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Throwback Thursday - Farscape - The Choice

Throwback Thursday is a weekly article in which we look back at our favorite TV episodes from the past.

Farscape’s seventeenth episode of season three, 'The Choice', is an episode devoid of hope, where self-destruction reigns, and a peacekeeper-sized wall will go back up to shield emotions from the anguish of loss.

"He made me better."

The radiant Aeryn Sun has lost John Crichton. The man who told her she could be more, and who changed her in the years spent together on Moya and Talyn.
Here, now, is an Aeryn who has allowed herself to not only fall in love, but to be fully aware of the emotions this time.
To have given them a name, to have understood them.
This is an Aeryn aware of how compassion feels.
By the end of this episode Aeryn will have changed out of her mourning clothes, back into her peacekeeper gear, but as season 3 continues she will discover that clothing only changes you on the outside. It’s harder to revert back on the inside when earlier changes have stuck.

After the death of John in the 'Infinite Possibilities' two-parter, 'The Choice' takes the viewer on a journey through loss. A grieving Aeryn, who appears to have not slept and likely not eaten much if anything, is drinking her pain away on a planet of mystics and criminals called Valldon. In orbit is the Peacekeeper/Leviathan hybrid Talyn, with Crais, Rygel, and Stark still aboard. While Stark assumes Aeryn has gone down to speak with Crichton’s spirit, we soon find out she wants to raise her father’s spirit and speak with him. The Talyn for whom the warship is named.

For clarity, the warship will from this point be referred to as simply Talyn, while Aeryn’s father - or the man claiming to be him - will be referred to by his full name of Talyn Lyczac.


Visually, the episode is beautiful in a Blade Runner kind of way. Valldon is a dystopian Earth, “minus the sunshine”. The planet is all graffiti and neon lights; it’s dirty and seedy and garish. And amongst the wreckage, decisions are being made, constant choices that will shape the rest of season three and continue into season four.


Call-backs to previous episodes are scattered with care at pivotal moments. The Crichton who lived a life with Aeryn and died an old man in 'The Locket' makes an appearance, either in her hotel room, or in her head. When the elderly Crichton speaks of remembering everything from their life lived on the planet in 'The Locket', it’s up to the viewers’ interpretation if that means he is actually there, in the room with her, or if Aeryn remembers more than she did before. Is the psychic energy of the planet perhaps somehow drawing the impossible memories out? Like muscle memory, her chest feels the pain the older Aeryn felt as she aged and her hand protects her heart. Here it is the pain of loss, of grief, from the death of her father – and of Crichton.

A mystic comes to Aeryn’s hotel room door. Half-insect, half-man, he claims he can speak with Talyn Lyczac. Aeryn struggles with the reality of that. The man soon reveals that he is actually Talyn Lyczac, and Aeryn is buying this even less than the possibility of raising the dead.
Talyn Lyczac claims to know someone who may be able to help Aeryn communicate with Crichton. Grief can make people act in uncharacteristic ways but Aeryn stays true to herself, stays true to who she has become since we first met her in the pilot. She is suspicious of Talyn Lyczac, of all his claims, yet she wants to believe. She wants this to be her father; she wants to speak with Crichton.

The owner of the hotel looks like if Riff Raff from Rocky Horror had been beat up, killed, his body left out for a month and then frozen. And while on the subject of descriptions, Stark describing Aeryn to the hotelier is like being wolf-whistled at by a sweaty construction worker who has his butt-crack showing. The feelings both incite are the same. Rygel, who is usually a misogynistic piece of work, is the more respectful for a change.

Having not found Aeryn yet, Stark and Rygel return to Talyn to confront Crais about Xhalax's supposed death. On the planet, Talyn Lyczac tells Aeryn of a seer who may be able to contact Crichton.

