Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [3.03] – “Self-Infl​icted Wounds, Part 1: Could’a, Would’a, Should’a”

Today, on Farscape

“Now, John. We’re trapped in this vawn of a wormhole, Pilot’s unconscious, Moya is dying, and my son has slept with my betrothed. Lock. This woman. Up!”

The crew is tries to find a suitable planet for Zhaan to recover on, but are distracted by an opening wormhole. A ship traveling through the wormhole collides with Moya, and the two ships, now tangled together, are trapped in the wormhole, traveling out of control. And Moya doesn’t seem to be taking well to her new surroundings…


Tessa

So now we’re in the aftermath of the relationship fallout from last episode. Jothee is gone, but Chiana’s still there, and D’Argo is… not dealing well with things. He’s particularly short tempered, and morose about their situation (“We’re already destroyed, Aeryn, it’s just that some of us don’t know it yet”). Understandable, of course, considering everything that just happened to him. Aeryn offers to talk to him about it (something she’s picked up from John, it seems), but D’Argo isn’t ready yet.

Zhaan is looking particularly bad now, the sores that we saw on her last episode having spread, visible now even behind her cowl. Her coloring is also off now, the marks on her forehead now a dark reddish-brown. It is evocative of a plant starting to wither and die, which considering her species is appropriate. The disease also appears to be making her wear a tacky blue pimp cloak, which I think shows the danger she’s in far more than the sores.

I really like that the fact that the people on the other ship can’t understand any of the crew. They’re from Celestia-knows-where in the universe, and like Crichton when he first encountered the group, they don’t have the translator microbes to help them. One of them does wind up getting injected with them from one of the DRDs, but its only because she’s taken by surprise, and the others refuse to do the same. It becomes a very bizarre dilemma where the crew can understand them perfectly fine, but aside from using Neeyala as a translator (who isn’t always right there to do so), they can’t actually communicate with them. It’s a neat little subversion of the trope, and makes the crew face something that’s normally a non-issue. It’s not a very alien concept for Crichton, but the others having been treated to the microbes all their lives, the concept of not being able to communicate with someone has probably never even occurred to them as possible. I’m slightly disappointed that it wasn’t explored all that much (they don’t really interact much with anyone other than Neeyala), and I kind of wish we’d gotten a chance to hear the crew’s actual languages again, but there’s also still a second part where there’s a chance for that to happen.

Rygel. Oh, Rygel. I can’t say I’m surprised at the way he acts in this episode, I guess, but I thought we were past this kind of thing with him by now. Even more frustrating is that nothing comes of his actions other than making him once again look like the biggest jerk in the universe. He forces John’s module out of the wormhole while they’re both trying to gather information to try to help Moya and the other ship leave, which could have been disastrous, but John just… goes right back into the wormhole with no real issue. After breaking Rygel’s nose, of course. And then there’s this bizarre scene where Rygel appears to be planning to kill John in response, only to be stopped by Zhaan, who hints that he might be faking some of his jerk-ishness. We’ve talked before about how Rygel seems to purposely keep his distance from the others, so this doesn’t feel out of character, and yet the only thing of consequence that really happens is that Rygel tells Jool about what really happened to one of her cousins so that she can get properly red hair-ified and go after Crichton. I dunno, this just feels far more like Season 1 Rygel, and while again, it doesn’t feel totally out of character, I kind of thought that he had gotten enough development by this point that he wouldn’t be just doing the whole “oh, Rygel is a jerk, here he is trying to screw everyone else over again” thing. Or if they were going to do that, and give him a moment where he slips back into old habits despite everything he’s been through, at least have something substantial come out of it. But maybe I’ve been expecting too much out of his character lately.

Speaking of Jool… I really need to see more of her before I can give a proper opinion. As it stands, I’m really not fond of her character upon introduction, and from what I understand she’ll be sticking around. To be totally fair, we really don’t know anything about her yet (and there’s the gaping question of why she was frozen along with the others, since at least one of them really was deathly ill) other than the fact that she has chameleon hair and her scream melts things.

We end the episode with Moya in really bad shape. From the looks of things, she and Pilot may be past the point of saving (of course, this being Farscape, it’s too soon to say anything for certain). Something interesting that I had noticed before but didn’t give much thought to… Lani Tupu’s credited bit in the opening for this season shows Crais, not Pilot. In fact, Pilot is barely in the opening, and isn’t shown at all during the credited portion. That could just mean that Crais has a larger role to play this season. Or… it could mean something else. Again, though, there’s still a second half to this two-parter, and Moya has faced death and come right back before now. Not to mention that Neeyala and her people are very obviously hiding something and have something behind the scenes going on.

One final note, the scene with Harvey is just amazing. I like this concept of John turning to the Scorpius clone (who is now totally powerless to do anything about it and has been reduced to goofy snarking) so that he can bounce his thoughts off of his shoulder devil while watching his thoughts on a drive-in screen. “What will he use the technology for?” “Faster delivery of pizzas.” Also, the dumpster roaring was the best part of this episode.


