“Farscape”: The Complete Skip It/Watch It Guide

[I've wanted to do a SI/WI for this show for ages, but it's been a while since I really dug into the Henson Company's insane combination of puppets, sci-fi and attractive people in leather pants. Fortunately, I happen to know a bonafide "Farscape" expert, and she was willing to step in and perform this valuable public service! Andreanna Ditton, take it away... --Liz]

Farscape is, as one character says, “Disneyland on Acid.” It’s a roller-coaster of sci-fi and bad decisions when the human is always wrong, but that doesn’t stop him from having a plan. Our protagonists are all escaped criminals, from the big blue priest (Zhaan), who orgasms in the light, to the tentacled warrior masquerading as a Klingon rip-off (D’Argo), who turns out to be funny, young, romantic and ragey. There’s a soldier (Aeryn Sun), raised by a fascist military race that look human, who accidentally goes against her training and gets exiled for it. And then there’s the deposed dictator with the worst case of swamp gas in history (Rygel). Couple all that with a living ship (Moya), her snarktastic Pilot (Pilot), and John Crichton, All-American boy wonder who got shot through a wormhole into the ass-end of a universe that considers him expendable, problematic, and eventually marked for death — and you have a television show.

This is science fiction for people who like their comedy in turns black and snot-filled, their love stories fraught and full of sex, their action-sequences big, the consequences bigger, and the actual science…best left unexplored. It’s space opera on an epic scale.

Farscape tackles all the traditional tropes, then turns them on their collective heads. Continuity matters. Story matters. This is the Odyssey — a man lost in the universe, trying to get home. In the meantime, home changes. Decisions don’t get undone in Farscape, for any of the characters — heroes or villains. It helps that the cast is uniformly stellar, that crazy is not pretty but terrifying, that space is vast, and villains cruel but multi-faceted, and that everyone is capable of doing bad all by themselves.

And yes, there are puppets. If those puppets don’t make you cry at some point, you have no heart.

So, three tracks of viewing:

MUST SEE: It’s either central to the bigger story, or it’s just so good that you’d be a fucking moron to skip it. Frankly, all of Season 3 falls into this category, though your mileage may vary.
WATCH IT: You will enjoy it, there are contributions to character development and possibly the story arc, but if you need to gain an extra 45 minutes…
SKIP IT: You’re better off not seeing it if you’re trying to maintain momentum.

Season One has more skip it eps than any other because the show itself is all over the place first season, but Season Four has the only ep that I honestly loathe. Later, when you love it, come back, watch them all. Farscape believed in the idea of “Reach for the stars, so if you fail, fail big.” And sometimes? They failed big.

SEASON ONE
1. “Premiere”: Must see. The pilot is absolutely MUST SEE. Yes, it’s a little cheesy and synthesizer-filled. However, it’s also solid storytelling, and you meet the central cast in all their smelly, messy, angry, bitchy glory. It’s wonderful and goofy and later, you will mourn just how…innocent everyone is. Plus, it sets up two central premises of the show: “You can be more.” And “Spielberg was wrong.” And the first fart joke. [The first of many! --Liz]

2. “I, E.T.”: Skip it. There is a cool role reversal here – Crichton is the E.T. — plus we learn that Zhaan can take away pain momentarily, Rygel will do the right thing if threatened, and Aeryn is a badass. Take these things as a given and move on.

3. “Exodus from Genesis”: Watch it. I put this tentatively in the Watch It category. It’s deeply silly. But it also gives you essential info about Peacekeepers and their physical limitations, we see Aeryn almost naked, and we get the first sense of how fucked up Crais’ obsession with Crichton really is going to be. Plus spacebugs.

4. “Throne for a Loss”: Watch it. Another deeply silly, and deeply satisfying episode, with bonus call back in Season 2. Aeryn and D’Argo’s bonding is a magnificent thing, and we get the first of many well-intentioned efforts by our crew that goes awry. Plus, MORE fart jokes. So many fart jokes. It’s not necessary, but it’s fun. And dumb. And fun.

