Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [2.01] – “Mind the Baby”

Today, on Farscape

“You do believe that people can change, don’t you John?”
“Well… you have. I have. But Crais?

Days have passed since the season finale tore the crew apart. John, D’Argo, and Aeryn are holed up in an abandoned asteroid facility with a Prowler that’s low on fuel. Crais is trying to deal with a confused Talyn, who’s still hiding in the asteroid field. Zhaan has retreated into meditation while Chiana, Rygel, and Pilot try to talk Moya down when she turns back around in an attempt to recover her child.

And Scorpius lingers on the periphery. Waiting. Watching.


So. Wow. Okay. If “Family Ties” was a hell of a way to end off a season, Mind the Baby is a hell of a way to start one.

First and foremost, it’s very noticeable that some things have changed in the way the show is being filmed. D’Argo almost looks like a completely different person with the new makeup job (to the point that I wasn’t immediately certain it was the same actor). The lighting’s gotten a lot darker, which is especially evident on certain parts inside Moya, which we’ve been used to seeing much brighter lit up to here.

The thing that immediately jumped out to me was how amazingly expressive everyone’s acting is. There’s a huge array of emotions going on, and you can tell exactly what the characters are feeling without them having to say a word. This is especially impressive with Rygel and Pilot. Rygel doesn’t say a word when he sees Crichton and the others return (mostly because he can’t, the emotions send him into a choking fit), but he doesn’t have to. You see him flow from total shock, to joy, to panic, all totally through his facial expressions. Doing this convincingly would be impressive enough for an actual person, it’s amazing for a puppet.

Also, we finally get a better look at that blinking light thing on the side of Scorpius’ head, and… ew. I’m curious as to exactly what it’s purpose is. My initial guess is that the thing that was being swapped out of it was some sort of coolant, but I don’t have a clue as to what the overall thing actually does.

Crais is very interesting to watch in this episode. He appears to have regained the composure he lost at the end of last season almost completely, and possibly as a reflection of that, his hair is no longer hanging loose and scraggly, and back to his neat and tidy look that we first saw him with.

Also we’re left at the end wondering exactly what role Crais will be filling from here on out. I’m hesitant to call him an anti-hero at this point, but he seems to definitely be heading in that direction. His threat level has kind of been upped again, what with him effectively becoming Talyn’s “Pilot” (interesting to note that Pilot is voiced by the same actor) and gaining as close to direct control over Talyn and his weaponry as he can get, and yet there appears to be very little malice towards the others on his part, at least at the moment. Aeryn points out that he could easily have killed her, and yet he let her go. Also I have to wonder whether Scorpius’ reading of Crais’ claim that he killed Crichton is correct, that he only said it to take a stab at Scorpius… or if it was an attempt (however unlikely it was to work) to throw Scorpius off of Moya’s trail. I have a feeling that mind-link is going to have consequences both ways for a while to come, and if Crais hasn’t come to the point of wanting to help Moya and her crew survive on his own, he may find himself steered in that direction by Talyn himself.

One last observation. It’s interesting to note that, even with the limited experience we’ve had with Talyn so far, how much more “vocal” he is than Moya. While we did have Pilot narrating her thoughts and feelings throughout the first season, her presence as a character was (with a few exceptions) always more subtle and implied. Talyn, on the other hand, makes his presence known in almost every scene he’s been in. We can forget from time to time that Moya is a living creature in addition to a ship. Talyn makes sure not to let us forget about him. Maybe it comes down to being so young and needing attention, or maybe it’s part of his more aggressive Peacekeeper design, but it’s extremely interesting to observe.


Tessa mentioned how great the puppetry is for Rygel and D’Argo, and it totally is, but I’d like to mention another awesome puppet this episode: John Crichton.

Trekkiegirl: “So he’s really channelling Bill Murray at this point.”

It’s interesting to note that the moment that Crichton comes to terms with the fact that the Uncharted Territories and the surrounding Peacekeeper-held space is his new home, he just lets go and embraces the craziness of his life. Sure, he clings to his Earth-based references like a piece of floating wreckage from James Cameron’s career, but even those get a bit more…pronounced.

“You want to have a mid-life crisis? Fine! Just ditch the firm, head off to Maui, shack up with the supermodel, but you do not get to keep the Porsche!”


