Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [3.19] – “I-Yensch, You-Yensch”

Today, on Farscape

“Yes, Talyn. I promise you that I will do everything I can, and Crichton and Aeryn will as well. We are all here with you. You have not disappointed me. I don’t hold you responsible. Neither does Moya.”


“No, no; on the contrary, Talyn. You are very brave.”

D’Argo and Rygel meet with Scorpius and Braca in a run-down space diner to negotiate an agreement to let the crew aboard Scorpius’ Command Carrier, only to wind up caught in the middle of a bungled insurance fraud plan by the owner. Meanwhile, Talyn goes completely out of control, leaving the others facing what appears to be the only option – shutting him down completely.


We’re leading into the end of this season now, and once again, we’re looking at the Leviathans being crippled for it (I’m sensing a theme here). Moya is attacked by Talyn, and appears to be pretty heavily damaged, although we aren’t told the extent of the damage that’s been done to her. Meanwhile Talyn is completely out of the picture, and may be gone for good – Crais claims that the process that will cure him of his paranoia and violent tendencies will also likely completely erase his personality and replace it with effectively a brand new Leviathan.

We also have crew members attempting to leave again, this time Chiana and Jool. Neither one wants anything to do with plotting against the Peacekeepers, and they both start to look for ways out of it. Chiana outright tells John that she’s hopping off on the next available planet, whatever it is, while Jool looks to slip away quietly onto the medical vessel. She misses her chance to make the trip to it, which dashes her hopes of getting away, but in the end it saves her, since seconds later Talyn destroys the ship during his paranoid shooting fit.

We also get to see some downside to Chiana’s newly acquired clairvoyance. She’s getting accurate images of future events, but without any context, leading her to jump to faulty conclusions. She sees the Peacekeeper “ambush” that Scorpius brings along with him, but not the bit where it’s a cheap scare tactic to make sure Rygel and D’Argo really are alone.

Speaking of that, I love the very different reactions D’Argo and Rygel give. D’Argo immediately goes into a rage, thrashing as many of the soldiers as he can even after the ploy is revealed to be fake, while Rygel calmly sees right through it.

I’m really curious to find out exactly what Crichton’s plan is. It seems pretty clear that he doesn’t want Scorpius getting his hands on the Wormhole Technology at all, and yet D’Argo and Rygel somehow appear to convince Scorpius that he plans on helping him research it to avoid the Scarrans getting it first. We know (although to be fair, the crew doesn’t) that Scorpius can pretty accurately detect the amount of honesty in statements, so what’s really going on here? Were things worded precisely enough that they weren’t actually lying? Or does Scorpius already know that something isn’t completely right here, and is just playing along while he plans out his next steps?

I love getting to watch Rygel in diplomacy mode. He’s totally in his element in this episode, both during the actual negotiations with Scorpius as well as maneuvering his way through the hostage situation. Watching him and Scorpy working together to outsmart their considerably less intelligent would-be kidnappers is way fun. I almost feel sorry for the little blue monkey guys, they’re so deep in over their heads. Rygel is at his absolute best when he gets to use his razor sharp wit and sneaky self-serving political instincts for the good of the situation, and he gets that in spades here.

I also have to admit that I’ve really enjoyed the episodes where Scorpius gets to play along as a protagonist (or at least on the same side as our protagonists, however brief). He’s arguably Rygel’s equal in the smarts department, but unlike the Dominar, he actually has quite a bit of a legitimate means to be threatening past the bravado. The poor arsonists have no idea what they’re getting themselves into by trying to hold him for ransom.

This episode actually makes me really want to see Rygel and Scorpius in more situations together. The two make a surprisingly effective pair. Watching the two of them maneuver against both each other and their captors trying to come out on top is almost like watching two chess experts play a game against each other while also convincing a caveman to jump off a cliff.


Given the presence of two Crichtons this season, this episode stands out with having almost as little Crichton as it’s ever done. The only episode I can remember that had even less Crichton in it was back in the second season. And yet, without having very much Crichton at all, he still has a fairly large presence.

