Mark Watches ‘Farscape’: S03E01 – Season of Death

In the first episode of the third season of Farscape, I really should have expected this given the title. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Farscape. 

Please note that I started off the video for this goddamn episode by asking, “How could this get worse?” WHY? WHY DID I DO THAT? I’ve cursed myself in the worst way possible, and this episode is evidence of that.


I’ll tell y’all, goddamn it. (Basically, here’s why this episode rules.)

1) It respects history.

Ultimately, that’s one of the reasons Farscape has become so satisfying for me to watch. I know this may seem related to my love of serialized narratives, but I actually don’t think it’s quite the same thing. This show has demonstrated to its audience that it can go down any narrative path it damn well pleases. It can have an entire trilogy of episodes in the midst of a season devoted entirely to poking fun at fairy tales and accidental weddings, and then it can follow that up with a number of stories that seem to be unconnected, but are part of the greater fabric of storytelling going on in the background. That fabric is woven by the experience of each of these characters, and it gives us a more rewarding show in the process.

“Season of Death” is built upon the past two seasons of this show in subtle ways and remarkable ones. Without the complicated song-and-dance of Aeryn and Crichton, we wouldn’t have such an emotional reunion, one where Crichton initially refuses to be fooled again (get it?!?!?) by an illusion or his own delusion. In the wake of having his brain repaired, it must have been easy for Crichton to write off the appearance of Aeryn, and that tiny detail, that brief moment that lasted maybe ten seconds, meant the world to me as a viewer. It acknowledged what Crichton had been through recently without the script screeching about it or pointing a bunch of neon arrows at it.

The same could be said about Chiana and Jothee’s decision to have sex, which admittedly seems absolutely ludicrous on the surface. But here are two characters who are tied to the same man who are also both unwilling to be a part of his fantasy life. D’Argo can’t imagine anything better than living the rest of his life out on a farm, free from trouble and worry, and that is precisely Chiana and Jothee’s nightmare. I think there’s also an element of self-sabotage to Chiana’s angle, given that she’s historically had difficulty with commitment in a relationship. She’s fulfilling her own doubt by cheating on D’Argo WITH HIS SON, which will DEFINITELY tear them apart.

And what of Zhaan, who appears to have sacrificed her own life to bring Aeryn back from the dead? Couldn’t you easily argue that her journey of acceptance and peace, to reject her violent past, culminates with this act? What’s less violent than giving one’s life to another so that they can live on?

2) There is always a price to be paid

That’s related to Zhaan’s story, of course, since she even mentions a “price” she has to pay to resurrect Aeryn. But I think it’s part of the greater politics of Farscape as a whole! The show has explored the idea of cost (both physical and mental, monetary and emotional) over the course of two seasons, and that plays deeply into “Season of Death.” From Officer Kobrin, whose arrogance and certainty ironically costs him his life; to Zhaan, who gives up such a huge chunk of spiritual energy to pull Zhaan back into the world that she begins to die; to Grunchlk, whose constant attempts to double-cross everyone around him leaves him with too many variables in one space; to D’Argo not asking if the people he’s constructed a fantasy world about whether or not they want to be a part of that; to Chiana and Jothee, who think that somehow means that betraying D’Argo is a good idea????; each of these characters pays a price for their actions.

What’s fascinating to me is how both Crichton and Scorpius, at least for the time being, don’t really fit into this. Crichton spends this episode closing off Harvey!Scorpius in his head, and Scorpius hasn’t had to pay for his actions in… well, quite some time. It’s why he makes such a good (and infuriating) villain; every time you think he’s about to get his comeuppance, he weasels out of it. Hell, in this case, he sends a top officer to his death and makes off with the wormhole technology. He won, at least for now!

3) The show goes a million times further than anyone is remotely comfortable with.

I have no problem admitting how unsettling Farscape is at this point. SHOULD I LIST ALL THE AWFUL THINGS WE SEE IN JUST THIS EPISODE ALONE?

  • On-screen confirmation that the “specimens” Grunchlk kept in his storage facility WERE STILL ALIVE IN SOME HELLISH STATE OF LIMBO.
  • Chiana cheating on D’Argo with his son and Jothee sleeping with his father’s partner.
  • (How old is Jothee? Like… is there another uncomfortable aspect to this that I’m not seeing?)
  • The show letting everyone believe that Scorpius is dead, but he’s not, and OH GOD IT’S GONNA BE SO HORRIBLE WHEN THEY FIND OUT.
  • Seriously, even without the chip, Harvey!Scorpius is still in Crichton’s brain. Look, if this show has taught me anything, anyone can come back. Doesn’t matter if their atoms were spread to the winds, ANYONE CAN COME BACK. So I think that Harvey isn’t out of the picture, and that’s fucked up.
  • Zhaan is gonna die.
  • Scorpius mind-controlling Grunchlk and threatening Grunchlk by making him eat his own fingers. THERE ARE FEW THINGS IN THE UNIVERSE MORE FUCKED UP THAT THAT SCENE.

Fuck this show.

4) No one is prepared.

This was a spectacular premiere, and it got me thinking about how I felt so-so towards season two’s premiere. That’s not the case here, and I’m so thrilled to see what Farscape will do to me. I know it’s fun to tell me that I’m not prepared, but this show repeatedly throws rules and tropes off cliffs. It is a ridiculous ride, so much so that I couldn’t even explain what it was about when I was prompted to a few days ago. It took me a few minutes, but I basically said it was as if Firefly took a billion more risks than it did, and there were puppets. Fucked up, beautiful puppets. Oh my god, I AM STILL SO SAD ABOUT TOCOT.

Y’all, I don’t even know what this show has become. I mean this in the most loving way possible, but it’s a hot mess of everything, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The chaos, the humor, and the intensity makes it charming to me. It took a long time for Farscape to win me over – perhaps longer than pretty much anything I’ve done for this site – but lord, am I so happy that I stuck around.

The video for “Season of Death” (THAT’S WHAT THE EPISODE IS CALLED FUCK THIS SHOW Y’ALL) can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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