OM NOM NOM


Kevin

Given the nature of the previous season, a sharp reminder of John’s original mission was necessary. He’s been focusing on the interpersonal relationships of his shipmates and trying to keep one step ahead of the bread line the Peacekeepers, with only a passing thought to getting himself home. But when opportunities present themselves, he is off like a shot, friends and newfound family be damned.

Aeryn’s seen it, we’ve seen it; frell me dead, Pilot always sees it (but he continues to keep an eye out for wormholes anyway), and now the rest of the family is painstakingly aware the degree to which Crichton’s search for wormhole knowledge takes priority. They don’t trust his judgement, not where Earth is concerned, and rightly so. He’s abandoned them without a qualm once already, and almost shanghaied Aeryn along with him.

There’s often little choice, but Crichton takes distressingly little time to condemn Moya and Pilot in favor of saving the nameless Science Vessel, as it’s rich with the meaty Wormhole Research goodness that he craves so much. Out of everyone, he’s the quickest to trust them, to work with them, and to share information between crews. He attaches himself so quickly to the Pathfinder that he thinks nothing of “borrowing” Rygel as a mere second pair of hands for his quick jaunt around the Wormhole Feedback Loop.

Is it justified? Perhaps. It may even be excuseable, given the nature of his predicament. The tiniest things keep popping up to give him hope; a wormhole here, an Earth transmission there. It’s that greatest of all treasures, hope.

But the real dilemma here, and one that is quickly presenting itself to him, is this: Is hope enough to counterbalance the life he’s carved out for himself now? His new friends and family, people he is responsible for and to? Even though Scorpius is “dead”, he himself is notorious enough that enemies might seek out Moya simply because Crichton Is There. It’s something that he has to consider now, after two years away from home. Even when tempted by the shiny new Science Vessel, these thoughts have to be crossing his now-mismatched brain. It’s a crossroads he is at, and one that he’ll be contemplating quite a bit.

Speaking of the research ship, I’m really loving the design. Its interior is all hard, angular and white, while the outer hull is helixed and composed of vial-like modules. It’s as if the entire ship is a piece of laboratory equipment, which in fact it is, so well done there. The harsh sterility of the science vessel puts it at direct contrast to the warm oranges and browns and the soft curves of Moya; Crichton is in all actuality contemplating leaving his home for an unfamiliar, almost abstract concept of knowledge.

It’s a contrast that sees a lot of play in the series, and the visual dynamics are nothing short of stellar.

Bullet points!

  • Speaking of visually dynamic, I love the shot of Zhaan gazing upon Earth in confusion and wonder. Yet another contrast between Crichton’s old home and new. Plus, there’s just something to be said of how neat Earth looks from an extremely outside perspective.


Our third rock from the – oh I get it.

  • It’s a subtle point, but there if you look: Harvey has all of Scorpius’s personality, but he’s hard-wired into Crichton’s brain, and thus can make all the pop culture references he wants. It’s especially neat, so keep looking for it.
  • Chiana can leap in a single bound (and hasn’t done so for a full year), D’Argo can hold his breath super long in space, Stark is a Death God, and now we have Jool who can melt metal with her screams. Crichton’s feeling more and more out of place, even if he is the soul of the ship.
  • Recursive wormholes. Kind of terrifying in hindsight. Holy crap they layered this concept in early.
  • What the fuck, Rygel?
  • No, seriously, Rygel, what the fuck?

Noel

For the second episode in a row, an Interion is accidentally released from a cryopod, though this time through Rygel’s fiddling fingers instead of Chiana and Jothee’s fiddling…. other parts. Behold the latest member of our cast: Jool. And good lord what an insufferable presence she is. The ultimate Mean Girl, she’s primmed and snotty and has this need to lift herself above others by constantly tearing them down. She’s such a classist elitist that she puts all of the Peacekeepers to shame through her cheap potshots at species she recognizes (she doesn’t care that John isn’t a Sebacian; he looks close enough, so she’ll keep insulting him as one) and those she doesn’t (she thinks Rygel is a pet and doesn’t shift from that view even when he speaks). Add to that her habit of ripping into unbearable wails that cause metal to start dripping, and you can understand why the other bound and gag her by episode’s end. I remember not liking her much when I first watched the series years ago, but I forgot just how awful of a person she is when we first meet her. I’m very curious to be reminded of why they keep her around.

I would say that her insufferableness is meant to cover for all the wisdom and growth Rygel’s gone through over the last few years, but the others are right. What the fuck, Rygel. He’s tossed comments left and right about abandoning ship or pulled a bit of mischief once in a while, but he totally takes it to another level here as he physically forces John’s ship out of the wormhole in his desperation to flee the dying Leviathan. Where’s the Rygel that would at least think this through a bit, taking the largest of the transport pods and a whole mess of supplies? Where is he planning to go in John’s little Farscape pod? What is he hoping to eat or barter with? Good on John for breaking the little rascal’s slits. Bad on Rygel for sending Jool after John with a gun.

