Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [1.13] – “The Flax”

Today, on Farscape

“Slicker than snot.”
“…my microbes had to have translated that wrongly.”

While Aeryn takes Crichton out in a landing pod, so Crichton can practice deep-space flying, Moya is contacted by a scavenger who claims there is treasure in the Flax – a deep-space pirate’s net. Too late, though, as Aeryn and Crichton already find themselves caught in it…


As I’ve mentioned a few times, I haven’t seen most of these episodes since their first run, ten/eleven years ago. A few of them, and their concepts, stuck in my memory – some, more than others.

This was one of them. The concept of a device that traps and disables ships is one that is used every once in a while, and it’s fairly effective every time. This is deep space, after all; there’s no chance of survival even if they punch out.

As with other episodes, there are a few interweaving threads that all intersect at various places. First, you have Crichton and Aeryn, who are sharing close quarters and refuse to let each other take the “dangerous” part of repairing their landing module and breaking free of the Flax. The tension between the two is delicious, and we finally have a bit of resolution near the end; the “We’re going to die, and there’s no way in hezmana I’m going without you” kiss is the moment we’ve all been half a season for. (It’s out-of-focus, but please note Aeryn’s sheepish grin when D’Argo rescues them. Fantastic.) Sure, after they’re safely back on Moya, they go right back to the “will they, won’t they” dance, but now there’s some confirmed substance to it. Now there’s mutual attraction. And now there’s the extremely pleased smile on Aeryn’s face as we fade to the closing credits.

In the midst of all this, of course, we have the interaction between Zhaan and Rygel. Take note of how quickly Zhaan shows her anger these days; she’s not the patient and calm mediator that she was at the beginning. Both “That Old Black Magic” and “Rhapsody in Blue” have taken a huge toll on her; she still hasn’t gotten over the former, and we’re coming right on the heels of the latter. This is an annoyed Zhaan; she snaps at Rygel at almost every turn.

In her defense, of course, Rygel is still Rygel. Take special note of his self-satisfied grin as he taps his electric shuffleboard prod on the game table, making it emit irritating digitized tones every time. The doorstop can get under your skin when he’s just trying to be reasonable; just imagine how fast you’d snap when he’s making an actual effort to push your buttons. Furthermore, as his thread continues, we’re surprised with the lengths to which he will go to further his own ends. Feigning a failed game to get pirates out of his hair as fast as possible, and doing so in such a way as to be embarassing and potentially dangerous to the pirates’ health. In fact, he’s downright gleeful at the possibility of the pirates being lost forever.

I take it back. We aren’t surprised at all.

Things to take special note of in this episode:

  • Even Aeryn is starting to think that Sebacean and Human physiology might be more similar than they originally thought; for once, it’s Crichton that refuses to use something that hasn’t been tested on Humans before.
  • Once again, Trekkiegirl made a mention of how Farscape seems to be just like Lexx with better writing and a slightly higher budget. You’d have to ask her for the specifics, though.
  • Here’s something absolutely huge, in my opinion. Pilot used to take dren from everyone. Here, in this episode, he very decidedly does not. Note the annoyed look on his face and the deadpan snarkvoice. Pilot is completely awesome and in my opinion is one of the characters to have the most development on the entire show – moreso, in fact, because it’s pretty much hidden unless you’re looking for it. Stealth Character Development, if you will.


