Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [2.21] – “Liars, Guns and Money Part III: Plan B”

Today, on Farscape

“What if Crichton’s worse, and won’t be rescued?”
“Well, that’s easy. I put a bullet in Crichton’s head and end it.”

With Jothee safe and Crichton taking his place, the rescue is still proceeding as planned – with the slight problem of how these mercenaries are all going to be paid. Fortunately, someone has a plan. Not-so-fortunately, it’s Stark


Tessa

This episode picks up right where we left off. John is in Scorpius’ hands, and has now been strapped to an oversized hamster ball while Scorpius attaches more whatchamacallits to his head to prepare his brain for science. Scorpius muses that the chip in John’s head has begun to take control of him now, which is why he gave himself up so easily. John of course denies this, claiming to have made the decision himself, but Scorpius brushes the statement off as a lie. Considering we then get to see John’s recorded message to the rest of the crew where he admits that he’s starting to feel a temptation to give into Harvey’s whims, Scorpy seems to know what he’s talking about.

On an interesting side note, we get a few cases of Scorpius detecting lies in this episode, making reference to his “sensors”, which means that he’s apparently got technology working on his side when it comes to reading people, and not just a case of exceptional insight. As late as this revelation is, it means that way back when Rygel went to Scorpius with a supposed offer to sell out the crew, he really was lying about his motives at the time. It’s largely unimportant at this point, all things considered, and it’s far past the point where we can expect any explanation about just what was going through the Dominar’s head back then, but it’s interesting to note.

We spent last episode noting the similarities between Jothee and D’Argo, in their mannerisms and speech patterns, and that carries over here as well, but we also get to see in this episode that they are still very different people. Where D’Argo has rarely (if ever) hesitates to throw himself into danger if even a remote possibility of saving a comrade exists, Jothee comes right out and says that he values his own survival above everything else. It’s a mindset that’s he’s been conditioned into out of necessity, as he’s been on his own and struggling to survive since childhood (while his mannerisms are very much in tune with D’Argo, his personality and experiences seem to match up closer with Chiana’s, oddly enough, and seeing how or even if the two get along will be interesting). Also interesting is that he seems to hold D’Argo responsible for his situation, and yet at the same time doesn’t really blame him.

It’s a little easy for him to get lost in the larger events of the episode, but Jothee and his overall personality is shaping up to be something of a possible unknown variable for the future. For all of his similarities to D’Argo, we really don’t know all that much about him. While we have a very basic idea about what he’s been through, we don’t know any of the details, or how his experiences have shaped who he is as a person beyond the little we’ve been told, and we can’t really make any kind of guesses yet as to how he might act in certain situations like we can with the others.

A couple bullet points to wrap me up since I’m blockier than normal this week :

  • Scorpius apparently has no desire to use wormhole technology to “conquer the universe”, but rather for the more mundane but equally dangerous application of blipping entire armies to places they’d be going anyways instantaneously. There’s no real reason for him to be lying there, so we can probably assume it to be the truth.
  • Talyn is getting pretty big. We’ve only ever seen the one room on him, so it’s easy to lose track of the scale (there’s a similar problem with Moya, really), but this means there’s quite a bit of space on him at this point. Considering he’s only got a crew of one (and does Crais ever leave that control room?), I wonder if any of that space is getting use or if it’s just all empty rooms sitting around for now.
  • I didn’t catch this until going back through a second time, but there’s an odd flub where Pilot refers to Talyn with female pronouns at one point in the episode (“Crais, we are very thankful that you allowed Talyn to respond to her mother’s distress call.”).
  • asfsdfajasujrfff good god those head appendages of Natira’s and what she does with them. Apparently they don’t show the eye gouging, but I wouldn’t know seeing as I had my eyes closed once she went all scorpion-face.
  • Is it just me, or was real!Scorpy’s makeup slightly different from Harvey’s in John’s brain? Harvey comes off looking much more blue and passive, while Scorpius seems more red and threatening. Maybe it’s just the lighting combined with the fact that Harvey’s not doing much other than talking.
  • I love that Rygel is parading around with Durka’s head on a stick. “I like that he doesn’t talk back.”

Kevin

At last, we’re coming up on the main plot point of this season’s storyarc. It’s been building ever so slightly from “Crackers Don’t Matter“; the revelation of Harvey and his effect on Crichton.

It’s actually been pretty subtle since the start that Harvey was worming his way through Crichton’s brain, mapping his decidedly non-Sebacean wetware and assimilating himself into it. We’ve seen him gain more and more subconscious control throughout the series, from latching onto T’raltixx’s insanity aura, to bolstering Crichton’s nerves in self-preservation – in multiple situations – to finally hijacking his internal organs to metabolize the Nebari’s mind-wipe drug.

