"Do you want to see it? The
thing you’ve been chasing my ass all over the universe for? Torturing
me, my wife, my friends? Do you want to see it?"
"With a cherry on top."
"With a cherry on top."
"Happy birthday. Now get out of my sight."
-- Crichton gives his old nemesis Scorpius
what he wants.
How long has it been since they axed Farscape? It seems like
years -- wait, it has been years. The SCI-FI Channel announced
the series' cancellation in September 2002, and the final episode aired
in March 2003.
A year and a half later, we get to see how the story ends.
If you're new to the area, Farscape was a science fiction
series that aired on the SCI-FI Channel for four seasons, from 1998 to
2003. Created by Rockne S. O'Bannon of Alien Nation fame, it was
produced by the Jim Henson
Company, which brought all its creative powers to bear in fashioning a
distant galaxy of bizarre alien races constantly at each other's
The show was unpredictable, never afraid to change its lead
characters in drastic ways or explore the most bizarre implications of
what they did and saw in their strange corner of the cosmos. And its
visual effects, sets, and costumes were invariably terrific, whether
gorgeous or grotesque. Farscape was a hit with critics and
garnered a rabidly loyal cadre of fans, although -- SCI-FI execs were
quick to point out amid the post-cancellation protests -- it never
scored top ratings, and as the story grew it became less and less
accessible to new viewers.
The hero of the show was John Crichton (Ben Browder), an astronaut
from modern-day Earth whose experimental self-powered space shuttle got
sucked unexpectedly into a wormhole and shot across the universe.
Crichton fell in with a band of alien fugitives and exiles living aboard
a living starship named Moya. Moya's band spent the next four years on
the run from two rival (and equally brutal) interstellar empires, the
humanlike Peacekeepers and the alien Scarrans, both of which wanted the
secrets to wormhole travel that a mysterious race called The Ancients
locked away in Crichton's brain.
I could go on a lengthy tirade over the way SCI-FI handled
Farscape, but we have plenty of those already. See "Crackers Do
Matter," Caitlin Kiernan's exegis of the show and its powerful
appeal, for instance, or Jayme Lynn
Blaschke's remembrance of a viewing of the final episode.
In a nutshell, the Farscape team got word of the cancellation
after they had finished photography on the final episode of the season,
which ended on the mother of all cliffhangers: the lead hero and heroine
blown literally to bits as -- no lie -- on-screen text says "To Be
Continued." Of course, it wasn't.
In late 2003 rumors started flying that SCI-FI was going to
greenlight a Farscape miniseries that would tie up the monumental
loose ends left by the show's unfortunate finale. In April 2004, they
made the official announcement. And we started counting down to word of
the miniseries' cancellation. You thought we were joking, didn't you?
Well, here we are. On October 17 and 18, 2004, Farscape: The
Peacekeeper Wars is set to air on the SCI-FI Channel. I even have a
review copy of the miniseries on DVD to prove it.
Maybe wisecracks do matter.
Back in Black
Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars opens with squat alien
emperor-in-exile Rygel (voiced by Jonathan Hardy) doing something he apparently was born to do but
which we've never seen before -- swimming. (Let's hear it for a
bountiful effects budget and the magic of CGI!) He's at the bottom of the
sea where Crichton and Aeryn (Claudia Black) were blown to bits two months before,
picking up the last pieces of them that he can find.
In modern medicine, many things are possible.
Before you know it, Crichton and Aeryn are back, still wearing their
stylish black leather trenchcoats, and everyone is pointing guns at each
other and talking very slowly to avoid getting them blown to bits all
over again. Their hosts: The Eidelons, the aliens with the nasty
wide-open faces who blasted them. Only now the aliens have their faces
closed, thankfully, so they look quite human. And they may have a key to
stopping the ever-escalating Peacekeeper-Scarran war -- their ancestors
had the power to project an aura that calmed hostilities and encouraged
negotiation. And some of those ancestors still live, on a planet
discovered by Moya's crew not long ago.
Naturally, things don't go according to plan. For one thing,
Crichton's old enemy, the half-Peacekeeper, half-Scarran villain
Scorpius (Wayne Pygram), ever obsessed with the possibility of using a wormhole as the
ultimate weapon, senses that Crichton has returned to life and abandons
his Peacekeeper post to find him. For another, the Scarrans have a spy
that allows them to follow Crichton's every move. Plus, every time
Crichton and Aeryn pause for five minutes to say wedding vows, someone
starts dropping bombs on them.
Oh, and Rygel is now carrying Crichton and Aeryn's baby. Ain't love
Peacekeepers, Do Your Duty
The Peacekeeper Wars is not a stand-alone miniseries by any
means. Newcomers to Farscape will be lost from the first scene
and will stay lost until the closing credits. This one is strictly for
the fans: It takes the story that was developing at the end of season
four and wraps it up in a two-part rush of action, desperation, and
grief, without pausing to explain or even drop hints as to who's who and
why they're being so weird. If you're not already a fan, prepare to be
confused. But you might enjoy the action enough to go back to the
earlier seasons on DVD.
If you are a fan, this is your chance to see Crichton, Aeryn, D'Argo (Anthony Simcoe),
Chiana (Gigi Edley), Pilot (voiced by Lani Tupu), Moya -- and, yes, the insanely irritating Stark (Paul Goddard) -- one
last time, along with all the villains that have pursued them.
The Peacekeeper Wars was written by series creators Rockne S.
O'Bannon and David Kemper, and they're at the top of their game. Some of
the plotlines feel forced, with one or two events stretching credulity
for the sake of moving the story along; but at least that means the
story can move along at a relentless pace, keeping the suspense up while
setting up the characters for what's going to come next: Rygel's status
with his empire; the on-again, off-again romance between Chiana and
D'Argo; Stark's inability to ever find peace with the voices of the dead
in his head. Even D'Argo's sullen son Jothee (Nathaniel Dean) figures prominently in the
And, of course, there are Crichton and Aeryn, who spent years falling
in love despite all odds only to have the future stripped away from them
at every turn. What does the future hold now? I won't say, but the
miniseries' climax is more spectacular and horrific than ever before on
Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars shouldn't have been necessary.
If the last episode of season four had ended just a few seconds earlier,
with Aeryn and Crichton smiling as he slid the ring on her finger, fans
who had fallen in love with Farscape and its characters would
have been left with a fitting close to the show's run. But we can be
glad for what The Peacekeeper Wars offers: a few more hours with
those beloved characters and the epic story that drove them, and --
strange as it may sound -- a sense of closure for their loss.
The story is finally over, and with The Peacekeeper Wars it
goes out in true Farscape style: thrilling, heartbreaking,
unpredictable, and altogether grand.