Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [3.11] – “Incubator”

Today, on Farscape

“I want to wipe out the Scarrans before they wipe us out. My people, yours, your friends, everyone you care about.”
“I’ve already lost people I care about, because of you. Where is my revenge, Scorpy?”
“I’ve done what I thought necessary. You’re entitled to despise me for it but nonetheless, you and I have a common enemy, Scarrans. They plan to exterminate the Sebaceans, but they won’t stop there, nor with Luxans, Delvians, Baniks or a thousand other lower life form. They’ll stop when they’re the only sentient species left. And if they discover wormhole technology before we do, the galaxy is theirs. And eventually, John, they will find Earth.”

When the efforts of Scorpius’ wormhole team prove fruitless, Scorpius decides to use a more… unconventional method to extract the data from the neural chip. Meanwhile, one of his own scientists sneaks away, offering what she knows to John Crichton… for a price.


Okay, wow, first things first. I loved this episode. I think I can safely say that out of what we’ve seen so far this season, this one currently has its place as my favorite.

I mentioned before that I really liked the glimpses into the various sides of Scorpius, and the fact that he wasn’t just an evil mastermind sitting atop his throne and scheming. This episode gives us insights to him in spades.

I think this is the first episode in which none of our typical “main” characters are in the A-plot. We are back with Moya and crew, but they’re very decidedly in the B-plot of this story, and really have very little screentime in comparison. Their bit is interesting enough, but ultimately doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know, namely that John is getting progressively more irrational in his obsessive search for a usable wormhole, the others are still nervous about the whole thing, and Jool is still driving everyone nuts. I have to wonder if this John has just totally given up on Aeryn completely at this point. It was never really explored aside from a brief mention when they split up in the first place. He seems to either be dealing with it by not dealing with it, or maybe he’s realized that the whole thing is likely a lost cause (what with there being another him sharing a ship with her). I can’t help but think that it might be contributing to his renewed obsession with getting home.

The real story here, though, is all Scorpy’s. We get a lot of blanks filled in through his backstory, and it’s all kinds of fascinating. We do get a definite answer about his built-in lie detector, which it turns out isn’t machinery but rather a biological ability that he has as the result of the genetic mixings of Scarran and Sebacean (which, among other things, explains how quickly and easily he saw through Crichton’s fake-Peacekeeper ploy way back in the first season when the two first meet). We also get his full motivations laid out clearly for us. Conquest isn’t even remotely on his mind, he’s out for revenge against the Scarran race. That desperation to find something to even the scales against the Scarrans isn’t just his Peacekeeper duty, for him it’s personal (not surprising, given what we learn about his childhood).

What I love is that this all fits perfectly with everything we’ve seen from him so far. He is absolutely ruthless in doing what it takes to reach his goal, but there is a clear purpose to all of it. His pursuit of John and everything it entailed held very little (if any) personal malice, but Scorpius desperately needed the information in his brain, and he wasn’t going to let anything stop him from taking it.

I really liked the scenery and music at work in the episode also, especially in the little preludes in between memories in Scorpius’ mind. The music and the odd lighting and smoke did a great job in setting a surreal and slightly creepy tone for the scenes, and it led to the idea of the backstory flashbacks being memories.

Even more than the bits we got before, this goes a long way towards very nearly making a sympathetic case for our villain. We can very clearly understand what it is that he wants and why he wants it, and considering the possible alternative he presents if he fails, actually find it possible to be hoping for his success. The question hovering in the air, of course, is whether any of that justifies all that he’s done to our heroes. Our knee-jerk reaction is to say no, but it’s not quite so clear cut when everything is laid out in front of us. And this is the exact question the neural-clone of Crichton has to face as Scorpius asks him for his help. He does, of course, ultimately say no, but what I find interesting is the reason he says no. He doesn’t decline out of a sense of revenge or spite, to screw over Scorpius after all he’s done to him. Instead, his reasons for withholding the help are the same reasons the Ancients withheld it from him, namely that if he wasn’t smart enough to figure it out on his own, then he wasn’t smart enough to use it. It wasn’t Crichton’s to give, but I have to wonder if his answer would have been different if it had been. You could argue that he’s dressing up his reasons for holding back his help to come off as noble, but I kind of doubt Crichton would be shy about telling Scorpy to buzz off if that was the way he felt.

This is a lot of why I love Scorpius as a villain. He’s scary, and threatening, and has done horrible things to our protagonists, but at the same time he’s so wonderfully grey. Once we have all of the pieces and can put everything into context, he’s suddenly far less of a monster and much more a person, and it begins to become difficult to completely condemn his actions and purposes.


