Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [2.22] – “Die Me, Dichotomy”

Today, on Farscape

“I condemn you, John Crichton… to live. So that your thirst for unfulfilled vengeance… will consume you.”

The robbery of the Shadow Depository having been completed, Moya heads to a renowned physician, where the money will be used to repair both Moya and Crichton’s brain. The neuro-chip has other ideas, however, and Scorpius isn’t far away…


Kevin

Here we go. Season Two finale, considered by many to be the heaviest cliffhanger of the four.

There’s so much going on here. I almost wish I wasn’t going first; I’m spoiled for choice, almost to the point of being paralyzed by it. But no fear, I’ve got plenty to say.

I mentioned last week that a primary season arc was about Harvey, Crichton’s discovery of and subsequent attempts at removal. While this comes to a head this episode in the A-plot, we shouldn’t discount the other season arc – the growing relationships between the characters.

I remember back in grade school, one of my teachers brought out a diagram that was meant to represent the aspects of human well-being, both individually and for any type of relationships. Allow me to sketch it out horribly using MS Paint.


Give or take a few degrees here and there.

The physical aspect is cornered by D’Argo and Chiana. Their relationship initially was based on copious amounts of sex – and, unfortunately for them, not much else. They try extremely hard, but they have almost nothing in common. D’Argo is brash and impulsive, which is what attracted Chiana to him in the first place, but it’s merely a stopgap while he gets his affairs in order. What he really wants – and as we know, has always wanted – was to settle down and raise a family on a farm somewhere, peaceful and quiet and cozy. His rage and drive thus far has been to find Jothee, escape the Peacekeepers, and protect his friends in the meantime.

Now that Jothee has been found, and the Peacekeepers really don’t care about him anymore (since they’re all following Scorpius’s orders and focusing on Crichton and also external threats such as the Scarrans), he has no drive. The exciting part of his life is over, and he’s ready to find that farm. You can see Chiana realize this when the DRD hologram plays D’Argo’s message to her, asking her to marry him and settle down with him – she’s immensely touched, but that’s not what she wants. She wants adventure, excitement, to always be impulsive and on the move. She’s too much of a free spirit, in other words, and as much as she likes D’Argo, she knows that she’d ultimately be unhappy.

Enter Jothee. D’Argo’s son who lived his life as a slave, and has no interest in being cooped up on some farm with his father. He, too, wants to be free, the way he never was growing up. Chiana sees everything she saw in D’Argo – strength, desire – but also everything that she wants to be. This season ends with the two of them parting awkwardly when D’Argo enters the room, and the look on Chiana’s face is a nail in her relationship with him. It’s been happening for a while; D’Argo’s been trying to rein her wilder impulses in, and she often rebels against that. With Jothee on Moya now, it’ll be interesting to see where this takes the three of them.

The spiritual aspect is, naturally, most exemplified between Zhaan and Stark. The two of them have gravitated towards each other ever since he came on board. With her as a tenth-level priestess of the Goddess, and him as a caretaker of the dead, they often find themselves exploring realms of theology they only dreamed existed.

There hasn’t been a whole lot to go on between the two of them so far, as it’s taken a backseat to the other two main couples of the season, but there’s been definite growth if you look for it, and a lot of shared respect and admiration.

Which brings us to Crichton and Aeryn, which is a well that will never run dry – no matter how many times I plumb its depths. There are definitely examples of the other two aspects in their relationship – the first time they have sex on “Earth”, and their frequent philosophical and existential discussions – but the area their relationship is strongest is the emotional aspect.

For John Crichton, it may have been obvious. This was a woman, however decidedly not human she was, who knew what she wanted and was not afraid to take it. She could handle herself in a fight, knew her way around a spaceship, and – perhaps most importantly – could keep up with him in a battle of wits. She, almost more than Zhaan, was his tutor in the wonders of the galaxy at large; she introduced him to the myriad life outside that paltry third rock in the backwards solar system he grew up on. As early as the first episode, she was his guide to the Uncharted Regions, to highly-advanced science that was beyond anything he had ever dreamed of, to fantastic cultures and amazing philosophies.

