Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Season 1 Overview – A Look Back

It’s been an interesting ride in the Uncharted Territories thus far, and Season One has ended on a fairly hard-hitting cliffhanger. We’ll be starting Season Two next week, but for now, let’s take a look back at our thoughts on the season as a whole.


I admit, I’m not sure how to do a season review. Especially of a series like Farscape.

For all that the season is portrayed as “escaped prisoners pursued by vengeful jailer” there isn’t a whole lot of jailer. Crais is in a grand total of two episodes before the season climax, and we see a recording of him in a third. The chase is more strongly implied than shown, and that’s always somewhat dangerous in a story. The threat tends to come across as a very strong second to whatever is trying to kill them at this particular moment. Which, given the nature of the local galaxy, means the Peacekeepers are a close second most of the time.

I suppose it makes sense if you look at the stories as narrated from Crichton’s perspective. Some of the episodes might not even be worth a diary entry to someone who’s a veteran of the Uncharted Territories, just another day in life-threatening peril. But to a new guy from a pre-starflight planet? Everything is new. And terrifying. And wondrous.

And that is the neat thing about the season. Homeboy Crichton falls headfirst into a universe containing such awe-inspiring people and events and takes us along for the ride. I imagine it’s what it would be like if The Doctor picked someone up, dropped them off on a random planet, thumbed his nose at the local constabulary, and took off. Closer in feel to Torchwood, only with less authority and resources. All the beauty and amazement of the universe… and no one backing them up. Granted, no one is trying to destroy the Earth (or the Universe, or Time itself), but having someone along who actually knows what’s going on is a vast reassurance. One that Crichton is largely lacking.

He is, despite his companions, alone. How he handles that, through forging friendships and assimilating into local culture and mastering new technologies, is the Farscape Story. And it is so shiny.


I’m coming from a bit of a different place with this than the guys, since this has been my first experience with Farscape. I vaguely remember seeing a trailer in passing on one of my old ADV anime DVDs, but it wasn’t anything I had ever seen on television or collected otherwise, and it completely left my mind until I had my attention called back to it by Kevin (which has been the case for many other awesome things as well).

It’s easily one of the best sci-fi series I’ve ever seen (though to be fair, I haven’t seen much in that regard), but the story, the characters, the acting, the puppetry… it’s all stellar. I’m loving it so far, and I’m excited to keep going into another season.

We spent a lot of time this season getting to know these characters, and while there are still questions left unanswered for some of them, we have a really good grasp of who they all are and how they act and relate to one another. It’s been said already, but this first season really has been about the crew all coming together as a family of sorts (some of them more quickly than others), and with the foundations pretty well laid at the end of the first season, I’m really interested to see where the characters get taken as the story continues.

I think my only real gripe with the season as a whole is, once again, the lack of screen time Crais got prior to the end of the season. He was supposed to be the Big Bad of the season, and the characters were certainly terrified of being caught by him… but his chasing them never actually felt that threatening to me, mostly because they spent the vast majority of the season completely dodging his trail. I guess the idea was supposed to be that he really wasn’t ever far behind them, but we never get any real evidence of that (and he couldn’t have been that close if they could spend up to two months at one point backtracking to pick up a lost comrade). It’s a little disappointing to me that he barely has time to even begin to develop as an antagonist before being punted from that position by the new hotness that is Scorpius.

Point being, I guess, that while just about all of the individual episode stories were great, it would have been nice if maybe one or two of them could have been dropped in favor of some more close encounters to remind us that, yes, Crais is still after them and it’s a very real danger that they could be caught up to. Oh, and holograms don’t count.

All in all, it’s a fairly minor gripe, and by all appearances Crais still has a major role to play in things, if a very different one than he started out in.

I’m eagerly awaiting to dive into the second season. I’m going in blind compared to the others, but that makes it all the more exciting.


Watching this series again at 25 has so far been almost completely different from watching it when I was 15. I understand a lot more of the subtleties layered in, the cohesive storylines, and I appreciate so much more of the off-kilter and off-color aspects of the show than I did back then. Which wasn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it at the time; far from it. It struck me then as it does now, as a fully involved and completely original science-fiction story, and probably one of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to see.

Only now, though, do I fully appreciate the subtle details in Pilot’s mannerisms, both physical and vocal. We see him grow a bit in the course of this season; he becomes much more confident in his own abilities and his relationship with the crew. There’s still a lot of mystery about him, though, and I’ll be looking forward to revisiting some of his character and his past in future episodes.

It also took me this second viewing to see the entirety of Aeryn’s blossoming out of Peacekeeper control. We watch, in the course of these twenty-two episodes, her come to terms with the fact that she’s never going back to her old life, and realize that this prospect actually makes her happy. Sure, she flirts with the idea of returning to Crais, or joining the special ops team that comes to visit, but we also see her reject those as unwanted possibilities.

