Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [1.22] – “Family Ties”

Today, on Farscape

“One other thing, Dad. You remember the day I left? You told me that every man has a chance to be his own kind of hero. Well, I don’t think I’m ever coming home, so I won’t get that ticker tape parade. Doubt that I’m ever gonna have kids, so I won’t get the chance to be a hero to them. But I think I know what you meant.

“I’ve got… a strange life here, Dad. It’s different, but it’s my own. I have people who rely on me. People I care about. People who mystify me. And people who have become allies. Friends. And people who teach me patience. And people who teach me… other things.

“Well, you said the time would come, and I think it has. I have a job to do and I am unafraid. That’s what you said when they asked you what it was like to walk on the moon. You did good, Dad. You taught me well.

“This is John Crichton, somewhere in the universe.”

Moya is still hiding in the asteroid belt, constantly on the verge of Peacekeeper detection, when Rygel suddenly hops in a transport pod and flies out to the Command Carrier. The others are scrambling, fearful of his intentions and how this affects their current status since Moya won’t starburst without her child, who’s still too young. However, Rygel returns.

He’s accompanied by Crais. Who requests asylum.


I’ve been sitting here, staring at this screen for an hour, trying to figure out where to start. This has all the hallmarks of a season finale where they weren’t 100% certain they’d get picked up for another, so every character finds a conclusion to their arcs as relationships are settled and people wax poetic as though this will be their last chance. It should feel odd, and there was a voice in the back of my mind that wanted to criticize it as being a bit too forced and drawn out, but that voice can go frell himself for all I care. It was gripping stuff as our characters uncapped whatever emotions were still bottled away and poured them on the table. If the series had ended here – and, let’s be honest, we’ve all had favorite shows go out with far less closure – it would have been unfortunate, but still ultimately satisfying as the characters, while still quite far from their intended destinations, have at least now fully discovered themselves and each other and have truly become a family.

Let’s start with Rygel. The episode opens with him ditching the others and turning himself over to the Peacekeepers with the hope that he can trade his shipmates for his own freedom. Up to this point, Rygel has been useless, annoying, egotistical, flatulent, and just a huge, grey, plump dick in the way he treats everyone, but it’s not until now that we realize just how detached he is from the others. While they’ve grown closer, he’s remained the outsider, the one they ignore and pick on except for the rare instances where his ego inflates at the call of necessity. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’d turn traitor… and, yet, I was surprised.

Initially buttering up to his demands, Scorpius and Crais give the Dominar an all-you-can eat meal and a luxurious bath. But he delays. Why does Rygel delay? Scorpius tells him he’s lying when Rygel talks of selling the others out, so was this a sacrifice? Was this his way of buying time for the others? I don’t know. One would expect him to execute such an action with much boasting and gloating, but he doesn’t. As with Chiana’s debut episode leaving her a did-she-didn’t-she suspect in a murder, we are never told the reasons for Rygel’s actions, only that his surface claims are not true.

And this is the important part: Rygel doesn’t sell them out. Even when Crais is drowning him in a tub and he’s confronted with the severed and stuffed heads of other Hynerian rulers, he doesn’t sell them out. What does he do? He plays the diplomat, rolling with a new stage of the game offered by Crais as he strikes a bargain that leads to a huge game-changing twist. When he returns to Moya, he just cynically acknowledges that the others don’t trust him and that they have every right not to. And what does John do? Will all of his possessions to the thieving Rygel as he sets off for a potential suicide mission. Instead of grinning ear to ear as he rakes in the winnings, Rygel’s heart instead grows two sizes this day as John gives him Uncle Ben words to live by: “I figure the right thing starts at the beginning of the day. Not after you’ve been caught.” At the end of the episode, in an increasingly hopeless situation where he’d usually be telling the others to just leave their own behind and get the yotz out of there, Rygel finally heroes up and joins the family.

And then there’s Crais. In the last two episodes, we’ve seen him chipped down to nothing as the consequences of bad decisions catch up to him. As this episode opens, he’s at Scorpius’s side, serving the man who intends to see him killed, as they question and cater to Rygel. Then when he’s alone, moments after shoving Rygel face-first into a tub while surrounded by his Hynerian head trophies, he uses the sudden threat of aggression not to get the info from Rygel, but to strike a new bargain, one that puts him at the mercy of the lesser of two enemies.

Nobody trusts him, of course, but I don’t think that’s what he’s going for. He’s at the point now where all he wants is survival. He finally makes peace with the fact that John didn’t mean to kill his brother in a marvelous scene where, in a delivery that could have come off as a desperate tactic to save his life, he’s instead the tired sigh of a man who’s beyond hate, beyond revenge, who’s just let go of the only life he’s ever known and, dammit, might as well let this go, too. And the others must have seen the sincerity, because he goes from imprisoned to roaming free as he helps them form a strategy and even breaks bread with them in a last supper before all the yotz goes down. He is not a part of the group, but he’s also no longer the monster at their heels. They recognize this, and move on.