5. “Back and Back and Back to the Future”: Skip it. Definitely skip. There are alternate realities and timelines, but they don’t count and we don’t learn anything essential about anyone except the Australian guest stars’ willingness to emulate ‘80’s aerobics gurus. The only thing notable is Aeryn in a sports bra.

6. “Thank God it’s Friday. Again”: Skip it. I hate to recommend skipping this – there’s Luxan hyper rage, Aeryn doing science, “You give me a woody,” interplanetary hippies, and a truly gross bug. But aside from the character beats, this doesn’t propel the story forward. Although John Crichton in his pink vest is adorable.

7. “PK Tech Girl”: Must see. Old Peacekeeper ships, old enemies, snark, and snogging. Crichton remembers that he used to have a thing for blondes (turns out Peacekeepers have Techs, and blondes) and the teenage mutant ninja fire breathers appear. Plus, solid pacing, great Aeryn pissy-ness, and a set-up for the rest of the series.

8. “That Old Black Magic”: Skip it. Dumb. This episode is dumb. Maldis is dumb, and even though he shows up again, he’s just as dumb then.

9. “DNA Mad Scientist”: Must see. In certain ways, I want to tell you to just skip straight here from the Pilot. But I can’t. Because I want you to watch some of the adorable. This episode? Not adorable. This episode is hard core. There is goo. There are things poked into eyes. There is heartbreak and a terrible, terrible pun. This ep changes the game, and the continuity train begins its journey here.

10. “They’ve Got a Secret”: Skip it for time, Watch it for character arcs. This ep is proof that all alien life can have weird reproductive issues. But it also demonstrates Farscape’s willingness to adhere to established facts – there’s no reset button in this ‘verse. And you get utter Crichton/Aeryn adorableness. Plus some D’Argo/Zhaan adorableness, and even some D’Argo/Rygel adorableness. (Also, D’Argo’s crime is revealed and we learn about his family).

11. “Till the Blood Runs Clear”: Must see. This ep is a little bit goofy, but central to the story, because we meet Furlow, who is played by the fab Magda Szubanski. Also, blind, pissy Aeryn makes up for the kind of terrible dog-like alien trackers and male posturing. Bonus continuity in two ways from this ep.

12. “Rhapsody in Blue”: Maybe skip it. This ep is skippable, but we rarely get to see Zhaan really holding a storyline and she is so very blue. They are all so very blue. Watch if you love Zhaan. Skip if you want to plow ahead in the arc.

13. “The Flax”: Must see. Space pirates, gender swap, space trash and CPR-near death.

14. “Jeremiah Crichton”: Skip it. Even the creators are embarrassed about this episode. They do an entire DVD commentary on how hilariously terrible it is. Also, no plot points are advanced, unless you count John being pissy as a plot point. [I recall being oddly charmed by this episode, but I have pretty terrible taste. --Liz]

15. “Durka Returns”: Must see. We meet Chiana, who is awesome, even with her yet-to-be-solidified accent. Also Durka, who is also awesome. But mostly, its Chi and her brand of teenaged, grey-girl morality.

16. “A Human Reaction”: Must see. Farscape doesn’t do the reset button. But Farscape will fuck with your head and make you cry. And send our hero home before the series finishes. This episode is essential.

17. “Through the Looking Glass”: Watch it. It’s so fun, and it’s the last purely playful stand-alone. Aeryn is becoming more, there’s a lot of vomiting, and there’s terrible rhyming. I kind of love this ep.

18. “A Bug’s Life”: Must see. Larrack, and the renegade PKs, are dreamy, Aeryn is keyed up and pony-tailed, and Crichton unleashes the worst accent in the history of accents (barring Angel’s Irish accent). But literally everything that happens in the next 70 eps stem from this episode.

19. “Nerve”: Must see. Crais is not the creepiest bad guy in the universe, turns out. Hello, Scorpius. Also, we meet Stark, and there’s more vomit, and the continuity train chugs forward.

20. “The Hidden Memory”: Must see. This is the second half of “Nerve”, and contains the best speech in the entire world by Aeryn Sun.

