Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [4.14] – “Twice Shy”

Today, on Farscape

“I know you can see me. Bad guys always see me. My plans suck. People die. It’s always a mess.”

In the unglorious return to Tormented Space, Our Heroes barter for some maps to survive… and an extra, unexpected purchase, as well.


Ah, the glorious return to mindfrell. We know this because even Crichton says it. It can be looked at as a resolution to open questions, or as simply a return to the strange/zany/frelled-up madness of everyday Moya life, but one thing is for certain, I expect this episode to be a bit polarizing. Since I already know what Tessa’s thoughts on some of these things are (I get to see her reactions first-hand), I’ll go ahead and say that I liked where this episode went, in pretty much every way.

First off, I love it when the A-plot of an episode is merely a metaphor for what’s really going on, and when the B-plot is actually the more important foreground element here. So too is the story of The Amazing Spider-Girl, “rescued” from the traders that she actually controlled and killed, who is now running amok on Moya. The point of this plot is not the girl, nor is it the spider, but her rather ingenius method of drawing out the most prominent trait of a person – the driving force of their spirit, if you will – and then harvesting it when it’s at its peak. Having been with these characters for nearly four years now, we recognize it right away as it’s heightened and then removed: D’Argo’s rage, Rygel’s greed, Chiana’s sexuality, Aeryn’s confidence, and Crichton’s determination. Each of those may not be the only defining characteristic of Our Heroes, but they’re important enough to leave them practically helpless without it. It’s especially interesting that Scorpius’s defining attribute is not his Magnificent Bastardry, since he slips into more of a Scarran CRUSHKILLDESTROY before he’s harvested. Rather, his Magnificent Bastardry and cool exterior is what he uses to suppress his Scarran side, and the knowledge that it’s the more dominant side is, frankly, terrifying.

But consider Crichton’s. His determination, his resolve to never give up ever ever ever. It’s not very surprising to us, but it’s a nice nod to what we already know about him. But even in his self-defeatist attitude, we’re told a very foreshadowy hint about the John/Aeryn B-plot, the arc that’s been plaguing us since the beginning of this season. When his determination is taken away, one of the first things he does is complain that he’s losing Aeryn, that he has already lost her, that they’ll never get their back. But wait! Before Spider-Girl came on board, he was going around saying… that he’s losing Aeryn, that he already lost her, that they’ll never get their relationship back.

It’s enough to make the final revelation – that he’s been intentionally trying to forget Aeryn and push her away, rather than reacting poorly to the situation – less of an ass-pull and more of a defining moment. And you know what? As wrong or right as we want to believe his actions were, they’re at least partially justified in that he’s doing it to prevent Scorpius from getting to him through Aeryn and the baby. Because that’s what he’s afraid of most. And we don’t know if he’s right about it, nor do we know anything beyond Scorpius A: having plans for Crichton and B: tapping the comms, apparently, but Crichton is completely right to be afraid of this.

This is the Scorpius that held him and tortured him for little reasons other than “That guy looks unfamiliar, let’s see what he knows about wormholes”. This is the Scorpius that hunted him for two seasons, coming very close to capturing him many times, and who effortlessly toyed with him half the time. This is the Scorpius who would kill everyone on Moya, in a heartbeat, if doing so would somehow cripple the Scarrans.

Crichton may be paranoid, but I can’t blame him. I don’t know if he’s right about Scorpius, but he’s right to be concerned that it might happen. Batman’s superpower is paranoia after all, and look where it’s gotten him (i.e. Not Dead Yet).

Notes for this episode:

  • I actually had trouble locking down exactly what Aeryn’s dominant trait was, before settling on “confidence”. I was thinking, “Calm? Sebacean superiority? No, those don’t quite work…” But confidence fits her to a T. Confidence in herself, in her own abilities, in her team/squad/shipmates/family…
  • Nana Peepers in Badass Granny Combat Mode! Noranti is awesome, and it took me until this rewatch to understand that. First run around, where I kept missing episodes of the third season and most of the fourth, all these new characters confused and annoyed me, so it’s refreshing to be able to grow with them naturally.
  • Sikozu is certainly turning into more and more of a mystery. Detachable limbs we already knew, but she’s immune to Spider-Girl’s harvesting? What other secrets does she have?
  • Poor Chiana. Always getting the shaft (usually because she’s not getting the shaft). And she means well, too.
  • What do you mean, “But you brought the Vorc”? The Vorc did what it was supposed to!
  • Oh, Tormented Space. One day we may find out why you’re so Tormented. Apparently you need radiation shielding, and now maps.


