Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [3.06] – “Eat Me”

Today, on Farscape

“You cloned me?”
“Not the word ‘cloned’, please. I doubled you. I… twinned you. Two D’Argos, equal and original. And tasty.”

Jool manages to break a transport pod in flight, forcing an emergency landing on a collared Leviathan. D’Argo expects to find Peacekeepers – what they find instead is far, far worse.


This episode is about as close to a zombie apocalypse as we’re going to get on this show. It’s non-stop horror from the moment the damaged transport pod lands. The modified Moya sets go a long way towards establishing that feeling, and the eerie music solidifies it. Every surface on the Leviathan Rohvu is diseased: Cancerous growths on the doors, walls torn open, wiring hanging from every ceiling, Kaarvok’s green override modules – the sets in this episode are amazing.

The horrors start building from the moment the pod lands. D’Argo is immediately jumped by a feral humanoid, the doors are unreliable and remotely controlled, the ship is suffering from some sort of illness, the Pilot is being hacked apart and eaten by the locals, Chiana is attacked by those same locals, and then D’Argo is knocked out by a ball of Laffy Taffy. Crichton and Chiana catch up to him just in time to see a small, polite man suck out part of his brain with a large-bore needle.

Chiana takes it… poorly. Throughout the episode, when anything happens to either D’Argo or Chiana, they immediately start calling for each other. The relationship is over, dead, but they still care. And now D’Argo’s dead. Chi goes a little bit crazy. Rather than let the ferals desecrate his corpse, she gives him abbreviated funeral rites, burns him, and dumps him into the abyss under Pilot’s den. She takes, for the purpose of his burial, the place of an Orrican. Kevin pointed out last week that she’s undergoing some significant character development, this is part of it.

Now. It is very, very important to note at this point that a D’Argo has died. He is not coming back. This is not a fake-out, an illusion, or a metaphysical mind-frell. This D’Argo is dead. His brain has been sucked out and his corpse has been burned. He is quite dead.

We see almost immediately how that can be possible without killing off the character. Kaarvok hits Chiana with the Laffy Taffy gun and now, inexplicably, there are two. Two panicked, mourning Chianas. Kaarvok grabs one at random, she reaches for the other, begs her to help… and she runs away. Chiana effectively leaves herself to die by brain-straw.

Crichton misses out on the twinning, so when he sees Chiana being dragged off by the feral Peacekeepers to be eaten, he goes a little nuts. Nuttier than he’s been since Aeryn died and Harvey was neutered. He’s just lost two friends on top of Zhaan and a fortress full of nurses.

Speaking of whom, where’s Harvey in all this? I can imagine him standing in the back corner of Crichton’s mind, watching with wide eyes and quietly analyzing. He could certainly find a better application for the twinning technology than doubling Sebaceans for food. Note: Everything on someone that’s twinned is doubled. Clothing, equipment, technology. Scorpius with twinning tech could take one hell of a war to the Scarrans.

As soon as we see Chiana twinned we know that there’s a D’Argo alive somewhere. What we don’t expect is that Kaarvok is intending to use him as breeding stock. Apparently the twinning process is psychologically damaging, what with the whole waking up next to yourself and watching them get eaten by a madman with a metal skull. Kaarvok’s solution is to create more people the old fashioned way. Who he will then twin. And eat. When Chiana finds him with a feral Peacekeeper crawling all over him, the look on her face is absolutely priceless. She’s mourned him and buried him, and now here he is alive and procreating.

All told, she handles it surprisingly well. Maybe she’s getting used to the constant horror.

Crichton triggers a Starburst despite Rohvu’s control collar. Between the collar’s restraint and Rohvu’s damage, the burst destroys the Leviathan. During the confrontation in the Pilot’s den Kaarvok’s device overloads or malfunctions, sending that twinning goo everywhere. Crichton is hit by it, but we don’t see the results until the second time he arrives at the transport pod.

We have met season three’s new character. Other Crichton. Chiana and D’Argo are going through a mild identity crisis now that their twins are dead. There are now two Crichtons, equal and original. Each convinced that there has to be one original and one clone. Sadly, Aeryn’s first thought does not rhyme with gleesome.

We also get two side plots with all of the scary. Jool is technically on board Rohvu with the others, but she’s off by herself contemplating violence and suicide. Elsewhere, Moya responds to Talyn’s distress call by starbursting directly to him. This tells us several things: First, that Talyn ran into something even bigger and nastier than he is. Second, given sufficient motivation and/or navigational beacons, Moya can direct a starburst. Crais, you may recall, had something to show Aeryn but took off before she respawned.



