Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [3.09] – “Losing Time”

Today, on Farscape

“Anything strange happen to you guys?”
“I live on this ship. Something strange always happens.”

When the crew of Moya starts experiences blackouts and lost time, they learn a rogue energy being is among their number and have to sort out which of them is possessed by it. They’re told this by another energy being, who’s in possession of Pilot.

Meanwhile, Scorpius is having wormhole troubles.


Noel

It’s time for another great closed-room drama as one member of our main cast is possessed by an alien and everyone needs to sort out who’s who. The alien does a pretty thorough job of hiding, to the point where it defies the claim that it won’t know personal information, nor is the other alien in Pilot, Tallip, able to really tell one way or the other whether someone is possessed, even after violent “tastings” that send members of the crew into mouth-foaming seizures. So there isn’t much in the way of rules governing this possession, especially in the odd visual of Crichton losing large quantities of blood. Either that was an image they never really justified, or setup for something in a future episode. Too soon to tell.

While there are aspects of the possession that don’t make much sense, and the paranoia of the crew isn’t played up all that much with Chiana being revealed as the possessed rather quickly, cheers to Gigi Edgely for quirking and contorting her performance even more than usual as she affects a pitch-perfect “I’m possessed by an energy alien” accent as the creature does what it needs to protect itself . Which includes her getting up close and personal with John, writhing against him to the point where he needs to go walk off a boner. There is a noticeable gaff where she’s brushing his face and leaves some of her makeup on his nose, but it’s a great scenes where, with Aeryn gone, John’s horniness is being preyed upon and you can see it’s a genuine struggle for him to resist. But resist he does and it’s not long before she gets the violent strength of all alien possessed individuals, and then she’s in the air and having the alien ripped out of her in a great f/x shot.

Which brings us to my favorite part of the episode: the interplay between John and Moya as she guides him to a part of her that not even Pilot can see, using the blinking eyes of a DRD to answer questions and express wishes and doubts. Even though I’d expect redirected Starburst energies to be more destructive to the interior of Moya (who must have healed from those massive burns a while back, because we haven’t heard about them in a while), it still makes for a nice visual as the waves of light expose and combat the energy beings.

While things aren’t nearly as tense as the constant standoff that is life on Talyn, the crew of Moya really has devolved into a smelly, shouty bunch that all seem tired of one another. I blame Jool, who still hasn’t settled in as a regular. There’s a bit where people jump to her rescue and tell Tallip he can’t have her, and I have to wonder why? I know they’re supposed to be heroes in the end, but Jool says it best when, being tested for personal details by the others, she replies “None of you know anything personal about me.” She hasn’t opened up, she isn’t fitting in, and she never makes it a secret how much she loathes the others and her situation, so them instantly jumping to her defense feels a little hollow. In the opening, when John is exhausting the others on a wormhole hunt, she, who has never seen one of his wormholes, is flat-out insulting him. Chiana is stuck between the bitchiness of Jool and her baggage with D’Argo, and John isn’t much of a shoulder to lean on, so she’s chewing him out, too. Even D’Argo’s dudebromance with John is on edge as he’s tired and angry, and a good chunk of the episode is him falling on his old tactic of shoving his gun at things. Friends forever, if they can put up with each other that long.

And bring on the B-plot, where we see Scorpius for the first time since the season premiere. Not Harvey Scorpius, chiding John and wearing cowboy boots, but the real deal Scorpius. With the chip in his possession, we knew it was only a matter of time before Scorpius would master wormholes, but it’s interesting see his frustrations. We don’t know why yet, but every pilot who goes in comes back as a red puddle of goo. And on top of that, a little bit of John is going all Harvey in Scorpius’s dreams, stopping him just before he can fully dive into the knowledge while hooked up to the chip. I’m curious to see where this goes, especially as Scorpius reveals to Braca a looming Scarran invasion of Peacekeeper territories, a war the Peacekeepers will lose if they don’t manage to get an upper hand with a new weapon. I know where this plot thread ends up, but it’s always nice seeing the details yet again, like Scorpius angrily mowing through his own people, regardless of their rank, out of both a desperation for answers and punishment for their doubts.


Weston

First things first: Eeeee Scorpius! That will never get old.

The parallel between Crichton and Scorpius is interesting. Both of them are hunting wormholes; one by chasing them in the wild, the other by harnessing one and chaining it down. They’re both obsessed. Crichton wants to use them to get home, and Scorpius wants them to back up the Peacekeeper bluff.

