Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [1.14] – “Jeremiah Crichton”

Today, on Farscape

“Since I left my home, I’ve been hunted, beaten, locked up, shanghaied, shot at. I’ve had alien creatures in my face, up my nose, inside my brain, down my pants. This is the first time… the first place… where I found peace.”

Frustrated by the constant reminder of how little he fits in among the alien crew, Crichton goes on a tirade and jumps ship in his Farscape module so as to blow off some steam. Unfortunately, that’s right around the same time Moya decides an immediate Starburst is the best way to clear out some blockage that threatens her baby. Before Crichton can get back aboard, Moya is gone, stranding him in uncharted space.

Three months later….


Crichton stranded in space. That’s a great plot. A fantastic way to separate him from his home of the last few months and alienate him further by pulling away what frame of references he’s struggled to build as he hits even more unknown territory. Is that where this episode goes? Frell no. They drop him on a planet that’s identical in climate and fauna to the Australian shooting locale; a definite Home Sweet Home. And you know what? He loves it! Yes, the show that’s all about alien weirdness once again drops the alienated human on a place of comfortable familiarity when it would be so much more dramatic to take his breaking point and push him past it. Instead, we get him kicking back in leisure as he fishes and forages fruit, sports a power beard, and even seems willing to forgo rescue when it comes because he’s just so damn cozy.

Now, granted, there still could have been something great here. He wanted a taste of Earth, so let’s drop him in a familiar location where forces instantly drain any power source, leaving him fending for himself against the brazen wilds his “civilized” neck of Terra rarely encounters. Is that where they go? Frell no again! Well, they do have the force that drains power sources, but instead of isolation, they drop him next to a ridiculously convenient tribe of peaceful hunter/gatherers who (mostly) welcome the stranger and share with him their vibrant purple clothing. Are they at least terrified of a being from the stars? Nah. They’re cool with it. Their ancestors had spaceships, too. Are they at least alien enough for there to be some xenophobic clash? Not a bit. While likely Sebacean, these folk are as human as human can be. Hell, they’re all pretty and clean and look like the crew of a tropical resort.

As you can tell, I had problems with this episode. It felt to me like they not only went the wrong direction, but pushed it to levels of even deeper wrong. That’s not to say it’s a bad episode, which I’ll elaborate further on, it just felt like it belonged earlier in the season, when the show was still trying to find its footing and questionable choices like this made a little more sense.

That said, there is some great character exploration; mostly from Crichton, of course. He’s been on board Moya for several months now, and just as he’s settling in and getting used to everything, he suddenly flips out. D’Argo is dealing with Moya’s crisis with John supposedly at his back, and John bails. Zhaan tries to be calm and understanding, and John throws recent revelations back in her face. Aeryn tries to talk him out of it, and he says he’s sick of everything, even her. Where most shows would have their glorified hero fitting in grandly by this point, we’re over half way through the season and the creators are acknowledging that John has no place to go to cool down. He has no pictures of home. No memorial trinkets beyond the technical tools of his module. Hell, even the module itself is partially Moya-fied by this point. He has nowhere to stretch his legs and look at a familiar sight that’ll take his mind off the fact that he’s in an entirely new reality. So he lashes out in a very real moment.

Also showing growth is D’Argo. He made a big step last episode when he abandoned a map home in favor of saving his comrades, and here he carries it forward as he’s the one keeping the rest of the crew focused on finding and rescuing John, even as the months tick by and they voice their increasing doubts. In “Till the Blood Runs Clear” it was said that John and he would never be friends, but I’ll be damned if a partnership isn’t being forged as they spend a good chunk of this episode’s second half strutting side-by-side. There’s still obvious tension between them, but they’re starting to feel like a team.

