Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [1.12] – “Rhapsody in Blue”

Today, on Farscape

“A little long for a Starburst, don’t you think?”
“Hail, Prince of the Obvious.”

A good night’s sleep is interrupted when Moya suddenly Starbursts to a hidden Delvian colony, where Zhaan’s aid is specifically requested by her people. Unfortunately, the Delvian priests aren’t telling the whole story…


Oooh, pretty blond and Crichton. And pretty blond shuts Crichton down before he can propose. Ouch.

Going from sexydreams to being hurtled from your bed by an unplanned Starburst is right up there on my personal list of shite ways to wake up. Aeryn and Rygel get some pretty snappy dialogue here, although one wonders how she got Crichton’s underwear.

There is a huge amount going on in this episode, and all of it severely creepy. Between the hallucinations, Tahleen going psyker vampire on everyone, and Zhaan giving into the madness and John bringing her back, I don’t know where to start. Out of everything that occurs, I think the worst thing is just the scale of the mindfuckery that goes on. Everyone but Zhaan, Moya and Pilot are incapacitated by a handful of psyker priests.

Lots of makeup and costuming in this episode. They must have gone through every bucket of blue skin paint in Australia to film this episode, although Zhaan has the best makeup job as usual. I bet Tahleen was just jealous that she had more defined skintones than her, which led her to rip out a part of her mind in a fit of jealousy.

Just a few notes before I hand this off to someone more eloquent (if not as handsome):

  • Delvians have a really fast and loose definition of “insanity”, it seems like. They throw it around whenever they get pissed, it seems.
  • I admire Crichton’s self control. In his situation, I would bury a hatchet in some spooky blue skulls.
  • I don’t think the Delvians ever invented the dagger. Who kills somebody while their mind is linked into yours, when you can just stab them in their sleep? It doesn’t make any sense.

(You’re just jealous because I’m prettier than you, Adam.)

I must admit, I had completely forgotten about this episode until about halfway through it; you know, the “Why is this so familiar, and why don’t I rememb-OHHHH” syndrome. Comes from not seeing it since first-run eleven years ago, I guess.

This is a trippy episode. We know this is a trippy episode, even before Crichton shows up wearing a black shirt; it opens up with what seems like a flashback to Crichton and his girlfriend back on Earth. While it’s revealed to have been triggered by a Delvian mind probe – and Adam is incorrect in that Moya is unaffected; her mind is altered into thinking there’s a pregnant Leviathan, which is why she Starbursts out to the colony in the first place – it’s also highly suspect in my eyes. Sure, Crichton calls it a memory, and he “remembers” it going differently once it’s altered, but the theme of the episode is Mind Rape. Who can say the memory is real? Alex O’Connor may not even exist; note that she’s played by the same actress as Lorana, the Delvian woman that’s assigned to putting the whammy on our dear John. Sure, she may have been a real woman that Crichton remembers, but if Lorana was able to pull enough details, she could easily be an amalgamation of past girlfriends coupled with wistful hopes and wishes. The memory could have been real, but with a different woman superimposed to make it easier on Lorana.

I could go on, but we’re nearing Inception-level theorycrafting here. It’s turtles all the way down.

There are quite a few standard narrative conventions in play here – religious cult run by a seemingly benevolant despot, altered perceptions, addiction – but the way they’re all tied together is a thing of beauty. And once again, in true Farscape fashion, they’re turned on their ear; while it takes Our Hero, John Crichton to save the day, he still only gives Zhaan the tools she needs to free herself and thus the entire Delvian colony.

“There’s something in me that you need to see. Look at yourself as I see you. Gentle. Giving. That’s you, Zhaan.”

It’s hard to lock down what the grand theme of this episode is, because there are so many. (This is probably the point.) It does, however, provide at least a small bit of closure for Zhaan, ever since stripping down her inner peace and tranquility back in “That Old Black Magic“. It’s not completely resolved, but wounds have to be opened to be cleansed. It also underscores the fact that, thus far, the two crewmates that trust each other the most are Crichton and Zhaan; Zhaan because Crichton is thoughtful, intelligent, and has proven to be loyal, and Crichton because Zhaan is the comforting mother figure, and had the most patience with him while he was trying to adapt to his new surroundings. Their relationship is strained here, but it holds fast and possibly even strengthens because of it.

