time around. His first reaction to meeting Jothee again is to punch him. In two deleted scenes Jothee apologises to Chiana and D’Argo, and Chi remarks that D’Argo is so easy to wound because he’s honourable and so never sees betrayal coming.
Everyone’s Favourite Little Tralk: Chiana has new eyes, implanted by a drunken diagnosan. They allow her to see electromagnetic variations and presumably heat signatures, even through walls, effectively giving her x-ray vision.
Buckwheat the Sixteenth: We finally get to see Rygel being aquatic—it’s been referred to often but it’s great to see him swimming. He carries the pieces of Aeryn and Crichton in his stomachs but when he throws up, the baby stays down there. It must have implanted itself somehow (even in its crystalline state!?) This also means, despite what Minister Ahkna thinks, that at least one of the stomachs of a male Hynerian is also a functional womb (!?!)
His cousin Bishan—the one who helped depose him—asks him to return and help unite the Hynerian people to fight off the Scarran invaders. He refuses to countenance returning to share the throne. In a deleted scene, Rygel admits he was a terrible ruler, but says that his exile has educated him and swears to be better this time; he also invites D’Argo and Chi to come with him.
In The Driving Seat: Pilot vouches for Moya’s crew without hesitation.
This Living Ship: Moya takes some serious damage—pierced by multiple harpoons, shot repeatedly by Tragans, then by the Scarran ship as she tries to escape.
Grandma, we love you: Noranti is one of those people who loves a wedding, doing Aeryn’s makeup and throwing flower petals. She’s the one who realises their captors are Eidelons, and leaves Moya to help them come to terms with their discovery, and the fact that Arnessk is re-populated.
The Man in the Iron Mask: Stark goes with Chiana to act as her eyes while they hunt for a diagnosan. He then takes it upon himself to canvas the locals about why they’re hiding beneath a concealment canopy, and is invaluable in helping Yondalao prepare to influence Staleek. He worships the Eidelons, and is horrified at the idea of taking the Eidelon gift from Yondalao by helping him pass over. It’s unclear what effect this has on him…
Bobblehead: She’s got a radical new look and has remained at Scorpius’ side, his right hand girl and tactical advisor. She still harps on about how inferior John is, even to Aeryn.
Jool In The Crown: Jool is still on Arnessk but has turned into some kind of warrior woman who inexplicably has a crush on John. Um, wasn’t it D’Argo that she had the near miss with? Her characterisation is wildly inconsistent with what went before, but I’m so happy to see her I kind of don’t mind. Her new look and hairdo’s cool, too. But oh, then she chooses to stay on Arnessk and she gets nuked, which is just awful.
Nosferatu in leather: Scorpius has wangled himself a job as commander of an armada and been sent to the front, albeit with the hope that he’ll die in the first attack of the massing Scarran fleet. He takes the initiative and launches a pre-emptive strike, pissing off his bosses and starting the war a little earlier than the Scarrans had planned.
He knows the instant John is reconstituted, due to his link with Harvey, and goes awol to find him, regardless of the consequences. Staleek thinks Scorpius wants to be supreme ruler of the universe—is he right?
Hi Harvey: He’s Einstein first, with hints of Doctor Strangelove, and sells John out to Scorpius when he’s reconstituted. As a crash test dummy, he’s oddly keen for John to crash his module and kill Staleek, which seems counter to Scorpius’ aims.
Captain lickspittle: He’s got a foxy little beardette and a shorter haircut, but he’s still captain of his ship and likes to lead from the front—leading the prowler raid on the Scarran ships at great personal risk. Nonetheless, although captain, Scorpius is his overall boss and, since Scorpius is on his ship, he’s still basically Smithers which, despite one moment of dissent when Scorpius signals the retreat, he seems totally fine with. (I bet he’s happy as long as Sikozu and Scorpy still let him watch.)
Servalan Redux: She’s been released from her captivity and hooked up with the Grand Chancellor. She’s pregnant, with a girl (is it John’s!?) She no longer seems to have any official role beyond that of Chancellor’s consort, but she still wanders around making grand, imperious statements as if she owns the place. When she realises that her pet Chancellor is going to surrender, she poisons him—but if influencing him was her key to power, where does that leave her?
Alien Encounters: Of all the luck—it turns out John and Aeryn took their little rowing trip right next to an island hidden beneath a concealment canopy. Living on the island are the last of the Eidelons, the race which built the temple on Arnessk, which we visited at the start of Season Four. They are suspicious and afraid, hiding from the universe. They have lost their ability to influence peace.
