Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [2.15] – “Won’t Get Fooled Again”

Today, on Farscape

“So, what’s your pleasure, boss?”
“I’m a doctor. Just relax.”
“I can wear a Freudian slip.”
“I’ll find new places to take your temperature.”
“I can teach you the left-handed Latvian Rodeo Torture.”
“All of you bitches out! Now! Crichton is mine!”

Crichton wakes up in a hospital on Earth and is told by his father that the Farscape experiment failed and his galactic adventures were just the fever dreams of his recovery. Crichton doesn’t believe it, thinking this is yet another mental trick, and he’s quickly proven right as his shipmates start appearing in the increasingly surrealistic nightmare of a Scarran mindprobe. And the only figment that can help John get loose? A very real piece of Scorpius that’s been tucked in the back of his subconscious since the encounter in the Aurora Chair.


We mentioned earlier that Season 2 is, in many ways, a deconstruction of the relationships and themes established in Season 1, much as the first season was a deconstruction of fish-out-of-water space opera tropes. Here we probably have our finest example of this as Crichton once again finds himself on Earth and, having been similarly fooled before in “A Human Reaction“, he instantly distrusts his surroundings and tries to find the flaws, even as everyone – including a nurse who looks an awful lot like Aeryn – keeps telling him it was all a fever dream caused by an accident with the Farscape module.

You’d expect this to play out in a similar fashion to the earlier episode, what with him spotting differences that add up to a revelation, but after a few minutes of John failing to find the old cracks (love the bit with the ladies’ room), Farscape once again digs out its tentacled ballsack and starts slapping him in the face with it. All the familiar cast members show up with very Earthly counterparts, but instead of seeing the actors outside of makeup, they’re fully decked out in tendrils and body paint, and everyone else around them just plays along, acknowledging the differences, but not reacting to it in an abnormal way. And then it gets stranger as people are randomly in hair curlers and scenically inappropriate high heel shoes as bullets no longer work, characters plummet to their deaths only to show up unscathed, and Pilot really works his bongos and keyboard. We know this is fake, so instead of hanging us by that thread, it’s like everyone involved behind the scenes just came up with the weirdest dren they could conceive of in one hysterically unexpected sequence after another. I mean, just look at that top image. That’s really Rygel, decked out in full bondage gear, between the open thighs of Crichton. These people have been on this show for almost two years now, and they’re really having fun seeing just how far they can push it in new directions.

The revelation is, of course, that it’s all the result of a Scarran mind probe as he tries to dig out the reason Scorpius is so interested in John. This Scarran is barely seen, yet there’s an aura of menace about him that fully outshadows the conniving Cargn from the “Look at the Princess” saga. Cargn showed how imposing and capable they can be on someone else’s turf, but John’s in the middle of the hornets’ nest, where they hold all the power and the slow peeling of John’s mind as memories are dug up and scrambled into one another is a startling reminder of the techniques Scorpius requires the Aurora Chair to simulate due to his… condition.

Speaking of Scorpius, we’ve had the mental flashes appear here and there in the last few episodes, sometimes helping John, always haunting him. Now we learn that a chip was implanted in Crichton’s head, which carries a virtual representation of Scorpius’s personality that lives within John’s mind as it searches for the wormhole knowledge buried within. Scorpius has been rather patient in his search for Crichton, and this is why: he’s always there. Unlike Crais, he’s become a villain that’s impossible to run away from because he’s always in John’s mind. He taunts, he probes, he influences actions and choices. And, as we see in the final moments, he can even make sure John forgets he’s there. I’ve said before that a good chunk of this season is John losing his mind, and here that’s taken to its literal extreme.

As a final note, this is the first episode I got to watch in the same room with my fellow Deconstructing Moya writers, and it couldn’t have been a more awesome experience. Well, maybe watching Tessa react to the Season 2 finale would have been more awesome, but this was still pretty damn cool.

Stark Unexplained Episode Count: 17


Meet Harvey. The big reveal that we’ve all been waiting for, Season Two’s new character, a full and complete copy of Scorpius’ personality implanted in Crichton’s head. John literally cannot escape, now. Scorpy is always with him, probing his mind, pulling out the wormhole data, and slowly driving him mad. Occasionally protecting, against the Scarran mind probe and on the exploding cargo ship, but also hindering his attempt to kill Scorpius.

This episode is so trippy. John’s constant efforts to break out of the mind frell are instead integrated into it. Pointing out the discrepancies between what’s happening and what he knows to be true only makes the thing worse. And the ultimate sucker punch, the Scarran revives the memory of John’s dead mother. There she is, just happy that he’s alive. And then she’s in the bar, in the last stage of terminal cancer. And then, in an even squickier moment, she’s back, healthy, and referencing Oedipus. Ew ew ew.

And through all of this, Harvey is trying to keep John sane. Certainly not out of the goodness of his heart, no. To preserve John’s wormhole knowledge, to get it back to Scorpius. And if that means killing a Scarran, well, Harvey finds that completely acceptable.

