In the final part of The Peacekeeper Wars, Crichton struggles with the power he wields. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to finish Farscape.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of genocide
What a ride, y’all.
I have such complex feelings about Farscape as a whole, but nothing’s clearer to me than the fact that this show is never what it seemed. Nothing has ever surprised me more – in good ways and bad ones – and nothing is remotely comparable to this experience. I’ve always been more of a science fiction fan than a fantasy one, and I think that’s why I tend to be so critical of the tropes that come along with it. Really good, surprising sci-fi is my bread and butter, and I’m happy to say that even with the bumps along the way, I’ll always be able to look upon Farscape as a genuinely fantastic thing, something that’s set the bar for episodic genre television quite high.
Also, fuck this show forever.
Getting it Wrong
I get shit wrong SO OFTEN, and it’s actually a freeing feeling for me because fandom can be so harsh about getting things “right” the first time. I mean, LOOK HOW WRONG I’VE BEEN ABOUT THIS SHOW OVER THE COURSE OF FOUR SEASONS. Sometimes, I think you could blame the show for being unable to communicate certain bits of exposition or for hiding information within a muddled narrative. I was confused a lot watching this show, but I don’t think I want to be too harsh about that. Farscape respects its audience so deeply that it routinely challenges us to put the pieces together on our own. It is a way to reward those paying attention, of course, but it also makes for stimulating television.
So even here in the miniseries, I went into the second part completely convinced that the Eidelons were useless, that the team had lost that solution to this war. But these ragtag band of heroes don’t give up, and one of the ongoing motifs of Farscape is that impossible odds don’t mean literal impossibility; they mean a challenge. The challenge presented here is getting Stark back to the Eidelon planet so that he can pass along Yondalao’s knowledge to Muoma, who can then teach the survivors, and yes, THIS IS A LOT OF VARIABLES FOR A PLAN. That’s the point. Every step these characters take, there’s about a thousand things that can go wrong, and some of them do go wrong.
But they don’t give up.
Of course, even that idea is then complicated by Crichton’s decision to accept that the Eidelon plan might not work at all. As a way of buying some sort of insurance, he does not consult anyone and heads straight back to Einstein, all so that Einstein can unlock the knowledge of how to create a wormhole weapon. I’ll touch on this more when I talk about the climactic battle, but I’m so impressed that Farscape chose not to depict this journey as one that was heroic and necessary. Throughout The Peacekeeper Wars, this is a moral nightmare, and it’s portrayed as such. It is a last resort that is so much more horrible than anyone can possibly know, and even then? Aeryn is disturbed when she finds out what Crichton’s done. We finally see the full context of their argument, and what’s fascinating to me is how Aeryn notes that Crichton is equivocating his protection of Aeryn and the child with protection of the entire universe. I don’t blame the man for thinking this, given that he’s spent over four years learning just how dangerous the universe is because of the Scarrans and the Peacekeepers. So we’ve got a depiction that’s both critical of the choices made while being empathetic about the reasons that Crichton chose what he did. And I appreciate that complexity. This situation is not as simple as it seems to others. Is it a matter of killing tens of thousands of people to save billions? Is it self defense, as Crichton proclaims to Pilot? Or is it somewhere in between?
War is Hell
More so than any single episode of the series, The Peacekeeper Wars presents us with a story that borrows heavily from the war genre, and so much of what happens on the Eidelon planet felt like we were stuck deep in the trenches. In terms of tone and visuals, it’s grim, dirty, and destructive, and it highlights both the tension and desperation of the current situation. I’m actually pleased with my experience watching this miniseries in two parts because it allowed me to appreciate the juxtaposition happening here more than I might have if I’d just watched it straight through. The Eidelon temple was a grand, beautiful thing, but in the second half of the miniseries, it’s a pile of rubble. It’s a constant reminder that this war is about destroying what is holy and sacred without a single care for the outcome. Again, you can’t ignore the genocidal acts that the Scarrans commit, and that’s vital in understand the true horror of the ending. We have to see how frightening it is to wipe out an entire people so that we can appreciate the horror of what Crichton does.
There’s a lot that happens down on that planet’s surface, though that’s not to suggest that the pace drags or that it’s unnecessary. The second half of this felt like it flew by, y’all! But I wanted to acknowledge how the darkness of this whole sequence served the story brilliantly before I addressed some of the specific moments.
Well, I fell for that misdirect. (I have fallen for so many of them on this show.) I admit that this is about the only thing here that left me feeling weird. Sikozu has been an intriguing and necessary addition to this show, and I even admit to enjoying her romantic relationship with Scorpius. I don’t think that her loyalty to the Kalish resistance should be taken lightly, but the reveal that she – not Grunchlk – was the group’s traitor is very, very perplexing to me. How could she possibly believe that the Scarrans would honestly free the Kalish from servitude? She’s not a naïve character, and this seems painfully shortsighted of her. I don’t question her claim that she loved Scorpius, either, so… what? And even stranger, after she’s exposed as a spy, Scorpius leaves her behind, she’s found by Grunchlk, and then…. nothing? Everyone gets closure here, but not her. Am I to assume she died on Qujaga when the planet was sucked into the black hole?