And then there’s Rygel. He spent a string of episodes as little more than a deliverer of punchlines – the last episode at least gave him something to do – but here he steals the show as this local tribe, upon their first glimpse of the Dominar, bows down to him in heavenly worship. It seems they were sent here and abandoned long ago by the Hynerian Empire, something that has been clouded through generations of folklore and priestly manipulation tactics, and now they look at him as the heavenly Masata (I see what you did there). And does Rygel milk it? Frell yes he does, for baths and snacks and bowing masses to stiffly wave at. However, what surprised me was the fear and the guilt as he learned the history of these people. One wouldn’t expect Rygel to bat an eye at a predicament caused by his ancestors, but he does and, instead of pushing his diplomatic skills to the hilt, he locks up and blubbers about as he tries to set things right. I didn’t expect this, but that’s not a criticism or something out of character, it’s finally a sign that his heart, despite being two sizes too small, can actually beat now and then… in a way that completely throws him off his game and leads to near death. That, friends, is a great twist.

Getting the short end of the stick are Zhaan and Aeryn, who are stuck aboard Moya the entire episode. Zhaan is still conflicted over revelations and choices from past episodes; at least she voices it with more grace than she did in the last one. Aeryn feels a bit odd as she goes all Tech and works out maps and devices so as to get in touch with the comrades trapped below the energy nullifying barrier. It’s a nice callback to her discovery of scientific joys in “Thank God It’s Friday. Again.” but it feels like a bit too much being thrown at us a bit too fast. At least she acknowledges that she can’t pull off some engineering without Crichton.

It’s an odd episode. Not odd in the good way that Farscape fans all love so much, but odd in the sense that some of the choices feel wildly off while others hit the mark dead on.


A time skip tends to be a difficult thing to pull off in any media. People want to know what happened to the characters during the skipped time, and that can be handled very well or poorly. This episode falls somewhere in the middle, I think. Three months pass, roughly the same amount of time since the escape from Crais, and not a lot happened. Crichton kicked back and came to some measure of acceptance that he’d be stuck on a world even more backwards than Earth for the rest of his life, and Moya backtracked her route trying to find him. We can only imagine the character development that occurred between the crew, because we don’t directly see any of it.

Aeryn and Zhaan have switched roles, with Aeryn acting as the calm and patient one while Zhaan advocates abandoning Crichton to his fate. It seems so weird, yet a fairly natural progression from where the characters have been going through the series. Aeryn has been coming down from her military history, mellowing out and unwinding; Zhaan has been descending from serenity and salaciousness into uncertainty and impatience. D’Argo’s loyalty is surprising in the context of the first few episodes of the series, but after “Till the Blood Runs Clear“, it’s completely appropriate.

My nitpick: Crichton was stranded in the middle of nowhere with a slower-than-light vehicle. How did he find a habitable world before he ran out of air/fuel/food? Likely he just got lucky, but unless they upgraded his module to Hetch drive since he ran out of fuel, they must have been close. Also, his beard is rather magnificent, but why isn’t his hair three months longer? Sure, it’s scraggly, but it should be longer, right?

It’s amusing that on a planet where everyone wears orange and purple, Crichton has gone totally native. And significant that he takes off the vest shortly after D’Argo and Rygel arrive. As if, at that very moment, he’s acknowledging that he doesn’t belong on this world and will be leaving. Regardless of his issues with the crew.

“Negative power vortex” sounds enough like negative space wedgie that I just have to make the reference. And, of course, Rygel ex Saccus, because Rygel in a bag is hilarious. We do also have more of the CGI Rygel, but when his chair is depowered it becomes somewhat necessary. Unless the producers would accept the bouncing Muppet walk, but they’re too high class for that.


    (Adam was caught in the wake of a Starburst this week. Tessa will be filling in until we find him again.)

This was a bit of an interesting episode for me, since I sort of had a hunch about a minute in that I wasn’t going to like this episode much, only to find myself warming up to it considerably about halfway through.

