WARNING: SPOILERS… and very personal
Season 2’s Won’t Get Fooled Again, written by Richard Manning, is a journey into psychosis induced by a Scaron. It’s Farscape on an LSD trip gone terrifyingly wrong. D’Argo is suddenly a homosexual tool bag in plaid pants, Aeryn is a sexy nurse that appears at a disco making out with Chiana. The episode is awesome, definitely one of my favorites. An unexpected visitor made it unbearable for me to watch, however.
Crichton’s dead mother appears, pale and sick, attached to an IV. She slowly approaches him and the expression on his face quickly turns to that of disbelief. Slowly, she pursues him as he backs away, denying her. She asks him why he wasn’t there for her. Crichton trips and falls to the floor, weeping. The ghostly memory of his mother touches his face.
I lost my mother to illness six years ago. She was hospitalized and dying from complications caused by her Multiple Sclerosis. I saw my mother the way Crichton saw his: weak and pale. And her words, “Why weren’t you there?” cut too deep. It was when Crichton said aloud, “This is cruel,” that I finally broke down and couldn’t continue to watch. It is cruel, and it’s something I experience often in terrible dreams. Some might argue that scene went to far, but I commend them for showing that side of Crichton. He may be fiction, but his characters pain served as a real comfort. Something in film finally, in my eyes, captured what I go through.
In Season 3, episode 4, titled Self Inflicted Wounds: Part 2 – Wait for the Wheel, written by David Kemper, Zoto Zhaan dies a permanent death. She is a very important and strong character in the show and she is terminated as a character due to circumstances in the actress who plays her’s personal life. For years she had to shave her hair and eyebrows and was subject to being covered in blue makeup. Frequent exposure to the makeup was causing her kidney problems. For her health and sanity, actress Virginia Hey had to quit her role as Zhaan.
The writers take this and run with it. Zoto Zhaan dies a most gracious death. If only all of us could face our demise with such confidence and peace. All who experience loss would benefit greatly from their dying loved one saying the calming and serene things Zhaan said to her close friends.
“My children, my teachers, my loves, there is no guilt, there is no blame, only what is meant to be. Grow through your mistakes and know that if patient, redemption will find you.”
If my mother had said such words to me, my mourning would have been lined with moments of inner confidence. However, like most of us, my mother was not prepared and not aware of what was coming. She was too sick to communicate whether or not she was ready to pass on. Too sick to warn me against the guilt and blame that inevitably comes with losing someone. I imagine however, that if she was in her right mind, she would say something like that. And I hope that when death comes for me, I will be as bold and kind to those I’m leaving behind as Zhaan was.
In Season 3, episode 16, Crichton dies. He was doubled in a previous episode, so it’s really a twin of Crichton. It was a clever plot device to kill off the main character without taking him out of the story at all. However, this is the Crichton Aeryn Sun falls deeply in love with. In her eyes, Crichton is really dying a permanent death.
In the following episode, The Choice, written by Justin Monjo, Aeryn is in deep grieving and visits a planet of mystics and frauds who claim they can contact the dead. She’s drinking heavily and staying in a shoddy hotel room covered in graffiti. There she experiences flashbacks of the dead Crichton and converses with what seems to be his ghost. It’s unclear whether or not she is really experiencing a vision or a grief driven hallucination.
Her grief is tangible, very real. If you have ever been in love, the thought of loosing that partner is terrifying. This episode is a beautiful gothic romance, haunting and relevant. A quote I found deeply touching was from Aeryn’s vengeful mother, Xhalax Sun.
“I’ve heard loved ones leave you in pieces, that little by little you start to forget things about them… but that’s not true. You lose them, everything, instantly. And suddenly nothing can replace them… nothing.”
Having lost my mother, I can attest to this amazingly articulated point. When a loved one is with you, you experience them with every sense. Once they’re gone, a large and obvious void instantly grips you. Their absence is suddenly unbearable. When I look at pictures of my mother now, I’m surprised that I’ve forgotten certain features of hers. Little details that I once took for granted are presented to me in a 2D image. But the photo is empty, incapable of really reminding me of what it was like to be around her.
And in this very touching and familiar way, Farscape succeeds in showing death in a very real way. They don’t spare their audience. As a fan, I appreciate this. What seems at first an action packed, slap stick, sci fi adventure, soon turns into a deeply moving, witty and intelligent series.