Another Wheel in Space

After lingering in pain for a few episodes, Zhaan’s final episode of Farscape arrives. Of course, it’s in the middle of a crisis.

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Season Three, Episode Four: Self-Inflicted Wounds, Part II: Wait for the Wheel

The title comes from a story Crichton (Ben Browder) tells D’Argo (Anthony Simcoe), something he heard from his grandmother. Everyone is strapped to a wheel, sometimes it puts you face down in the mud, sometimes it lifts you up into the light. If you’re going through bad times, you have to wait for the wheel. What does this mud look like?

In addition to Zhaan (Virginia Hey) being on the verge of death, it turns out the alien crew of the vessel merged with Moya are going about invisible, sabotaging the Leviathan, and there’s a giant, flying snake. Plus there’s still the problem of the ships being merged. This episode is one of the best showcases for the series’ common, dizzying, twisting steadycam shots of crew rushing about the corridors, sometimes colliding, sometimes walking and talking, or, more often, running and talking.

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Stark (Paul Goddard) starts to come off even crazier than usual even as he seems to be fitting in with the team better in repairing Moya. Goddard’s performance is particularly good, making even his functional dialogue about Moya’s technical problems sound like the bitter mental manifestations of a nut. Then he nearly loses control when Jool’s (Tammy MacIntosh) complaints begin to drive him to distraction.

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Zhaan has individual moments with most of the crew, in this episode and the previous, where each is allowed to say farewell. A lot of the emotion onscreen is genuine—both Virginia Hey and Gigi Edgley broke down in tears in their final scene together several times. Hey is good in the episode, portraying a Zhaan who’s reached a peaceful conclusion to her journey of inner spiritual conflict. Even apart from Zhaan, though, the episode features many moments that make it function as a commentary on the series and the characters so far.

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The most amusing example being when Jool in frustration exclaims everything she’s seen so far has been “despicable” to which Crichton, with zestful irony, replies, “Welcome to the Federation Starship S.S. Buttcrack!” before rushing off to another of those steadycam shots of chaos.

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The final comment comes from Zhaan, though, who says she feels she can be at peace because the crew has become “a family,” bringing to a temporary conclusion the overarching theme from the first season of misfits defining a new kind of family in the absence of their homes and kindred. We’ll see how long that lasts.

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. . .

Farscape is available now on Amazon Prime.

This entry is part of a series I’m writing on Farscape for the show’s 20th anniversary. My previous reviews can be found here (episodes are in the order intended by the show’s creators rather than the broadcast order):

Season One:

Episode 1: Pilot
Episode 2: I, E.T.
Episode 3: Exodus from Genesis
Episode 4: Throne for a Loss
Episode 5: Back and Back and Back to the Future
Episode 6: Thank God It’s Friday Again
Episode 7: PK Tech Girl
Episode 8: That Old Black Magic
Episode 9: DNA Mad Scientist
Episode 10: They’ve Got a Secret
Episode 11: Till the Blood Runs Clear
Episode 12: Rhapsody in Blue
Episode 13: The Flax
Episode 14: Jeremiah Crichton
Episode 15: Durka Returns
Episode 16: A Human Reaction
Episode 17: Through the Looking Glass
Episode 18: A Bug’s Life
Episode 19: Nerve
Episode 20: The Hidden Memory
Episode 21: Bone to be Wild
Episode 22: Family Ties

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Season Two:

Episode 1: Mind the Baby
Episode 2: Vitas Mortis
Episode 3: Taking the Stone
Episode 4: Crackers Don’t Matter
Episode 5: Picture If You Will
Episode 6: The Way We Weren’t
Episode 7: Home on the Remains
Episode 8: Dream a Little Dream
Episode 9: Out of Their Minds
Episode 10: My Three Crichtons
Episode 11: Look at the Princess, Part I: A Kiss is But a Kiss
Episode 12: Look at the Princess, Part II: I Do, I Think
Episode 13: Look at the Princess, Part III: The Maltese Crichton
Episode 14: Beware of Dog
Episode 15: Won’t Get Fooled Again
Episode 16: The Locket
Episode 17: The Ugly Truth
Episode 18: A Clockwork Nebari
Episode 19: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part I: A Not So Simple Plan
Episode 20: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part II: With Friends Like These . . .
Episode 21: Liars, Guns, and Money, Part III: Plan B
Episode 22: Die Me, Dichotomy

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Season Three:

Episode 1: Season of Death
Episode 2: Suns and Lovers
Episode 3: Self-Inflicted Wounds, Part I: Would’a, Could’a, Should’a

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