I’ll label the plot threads arbitrarily, as I usually do. The A-plot – chosen mostly ’cause of its significance in the title – consists of Rygel and D’Argo in the Space Diner, where they’ve gone to make contact with Scorpius. Which, let me point out, is a totally believable space diner. It’s grungy, it’s dusty, it’s out of the way, and there are totally believable diner people there.

Not that one.

The purpose of this, as Tessa stated, is to try to let Crichton and company aboard Scorpius’s Command Carrier. It bears mentioning that Rygel is telling Scorpius the truth, insofar as that Crichton really doesn’t want the Scarrans to get working wormhole technology, and that he really doesn’t want Scorpius to have it either, but that if Crichton doesn’t do something, the Scarrans will win. This is not the same as saying “Crichton will give you all the knowledge and let you make wormholes of doom on your very own, this is for definite yes”, though it does lend credence to the bald-faced lie that comes when Rygel does say that.

Which brings me to another point: Rygel isn’t afraid of Scorpius. He’s the only one who hasn’t reacted with some sort of fear response when confronted with Scorpius directly, and has matched wits with him before – and won, if you’ll remember, however temporarily. It’s fitting, actually. Rygel was the ruler of six hundred billion subjects, an entire empire as a matter of fact, and was successful enough that he was ransomed to the Peacekeepers as insurance after the coup. Rygel has been at his best when dealing with politics, backstabbing plots, and other diplomatic maneuvering, and it definitely shows here. You could argue that he’s far more at home playing cool to Scorpius than he is under the guns of the Flying Monkey third-stringers.

“I say, Herbert, our hostages are starting to become downright unpleasant.”

It serves as a stark contrast to the B-plot, where Talyn is becoming more and more unhinged. It’s been getting steadily worse all season – the whole Leviathan-killing star incident probably played a part in it, and bonding with Stark very likely didn’t help anything either – but the warring instincts between his peaceful Leviathan heritage and his Peacekeeper components is degrading him into a paranoid, trigger-happy mess. Again, Crichton is surprisingly passive in all this, instead passing the torch to Crais and Aeryn, who know Talyn far better than he does.

He also feels the need to remind Aeryn that as much as she wants him to be CrichtonT, he’s not. He wasn’t there for any of it. Sure, it might thwart Aeryn’s attempts to reconnect with him, but he doesn’t want it to be for the wrong reasons.

He doesn’t want her to pretend that he’s someone he’s not.

Things to note this episode:

  • I love the sound effects for Talyn’s Sonic Ascendancy Cannon. The audio team really outdid themselves.
  • Speaking of serving a Stark Contrast, I’m torn about not getting a rage-filled babbling protest about the six hundred souls now passing through our resident Death God.
  • We’ve said this when Moya was temporarily given an actual voice, but her own natural whalesong is frelling haunting. Especially with her pained shudders as she listens to Crais talk about lobotomizing her son. She may be in the background most of the time, but Moya still has feelings, and she still reacts to them. The fact that her reactions are physically manifesting instead of being relayed through Pilot only underscores how distraught she is about the entire situation.
  • Seriously, Moya is a character in her own right, and the episodes that acknowledge this are all the more powerful for it.
  • Of course Scorpius keeps a holdout pulse pistol in his head. As silly as it might be to see, it’s only in keeping with his character.
  • D’Argo is the king of physical comedy, as befits someone of his serious nature. Casually punching out Peacekeepers, knocking his own skull about to disorient the Flying Monkey attached to his I-Yensch…
  • If I had any Photoshop ability at all, I’d make an Apple advertisement image for the iYensch.
  • In regards to the robbers/insurance fraud agents/incompetant idiots: Did anyone else get flashbacks to the Pakled attack on the Enterprise? “You are smart. We are not strong.”


Kevin and Tessa have done a great job breaking down the A- and B-Plots, so I’m going to focus a bit on the Background Story.