To Aeryn Sun, the relationship was a surprise. For months, she spent a great deal of time trying to understand this primitive monkey that fell into her lap and changed her life forever. His vocal mannerisms were a subject of much consternation, and his idealogies were those of which she was painfully familiar.

Time after time, they clashed. Time after time, they worked together. As much as they disagreed on the nature of their burgeoning relationship, at some point neither of them could deny it any further, and for the remainder of Crichton’s struggle with his mental invasion, she stood by his side, promising to never let him lose himself in it.

It’s an aspect that the neuro-chip takes gleefully into account when confronting Aeryn for the first time – all without her knowledge – in what is likely the most chilling conversation we’ve seen to date, and definitely up there for the rest of the series.

Crichton Harvey: “I would be… lost, without you.”
Aeryn: “Then you will never be lost.”
Crichton Harvey: “No matter what happens, you have worked your way into my heart.”
Aeryn: “And you’ve shown me that I have one.”

It’s a conversation that she takes to heart, even knowing that it might have been with Harvey all along. Harvey may have been lying through his teeth, but she meant every word, and takes solace in the fact that Crichton was the last person she spoke to before plunging into what she knew was certain death. For a brief time, her life had far more meaning to it than when she was the brightest and best Peacekeeper of her platoon. For a brief time, she was happy.

And she wouldn’t give it up for the world.

Things to take note of:

  • There’s a lot of plot points dropped almost casually in this episode. Blink, and you’ll miss them entirely. One that you may have picked up on was the fact that the Diagnosian had three genetic matches to Crichton, species that shared a common ancestor.
  • Drugged-out Pilot is the best thing ever. “I am no higher than I’ve ever been. My position is fixed.”
  • Damn, Stark has a pimpin’ fur coat. Definitely sticks out amongst all the leather everyone else wears.
  • Seriously, Diagnosian? That’s lazy, Farscape, even for you.
  • Speaking of relationships, I love the one that the doctor and Grunchlk has. Tocot is completely focused on the craft, the art of healing, and has no patience for the broader details. Grunchy, on the other side of the coin, is grungy, dirty, and double-dealing – but he provides the funding and the raw materials Tocot requires to continue doing what he does. They’re a pair that would normally never have anything to do with each other, but the fact that they’ve found a mutually beneficial symbiosis is actually quite fascinating, and even touching.
  • Apparently, they had to tone down the Scorpius-Crichton makeup because people couldn’t tell the difference. That’s fantastic.

Noel

John Crichton. Strapped to a surgical table. His brain exposed with parts removed. His surgeon lying dead on the ground. Scorpius lording over him, in possession of the chip and condemning John to live as he now is. John screaming at him, but unable to form words. The speech center of his brain no longer there.

I’m sorry, Locutus of Borg, but this is my favorite cliffhanger of all time as our hero is broken in every single way possible by the main villain. It started at the end of the last episode, where Harvey had become a constant gnat in John’s ear that won’t shut up, won’t leave him alone, won’t give him a moment of peace. John is a twitchy, rambling mess, punching through a stream of mirrors that aren’t there. Aeryn tries to soothe John, tries to make him face reality, accept what’s there, and be strong. Instead of this power of love making things better, it gets oh so much worse.

By focusing, he gives Harvey a way in, and the mental phantom physically and entirely takes over the body of John, which is shown to us through the chilling effect of Ben Browder in the Scorpius makeup, doing one hell of a dead on impersonation. Thus, John becomes the enemy the rest now have to fight and chain up, especially after he viciously takes down Aeryn and tries to contact Scorpius. The cancer has spread to the point where it’s everyone’s problem now, not just John’s. The options are to pull the chip out, or kill him. They try to take it out.

Harvey doesn’t take to this well, so he mind frells Zhaan, steals the Farscape module, and, after a rousing chase where Aeryn’s always on the verge of blasting John out of the sky to save him from himself, Harvey uses John to kill one of our major cast members.