He’s still the same easy-going human in the depths of strangeness, but he has adapted. He’s become more like the universe around him, and he fits in all the better for it. He’s no longer the Fish Out Of Water, and he’s definitely not Arthur frelling Dent. (Unless you count books four and five, in which even Arthur is pretty savvy about pretty much everything.) It’s pretty obvious that most of the time, he just lets go and enjoys the ride until he absolutely has to be serious again. And even then, he doesn’t always. Check back with us in three episodes for more on this topic.

In short, though? Crichton’s embraced his inner cartoon character.

First bulleted list of the season!

  • The last episode was wrapping up and providing closure between the various individuals seen thus far in the show. This one sets up a whole slew of new aspects and questions, such as bringing a bit more focus on the Combo Platter Powers of pretty much everyone that isn’t Crichton. Zhaan can turn invisible, Chiana can leap huge distances, D’Argo can BREATHE IN SPACE hold his breath super long survive in space for up to half an hour, and Rygel is a super jerk. It eventually gets to the point where you just have to say “OKAY I GET IT THEY’RE ALIENS” and suspend your disbelief.
  • How awesome is Pilot’s disgusted face? I love it. I love it more than anything else in the world. I…don’t know what that says about me.
  • Aeryn looks even hotter when covered in sweat and grease.
  • Claudia Black has great arms. Possibly related to the above note.
  • Crichton really loves that gun; he’s been holding it ever since he got it back in “A Bug’s Life“.


Our last episode ended on a worthy cliffhanger where John and Crichton are hanging in the void of space, Aeryn can’t get to them in her Prowler for fear of capture, Crais has run off with Talyn, and Moya and the remainder of the crew are forced to abandon the others as they Starburst away. One typically expects the story to pick up from there, but this is Farscape, and they’re done going the typical route. Instead, we pick up days later, where everyone is already settled and safe, though still separate. I was hesitant to accept this technique at first, because it takes that dramatic buildup and pushes the release off the screen as goes ahead and starts the next chapter, but it works. We all know John and D’Argo are going to live, and Farscape acknowledges this and refuses to linger on false drama. Sure, there’s always the reveal of how they get out of it, but it’s realistically undramatic so they let it slip through in passing exposition. Ballsy, ballsy move on the part of the writers, but I like it.

My post for the season 1 wrapup was all about how the character opened up, became honest, and pulled together as a family. Again, this is Farscape, so the next story is of course about how they start lying, striking under the table alliances, and return to their typical level of dysfunctionality. John and D’Argo have buddied up to the point where D’Argo’s become obsessed with “Paper/Rock/Scissors”, but Aeryn is lying to them as she strikes a deal with Crais to calm Talyn. Crais is further in the middle of secret negotiations with Scorpius, who just wants John. Over on Moya, Chiana and Rygel briefly discuss hopping in Crichton’s module and getting the frell out of there before realizing Pilot can hear them. And Zhann, in her guilt and mourning over abandoning the others, has retreated into extreme meditation, and even when the others return, she refuses to accept that they’re anything more than figments of her memory.

So, yeah, the harmonious group of the last episode has exploded into a jumble of off-key shrieks. Which is exactly the way Farscape should be. By this point, we’ve finally reached the ultimate theme that there is no great evil or great good in the universe, just people with divergent goals that sometimes collide as choices are forced that lead to further collisions. These are people. This is how people act and interact. This is real. The bad guys can do good, like a final bluff from Crais meant to help his long-time nemesis John. The good guys can do bad, like Zhaan abandoning the others or Aeryn agreeing to help put Talyn in Crais’s hands. The barriers are falling down to ambiguity as it all becomes about each individual choice instead of broad labels.

And, wow, Kevin wasn’t kidding about Crichton’s cartoony antics when confronting Crais on the bridge of Talyn. Way, way back, in the prelude piece that started this blog off, I wrote the following:

Right from the beginning, I knew this show was different. The look and the attitude captured an alien reality that was equally filled with a jaw dropped in awe, a casual shrug, a sneer of repulsion, a sigh of frustration, and a snort of hilarity, all thrown at us to such a level that we and the human hero either had to quickly adjust or go mad (both of which happened, now that I think about it).

A lot has been said about the levels to which John has adapted, but here we get the first realization that he’s going a little mad. His increase in facial ticks and bouncy body movement. The streams of bizarre references he throws at people in the place of simple statements. This man has not only lost everything he once knew, but has been constantly bombarded, likely on a daily basis, by a wave of new things he absolutely must absorb into his memory and perception in order to survive, and all of it, the constant state of unapologetic weird and threats to his very life, has left him on the giddy verge of a nervous breakdown.