21. “Bone to be Wild”: Watch it. The A-plot is kind of predictable – don’t trust your assumptions or you might get eaten. But the B-plot is small and lovely. You could skip to Family Ties, but you’ll want a breather before you get there.

22. “Family Ties”: Must see. No one knew if they were going to be renewed, so Farscape begins the tradition of ending an entire story on a cliff-hanger. This ep is beautiful, and maddening, and might make you cry. A Jerry Springer kind of family, indeed.

SEASON TWO
1. “Mind the Baby”: Must see. They did get renewed, and this is a satisfying follow-up to kick off the season. Everyone is pissy, everyone is adorable in their pissy-ness, Crais tries to blackmail Aeryn and it has the best tag ever.

2. “Vitas Mortis”: Skip it. Unless you’re deeply invested in watching D’Argo have sex, skip this.

3. “Taking the Stone”: Watch it. No real plot gets moved forward, but we start to get a sense that all is not right with John Crichton. Is it PTSD? Is it something else? Plus, it’s nice Chiana/Crichton bonding, which is always worthwhile.

4. “Crackers Don’t Matter”: Must see. Traltixx. Crackers and the worst of our instincts, plus the crew gets to dress up John the way they really see him.

5. “The Way We Weren’t”: Must see. Possibly the best episode of the series. We see Aeryn’s past, and Aeryn figures out her future while we also learn something heartbreaking about Pilot and Moya.

6. “Picture if You Will”: Skip it. More Maldis. More stupid.

7. “Home on the Remains”: Skip it. Not much plot momentum, but more Chiana story. And another set of really terrible accents. But we do learn you shouldn’t eat dentics.

8. “Dream a Little Dream”: Skip it. This episode, sadly, is just boring. It’s supposed to be the other half of Mind the Baby – what happened to the rest of the crew while D’Argo, John and Aeryn were floating in space. But it’s boring.

9. “Out of Their Minds”: Must see. No plot is harmed in the making of this episode, but there are boobies, vomiting, penises, and Skeksis. WATCH THIS! [Andreanna is being deliberately vague here. But she is correct. THIS EPISODE IS AMAZING. --Liz]

10-12. “Look at the Princess (1): A Kiss Is But a Kiss,” “Look at the Princess (2): I Do, I Think,” “Look at the Princess (3): The Maltese Crichton”: Must see. Farscape meets Buck Rogers. We meet the Scarrans, who are kind of bad-ass. We run into Scorpius, again. Everyone makes terrible, terrible decisions — some because they have no choice, some because they just can’t deal with reality. And there’s kissing — lots of kissing, and statues, and sex and babies. And more kissing.

13. “My Three Crichtons”: Skip it. No one needs to see bald, penis free John Crichton. [Seconded. --Liz]

14. “Beware of Dog”: Watch it. Things are starting to really go wrong with Crichton. He’s seeing things that aren’t there. And Aeryn’s leg gets humped. What more do you need?

15. “Won’t Get Fooled Again”: Must see. Farscape is given leave to go completely off the rails in a way that makes perfect sense, and also moves the story forward. Aeryn does obscene things with her tongue and Rygel wears bondage gear. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

16. “The Locket”: Maybe skip it. There are old people in unrequited love. Your tolerance for (and decision to watch) this ep depends entirely on that. But no plot is moved forward.

17. “The Ugly Truth”: Watch it. Stark comes back, Talyn behaves…slightly less poorly than one would hope, and Farscape does Rashomon. Not essential, but a solid ep.

18. “A Clockwork Nebari”: Skip it. More eyes are removed, which is gross. And while we meet more Nebari, the show is never able to return to their storyline, so it’s a throwaway.

19-21. “Liars, Guns and Money (1): A Not So Simple Plan,” “Liars, Guns and Money (2): With Friends Like These…”, “Liars, Guns and Money (3): Plan B”: Must see. Bank heists, reunions, patriotism, declarations of love and death and KFC. And eyeballs. More eyeballs. Plus, the return of our now favorite villain. Also, hello continuity train, I’ll buy a ticket and revisit all those villains from Season 1, thank you. Things explode. So many things. And John gets…worse. We meet Jothee, and kind of wish we hadn’t.

