Saturday, April 4, 2015

My Top Ten Farscape Episodes

It took me a while to get on board with "Farscape," since I found the first season very bumpy (oh, those awful dutch angles) and the appeal of various characters was not immediately apparent.  Frequent cast changes and recurring production issues didn't help either.  However, "Farscape" turned out to be one of the most unique space adventure shows, and I genuinely miss it.  Below are my top ten favorite episodes in chronological order, and as as always I will totally cheat and count multi-parters as single entries.  Minor spoilers ahead.
"Premiere" - The first episode of the series had a lot of flaws.  Ben Browder's lost astronaut John Crichton was still a work in progress, and frankly didn't come off very well.  The villains were all pretty dull.  The aliens and the effects work though, were awesome.  The level of the makeup and the costuming and other practical effects were very inconsistent throughout the run of "Farscape," but in the first episode, everyone was clearly giving it their all.   "Premiere" does a great job establishing the look and feel of this universe, and distinguishing it from similar shows. 
"Through the Looking Glass" - The fun of science-fiction series is that they can do very high concept stories that other shows don't, in ways that they often can't.  The premise of "Through the Looking Glass" is wild enough on its own - Moya is fractured into four different dimensions that all require navigating in different ways.  However, it's the depictions of these different dimensions, and the use of color and sound and space that really caught my attention.  Learning the rules and figuring out the puzzle along with Crichton is a lot of fun to experience.    
"Nerve" - Along with the preceding episode "A Bug's Life," and following one, "The Hidden Memory," this is where "Farscape" really kicked into high gear.  The main villain Scorpius is introduced here, along with Stark the complicated madman, and we get the beginnings of all sorts of fun plot arcs that will carry through the rest of the series.  Crichton gets a lot of development during these episodes too, taking big strides toward becoming the badass action hero he'll eventually become.  And he finally ditches the spacesuit for cooler Pecekeeper duds.
"Crackers Don't Matter" - One of the early "mind frell" episodes, where all the usual rules go out the window due to alien elements messing with the characters' perceptions and mental processes.  The crew becomes paranoid and turn on each other, finally culminating in a very silly showdown between Crichton and the monster of the week.  "Crackers" is a fan favorite because of its humor and tone, which the show was finally getting a handle on.  There would be similarly nutty jaunts into the absurd in the future, but few that were as much fun as this.
"Won't Get Fooled Again" - We've already had one episode where Crichton wakes up back on Earth, so when it happens again in the second season, we know it's just aliens messing around  in his head, and the premise can be played for laughs.  To some degree this episode is an excuse for the writers to come up with outrageous, off the wall things to do with the characters - Rygel in bondage gear! - but it's also one of the most important in terms of the ongoing story with Scorpius's neural clone, Harvey, who plays a big part here.
"The Ugly Truth" - I love "Rashomon" episodes because they're so much fun to pick apart.  Here, the whole crew get captured and interrogated about a crime that, or course, they all remember differently.  The different accounts offer a glimpse of how the various characters view one another, but then there's a twist at the end that puts everything into an entirely different light, so you can rewatch it with the new motives in mind.  I always love it when an episode clearly done quick and cheap outshines the bigger, fancier installments around it.
"Liars, Guns and Money" - Then again, there's plenty to be said for gorgeous effects, big action scenes, and putting a lot of money on the screen.  "Liars, Guns, and Money" is a three-parter that helps bring the excellent second season to a close.  What starts as a big mission to rescue D'Argo's son turns into a showdown with Scorpius with all kinds of complications.  This was the biggest thing that the show had attempted at this point in its run, and boy did they pull it off.  Also, quick kudos to my favorite one-shot character, Scorpy's gal-pal Natira.
"Infinite Possibilities" - I loved the double Crichton storyline in the third season and everything that it let "Farscape" do, but it's difficult to single out specific episodes for praise.  So to represent the whole arc, I'm highlighting the two-parter "Infinite Possibilities," where a lot of the big climaxes happen and we wrap up a few of the ongoing plots.  The Crichton-Aeryn relationship in particular is handled just right, cementing the pair as one of my favorite science-fiction power couples.  And this was without question the best use of Rygel ever. 
"Terra Firma" - Another big warning for spoilers here, because it's impossible to talk about this episode otherwise.  So one thing leads to another and the crew of the Moya end up on present-day Earth.  For real this time.  "Farscape" gets to speculate as to what humanity's reaction to the aliens would be, while Crichton has to come to terms with certain uncomfortable realities about his relationship with Aeryn and about his place in the universe.  It's a big turning point for the show, which leads us to the unfortunate reality of...
"The Peacekeeper Wars" - The cancellation of "Farscape" was harsh and mashing an entire season's worth of story into one miniseries was definitely not ideal.  However, the fact that we got an ending at all was something of a miracle, and there's plenty in "The Peacekeeper Wars" to love.  With amped up production values, big goodbyes, big hellos, and just about everybody getting the spotlight one last time, this is a love-fest of epic proportions.  And sure, it's a bit of a mess, but "Farscape" was always a bit of a mess anyway.  So it was an appropriate way to go out.
Happy watching.

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