This is a great episode. As Tessa points out, it’s darker, it’s grimier, the makeup and puppets are more detailed and realistic. There’s an air of uncertainty hanging over everything, emphasizing the unexpected yet honest choices of all the characters. The first season gradually stopped pulling punches and following the old tropes, and here is where the makers clearly stamp their feet down and declare that the rules are out the window.

This is Farscape.

Stark Unexplained Episode Count: 3


There is entirely too much going on in this episode. It hits every note on the keyboard, even some of the unusual black keys.

Tessa hits the nail with the makeup. D’Argo got some pretty severe sunburn during his vacuum exposure (that’s the story and we’re sticking to it), Rygel and Pilot both got an animatronics upgrade (see Rygel’s shocked/happy face and Pilot’s angryface). Everyone got an upgrade. Even the Maintenance Bay and Hangar. The shots from the former into the latter are downright gorgeous. The only real downside to this is that they lost Pilot’s original voice. Literally. Somehow, in between seasons, they actually lost whatever it is that made Pilot’s voice Pilot. They had to rebuild it from scratch.

Fortunately, they got a budget upgrade, so they could do it. Heck, they got Gigi Edgley into the credits! Do you know how much it takes to make/modify those?

Related note: Scorpius’ spinny thing. No explanation, it’s just there. And is it not icky? The guy has a hollow screw in his head. Beautiful CGI on it, and eeeeeuagh. So many questions raised, and Braca politely declines to ask.

You can see the defense screen on Command, for all the good it does. (What happened with those Sheyangs, anyway?) Talyn manages to pop it like a cheap pinata with that Sonic Ascendancy Cannon, and the kid is only a couple weeks old. Maybe it’s power requirements, maybe it’s just old and shoddy, but… yeah. You can see this may be a problem as the kid grows up. And Crichton, being Crichton, hangs a heavy lampshade on the lack of fuses.

I have too many exclamation points on the last ten minutes of the episode. Little bit of capslock too. Let me see if I can translate it from Westonexcitedese.

Talyn SHOT Moya! He shot her! What the hell, kid?! The toddling Leviathan has a single response to anything that scares, confuses, worries him, or remotely draws his attention. It’s his equivalent of crying in the middle of the night: Shoot something! This cannot end well.

And he demands Crais. Unfortunate, and somewhat understandable. Crais is the person he’s spent the most time with, even if the relationship isn’t quite smooth. Aeryn voluntarily accompanies him to help Talyn develop independently. Crais cannot resist taunting Crichton with this; he’s running off with the Porsche and the supermodel. And Crichton, in a completely awesome move, reverses the previous season’s plot: He threatens to hunt Crais down.

Aeryn and Crichton specifically don’t say goodbye again. ARG.

So we go into the final phase expecting Aeryn to fly off with Crais… until Talyn presents the Neural Transponder. Eeeeeuagh again. Forget sterilization or surgery, Talyn just jams the thing into the back of Crais’ neck. And then they’re stuck together. Aeryn goes straight into “protect Talyn!” mode, attacking Crais, and Talyn shoots at her. He misses, but this is the woman who named him, who soothed him hours after his birth, who brought him through some really bad days. If the kid ever had good judgement, I’d say this was where he lost it.

And afterwards, when Talyn and Moya have Starburst away and everyone’s in their quiet moments, Crichton and Aeryn cuddle while he reassures her that she couldn’t have done any better. In Pilot’s Den. Maybe an odd location, but there is no place on the ship more… safe. Pilot is perfectly trustable.

The scene where Crichton returns to Moya with Crais is neat. The only person down there to greet him is Chiana, and in standard Farscape fashion, she’s pointing guns at him. Crichton imitates her odd head-tilt awesomely. The moment when the triumphant music goes flat and fades is hilarious. As is the ten foot flying glomp.

Now I’m down to the one sentence points. Let’s see.

  • Scorpius found a baseball somewhere to fiddle with while lecturing Braca.
  • Zhaan is crazy again, but not murderously so. Maybe she’s not, but we haven’t seen any actual dead people talking to her, so it seems a safe deduction.
  • The tactile interaction between Aeryn and Talyn early in the episode, when she’s running her hands over his ceiling ring, is very well done. As a muppet, Talyn works as well as Rygel or Pilot; even without a face.
  • Watch Crichton’s hair. Seriously. Just keep an eye out for it.
  • Yes, I totally stole borrowed the lists from Kevin. It was this or footnotes.