Rygel is a dick. An absolute dick. Getting hammered on a nasal hookah and repeatedly filling the air with annoying sounds just because the others won’t play a game with him to alleviate his boredom, that makes sense. That’s Rygel. He gets on peoples’ nerves. Here, he specifically targets Zhaan and, as Kevin pointed out, he most certainly gets up under her skin. A lot of Zhaan’s arc so far has been about losing control, I understand that, and it makes sense following the events of last episode that she’s a little on edge, but this felt off to me. Look at “DNA Mad Scientist” where Zhaan still pushes through an ethically questionable decision with a cold grace. Where’s that Zhaan? Why isn’t she getting all up in Rygel’s grill and terrifying the little doorstop or warping him with some clever mind games? Instead, she’s little more than the sister in the back of the family minivan going “Stop it! Knock it off! Stop it!”, but without a mother in the front seat to plea to in eye-rolling exasperation. I don’t know. It just didn’t ring true to me. I like the twist at the end where she gains a hair of respect for the toad due to a clever day-saving play, but it doesn’t justify the juvenile way she flipped out. And, no, I don’t like Pilot, either. The pissy sigh with which he delivers his few lines came completely out of nowhere. Subtle development is one thing, but this felt jarring to me as I couldn’t find a reason behind it.

But speaking of dicks, or lack thereof, does anybody else wish they chose this episode to toss Rygel out of an airlock so as to let Staanz join the crew? I love everything about Staanz. His broken wreck of a ship that runs off an old furnace fed by what looks like little dolls. His chosen career, that of a professional scavenger of what others discard into space; literally, a Garbologist. The way he buddies up to people like a classic conman, even though he knows he’s not getting much of a deal in return. The way he unhesitatingly drops trou to identify himself with prison tats. I love this dude, I love the design of him and his vessel, I love every moment of Rhys Muldoon’s performance, and I especially love the great twist at the end, which I wouldn’t be surprised to learn led to at least one D’Argo/Staanz shipper somewhere amongst the fandom. Hell, is anyone else with me in wanting to see just how far a risky show like Farscape would have taken such a ballsy relationship?

Speaking of D’Argo, anybody else catch the callback to “DNA Mad Scientist”? There, the promise of a map to his home, to his son, led him to turn on everybody in violent desperation. Here, the same offer is promised as Staanz tells him about the ruins of a Luxan ship. It initially seems like things will take a very similar direction as D’Argo hops on board the pump-action express and, despite delay after delay, prioritizes exploration of the Luxan vessel over the rescue of the increasingly distressed John and Aeryn. This time around, though, he has a change of heart and sacrifices the promise of a homecoming in favor of rescuing his comrades. This is a very important development for D’Argo. In “Till the Blood Runs Clear”, he very flatly states that he and John will never be friends – and we all know he still has misgivings about Peacekeeper Aeryn – so his sudden realization that he’d never be able to look his son in the eyes if he threw people under a bus just to get a map is a very heavy and very well earned emotional note. Though why they couldn’t just go back to the Luxan ship after getting John and Aeryn is never really made all that clear.

And then there’s John and Aeryn, both stuck in their own rendition of Apollo 13 as their trapped ship falls apart to greater and greater degrees. Pay very close attention to just how clever and subversive this plot thread is. In so very many series where the leads are dripping with romantic tension, they often give us the promising tease of “The First Kiss” only for it to be a mundane cheat. Here, as with X-Files: The Movie, that first locking of the lips comes not from a passionate makeout session, but from very necessary CPR. Most shows would leave it at that and the entire fanbase would roll their eyes yet keep watching for another season and the next expected tease. Here, however, John is successfully resuscitated, they take their stock of everything…. and then go into a full-on makeout session, even beginning to peel of spacesuits and go all the way before they’re oh so unfortunately interrupted. They psyched us out with a tease, then rewarded us with something genuine just for having played along. Well done, Farscape. Well done.

It was a good episode. I didn’t like the execution of a few of the characters, nor that this fearsome group of space pirates turns out to be two stinky guys in a pointy cousin of the Millenium Falcon, but the guest role of Staanz is fabulous, everything is tightly constructed and flows at a good pace, the banter is delightful, and it took the time to drop in some really surprising character development. Nice work. And if you’ll humor me, I’ve got a few items for these lists the others are so fond of including:

  • What is this Tadek game and have any fan groups worked out genuine rules for it?
  • I love Zhaan suddenly appearing in a scene as her eyes calmly explore Staanz’s exposed lack of genitalia.
  • Listen for those great little bits of sheepish music near the end as D’Argo walks in on John and Aeryn during his rescue.
  • What the hell was going on with the atmosphere suits? Those are Peacekeeper, right? Well where did they get a second one for John? And what’s this about Aeryn’s helmet not fitting him when we’ve already seen him wearing it in “They’ve Got a Secret”? I thought they only had the one for Aeryn’s Prowler, but does this mean there’s a stock of Peacekeeper suits laying around Moya somewhere?


