Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [4.16] – “Bringing Home the Beacon”

Today, on Farscape

“Luxans are warriors, not diplomats. They are a liability to our peace efforts.”
“So you would just abandon them?”
“Yes. For the greater good.”

In which Ladies Night Out is crashed by the Peacekeepers and the Scarrans. The hangover is head-splitting.


Okay, first things first: Look at that hat. That is a magnificent hat. It’s half as tall as M’Lee ro-NA Raxil Mrs. Ben Browder War Minister Akhna, and she wears it well. That’s the kind of hat that says “Don’t hover over me. Or stand behind me. Or beside me, in case I want to turn my head a little bit. In fact, don’t stand anywhere near me.” It completely fits the War Minister’s personality.

The meet with the black marketeer goes about as well as anyone could have expected; money exchanges hands, Moya’s sensor module is handed over for upgrade, and the ladies find themselves with four hours to kill and a handful of tokens to spend at the various illicit booths. Then, in an astonishingly fortuitous coincidence, Peacekeepers show up. Not all that many, but Marauder commandos are notoriously dangerous. Then a similar number of Scarrans arrive, and we learn that they’re holding a clandestine meeting to prevent a war. That the only thing preventing this war is Grayza’s bluff that the Peacekeepers have wormhole weapons based on the destruction of one Dreadnaught. And that she’s willing to cede Luxan territory to the Scarrans to avoid total war.

Wormhole weapons… wormhole weapons… where have I heard of them in context with Grayza before? Oh yeah, when she shut down the project. Peacekeeper Command could be using actual wormhole weapons by now if they hadn’t jumped that particular gun. Ignoring, for the moment, John Crichton’s hand in the matter; he wouldn’t have had Scorpius breathing down his neck if Grayza hadn’t been hovering over the Carrier like a black cloud. So now Commandant Mele-On Grayza’s only weapon against the Scarrans is a high modified Charisma score and a bluff check. Well played, Commandant. Well played.

The Scarrans, of course, have none of it. Akhna signs Grayza’s treaty, then immediately betrays her. There’s something to be said for bringing an invincible walking tank to a meeting that limits the number of participants. Seriously, unless the Peacekeepers develop an infantry-level weapon that can neutralize/disable/kill a Scarran, any attempt to land troops on a Scarran world would be suicide. The Peacekeepers have no such weapon at this time, so all four commandos and poor Braca go down like sacks of potatoes. Grayza doesn’t even put up a fight, knowing that she has the Constitution score of a slice of cheesecake.

Grayza is thrown into a big sarcophagus of some kind, and Braca just has to chill while handcuffed to some pipes. Poor Braca doesn’t rate a sarcophagus. Three Charrids come in, two of them shoot the third, and surprise! It’s Aeryn and Sikozu! Who are about two seconds away from obliterating both Grayza and poor Braca (who’s trying to tell Aeryn that he’s still on Scorpius’ side, which is marginally better) when Grayza points out that she can annul the treaty she just signed. The ladies go along with it, running into the final Charrid and that damnable walking tank.

Exit, pursued by a Scarran.

There’s a subplot about Chiana wandering around doing Chiana things and getting a massage from a shapeshifting masseuse. Genetic chimerization, engine signature modifications, deep tissue massage, all the wonders a hard-to-find black market can offer. Noranti gets in on the fun while the two are evading Peacekeeper detection, and the two flirt a bit while Braca jabs them for genetic samples, but it’s largely pointless. I’d chew out Braca for using genetic tracing in a black market that specializes in genetic manipulation, but he’s actively sabotaging Grayza’s efforts.

Aeryn and Sikozu both recognize the sound of a Scarran Stryker. Aeryn, I can understand, but Sikozu? What experience does she have with Scarran warships?

Without a Crichton around to generate a Crichton Plan™, Aeryn comes up with one: Assassinate Grayza, run away quickly. As such plans go, it’s a little heavier on the premeditation, and almost as successful.

So. Our heroes manage to escape, having both acquired the sensor distorter and disrupted the Peacekeeper/Scarran summit. They make it back to Moya, reunite with the boys, and Starburst away from the pursuing Dreadnaught. Except that isn’t the end of it. The Dreadnaught remains in hot pursuit, and since Starburst is untraceable it’s deduced that the ladies must have brought back a homing beacon. Several minutes of frantic searching produce nothing, and the crew is beginning to discuss splitting up when Crichton notices something off about Aeryn. She doesn’t know about the baby. She doesn’t know English anymore. Long moments of confrontation lead to the conclusion that this is not Aeryn.