I have mixed feelings about the opening. While the idea of Crichton finally caving to the stress of the alien-ness of his surroundings makes sense in context, it feels a little out of nowhere, considering how diplomatic and patient he’s been up to now. Arguably his frustration has built to a breaking point now, which is realistic, but it’s a bit of an unexpected occurrence as a viewer to see him this abrasive right out the gates. Had his breakdown happened slightly later in the episode, giving us more context and seeing the buildup to his breaking point, it probably wouldn’t feel so jarring to me. As it is, it feels almost out of character for Crichton to let a small argument with D’Argo push him over the edge that easily. Again, in context, it makes perfect sense (in fact I’m surprised he didn’t have a breakdown of this sort earlier in the series than he did), but it’s something that I had to sit down and think about for it to work for me.

Upon a second viewing, it’s much easier for me to swallow him hitting his breaking point, mostly because I was expecting it this time. There’s a brief mention during his argument with D’Argo about him finally being out of his fuel supply for his module, and the realization that he’s now totally dependent on alien technology probably serves as a painful reminder that he is completely out of place in this universe. It’s him losing yet another bit of home, minor as it may seem to the others. Immediately after storming away from D’Argo after a heated discussion, he hits even more frustration when the translator microbes can’t properly decode his expression.

I think this is the first time John’s actually attacked his crewmates like this. He’s yelled and argued at various members before, but until now, it’s always been in attempts to reason with them. This time, he’s being the unreasonable one, lashing out at the others (rather harshly to Aeryn and Zhaan in particular) with little to no provocation. It’s actually a rather ugly and unlikeable moment for him as a character, which I applaud the show for being bold enough to do to their protagonist. I just wish it had come with a bit more introduction rather than starting immediately with it in our faces.

Ben Browder’s face acting when John realizes the ship is leaving without him is excellent, for the most part. You can see the panic setting in through the initial shock (“Oh god, I am a dead man.”), though he looks a tad too calm as he tries to regain control of his module while Moya goes through Starburst.

Strange place for product placement…

While I really enjoyed this episode, I’m going to agree with Noel and say that a few things feel somewhat out of place. If this took place a few episodes back, Crichton’s resignation to remain on the planet he’s stranded on would make total sense. He’s comfortable there, and it probably would have seemed likely that it was going to be the closest thing to Earth that he’d get. But after his discoveries in “Till the Blood Runs Clear”, realizing that the idea of returning home is not actually an impossibility? It seems odd that he’d just abandon any potential for returning to Earth, especially with how focused he’s been on that goal (to the point of it being dangerous, again as seen in that episode).

It also seems a tad convenient that out of all of the planets he could have wound up being forced to land on in the Uncharted Territories, it was one that was not only habitable and populated, but very Earth-like, down to the not-even-remotely alien inhabitants. For the sake of advancing the narrative, it works, but… really?

Also WHAT THE HELL GIANT BUG BEING FISHED OUT OF THE WATER WHY. I had to pretty much go through the scene at that point with my eyes closed.

The initial story on the planet itself is enjoyable, if a bit cliché. It’s nice to see them deviate slightly by having Crichton not reciprocating the affections of the Chief’s daughter, and they do play the story very well, it just feels like something I’ve seen an awful lot, and felt a tad dull, even with Barbados Slim playing the part of the rival.

Things pick up considerably once D’Argo and Rygel show up, thankfully. Noel and Weston already touched on D’Argo and Crichton’s increasing sense of camaraderie, so I won’t dwell on that, but really it’s Rygel that really takes the limelight of the later end of the episode. Noel covered most of this, but it’s interesting that he doesn’t warm to the idea of being a god to the Aquarans. We probably wouldn’t really be surprised at all if he ate it up completely and got himself into huge trouble of his own accord, but while he’s more than eager to act as their sovereign, he is very resistant to the idea of being a deity. It’s surprising when his initial, seemingly faulty justification for why the people are worshiping him actually turn out to be almost completely accurate.

I think I want challenge an idea that Adam expressed last episode, that Rygel must have been a terrible ruler. I’ve been convinced for a while that the Dominar is a deeper person than he lets on, and especially given his guilty and almost panicked attempts to put right the wrongs of his predecessors, I think he was probably at least a competent ruler, if not a good one. Maybe not a very nice or likable one, but given what we learn about others in his family here, that doesn’t seem to be a prerequisite to the position.

