Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [3.20] – “Into the Lion’s Den Part I: Lambs to the Slaughter”

Today, on Farscape

“And you must be the infamous John Crichton.”
“Infamous? Two points, Commandant. One, your boy here has made a lot of promises which you should keep because Two, when my friends are threatened, I am infamous… for making really stupid moves. Yes?”

Crichton’s plan comes to fruition when Scorpius grants him a station on his Command Carrier, in the hopes of finally unlocking the secrets to wormhole research. But when a high-ranking Peacekeeper official shows up, things get interesting…


Kevin

When we’re hitting our major multi-part season closing storylines, there are a certain number of things that happen. First, we need a major Peacekeeper-related conflict. After that comes a major role-reversal involving a main character, a falling from grace with a major coup, something to do with wormholes, and fantastic Crichton Versus Scorpius conflict.

Check, check, major check, qualified check, and a holy frelling dren of a check thus far. It’s a doozy so far, and we’re only at the beginning. I’m going to focus on Scorpius here, so get comfortable.

Scorpius has been using his Command Carrier as a mobile Gammak base – Gammak, I am assuming, being a Sebacean word for “Weaponized Major Scientific Research That Will Complete Our Military Victory”. (Well, either that, or something to do with shower curtains.) His research has been delayed time and time again, often – but not exclusively – through the efforts of Crichton or Crichton-like personalities attached to brain chips. Counting from memory, we have Base Blown Up By Crichton, Failed Brain Chip Recovery Due To Crichton Interference, and a Brain Chip Meltdown From Failed Contact With Crichton’s Memories. He’s even had his research regressed, as the most brilliant mind working on the project escaped through an unstable wormhole and eventually blew herself up.

And now we find out that Crichton and company are on board his Command Carrier with a change of heart that he cannot help but be suspicious of, and topping that all off is the new revelation that Peacekeeper High Command is working with the Luxans (instead of conquering them) and considering extending the olive branch to the Scarrans.

He’s a bit put out, to say it mildly. Enough so that being polite and even helpful to Crichton doesn’t seem so strange. He has nothing personal against Crichton, after all; he was simply a means to an end. The animosity between the two existed purely because Crichton was preventing him from obtaining the wormhole knowledge, and he respects Our Boy John too much as a rival chessmaster to really hate him. Sure, he enjoyed his victories over the monkey, but who wouldn’t? Now that Crichton is, in effect, working for him? Just a bit of mistrust and one hell of a security measure.

We’ve known Scorpius long enough to believe this plan. He doesn’t care about the podunk planet from Hicksville. But he knows Crichton’s buttons; he’s been in his head many times. A happy Scorpius will happily ignore Earth all Crichton wants, but an angry Scorpius holds a grudge for ages.

It’s interesting to note the aforementioned role-reversal here, especially how it simultaneously parallels and contrasts with the one from Season One. Scorpius took command of officers under Crais, eventually discrediting him and taking over the entire operation. But while Crais was shamed into fleeing for his life, Scorpius keeps maneuvering, until Grayza is (however temporarily) removed. There’s also his obvious attempts at working with the Moya crowd, which began in last week’s episode.

It’s followed by Crichton’s reluctant-yet-increasing willingness to work with Scorpius, which is a distinct yet almost subtle parallel to that other season-long storyarc, between himself and Harvey. Or rather, the “What If?” story that CrichtonT carried out, choosing to excise HarveyT and deny Scorpius wormholes along with the Scarrans. It’s a contrast to CrichtonM‘s reliance of his Harvey, even going so far as to extend the hand of friendship during his coma.

It’s not outright stated, but I honestly do believe that to be the turning point in our Crichton’s relationship with Harvey, and why Harvey was so willing to help screw up the original Scorpius’s plans. Crichton reasoned with him, and even entertained his advice (to give in to Revenge), but ultimately won him over with his arguments that Love was the greatest reason for him to live. Since then, HarveyM has been a lot more amiable and less antagonistic.

It’s interesting to think about, in any case.

Notes!

  • Oh, Grayza. I forgot you were here already.
  • I don’t care if Crichton hasn’t nicknamed her yet. She’s Commandant Cleavage from now on, I can be anachronistic if I want. I doubt Weston is willing to wait on that name either.
  • Tessa: “It’s kind of hard not to notice it, you know.”
    Kevin: “In all honesty, though, that’s conservative for Grayza.”
  • Okay, I may have misheard it, or maybe I’m not familiar with military designations, but I heard Scorpius call her “Commodore”.
  • It really, really must suck for Aeryn and Crais to be back on the carrier. Especially for Crais; it’s not just a Command Carrier, it’s his. The one that Scorpius pulled out from underneath him.

Weston

Hellooooo, Commandant Cleavage. I’ll get to you in a minute.

Scorpius is under pressure. He’s got the Scarrans, who are building up to a massive invasion that will destroy the Peacekeepers and everything around them. He’s got the bunch from Moya, who are infernally good at stymieing his plans. And he’s got the Peacekeepers themselves, who are beginning to reel in the slack on his very long leash. He’s running out of time, and Crichton has conveniently come forward to volunteer his services for the cause. No wonder he’s suspicious. In addition to his wary nature, he’s been presented with a quick(ish) and easy (sort of) way out of a sticky predicament. Scorpy knows there’s a catch. He just hasn’t found it yet.