And Crichton shoots not!Aeryn in the head.

That’s gotta be traumatic. Maybe it’s not Aeryn, but it sure looks like her, and our boy John just shot it in the face. Sikozu convinces the Dreadnaught to move along, but the damage is done. Aeryn’s gone. She’s somewhere else, maybe back on the dead Leviathan, maybe somewhere else entirely by now. Scarran Strykers are the fastest thing in space, and she’s on one with two merciless lizards who don’t know her from a commando.

Oh yeah. This is gonna turn out great.


This is another one of those episodes that’s just stuffed full of things going on. The entire thing felt longer than a normal episode, and not in a bad way, because there was something substantial going on almost the entire time.

It’s interesting that we go from an episode that barely features the girls in the crew to one that focuses on them entirely and leaves the boys back on the ship. It was kind of fun getting to see them hold their own in the adventuring, although similar to last episode, I’m not sure I get why the separation across gender lines is happening. At least with Katoya, there was the possibility that he was just “sexist martial arts guy”. There’s no conceivable reason why the guys all stay behind with this one, though. Don’t get me wrong, the two groups of crew members work perfectly well on their own, I just don’t totally understand where the decision to split the crew in that way came from.

Oh god, Rekka’s hair. His HAIR. I’m at a loss for how to make fun of it, because there are SO MANY options. The man looks like a Whoville resident trying to cosplay Doctor Wily and not quite getting it right (I was all set to make a dorky reference complete with a link to something, but I’m spoiled for choice on that front also. Not that it’ll stop me from trying). The crew makes a deal with him to modify their Tachyon Capacitor Sensor Modulator so that Moya can pull the moon out of its orbit evade long-range sensor scans. After a bit of haggling, they reach an agreement, which of course nobody trusts Wily and his cohort to uphold their end of, so Chiana follows him so that she can keep an eye on him. Of course, he immediately vanishes because he’s a ninja he’s a ninja.

I like that up until this point, this episode totally looks like it’ll be about the crew trying to keep from getting screwed over by these guys, until the Peacekeepers and Scarrans show up and the entire thing veers off in another direction entirely. And, in the end, it turns out that, as opportunistic and slimy as the two are, their end of the deal was genuine and they pull through with it, even moving to protect the transport pod from would-be thieves (unfortunately, said “thief” is Chiana, but the point is that their intention is genuine). The part appears to work fine, and the homing beacon wasn’t put there by the two of them. There’s all the buildup to the two not being trustworthy and anticipation of them betraying the girls, but in the end the only thing they’re actually guilty of is having goofy hair.

I’m cool with Sikozu being able to recognize a Scarran ship and the sounds it makes. Between her growing up in Scarran territories and her ability to quickly analyze and memorize things like languages, it’s not that far fetched that she would be able to distinguish between ships. Plus, it adds to the paranoia fuel that she still just might be a Scarran spy after all (which gets played with when she comes under suspicion as the one who brought the beacon aboard, something that of course turns out to be not the case).

It’s almost a little easy to overlook just how massive the developments of this episode outside of the main characters involvement with them in the chaos towards the end. The Scarrans now have a signed treaty giving them the “right” to the Luxan territories, and, quite possibly, a Grayza clone that will back up their claims (assuming, of course, that Grayza was in the machine long enough, which is kind of up in the air). And, failing that, the Scarrans are totally ready to call the Peacekeeper’s bluff on wormhole weapons and ignite all out war. Stuff appears to be about to go down very quickly from here.

And, of course, Aeryn is now captured by the Scarrans, which means that the crew can’t run from the conflict now even if they were inclined to do so before. The worst part is, knowing about their cloning technology, if and when Aeryn shows up again, we now have to worry about it being another clone. And, of course, there’s no real guarantee that she’s even still alive to be found and rescued again (she probably is). The absolutely crushed look on John’s face as all this is sinking in is heartbreaking.

We’re pretty quickly approaching the end of the season (and series!), and it looks like an awful lot is going to start happening. I’m excited!


