Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [2.16] – “The Locket”

Today, on Farscape

“Put the rifle down, now! You touch my grandmother again and I will kill you!”

In which Moya hides out in a sensor-distorting space cloud for a breather from the hunting Peacekeepers. Aeryn takes a pod to scout the interior of the cloud, is gone twenty four arns, and comes back significantly older. This isn’t the whole story, of course: Aeryn aged normally, and Moya is the one stuck in time.


First things first: Who’s that guy with the mask? Do we know him? Noel, who is that masked man?


Oh! Hey! It’s that dude who disappeared for seventeen episodes with no explanation! Not that I’ve been keeping track or anything, mind you…

The titular locket of the episode shows up just before the opening credits and gets a bit more explanation right after. Apparently, between episodes Chiana smashed Aeryn’s prowler and bought stole her a locket to apologize. Aeryn winds up wearing the thing for the next 220 years.

Incidentally, we now have a rough estimate for the lifespan of a Sebacean. A ripe old age, something that no soldier will ever see, is something around two hundred and fifty cycles. That’s… gotta be kind of a downer, as far as the Aeryn-Crichton relationship goes. Barring early disaster, she’s going to live a lot longer than him. She’s the Arwen to his Aragorn, the Muad’dib to his Chani.

Of course, 190-year-old Aeryn is still a bit of a badass. Sedating Chiana, sneaking around Moya, stealing a transport pod without anyone noticing. Peacekeeper Commandos never retire, they just get lost, have kids, come back, and continue knocking people around.

Crichton, disbelieving the story that she’s been on the other side of that hole in space for 165 cycles, goes haring after her to bring her back to Moya and fix whatever was done to her. Then he meets the granddaughter, and it starts to sink in. She’s really been gone for more than a century and a half. Aeryn winds up convincing him to return to Moya and come back in four arns, and he does blip off with every intent of finding a way to fix this. Plucky Crichton can fix anything, even aging.

And then he gets stuck with her. For fifty-five years. The granddaughter Ennixx doesn’t appear to age, though given Sebacean longevity we can kinda guess why. John, though. Wow. He goes from low thirties to eighty and change, and boy does it show. Most importantly, though, is the amount of time that John and Aeryn spend together. Fifty years of just puttering around together. Planting trees and talking and planting more trees and raising Aeryn’s great-grandkids and planting even more trees. No wonder they’re itching to get back into space.

The interaction between Old Man Crichton and Harvey is almost adorable. Harvey is still pushing John to get back to Scorpius with his wormhole data, and John tells Harvey to shove off. Half a century those two argued about that.

There are a couple shots of the transport pod coming and going without the space mist. A little odd, but with all the other gorgeous CGI in the episode I’ll overlook it.

Zhaan gets another new outfit. This one is… a little thicker? With some kind of shawl draped over her shoulders. More dangly bits than her other clothes.

There’s a part near the end where Stark and Zhaan discuss Center Halos and the universe Aeryn inhabited within. How the mist is a sort of junction between infinite universes, and the kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids Aeryn left behind are still there, living out their lives. Kinda makes you wonder how many other holes there were in the space mist, and where they went.

I love how Pilot calls to Kahaynu to protect Moya when they’re Starbursting backwards. Wonderful selfless Pilot.

And, of course, the hook for the next episode: They have plenty of time to rescue Jothee from slavery! A whole three solar days!


I think I’m dangerously close to gaining a reputation as a Negative Nancy, but I have to get this off my chest first.

I want to like this episode. I really do. It’s beautifully shot, the locations are gorgeous, the make-up work is fantastic (for the most part), and the concept of the story is interesting.

And yet, it’s yet another example, not even three episodes after they pulled it the last time, of a main character “death” with absolutely no consequence. I’ll give it that this is probably by far the most powerful of the fake-outs, but they’ve totally destroyed the storytelling device by this point from overuse. This should have been a very emotional and impactful episode, actually leaving me wondering if the show was going to continue on leaving Aeryn behind, the first of the crew to fall. And it might have, if I hadn’t seen them pull this over and over and over again with no follow through.