Ratcheting up the pressure is Commandant Mele-On (whose name is definitely not melon nor related to melons in any way) Grayza, the operative that Peacekeeper High Command has sent out to the Uncharted Territories to (among other things) build alliances to counter the Scarran threat. This is proving difficult for two reasons: The first, Scarrans are scary. Seriously, they’re like custom-built anti-Peacekeeper obliteration units. They have a built-in attack that targets a major Sebacean weakness, they’re largely immune to Peacekeeper weapons, and they outnumber Peacekeepers ten to one. The second reason, an increasingly notorious Leviathan carrying three escaped prisoners and a not-Sebacean have been thumbing their noses at the task force sent to recapture them for nearly three cycles. The Peacekeepers look like Keystone Cops, and they want to form an alliance? “Pass,” say the sentient races of the universe.

So the Commandant has been dispatched to clean up Scorpius’ mess. He’s spent all his time and energy focusing on this chimerical (I love that word) wormhole technology when he should be working on things that are practical. Like recapturing Moya. This does, to an extent, play off of earlier events: Crais was sent out to the Uncharted Territories to create a Leviathan hybrid, went rogue and chased after an insignificant prison ship, and was removed from command for abandoning his post. Under Grayza’s logic, Crais was almost right but for the timing. Moya didn’t become infamous for evading Peacekeeper pursuit until Crais failed to recapture her. If Crais hadn’t pursued Moya, if he’d managed to nab her over that first commerce planet, she would have been able to build her alliance, Scorpius would be working in his hidden base, and the show would have been very short.

The worst part? Grayza is actually good at what she does. She’s been on the scene for a couple of arns when her retrieval squad picks up Moya. She, or someone else in the Peacekeeper Corps, has brought the Luxans into a mutual defense pact. Regardless of her strategy’s overall effectiveness, she’s definitely running down her checklist. She’s subtle when she has to be, bold when practical. In short, she’s dangerous. And Crichton pointed a gun at her. Oops.

Command Carriers are big. I think this is the first time we get a good sense of exactly how big one is. We’ve had flybys, but with no sense of scale they could be the size of the USS Theodore Roosevelt or the Death Star. In this episode we get a shot of Moya pulling up alongside. We see Talyn inside one of its hangars. In the background of one of the interior shots, we see multiple racks of lined-up Marauders. Command Carriers are really, really big. And the Scarran equivalent is twice the size.

Everything that Head’Crichton learned has now been passed to Moya’Crichton. Voluntarily, even, as Scorpius attempts to convince John that his cause is correct. His motivations may not be pure, his methods certainly questionable, but the end results? Worth everything. Harvey agrees, believing himself more impartial than his progenitor.

Scorpius found Earth. On the one hand, this does give Crichton a sixty-year path home. You could call it the Voyager of the Uncharted Territories. On the other, it gives Scorpius additional leverage. Sixty years is a long time, but how big a vessel do you need to bombard a low-tech planet from orbit? Not even a Command Carrier, I’d imagine. You could probably do it with Moya by accelerating to near-light speeds and tossing a brick out the window.

  • Crichton wears gloves through most of this episode. The only time he takes them off is to work on the wormhole research.
  • Jool’s hair goes fire-alarm red from the word “go” and stays there through the entire episode. Peacekeepers have her spooked.
  • Also, her eye got better. Alas. She rocked that eyepatch.
  • D’Argo’s collarbone rings come out! He can’t be chained up again!
  • The new Starburst energy building inside the center chamber mechanic looks familiar. It remains awesome.
  • Crais fraternized with a lieutenant under his command. I wonder what Peacekeeper regulations say about that.
  • Kor Tosko is the first male Luxan we’ve seen beyond D’Argo.
  • Braca draws a pistol on Crichton, who simply takes it away. Poor Braca.

Noel

Here’s why T’John was important: he– okay, two reasons why T’John was important: 1) all of the great conflict his death adds to the central Aeryn/John relationship. It’s soapy, but it works. 2) It gives us our “Frell yeah!” hero moment as John guarantees the end of his wormhole research, going down with it in a moment of glory. That’s the heroic, happy ending as the man with the greatest weapon in the universe lets everybody see just how awesome it’s destructive powers are before he then takes the secrets of it to his grave. That alone would make for a great end to the saga of John. But, no. Now it’s M’John’s turn to tackle the same issues. And while he went into this mission all set to sabotage Scorpius and put an end to wormholes, now he’s wondering if it might be necessary to make it work, to put his enmity aside for the common good of wiping out Scarrans.