This episode is probably the closest thing to a full character study of Scorpius that I’ve ever seen, and it’s absolutely glorious, but especially so for two reasons. One is that it’s from Scorpius’s own perspective, which means this is precisely how he sees himself. Which only strengthens Point Two:

Scorpius is completely unrepentant and unashamed of the way he is.

Think about that for a moment. Many villains, if they were in the unique position of needing to convince a powerful enemy to help them, would paint themselves in as sympathetic of a light as possible. They’d have gone on and on about how they aren’t bad, they’re just the victims of circumstance. The Scarrans did that to him, could you really blame him after all that? He had no choice in the matter.

That is not who Scorpius is. He is ruthless and driven because the Scarrans made him so, that’s completely true, but he accepted that a long time ago and is proud of it. He looks back on being able to turn the tables on his captors with glee, because he was better at their own game than they were.

It makes it even more significant that even to a fake cybernetic ghost of Crichton, he will not lie. Scorpius has not lied once in the time we’ve known him – even though he’s certainly bent the truth about as far as it will possibly go – so why do it to Crichton Ex Machina? As I mentioned in an earlier post; why lie when the truth can do so much more damage?

Teenage Scorpius is pitiful, but he learned what he needed to survive. His past is tragic, but he has done everything in his power to make certain it never happens again.

Even at the end, when dangling the threat of Scarran occupation of Earth in front of Crichton, he’s not even trying to mislead him. Sure, it would suck if they found Earth, but he doesn’t pretend that he cares about that beyond the Scarrans getting more territory. Scorpius doesn’t care about Earth. The Peacekeepers don’t care about Earth. It’s tiny, it’s backwater, it’s likely on the entire opposite end of the galaxy for all we know, and who gives a flying frell. The only one who does, however, happens to hold the key, so he’ll use that knowledge to his advantage, but he’s not going to pretend that anyone cares about it other than Crichton himself.

That is why Scorpius is such a great character. He is merciless because he feels he has to be, but he’s going to completely own that dren. He is fully aware that he kills and taunts and terrorizes, because it accomplishes his goals. It makes him more of a dynamic character, but it also doesn’t change the fact that he is bad. On the sliding scale of black and grey that we have here, Scorpius might be a dark charcoal, but he’s sure as hell not going to pretend to be otherwise.


  • We keep forgetting, since he’s the Audience Proxy, that Crichton can be a full character in his own right. In this case, we’re reminded that he can be a bit of a self-centered asshole sometimes.
  • Seriously. Even Pilot is getting tired of his crap, and Pilot is one of the most patient people in the Uncharted Regions.
  • Semi-related side-note: When Jool is calling you self-centered, you listen.
  • Wonderful cameo by Morn. I suppose now we know why he normally never speaks.
  • We keep getting glimpses throughout this season that the Peacekeepers aren’t actually as evil as they were initially made out to be. Or at least, they weren’t always. One might even speculate that they needed to develop brutality and cold-bloodedness to counteract the Scarrans.


I really don’t have much to add to Tessa and Kevin’s pieces. It was a fascinating episode where Scorpius opens the box of his memories for Harvey|John in a last desperate bid to retrieve the wormhole data. The most fascinating aspect to me is the fracturing of John’s awareness. By placing him on two ships and now a neural chip, John can be in three places and once and, thus, be aware of and learn multiple things. He’s our proxy, our eyes and ears, so we continue to see from his point of view in ways never before possible on a show. The hitch, though, is that the knowledge of one John will never be shared with the others. Look at M’John, who’s diving into the old obsession of wormhole technology as a way to vent his sexual frustration over the leaving of Aeryn. He knows she’s not pining for him because she’s got T’John to help her with that, and all he’s got are an increasingly annoyed Pilot and D’Argo and two ladies who are constantly at each others’ throats. And now H’John has gained a deeper understanding of who Scorpius is and what makes him tick, yet they’ll never know the wonders he’s seen. I’m really excited to see how this scattershot experience will play out over the course of the season.

Wormholes! A big twist this episode is when one of Scorpius’ scientists, Linfer, thinks she’s perfected the shielding system that will allow pilots to survive wormhole travel, yet instead of giving it to her boss, she defects and offers to sell it to John. In exchange for Moya. What’s most interesting is that she gives an offer so juicy that Pilot and Moya are willing to dump the others off and take her up on soaring through the unexplored regions of the cosmos. Her liquefication is an interesting twist, but they still haven’t explained why this is suddenly an issue now. John’s been in several wormholes, and he’s never gone the juicy way. Is it some form of shielding on his module? Is it truly just a simple difference between stable and unstable wormholes? Either way, shame she saw fit to destroy her shield instead of letting John play with it. Even if it’s defective, he might be able to make it work.

