Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [4.02] – “What Was Lost Part I: Sacrifice”

Today, on Farscape

“Remember me?”
“Oh, I remember a couple of things.”

Crichton meets back with D’Argo, Jool, and Nana Peepers at an Interion archaeological digsite. The secrets of the galaxy are poised to unfold, but the Peacekeepers – led by Commandant Grayza – arrive to put a hitch in the operation.


Kevin

Previously on Farscape… a bunch of stuff we didn’t see the first time around. For those of us that tend to tune out the “Previously On” segments – especially on DVD boxsets ’cause we just saw the previous episode and are most likely bingeing – it’s a bit of a curveball. Scorpius is alive, but through careful plotting by Grayza (read: super pheromone mind-warping rape drug sweat thing), Braca has betrayed him and taken over his forces.

Let’s slow things down here; I want to get this out of the way. We posted a Trigger Warning at the end of last week’s episode, and it’s in full force for (at least) the next two.

Grayza exploits her sexuality to get her way. She is an extremely high rank – the highest ranked Peacekeeper thus far – and this episode leaves very little to the imagination as to how she got it: a combination of super pheromone mind-warping rape drug sweat thing and sheer Peacekeeper ruthlessness. She has no compunction over using it on Braca to order him around, chaining up Scorpius – sticking some sort of mentally-suppressing green vial in his head to do so.

Make no mistake, this is Not Okay by any stretch of the imagination, and major respect points to the writers for not falling into the sadly common-place double standards. If there was any grey area last season as to Grayza’s motivations and innocence, it’s completely gone now. This is Farscape letting us know in absolutely no uncertain terms that Grayza Is The Bad Guy.

That is why, aside from sympathy for the character, I have no issues with how they play out her rape of Crichton. Using her rohypnosweat to first break him, then pulling him to the beach to further humiliate him and use him, she is sending him a clear message: She is in control. It’s a nod to the real reasons behind any rape, which is not about sex at all, but Power. It’s played excruciatingly and brutally straight with Crichton. She takes away any choice he might have in the matter, then rubs his face in it with her constant questions of “Do you like this? Do you like that?” It’s so much that he has to rinse himself off in the ocean afterwards.

Note also that Grayza has no problem with what she’s doing. She even goes so far to claim that her methods are much more morally sound than Scorpius’s, also they get results. She says this while subjecting Scorpius to his own Aurora Chair, placing the aforementioned mind-melting green gunk in his head, and offering him to Crichton as his own personal gimp.

It’s a risky move – cue Noel and his curiously-specific metaphors – but it’s done intelligently, and I personally think the payoff is worth the subject matter.


Noel

I’m not really sure what metaphors Kevin is expecting from me. Grayza is a rapist. A dominator. She’s bent on achieving absolute control over people and will use every single tool in her arsenal to achieve it. For people like Crichton and Braca, she uses sex to tie desire to loyalty and obedience. For Scorpius, she breaks will and removes his ability to mentally function.

But about the rape, I get the impression from the repeated flashes of Granny saying “Peace… sacrifice…” that John is allowing himself give in to Grayza because, ultimately, that’s the move that will get him through another day so he can survive and save the others. It doesn’t remove the darkness of Grayza’s act, but does at least leave him with some nobility – not to mention additional guilt and shame. But what does the “rinse in the ocean” have to do with it? That was a completely separate result of actions taken by Granny, not something John did to symbolically cleanse himself. Sometimes a cigar is just an assassination attempt, Kevin.

Speaking of Granny, I’m immensely disliking her. Yes, her eccentricities are charming and she has that adorable grin, but how are her constant violations of John any worse than what he received from Grayza? Repeatedly now, she catches him off guard by blowing drugs in his face, filling him with visions he doesn’t want to see and forcing him down paths he doesn’t want to take. John just wants to find Moya, pack up, and take off, but Granny drags him into a conflict and revelations about this planet’s history with Earth which, while he may find them illuminating, are still forced upon him. No means no. Even when it comes to pixie dust.