Of course, Crichton now knows about Harvey. And we can’t have that now, can we? A little memory modification here, a little suggestion there, and Crichton now freed himself from the Scarran trap. Crichton continues to suspect, yes, he may retain those feelings that Scorpius is right over his shoulder. But he won’t be able to warn anyone of his dark passenger. And that, Harvey finds completely acceptable. Yes.


Wow. Just… wow. I’m not even all that sure what to say about this one.

Up until now I thought “Crackers Don’t Matter” was showing us just how out of his mind Crichton could get. I was wrong. So very, very wrong. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” takes the levels of crazy we saw in that episode and turns it up to eleven.

I do like how the descent into nightmarish madness that this episode takes is sort of a gradual one. While we “know” that the situation presented to us at the beginning of the episode isn’t real, it’s actually fairly convincing. It actually reminds me of an episode of Buffy where the possibility gets raised that her entire vampire slaying adventures have been a coma-produced dream she’s been having in a mental hospital, and we’re left wondering at the end whether or not it’s actually true. I was, at first, almost expecting this to continue to play things straight and go that route.

And then Zhaan comes walking into the room and that suddenly gets tossed out the window. And things gradually start falling apart more and more as John’s sanity unravels further and further. Like Harvey says, the Scarrans aren’t trying to trick him, they’re trying to break him. Making this dream world make the slightest bit of sense isn’t important.

Before too long, any sense of “reality” has totally fallen to pieces and we get treated to something more like a rapid succession of sketches than a coherent story.

But by far the most disturbing bits out of the whole thing have to do with John’s mother. Crichton’s defenses are up the second this vision starts, and seeing his father, his old friend, his shipmates, even Scorpius… none of it really seems to break him down. But the second his mother shows up, he crumbles. The scene where she struggles to wander into the bar, effectively “dying”, pleading for John to help her is by far the most nightmarish of the episode.

I kind of wanted to bullet point some of “highlights” of this episode, but there are so many that it would basically just be a recap of the episode as a whole, so I’ll keep it to three things.

Rygel does look good in a suit, I have to say. The… business suit, not the… other one.

Speaking of, I can’t go without mentioning the “deviant sex” scene. We get the female members of the cast all coming on to Crichton in different outfits, telling him that it’s just what he’s already had fantasies about. And then Rygel suddenly shows up in bondage gear. Then again, John’s probably kissed Rygel more than any other character on the show, so maybe there’s something to that.

Crais as the cop is just too good. I want to quote various scenes, but really just every scene he’s in is hilariously bizarre.


The entirety of this show comes across almost as an experiment. How far can we push the viewers? What are their limits? For that matter, what are the limits of what we can produce?

Sometimes, they get it wrong. The concept is solid but the execution falls short, and they move on, lesson learned.

Sometimes, though, they get it horribly, horribly right, and it results in an episode that fascinates, horrifies, and leaves a lot of room for dissecting.

This episode, as Noel mentioned, is the first episode that all four of us watched together – an incredibly awesome experience – and spawned various discussions, many of which were simply comments on how entertainingly Tessa blue-screens. Afterwards, we went our seperate ways, ideas of our upcoming posts bouncing about in our heads. Everyone had a fantastic writeup, as always, but there’s one thing I specifically wanted to discuss. So allow me to delve down into the tiny hidden details and drag the undercurrent themes, as I am wont to do, out into the starlight.

Consider Crichton’s delusions. What had happened to him before in “A Human Reaction” is still relatively fresh in his mind – it is, after all, directly responsible for all the frelled-up things that have happened to him thus far – and he naturally disbelieves it. Of course, we quickly find out that these delusions are of a completely different kind than what Not-The-Father cooked up for him, and he is slowly thrust into a rapidly-devolving world of insanity and confusion.

We’re led to believe that this world is a construct of the Scarrans, designed to alternately put him at ease and unsettle him, hoping to shake information out of him in the resulting imbalance. It’s a mostly plausible explanation, but if you’re looking in the right places, there’s too much evidence that disproves it. Instead, all evidence points towards it being a fabrication of Crichton’s, albeit subconsciously.

First off, the Scarrans have no idea about Earth culture. When the Ancients reviewed his memories to create their false Earth, they had no room for imagination, and had no idea how to make new things that Crichton hadn’t seen before – i.e. the women’s bathroom. The Scarrans wouldn’t be interested in putting greater effort than this – they’re not trying to find out more about Earth, after all – so why would there be anything new? New names, new places, and especially the women’s bathroom. Outsiders may be able to read the sheet music, but without having ever heard it played, it wouldn’t measure up. While Crichton has never been inside a women’s bathroom, he has a pretty good idea about what he thinks it would look like, and his subconscious builds upon that.

Secondly, Harvey points out that the Scarran is not physically present the entire time, and everything we’ve seen about the mental probe devices and techniques require a close proximity – hell, the console’s right there in the room, so we can’t even pretend that the Scarran could be performing the probe from another location.