Imagine, if you will. Scarrans outnumber Peacekeepers ten to one. We’ve seen how hard they are to kill. The only thing preventing them from rolling through the Uncharted Territories and devastating Peacekeeper space is the threat of wormhole weapons; devices that can place Command Carriers in low orbit over Scarran worlds, deposit thousands of troops in their most vulnerable areas, or even drop Scarran equivalents into the void between galaxies. Against such technology, even a ten-to-one advantage isn’t enough. So the Scarrans lurk and build their forces. They seek information on Scorpius, they explore less obvious methods. But they remain very, very hostile.

Three new characters on the wormhole project, and it’s interesting how many non-Sebaceans are on such a sensitive Peacekeeper facility. Drillic, project lead. He insists on moving forward too quickly with piloted trials and, well, melts. Co-Kura Strappa, the blue guy who finds himself in charge after Drillic provides experimental data on the Wormhole Surfer Liquefaction Syndrome (or WSLS, pronounced Wizzles. Yes, I’m making this up.). And Linfer, who… is also blue. Not a whole lot of development on these two yet. We’ve seen them before: The guy who plays Strappa played T’raltixx, and Linfer used to be Rorg. I love how this series reuses actors, and I really love how flexible they are.

Scorpius has dreams. He plugs his head plunger into an external cooling unit while he sleeps. He dreams of defeating Crichton and seizing the wormhole knowledge from his closet. But, following Drillic’s final flight he has a nightmare. On the verge of victory, on the very cusp of everything he’s wanted, after the most hopeful “I’ve found it!” we never expected to hear, Crichton defeats him and throws him into the wormhole. After seeing what happens to Prowler pilots, that’s one horrific fate. So now we know that Scorpius dreams of wormholes, and has nightmares of failing. Much like Crichton.

Elsewhere, Moya is buzzing with deceit. Two energy beings have invaded; one seeking escape and one pursuing the first. Neither is remotely honest. Both are capable of inflicting pleasure and pain. Both possess a member of the crew, though the latter is less subtle about it. The scene in the Starburst chamber with possessed!Chiana is… definitely memorable. Gigi Edgley’s portrayal is really, really astonishing.

These energy beings give other glowing winged aliens a bad rap.

We now know that D’Argo lost his virginity at age seven, and that Crichton lost his in the back of a truck to Karen Shaw. This was important information. Or funny. Mostly funny.

Chiana winds up with some after effects from her extended possession. Eyes in the back of her head? Limited clairvoyance? We don’t know. Dun dun dun.

Jool has a new outfit. Her big leather hoop hips are gone, replaced by a midriff baring top and a floor-length high-slit skirt. Crichton is still wearing the green shirt Aeryn put him in to distinguish him from Crichton`. The Crichton in Scorpius’ dreams is still wearing the black shirt and vest combo. DRD Pike has exposed blue bits to distinguish it from the others.

I should note: The ` in Crichton` is intended to denote the scar on his forehead. Calling him Scarface seemed crass, and Scar!Crichton is long.

Crichton’s bleeding in the opening scene is a reference to Ben Browder’s first audition. Apparently a pore on his forehead just opened up while he was reading the lines.


Tessa

Oooh, back on Moya. It’s interesting, with the massive amounts of angst and tension on Talyn, which had the worst combination of people thrown together to try to function as a crew, to go back to a crew that while it has had a lot of tension, seems to get along together much better and oh crap I forgot about Jool dammit.

Seriously, I totally forgot she was there until starting the episode up. And she’s… still being the total pain in the ass that she has been up to now. I have to agree with Noel, aside from the simple “I don’t want to see anyone die” thing, there seems to be very little reason for the rest of the crew to care so much about her when Tallip starts “tasting” her. She doesn’t even attempt to disguise the contempt she holds for the others.

The A-plot of this episode is actually really reminiscent of one of the ones from last season, only without the possessor hopping bodies constantly. It’s not altogether a bad plot, but it feels like we’ve seen it before, just with a few tweaks and fewer players.

On the plus side, I really like the communication system John sets up with Moya in Pilot’s absence. Moya’s willingness to communicate and help is a pretty sharp contrast to the deceptive and hostile nature Talyn showed in the last episode. There’s not a lot of attention paid to it, but it’s actually a fairly big deal when you compare the two scenarios. Moya trusts the people on her, enough to communicate directly with them when needed in the ways that she can, enough even to direct them to an area of the ship that could potentially be deadly to her in the wrong hands. Where Talyn is manipulative, untrusting, and impatient, Moya is honest and open to her crew, and believes in their ability and desire to ultimately do what’s in her best interest. On its own, it’s not a big revelation, but again, comparing the two it’s very interesting.