I mentioned the ties between this world and Earth, and I’m surprised it wasn’t played up much beyond seeing the Eye of Horus (suddenly imagining an actual Farscape/Stargate SG-1 crossover). There is the nice touch of Jool’s people being just as stuck up and elitist as she was when we first met her, but I’d expect a little more curiosity on their part when it comes to a specimen that shares a good chunk of their genetic code, yet looks identical to a Peacekeeper. I do like the little romance between D’Argo and Jool, though, and the strain it goes through when she doesn’t defend him to her people, who of course see Luxans as a “lower species”.

A few random thoughts:

  • The Creature from the Ecto-Cooler Lagoon.
  • In one scene, Rygel is delicate as he tries not to wake the elderly pilot. Later, he full on bites into her lip to jolt her out of her slumber.
  • Sikozu and D’Argo. This will be a fun pairing to explore.
  • Speaking of Sikozu, I can’t wait to see how John feels about the modifications she’s made to his module.
  • There’s a few bits, mostly Jool, where the makeup doesn’t really hold up to closeups in harsh natural lighting. And don’t do extreme closeups on a person’s eye when you can visibly see the edges of the contact lens.
  • Only now realizing this is the first season in widescreen. Yay! The transfer is a little grainy but not too bad on my old ADVision DVDs, though I do have to sit through that annoying old “Anime is…!” commercial every time I stick the disc in.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a problem down below and need to go to the nooly.


Weston

It’s worth mentioning that Mele-On’s melons don’t show up until the third act. At least, not on Arnessk. She putters around on the Command Carrier engaging in pretty evil acts for the first half of the episode. Sieving Scorpius through the Aurora Chair for the lulz. Slipping Braca the rohypnosweat. Does she have any scenes in which she isn’t a complete monster?

Wait. That, uh. That was the wrong link. Here’s the right one. Sorry about that, her outfit is a little distracting. And intentionally so, from the way she uses it.

Sikozu and Rygel spend the entire episode onboard Elack, trying very hard to survive on a dying Leviathan whose various systems are failing. The heat’s going, the comms are down, the landing bay doors don’t work, the Pilot is only semi-conscious at best. Sikozu manages to hotwire the Farscape Module, synthesizing a combustible fuel out of things that it really shouldn’t be combusting. She even upgrades the radio to receive Peacekeeper FM. Now imagine what she could do with a real ship. Like, say, D’Argo’s guppy.

Speaking of! It finally has a name! Lo’La, after D’Argo’s dead wife Lo’Laan. It has to be a little bit awkward, explaining that name to an ex-girlfriend. On the flip side, it’ll be very appropriate to kill the man who murdered Lo’Laan with a ship named after her.

Did you catch the priest’s chanting? It’s the Season Three and Four opening theme. Neat connection. And with the pyramid tile Crichton finds with the multiple symbols for “Peace/Security” on it, one of which he recognizes from ancient Egypt, the connections don’t end there.

D’Argo has a lot of fun playing amateur archaeologist. The professionals don’t appreciate it, of course, but he really likes not being a warrior. The little arm-mounted tool they use for removing millennia of accumulation is pretty cool by itself, but the revelation that it fossilizes living tissue is… disconcerting. Also an obvious Chekhov’s Gun, which goes off late in the second act. Someone turns Instructor Vella into a very nice statue, but we don’t know who.

There are only three Interons left on the dig site: Instructor Vella, who Nana Peepers accuses of being a “defiler”, someone with the intent to use the three probes that killed the priests of Arnessk as a weapon of planetary devastation. Tarnat, security guard, little bit trigger-happy. And Jool, who is a hell of a lot less annoying more comfortable in her natural element. Sure, she’s still bubbly and talkative and tempts fate in the very first scene, but she doesn’t scream once. All the rest of the archaeologists have abandoned the site in anticipation of the return of lethal magnetics levels.

The Old Woman is busy busy busy this episode. When she isn’t throwing hallucinogenic dust in Crichton’s face, she’s conspiring with the lobster-man, praying for the soul of Vella, or preparing more hallucinogenic dust to throw in Crichton’s face. Her knowledge of drugs is superlative: She points out a one-legged bug on a wall, snaps the leg off, and suggests that shoving it up Crichton’s nose and squeezing the juice out will make him not care about anything for about five hundred microts. Not even Aeryn. This raises two points: First, Wrinkles’ pharmacological knowledge is astonishing. She’s been around for two hundred and ninety three cycles, and she must have smoked every bong in the Uncharted Territories. Likely that’s what the Peacekeepers nabbed her for. Second, who the frell sticks half a bug up their nose and snorts the juice? Eeeeew.