But then comes the twist, where he buddies up to Talyn (that’s the baby’s name, and I know the others are eager to explore its origins) and the two fly off to parts unknown, leaving the others behind with a shitstorm of a cliffhanger and a grieving mother who’s rebellious child just ran off with the man who once had her locked in bonds. I don’t entirely understand this. Yeah, it makes sense that Crais will never fit in, but he didn’t even try. And why did Talyn suddenly bond with him over Aeryn? It’s still a great twist, don’t get me wrong, but I never really felt their bond, even as they were taking off. It feels like a few episodes worth of plot found itself chopped down at the last minute.

But then we get to Stark, who…. oh, wait, they still haven’t said what the frell happened to Stark. Never mind.

John! Let’s talk about John. As Weston brought up, he’s left behind his human duds for the clothing of this alien reality. He’s assimilated. While there’s a fascinating scene where he looks at Crais, the man he hates, as he ponders this odd sensation to bond with a man simply because he looks human, his final message to his father speaks volumes. “I don’t think I’m ever coming home. I’ve got a strange life here, Dad. It’s different, but it’s my own.” The mission that’s guided him through the entirety of the last season, finding a way back to his world and family, is no longer his priority. He’s part of a group, now. A new set of friends. A new family. They’ve become his priority and he’s gotten to the point – hell, they’ve all gotten to the point – where being there for one another rises above all else. He’s just a silly human who found himself lost in the cosmos, but instead of blindly rejecting it all, he settled in, became a part of something, became important to people who became important to him. And, dammit, he’s found himself. He’s found the hero within. You can’t always get what you want. But if you try some time, you might just find you get what you need.

There’s a banquet of additional great moments between the entire cast, but I really need to leave stuff for the others. I think I’ll focus on one more, if I may. Chiana is a street rat who’s had to get plenty of dirt on her hands in order to survive, and it says so much about her world view when she pulls aside John, who’s just decided to go off on that suicide maneuver, and wants to thank him for all he’s done through an offer of sex. She gets in close, puts his hands on her waist, and what does he do? Ever the charmer, he sits her down, says “Never before the big game,” then lets her steal one small kiss before they part ways. Talk about a scene for the ‘shippers. Speaking of, I’m sure there’s at least a couple fans who got their rocks off when John shared yet another smooch with Rygel’s forehead.

One last point, then I’m done. Why did the Peacekeepers build a top secret base on a world covered in a highly flammable ocean of oil? No, seriously, why? With all of their Prowlers and laser turrets, they’re obviously expecting the possibility of a conflict, but who would want to shoot an enemy down if their flaming craft could plunge into the ocean and WHOOSH you’re all suddenly dead.


Rygel. Frelling self-serving egotistical screw-everyone-else-and-run-free Rygel. If he didn’t solve marginally more problems than he caused I’d say punt the toad off the ship at the next planet. His line, “I don’t take pity on orphans, much less that butcher,” really emphasizes this. That said, he does usually, reluctantly come back as the Moya group presents the lesser or least immediate threat to his continued survival and prosperity. For all the trouble he causes, his skill at reading people and negotiating with hostile forces is fairly impressive, especially when put up against Scorpius. These two interact so well. It’s like watching two chessmasters duel.

These first interactions between Scorpius and Braca set an almost pleasant tone. Scorpius encourages open discussion and resourceful thinking from his officers, while Crais… well. He even shows brief concern for the security officer he set to watch over M’Lee.

Have I mentioned that I love Scorpius? Oh MAN. Congratulations on ascending to series villain, by the way.

There are a lot of tender moments in this episode, culminating with the round-table dinner scene. It gives a very end-of-season everything’s-going-to-hell feel to the end of a season when everything’s going to hell. The nakama is splitting up, three of them diving into certain danger and potential death, one of them kidnapped, and the remainder fleeing for their lives with the hope that they will be able to return and rescue the rest. It’s a little terrifying as a viewer, especially when it first aired and we had a six month gap until the resolution.

Every single season of Farscape ends like this. Every. Single. Season. Gaaargh.

Even with the renewal uncertain the writers are setting up for the long game. Aeryn talking about the moment her mother visited her in the barracks, Scorpius’ half-Scarran heritage, John and Aeryn not saying goodbye. The last isn’t so much foreshadowing as a running theme, but it does come back.

Crichton continues to exhibit symptoms of his new crazy. His first reaction to Crais’ accompanying Rygel, the haunted description of what it’s been like to be hunted by a madman, stating outright that he would rather die fighting than go back to the chair. Don’t worry, it gets so much worse.