We see prejudices challenged, and that’s a huge part of my love for this show. I love seeing Crichton stop treating everything as weird alien stuff and accepting the fact that he’s the outsider, and he’s the one who has to adapt. Aeryn forms her closest ties to “lesser races” because she realizes she has way more in common with them than she does her own species. D’Argo stops trying to threaten and bully everyone else around, and is surprised to see that they still want to listen to him even when he doesn’t have a weapon in his hand. And pretty much everyone on the ship starts understanding that while Crichton may be a bit behind in the Universe, it’s only so’s he can have a good run-up. He learns amazingly fast, and he’s got some fresh outside and uncivilized ideas to the more advanced problems they come across.

Speaking of which, Crichton seems to really come into his own when he’s playing Xanatos Speed Chess (although sometimes they’re really just cleverly-disguised Indy Ploys), especially when he’s up against situations that match his Crazy Human Ideas with something that’s either even more insane or so calm, cool and collected that it crashes right through the crazy. Which is why Scorpius is going to be such a great foil for Crichton; they’re pretty evenly matched in terms of spoiling plans at the moment, and each recognizes the strength of the other as an opponent. The next time they butt heads is going to be awesome, and I can’t wait to experience it again with you all.

It’s a fantastic series, and it only gets better from here. Hold on to your hats, guys.


Being human.

That’s an old phrase that gets tossed around a lot in scifi, especially when a Terran finds themselves surrounded by other species. It’s a comfortable way to relate to things. “She’s so human.” “That was a very human thing to do.” So on and so forth. Often, it’s also used to show inspiration as we teach other races how to be more human to one another.

In Farscape, right from the first season, that sentiment is revealed to be a load of squat.

Here, being human is nothing. It’s spouting cultural references nobody understands. It’s sitting behind the controls of a vehicle and wondering where the gas and break pedals are. It’s a databank of largely useless info one has to bury more and more as one must adapt to fit in. In many stories similar in setup to Farscape, being human is an ideal, a way to express that we understand compassion and heroism and sacrifice and facing down wrong in the name of right. The big problem with the phrase is that it assumes only humans are capable of such things, or, at the very least, mark the line by which it’s defined. In Farscape, they not only demonstrate from the beginning that every individual alien being is capable of just as wide a range of emotion and ethics as our hapless homo sapien John Crichton, but they even have an episode titled “A Human Reaction” where we come face to face with the truth about humanity: alongside the compassion and justice and sacrifice is fear, anger, and ego.

We are the aliens. There is no difference. No one is superior. In fact, the entire focus of the season is on a group of rejects who recognize and accept one another for the people they are beneath the outer layers of species designation, all while being chased by villains who are villainous because they are the ones who claim species superiority.

This is not being human. This is being honest.

This is a show where honesty triumphs over all. Where letting down the barriers and telling people the truth about your secret mixed-species child, or about the murder that inspired your spiritual path, or about the soldiers who plucked you from your bed as a child to make you one of them, where all of these are what brings us together, not acts of “humanity”.

Let’s take a look at John, the human. Does he fall for the graceful blue plant lady? Or the greyscale thief who stands and moves like some fascinationg bird/cat hybrid? No, his two relationships are with women from a species that looks, moves, sounds, and probably smells, much like his own. Sure, the more lasting bond is with a woman whose story as an exile thrust alongside people she doesn’t understand very much mirrors his own, but the psychological comfort factor of her familiar appearance in a galaxy of alien weird must not be denied. Let’s look at John facing down a massive enemy empire. Does he say “this isn’t right”, raise a rebellion, and lead the charge of freedom through the cosmos? No, he runs the frell away from it, only turning to fight when it backs him into a corner, ending when he IGNITES THE SURFACE OF AN ENTIRE MOON, killing who knows how many people, just so a single ship can run away yet again. Let’s look at John who slowly sets up ties that he almost immediately tears down when he A) tries to jump into an unstable wormhole leading who knows where, regardless of whether or not his passenger wants to tag along (she doesn’t), and B) tells everyone he’s sick of them as he stomps off the ship in a tantrum, gets lost, and then gets all pissy after they spend three months trying to find him.

These foibles and flaws are something one would also typically label “human”, but he’s not the only one to have them, and since he’s the only human around, the term “being human” needs to be tucked away.

This is about being honest. About making bad choices for the right reasons even when they might leave you drifting in space. About befriending criminals and killers and betrayers and blood enemies and a madman who has chased you for a year, because that might be the one tie that will keep you alive for another day. About knowing when to go back for a stranded ally and knowing when to give them an awkward farewell before turning tail and leaving them to their own fate.

In a medium genre that, up till this point, was largely nothing but ultimately empty space swashbuckling daring-do, Farscape holds the honor as the breaker of moulds and setter of new standards. Not for what it would become, but for what it was from the very start. This isn’t the story of a human showing others how to “be human”, it’s about all characters from all species learning to be honest. With themselves. With one another. With their surroundings. With the realities of tough situations that are often outside their control.

I’ll end this with a picture, presented without a funny caption or alt text. This is our hero, dressed in clothes from another world, looking into the eyes of a man who’s hunted him for a year, thinking of all he’s discovered and learned during that time, and what he might have to do to protect it.

This is John Crichton. Somewhere in the universe.

Being honest.

One ResponseLeave one →

  1. Well said, everyone.


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