22. “Die Me, Dichotomy”: Must see. This episode, people, I can’t even… Do not get spoiled for this episode. I almost didn’t recover.

SEASON THREE
1. “Season of Death”: Must see. You will have to watch this after Die Me, Dichotomy. Just cue it up immediately.

2. “Suns and Lovers”: Must see. Resolution, and betrayal, and Pilot gets pissy. Plus D’Argo finds a toy to make up for what turns out to be a really shitty day, after a series of shitty days.

3-4. “Self Inflicted Wounds (1): Could’a, Would’a, Should’a,” “Self Inflicted Wounds (2): Wait for the Wheel”: Must see. More heartbreak as wormholes continue to be the least fun toy ever. Also, we meet Jool, who is annoying, but kind of wonderful. Eventually.

5. “…Different Destinations”: Must see. Because why would things get better for our crew when they go back in time? Another of Aeryn’s heroes proves to be less than she was taught to believe. And Jool sheds, and screams.

6. “Eat Me”: Must see. Terrifying, and kind of disgusting in a monster movie way. It sets in motion a whole new level of problematic heartbreak.

7. “Thanks for Sharing”: Must see. In which D’Argo shows that he already knows the phrase “Who’s Your Daddy”, and that thing that happens in “Eat Me” does NOT get resolved. Plus space lobsters.

8. “Green Eyed Monster”: Must see. Ben Browder earns his sap card for this ep, which he wrote. But it’s solid, and there’s vomit, and freaking out, and the Stark and Rygel show, and it’s lovely.

9. “Losing Time”: Must see. The other side of the coin — what happens to the crew left behind? Time and space weirdness, plus Chiana gains a really sucky super power.

10. “Relativity”: Must see. Proof that every time Aeryn finds some happiness, the universe fucks it up. And we meet some family members and stinky plants.

11. “Incubator”: Watch it. In case you wanted to know what makes Scorpius the Sebacean/Scarran hybrid that he is.

12. “Meltdown”: Maybe skip it. There is literally no plot to this episode. But there’s lots of humping. [She's not lying. It's as close to porn as the Sci-Fi channel would permit. I LOVED IT. --Liz]

13. “Scratch ‘n Sniff”: Watch it. Space Vegas. The return of Ben Browder’s wife in a funky costume, and Crichton and D’Argo wake up in a window wearing. Also, maybe some homage to 1970s porn.

14-15. “Infinite Possibilities (1): Daedalus Demands,” “Infinite Possibilities (2): Icarus Abides”: Must see. Remember the continuity train? Here’s where it chugs through your heart. Wormholes give up their secrets, and nothing ends well.

16. “Revenging Angel”: Must see. Wily E. Coyote meet John Crichton.

17. “The Choice”: Must see. This is what heartbreak looks like on someone who didn’t know she had a heart.

18. “Fractures”: Must see. You thought “The Choice” was painful? You ain’t seen nothing.

19. “I-Yensch, You-Yensch”: Watch it. It’s the connector between “Fractures” and the end of the season. Plus you get Braca and D’Argo connected via bracelets, and Talyn going off the deep end.

20-21. “Into the Lion’s Den (1): Lambs to the Slaughter,” “Into the Lion’s Den (2): Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”: Must see. Wormholes will break you. And so will this show. Big, epic, astonishing and beautiful. The introduction of Commandant Cleavage, and if it doesn’t kill them, everyone might get what they want.

22. “Dog with Two Bones”: Must see. We make choices. We ache for choices. And we never make them the way we think we will. Plus a coin toss, a crazy old woman, a funeral, and a secret.

SEASON FOUR
1. “Crichton Kicks”: Must see. John Crichton, alone in the universe.

2-3. “What Was Lost (1): Sacrifice,” “What Was Lost (2): Resurrection”: Maybe skip it. These two eps are gorgeous, but honestly, I spent them waiting for Aeryn. Also, they are rapey.