Essk and Voodi desperately love one another, but they’ve fallen on hard times. The two of them set out together and brought their dream to life by creating their own restaurant catering to the passing denizens of the universe. Sadly, their world has run down and looks to be largely abandoned as they struggle to feed whatever clientele happens to randomly wander by. Essk still holds her dream close with a smile: the place isn’t much, but it’s theirs. Voodi, on the other hand, has seen his dream die and the it’s sapped his inspiration as a culinary artist to the point where much of his food is overcooked gruel.

So Voodi comes up with a plan to hire a couple of goons to stage a robbery and torch the diner. Voodi hopes the insurance money will be enough that he and Essk can run off together and start again somewhere else, but she’s shocked when she finds out. Sure, the place isn’t exactly what it used to be and times are tough, but this is their home, their dream. They’ve put so much work into it over the years that she can’t fathom burning it down and running away. But by then, the goons have shown up and the “robbery” is underway.

This, of course, goes down during a meeting of Rygel, D’Argo, Scorpius, and Braca, meaning nothing goes according to plan. The goons quickly abandon their mission in favor of plots of ransoming hostages as they wave around their bulky “compensating for something” guns and start getting rough with Essk. Voodi finally snaps and stands up to them, thinking they’ll still respect his authority as the mastermind behind the plan, but the goons blow him away and Voodi dies in Essk’s arms.

Essk retreats into bottles of booze, no longer giving a flying frell if the goons kill her or not. There’s even a point where one has a gun in her face and is all set to pull the trigger. Essk closes her eyes and waits for the shot to come, but then Rygel negotiates on her behalf. In the end, when the dust settles and the main cast heads back to their own life, Essk is left alone with her restaurant. Her dream has become her nightmare, so she burns it down for the insurance money so she can start again.

Such a heartbreaking little drama. It’s so finely crafted that it could be its own separate little tale in this universe and still carry enough weight to captivate an audience, but throw it into the complex narrative of Scorpius and Rygel hashing out a deal, not to mention everything that’s happening with Talyn, and you get an absolutely solid little episode. Even the two goons, who could have come off as little more than shrieking morons, somehow work as they keep mapping out ambitious yet sincere ploys to increase their winnings, only for one little flaw to be pointed out that sends them back to the drawing board.

It’s a marvelous episode. Great tension from all sides. Rygel and Scorpius constantly swaying back and forth from working together to selling the other out. D’Argo and Braca linked with their potentially fatal screwball hijinks (“I’ve got a hard skull.”). A tragic ending for Naj Gil, everyone’s favorite Scarran. Jool’s desperation to get away. Talyn flipping out and vaporizing hundreds of people. Moya’s parental terror over what the others want to do to her child, and her realization that they’re right. Crais mourning and taking responsibility for the actions of the monster he created. Aeryn and John continuing their distant, pained dance. I’m not a fan of Chiana’s psychic visions, which still feels like a convenient plot device, but I otherwise love this episode.


How much have the Leviathans been beat up this season? Moya’s been impaled and dropped down an interstellar drain, forced to deal with her symbiont’s possession by an energy being, and had to deal with two of her passengers’ constant bickering. Going back a little further, she’s been burned, decommissioned, and enslaved. Now she’s been shot point blank by her own son’s implanted weaponry which, according to the various gasps when people have previously talked about it, isn’t exactly a pea-shooter. One round obliterated that medical ship, and Moya took three.

For all that, I think Talyn’s had it worse. His very first decision independent of his mother was to accept Crais as his pilot. He’s forced to defend himself in an extremely hostile universe, repeatedly falling back on his one option. It’s like… Leviathans were designed with a single defensive maneuver: Starburst. Talyn has an additional option in his Sonic Ascendancy Cannon, and its completely replaced Starburst in his Leviathan psychology. Any Leviathan gets into trouble, it hits the panic button and runs away. When Talyn runs into trouble, he hits the same panic button and things blow up. Add a partial lobotomy, with bits of Crais filling in the gaps, and you have a bitter, angry, jealous person whose first reaction is to open fire.