I’m loving the production in this episode. The wide-angle lens when the Peacekeepers show up, the remarkably cinematic camerawork, the brighter-than-usual lights in the outdoors. Is that just film overexposure?

I’m amazed that Crichton doesn’t pull a weapon on the Creature from the Green Lagoon as soon as he sees it. Maybe he’s getting tired of pointing guns at people.

Previous seasons have had Crichton mindfrelled by magic, technology, psychic probes, eye ticks, light, whatever this is, and plain old time travel. Now he gets hammered by drug-induced visions of priests slaughtering a “goat” and rape juice. This is after he’s pulled himself back together. These are the good days. Oy.

Finally, Scorpius. This is about as far as he’s ever fallen. Interrogated by his own device, eh, that’s nothing new. Losing his fine motor control from a replacement coolant rod that’s been corrupted somehow, that’s bad. Being broken to the point that he’s chained like a dog and forced to literally lick Grayza’s boots? Where did my magnificent bastard go? All of his elegance and mystery? And who else could hold his leash but the recently promoted Captain Braca, former lackey, figurative boot-licker, and now the herald of Grayza’s crusade against Crichton.


Tessa

We brought this up briefly last episode, but I want to touch on it again. I really like the new characters we’ve been given lately. Sikozu and Nana Peepers have been very interesting characters in the very brief time that we’ve had them around. I almost wonder if the writers took a step back, looked at the two weakest characters in the main crew, and decided to start all over with brand new characters to see if they could do it right this time.

We mentioned Sikozu’s character being very similar to Jool’s, only with a much stronger introduction. Now we have The Old Woman filling much the same role as Staark would have prior to this, only I’d argue that she pulls it off far better. She’s mysterious, spiritual, with an almost surreal touch to her, and seemingly only half-sane, which are all traits that Staark had going for him, and yet where his insanity and affinity with the spiritual world could occasionally come off as silly and sometimes painfully convenient, I haven’t gotten that feeling from Peepers. I’m actually very glad that we don’t know much of anything about her, because I think that’s part of what makes her work as a character. Her appearances have all been mysterious and slightly creepy because we know so little of what’s going on with her. She clearly has an agenda of her own, but we don’t know exactly what her motivations are, save that she’s working towards some sort of “greater good” that doesn’t preclude using others around her to reach those ends.

Also? Ick. Very ick. Grayza has barreled head first over the moral gray line into revealing herself to be a total monster as we see just how devastating her “diplomacy” tactics can actually be. When we last saw her, while she was standing against our heroes, her motives and methods actually made her out to be a potentially reasonable person. Here we see that, no, despite her status as a diplomat, she is extremely threatening and we should be terrified of her. She reduces Scorpius, SCORPIUS, of all people, to a sniveling, leashed animal who literally licks her boots.

Also, looks like Scorpius is still alive. Hi Scorpy!


Episode [4.01] – Crichton Kicks || Episode [4.03] – What Was Lost Part II: Resurrection

4 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. By “curiously-specific metaphors”, Noel, I’m referring to your omnipresent mention of yellow testicles.

    Reply
    • Farscape‘s testicles aren’t yellow. They’re either blue or green, depending on whether or not blood is flowing to an erection. And not even I will go so far as to mention Farscape slapping testicles in our face during a rape episode. Some lines should never be straddled and humped.

      Reply
  2. Dinkers

     /  March 13, 2012

    Hey Guys, don’t know how often you check out these pages….but we have be rewatching episodes of Farscape….my hubby says that (Spoiler Alert) Grayza’s baby belong to Crichton. Any thoughts on the subject? Apparently he came to this conclusion because she told him she had a part of him in her….and we all know that Peacekeeper females can control their birth cycle.

    Reply
  3. Am aflat aceasta pagina, dupa ce am cautat despre Episode [4.02] – What Was Lost Part I: Sacrifice
    pe Google. Se pare ca informatia dvs e foarte valoroasa, mai ales ca
    am mai gasit aici si despre ora, ora exacta, lucruri interesante si folositoare.
    Mult succes in continuare!

    Reply

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