4. “Lava’s a Many Splendored Thing”: Skip it. Vomit mountains. Just… vomit mountains. [I don't remember this episode at all. Sometimes, memory is kind. --Liz]

5. “Promises”: Must see. Be careful of what you wish for. The storyline that gets set up here never gets successfully resolved, but Aeryn comes back. Enough said.

6. “Natural Election”: Maybe skip it. Not really essential viewing, unless you want more pain. But we learn a secret. Of course, if you watch the previouslies in the next ep, you’ll also learn the secret.

7. “John Quixote”: Must see. Ben Browder’s second ep as writer. It’s even more cracked out than the first. It features Max Headroom. And a lispy princess, and literally using your blood to make wormholes. Oh, the visual poetry of this fucking show.

8. “I Shrink Therefore I Am”: Skip it. We get more cheese, and tiny people, and Sikozu being kind of fab, and obsessed with Scorpy.

9. “A Prefect Murder”: Watch it. This bills itself as “What Aeryn did on her summer vacation,” but it’s really about insects. And distance. And Chiana getting some. It’s not a great ep, but the tag is worth it. Quiet desperation, people. Quiet desperation. Plus, I love Sikozu and Chiana together.

10. “Coup by Clam”: Skip it. Ugh. Farting, fighting, cross-dressing and clams. It had the ingredients to be brilliant, but it’s really dumb (maybe a little funny, but mostly dumb).

11. “Unrealized Reality (1)”: Must see. Wormholes come home to roost, and every reality is a potential for disaster. Physics for poets.

12. “Kansas (2)”: Must see. You can’t go home again.

13. “Terra Firma (3)”: Must see. No, really, you can’t. But John Crichton does. By this point, you can imagine how well that goes.

14. “Twice Shy”: Watch it. There are a lot of alliances formed here, and Aeryn starts off the episode by punching John in the face. So there’s that. Also, space spiders. The ending is…not as well thought out as one would hope.

15. “Mental as Anything”: Skip it. The culmination of D’Argo’s quest deserved a better ending than this. Basically, he kills Macton. I spoil because I care, which you will not if you watch this ep. And there’s heat torture. So very bad. D’Argo is better than this. This is the only ep that actively makes me angry, possibly because I love D’Argo and wanted his quest to have the poetry it deserved.

16. “Bringing Home the Beacon”: Must see. Everything that “Mental as Anything” fails at? This episode delivers. The ladies go hunting, and they bring back rabbit.

17. “A Constellation of Doubt”: Must see. Those unrealized realities contain the mysteries of the universe, whispered mysteries. Plus, John Crichton made it onto the TV.

18. “Prayer”: Must see. What would you do to protect what you love? We already know Aeryn Sun, so we know the answer to that.

19-21. “We’re So Screwed (1): Fetal Attraction,” “We’re So Screwed (2): Hot to Katratzi,” “We’re So Screwed (3): La Bomba”: Must see. The crew hasn’t blown anything up in a while. So clearly, blowing up the Scarran mother ship is the way to go. Also, edible flowers, spies amongst us, dick jokes, Stark, and the elevator ride from hell.

22. “Bad Timing”: Must see. Cancellation hit. The writers said “Fuck it”, and gave us a perfectly Farscape ending. When you stop screaming, find the Peacekeeper Wars. And remember, for those of us who watched in real time — there was no happy ending mini-series. There was only that last 90 seconds.

POST-CANCELLATION
“The Peacekeeper Wars”: Must see. If you’ve made it this far, you’re going to want to watch “PK Wars.” And fortunately, it’s a super satisfying conclusion to the series. It’s big, and bold, and beautiful, and the end is intensely nail-biting. There are a few mis-steps in character beats (the series was filmed more than a year after cancellation), and one loss that will just have you howling, but mostly, it’s everything wonderful about the series, ramped up and glossy. It’s not a Fifth Season, but it’s satisfying and funny and features excellent Aeryn Sun. And, as my reviews may have suggested, that is my primary concern.