Because I have nothing else to mention, I’ll steal Weston’s thunder and get into costuming and makeup. Let’s start with Scorpius. As a child, he’s very lumpy and deformed, and I’m trying to figure out if he’s a light brunette or a ginger. I’m wondering if he had some cosmetic surgery done at some point because his facial features have smoothed out since, and his abnormally large head has become less abnormally so.

Then we move on to Scopius as a young man. His first coolant suit stores the rods into a back unit instead of driving them straight into the side of his skull. It’s still black leather, but the cut looks to be that of a customized peacekeeper uniform. It hasn’t yet gained the flair of the pointy boots and back tails, or the samurai-esque armoring.

And then there’s the female Skarran. Instead of a fully animatronic neck and head, they’ve shrunken down the makeup. The actress uses her own neck and eyes, and only the mouth and brow are puppetted. The actress, obviously a very tall and athletic woman, certainly cuts an imposing figure as she towers above Scopius, and even puts up quite an admirable fight after her eyes are gouged out.

It’s a solid, stunning episode. A marvelous character piece for both John and Scopius as they both get so close to their answers, only to have them dangled just a little higher from the reach of their fingers.


Arg, my thunder! Noooooo!

I really love how this episode focuses entirely on Scorpius. He isn’t just a faceless villain somewhere out there hunting down our heroes for ambiguous reasons. He’s a fully fleshed-out character with motivations and goals. He’s been places, he’s going somewhere, and he’s changed over that time.

It’s a tragic story. Sebacean colony ship flies out into the Uncharted Territories to establish a new breakaway colony, but runs into a number of Scarran vessels. The ship is destroyed, but one pod carrying a young couple escapes. They attempt, using the meager resources on the pod, to establish the colony themselves. A short time later, they’re found by Scarrans. The male is killed, the female is captured, raped, and forced to give birth to a Scarran-Sebacean hybrid. She was only twenty two.

The child is raised by a Scarran named Tauza. Born with heat delirium, constantly pushed to the limits of his endurance by temperatures that Scarrans consider sub-standard, he survives twelve years of compassionless torment. Using the training that they gave him, he escapes from the Dreadnaught. Several years pass – we know that he spends part of that time in the company of Natira, that he chooses a name for himself, and that he acquires a coolant suit. Beyond that, this time is a blank spot in his history.

Eventually, unable to gain any information on his heritage, he goes to the Peacekeepers to trade what he learned from being raised by Scarrans. The captain he negotiates with recognizes the fantastic deal he’s been offered, and agrees quickly. Scorpius uses the information to locate the transport pod that his mother used to escape the doomed Leviathan. He accesses the ship’s log, and finds two things. The first is an audio diary kept by his mother, Rylani. The second is a trap set by his Scarran nurse.

Scorpius is captured and returned to the Dreadnaught where he spent so much of his life. Tauza interrogates him, first with a spotlight of doom, and then with a video of his mother’s rape. He takes advantage of her bias against Sebaceans, convincing her that he’s still the weakling the raised. He detaches himself from his cooling backpack to gain mobility, vomits in the receptacle Tauza threw his cooling rod in to gain a weapon, and stabs her in the only weak spot a Scarran has the moment she turns her back. He knocks her over, but she levitates herself back up. Scorpy grabs the temperature control from her upper arm, throws her onto the slab that was his bed for so long, drops the temperature, and locks her in. To top it off, he sends a message to a relatively close Command Carrier, which quickly stops by to obliterate the ship.

Now, finally, we understand a little more about Scorpius. He wants to destroy the Scarrans for many reasons: Revenge for himself, to protect the other races of the galaxy from a genocidal purge. But above all else? To avenge his mother.

H’John, to use Noel’s terminology, refuses to go along with Scorpy’s plan and destroys the encrypted data in the neural chip. Scorpius uses his mnemonic superpower to memorize the few equations that are decrypted while his offer is considered. He does still gain something from the whole event, even if it isn’t as much as he wanted.

Braca gets one of his moments of awesome when he knocks the nurse out cold, finding himself alone with Scorpius when he needs his cooling rod changed. Despite the squick and the burning pain, he removes the neural chip and replaces the rod. Scorpius later commends his actions.

