Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [3.22] – “Dog with Two Bones”

Today, on Farscape

“You know what this means? It means we’re done. Talyn rests where he belongs. Scorpius has no ship. We’re all unhurt, healthy. And no one’s trying to kill us! It means finally we can go where we want! We can go home! I’m going home!”

In which one final bit of business must be taken care of before everyone goes their separate ways.


There’s quite a bit going on here. Moya is carrying Talyn’s few recovered bits and pieces to the Leviathan Sacred Space, a burial ground of sorts that technically has neither burials nor grounds. Crichton is incredibly distracted by daydreams of Earth, his friends from Moya, and the patent incompatibility of the two. There’s a crazy old three-eyed woman banging around in the kitchen and nobody knows where she came from.

Crichton has a lot on his mind. Between the work on the Command Carrier and his discovery of how to properly access the Ancients’ wormhole data stuck in his brain, he now has a way home. Kinda. It’ll take some work to lock it down, but the return to Earth that he’s been looking for these last three years is a real option. The question, the fence on which he now stands, is “does he want to?” It’s been his goal for so very long that he has trouble imagining anything else, but now that it’s available he’s torn. He daydreams of Earth, of taking his friends from Moya there, and the dreams inevitably turn to nightmares as he realizes that the two are completely incompatible. Aeryn can’t speak English and stay on a single planet for more than a week before going nuts. Chiana would sleep with absolutely everyone, including the real Jack Crichton. Pilot is bound to Moya, so I have no idea how that would work out. D’Argo, if Crichton’s daydreams are to be trusted, would be a perfect fit on Earth.

His thoughts keep flipping back and forth between what’s going on around him and his fantasy, both losing track of real conversations and integrating them into those in his head. The lies that he keeps telling himself are hurting him and others. So the old woman, name currently unknown, throws hallucinogenic dust in his face. While he’s under she does slip him a couple of post-hypnotic suggestions, but the primary purpose of dusting him is to get him to accept the truth. He knows it, but his happy-go-lucky southern boy nature prevents it from really sinking in. So the old woman gives him a hand. Crichton accepts it, eventually, but that’s a hard truth.

Elsewhere, Moya is under attack by a rogue Leviathan. The poor thing has been driven mad by the loss of her children to Peacekeeper slavers, has attacked other Leviathans attempting to enter the Sacred Space, and even strangled her own Pilot to death when it disagreed with her actions. The rogue won’t allow Talyn’s remains to be respectfully dumped with the other Leviathans, so the crew faces a choice: Bury Talyn somewhere else, or kill the rogue. There’s a little bit of hemming and hawing, including one great scene between Chiana and Moya, but when Pilot learns that the rogue is killing Leviathans the decision becomes clear.

The crew devises a fairly quick plan: Moya will drop Talyn off in the Sacred Space, Aeryn’s Prowler will distract the rogue and position it, and D’Argo’s tiny silver ship will destroy it. I have to repeat that last part for emphasis: D’Argo’s tiny Transport Pod sized ship has enough firepower to vaporize a Leviathan significantly larger than Moya. That’s a scary thought. More so when you consider that the next item on D’Argo’s “things to do” list is to track down and kill his wife’s murderer. Dude doesn’t stand a chance.

With that crisis resolved, we can return to Crichton’s dilemma. The Dog With Two Bones. He has his friends on Moya, at least for the moment. He wants Earth. The old woman’s second drug trip and subsequent talking-to convince him that he should hold on to what he has, rather than chase after something that may not come.

Incidentally, that wedding scene? Fantastic. The cuts between John dancing with Aeryn and him dancing with the old woman, D’Argo being a lecherous goofball, Jack’s toast, the Peacekeepers coming in and killing everyone and destroying the cake. Heartbreaking. Crichton knows that this or something like it will happen. He’s become too infamous to simply walk away.

The old woman tries to shoo the rogue away through one of the windows during its second pass. I love that.