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Posted on April 3, 2012, in No Spoilers, Skip It/Watch It Guide, TV and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. This is a great list, but I will defend “Jeremiah Crichton” until the day I die, if only because it’s the closest John ever comes to actually saying “Listen, lady…”

  2. hmmm… I’ve never seen this show, but then again, I’m way behind the power curve. I just discovered “Firefly” (having, unfortunately, seen “Serenity” first), and fell in love. So depressed to discover there were only a dozen episodes. Le sigh…. so now I’m having well-written sci-fi show withdrawal. So maybe this is the cure?

  3. That is Some Fine List. Most generous. Nice work.

  4. Beth McDonald

    The best part about this is that it pretty much sums up what I watched on my last Farscape rewatch. The only thing it doesn’t have is me shrieking “Hands on the Puppet!” every time Rygel (and less frequently, Pilot) gets manhandled.

    • Beth – I think the next subset of lists for this should be a Skip It/Watch It guide to the DVD commentaries:)

  5. MAYBE SKIP IT ON MELTDOWN? WUT??!?! lol that’s my favorite… uh… :D I mostly agree with the list. Except I hated Revenging Angel the only time I’ve watched it. And I think it’s because of where it fell and the fact that I watched ALL of Farscape in 13 days… It just felt wrong to me instead of an Angst break.

    I’d move They’ve got a Secret to Must see just because of Talyn and that’s how he becomes. And Through the Looking Glass as well if only for the fact that it’s the first time John calls Aeryn “Baby”. <333333333

    Any J/A person needs to see the first 10 5 minutes of Mental As Anything and the last 10 of Twice Shy. Otherwise I agree the eps are not good.

    Overall a great list. :D

  6. paterickschmede

    What’s a reasonable way to explain this?

    I’ve…got a lot of movies and shows saved to hard drive. So many that I maxed my 2 TB out. So many that I told a friend of mine I’d give him plenty of stuff and he should get one, so I started offloading there. So many that his is 90% full now.

    Anyways fast forward to yesterday…I ask to borrow his to put some stuff he’s been wanting on and get some stuff.

    I just moved all of Farscape back onto my hard drive. I used to love that show in middle school and high school and I’m finally ready to try and watch it straight through…so of course the next day you post this.

    Goosebumps.

  7. I agree with this list with one small exception. Episodes 2 and 3 of season 4 are important in the overall arc, especially considering Peacekeeper wars. Like you, I too was anxious waiting for Aeryn’s return so that affected my thoughts about it the first time I watched it.

    I thought this description was especially worthy:

    “17. “The Choice”: Must see. This is what heartbreak looks like on someone who didn’t know she had a heart.”

  8. Eh, I missed this!

    “… and features excellent Aeryn Sun. And, as my reviews may have suggested, that is my primary concern.”

    Here’s a big hearty “AGREE!” from me. I don’t think I would have loved this show this much had it not been for Aeryn Sun, and the actress who portrayed her.

  9. Awesome! Nicely done, A!

  10. Love it!

    This is sort of apropos, as I’m in the middle of introducing my boyfriend to Farscape. I might just make him watch everything, but this is a really awesome resource if I want to have him skip a few here and there!

  11. Oh, I loved this. Thank you for that nostalgia kick.

  12. Completely disagree with many of your “skips” but I’ve always been one to want to see every little detail with things like this.

  13. Just wanted to thank you for this list. I WISH TO GOD that I had found this before I tried to binge watch this series, because there is some rough and outright terrible episodes in the first two seasons. I understand there’s a nostalgic love from fans for a lot of them, but the reality is that watching them for the first time as a modern viewer some of these episodes at the beginning are just unwatchable crap, and if there’s any real hope of maintaining the momentum necessary to watch the entire series, then you need to skip a ton. Literally 18-20 of the first 2 seasons should be out-right avoided for you to have any chance to enjoy this show as a first time viewer. And I don’t mean they’re skippable for time, or bad “by Farscape standards”, I mean they’re terrible nonsensical television on every level.

    I watched and read along with AV Club’s recaps, but the slobbering fan love is overwhelming, even in brutally bad episodes. They didn’t give episode grades, but I imagine if they did they would have been similarly over the top.

  14. This is really helpful. Thank you!

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