Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [2.18] – “A Clockwork Nebari”

Happy Birthday, Tessa!

Today, on Farscape

“No, Pilot, I’m here to tell you that the Nebari are a bunch of geeks, and their damn mind-cleansing don’t work on Mama Crichton’s baby boy. John Crichton! Astronaut! Master of the Universe!”

Chiana, Crichton, Rygel and Aeryn return from a trade depot, hoping to find word of D’Argo’s son. But when Aeryn and Rygel bring back a pair of Nebari operatives, everything goes to hell in a handbasket.


Gentle readers, fellow ‘Scapers, and all-around friends. I do believe you will allow me a moment to reflect on the episode you and I have just watched together. Please, indulge me.

Nyaaaaaauuuuuguh holy fuck what the hell oh god gyarhgharshersdfnl;fgsdjklrtlsdfngm,sv.

No. No. I don’t care what I said about forgetting the science because the show totally brings it. Eyes don’t stretch that far without permanent damage. Eyes do not do that what the fuck is wrong with you people goddamn.


I’m skipping to the “Things to note this episode” bullet-point list because no.

  • I had either completely forgotten about this episode, or else this is one of those I missed first run, because holy hell what is with those special effects what. No.
  • There’s a really great bit with the Nebaris’ gushing face wound makeup, where it’s black and blue with blue blood at first, and it starts to bruise to a reddish purple as the show goes on. A great reversal of how human skin bruises blue and purple, then fades to yellow and green as it heals.
  • Winona! Yes, this is Crichton’s favorite pulse pistol. There are many like it, but that one is his.
  • I love the malicious grin that Pilot has when he and Crichton are coming up with the plan to fake a Peacekeeper assault.
  • I love, right in the beginning, when Crichton and Chiana are arguing about how Chiana got her information, and how Crichton keeps stressing that the way she got it will upset D’Argo. Again, pay attention to the problems that the two have been having.
  • Gyaaaaaaraugh. Look, I’m sorry, I have huge issues with things being near my eyes. When I got my glasses last year, and they had the thing where they used a dyed eyedrop and went to press a glass rod camera thing against my eyeball before I even knew that’s what they were doing? I freaked the hell out. I can’t watch the first five minutes of Star Trek: First Contact without turning my head. Tessa has her things about bugs? This is my thing. DO NOT JUDGE ME OKAY.

Push the button, Noel.


Since Kevin is still firmly holding his eyes in place while he stomps on his DVD and repeatedly shouts “Never again! Never again!”, I’ll take the opportunity to get a little more in depth.

This episode brings back the Nebari. If you thought Salis was a creepy villain way back in “Durka Returns“, wait until you get a load of Skye Wansey as Varla. She’ll kick, she’ll kill, she’ll get a sick pleasure out of activating pain collars again and again and again, all in the name of “the greater good” because, let’s be honest, that’s always the excuse of fascism. In this episode, we learn the Nebari have been spreading a virus throughout a chunk of the galaxy, which is set to kick in at an undisclosed date and time. When it does, chaos will spread and rival worlds will bring themselves down, and the Nebari will step in to cleanse and command whatever’s left.

We learn Chiana and her brother Nerri were initially let loose from their homeworld because they were created as carriers to spread the virus. Nerri managed to dose himself and his sister with an antidote, however, and while she’s been left to roam the cosmos, making her usual mischief and thinking him dead, he’s become the leader of the underground Nebari rebel movement.

Kudos to all the Nebari present in this episode for building on the mannerisms Gigi Edgely’s cooked up over the year, while still giving themselves their own personalities. Nerri has the cock and swagger of his sister, but there’s a thoughtful air to his stance. A natural leader. Meelak, the double agent, starts with the chill of a mental cleanse, but is then equally chilly when we realize he’s no longer bound to the cleanse, but is still willing to sell out our heroes just to complete his own mission. It’s like he’s been burying his emotions for so long that he’s either unwilling or unable to dig them back out again. And Varla, man, wow. With her hair and makeup, she’s almost a dark mirror to Chiana; the woman our Pip could become in the hands of her own people. And, yet, as I mentioned earlier, for all her talk of conformity and the purging of darker impulses, she seems to get a hell of a lot of delight from torturing others. Mayhaps there’s a few flaws to the mental cleansing that the “true believers” don’t want to acknowledge.

And let’s talk about mental cleansing for a moment. As Kevin pointed out, no, human eyeballs can’t extend that far out of the head without permanent damage to the muscles and nerves. Yet they didn’t exaggerate it too far. There are cases of people who are able to close their lid behind their eye who then regain full sight once it’s back in place. So they exaggerated it about an inch. Maybe less. It’s not so much that I can’t give it to them. However, what about the pieces of metal, the drug release patches, that were attached to the optic nerve? Even when the drug runs out, isn’t that still clamped in place, with its sharp spokes that would likely dig into the eye stem with every movement and really I’m just writing this in such detail to see of Kevin actually makes it to the end of the paragraph sorry Kevin couldn’t resist.

I love the personalities of the crew as they change. Aeryn is the soldier, always calm, always at attention. D’Argo starts tearing up at the newfound emotional bliss. Rygel’s three stomachs quickly metabolize the drug and he bounces back and forth from helping the heroes and selling them out. Harvius (Harvey/Scorpius; c’mon, admit it’s catchy) pops up in John’s head once again to push him through the drug, and John’s idea of faking the cleanse, aside from his usual craziness, is to totally stoner out, man, with all the “dudes” and “hey, munchies” you could ask for. And how does he prove to Chiana that he’s still himself? By punching her in the face, then groping her. Which leaves her thriller, of course. Man, you really have to love the twistedness of Farscape sometimes.