I know everyone’s probably waiting to hear me whine about the D’Argo “death” in this one, but I’m pretty much okay with it. I’ll admit to wincing a bit with the cloning reveal and getting ready to get annoyed, but the fact that they don’t shy away from the serious psychological dilemma that the whole cloning thing brings with it really mitigates it for me. This could have been a cheap fake-out. It would have been really easy for them to do that. I don’t think they did this time.

First off, the character reactions were great here. Chiana just completely losing it and shooting everything, insisting that she give D’Argo his final rites, and pretty much just shutting down in the face of everything… You feel the impact of his death. It feels real. Now, granted, we have another D’Argo who’s fine and well (relatively) set aside, so we’re not out another main character. Had they just stopped at that, I would probably be crying foul at this point, but they push it a little further. D’Argo and Chiana both struggle to rationalize the concept that they did both die. D’Argo saw his own corpse, and Chiana left her twin for dead to save herself. Both try to convince themselves that they were the original ones, that it was their clones that died, and we really don’t know (and probably won’t ever find out). It probably doesn’t matter. If what Kaarvok says is true, the twins were perfect doubles, and I have a hunch that it’s less a question of creating a copy so much as splitting the original into two identical beings (the taffy ball cloning whatever thing is very visually evocative of cellular mitosis), so in that regard it’s likely that neither one is the “original”. The word “clone” really wouldn’t be applicable in that case, so Kaarvok’s refusal to use the word may be more than just distaste for the term, it may actually be inaccurate.

That would also explain the degeneration of the over-twinned Peacekeepers. I don’t think it’s so much going crazy after watching their doubles die over and over (although that would admittedly be psychologically damaging), so much as it is that they’re being stretched too thin after being split in two over and over, and something is getting lost each time. That’s not a comforting thought for the three that went through it, since if it’s true it means they didn’t come out of it undamaged, but that was where my mind went with it after finding out the feral humanoids lost their minds after being doubled too much.

It’s interesting watching Chiana’s rationalizations about her own legitimacy and the decision to ditch her double crumble when Crichton’s twin enters the picture. She can’t convince herself that the one she left behind was just a “cheap fake” when there are two identical Johns that seem equally real sitting around in the ship trying to beat each other at Rock Paper Scissors.

The more I think about the twinning thing, the more I like it. They could have just done clones. It would have felt much cheaper. The twinning actually takes the philosophical dilemma involved with the whole thing and turns it on it’s head (assuming my theory on it is right, of course). It’s not a question of “which is the real one”. They’re both the real one. John effectively has a twin brother now. Which, again, takes two “fake-out” deaths and suddenly reverses the whole thing so that they aren’t fake outs anymore. The D’Argo and Chiana that died were the “real” D’Argo and Chiana, as much as the ones that lived.

I have to wonder (assuming both Johns stick around and one doesn’t get conveniently killed off too soon) if the Crichtons are going to start developing into slightly different characters. They’re the same person, with the same personalities, but a person is still shaped by their decisions and surroundings. They aren’t necessarily going to make the same decisions all the time, and I’d be really interested to see where that goes. That could also get really tacky really easily if they aren’t careful, though.

On a completely different note, I liked the conflict involving Crais and Talyn. Rygel wants to leave both for dead, out of spite for Crais, as well as the far more pragmatic knowledge that something took down Talyn, and he doesn’t particularly want to know what. Normally Zhaan would step in as the spiritual voice of reason here, scolding Rygel without necessarily taking a side, but she’s not around anymore, and her proxy, Stark, wants to see Crais dead as badly as Rygel does. The only reason he holds Rygel back from doing something rash is the possibility that Talyn could be saved without that necessarily meaning that Crais lives.

On a final note, I loved seeing Chiana punch Jool in the face repeatedly, then just shrug off Jool’s retaliatory punch, flexing her jaw while Jool realizes she hurt her hand on Chiana’s face.


I’d like to start out that there is absolutely amazing usage of color here. Between the alternating purple and green lights (yet again, two colors that are diametrically opposed on the color wheel) and the deep and rich shadows, there’s a lot going on here.

So. Various thoughts here. First off, once again we are treated to some Crais and Talyn Secret Plot Development, where Moya heads straight to Talyn. Note that she’s done this (or at least believed she had) once before, which leads me to speculate one of two things:

  1. Starburst might not be the most exact method of travel when trying to plot a course using, say, static charts and whatnot (based on interstellar drift or somesuch), it can be a lot more useful when homing in on a specific signal.
  2. There’s a difference between Pilot or someone else trying to navigate Starburst Z-space and Moya or other Leviathans doing it on their own using natural instincts or other acclimation.