Eidelons have a special gland inside their head, an antenna, inner eye to feelings. In the original race, it vibrates to create an energy fields that calms individuals and lets them see reason. Young Eidelons are called ewes. Assuming it’s not meant metaphorically, when young, they open their heads to absorb the emotions of the universe then, when older, they undergo a ritual at the altar to initiate their ability to influence peace. But they can only do this in close proximity to the warmonger they wish to influence.
Their original period of influence ran from 27,000 cycles ago to 12,000 cycles ago. They needed a guard early on, and so they sought out a distant planet with a primitive race nobody had a beef with, took some of them, and genetically modified them to create Sebaceans. Although it’s not explicitly stated, this ties in with the Horus symbol John found on Arnessk and provides a possible explanation for why Sebaceans and humans are so alike, and so compatible.
Peacekeepers born into battle units are genetically modified so that their pregnancies only last a few days.
Grunchlk is alive, despite Stark’s pronouncement that he was ‘effectively dead’ last time we met him.
Bloopers: Aeryn and John are reconstituted with their guns still in their holsters, although we saw the weapons lying on top of their crystalised bodies at the end of ‘Bad Timing.’
It used to be that if you fell off the walkway in Pilot’s den you landed in a lake of guano, now you land in a corridor.
Logic Leaps: So you’ve built a really, really effective concealment canopy to hide your city. A ship lands nearby but shows no sign whatsoever of having noticed your presence. Do you a) wait for them to leave, thus keeping the secret you’ve gone to such lengths to protect, or b) pop outside in a ship and shoot at them, totally blowing your cover? In fact, the entire downfall of their civilisation that results is due to their pointless trigger-happy boneheadedness.
Bishan’s reason for inviting Rygel back is that he is a direct descendant of royal lineage, but if Bishan is Rygel’s cousin, then he is too.
The Scarrans must have special weapons that only destroy metal and not flesh, and also, Chiana and D’Argo must have personal force fields to protect them from the shrapnel because otherwise, their survival when Lo’la is destroyed is utterly stupid. Ahem. Also, now Nebari can survive in space too and yes, clothes and hair still flutter in vacuum. Sigh.
Once John has proven to Staleek that he cannot create wormhole weapons, he is of no use, so what is the nature of the accord he refers to when he returns Rygel? I don’t get why Staleek doesn’t just kill him, or at least put him to the torture. What value does he have now? (Yes, his participation is necessary for the peace accord that Staleek suggests while under Eidelon influence, but he didn’t know that when he returned Rygel.)
With the flower gone, it was established that the Scarrans would have to abandon this sector of space—they were effectively defeated—so how come they’re massing for war? This massive plot point is entirely forgotten.
Backstage: You may notice that Noranti’s makeup in the scene where she realises they’re Eidelons, is totally wrong. In fact, Melissa Jaffer had a violent reaction to the makeup and so Noranti’s decision to remain with Eidelons was concocted at the very last minute to write her out—she had a much larger role in the script. Wayne Pygram also had a bad reaction to his makeup—the adhesive and substance of both their makeups were changed for the mini-series.
The Verdict: I’ll was going to keep my powder dry until part two and review as a whole, but on reflection, Peacekeeper Wars really is a game of two halves and both are quite different. This first half is pretty much the whole storyline of the planned Season Five crammed into 90 minutes, with the finale remaining, I imagine, pretty much as it would have albeit as one bumper episode rather than a three-parter.
In this episode, there is a sense of everything been thrown into the pot, at the page, at the screen. There are lots of details skipped over or ignored that surely would have been addressed had this story played out over 20 episodes or so, as originally planned. But despite all the logic leaps and the seat-of-the-pants storytelling—exacerbated by off-screen curve balls such as Rebeccca Riggs’ pregnancy and the make-up mess—it’s impossible not to forgive all this and go along for the ride.
And what a ride it is! This is fast-paced storytelling, exhilarating, exciting and with a real sense of danger. The effects are superb, it’s lovely to have the show scored by a full orchestra, and the cast are all on top form.
If I have one niggle it’s that the whole Tregan attack adds nothing to the episode and could easily be cut to make room for something more interesting—when you’ve only got 90 minutes to play with it seems odd to waste fifteen of them on a diversion that doesn’t progress the plot one jot.
But that aside, this is great fun and prime Farscape—bonkers, borderline improv sci-fi full of spectacle and sauce.