That said, the B-plot of this episode was where all the really interesting bits were. We really haven’t seen Scorpius since the season opening, and it’s great getting to see what he’s actually been up to all this time. We also get a much more real answer about why he’s so desperate to unlock the secrets of wormhole technology. It’s not some grand plot to conquer the universe on his behalf. He (and the Peacekeepers as a whole) are in serious trouble if they don’t figure this out. The cold war between the Sebaceans and the Scarrans is going to bubble into full conflict soon, and the way things stand now, the Peacekeepers are likely to lose, and lose big time from the looks of things. With what we’ve seen of the Scarrans, that isn’t a comforting thought in the slightest.

There’s also a lot of little “humanizing” (for lack of a better term) moments with Scorpius in this episode. He gives his big explanation speech to Braca not while sitting behind a desk or on some big command chair, but in his private quarters while preparing some kind of medication (I’m assuming that’s what that was) for himself. While he’s calm in his explanation, there’s no doubting that he’s aware of the full gravity of his situation, and his nightmares betray that he’s actually afraid of failing (by the way, that final dream sequence was such a badass way to end that episode. Go dream-Crichton!). I love these little details, since it fleshes him out so much more as a character. He could have been written as a cold, unfeeling monster of a villain, but by giving us his perspective, we see there’s an actual person in there along with all of that. A terrible person who we should really be scared to death of, but a person nonetheless.


Kevin

For the second time this season, Farscape has turned from an exploration soap opera in space to a haunted house, and for the second time it has been wildly successful in doing so. The true mark of a good series is one that is not afraid to blur the lines between genres, and that is what we have here.

Observe the atmosphere of Moya. The slow and careful dripping of water – you hope it’s water – building up to a gentle sussuration. The creeping supernatural dread that is marked by the distinct chill that steadily works its way down your spine. Crichton’s mysterious stigmata.

When the DRD video replay hits the clamshell monitor, and you see the four suddenly slump, then jerk upright in an epileptic seizure, I am reminded of the first time I saw Paranormal Activity in the theaters.

Noel and I had a conversation a year or so ago about the parts of horror movies that strike us the most, and the majority of my response was how the feeling of wrongness, the offensive abomination that should not be is what gets me the most. Synchronized memory loss and possession does it for me, and let me tell you there were chills. They may or may not have been multiplying. To the effect that I, dear readers, was losing control.

(Also that the power that Pilot is supplying is electrifying ow Tessa stop hitting me ow ow ow)

Add to that the whole forced possession of Pilot to search for a hiding alien presence and we’re getting into Stephen Moffat levels of horrifying.

But I will say one thing: There is nothing in this episode even half a frightening as the look of disgust and malevolence on Pilot’s face as he’s being controlled by Tallip.

Notes!

  • Ohgod fisheye closeups why do they keep doing this
  • Crichton reflected in the pool of his own blood. An absolutely gorgeous shot. Morbid and creepifyin’, true, but gorgeous.
  • I love how Crichton is the only one to talk to the DRDs as if they had distinct personalities. Plus, from what we see, they likely do, but nobody ever acknowledges this. Not even Pilot. Sure, both Pilot and Moya can see through the DRDs, but Crichton treats them like individual beings. Probably one of the main reasons why Moya trusts him so much.
  • The Peacekeepers shouldn’t fill their Prowlers with LCL. It never helps.
  • I love that they brought up the question of who killed Salis and still refused to answer it. Was it Chiana? Was it Lucius Malfoy Durka?
  • MOYA TO THE FRELLING RESCUE FRELL YEAH.

Episode [3.08] โ€“ Green Eyed Monster || Episode [3.10]: Relativity

10 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Kernezelda

     /  July 22, 2011

    Hit him some more, Tessa! ๐Ÿ˜€

    I love seeing the episodes that reveal more about our villains, because yeah, Scorpius has a definite agenda, but it’s a search for a weapon to defend his chosen people, and not simply mustache-twirling evil.

    Reply
  2. Weston

     /  July 24, 2011

    AAAAH LCL. Can you imagine EVA units in the hands of Peacekeepers?

    Reply
    • I’m having more fun imagining EVA units in the hands of Chiana and Stark. And Chiana in a plug suit. And Rygel in a plug suit….. What were we talking about again?

      Reply
  3. KaeDee

     /  July 24, 2011

    This was so one of my favorite episodes! Loved it! I’m rewatching and enjoying Farscape again as well as lamenting that it didn’t go on another couple seasons. What a terrific show.

    Reply
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