R.I.P. Aeryn’s Prowler. No longer will we awe as its sleek pointiness zips through the sky. And while it went out after a hell of a chase through the twisting caverns of an ice planet, it’s surprisingly degrading, yet fitting of the show, that it’s brought down by being bitch slapped by the landing gear of John’s lowly earth vessel.

Oh, and Aeryn dies too. And if you think thought her Prowler’s death was unfitting of a warrior, she’s condemned to an uncontrollable ejector seat quickly plummeting toward a frozen lake, where she slowly drowns before anyone else can get to her. It’s a tragic demise, and I like how they play the tragedy here, with everyone praying in their own way, but still together, and then they’re all ready to move on as they re-evaluate their paths and loyalties. Rygel, always the outsider, has quietly booked himself alternate transport. Crais and Talyn, who figured John’s fate was already sealed, wanted Aeryn to join them, but now they don’t know if they’re coming or going. Zhaan and Stark want to stay with Moya and Pilot. D’Argo wants to find a place to settle down with Chiana and Jothee, but they want to stick to the stars, potentially with each other.

Everyone’s just waiting to see what happens with John. Scorpius has taken his mind, his body, his love, and now, just as John is free of Harvey, Scorpius leaves him open and mangled on an operating table. You have to wonder if the rest of the crew have enough love for John to stick with him after this.

We will, of course, find out soon.

Before I pass this on, also I want to mention how much I love Tocot and Grunchlk. Though there’s odd little fetishistic bits to Tocot, I love how his aloof and flutish nature of delicateness is contrasted by the bold bundle of slime that is Grunchlk. Tocot doesn’t seem to care about much beyond performing his operations, leaving Grunchlk as the always-wrangling-in-his-own-favor used car salesman, who, nonetheless, shows a few moments of genuine compassion in his dealings with Rygel and his words to John just before the operation. He’s not a bad guy at heart, just all about the business, whereas Tocot comes off as little more than a cold machine that performs his functions to the best of his abilities. Great pair of characters, and great design work from the creative team.


Weston

There’s no “Previously on Farscape” heading into this episode. It’s the end of the season, you probably shouldn’t be watching it if you don’t already know what’s going on.

So basically, Kevin is saying don’t blink. You’ve got those three… what’d he call them, Interions? Enough physiological similarities to humans to be used as body part donors, apparently frozen a moment before dying from something or another. You’ve got Crais effectively monologuing about information that he’d like to / would have liked to share with Aeryn; and I have to strongly commend Lani Tupu here, he’s acting with a room full of lights and sounds and absolutely rocking it. And then you’ve got the emerging Chiana/Jothee relationship. Stark and Zhaan in the Unity pose when Aeryn dies.

I will admit, on my first watch through I skipped straight to the end. Scorpius’ arrival in the surgery is one of the most terrifying moments I’ve seen, ever. Many reasons: Crichton is completely restrained, missing memories, absent speech. Scorpius isn’t just invading, he’s being welcomed by the surgeon. This is the guy who installed his head-spinny thing. And the worst of it, the absolute worst thing: He’s humming The Star-Spangled Banner as he walks in. Aaaaaah.

Second worst moment? When John, possessed by the neural clone, knocks out Aeryn and licks her from nose to forehead. While she’s unconscious. Gaaaaaah.

I think the term “Diagnosan” comes from similar origins as “Pilot”. The language is sufficiently dense that the phonetic pronunciation of the species name just doesn’t come across, so the microbes come up with something appropriate.

Grunchlk is… quite a character. He reminds me a lot of Furlow. A scarily immoral used car salesman. He uses the same tricks; raising the estimate, bumping up the price after conversing with his manager. He does start showing a softer side after getting to know our heroes a bit, but he’s still got a couple of ulterior motives.

I need a paragraph or two for the brain surgery. Hoookay. *deep breathing* Alright.