Episode [1.22]: Family Ties || Episode [2.02]: Vitas Mortis

13 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. So, am I alone here in thinking that the Sheyang encounter wasn’t real? ’cause that’s what I got out of it, that it was D’Argo’s delusion while he was regaining consciousness from the exposure and asphyxiation. That and how Moya and crew have gotten past it next time we see them and there’s no explanation given as to how they got out of such an obvious crisis.

    • No, that was my impression, too.

      • Weston

         /  December 17, 2010

        It may have been real, but only served to show that the crew was still split. This wasn’t originally intended to be the second season premiere – that honor goes to Vitas Mortis.

  2. I love D’Argo’s new makeup. It makes him look like even more of a bad ass.

    I’m surprised none of you mentioned the best part of the episode. When Crichton asks Aeryn if they’ve ever been close, and she’s all, “Just the once.” Ha! Well, maybe it’s not the best part, but it’s awesome.

    • Y’know, I was going to mention it and I got sidetracked and completely forgot about it. I do know it was one of the choices for the page header quote, though.

      Although what I think is the best part of the episode – and again, I got sidetracked and forgot to mention it – was when D’Argo was playing Rock Paper Scissors against himself and lost.

  3. KevinCV

     /  December 18, 2010

    I’ve been quietly following the blog since my last comment, and I was gonna make some comments on Nerve about the magnificent bastard that is Scorpius, but unfortunately, my internet browser was acting funky, so it wouldn’t go through. Oh well. When I first saw this episode about a week after watching “Family Ties” -my best friend insisted on it, as it’s the best way to let the cliffhanger sink in- I also noticed the darker lighting and some other changes. I also noticed that the puppets for Rygel and Pilot looked slightly different.

    I perceived the opening as D’Argo’s delusion from lack of oxygen right away, due to Zhaan wanting D’Argo to help against those Sheyangs even though he’s not there. I also noticed the changes in D’Argo’s makeup. Me, being the genre savvy fan that I can be at times, surmised from the get-go that his skin change was most likely due to his prolonged exposure to the vacuum of space. They never really touched upon that in the show, but I’m sure that’s what the creative team had in mind for why D’Argo looks different from season 1 to season 2.

    Let me also mention something awesome about the new puppet for Pilot that I thought was brilliant on my first viewing, and continues to amaze me on ever subsequent viewing. About 19 minutes in, Chiana and Rygel are discussing leaving Moya because she’s in -as Chiana so eloquently put it- “Full lunatic mother mode”. Though they ultimately decided to not to ditch, Pilot’s listening, and you can see the frustration on his face, but that wasn’t the part that amazed me.

    After Pilot calls them out on it by saying “There IS a Transport Pod available should you not wish to accompany us.” Chi and Ryg act all innocent, and they cut again to Pilot and you see this bemused smirk cross his face, and he quietly scoffs. It’s an expression you never see on Pilot’s face ever again after that point, and I think it’s totally awesome. It’s at about 19;51 or 19;52, I think. I was re-watching it myself the other day, and I just thought I’d point out that brilliant blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kinda moment.

    I think I’ve rambled on for long enough. I look forward to heard what you guys have to say about Vitas Mortis. It’s not a favorite of mine, but it does gives some insight into the Luxan culture, as well as features the first appearance of Melissa Jaffer, aka *name omitted due to season 4 spoilers*. You also see Crichton in his badass longcoat for the first time, but it’s the only time you see him wear it with gloves, and also with the snaps all done up. As you can no doubt tell, I notice little minute details like that… 😀

    • Weston

       /  December 21, 2010

      Oh. Oh! That’s HER?

      • KevinCV

         /  December 21, 2010

        Yes, that’s HER, Weston. Let’s not spoil things for the people on this site who are watching for the first time, shall we? I don’t like spoiling stuff. Especially since I have a friend -not making this up- threatened to decapitate me with a toothpick because I accidentally ruined a character’s death in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”. I assumed he had already known, because the book had been out since the summer before that school year. Apparently not.

        • Weston

           /  December 24, 2010

          Yes, that… yes. *packs that thought away until next December*

          As spoilers go, it wouldn’t be that bad. I think we talked about guest stars in new roles back in Bone to Be Wild, so- *is slain by spoilerphobes*

        • While we try to avoid much in the way of future episode spoilers in the reviews, we’re okay with them in the comments. Especially something like this that’s worth looking out for. I honestly didn’t notice that was her until now.

          Great insights, Other Kevin. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts as we carry on.


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