Farscape characters: Sikozu, Jool, Noranti
Sikozu (played by Raelee Hill) appears only in one season, the fourth and final one of Farscape, and in the conclusive mini-series PEACEKEEPER WARS, but her character is explored in far greater depth, so she quickly becomes one of the key roles in the story-line: shrewd and enigmatic, quite intelligent but disdainful toward those she considers inferiors (which means almost everyone), she soon shows herself as a controversial, multi-layered and intriguing figure.
Sikozu is gifted with a superior intellect: able to quickly learn a language only by listening to it; possessing an encyclopedic knowledge on many subjects; brilliant, clever and gifted with a cutting sense of humor – or better, sarcasm – which she can use without mercy. Her physical abilities are on the same level as her mental skills: she can shift her center of gravity, therefore walking as easily on the walls or ceiling as she does on floors, and the loss of a limb is for her a mere inconvenience, since she’s able to reattach it without appreciable function loss. The young Kalish holds herself in high value and is firmly assured of her own superiority, which brings her to classify everyone else as irredeemably inferior.
And yet she’s somehow incomplete: her vast knowledge on Leviathans is just theoretical, not supported by any hands-on experience, and her people skills are almost non-existent. These contrasting, and puzzling, details are explained once Sikozu’s true nature is revealed: she is an artificial construct created as a sort of secret weapon. Her inorganic nature, and therefore her growth in an artificial and presumably isolated environment, explain the striking contrast between her psychological immaturity and the high cognitive levels. And of course her difficulties in social relationships.
It’s through her allegiance with Scorpius that Sikozu’s personality takes on an interesting ambiguity: if on one side she actively contributes to the Moyan’s survival, on the other her fascination with John Crichton’s nemesis puts her in a suspicious light and prevents her full integration with the crew, always placing her at the outside of the ‘circle’ and accentuating her differences in a group that has found its inner strength in reciprocal diversity.
The partnership between Sikozu and Scorpius, that for a long time looks only like a meeting of minds, adds a further element of suspense to an already suspenseful story-line and is later played on the subtle edge of a mutual physical attraction pointing to a Beauty and the Beast trope: Scorpius is the ultimate villain but is also marked by unappealing looks that are sometimes exasperated by ghastly behavioral patterns. The attraction game played with Sikozu, and the admiration the Kalish expresses toward Scorpius, bring the viewers to hover between fascination and revulsion while they observe, as if hypnotized, the evolution of a match truly made in Hell.
The premature end of Farscape has prevented the creators from a deeper exploration of Sikozu’s character and unfortunately the final mini-series only managed to worsen the situation, with the introduction of unexplained variables that did little for the development of her personality and could only accentuate the mysterious halo that envelops her.
“Everything I have seen so far is despicable!”
Jool (played by Tammy McIntosh) is probably the less explored character among Farscape‘s recurring roles: we see her for just one season and she’s often relegated in the background, coming to the fore only when she serves as the Moyans’ scapegoat. Her arrival aboard the Leviathan coincides with Zhaan’s tragic demise, and Jool’s initial penchant for whining and temper tantrums accentuates the contrast with the Delvian’s dignity, so that her loss is felt more profoundly.
When she first comes aboard, Jool is far more isolated than John Crichton ever was at the beginning of his adventure: the Human too was like the proverbial fish out of water, but he was able to compensate his shortcomings by exercising considerable powers of flexibility and adaptation. Not so Jool: still clinging to her high social standing, she shows a great deal of preconceived scorn toward her shipmates, rating them far below her exacting standards.
Yet she has more in common with this band of fugitives than she can imagine: like them, she is far from home, having been unwillingly placed in cryogenic sleep for a long time, and she’s bereft of any certainty about her future. Unlike the Moyans, though, she doesn’t try to elaborate her options from this starting point and remains attached to her vanished past, refusing categorically to adapt to her new life. We can see this clearly when, facing alone a terrifying situation, Jool considers suicide as an escape from a reality she is unable to tolerate.
We could see in Jool a cruel parody of Sleeping Beauty: she’s not awakened from her long sleep by a lover’s kiss, but because of an emergency, and the poor girl doesn’t find herself as the recipient of general benevolence but in the role of everyone’s laughing-stock. Given these premises, when the crew starts to nickname her “Princess”, the title takes on a mocking overtone that reveals the Moyans’ meaner streak, as they tend as a whole to exclude her from their circle instead of trying to help her integrate.
“No one wants to talk with me!” Jool laments at some point, and quite rightly: once she takes on – even if by default – Zhaan’s scientific and healing duties, it’s only proper that she demand the others’ respect, at the very least. Unfortunately they are too involved in their own troubles – that by this point have grown to considerable proportions – to have the time or the inclination to pay her any attention.
If Chiana represents a child that had to grow much too quickly, Jool is her opposite: her vast and formal education, coming from her privileged upbringing, never allowed her a true inner growth. This childish side is expressed by the penetrating scream, able to melt metals, with which she reacts to stressful situations – the comically enhanced cry of a child incapable of dealing with the world’s troubles.
Something does change along the way, though, and often Jool voices some snippets of wisdom, showing she too is capable of becoming more. In the last episode where she appears, her enthusiasm, when she meets again with the estranged members of the crew, is quite genuine and there are indications of a deeper relationship with D’Argo. The good-byes at the end of the episode suggest a positive change in the group’s dynamics and yet they have an unfinished flavor, like that of a road not fully traveled: the viewers feel that there was more to this character than what was explored on screen, and that the the episode’s title (What Was Lost) might have a deeper meaning than intended.
“Never bathe, never bathe. It washes off the juice.”
Mystery, or Enigma, could be further names for Utu Noranti Pralatong (played by Melissa Jaffer): when she appears aboard Moya, in the final episode of Season Three, she looks at ease on the Leviathan as if she had always been there, while no one can explain when or how this happened.
Noranti looks like the proverbial witch of children’s tales: she’s old, small, wizened, her hair gray and unkempt, her face deeply lined. She’s often seen bent over some boiling cauldron, thus reinforcing her witch “mode” in our collective imagination, and the third eye in the middle of her forehead, flashing with different-colored lights, adds to the impression of mysterious and otherworldly powers. What’s more, the doubts about her origins – and her goals – are never fully cleared and leave the viewers with many unanswered questions.
It would be too easy to label Noranti as “crazy old woman”: the nonsensical utterances and the occasional lapses of narcolepsy would point that way, but she always manages to surprise the audience because her meaningless dialogue – like the obscure revelations of archaic oracles – takes on a precise meaning only with time, and also because under the apparent madness lurk both a deep wisdom and a profound respect for every life-form.
This latter comes to the fore in a very intense segment that helps us define Noranti’s personality beyond the smoke-screens the writers employ to enhance her mysterious aura: it’s a moment of revelation that in a handful of seconds can subvert any negative notion created by Wrinkles’ (that’s her nickname) ambiguous activities. To successfully effect Aeryn’s rescue, Noranti had to create a dangerous epidemic as a diversion: many have perished because of the contagion and the old woman laments the loss of innocent lives – her pain is genuine this time, not mediated by obscure ramblings or convoluted word-play. For the first time viewers are able to see her true inner self, and in a touching, sadly ironic moment Rygel welcomes her to the Moyan community, to which she has been bound by pain and guilt, the elements common to this mixed group.
Noranti too, like Jool and Sikozu, suffers from the untimely end of Farscape and remains incomplete, although her unusual and controversial nature makes her a fascinating character that draws its strength from its very uncertain nature.