Before heading back to her room, Aeryn asks the hotelier if he knows anything about the man claiming to be her father. She gets frustrated by his inability to answer her questions the way she wants and he suggests Aeryn needs to drink more Fellip Nectar, alcohol Aeryn told John about in ‘A Human Reaction’. She takes a handful of bottles and leaves. On the way back to her room she pauses as she passes two people kissing. Another reminder of John washes over her as the scene switches to a kiss she shared with him.
The ghost of Crichton follows her into her room. He’s there, on the ledge, waiting for her.
Before she can speak to him, Stark and Crais arrive at her door.
Aeryn knows Crais is attracted to her, and she uses that knowledge to coax the truth about her mother out of him in a way only an Aeryn deep in grief’s grasp would. She makes it known to Stark too that she is aware of his attraction to her; his advances are to stop.
She is Penelope, awaiting Odysseus’ return while constantly surrounded by unwanted suitors.
But her Odysseus died at Troy.

After calling out for him on the ledge, Crichton is at her side again as she nurses her bottle of fellip nectar. In mourning, Aeryn wears black, while Crichton wears the white tank top like she wore on Earth. Mirroring that scene from 'A Human Reaction', Aeryn trails her lips, and the tip of her nose, up Crichton’s arm, his shoulder, his neck, until she nuzzles his cheek and he turns to her. The scene switches between present Aeryn, who is the instigator, and Aeryn in 'A Human Reaction' on the receiving end of the kiss. Their lips touch and we see present Aeryn alone, the phantom of Crichton gone.
“I returned from the dead. Why can’t he?”
In a rare moment of decency, Rygel literally talks Aeryn down off the ledge, relating to her in a way he rarely has before, and showing he actually does give a damn.
She doesn't believe that Xhalax is alive and sends Rygel off after a knock sounds at the door. It’s Talyn Lyczac with a seer named Cresus. In what is a stunt orchestrated by Xhalax, Crichton appears in a screen above Cresus, begging Aeryn to help him, to bring him back. After seeing this, Aeryn is visibly shaken, and, seeing her reaction, Talyn Lyczac tells her of someone who can sometimes resurrect the dead by turning spirits corporeal. Aeryn wants to believe it, but it will take more than Talyn Lyczac’s word to prove it.
“In my heart I knew that that was not my father.”
Aeryn lies down on the bed with the phantom of Crichton behind her. It’s easy to believe that this is the real Crichton teasing her, a man who brings the comfort of soft edges to a harsh world, lying to make her feel better, and telling her the most important truth: she can’t bring him back.
They kiss and the scene flashes to another kiss, to 'The Flax'. A moment when both thought they were going to die.
The specter of Crichton fades and Aeryn is alone again. But not for long.
Xhalax bursts in, followed by Talyn Lyczac, and there’s a theatrical moment of Talyn Lyczac urging Xhalax to kill him instead of Aeryn. The theatrics fade and Xhalax pulls the trigger. But the man who just died was not Aeryn's father.
The choice, as Xhalax reveals it, was her decision to kill the real Talyn Lyczac decades ago so that she and Aeryn might live. In telling Aeryn this Xhalax is trying to prove Aeryn wrong when Aeryn says peacekeepers do nothing for love.
Aeryn is at her most self-destructive in this episode. Drinking, assumedly not sleeping, and often out on the ledge of the building. But Aeryn is not suicidal. She knows Xhalax won’t kill her.
Crais bursts in and shoots Xhalax. Aeryn wrestles with saving her mother, but at the woman's insistance, Aeryn releases her hold on Xhalax, who falls over the edge of the building to her death.

At the end of the episode, Stark has made the choice to leave, to go in search of Zhaan. Crais and Rygel choose to head back to where they think Moya might be, although Crais is unsure of this decision. Aeryn has reverted back to her peacekeeper nature and instead of staying on the planet with the phantom of Crichton, she will return to Talyn, and ultimately Moya, knowing another Crichton is there.
Her own choice has been made.

But her return to Moya will not be an easy transition.

Farscape can be streamed on Amazon Prime. For fans wishing to add their voice to the #FarscapeNow campaign, information on how to help bring Farscape back for a revival or reboot can be found in the previous Farscape Throwback Thursday review here.

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