It’s far more likely that the whole thing is a construct of Crichton’s subconscious, probably as defense against the probe. In fact, it’s almost what he defaults to; any time he’s in desperation mode, he defaults to insanity as a way to get himself out. This is just the next logical step. It’s still not healthy, but between it and Harvey, it’s buffering him against the mental invasion even just the slightest amount.

Speaking of our leather-bound guardian angel, we find this information out through Harvey, and Harvey is a copy of Scorpius’s personality. Does that make him untrustworthy? Most definitely yes. However – and correct me if I’m wrong here – Scorpius has never once lied to Crichton. Or even anyone on-screen. He has manipulated, he has cajoled, he has intimidated, but he has not once spoken an untruth. Why lie, when simple facts are so much scarier?

(I will grant that he has been misleading, particularly about his supposed weakness to heat, but it was Cargn that claimed it, and Scorpius never actually confirmed what the Scarran was saying. It’s a fine distinction, but it’s there.)

All in all, one of the wackiest episodes in an already wacky season, and underneath the zaniness we get the promise, the cold hard fact, that Harvey is here to stay. He’s not going anywhere for the time being, and he’s going to be methodical. He’s going to take his time and do it right. And he may act to save Crichton, but that’s because killing him would destroy the knowledge that he’s trying to take. The entire length of Harvey’s story arc (I’m not saying how long the arc lasts, for those of you who are following along for the first time ever), he’ll be there.

Sitting. Watching.


Episode [2.14]: Beware of Dog || Episode [2.16]: The Locket

6 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Crichton quoted Shakespear! Ok, a lot of other things happened, too, but the first thing I’m latching on to is the fact that Crichton quotes three words from Hamlet (“the play’s the thing”).

    I think my favourite bits all involved Rygel: there was something especially funny about the way the puppet thumps its fist on the table. And, of course, the leather gear: was that supposed to be a miniature Scorpius costume or just generic dominatrix? In some ways even more disturbing than the Oedipal bit.

    And among all the funny bits, the constant presence of the real nightmare I’m sure most of us have at least once (and I have way too often for my liking)—the one where you realize you’re dreaming and desperately try to force your real eyes to open instead of your dream self’s eyes and can’t. It’s almost worth having a Harvey just to know someone will always bet there to wake you up!

    The dog and red heels on Crais I get; he’s the part of Crichton that feels like Dorothy. (I think I missed the significance of his red high heels the first time I watched this episode, in my defence, I didn’t grow up on Wizard of Oz the way American kids did.) What was up with the giant head curlers on Aeryn, though? Just random insanity?

    Ultimately, the most important line of the episode for me is “I miss Moya.” Earth is fading further and further away from being “home”. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that while Earth will always be home, it will never again be enough.

    • Okay, yeah, good catch on the Ruby Slippers and Toto. Completely missed that. As for the curlers, I’m guessing that’s a part of Claudia Black’s pre-show hair & makeup routine for Aeryn, and it was such a kooky image they just slipped it in. I haven’t listened to the audio commentary yet, so can anyone confirm or deny this?

      • Weston

         /  March 27, 2011

        Apparently the hair rollers are called “The Winerack” and are merely intended to move the fantasy a little bit further.

  2. Weston

     /  March 25, 2011

    I think it’s supposed to be random dominatrix. Or… dominator? Oh, man. We totally missed calling Rygel the “Dominar”.

  3. What a wonderful review/overview of this amazing episode. It is one of my favorites. I have never thought about John’s defense against all the mind frells as being insanity — but you are right. His erpisms and ability to confound his enemies with chaos protects him again and again. He tries it here but it backfires because the Scarren keeps turning up the dial. We learn a lot about John’s fears and buried/hidden feelings of failure. I think the Scarren targeted those bad moments, hence the constant emphasis on Aeryn’s infidelity and fickle nature, D.K. is a complete jerk, Dad is very judgemental (“You asked for a son, I wanted a terrier.”), and hints of Scorpius (note for later the Bird of Paradise flowers on the shelf in the scene where the gun doesn’t work and John looses it), and his terrible guilt about not being there when his mother died. The Scarren also pushes on John’s cultural taboos, such as homophobia, Oedipus complexes, weird sexual situations, etc. And through it all, John holds it together until Scorpius appears and does his reveal.

    A call out to Ben Browder’s acting because it was beyond superb. All of the scenes are done out of order. He had to calibrate his behavior and OMG that scene in the bar with his dying mother — It had me in tears along with Ben/John. He should have won an Emmy for this performance if science fiction shows were ever truly considered. Listen to the Commentary with Rowan Woods and Ricky Manning (the screen writer). Bravo to Ben.

  4. Loved this episode! I’m burning my way through for the first time (I’ll catch up to your re-watch shortly), and this is my favorite episodes so far. A total Patrick McGoohan The Prisoner vibe!


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