And finally, the coin toss. Five minutes of pure emotion between two conflicted people. Crichton makes his choice to abandon Earth and keep Aeryn. Aeryn chooses to walk away from Crichton because she can’t handle the thought of him dying again. They trust to fate, toss a coin to determine what to do. The coin says Aeryn leaves alone. Crichton is left behind, not quite alone with Jool, Pilot, Moya, and the old woman still around. He goes for a solo flight in the Farscape Module, takes some time to clear his head. After everything that’s happened, he needs some time away from everyone. Harvey pops in to pull the old woman’s words out of Crichton’s subconscious – Aeryn’s pregnant.

Then a wormhole pops out of nowhere and swallows Moya. The good news is that Crichton isn’t laid out on an operating table with his brain wide open. The bad: He’s in the Module, it’s low on fuel, and he’s alone in interstellar space. As cliffhangers go, this one is pretty spectacular.


I was worried this episode would feel lacking after the intensity involved in the last two episodes. For the most part, though, this is a fitting endcap for the season.

The end of each season so far has toyed with the idea of the crew being separated, possibly for good. In the first season, it was involuntary, the situation keeping the crew from reuniting. Season two had the crew intending to go their separate ways, but the beginning of this season managed to keep them together out of necessity. This time, however, they’re already acting on their intentions. D’Argo has already left on his vengeance quest, and Aeryn manages to get herself away after a particularly difficult time saying goodbye to Crichton. Chiana, Rygel, and Jool may not have left just yet, but they have similar plans to head out on their own. Zhaan, Crais, and Talyn are dead. And Stark is off in the spirit world doing Celestia knows what. Our remaining crew looks very different now than it did at the beginning of the season.

And watching it all happen is John Crichton. The dog that wants desperately to have that bone he sees in the water without giving up the one he’s already got in his mouth. His fantasies of taking his friends back with him not only fail to make sense on the level of compatibility, but they also aren’t what his friends actually want. Sure, some of them might not mind visiting, but it wouldn’t be home to any of them. And they all have their own dreams of returning to where they belong. Dreams they’re already working on carrying out.

And so, Crichton watches as each of them begins to leave, and is suddenly faced with the fact that there’s nowhere for him to go if he doesn’t return to Earth alone. He makes attempts to follow the others in their own journeys, to no avail. Chiana is at first thrilled with the idea of him coming with her, but on reflection she recognizes that it would be a very bad idea, and decides that she can’t take him along. Aeryn can’t live with the idea of being together with John again only to face the possibility of losing him a second time. John makes every attempt he can to get her to give him a chance, eventually leaving the whole thing up to a coin toss. One that he loses.

And so he sits alone in his module, his friends saying goodbye to him in his head one at a time.

Well… not entirely alone. Harvey is still there, reminding him that the two are tied together completely, that John’s well being is his own. That could be taken as menacing, but I tend to think it’s more that Harvey is reminding John that he’s watching out for him and will be there to help him pull himself out of the fire when the need arises. His gift to John.

And that would appear to be that… until of course John registers the post-hypnotic message that Aeryn is pregnant. At that point, he can’t just leave things up to fate, and determines to chase her down. Pilot agrees to help find her, and it appears that we have our hook for the next season…

…and then a wormhole opens up out of nowhere and sucks Moya into it, leaving Crichton alone and low on fuel.

Uh. What?

Okay. Points for being unpredictable. I didn’t see that coming. And it’s a hell of a cliffhanger. But, uh, there had better be a good reason why that wormhole just happened to pop up in that spot at the time it did. Because if that was just a crazy random happenstance, it’s almost silly. The universe just effectively flipped John Crichton the bird, kicked him in the groin, and walked off with his wallet.

On the other hand? This episode has one of the best Rygel lines EVER. I had to rewind the episode so that we could hear him talk about his “tiny shiny hiney” again.


Alright, first off: I’m tired of constantly referring to things as “The as-yet unnamed [X]”. It’s a great way to keep things mysterious, and I understand that – especially for a season cliffhanger – there’s this cryptic, almost eldritch presence on Moya, but I’m going to just call her Nana Peepers until we get her real name, because frell the constant “the mysterious old woman” referencing.