Of course, the two might not be mutually exclusive. And let’s not forget, not everybody is as acclimated to Starburst as Moya.

Speaking of Crais and Talyn, I think Rygel hits it on the head here.

Rygel: “Listen, you bartantic bitch, Talyn’s supposedly the meanest, deadliest, all-time yave-of-the-yuvo fighter ship. But somebody, something, beat the yotz out of him.”

It’s hinted that Scarrans are behind it. The burns inside Talyn hint that maybe there was a boarding party – or maybe Crais was standing too close to the consoles. Either way, the implication is clear: Scarrans are badass, and they’re coming for you.

Frell me dead. Maybe Crais was justified in implementing Project: Talyn. That’s a scary thought.


  • I loved the makeup on the characters. According to that other resource, the makeup director had four sets for each character to show them deteriorating. Considering the open, festering sores on Chiana, it was well worth the effort.
  • The “twinning” process is, as Tessa mentioned, definitely not a simple excuse of cloning. It’s always refreshing to see stories that play with the idea, whether it be “two, equal and original”, or distilling a person into various aspects.

“Kill us both, Spock!”

  • On a similar note, my previous comments on the Michael Keaton Theorum – Keaton’s Law, if you will – still hold true. The moment Our Two Crichtons began making independent decisions, they became separate people.
  • As previously noted, this marks the second time Crichton’s been duplicated. (And technically, the third time, if you count Neandro-Crichton and Zorg!Crichton as two separate instances.)
  • (And if you count Bug!Crichton, that makes three.)


I love this episode and all it’s genuine scares and atmosphere. It’s a true horror show. A Leviathan that’s slipped into a coma and rotting from the inside. A mad scientist who clones people for both food and companionship. Ravenous packs of diluted Peacekeepers who eat people, Pilots, each other, and the ship itself. The walls are oozing, the camera constantly running and swerving, things popping in and out of shadowy mists, and the best reminder that they’ve nailed the “haunted ship” traditions comes from Jool, who opts to stay behind while the others explore. The coms are down and all she’s heard for arns are the disembodied shrieks and moans of what’s left of the crew, and it gets to the point where she has the barrel of her pulse rifle pressed to her skull and she’s amping herself up to pull the trigger.

She doesn’t, unfortunately, but while her section is largely played for laughs, the constant tension and horror of this piece could drive anyone to a similar conclusion. Just look at how Chiana slips into Stark levels of mania as she tries to convince herself that the double she ran away from was just a copy, a fake. It’s not that she believes it, but that she has to make herself believe it or otherwise face the fact that she stood back and let a part of herself be sucked dry and picked clean.

The way they structure the twining aspect is downright brilliant in the way it sneaks up on you. The first impression of Kaarvok’s taffy gun is that it merely stuns and imprisons an individual, but we then find out it’s a cell in the most microscopic sense of the term as we see it literally divide in two, leaving us with the Chiana twins. Even then, it’s not until several minutes later that D’Argo’s fate is confirmed and all is explained.

As Tessa said, these “fake” deaths feel neither cheap nor fake. Unlike the majority of genre show clone stories (a la “My Three Crichtons“) where there’s still a definite distinction between the original and the copy, here they’re both the original, both the clones. They are literally one made into two. Chiana is still trying to convince herself that the other her was a fake, D’Argo is wrapping his head around it all, and John can do little more but glare in the eye of his duplicate as they keep dropping a paper, a rock, and a scissors at the same time.

What I love most of all is that there is no easy out for this dilemma. The other John is still around. He wasn’t killed, nor did he throw himself in front of a bullet to save anyone else. I won’t say much more so as not to spoil Tessa, but I have some distinct and fond memories of the upcoming stretch of episodes and I’m very eager to revisit them. It says a lot about Farscape that, in a season where every episode is about death and devastation, the miraculous creation of a new life is still just as challenging and unsettling.

Episode [3.05] – …Different Destinations || Episode [3.07]: Thanks for Sharing

One ResponseLeave one →

  1. KaeDee

     /  July 2, 2011

    This wasn’t my favorite episode, but it did lead boldly into one of the best arcs on Farscape, which was the two Johns. One of the things I loved about Farscape was there were no easy solutions, no easy outs to many of their problems. We got a second John, and the writers could have ended that episode or the next by killing the duplicate. But they didn’t; they ran with it, complicating everyone’s lives with the “he is the real John?” or “are they both the real Johns?” So terrific and heasrtbreaking.


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