Don’t get me wrong. I get what they’re doing here, and I fully expect one of these deaths at one point to not get the “whoops, just kidding” treatment, and it’ll probably hit like a truck. But it cheapens otherwise very good scenes and stories to keep going back to this whole thing for quick “twists”. This one deserved to be excellent, and instead I’m just annoyed.

It was nice to see Stark back, even if the explanation for where he’s been was a weak throwaway line. If that was supposed to be the case, what stopped them from giving that offhand mention when he first left rather than leaving us wondering for that long only to effectively hand-wave the whole thing?

I mentioned it already, but the make-up work on this episode is for the most part very good. The “aging” job done on Claudia Black is totally convincing. Ben Browder’s, on the other hand is… a little off. I’m not sure exactly what the difference in approach was there, but there are points when Crichton doesn’t look quite right.

The casting job for Ennixx was amazing. She looks enough like Aeryn that it’s totally believable that they’d be related, and the mannerisms and speech patterns have the same “reminiscent but not identical” treatment.

I’m actually kind of wondering what their budget was like for this episode, since thinking back on it, as nice as the locations look, they’re simplistic, and other than that the rest of the episode takes place on Moya with very little in the way of anything new. In addition to that, there’s only one added character with only two very fuzzy extras in the background at one point. We hear about the fact that there’s some population on one of the planets they’re on, but we barely see any evidence of that. I wonder if they blew so much money on making the last episode what it was that they had to reign in the spending on this one.


At the risk of stating the obvious, this episode is pretty much what you get on the surface. There’s no hidden plot thread to pick apart, characters are pretty much how they always are, and you get no real “twist” – alternate dimensions and temporal reset buttons notwithstanding.

That’s not to say that this isn’t an incredibly touching, heart-wrenching, and amazingly shot episode. Quite the contrary; I’d say that this is probably one of the more artistic episodes this season. Basically, there doesn’t have to be hidden meanings for something to be deep and powerful.

Take the growing relationship between Crichton and Aeryn. This is almost a perfect example of how their relationship is, because that’s the way it was for fifty-five years. Stranded on an alien planet – one that apparently has Sebaceans on it – Aeryn has already married and raised a family. In comes the only man she has ever truly loved, and they spend their lives in comfortable companionship. Aeryn’s devoted to her family, but Crichton is her link to her old life, as well as the reason she’s able to settle down. He’s so completely intertwined with her at this point that even her own husband doesn’t replace his face in her locket.

There really isn’t much more I can say about it that isn’t right there in the episode, which means that it’s time for the triumphant return of the Things To Notice Bullet-pointed List!

  • Claudia Black has an incredibly fantastic grin. Nothing more to say about it, just…yeah.
  • I’m going to echo Weston here; it’s great that Pilot and Moya know they actually do have a god to pray to. It’s a continuity note, and helps solidify their roles in the growing universe around them.
  • Early in the season, there were slowly-building hints that D’Argo and Chiana were going to get together. Now there are slowly-building hints that they’re having problems. Keep an eye on these two; Crichton and Aeryn’s relationship isn’t the only one that’ll be in the forefront.


It appears the Stark Unexplained Episode Count will finally be retiring at 17. It’s been a sweet ride but, dammit, couldn’t they have done better than this? There’s a great moment when the show opens and we cut around everyone on the bridge and, wham, Stark is there. He’s just there. There’s even a little eerie swell of music just as we see him and it built up the juices of anticipation as I wondered what trippy scenario this would lead into. Was he there the whole time, but nobody else perceived it? Is this an alternate dimension where he never left? Will he be revealed as the wicked puppet master in some form of heinous mind warping plot?

But then Zhaan had to go and ruin it by casually walking up to him with a greeting that he casually replies to with the throwaway line, “I finally returned the transport pod you lent me after we escaped from the Gammak Base.”

No! Kahaynu frelling dammit no! You’ve got an opportunity for exactly the kind of reality bending plot this series does so well, and this is what you do? Have him reveal he just left and, “Oh, hey, brought back your transport pod.”? [redacted stream of expletives]

Remind me to never again build up anticipation by keeping a list of anything.