And speaking of things getting worse, how about that baby Leviathan? Aeryn taking Crais aboard to evaluate the warship’s capabilities is a neat little moment, a moment of triumph for a founding member of the breeding program, a brief look at Crais as something other than a mopey revenge-driven maniac. Happy Crais is new and terrifying. And then he runs off with Talyn. This is important: The kid is a Peacekeeper-hybrid warship. He’s designed to take orders, to respect strength, and Crais pushes those buttons hard.

Crichton is losing his last links to Earth. The little tape recorder passing to Aeryn, Jack’s puzzle ring flying off into the void, the only thing he has left from his homeworld is the Farscape Module itself, and even that’s going native.

Final nitpicks: The Peacekeepers were forced to abandon the Gammak Base, likely not as a result of its destruction but the navigational hazard produced by an ocean of burning oil. Can’t land on a stone spire in that mess. Aeryn’s Prowler has a huge square cockpit for some reason, in the commentary they say it looks like she’s sitting at a bar somewhere.

Planetary devastation count: 1


So. Wow. Just wow.

I’m going to wind up repeating everyone on points in this, I’m sure, but this was a hell of an episode to end the season with.

First, there’s Rygel, doing the thing we thought he’d never actually do, yet aren’t surprised to see him do it. I had personally hoped that he’d come farther along as a member of the “family” by this point, and so was disappointed to see him swipe the transport and rush off to sell the crew out to Crais and Scorpius. Or… did he? Scorpius has proven to be a pretty good at reading people, and according to him, Rygel is lying about his given reasons for being there. Considering how long he stalls for time on the ship, it might be conceivable that he was trying to buy time for the others… but if that were true, why does he make no effort to give that explanation back on Moya? I really have no idea what to think is actually going on here. He lets slip in his conversation with Crais later that he’s not expecting to get away with his life (“This is your death certificate. Proof you expired.” “You’re early. Come back tomorrow.”), and yet looks surprised when Crais confirms that Scorpius is planning on killing him after he has Crichton.

Whatever his gambit, it ultimately pays off for the crew of Moya overall, since he returns with the now effectively toothless Crais, reminding everyone just enough about why they keep him around to keep them from throwing him off the ship immediately.

And it’s here that we get the ultimate confrontation between Crais and John that has been building since the very first episode. Not in a heated battle, going at each others throats, but sitting and quietly talking to each other, the issue that drove the chase very softly dropping away. I never would have guessed it would be how that particular conflict would be resolved (or that when it was resolved, it would be largely inconsequential), and I love the subtlety of it, and the desperation it highlights in Crais at this point. The two haven’t made friends by any means, but Crais has much larger issues that take priority now.

I loved watching Scorpius trying to handle the crew’s last-ditch attempt to escape, mostly because you can practically see the gears working in his head as things are slipping away from him. To his credit, he doesn’t jump at the bait immediately, but the moment he realizes Crichton is aboard the transport and he slowly slumps into his chair, you can tell he realizes he’s screwed. He needs (or thinks he needs) John alive, and so can’t have them shot down, and yet leaving them alive dooms his research base. He can effectively do nothing without taking massive losses (again, as far as he knows), and has to sit and watch as the moon burns, his hands tied. It must have been a massively frustrating situation for him, and even causes him to lose his cool, dropping into his deeper “monster voice” to swear at the outcome.

And then, of course, everything comes crashing down, as Crais hijacks the newly named Talyn and escapes, and Aeryn is stuck and unable to rescue D’Argo and Crichton from their suicide mission without being spotted and the three of them getting shot down. Moya and the remaining members of the crew starburst, being left with no other option that involves anyone making it out at all.

And… then it ends. asdfadsfuhadammit.

From what I’ve heard the others say, it was unclear whether or not the show was going to get renewed for another season at this point, and so this had to work as an end to the series as well as the season, just in case. And… even being as frustrating as it is, it works. If they had to end it here, it would be a very powerful ending to the series, and, I have to admit, it would be a satisfying (if somewhat depressing) end to the story.

Though I’m very glad that this isn’t the end, and I’m eager to see how exactly they manage to get out of this one. Put me down as very eagerly awaiting the first episode of the next season.


Well, here we are. End of the season. And I’ll be frelled, I had almost forgot how heavy-hitting the finale was.

Let’s talk about the acting for a bit. Everyone brought their A game this time around – between D’Argo raging at his inability to sacrifice himself in a blaze of glory, to Aeryn trying her hardest not to lose it in front of the first people to ever respect her, to Crichton actually losing it and crying, frelling crying while Crais admits the defeat of his Ahab complex. And our boy Crais, going from a shell of a man to a grudging participant in a Batman Gambit, only to snap back into a manic glee as he sees the unlikely success of his very own Leviathan breeding program come to life.

