Farscape: Season of Death

"Unity, Aeryn. The sharing of minds and souls."

When a certain well known and highly popular character was resurrected in a season opener (I'm withholding the name for the sake of anyone who hasn't yet watched the show, but if you've seen it, you know who I mean!), the show runners talked about how they needed to make it difficult, to make the resurrection cost something so that death would not start to seem cheap and the feat could not possibly be repeated for any other characters. The inspiration they cited was the (classic) Star Trek movies, and I am about to spoil those so look away if you haven't seen them!

When Spock is resurrected in Star Trek: The Search for Spock, it happens because of a unique set of circumstances that can never recur (Spock's body landed on the Genesis planet as it was generating 'life from lifelessness') and the cost to Kirk is enormous (his ship and his son). Granted, the losses of David and the Enterprise are not directly connected to Spock's resurrection, but in terms of narrative, they ensure that emotionally, a price is paid for something so miraculous.

Farscape takes the same approach here. It is possible to resurrect Aeryn because her body was being kept vital in order to serve as an organ donor, and the cost, this time directly related to the resurrection, is enormous - Zhaan is dying. A life has been paid for with a life, ensuring that this is not going to be a regular occurrence (and only Zhaan could work such a miracle anyway). It's a neat bit of writing that ensures that this resurrection, while expected, does not feel cheap or unearned.

Aeryn's return overshadows the story, but there are, of course, other things going on. One of the jobs of a season opener is, naturally, to set up the plot arcs for the season. Here, we get references to the installation of Scorpius' cooling system, appearances from Scarrans, confirmation of the continued existence of Harvey even though Scorpius no longer directly controls him, we pick up two new aliens, and we see relationships between the characters - particularly Chiana and D'Argo, though D'Argo is ignorant of it for now - start to shift. None of these threads are resolved because they are all setting things in place for the season to come, and that's fine.

The only slight problem is the continued dragging out of the relationship drama between John and Aeryn. They both say 'I love you', they make out, Zhaan specifically brought Aeryn back because John loves her - and yet, they continue to faff about because Aeryn seems to think not being physically intimate will somehow stop their emotions and judgment from being compromised which is, to put it politely, total b*llocks. They're still the hottest couple on television, though.

Bits and pieces

 - Crichton's opening monologue is significantly changed for the new season. Some of the changes relate to basic changes in the plot (although Crichton is still being hunted by Scorpius, the reference to being hunted by 'an insane military commander' doesn't really cover it any more, and the monologue now specifies that the escaped prisoners are Crichton's friends) but more importantly, it re-frames Crichton's experiences in a more positive light - he's no longer 'just looking for a way home' but has seen 'wonders'.

 - No spoilers, but I will observe that when the opening episode of the season is called 'Season of Death', it doesn't inspire confidence that the rest of the season will be rainbows and fluffy bunnies.

 - When Zhaan goes to fetch Aeryn, the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) from the Roman Catholic mass is being sung in the background, which was also played at her funeral in 'Die Me, Dichotomy'. It always seems a bit random to me (neither Catholicism nor Latin appear to have reached the Uncharted Territories) but it's a good piece of music and the Agnus Dei is sung before communion, which relates to death, sacrifice (the 'lamb of God' who is sacrificed for others) and resurrection, so there's that.

 - No one can understand why the attempt to remove the Scorpius clone was unsuccessful. I reckon it was because Harvey is far too useful and far too entertaining to lose from the show.

 - I met Paul Goddard at a convention before I ever saw an episode of the show, so have always had a great fondness for Stark as a character. Plus I like Stark, he's always interesting.

 - I am also weirdly fond of Braca, for no other reason than I just think he's cool. I have a whole strange interest in second-in-command characters who just follow orders and are incredibly loyal. I want to know more about Braca. What makes him tick? Why does he follow Scorpius? Is it just ambition? The fact that we'll probably never know is what makes it interesting!


D'Argo: Do not make me tongue you.

Aeryn: I shouldn't be here.
Crichton: This is exactly where you should be.

Crichton: What if he likes it?
D'Argo: Look, one! plan! at a time!

A solid season opener that does a good job of bringing back Aeryn. Three out of four random bits of Catholic music.

Juliette Harrisson is a freelance writer, classicist and ancient historian who blogs about Greek and Roman Things in Stuff at Pop Classics.


Billie Doux said...

That's an excellent point about making them pay for the resurrection, Juliette, and you're right -- it's very like what happened in ST:TSfS.

I never disliked Stark, but he never did much for me as a character. Seeing actors in person definitely affects how we see them, though. I wasn't crazy about Patrick Stewart during the first season of Next Gen -- but then I saw him at a con and promptly went nuts for him. Of course, season one of Next Gen was nothing to write home about.

TJ said...

I always looved Stark, though he could be a bit OTT.

Remember this little conversation Rygel had about Stark.

Rygel (talking to a three-eyed person): We gotta find Stark!
Three-Eyed person: Who's Stark?
Rygel: Oh, just another crazy person with the wrong number of eyes.

Mallena said...

There goes Aeryn, running away from her feelings when things get too emotional for her to handle. Her character's journey in learning how to love and trust is the most fascinating, and maddening part of this series. I dig Braca, too. He never seemed like a bad guy, and he always did his best, even when his bosses asked some pretty strange things of him.

Thomas Ijon Tichy said...

Wonderful review :)