Nana Peepers. ’cause she’s old and she has a third eye that wanders and blinks randomly. It makes sense.

Anyway, this episode starts off as a perfect denouement for the season; with the calm lighting and the relaxed music, it even seems to be a bit of a Breather Episode, but then dren starts getting real. Another Leviathan going through some Post-Dockum Depression is slaughtering everything in sight, giving the somewhat feeble excuse that Talyn is the cause of all her problems. Sure, he’s part Peacekeeper, but the other Leviathans she killed weren’t. Her own Pilot wasn’t.

It’s extremely shocking that the most pacifistic character of anyone there is advocating killing one of her kind, but it’s not very surprising. Moya is a mother. Moreover, she’s a mother who just watched her own baby grow deformed and psychotic, chased him around half the galaxy trying to both calm him down and keep him out of trouble, and finally watched him forcibly shut down. To top it all off, the moment he was reawakened, he blew himself up in a heroic sacrifice to let her get away.

Not surprising that an intelligent and highly emotional being would choose to stand by her son to the end, demand that he be put to rest in a holy nebula, and put an insane woman out of everyone’s misery at the same time. But it’s still shocking that Moya decides to let her inhabitants (I’m still hesitent to use the word crew, because that would be presuming that everyone works together) take the old girl out, and even personally requests it.

I wonder what Kahaynu would think. Probably sad that the crazybitch Leviathan had to die, but I think he’d stand by both a mother wishing to protect her hero son, and a Leviathan decommissioning an insane, homicidal one with extreme prejudice. He’d give the gaseous Greek God frowny face at her, but I honestly believe he’d have supported this.

On the other hand, Nana Peepers, whose offhand “oh I was on this ship you rescued offscreen” remark doesn’t even come close to explaining anything – and we’re all doubtful that this is even true – turns out to be drugging Crichton and causing general mayhem. It’s implied that she’s making him hallucinate the time on Earth, but we all know that Crichton tends to make his own mental constructs, and we later find out that she’s simply bringing the truth to the surface.

Or at least, she claims she is. This is a seedy old woman who appears at first to be sabotaging everything, then to be honestly helping Crichton with his problems, then physically assaulting people to get her own way. Aside from my own frustration that I can’t use her name yet, I’m absolutely loving her introduction here, which I distinctly do not remember the first time around, and thus am inclined to like her a lot more now that I know her vague and possibly incorrect origins. It’s a fantastic introduction, too; she’s mysterious without being overtly arcane, she’s sweet and quirky but not overtly dominating the episode, and she adds to the off-kilter, unbalanced feeling we have throughout the entire episode instead of detracting from it.

And finally, even everyone else is sitting around going “WHO THE FRELL ARE YOU”, so we know it’s not just a “Oh hey, Stark, I guess you were just slightly to the left of the camera all along for the past thirty episodes, what’s up?” We get the acknowledgement that she isn’t quite supposed to make sense, and that we’re supposed to be confused about it.

Nana Peepers adds the uncertainty that we’ve been lacking since Zhaan went away. Zhaan was always a bit mysterious and eldritch, with her P’au powers (her P’auers, if you will) (actually no I won’t that looks horrible), and having a somewhat oracular presence might do us some good.

In any case, I was without television for the entirety of Season Four, so from now on, it’s almost all new to me. I look forward to it.


  • Man, I bet Stark’s pissed. The chance to guide a spaceship to the other side, and he missed it ’cause he’s floating around calling out “Zhaan! Zhaan! Who’s a good girl, then? Here, Zhaan!” Serves you right for being a flighty Death God!
    • I’m sorry. Someone had to say it.
  • Noooooo, the Peacekeepers blew up the Moya cake! Or possibly Moya plaster centerpiece. The point was that THERE WAS A MOYA DECORATION AT THE WEDDING AND IT GOT BLOWED UP.
  • Pilot at the wedding is a hilarious and awesome if impossible concept. He should have been bartender.
  • Still more proof that they really need to use the Pilot puppet for the new Muppets movie coming out, if only for a couple seconds. They stockpile EVERYTHING at Henson Studios, don’t tell me they don’t have it left over.
  • (We have readers at Henson, right? PLEASE TELL ME YOU LET JASON SEGEL USE PILOT. I want to believe this is true!)