This week’s episode is about a giant spider that eats peoples’ personalities. And after she’s defeated, our heroes cook her up as spider soup and eat her. You’re welcome, Tessa!

It’s always fun when the creators decide to mess with the entire crew in strange ways, from making them go insane, to having them play dress up as one another, to giving them a Freaky Friday to spend in one anothers’ bodies. Here we get something similar, but it feels deeper than the usual air of shenanigans as it cuts straight to the heart of who these people have come to define themselves as over the course of the show. As the most defining characteristic of each of the characters is exaggerated by Talikaa, they almost become parodies of themselves, with D’Argo going angry commander, John increasingly driven to push forward and give everyone guidance, Rygel pulling such a massively simple swindle that he could screw up the entire ship’s ability to function in tormented space (which I refuse to capitalize until it earns it), and Chiana so horny you could hang coats on her. And then the show takes a huge turn by taking these things away. We see Aeryn as hyper and panicky, her stability no longer there to focus and guide her. We see D’Argo as pacifistic and meek. We see Rygel as charitable and Chiana as sexless. And John can hardly get himself to stand up and move, to the point where he’s just laughing as he asks the villain to kill him and she says no. And, yet, the heroes triumph. They’re an absolute wreck without the things that make themselves themselves, but they still function, and without their individual quirks, they’re actually better able to focus on the immediate situation without getting distracted. As themselves +10, they were unable to function. As themselves -10, they pull together and sort things out. Even John, crushed and mojoless as he is, still confronts the evil, gives the others leadership, and saves the day.

As for the rest of the cast, with Noranti dismissed as too old to be worth eating or seen as a threat, she rises to the occasion and uses her own skewed way of seeing the world to give the others clarity. Scorpius is trapped in his heightened self the longest, his suppressed traits heightened to the point where they look ready to rip out of his body. Once they’re done making him violently spew and roar, of course. Sikozu is not only immune to the creature, but she’s young, making her a threat, so she’s disabled with Talikaa unaware that torn off limbs can simply be reattached. Talikaa makes a point to say that she herself is absolutely ruthless, so I wonder if, that being a key trait of Sikozu’s character, there’s nothing there for Talikaa to consume that she doesn’t already have.

This is an episode all about relationships. We clearly see the bond that’s been forged between Sikozu and Scorpius as he races to her injured side, pledging death to whoever’s responsible and barely quelling his rapidly building Scarran monstrosity to help tend to her wounds. Chiana throws herself at a disinterested John yet again (with no callback to her having deflowered him back in the day, once again rendering that episode largely meaningless), then has a moment where she physically tests her desires on D’Argo, only to find them completely dead. I know his obvious arousal is played for laughs, but it’s nice to see a fleeting connection between these two again after how strained their relationship has been for quite some time now. And then there’s John and Aeryn. He’s been whiffing poppers to forget her. She found out and is disgusted, betrayed, and left wondering why she even continues to bother. And then he drops the bombshell that puts the entire season up to this point in a new perspective. Yes, he does still love her. No, he hasn’t been trying to forget her. He’s been trying to suppress things so Scorpius won’t have any ammunition to hold over John. We all know Scorpius isn’t going to turn over a new leaf like Crais did, and it’s starting to sink in to our characters that, though they’ve given him free movement around the ship and occasionally accept his guidance, he is not to be trusted. At all. I love the moment where Aeryn starts to dismiss John’s claims as paranoia, only for Scorpius to play his hand exactly the way John expected him to.

This is a solid episode, with a cleverly written script that could have been gimmicky, but instead feels very authentic to the characters and richly developed. My only issues are that Talikaa looks way too much like Snooki from Jersey Shore, which isn’t a fair complaint as this predates that, but it was stuck in my head nonetheless, and that Rygel screwing over the ruling power in this sector of space is fully resolved instead of creating lingering consequences that haunt the crew for episodes to come. Don’t get me wrong, there’s technically no way it could as the resolution of that plot is fully necessary given the rules established throughout the story, but it would have been a fun angle to explore.