And here’s why H’John was important. That’s Harvey’John, for those who don’t remember, the neural clone of Crichton left on the chip from his head. It was through interactions with him that Scorpius learned the power of full disclosure with John as our master villain let this shadow of our hero in on his tragic backstory and the truth of his hatred against Scarrans. Scorpius has learned from this act, so he willingly hands that info over to M’John, the last of Our Three Crichtons (or Five Crichtons, by this point – the man is spreading like rabbits). John doesn’t like being manipulated, but if you give him all the info and access he needs, he feels like a part of things and starts to become invested. As John demonstrates after his kiddie table flip out. Once Scorpius tells him the truth, tell him his history, gives him full access and protection and resources, John starts to re-evaluate his plan and whether or not getting the wormhole project off the ground is really such a bad idea.

And then Commandant Melon Glaze plops onto the scene and squeezes her way into the union of our two primary adversaries. Basic tv plotting rule 101: when your enemy becomes your friend, introduce a new enemy. Melon Glaze is stacked higher on the pecking order than Scorpius and is all set to cut him low when he exerts his authority and bounces her peak aside. He knows she’ll rebound with extra support, but she doesn’t wait, lifting one of his own to separate Scorpius’ followers and cleave both Crichton and he in one fell stroke, thanks to their bonding bracelets.

But boob lady with the breasty bust underestimated Crichton and his ability to do stupid things. This time involving a jetpack.

I’ll say that again: John Crichton with a jetpack. They’re going back to the show’s Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers roots with this one, but flipping it on its head in classic Farscape fashion by flipping John on his head because, dammit, jetpacks are hard to fly. But he still wins the fight through his typical Crichton luck.

There’s so much to love about this show – the great atmosphere as our heroes walk onto the hostile Peacekeeper ship, Aeryn meeting an old friend, Crais meeting an old friend, the twist with the Luxans, Earth – and we’re just getting started! I’ve had my issues with the multi-part season finales, but this is shaping up to be a good one. Thankfully, Stark is nowhere near, so he can’t disappear with no explanation.


Tessa

I won’t dwell too long on the now-established differences between the three Crichtons at this point (I was all set to do it, but the others have covered it so extensively that anything I said on the matter would be repeating things), but I do very much like that this episode drives that point home magnificently. Each of them had different experiences, different dillemas (or lack thereof), and so when the cards are laid out on the table, all three treat the same problem in different ways. I know I’ve harped on this repeatedly this season, but I really love that they’ve explored this concept so fully.

Unrelated, but equally interesting, is the experiences that both Aeryn and Crais have in returning to the carrier. This isn’t a trip into dangerous new territory for them like it is the others – both of them served on the carrier in the past, and one of them ran the thing. It’s oddly like coming home to a place where neither is welcome any longer. Crais appears to take it in stride at first, but he then reaches out to make a reconnection with the one person on the ship he feels its possible with. Of course, exactly where her loyalties really lie is a little up in the air. She’s there to spy on him, by her own admission, but she also insists to both sides that she’s lying to the other one.

Aeryn, on the other hand, is hit with memories of her time on the ship right away, and her attempts to reconnect with an old friend are met with quick rejection. We know how far she’s come, and she’s faced the idea before herself, but something about her voicing that to an old friend on the very command carrier she used to serve on gives it an extra bit of punch. She can’t come back, not only because she was stripped of her duty, but because she just isn’t that person anymore.

This episode also picks right up from Incubator, giving us a look again at Scorpius’ motivations and touching back on his past. This time, however, its not just us seeing it, but the crew is exposed to it also. John (the real thing this time, not a neural clone) gets given the full story, and being fully brought up to speed on the context of this issue that he inadvertently stumbled into back in season one gives him pause. He’s not sure that stopping Scorpius is the pressing issue he thought it was originally, or even if it’s really a good idea anymore. He says he’s not considering helping Scorpius, but the look on his face while he says that suggests otherwise. He may not be ready to cross that line yet, but the idea of it being a legitimate option has at least crossed his mind now.

Scorpius, meanwhile, is having his own issues. He doesn’t have as tight a grip over his ship as he did after initially taking over it anymore, especially since taking in the Moya crew. He genuinely intends to keep his promises to the crew, but it’s not as much in his control to keep them safe as he seems to think when he lets them on board. Portions of his own crew are so against the idea of the escaped prisoners being given amnesty that they flat out ignore his orders to leave them alone. Things only get worse when Grayza shows up, since it becomes obvious that Scorpius’ control of the situation is rapidly coming to an end. Up against a wall with no time remaining and sensing that Crichton is holding back in his assistance, he stops playing nice, threatening Crichton with the one thing he knows will scare him the most. Scorpius doesn’t give a damn about Earth, except as a tool to get what he needs. The thing Crichton was most afraid of Scorpius doing with the wormhole technology no longer matters, because Scorpius has made it clear that he doesn’t need a wormhole to find Earth and wreak havoc upon it.

I’m really eager to see where this goes.


Episode [3.19] – I-Yensch, You-Yensch || Episode [3.21] – Into the Lion’s Den Part II: Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

One ResponseLeave one →

  1. Kernezelda

     /  October 10, 2011

    This is a fantastic episode in a pair of fantastic episodes. I’m really enjoying your varied reviews. 🙂

    Reply

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