I imagine that there’s an easy complaint to make about Aeryn’s role in this episode, namely that it seems she is completely unaffected by giving birth. That’s a fair assessment, but I was personally pleased that this show did not stick Aeryn on the sidelines and turn her into a damsel that needed rescuing. No, she’s still a damn good soldier, through and through, and I must point out that WHILE IN LABOR, SHE WAS STILL KILLING CHARRIDS. Post-labor? She’s got her son in one arm and a gun in the other, and it’s just the most beautiful, perfect representation of all that is Aeryn Sun. QUEEN OF EVERYTHING, I SWEAR.
I can’t talk about this yet. It hurts too much.
I’m your daddy.
IT HURTS SO MUCH.
You’re the closest friend I have.
Fuck you so much, Farscape.
I’ll find you.
WHY DID I EVER TRUST YOU, FARSCAPE. I shouldn’t have forgotten that this show had Crichton propose to Aeryn, put a ring on her finger, and then immediately shatter them both into tiny crystals. I should have known that once Chiana agreed to go with D’Argo to Hyneria, this relationship was doomed.
I’m not getting over this.
The Wormhole Weapon
This show had never portrayed the choices before John Crichton as easy ones. The morality of Farscape has been a complex beast, and the writers never shied away from having their characters do undeniably terrible things. But at the core of this struggle has been John Crichton, the accidental American whose bad timing set in motion a ridiculous nightmare. It set Crais against him, it put him in the hands of the Ancients, it put him in Scorpius’s life, and now, onboard Moya, staring down an unending war between two parties unwilling to stop, he has to make a choice. It’s bad timing all over again, because if he wasn’t in immediate danger, would he have chosen to give everyone what they wanted? If Moya and Jothee’s ship could have burst away from the fight, I imagine there could have been a moment of introspection. I imagine that the Eidelons could have learned more from Muoma and they might have been able to give Crichton and the others another choice.
But everyone wanted that wormhole weapon. Scorpius wanted it for himself; the Peacekeepers and the Scarrans believed it would give them absolute power; Rygel and Chiana wanted revenge; and Aeryn wanted protection and a world without this eternal conflict. That’s not to say it’s everyone’s fault necessarily, but that only Einstein and Crichton knew exactly what they were asking for.
So Crichton gives to them.
It’s a scene that relies so wholly on the visual terror of that black hole that I don’t think I could ever properly describe it here. (Hey, I know there are people who read my reviews, but aren’t actually watching the show or reading the book!) After years hinting at this horrible power and giving us a glimpse just once of what this knowledge could do, Farscape finally unleashes a wormhole weapon on the universe, and it is so much more awful than I ever could have comprehended. The size of it. The power of it. The snarling viciousness of it. The truth of it: once unleashed, the wormhole weapon consumes all, destroys all, and becomes all. There’s always been that threat of ownership here, that whomever has the weapon would control everything, but that’s wrong. Whomever uses it guarantees that no one ever again gets to use it because THE WHOLE UNIVERSE WILL GET SUCKED INTO IT. It might very well be a Cold War analogy, but we don’t need that context to appreciate how monstrous and disturbing this is.
This show is so fucked up. How many thousands died in that scene? I can’t even begin to appreciate how horrible that thing was.
I’m pleased with the end of this series because the conclusion is both bittersweet and hopeful. It doesn’t really devolve into some cheesy trope-filled nightmare, though I knew Aeryn and Crichton were going to name their son after D’Argo once Aeryn said his name would represent courage and strength. Okay, a little cheesy, but as grim and harrowing as this show has been, I’m fine with it giving us a little bit of hope and joy at the end of everything. It’s not a promise, and the peace between the Scarrans and the Peacekeepers will probably be a temporary thing. At the very least, though, Crichton found his exit: he demonstrated what these two parties most wanted, and he showed them that no one should want it. Stark found his exit. Harvey found his, too. It doesn’t imply an end, of course, but it means that there’s a life out there for these characters outside of the current nightmare.
I’m still not over D’Argo, for the record.
Goddamn, y’all, this has been one hell of a show, and I’m so glad I gave it a chance. IT GOT REAL WEIRD THERE IN THE FIRST SEASON. But this is a great example of a show working for me because of this format! If I’d watched this on my own without any sort of commitment to see it all, I don’t know that I would have made it to season two, and SEASON TWO IS SO WORTH IT. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen something where past episodes become so much better because of the future ones. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a show so openly troll its audience, so for that alone, I won’t forgive any of you for tormenting me via watching Farscape. I’LL JUST CONTINUE BLAMING EACH OF YOU.
In all seriousness, thank you to the folks who got me to watch this, namely Colleen and Donald, who both supported me many times and got me to stick Farscape on my schedule. You’re wonderful people, and your contribution to my life is invaluable. I am just so happy that Farscape is now a part of my experience on Mark Watches and I hate you all and I’m going to go bury myself in my feelings before I start In the Flesh.
Make sure to check my Master Schedule for all of the upcoming Double Features! After In the Flesh, I’ve got Terminator liveblogs Thanksgiving weekend, then The Sarah Connor Chronicles, then LEVERAGE IT’S HAPPENING Y’ALL I CAN’T WAIT. In the meantime, please feel free to link to me everything in this fandom that I missed out on. Videos, bloopers, behind-the-scenes stuff that is now no longer spoilery… you know the drill. I NEED ALL THE THINGS.
The video for The Peacekeeper Wars, Part II can be downloaded here for $1.99.
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