- Title: Farscape Season 4
- Format: ADV Video (22 eps, 10 DVDs)
- Cast: Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Gigi Edgley, Anthony Simcoe, Wayne Pygram
- Creative Team: Rockne S. O’Bannon, Henson Productions (Brian Henson)
Season Four of Farscape starts off a bit slow, Claudia Black isn’t in the first four episodes, and she’s sorely missed. Also, the first half of the season felt very disconnected, as if they were producing left-over episodes from previous seasons, perhaps slightly re-written to fit the current cast. But all that changes with “Unrealized Reality” and the season is a rocketing steam train from that point on.
Jool is dropped early in the season, fortunately. I never liked her. Actually, she’s one of the most disagreeable fictional characters I’ve ever come across – whenever the character was in danger, I kept hoping she’d die. The screaming was just too much.
She’s replaced with a character, Sikozu, who at first seems a toned-down version of Jool. She has red hair; she’s smart with plenty of “book-learning”, but unlike Jool – she has practical skills too. She doesn’t just tell Moya’s crew she’s an expert in Leviathans and in medicine – she shows it, which puts her miles above Jool. However, she also gets her own storyline, which sneaks up on you and proves fascinating.
The season really picks up with “Unrealized Reality”, where John falls down a wormhole and meets an ancient alien who looks like Simon Pegg in the Doctor Who episode, “The Long Game”. This alien taught The Ancients about wormholes and is trying to figure out what John knows, exactly. Over the course of their conversation, John learns that wormholes aren’t just short-cuts through space, they can lead to different times. But if John were to travel to a different time, the repercussions could be catastrophic. John “travels” to several alternate realities, each worse than the one before. Finally, he learns that by concentrating – he can travel home. Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, he concentrates on home and finds himself floating above Earth. In “Kansas” – John discovers he’s arrived on Earth in 1986 – and he must prevent his father from being on the Challenger while guaranteeing that his younger self will be positioned to create the Farscape Project. In “Terra Firma” John and his crew arrive on Earth in 2003 and make the existence of aliens known. Kent McCord again plays John’s father, but it’s not a flashback or an alien pretending to be Jack Crichton. The scene at the end of “Terra Firma” when they say goodbye to each other was heartbreaking.
From that point on, the season really moves. I’d say that the “Unrealized Reality” trilogy was one of the best of the series. And once John and Moya’s crew are back in Tormented Space the series just moves like a freight train. John finally admits to Aeryn why he’s been so cold to her. He’s not angry at her – he’s protecting her from Scorpius who’s now traveling on Moya. Sikozu proves to be an agent working with Scorpius, though we’re still unsure of motivations of both characters.
In “Bringing Home the Beacon”, Moya’s crew tries to get a camouflage beacon for Moya to throw off the Scarrans and Peacekeepers pursuing them. They get the beacon, but Aeryn is captured. To rescue Aeryn, John and company must go directly into a Scarran base in Scarran space. The final trilogy is awesome! Definitely some of the best work of the series, and watching John become slightly unhinged is again some of Ben Browder’s best work.
In the final episode of the series, it opens with a montage of “previously on Farscape” that includes the entire four years in a few minutes (yeah, I need to re-watch that in slo-mo) and opens with Crichton’s voice, “Finally on Farscape…” which just tears into your heart. John, knowing that the Scarrans now definitely know the location of Earth, and the Peacekeepers may know the location of Earth, decides to collapse the wormhole to Earth. He, Pilot, and Aeryn, in one of Moya’s transport pods, travel there. John lands on the moon, and calls his father, leaving his tape recorder next to the American flag at Serenity base. The conversation between John and his dad (again, Kent McCord) is incredible, heart-breaking, and made me cry. John leaves, knowing he can’t ever go back to Earth or see his family again. He, Aeryn, and Pilot are to collapse the wormhole as they leave near-Earth space.
(SPOILERS) It works, and as everyone on Moya recovers (including Pilot who is now re-installed back in his den, and reconnected to Moya, and the living ship herself) – John and Crichton are in a boat on a planet. Aeryn finally tells John she’s pregnant, she’s OK, and it’s his child. John gives Aeryn his mother’s wedding ring, proposing marriage. From Moya, D’Argo is describing what he sees to a temporary-blind Chiana. It’s Chiana who realizes that far from being angry, John has proposed to Aeryn. Aeryn and John kiss and hold each other. Then from nowhere a ship appears and blows them up (into a pile of little pieces). D’Argo screams in agony. And the series ends with “To Be Continued”. It’s devastating.
Farscape really is a unique, well-made, incredible SF series. It’s unique. The aliens really look alien, in no small part due to the work of the Jim Henson Creature Shop and Brian Henson. John Crichton is a point-of-view character for the entire series – we see this incredible journey through his eyes. And, by the third season it’s like Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, or Neverwhere – having landed in an incredible universe, John wants to go home. Yet, when given that chance he chooses to stay with his friends on Moya, in no small part because he is in love with Aeryn and he feels a responsibility to his unborn son. Aeryn and John’s relationship builds during each season. By the end of a season, they can say “I love you”, to each other. Yet, something then happens to pull them apart, and the following season, they again need to find that sense of love and trust. This is especially true in Seasons 3 and 4. But both also deal with the death of the other. At the end of Season 2 – Aeryn dies, and it’s a Scorpius-controlled John who kills her. It’s Zhann who trades her life for Aeryn, bringing her back. In Season 3, John Two (Talon John) dies in Aeryn’s arms – after they had fallen deeply in love. It’s no surprise that she can’t immediately accept John One – she even disappears for a while at the beginning of Season 4. But Season 4 really picks-up as John and Aeryn begin to reconnect. The saddest thing about the last five minutes of “Bad Timing”, is that John is finally, completely and totally happy. He experiences a brief, shining moment of pure happiness – then is killed. Aeryn too is happy and in love. So their story becomes a tragedy, which gives even more weight to the entire series. The entire brilliant series.
My only regret is that I missed this show when it was on. It’s still effective, brilliant, unique, fun, romantic, adventurous, and an incredible science fiction series. And even ten years on, it doesn’t look dated – if anything, the filmed look is just gorgeous. But it’s less fun to watch a show like this in a vacuum. Highly recommended!