(The jury’s still out which organs were hijacked; the lymphatic system, his spleen, his liver, or his appendix. It would probably depend on if the drug was eaten up, strained and diluted, or flushed out completely.)

In hindsight, the situations that Harvey has “helped” Crichton with are made all the more terrifying as you realize that he was using Crichton’s times of weakness to entrench himself even further. We’ve actually seen Harvey take control of Crichton’s body almost completely during the Scarran’s mental probing; Crichton was forced to flatline, to give him the moment of surprise he needed to overpower the Scarran and escape. I will repeat: Harvey was able to stop Crichton’s heart, lungs, and brain activity, however temporarily it was.

It puts everything into perspective when Crichton is being forced to return to Scorpius; at this point, he’s been strapped to the American Gladiators’ hamster ball for however many hours it was, subjected to physical and mental pain, and probably not allowed to sleep the entire time. He’s weak, he’s worn out, he’s on his last legs. That’s when Harvey steps in.

Crichton: “Aeryn, I’m, uh, I’m gonna go to Scorpius.”
Aeryn: “The frell you are.” *knocks him out*

What I love is that we’ve been subject to a season-long fakeout, but the real story was hidden in plain sight all along. The real threat isn’t Scorpius – although he’s definitely not to be discounted as a main threat – it’s Harvey. Scorpy-In-The-Head has been biding his time, taking control of Crichton neuron by neuron, and he’s remained a subtle but growing influence on him. When this episode ends, he’s starting to kick into overdrive, taunting and tormenting Crichton where only he can see.

Harvey’s only gaining in strength, and there’s still one episode left in the season.


Weston

I admit, when I finished the review of last week’s episode I immediately went and watched this one. How could I not, with a cliffhanger like that?

The plot opens with the mercenaries mutinying. All that work last episode to put together the Uncharted Avengers, and they don’t wait five microts after Crichton’s captured to start making demands. Aeryn, brilliant improvisational Aeryn, reminds them that they’re invading a bank. Old Aeryn would have shot half of them and browbeat the rest, but New Aeryn pulls a Crichton and tries to redirect them. It almost works. Then Jothee walks in and everyone pulls guns. It takes Stark’s mad ravings to neutralize the standoff.

Man, Stark. That guy’s nuts.

But, of course, that isn’t the end of it. The Bloodtracker they hired specifically to track Crichton’s blood can’t because it’s a female’s specialty. The Sheyang can’t produce the metal-melting fire they need to destroy the generator. The Zenetan pirates have found a higher bidder. And Bekhesh is… well, completely competent and loyal. One thing going right out of four isn’t bad for our heroes.

The music in this episode is amazing. The big buildup, the firefights in the central chamber and after the lights go out, the standoff between Crichton and Scorpius, all huge scores. I think this is the episode where the series switches from the big synthesizer stuff to something a little more terrestrial.

Speaking of that scene between Crichton and Scorpius. Scorpy doing a slow badass walk towards Crichton while Crichton waves a gun and screams. It’s so much like the last time they were screaming at each other, an awful lot of face acting and body language and completely bloodshot eyes. Scorpy’s almost secondary to that scene, seeming like just something for Crichton to focus on. The main event is in John’s head, and between him yelling and Harvey whispering, it’s tearing him apart.

Multiple Big Damn Heroes moments. Talyn’s arrival to assist in Moya’s recovery, Moya’s supersonic flyby of the Depository, Aeryn/D’Argo/Bekhesh roaring in as Crichton’s about to surrender to Scorpius again, Talyn’s big return and destroying the Shadow Depository. All these moments when things go surprisingly right for our heroes.

I’m low on time. Bullet points, don’t fail me now!

  • Scorpius is ambidextrous, using his pulse pistol with either hand.
  • His Command Carrier was elsewhere in battle. With whom, I wonder?
  • Scorpy’s built-in lie detector makes a comeback.
  • The Zenetan pirate died by shooting himself in the mivonks. What a waste.
  • I think I heard a Wilhelm Scream in there.
  • Sawyer’s Mill: Was it a bass or a trout?
  • Direct conversations between Pilot and Crais are awesome by definition.

Noel

At the opening of this episode, the cards were stacked against our heroes. They managed to round up a group of mercenaries, all of whom are semi useless in terms of the skills they were hired for. Moya is suffering from the terrible burns she inflicted upon herself to avoid being consumed by money. John has turned himself over the Scorpius, either to free Jothee, get the chip out of his head, or because Harvey made him do it. And just as our heist is getting under way, the Bloodtracker Rorf is captured, has one of his eyes eaten by Natira, and spills the beans on the plan.