Notes from this episode:

  • Did the Delvian Mind Probe give Pilot a sexy dream? The world may never know.
  • Rygel has a lot of amazing one-liners in this episode. He’s barely in it, but goddamn he makes his presence known. Tessa was in tears, she was laughing so hard. Say what you want about the doorstop, but he’s got amazing delivery.
  • Continuity note: While it’s true to character that Aeryn defaults to others when confronted with “tech work”, and I can see where the writers were going when they had Aeryn percieve that her pulse rifle had fallen apart, any commando worth her salt should be able to strip down and re-assemble her weapon in a pinch, if for no other reason than “Because you told me to, sir!
  • How amazing are the planetary landscapes? Last episode’s “Alien Vistas” shot was awesome enough, but the distance-shot on the Delvian colony blew me away.
  • Apparently the translator microbes can handle cowardly mocking, given Zhaan’s reaction to Crichton’s chicken clucks. Either that, or she’s just that good at context-hearing, since she’s usually the first one to figure out the gist of his expressions.


One of my favorite things about Farscape? They play their hand quickly so they can keep the game moving to the next deal. This episode is a perfect example as the darkness that started haunting Zhaan a mere four episodes ago is laid on the table for all to see. Not only do we learn of the murder that saw her imprisoned, not only do we hear of a spiritual coup d’état on her homeworld, not only do we see her and John link minds in what he describes as “ten years of really great sex, all at the same moment”, but we see her go bad. We got our first taste of evil Zhan in “That Old Black Magic” and she comes to the forefront here, all gleaming red eyes and instant slips from seductive smiles to raging sneers. This is the Zhaan that likes to lose control, which makes her all the more internally scared and angry and frustrated because of all the cycles spent reigning those impulses in only to have them to spill out again. What could have been a nonsensical traipse through through metaphysical mumbo-jumbo is instead a very deep and touching journey as John fights to keep Zhaan the way he knows and loves her, even as she’s more than willing to give in.

And John, wow. Virginia Hey of course steals the show, but one shouldn’t overlook Ben Browder’s performance as John’s minds gets frelled every which way from Sunday… and yet he still manages to pull it together enough to save the day. And I love Kevin’s questions about the very existence of Alex, John’s girlfriend. The fact that she’s played by the same actor is quite a compelling case for her being a fantasy creation of the Delvians, but A) they weren’t trying to mislead John in the opening, just bringing to mind seductive memories as a lure, and B) if we saw the dreams of D’Argo and Rygel, would their wives also be played by the same woman? I doubt so, but it is interesting, as is the continuity fact that Alex is never heard from again. Though that may be because the American actress was unavailable for future Austrilian shoots. Though they could have recast. And around and around we go in the eternally dancing debate of ambiguity.

All in all, I don’t have much to say. It was a really solidly written and directed episode. I like the methods of keeping D’Argo and Aeryn out of the action, I love the design of the plant-based temple/ship, the memory flashes and Unity superimposition were very well handled, and one can’t help but laugh at Aeryn laying claim to John’s underwear because the name Calvin is written in them instead of his own. If I had any problems, it’s that this is the second episode in a row where Rygel does nothing. He cracks some good one-liners, but he’s never involved with or driving anything. He’s just there. Oh, and lose the identical fright wigs on the female Delvians. I understand that actors aren’t going to shave their heads and (poorly concealed) eyebrows for a single guest episode, but there’s better ways.

And there’s no reason for facial Bedazzling. Ever.

Other than that, great episode.


I’ve been waiting for this episode all season. Granted, I’ve been waiting for several episodes all season, including “Durka Returns”, “The Flax”, “Through The Looking Glass”, “Nerve”…

If “Till the Blood Runs Clear” is the D’Argo/John bonding episode, this is definitely where Zhaan/John come to an understanding. They haven’t been at each other’s throats nearly as much as D’Argo and John, but the revelation of the reason why Zhaan was imprisoned does create a rift between them.