M’John is trying desperately not to think about Aeryn and what T’John is doing with (and to) her, and is focusing desperately on his only other option: Wormhole research. He’s getting on everyone’s nerves, they’re all developing a bad case of cabin fever, and nobody cares about his stupid frelling wormholes. Until someone pops out of one in a Prowler. Linfer, recently of the Peacekeeper Wormhole project, avoids Wormhole Surfer Liquefaction Syndrome just long enough to reveal two important plot points: First, that the Peacekeepers have a wormhole project; second, that Scorpius is alive. Then she melts and explodes. Her offer was interesting for its effect on the crew. Moya loves to fly free, Pilot just wants to see the stars. D’Argo and Chiana don’t have anywhere else to go, turning over Moya would leave them homeless and stranded. Jool is just kinda there, but she does have one awesome line:

“Truth is never crap.”

For an annoying hitchhiker-in-a-can, she’s surprisingly insightful.

Meanwhile, down in the landing bay, the mysterious ship abides.

Episode [3.10] – Relativity || Episode [3.12]: Meltdown

8 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. ML

     /  August 5, 2011

    John would never give up on Aeryn. When Aeryn isn’t around his obsession or wormholes intensifies. That’s what we saw.

    • Tessa

       /  August 6, 2011

      “Give up” may have been the wrong term to use, but at the same time, from his perspective, I don’t think he’s under any illusions there. His double is living with her 24/7, and he can’t possibly believe that things aren’t happening there (they’re the same person, and he knows exactly what he’d do in that situation too, I’d imagine).

      That’s not to say that he doesn’t still have feelings for her, he absolutely does, and his conversation with D’Argo at the end of the episode highlights his frustration there. If he sees a way back in, I’m sure he’d jump at it, but at the same time… supposing he did find a working wormhole back to Earth this episode? Is there any indication he would do anything other than speed away back home? Aeryn is still there in his mind, I’m sure, but with her being a distant near-impossibility right now, his focus is very much elsewhere.

      It’s really interesting that the situation has caused each John to latch very tightly onto a totally different passion. Does T’John not care about wormholes? He probably still does, but he’s not even paying attention to that possibility anymore (again, arguably because the situation he’s in is denying him that option). Similarly, M’John still cares very much about Aeryn, I’m sure, but with her effectively out of the picture for him, he’s got a very clear goal in mind that doesn’t involve her. It could be argued that he’s just trying to distract himself from the fact that she’s not there, and to some extent that’s probably true, but that desire to find a way home has always existed for him. He’s just in a position now where it’s the most realistic of his two main desires to obtain, and I think he’s close to accepting that Aeryn is almost totally unobtainable now, at least as things stand.

  2. CAN

     /  August 5, 2011

    Writer and producer of Babylon 5 ( a sci-fi franchise I am a fan of as much as Farscape…in fact it it is the only series that approaches the level of Farscape ) Joe Michael Straczynski one made a comment about creating a memorable antagonist 8 when he talks about creating his own master antagonist Alfred Bester in Babylon 5 series ) ….The audience must empathize with him. This should be seen from his points of view , from his version , from his perspective. The character must be given a motivation which audience identifies , understands and even symphatizes….And this episode accomplishes this perfectly. Scorpius is a brilliant character , my favorite among every character in Farscape universe or even sci-fi genre. He is really what he is….A product of the universe he is in , shaped with his own experiences and conditions surrounding it. And they are not pretty. From his point of view reasonable or maybe even urgent most thing is to create ultimate weapon and use it against Scarrans. For Scorpy due to their culture and his personal vendetta against Scarrans there is no middle ground with them. He knows Scarrans better than everyone else in PK ranks he is a half Scarran after all. Who can argue with him on that issue ? To defeat them is his ultimate goal , his purpose , his main motivator in his life and in every vile act he committed….It is not surprising that he is a committed man expanding his every bit of physical and intellectual potential for this goal. “Result justifies the means” would be motto of Scorpius probably in harsh life of Uncharted Territories. Or “Patiance is the most rewarding virtue”

  3. M’John

    Is that pronounced like Mmm, Cookies? Or is it Muh-John as in Muh….John?

    I’m wondering if he had some cosmetic surgery done at some point because his facial features have smoothed out since, and his abnormally large head has become less abnormally so.

    Well, we do know he had surgery at some point, to hollow out his head and put the coolant rods in.

    • It’s just short for Moya’John and Talyn’John. But if you want to equate it with the yumminess of cookies, by all means. 😉

      As for the rods, this appears to predate the head hollowing because the rods are still inserted into the box he wears on his back instead of directly.

      • True, but that leaves one of two fairly reasonable options, in my opinion.

        One, he visited Tocot more than once, or

        Two, he just had a massive case of Teenager Face. When Scarrans call you Crater Face, it’s possible it is not hyperbole.

        • Weston

           /  August 6, 2011


          I’d put money on multiple visits to the doctor. Also, there’s the unaccounted for time. OH OH OH maybe Natira recommended a facial cleanser? She did have a fantastic… exoskeleton.


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