I love what they did with John in this episode. When he first sees the wormhole, it takes over every part of his mind. He wants Pilot to take readings and have his module prepped. He knows they’re a short distance from a planet where they can plant and heal Zhaan, but he just wants some time to dip in and give it a look. The old obsession has reared its ugly head. But then Pilot tells him there’s a ship approaching and John makes an instant about face. He’s thinking of Moya and the crew as he looks to assess a potential threat. And when he sees the science vessel headed at them on a collision course, wormhole be damned, he orders a Starburst.

John has come a long way since that one time he tried to hijack Aeryn. He’s made attachments he isn’t so quick to abandon, and has faced a few scenarios of what could potentially be waiting for him back home. Even when he gets to map the wormhole network with his module, there is the escape and the old drive there, but he’s still just scoping things out for the others with every intention of returning. When Rygel proposes the idea of breaking free, John never once considers it. Yes, he wants to return home one day, and definitely beat Scorpius to the punch when it comes to mastering the technology, but the lessons of his life have given him caution and pause. He’s not bumbling in like an idiot.

It’ll be interesting to see where they go with the second episode, because I don’t get the sense he’s abandoning Moya just to get the wormhole knowledge. Sure, that’s an attractive benefit, but look at Moya. She’s slowly frying and falling to pieces, to the point where, even if they do escape, it’s unlikely she’d be able to survive. And remember, she’s still healing from those massive burns she suffered a few episodes back. The others still cling to her because she’s family, but the decision of John and Chiana to abandon her isn’t wrong. And a part of it might also be that he just doesn’t have it in him to watch her die. She’s been his ship, his home, for quite some time now. No promise of wormholes is going to take that away.

But, again, his reasons are likely something they’ll get into in the next episode, so this is mostly speculation on my part. This was a pretty good episode. Except for Rygel. What the fuck, Rygel.

Some notes:

  • In the midst of the tragedy, Pilot projectile vomiting on Stark and D’Argo is pretty damn funny, as is the line that Stark was unaware lifeforms are capable of such a thing.
  • Is this the debut of D’Argo’s new wardrobe? I love the purple fabric and the red leather shoulder pieces.
  • Zhaan isn’t looking at Earth, Kevin. In a wider shot, two moons are visible in the sky. I’m pretty sure that’s the planet they were going to plant her on.
  • Don’t really have anything to add about Neeyala’s people: sterile science types worried about contamination who don’t care much about sacrificing others – even amongst themselves – so as to get out of messy situations. Good makeup, well played, and I do love the translator microbe schtick.
  • I don’t get the point of the wormhole snake. How would such a thing have possibly come into existence, and why is it a necessary plot thread for this story? Maybe more will be made of it next episode, but here it felt tacked on for little more than some gotcha jump scares.
  • What the fuck, Rygel. It really can’t be said enough.

Weston

This is very definitely the first appearance of D’Argo’s new outfit. Square, solid shoulders, longer uneven kilt, darker color, and a bit of… sparkle? But I wonder why he isn’t carrying his Qualta Blade.

Crichton almost follows the technobabble, and he lampshades it with a Star Trek reference. Jool actually seems to understand some of the terminology a little better than he does. That, or she’s just pretending superiority.

I think I agree with Noel on the planet out the window. Definitely two moons, and the continents are a bit off. I don’t know if it’s where they were going to plant Zhaan, but it’s a green planet, one that could save her.

Stark’s “I’ve accumulated a vast reservoir of evil” moment is heartbreaking. As is Zhaan’s coloring. Stark’s moment with Aeryn in Pilot’s chamber is… it’s a new level of creepy for him, and she handles it deftly instead of pushing him away and shooting him.

There’s a moment in the previous episode when freezerburned Interion guy, in his brief time out of the coffin, says “I got sick. Jool found us.” So right off the bat, we know that Jool’s statement about people using her full name is a flat out lie. Which means that she’ll fit right in with the others. It’s interesting that she calls Chiana an “alley whore” rather than using the local term.

I love the theater in Crichton’s brain. Harvey’s newfound frustration at not being in control comes out in extensive snark and hostility, but John’s running the show now. He can’t even get back into the dumpster without permission. All he can do now is be the buzzing fly in Crichton’s ear, or the devil on his shoulder.

D’Argo gives a reasonable summary of exactly how frelled they are.

There are some implications from the Pathfinders that their families lives are dependent on the return of their vessel. Neeyala certainly seems to believe that the information they’ve collected is more important than any of her crew’s lives.

Kevin hits the recursive wormholes point. Not merely a tunnel connecting two points in space, wormholes can intersect and interconnect. It adds another layer of complexity to the lore, and severely complicates Crichton’s search for Earth.

And finally, in a literal cliffhanger, John spots an image of the Three Stooges in the Pathfinder scanner before the wormhole snake forces him off the platform in Pilot’s Den. Remember how very deep that shaft is.

Wormhole Surfing Count: 3


Episode [3.02]: Suns and Lovers || Episode [3.04]: Self-Inflicted Wounds Part II: Wait for the Wheel

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