We’ve all been where John is. We’ve all had those friends or that relationship that we want to cling to, even when the realities of life are driving in a wedge, either through unbeatable incompatibilities or changes that cause a drifting of the paths. We’ve clung to hope, to fantasies of trying to merge them into the life we want, of tying them down to our dreams. But it won’t work. The worst case scenario will create an illusion of its own, depicting the nightmare we want to keep buried. So we try to rationalize, to use logic as best we can to break down the people and the scenario and try to shoehorn square pegs into round holes. We try to make the new friends into friends of the old friends, but they become total horndogs and it all gets icky when Chiana sleeps with our dad. We try to fit our love into the image of a perfect bride, in a gown Aeryn wouldn’t be caught dead it at a function from which she’d hide out of absolute discomfort. We try to stick Pilot at the table or the Hynerian in a tux, but it just won’t fit. And then there’s the burning fear of Peacekeepers following us home and killing everything we love, both old and new.

John had the past. In his quest to reclaim his past, he formed a new present. Now the present and the past are incompatible and he has no idea where his future lies. And it all comes down to an epicly staged flip of a coin that’s all the more powerful because we don’t get to know what side it landed on until we see John alone and abandoned, trying to cling to the positive memories his friends left him with, only for those to also fade away and leave him in absolute isolation. Made all the more desperate by his last few compatriots being sucked away by a random wormhole, a physical manifestation of his ultimate dream, leaving him truly a man with nowhere to go and no one to go there with.

This episode so very easily could have come off as little more than filler. The last one brought almost every story arc to a natural conclusion and was the type of finale most tv shows wish they could end their series on. This is almost the creators’ way of getting a jump on Season 4 as they start finding emotional threads they can build off of following the massive ender, introduce a new character (Nana Peepers is genius, Kevin), and drop in a few twists that will get the ball rolling on some new arcs. Even the whole battle with the rogue Leviathan escapes the filler label because of the emotional weight of what Talyn did to earn that resting place and the way it pulls our characters together as a team, if only for one final time. And I love Nana Peepers. John nails it when he calls her a witch as that’s what she is, speaking in cryptic riddles and boiling up a cauldron of who knows what. I actually believe her when she says she was a prisoner of the Command Carrier rescued from one of the escape pods. It’s too simple to not be true. Granted, my memory of Season 4 is extremely foggy, so I have no recollection of any revelations about her past. Just that we see her do a sexy stripper dance at some point. Oops, spoilers.

Solid, solid episode made unforgettable by Crichton failing to find a reality in his fantasy and anchored by the “final” confrontation between Aeryn and John, where they lay all bets on the table for the flip of a coin. Excellent acting. Excellent script. Excellent direction. Even the editing was magnificent, as shown by the scene where Chiana meets with Moya. She keeps repeating herself, but it looks like each delivery is from a different take, and the staggered effect captures the fracture in her mind of wanting to run and hide, and wanting to say frell it all and help Moya kick some ass. Even after Chiana declares her support, the edit jumps from her cheer to her fear as we see she still doubts the choice she just made. It’s an excellent moment.

But then there’s the deus ex wormhole. I’m with the others in hoping the explanation behind it is a damn good one.

Next week: Season 3 Overview!

Episode [3.21] – Into the Lion’s Den Part II: Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing || Episode [4.01] – Crichton Kicks

One ResponseLeave one →

  1. Kernezelda

     /  October 25, 2011

    Heartbreaking episode.

    You guys are bringing back such good memories with your reviews.


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