Alex, I think, was a real person. In some form or another, at least. Could be her real name was closer to Caroline, given the similarity to another character later on, but I don’t think she was completely a shadow priest fabrication. It could also be that, gasp and amazement, he’s dated multiple people. Given the nature of the episode, questions are inevitable and answers are limited.

Adam does bring up a really good point in that Moya has absolutely no idea where she is. She has extensive databases on physics and astronomy, but she’s light in the cartography department. I think this can be explained through her long captivity under the Peacekeepers: Why allow slaves access to star charts? Far easier to give them just enough information to get to where they’re going and prevent them from planning an escape.

My related question centers on the extended starburst that takes Moya to the Delvians. Can she home in on any (quasi)Leviathan beacon and zip to it through Starburst? Or is it a side effect of the mind screw?

…and how did Aeryn get Crichton’s underwear? I mean, he’s wearing one set in the opening scene, and he didn’t have a change of clothes on board the module. He’s clearly starting to scavenge from local suppliers, but… his underwear? This may indicate either a level of contempt for Crichton and his posessions, or that Peacekeeper commandos have a community pool that clothing is drawn from.

Episode [1.11]: Till the Blood Runs Clear || Episode [1.13]: The Flax

14 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. My comment about no one in Farscape ever bringing a map remains relevant. This is such a glaring flaw in reasoning for any spacefaring culture. And the worst thing is, Crichton is an astronomer and astrophysicist, which means he might have a reasonable idea of WTF he is if he could just find a decent star chart. Even if he isn’t in the Milky Way (which I don’t think is the case), he might get some clue as to WTF he is. This would probably be a better use of his time than trying to recreate a wormhole, since for all he knows he might open one and wind up someplace worse.

    • Weston

       /  September 24, 2010

      He does have that star chart in season three, with no mention of when exactly he started on it. It could be safe to assume that he’s already working on it.

      Of course, knowing the location of a star doesn’t tell you anything about the planets around it, nor the inhabitants there of. Moya could probably listen on the EM spectrum for radio shells from local civilizations, but that information would be decades old at best.

      • Old information is better than no information at all. And that still doesn’t explain why they don’t beg, barter or steal some starcharts from the first commerce planet they find.

        I know, MST3k Mantra and all that, it still bugs me.

        • Who says star charts are something available to sell? He tried to get some from Lyneea back in “I, E.T.”, and considering she’s a fellow astronomer, she doesn’t have any either.

          Here on Earth, the only people who have star charts are at the various space programs, and it’s taken them decades to get as good as they are. Assuming that Crichton started back in “I, E.T.” and worked his way through the third season, compiling them in two years is nothing short of miraculous.

          Then again, he probably had some…”help”.

          • People have been making star charts for hundreds of years. You can find them in pretty much any public library that has a section of astronomy.

            As I said, it just bugs me that no one in Farscape seems to take some very basic self-preservative actions with regards to interstellar flight.

          • Sure. Now try using that chart for navigation.

    • Has it been specifically established that there are no starcharts on Moya? It was the Delvians this episode who said they had no starcharts, and from the way they said it, I got the impression they intentionally destroyed those records when their sect settles on this world.

  2. Hey, found you guys through Google, and just had to stop by and say that it’s kind of nifty that there are four of you doing this. I started a Farscape rewatch about a year ago and it is taking me FOREVER because I’m the only one doing it.

    I’m gonna put you guys on my reader!

    • Weston

       /  September 24, 2010

      Welcome to the site. 😀

      What do you think so far?

    • Very awesome! I’ll go ahead and read through your archives, though only up to where we are now. (I don’t want to accidentally steal your thoughts on things.)

      I hope you like our own take on these episodes!

  3. In the debate about John’s underwear, not only is he unlikely to have an extra pair, but wouldn’t he have been wearing a diaper during the Farscape experiment? As astronauts typically do?

    • Weston

       /  September 27, 2010

      That seems likely. He would also likely have been in a full pressure suit, rather than the half-helmet and orange jumpsuit.

  4. This is a topic that’s near to my heart…

    Take care! Where are your contact details though?


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