Is this the first episode with an interior shot of the transport pods? I love this set. The ribbed chairs, ribbed ceilings and walls, the fan-shaped heat-sink things in front of the pilots. Gorgeous across the board. The crew will be spending a lot of time in these, and being able to hold conversations without resorting to intermittent radio contact is a huge benefit. Could use seatbelts, though.

Gotta agree with the guys, Rygel is an absolute child in this episode. Zhaan is definitely feeling the effects of her character development, Aeryn is thrust out of her comfort zone again, Pilot is getting more aggressive and snarky, and D’Argo… well, he’s angry. Good old reliable D’Argo.

Staanz is definitely an interesting character. Not sure if I’m as fond of hi- uh, it as the other guys, though. He’s just so… flamboyant. Over the top. Very… y’know, he kinda reminds me of Stark. Only way less crazy. His ship is definitely not capable of atmospheric flight, but for what it is it’s fairly impressive. I mean, he’s cobbled together a brick that flies. That’s not half bad.

Aeryn’s acceptance of John’s primitive resuscitation technique, her aborting the repairs to save his life, the two of them staring into the impending doom, and the last desperate kiss before death that winds up interrupted and has numerous excuses made for why it happened. Yeah, this episode loves its tropes. And I love it.


Another day, another instance of Rygel proving he’s a complete asshole. I can’t imagine that he was a very good monarch. Maybe the revolution on Hyneria had more popular support than he seems willing to admit. And am I the only person that sees Rygel with those clear sticks and blocks and thinks “deranged doozer”? I don’t think I’ve seen Zhaan quite so pissed off at Rygel being himself.

This whole episode is just chock full of John/Aeryn slash material. I love the character developement they have here, especially Aeryn as she continues to break out of her Peacekeeper Uber-frau commando mindset and continue to think more like a fringer. John shows us that he’s getting better with Moya and her technology, as well as his evolving relationship with Aeryn.

Staanz is pretty much awesome here, easily one of the better guest stars we’ve seen so far. I won’t spoil it for those of you who are reading this without having seen the episode, but just this one scene makes up for the lame-ass bounty hunters last episode with interest. I love the design of Staanz’s ship too, even though it’s probably the least spaceworthy thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

The costuming and makeup this episode was pretty standard, although I LOVE the little wax seal-looking things in Kcrackic and Staanz’s forheads. It looks like they were attacked by a rabid notary public. Kcrackic’s outfit raises some questions in my mind, however: Why, in a setting with laser pistols, is he wearing leather armor? That doesn’t even begin to make sense.


*Blam! Blam Blam Blam!*

[Transmission ends]

Episode [1.12]: Rhapsody in Blue || Episode [1.14]: Jeremiah Crichton

4 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Spiderwrist

     /  October 1, 2010

    @Noel, they couldn’t go back for the Luxan ship because it had been earmarked for destruction and was about to be melted down.

    Also, congrats for the awesome recaps guys. I’ve just re-discovered Farsape recently and miss it bitterly, it’s great to be able to read up on other people’s opinions and interpretations of it.

  2. @Noel I love that Rygel is a dick in this episode. Most shows (to this day) are afraid to let characters be truly unlikable, but Farscape never was. I miss that about it.

    • TV Tropes says it best, I believe: Rygel is constantly shifting between Jerkass and Jerk With A Heart Of Gold, but the “Jerk” part is too ingrained into his character to ever go away.

      And we love him for it.


Leave a Reply