Three last points, then it’s off to Weston:

1) John not only kills the villain, HE EATS HER!!! Hell, the whole crew serves her up as soup. Sure, she was a monster, but unlike the past beast they stuck on a spit and roasted up, she was a sentient life form. I’m a little surprised they took it there.

2) This is the first of two episodes in this final season which were written by David Peckinpah, nephew of legendary filmmaker Sam Peckinpah. David had made a good name for himself in television before this, being one of the head writers and producers behind Beauty and the Beast (the Ron Perelman one), Silk Stalkings, and Sliders. Sadly, a heart attack claimed his life at age 54. Just three years after this episode was written.

3) I totally jizzed a little at the sight of Scorpius orally splooging on his own face.

Snot funny.


I could have gone my entire life without reading that. You have scarred me again, Noel. My brain is starting to look like Zsasz.

…though it was kinda neat how the splooge dripped down into his ey- no!

First, the thing I do not like: The giant spider CGI is hideous. It is the most obvious CGI that I can recall since that time Rygel walked into the giant bug orifice. After the fantastic shots of Lo’la last episode, this is pretty glaring. Also, I can’t quite figure out how big it is. Is it a little bit smaller than D’Argo? Is it huge, with long limbs that can smack Crichton around like a rag doll? Is it a little smaller than D’Argo with really long legs? Between the two perspectives we see it in, I can’t tell.

On the subject of the spider, I wonder if it would be useful as a biological weapon. Drop a colony of these things onto a Scarran world and watch the inhabitants grow lethargic and fall over. Not as effective as a xenomorph (and wouldn’t that be a cool episode), but still efficient. Especially with that scream attack. Figure out how that works, build a speaker system to replicate it, and bam armor-piercing stun weapon that works on everything up to and including Sebacean-Scarran hybrids.

How many different creatures and/or people has Chiana brought aboard? The Vorc is the only one referenced, but there was also Maldis’ sculpture-thing and Hubero. Her track record is two of four, and that’s not half bad. To ignore the good ones reinforces the “our plans always suck” theme, but downplays the successes.

Chiana is finally pulling out of the unspecified-assault-induced state that she’s been locked into for half the season, and just in time to help a victim of unspecified-but-strongly-implied-to-be-rape. It’s taken a while, but she’s getting back to the more protective mother role that she was slipping in to towards the end of season three. She’s even the one who puts everything together, discovering that Talikaa has stolen the strengths of their various characters.

I think the spider soup that Noranti cooks up at the end is the distillate of energy orb that everyone needs to restore their mojo. The image of the Diagnosan was talking about it on the trader’s vessel. Or… y’know, on review, I’m not sure how they got the mojo back in. It says something about proximity, so I guess the neural energy just jumps back into whatever the spider siphoned it from? Odd.

I will forgive this episode for both the spider and the mojo in a bottle for the last scene. Crichton and Aeryn have been building up to this since the coin toss, since Crichton came aboard to find Aeryn and Scorpius, since he started huffing Noranti’s poppers. It is literally my favorite scene in the entire series.

Sikozu designed a new module for Scorpy’s head cooler. Not only does it turn the rod from red to blue, but it also has four rods. And spins. A significant upgrade, but does it have room for a one-shot pulse weapon?

Chiana kisses D’Argo for the first time since Jothee left. That’s fairly significant.

Noranti actually cooked something that tastes good. And people eat it. How weird is that?

I’m trying to type more, but Peacekeeper Wars is looming large over my brain. We’re almost two months away, and I’m already cringing.


Alright, let’s get this out of the way.

I do not like this episode. At all. Sure, I like some ideas that it delves into, but the episode as a whole? Nuh uh. Not a fan.

To be absolutely fair to it, it’s not entirely the fault of the episode itself. We’ve gone into my crippling insect phobia before, and the giant spider kind of came out of nowhere and totally freaked me out, and this was one of those episodes where I didn’t actually watch half of it because my eyes were closed.