Everyone else has pretty much covered the ins and outs of this story. It is a solid and powerful spin on the romance between John and Aeryn, which still refuses to settle and be easy even when they spend over 50 cycles stranded in a garden of trees. It’s gripping stuff, and I shed genuine man tears near the end, but it came off feeling a little hollow. So many elements of the setup – the plant, the reason Aeryn didn’t take her Prowler, the titular locket itself – are all dropped into the story as casually as Stark; not to mention Zhaan’s sudden ability to perceive temporal anomalies. Let’s take a close look at that locket. Yeah, it’s a great plot thread and I like that John leaves it a mystery until the end as to who’s picture is in there, but couldn’t they have set this up episodes ago so as to make it relevant, instead of mentioning, well after the fact, that it’s something random Chiana happened to get for Aeryn because she randomly crashed the Prowler because the plot necessitated that it be so? It’s forced. As is the perfect happily-ever-after ending (I’m talking before the tag where we learn about Jothee) where it’s completely devoid of any genuine lasting consequence. Tessa’s right that they’re playing the “Final Curtain – Psych!” card way too often.

And as well told as the romantic aspects of the story were, this doesn’t even really feel like that Farscape of a story. As with many a Season 1 plot, I could totally see this playing out on Star Trek: The Next Generation, with Riker and Troi stranded on the planet, and Guinan being the one to perceive the temporal shift. After several episodes that scream out the originality that is Farscape, this one feels really mundane and quaint. It’s very well done, but still rather by-the-numbers, and could be applied to any space-faring scifi show. If they really wanted to break the mold, whip out the Farscape balls and give us an ending that actually leaves lasting effects. Maybe John and Aeryn still have their memories. Maybe they broke free, but everything inside the ship stays the same, with Aeryn being dead and John spending the remainder of the season a crusty old coot. Hell, maybe Aeryn’s granddaughter felt the bite of the spacefaring adventurer bug and tagged along on the shuttle, becoming a new member of the cast.

Would that have pleased fans? No. But it would have been staying true to the mark of originality that Farscape is trying to claim for itself. It would have been bold and challenging and different. It would have been Farscape.

In loving memory, the Stark Unexplained Episode Count. Rest in peace, old friend. Rest in peace.

Episode [2.15]: Won’t Get Fooled Again || Episode [2.17]: The Ugly Truth

5 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Tessa

     /  April 1, 2011

    I’m going to say the same thing here that I said to Noel in person about the last fake-out death. Part of me really wishes they had stuck to either of them instead of just hand-waving them away.

    Yes, I would have been sad to see Pilot/Zhaan/Aeryn go, but particularly with the former, it would have been fascinating to see the series spin off in a completely unexpected direction and continue on without one of the main cast. In the case of Pilot, would that have meant Talyn and Crais suddenly swoop in and become the crew’s means of transportation, or would they have wound up with something else entirely? Or in the case of this one, what would the over-reaching consequences of Aeryn being totally gone and John being a withered old man for the rest of the show be? How would that affect the dynamic between him and Scorpius? What would happen if he did somehow manage to get home, for real this time, only to be an old man where everyone remembers him as so much younger?

    Again, would miss whatever character they did away with, and for the most part I am very glad to see the entire crew still alive (and there’s one character in particular I desperately hope doesn’t get the roulette landing on him for the “permanent-death” thing *cough*Rygel*cough*). But they really need to stop having these situations set up only for nothing at all to come out of them.

  2. Jen

     /  April 6, 2011

    … That would have explained a lot if Stark had just -been there- the whole flipping time. Would have explained why he wasn’t drooling, twitchy, or jaw-drop paralyzed when he saw Zhaan meditating naked- probably just watched her the whole time (he does like to watch, after all).

    I’m so glad I found this blog! I caved into my roommates’ and cousins’ suggestions and watched a few episodes of Farscape since Netflicks has it on instant queue. After a four-day binge, I had watched just about every episode (and in the case of “The Locket” and “Nerve”, twice) save for Peacekeeper Wars. Hell, this gives me an excuse to watch some episodes over! And hurrah for seeing some of the snarky comments that were in my head being said by other people!

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