The reveal. The scene where Tocot flips on the skull transparency device to show how extensively the neural chip has invaded Crichton’s brain. That mess of black strands covering and pervading the pink bits. Augh. With that image, it’s easy to understand how Harvey is controlling John. The chip has direct physical control of bits of brain.

Removing those bits is a bad for a medic-oriented species as for a merely human surgeon. Tocot has to go in, manually extract each strand of neurons, determine both the extent of the chip’s infestation and what that strand contains/controls, and determine whether it can be safely removed. Memories and abilities removed may possibly be restored using the Interion parts, but that’s a huge maybe at this point. American politics wouldn’t be a huge loss, but the memories of Aeryn? Did John choose to keep or lose them? Will they be restored?

Final note on brain surgery: That drill. Yeeeeeesh. That’s a carpentry tool, and Tocot is using it for brain surgery.

These two, the surgeon and the salesman, have several thousand sentient beings in their freezer. Over five thousand species, according to Zhaan. All of them hanging on the cusp between life and death. And now Aeryn’s been shoved into the refrigerator with them. Ick.

Things that I can’t quite generate a full paragraph for:

  • There are only two scenes of it, but I love stoned Stark and D’Argo.
  • D’Argo practicing proposing to Chiana on DRDs. Daww.
  • …and Pilot records it. D’oh.
  • Harvey mindfrelling Zhaan during Unity. “Time to pray.”
  • Wronski Feint!
  • Rygel leaves his sash/medallion in Aeryn’s casket, saying “You are more worthy of this.”
  • Braca!

Tessa

I love Ben Browder’s Scorpius impersonation. He does the character fantastically, to the point that I can buy that they felt the need to tone down the makeup on him, because it probably would have made it too hard to tell it was still him. It’s miles above his Peacekeeper impersonation.

The concept behind this episode is kind of chilling. John has always been the unifying figure amongst the crew. Not the leader, necessarily, and not even always the strong or knowledgeable one, but especially as of this season, there’s not a member of the crew that doesn’t hold a level of respect for him. He may not have been the one people were turning to for his skills in things, but he was arguably the most trusted member of the group. They might not always understand what he’s thinking or doing, but the sincerity of his actions to help out the group was (almost) never in doubt. There’s been conflicts, sure, and he’s even played the “villain” in a sense before for an episode, but even then the crew has always been able to turn to him and find him reliable.

Harvey takes all that away. The crew suddenly finds that they really can’t trust him for a second without repercussions, and what makes it possibly worse is that it’s not even really his fault. They can’t just retaliate the way they would with a normal enemy, because it’s not really Crichton doing any of these things, it’s the chip. Once they realize what’s going on, Crichton is stuck tethered down to a slab, and when he’s not there, he’s handcuffed. And even then the crew still wants to trust him more than they should, as evidenced by Zhaan’s agreement to form a mental link (which immediately bites her in the ass), and later D’Argo GIVING HIM A FRELLING KNIFE, which struck me as one of the stupidest actions taken in the episode. Yes, John happened to be in control at that point, but that could easily have been another Harvey gambit and we’d have wound up short yet another crew member. To be fair, there wouldn’t have been much reason for Harvey to do anything with the knife short of just being cruel (though that’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility), but seriously, you give the guy who you know for a fact is not in his right mind, who just killed one of your crew members, a knife? Nothing came of it, but still. It does really highlight just how much the crew has come to love and trust him, however.

And… Aeryn. Wow. We finally have a death scene that feels heavy enough to actually be real this time. Seriously, this one really hurt, though at the risk of being predictable and nit-picky, I can’t help but think that it would have been far more powerful had they not beaten the “death of a main character” idea to death throughout the season. As it is, I’m still going to be waiting at the start of next season to see if this one really sticks. It’s worth pointing out that the fact that she’s been put into the freezer means that she’s not actually dead, though based on what we get told about the bodies they store, its not likely that she’d survive being defrosted.