I have a bit of a problem with their decision to shut down his neural cluster. Mental reprogramming is a common resort in the Uncharted Territories to an individual who’s gone out of control, but there have to be space therapists somewhere. A Delvian, maybe, who could psychically interface with his thoughts and calm him. Poor kid’s been driven mad by both his nature and his nurture, and the only solution is to reformat his brain and start over. Maybe it’s for the best, but I have reservations.

Oh, dang. I think I just realized where Talyn’s main gun goes when it’s recessed. He doesn’t need that massive hollow column that Pilot has on Moya, and the gun is nearly as long as Talyn is tall. Imagine if, at full size, Talyn’s main gun stretched from Pilot’s den clear to the guano pit in the basement.

Naj Gil survived the events of the previous episode: Escaping from the Peacekeepers in a target-practice pod, shot in his soft spot, shot repeatedly while the Tech escaped. He survived long enough to become a member of Moya’s crew, something that doesn’t happen very often. But even more rare, he declined, and got the hell out of Dodge at the first opportunity. Having escaped from the ship full of crazy people, he’s safely aboard a hospital ship… that then gets obliterated by Talyn. That just… man, of all the ways to go, it’s not one I would’ve picked for him. The galaxy’s only noble Scarran. Rest in peace, dude.

Related note: Jool almost went with him. But for a few minutes spent to change into some surprisingly sensible pants, the first we’ve seen her in, she would have been blown up too. Still, given the near-suicidal plan the others have to board a Command Carrier under truce, she seems determined to get away as soon as possible. Preferably while wearing that fantastic eyepatch. Amazing what a little Boolite in the eye will do for you.

Additional related note: Chiana’s ready to split too. She has absolutely no desire to actively oppose the Peacekeepers. It goes against all of the survival instincts that have kept her alive so far.

I love Tessa and Kevin’s take on the robbery/hostage situation/insurance fraud. Tessa’s last paragraph in particular. The image it evokes is so very perfect. Kevin nails D’Argo’s physical comedy with both Braca and the monkey man. I can only add two thoughts to that plot line: First, that the older blue guy is clearly compensating for something with his overly-large gun. Second, they had a simple plan. Fake a robbery, burn a restaurant, collect their cut of the insurance. Where they went wrong was complicating it with hostages, ransom demands, escape plans. No, when you make a deal, you stick to it. I’m reasonably certain that Rygel and Scorpius would have had no problems relocating to continue their negotiations. Then Voodi would have survived, and Essk wouldn’t have lost everything but the insurance money.

Poor Essk. She’s got a lot of character development for a one-off. I wouldn’t be surprised if she showed up again sometime, maybe as an entrepreneur or a bounty hunter. Also, fantastic eyes.

Scorpius’ helium voice is fantastic. He can be surprisingly agile when necessary. A leather outfit like that can’t be easy to leap over counters in.

Aeryn is talking to Crichton again. Not much, just soliciting his opinions on the situation with Talyn. Eventually she does open up a bit, explain her feelings on the situation. She doesn’t want to, can’t watch him die again. There’s an interesting parallel here between her position now and Crichton’s at the beginning of the season. She’ll stick with him through this thing on the Command Carrier out of duty to the dead Crichton, but she doesn’t have that tie to the living one. They’re shipmates. Nothing more.

Episode [3.18] – Fractures || Episode [3.20] – Into the Lion’s Den Part I: Lambs to the Slaughter

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  1. I just finished watching the entire series before finding your site and remember vividly this episode, despite its nature as a “bridge” (it links a pivotal end of a story, the return of Aeryn, with another long, serialized one, the destruction of Scorpio’s ship). You’re in for a surprise as you reach the end of this season, as all plots seem to collapse and chaos ensues.

    This particular episode, being the bridge it is, can also work on its own. You have pointed out the new facets of Rygel, but then, there’s another side of Scorpius here, and it shows that when he’s not in absolute control, he seems to retreat. In any event, thanks for your reviews and I’ll be following your updates with all the joy that “Farscape” can bring.


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