The Wonders I’ve Seen: 3×01, “Season of Death”

Can I get a HELL YEAH?

In my review of “Die Me, Dichotomy”—written two years ago, oops—I remarked that the season two finale was able to focus entirely on ramping up dread and despair by pushing the solutions to all the problems it was setting up off onto the season 3 premiere.

Well, at long last that premiere has arrived, and it’s a bit of a strange beast. Where “Die Me, Dichotomy” felt focused on the rapidly tightening tragedy, “Season of Death” almost meanders through its aftermath. From the Moya crew’s perspective, they’re facing a series of loosely affiliated problems: first fixing John’s brain, then reviving Aeryn, then an out-of-nowhere Scarran, then a couple of quickly-dispatched Peacekeepers. There’s no singular looming threat, no broader problem to solve. As far as they’re concerned, they really are just cleaning up the loose ends left by the season 2 finale, and setting up a few new loose ends for the season to come.

It’s only from Scorpius’s perspective that the episode takes on a coherent overall narrative. Separated from his command carrier and unable to leave the planet for fear of the nearby Talyn, Scorpius spends the episode trying to figure out how to escape with his newly procured wormhole knowledge. All the action falls out from this conflict, making Scorpius, strangely, kind of the protagonist of “Season of Death.” Or maybe not so strangely—not to get spoilery, but this season does include Wayne Pygram in the main credits.

If there’s any unifying element of the Moya crew’s half of the episode, it’s the theme of end-of-life ethics. As appropriate as that theme is for an episode with this title, I’d forgotten how much time “Season of Death” devotes just to characters arguing about who should be allowed to end or save a life, and under what circumstances. It’s just a little too tacked-on to achieve a ton of emotional resonance, but it’s kind of impressive how many variations on that theme Farscape manages to fit into 45 minutes. Zhaan goes from trying to assist in John’s suicide at his request to trying to resurrect Aeryn against her will within the space of three scenes. Nor does that shift feel poorly placed; like most things that Farscape does, the arguments about suicide, resurrections, and medical ethics always feel very rooted in the sometimes quite alien characters.

If this review feels a little disjointed and unfocused, well, that’s at least partly because it’s been two years since I’ve written a review—but it’s likely also because the episode itself is a little disjointed and unfocused. But it’s not at all a bad episode of Farscape. It’s full of thrilling and emotional moments and fascinating little character beats. And it unquestionably sets things up for an interesting season.

Other Stuff

  • I can’t remember who it was whose Farscape review I read that said they were disappointed in the reasoning that Zhaan gives for sacrificing her life for Aeryn’s—that she should’ve simply said, “Because I love you,” without bringing Crichton into it. There’s certainly something interesting in that idea, and there’s a beautiful simplicity to that line all on its own. But I also think that, well, Zhaan is closer to John than she is to Aeryn, and more importantly, her dialogue in this scene is doing work other than just being a straightforward representation of her motivations. Zhaan tells Aeryn that she’s sacrificing her life for hers so that Aeryn can love and be loved—and immediately on waking, Aeryn decides that she can’t allow herself to love like that. That’s both really effective painful irony and a thematic statement!

  • I haven’t really touched on the D’Argo and Chiana and Jothee of the episode, but honestly, I think I covered the important points in the “Die Me, Dichotomy” review, and very little changes in this episode. Except, of course, that Chiana and Jothee’s affair is consummated.

  • Also not covered in the review, though referenced in the quote and featured image: The perhaps most-remembered scene from this episode, John’s wrestling defeat of the neural clone. It’s a great scene, but there’s not much to say about it other than that it’s great. It does feel a little bit quick to happen, I guess—there’s very little narrative space between John begging Zhaan to kill him and John deciding to toss the neural clone in a dumpster.

  • One thing that “Season of Death” commits to hard is the horrifying things that Farscape can do with bodies. In a show that contains many, many unforgettable body scenes, this episode may have the top two: Scorpius forcing Grnschlk to bite off his own finger, and Scorpius eating John’s brain matter off of the neural chip.


Spoiler 1

Spoiler 2

Please remember to tag spoilers for future episodes in the comments.

Next Monday, September 4, frell me dead, we’re watching 3×02, “Suns and Lovers.”