And speaking of Chiana, poor Gigi Edgley had to spend half the episode with her arms chained to the ceiling.

Oh, what’s that you ask? What about Zhaan? Well, somehow the mental cleanse still works on plants despite them having a completely different organic makeup and likely don’t have a central nervous system for those metal discs to pop into, and do her eyes even work the same way? Annnnnnnyway, other than a brief appearance near the beginning and another near the end, I’m guessing Virginia Hey took a little vacation that week because she’s largely a no-show.

All in all, fantastic episode. The Nebari are still chilling, we get the seeds of a bigger plot on their part, and I love they way they quickly overwhelm our heroes and make themselves a force to piss yourself in terror from as they counter you at pretty much every turn. The cast is wonderful all around, regulars and guests. The direction is tight and flowing, the script teasing us with riches just below the surface. And how awesome is the scene where a raging Pilot smacks away Aeryn after she fits him with a punishment collar? Great episode.

And here’s lookin’ at you, Kev.


Ah, Winona. Most trustworthy handgun in the Uncharted Territories. Slightly temperamental. More resembles a weak squirt gun in her first appearance. But still! Highly reliable.

Chiana/D’Argo relationship development continues, with Chiana trelking her way into and out of trouble while D’Argo definitely doesn’t find out about it because he seems to be treating her like a porcelain doll. D’Argo’s attitude changes when they enter an official relationship, Chiana’s doesn’t. Who, I wonder, is more in the wrong?

Aeryn remains awesome in spite of mind cleansing. It’s like her doubts and questions have been resolved, and all that’s left in her head is duty. Scary. Weepy D’Argo is similarly awesome, though the reasons are about as different as they can be. Aeryn finds peace, D’Argo finds remorse.

Related note, I love D’Argo’s voice during that scene. There’s an outtake later that… but I’ll talk about it when we get there.

Does the big collar on the eye-plucking temporary-cleansing device remind anyone else of Maldis’ outfit? Huge, ruffled collar. He’s even stuck in a similar pose, with his arms spread like wings. The drug the eyeball tick dispenses reminds me a lot of the Pax from Serenity. Super-happy time for everyone! Luckily, nobody goes Reaver. Well… okay, probably not luck given how long the Nebari have been working on the system.

Speaking of time, how long have the Nebari been planning their campaign of galactic conquest? The mind-control STD of doom will take a hideously long time to propagate through a population, even with a thousand trelks roaming the worlds. Of course, AIDS has only been around for thirty years or so. One planet, thirty years, roughly 0.4% population infected. Granted, we know about AIDS and take steps to contain it. How far would an undetected Nebari Contagion spread in twenty? Or a hundred? Or two?

We now know it’s been a quarter-cycle since “Taking the Stone“. Fifteen episodes in three months, season two occurs during a shorter time span than season one. Heck, Crichton spent about the same time marooned as this season has taken so far. At least he didn’t have to deal with Harvey back then.

Speaking of whom. Harvey has a full suite of powers at his disposal. Now among his abilities: Super-metabolism! Processing mind-control drugs in less time than it takes to tell and enabling “normal” brain function. Is there anything properly seated a neural clone can’t do? Man. I pity anyone who tries to frell with Crichton’s head while Harvey’s in there. Scorpy is very possessive of John’s brain, even when he’s just visiting.

Another similarity to Serenity, Varla the Operative. Willing to go to any length to bring about world peace, even if it means killing everyone who disagrees. I find zealots terrifying, whatever purpose they serve. The unswerving single-minded purpose is impossible to negotiate with. Heck, in the first four minutes Crichton doesn’t even hesitate. He’s seen what happens when mind-cleansing Nebari get on board, and tries to pop her before anything else can go wrong. Kinda gets back to how trigger happy he’s gotten this season.

A list, because lists are awesome.

  • Eye shadow tears work really well on such pale skin.
  • Rygel saying, “I’m nobody’s puppet!”
  • Slamming Rygel into the door frame while he’s riding Crichton’s shoulders.
  • Who’s looking forward to next week?

Episode [2.17]: The Ugly Truth || Episode [2.19]: Liars, Guns and Money Part I: A Not So Simple Plan

5 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Crichton and Chiana together are awesome. I love that she calls Winona by name. However, it gave Crichton’s “my thoughts are as dirty as ever” a bit of a creepy incest vibe.

    It bothered me that Varla responded at all to Aeryn’s questions about why Chiana is important. Why would Varla tell anything to a temporarily-cleansed person?

    There’s something deliciously devious about the Nebari plan to send out STI-ridden nymphomaniacs into the galaxy so that “sin” can be its own downfall.

    I’m with Kevin on this one: Eyeballs, oh my god, eyeballs, ewww ugggh ewwwww… I knew that Crichton shouldn’t have said “stick a needle in my eye” when he was in the Plokavian gyno-chair.

    My favourite little irony of all, though, is Lani Tupu as Pilot pretending to be Lani Tupu as Crais. That kind of blew my mind a little when I remembered that Lani Tupu is in every episode even when Crais is not.

  2. I want to know how fired Noel is for posting that picture.

    • I specifically waited for the frame where the guy slides his probe into the eyesocket. I’m evil that way.

      • Weston

         /  April 21, 2011

        I was hoping for the frame with the eye pulled clear out. Super-icky.

        • I do have some minor sense of compassion. It’s very small and often hidden behind things, but it’s there.


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