That’s actually the smaller of the two issues that I had with this episode, though, so before I go into total rant mode, let me go into the stuff that I did actually like about this episode.

The idea of the crew’s strongest trait being magnified before taken away from them completely was really cool, and I loved the insight we got on each character as a result. It wasn’t anything we didn’t already know (save for one exception, but I’ll get to that), but it was an interesting exploration of the characters regardless, and seeing them be extra-themselves only to have them become not-themselves right after was fun.

Scorpius, though, is where the really interesting bit was. His strongest trait isn’t being the cool-headed strategist and evil mastermind that we’ve come to know and love, but rather the primal raging strength of his Scarran side. Which he keeps under control at pretty much all times. That’s his strongest trait, akin to Chiana’s sexuality, D’Argo’s anger, and Rygel’s greed, and he suppresses it with sheer force of will at all times. That’s a scary level of willpower. If it doesn’t seem that impressive, imagine the others in that position. That’s like Chiana never acting on her libido ever. It’s like Crichton giving up. It’s just something you can’t see happening, and yet Scorpius does it all the time. That’s both awesome and kind of frightening given that we get hints at the end that his heel may not have turned face as much as he wants everyone to believe.

Okay. Here it is. Apologies to Weston, who just named it his favorite bit of the episode, but I hate the end scene. I literally sat there gaping at it, not believing the plot twist they just pulled at us, before straight up yelling at the screen (Kevin was there, he got to witness it first hand). Seriously?! We have this long, emotionally powerful conflict all season long between Aeryn and Crichton, two people who are crazy about each other and yet keep making stupid flubs because they’re flawed people in a string of bad situations that keep them just out of arms reach of each other, except oh wait I guess that’s just Aeryn because it was Crichton’s plan all along and he was doing it all on purpose.

No, there isn’t any need to explain it to me, I do understand the point of the plot, and it does technically work, but my god what a punch in the gut to anyone that actually got emotionally involved in this whole plot thread. It’s an unbelievably cheap way to bring that conflict to an end, and it frankly waters down the entire damn arc of this season’s look at their relationship when it turns out that all of those seemingly stupid moves Crichton was making were totally on purpose and he gets to waltz away looking like the big strong hero because he was “just doing it to protect her and the baby”.

No. Bullshit. And, not that it would make it any better, but why not just tell her what’s going on while they were on Earth? Even if we’re buying the idea that the coms get to send messages through wormholes, he could take the damn thing off and pull her into another room and be like “oh hey, I’ve been a total dick to you, it’s cool cause here’s why”. I guess the idea is that he was totally trying to break it off with her completely to “save” her (which is a trope that I absolutely despise, by the way, made even worse here because Aeryn has been established as a strong woman who can hold her own as well as if not better than Crichton), but it very obviously hasn’t been working and Aeryn’s a big girl and you can let her in on it and goddammit just grrrr.

Oh, and also? He’d better be quadrupling up on those forget-me-drugs now, because, uh, they’re gonna have to be pretty damn convincing about their “we’re broken up no really for reals” thing to not trigger Scorpius’ built-in lie detector. Somehow I doubt that would be an easy thing to pull off if they’re secretly back together now.

Episode [4.13] – Terra Firma || Episode [4.15] – Mental as Anything

5 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Kernezelda

     /  February 3, 2012

    Tessa, I also hate the final moment. Scorpius is no fool, and everyone on board knows that Aeryn is pregnant. Whether it’s Crichton’s or not, he is consumed with thoughts of the family he wants with Aeryn. This is no secret, either, whatever he believes he’s projecting. Scorpius has seen what Crichton will do for D’Argo’s son – what won’t he do for one he’s convinced is his/his other self’s/Velorek’s/random guy’s/Aeryn’s?

    A lot of ‘shippers take this as a romantic moment, but I think Crichton is lying to Aeryn about having pretended all this time. I don’t think he’s dealt with the situation at all. It looks to me like he’s just trying to take what he can get – not trust for Aeryn, truly, but the semblance so he can have the affection and closeness he craves without having her constantly questioning him. Yes, Scorpius is listening – he’s not going to ignore any opportunity that will serve him (see Spy Braca) to influence Crichton. But that’s incidental, because the issue isn’t Scorpius, it’s Aeryn. She brought Scorpius home, she may be carrying Crichton’s child, she leaves and comes back – and it’s everything else that’s bearing down on him. But this with Aeryn he can superficially fix.