And then we have Jothee and Chiana. I guessed last episode that we’d see an interesting relationship form between the two, but I didn’t think it’d be that immediate. As has already been pointed out, there’s far more in common between the two of them than there is between her and D’Argo, and you can already tell by the halfway point of the episode that the relationship is rapidly approaching its end on Chiana’s side. Obviously D’Argo has other ideas, with him practicing his proposal to her with the DRDs (which I doubt Pilot would have shown off that candidly had he been sober), but to Chiana, the relationship is already over.

Rygel’s come a long way from last season also. We even start the episode with Zhaan assuming the worst about him, only to discover that he agreed without any apparent objection to give up the majority of their stolen wealth to heal Moya. And I think its been missed what a huge deal his actions during Aeryn’s funeral is. If this were last season, it would have been far more likely to find him in her room, rummaging through her belongings and claiming them for himself. Instead, he’s giving one of his own possessions to her, and whats more, he tells her that she’s more worthy of it than he is. Rygel, who has always declared his own self-worth and importance, who has an ego several hundred times larger than his tiny head, says this to her. I reeled when I saw that part of the scene in particular. I’ve made no secret out of the fact that Rygel is my favorite character on the show, and I love getting to see the evidence of his development here.

And holy crap what a cliffhanger we’re left with. Crichton is barely functional as a living being, his memories in tatters and his ability to speak completely destroyed, and Scorpius just leaves him there, having killed the surgeon who was working on him, leaving him with no obvious way to be restored. Sure, the parts are still around to fix him, but the Diagnosian is dead and Gunshock Greenchalk Grunchlk may not be in any better shape after being found by Braca (not to mention all signs point to him not being a viable replacement for the doctor by any stretch of the imagination), so who exactly is going to put the pieces back together to make a working Crichton again? Zhaan is usually the resident medic, but this is probably a bit beyond her pay grade.

Oh man, I can’t wait to start the next season. Cue Kevin talking about me being lucky to only have to wait a week.


Next week: Season 2 Overview!

Episode [2.21]: Plan B || Episode [3.01]: Seasons of Death

17 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. I DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE SCORPIUS HUMMING THAT. Holy shit, that’s creepy on a level I did not know existed.

    Also, something I noticed about the knife scene that I forgot to mention; when he’s bending over the casket, he has the knife inverted, and it looks like he’s going to Montague himself. He holds the pose for a few tense seconds before pulling back to reveal the lock of hair he cut off. Beautifully done.

    Reply
    • Weston

       /  May 13, 2011

      I KNOW RIGHT? He’s taken the song Crichton used to stabilize his mental state and turned it into his own “I’m gonna getcha” music. Aaaaaaaah.

      Also, Tessa is so lucky that she only has to wait a week. This is really the end of all cliffh- okay, season 3 cliffhanger comes really close. But as cliffs go, viewers are hanging from this one by grass roots.

      Also also, forgot to mention the music during Aeryn’s funeral. Continuing the new Latin theme, and so terribly sad.

      Reply
      • Since we’re doing a season wrapup next week, doesn’t that mean Tessa has to wait… two weeks?

        *sinister laugh*

        Reply
  2. Don’t forget that D’Argo placed his Qualta blade in Aeryn’s coffin. He also made large leaps in maturity during this series.

    The Commentary on this episode is so fantastic, full of inside information on how and why the script was put together as it was and how Harvey developed as well as the chip. Ben asked for a scene at the end of the episode and David Kemper knew that all he needed to do was have the knife prop available. It was Ben who improvised the thought that John might kill himself with the knife but ultimately changed his mind and took a lock of Aeryn’s hair as a keepsake — a very fairytale thing to do.

    I think one of the most evil things Harvey did in a huge list of evilness was let John regain some of himself the moment Aeryn ejected. He had to watch her death knowing that he somehow was at fault — thus finally breaking him. Ben’s acting was heart-breaking.

    I think this episode and Season Of Death are two of the best eps of the entire series.

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  1. [Deconstructing Moya] Episode 2.22 – “Die Me, Dichotomy” | Made of Fail Productions

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