And how about Rygel? The amount of puppetwork on this show never ceases to amaze me, and Rygel has always been not only one of the most expressive characters, but also one of the most interesting ones. And goddamn, look at him stand up to Scorpius like that. The most fearsome being in the Uncharted Territories right now, and Rygel just sits there calmly as the leather-clad psycho lists threat after threat. And when he’s done, the doorstop actually looks him in the eye and says, You’re Wrong, This Is What Is Going To Happen. There’s the backbone of a tyrant who commanded the respect of 600 billion subjects. That’s the Rygel we’ve come to know and loathe.

Everyone’s already made the important points here, so I’ll just cut right to the list of things to note.

  • Talyn is young, male, and in possession of powerful weaponry that will continue to grow as he does. What’s he going to respect more: a soft pleading from his pacifist mother, or the harsh commands of a (formerly) celebrated and successful Peacekeeper Commander who – let me just point out – is the only person who seems to know what the hell he is. Crais designed half of what went into Talyn, whereas everyone else keeps alternating between being afraid of what he is, confused about same, and – in at least one solitary (albeit loudly voiced) Hynerian opinion – indignation about the burden placed by his very presence. They’ve all been in hiding for way too long because of him, and while nobody is blaming him outright – nobody besides Rygel is blaming him outright – he can still feel the tension through his link with Moya. Can you really blame him at this point?
  • We’ve had four episodes now to get used to Scorpius and get a good initial handle on what he is. He seriously gets more and more impressive with every appearance. I mean, at first we saw him as a physically imposing figure, but it’s not like we haven’t seen those before. Then we find out that he’s calm, calculating, and methodical. That’s a bit more unique. Then we find out his obsession with wormhole research, and his unwavering charisma allowing him to turn loyal soldiers to his side. That’s starting to get scary. Now we know he’s a monstrous beast, a lowly half-breed who somehow made his way to the top of the xenophobic Peacekeeper food chain, and he has done so because he is damned good at what he does, i.e. reading people psychologically and manipulating events to get what he wants. He has a purpose, he has style, he has a vicious business sense, and he has Crichton in his sights. Now we’re frelling terrified.
  • Speaking of the half-breed thing, the implication is that his other half is, in fact, Sebacean. This implies that he is looked at with even more scorn than a full-blooded alien race; he’s corrupted, he’s a walking defilement of all that is good and proper and ordered in the Sebacean lifestyle. Given all that and he still has a high enough CHA score to natural 20 any Diplomacy or Intimidate checks he makes? Way more impressive in hindsight.
  • The confrontation between John and D’Argo all the way back in “Till the Blood Runs Clear” has made a visible difference in the way the two treat each other, and there’s been a growing respect between the guys. This is where it currently culminates; the two of them clutching each other in the barren void of space while a whole world burns beneath them.

All in all, an effective finale, and a frustratingly tantalizing cliffhanger. Weston’s wrong in saying that they do this to us every single season, because this? This is by far the easiest and least horrible finale in the series.

Every season afterwards?

It gets worse. Every time.

Deconstructing Moya will be taking a week away from watching episodes; in next week’s post, we’ll summarize our thoughts and reactions to the first season as a cohesive whole. Season Two will commence the week following.

Episode [1.21]: Bone to Be Wild || Episode [2.01]: Mind the Baby

4 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. I love this episode. I love how it is a perfect bookend to “Premiere,” and to the season as a whole. At least, perfect in terms of character, not in terms of plot cliffhangers and such. That was so rare back in the 90’s/early-00’s, to be able to see that much character growth, and only in a season, especially on sci-fi. But I still maintain that season two has the most heartbreaking cliffhanger, with season three coming a close second.

    By the way, you guys are catching up to me! I’ve been stuck on “The Ugly Truth” and “A Clockwork Nebari” for two months now because my life is eating my face. I miss writing about the show!

    • That’s what initially drew me to the show, that it had more depth and development per season than pretty much any other show of that time (minus Buffy) had during its entire run. Heck, if I remember correctly, we’ll get to a point where they have more twists per every couple episodes than most do during their entire runs.

      And, yes, season two is among the cliffhangers to top all cliffhangers.

      • Yeah, when I watched Buffy for the first time, I was terrified constantly because things kept changing. Like, all the time. Buffy was my initiation into “quality” television, and I haven’t been able to look back since. Before that, my favorite show was The X-Files, and as much as I still love that show (which is a lot), they were never good at character growth or plot movement. Things pretty much stayed the same for the entire run of the show.

  2. KaeDee

     /  December 13, 2010

    I love how this first season came together. The last few episodes of the season the series found its footing and it never looked back in the seasons to come. I miss having new episodes of Farscape to look forward to each week! It was an amazing show and an epic ride. Love this trip into the past as we relive the show that made such an impact on our lives.


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