    It’s not genuine. It’s not earned.

  2. As much as I was swept away by the ending like the others, your review has me tossing it around in my head, Tessa, and I’m ultimately coming down on your side. I think it’s well written, nicely directed, and beautifully acted…. but it technically doesn’t work. If he hasn’t been trying to forget her, then what have the poppers been peeling out of his skull? Has he even been using real poppers lately, or did Noranti whip him up a batch of placebos so he could keep up appearances? And, yeah, why wouldn’t he trust Aeryn from the start? She’s one of the most stable and constant forces on the ship, so it’s not like she’d slip up around Scorpius and give their ruse away. Hell, two pairs of eyes mapping out the movements of Scorpius is better than John going at it alone.

    It really does feel tagged on, and I have to wonder if it actually was. Maybe they were setting up a plot threat that ultimately fell apart and they had to make a course correction. Maybe they had a setup they ultimately realized they didn’t have a clue what to do with, so they dropped this in there as a way out. Maybe some higher up were getting tired of the distance between what’s supposed to be the romantic leads (“Not enough steamy sex fondling, says we!”) and decreed the change, leaving it feeling sudden and tagged on.

    I’m not sure what happened here but, yeah, it ultimately doesn’t fit and again stays true to a season that I’ve found, overall, to be rather uneven and slapped together.

  3. Schmacky

     /  February 3, 2012

    Yeah, I’m of the opinion that John was full of crap when he gave his reasons to Aeryn. He was lying. Making it up as he went along. She finally confronted him and instead of dealing with their issues and telling her why he’s really been a dick, he blames it on Scorpius. Now, I’ll give John a little bit of credit because I do believe him when he says he knows Scorpius was monitoring the comms, and that could have something to do with how he acts towards Aeryn.. but that’s not the whole reason, it’s not even the main reason.

    So, he plays that reason up, and Aeryn is just so damn happy he’s actually *talking* to her she doesn’t even realize and/or notice how *stupid* that reason is. Especially since they spent who knows how many months on Earth with Scorpius on the other side of a wormhole. And let’s not forget Caroline. Was Caroline part of the plan for John to fool Scorpius (who, again, was on the other side of the damn wormhole…)?? No, no she wasn’t.

    I just pretend sometime after this scene Aeryn goes, “Wait a minute.. that doesn’t make… you… frelling drannit!!” haha.

    So yeah, I agree with you all on the frustration of that last scene. I like the scene for what it represents – their reunion and everything. But, I just hate how it plays after he asks Pilot to test the comms. Before that, though.. golden. I love Aeryn getting in his face about his drugs.

  4. Rita Lewis

     /  February 3, 2012

    Kernezelda, I am ambivalent about the tag and love the episode for revealing all the underlying emotions of our crew. John is majorly screwed up and takes it out on Aeryn. He was repeatedly rapped by Grayza and hasn’t told anyone, least of all Aeryn. I think it is this violation on top of Aeryn’s betrayal of bringing Scorpius on board and then Aeryn making him promise to accept him that has him taking the drugs. It is all spoken of in John Quixote — Aeryn wasn’t his princess in fact, the Butler is Harvey and a liar and John is the cause of much death out of love. His life sucks and he makes bad mistakes and doesn’t know who to trust. So, I think he believes what he says to Aeryn in the tag, but it is a lie. He took the drugs to numb himself because he sees betrayal everywhere. He can’t trust anything.

    Aeryn forgives him quickly. I think there is more talk later between them and what a talk. There have been many fan ficts that cover how John does or doesn’t address the rapes and his feelings of betrayal. Aeryn is is center and when she falls out, his life falls apart. Twice Shy shows this in many ways. That’s why I like the episode and get frustrated with the tag being too quick.

  5. EdWoody

     /  October 23, 2012

    You’re definitely right that Scorpius is no fool. You have to watch the next three episodes to put all the pieces together as to what he’s up to, but it’s definitely there.


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