One last nitpick. For all of the emphasis on Lishala’s feelings for Crichton throughout the episode, she sure gets over those feelings in a hurry. She hardly bats an eye when Crichton leaves.


(It’s interesting to note that this is the cast and crew’s least favorite episode ever.)

What can I say that hasn’t already been said? Noel covered the growing respect D’Argo has for Crichton; like he said, he’s continuing the trend he started last episode when he put aside personal gain to be the Big Damn Hero. Putting everyone on Moya on the task of finding Crichton for a whole quarter-cycle? Three months? Especially when you consider that Starburst is not really an accurate linear fashion of travel, and that Crichton had a whole slew of directions in which to take off in? (I don’t know how many degrees are in a sphere. Way more than the 360 of a flat circle.)

Weston brought up the significance of Crichton taking off his native vest as soon as D’Argo and Rygel come find him, and the matter of the Negative Power Vortex. Tessa, for her part, made fantastic mention of the cause of Crichton’s frustration being tied to losing yet another part of home; he’s homesick, cooped up, and (understandably) tired of being everyone’s Butt Monkey. Likewise, I’m surprised it’s taken him so long to need to vent.

Unfortunately, the joke’s still on him, since the moment he takes off in the module, Moya has to vent her Starburst energy and leaves him out in deep space. Alone. Feeling abandoned. It may seem like teenage wangst, until you realize that the following things are running through his head:

  1. He may have made himself useful, but he’s the strange alien that had to be taught things that, in their minds, children are born knowing. Nearly everyone on Moya has called him “useless” or looked down at him at some point. He’s been, for all intents and purposes, a burden.
  2. The crew has finite resources, and every time they try to refuel or restock food, they get shot at by the Monster Of The Week. One less mouth to feed.
  3. For that matter, what was the last thing he said to all of them before they left? I hate you. I’m sick of you. What is your problem? Your galaxy sucks and I hate everything in it.
  4. Again, as I said above, Starburst is not an accurate form of travel. Who knows if they’d ever find their way back to that specific point anyway, even if they wanted to go back for him?

Now, imagine all of those thoughts bouncing back and forth for three months while he stumbles upon Jamaica-waii-xico, with a crowd of probably-Sebaceans. He gets to relax, fish for Zoidbergs, and – aside from said strange fishing – delude himself into thinking he’s back home, or at least homish.

Sure, the execution may not be the best, as Noel pointed out, but if you ignore that and get to all the side bits, the exposition and development, and you squint real hard, you can almost see a good episode underneath.

Sailboat, sailboat, frelling sailboat.

Episode [1.13]: The Flax || Episode [1.15]: Durka Returns

3 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. jess

     /  October 15, 2010

    Hello all.
    How lucky am I, to have stumbled upon you folks. I was too busy being stupid when the series first came out. My dad brought it to my attention at the time, but I only watched a few episodes. This past year, I’ve been watching a lot of old television and crammed all four seasons of Farscape.
    It left me with a sense of depression to not have that Farscape ‘fix’ on a regular basis. And I’ll look forward to keeping up with future reviews.

    • Thanks for joining the ride, Jess, and I’m glad you got to recently enjoy the series. We’ll try our best to fill that Farscape fix. 🙂

  2. RaslakOnLomo

     /  December 26, 2010

    We must remember that time passes slowly for the crew of Moya. They have adventures, yes; but most days are spent in what must become mind-numbing boredom. There is limited food. No crew of red-shirts to provide diversion. And no one understands Monday Night Football. Of course John blows a gasket. It is important for two reasons not mentioned above: it shows Crichton’s resiliency & it shows the crew has accepted Crichton as one of their own. Both of these are necessary to understand now – before things get truly weird. This is not my favorite episode, but I like it better now I had a chance to think that through – Thanks.


Leave a Reply