Thank goodness it was an overly elaborate plan from the mind of the increasingly hysterical Stark because, as sound as it was, nobody wants to touch it simply because it comes from him. Instead, they create a sonic boom as a distraction, then charge in, guns blazing. One group shoots as many soldiers as they can (D’Argo’s Qualta blaster actually runs dry at one point), while the other heads down to take out the generator. It’s a blunt plan, one hashed out by the warriors of the group, and it seems on the verge of failing time and again, but damned if it doesn’t get them through it.

Aside from the surprisingly heroic sacrifices of Rorf and Teurac, the highlight of the battle has to be the moment right after the generator goes out. The lights are out and our heroes know there’s a massive amount of soldiers on the other side of a door that’s about to open, and what results is a massive firefight shown through flashes of plasma fire and infrared scopes which is a chaotic mess of glory as our good guys slaughter the blind troops. And a great touch with Aeryn’s scope not working, leaving her to mow down people by firing blind.

Natira is a twisted work of genius this episode, what with her going all eyeball nom nom with her scorpion head. I love how, even as she’s about to slurp down John’s baby blues, he still willing to strike a deal with her because, again, anything is better than Scorpius. What I don’t entirely get, though, is why, when she enters the mental link with John, Harvey tells her that Scorpius plans to kill her. Could it be that Harvey was otherwise occupied and this was entirely a fabrication by John? Could it be that Harvey doesn’t have the universal control we think he does, and that for every step he makes, John is making one right behind him, meaning Crichton’s head is an endless cat and mouse as strings are pulled every which way? I don’t know, because it seems Harvey is still quite capable of frelling with John by the end of the episode.

It’s a shame, though, that Natira went her own way after agreeing to free John. I would love to have seen the twisted dynamics that would have arisen between her and the crew had she made it to Moya.

Crais is back, with a few great moments of pwnage as he flings some of Aeryn’s past new found virtues back in her face:

Crais: “I thought you didn’t want to use Talyn for violence. You all said that from the beginning.”
Aeryn: “Yes, but this is different.”
Crais: “How? Is this violence more acceptable? Because it’s for you?”
Aeryn: “No. It’s because Scorpius has captured Crichton and he’s going to kill him if we don’t get down there.”
Crais: “There’s always a reason for violence, Aeryn. Thousands of people die. For the most virtuous causes.”
Aeryn: “You don’t have to lecture me, Crais.”
Crais: “I believe I do! You’ve lectured me countless times!”

Things get so desperate that Aeryn tells Crais he can have anything, including herself, should he help them out of this situation. And what does this former crazed commander, now set loose in a warship of his own, do when she comes to him after his assistance in the battle? Brushes it off, asks for nothing, even says it was all Talyn’s doing. Crais really has changed as a man. You’d think the solitary life he spends with Talyn alone would make him weaker and easier to crack, but, in the way of many a monk, he’s used it to strengthen himself, his resolve, and, most of all, his patience.

Everybody else has covered the other bases and I don’t have anything left to add. The last three parter, “Look at the Princess”, started strong, then had some kinks, and finally fell apart, but this one was a solidly built story that got better and better as the stakes and action and mind breaking insanity ramped up one level after another. It got bigger and more esplodey as it went along, but never forgot that it was about the bonds that are forged in these parts of the uncharted territories, where even people you once looked at as an enemy will suddenly take a bullet to keep you alive. It’s pretty much the opposite of what I wrote in the last article, which was all about fending for yourself and turning on others as the situation demanded. Huh. Seems this subversive show has even subverted me within the space of a single episode.

Oh, and a space pirate shot his own penis off. Hur hur. Though how that kills him is anybody’s guess.


Episode [2.20]: Liars, Guns and Money Part I: With Friends Like These || Episode [2.22]: Die Me, Dichotomy

6 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Weston

     /  May 8, 2011

    The space pirate was actually the female of his- uh, her species. And that’s where they keep their… uh… heart? Or something.

    Completely agree with Kevin, Harvey is this season’s villain. Scorpy is the distracting hand, Harvey is where the magic trick is happening.

    Reply
  2. Kernezelda

     /  May 10, 2011

    Actually, that was Staanz in The Flax, who was a Yemen by species. We don’t know if Zenetans are a species or if that’s the region of space the pirate group occupies, or just the name a loosely allied group calls itself, possibly comprised of more than one species. Durka, after all, was a Sebacean, and climbed right to the top. There is no canon suggesting the location of the heart.

    Reply
    • Weston

       /  May 12, 2011

      It wasn’t intended to be taken literally. Was attempting to make something up to make it a little less ridiculous.

      Reply
      • Kernezelda

         /  May 13, 2011

        😉 Making things less ridiculous is not the Farscapean way. Embrace the crazy!

        Reply

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