In terms of execution, this episode is absolutely brilliant. As Tessa said, it seems like there’s so much going on here, but in all actuality it’s only got two plot threads. The A-plot seems like it’s going to be the upgraded Chameleon Circuit for Moya and the difficulties in acquiring it (plus it always seems to get stick on a 1963 blue police box for some reason). Though the prominant storyline for much of the beginning (in quite possibly one of the longest or at least more involved cold opens I’ve seen in a while), it is actually the B-plot, relegated to the wacky background antics of Chiana and Nana Peepers, because the A-plot quickly appears and absolutely dominates the rest of the episode.

We’re clearly in the final arc of the season (and indeed, the series itself). Crichton’s gone home and found he no longer belongs there. Aeryn’s pregnant and they’re back together. D’Argo’s not only found (and lost) his son, but he’s also finally resolved his issues with the death of Lo’Laan. Things are starting to wrap up, questions are being answered, and on the horizon looms the escalation of the growing conflict between the Sebaceans and the Scarrans. It’s been a cold war for the past few seasons, but the events of this episode may well be the spark that transforms it into full-out Peacekeeper Wars (available now where DVDs are sold!).

As simplistic as the episode structure may be – two plots, clear conflicts, simple resolution – the real genius lies in the pacing. The writing and direction of this episode is, quite frankly, some of the most flawless I’ve seen in some time. The twists were subtle but not overpowering – Tessa knocked it out of the park with the interaction between Chiana and the Emerald City Gatekeeper being surprisingly clear-cut and non-exploitative for Farscape – the dialogue was snappy and engaging, and even the visuals were wonderfully executed. The transitions between plot threads are nearly seamless, with Braca being sent to find Crichton’s shipmates (but only coming across a Blue Chiana and a lesbian Ferengi), thus increasing the pressure on the need for the cloaking device.

Artistically speaking, this is my favorite episode of the season thus far. I mentioned the visuals, and Farscape does love to play with rich colors and deep blacks, but what I really think took the cake here was the set design. They were able to save money on building all new sets simply by tossing a green filter on the floodlights and turning the fog machines on overdrive, and what used to be Moya’s interior became a whole new concept of a Leviathan that maybe saw the greatest episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation ever and it kinda sorta didn’t work out. The Farscape team must have been taking lessons from the BBC in making the most of a limited budget, and it definitely shows. The dead Leviathan is creepy, distorted, and certainly not the same place we know and love. Hell, even the fan room they built specifically for this season got a redress and reuse.

And it works.


  • There’s a lot of continuity coming into play here. The Scarrans believe that the Peacekeepers were the ones to take down their dreadnought with a wormhole weapon, and the Peacekeepers are only too happy to let them continue thinking that. Noranti’s out of her usual mind-bending dusts because she keeps using them on everybody. Aeryn’s becoming more and more Crichton-like in her plans. Sikozu can speak Scarran and now everybody else knows that. Braca’s trying to undermine Commandant Cleavage without being obvious, as Weston pointed out. The Luxan treaty from the end of Season Three. Going back all the way to the beginning of the entire series, the Peacekeepers want more authority and expansion into the Uncharted Territories.
  • Chiana looks good in blue.
  • Did anyone else love the fakeout they did at the physical/genetic therapy shack? I thought the Matron and Audrey would turn out to be our friend Doctor Robotnik As A Used Car Salesman And Also On The Atkins Diet, and I was floored when they weren’t.
  • Speaking of our friend Dilbert’s Manager, he did screw them over by taking all of Chiana’s money when she was tied up, but they still got the work done and I’m pretty sure that was much less than four arns. But you know what they say about the service industry, always pad your time and if they don’t challenge it, they deserve the increased labor costs.
  • Seriously, a simple redress of the set is amazingly effective. Especially all the times they show us empty Pilots Dens. With no Pilots in them, it’s FAR CREEPIER. It was creepy on Talyn, it was creepy when they picked up Sikozu, it was creepy on the Eversion Moyas…
  • Hindsight subtlety note here. Go back and watch when the girls get back to Moya, and Not!Aeryn and Crichton share a moment with Scorpius right outside. Crichton has to “remind” her they’re trying to keep their relationship under wraps. She doesn’t know this. She also doesn’t know English or the baby. We’re pretty sure the Scarrans made the switch when Aeryn charged forward on her own, so either A: they could make a bioloid REALLY FAST with an imperfect memory, or the even scarier B: they had an Aeryn copy all along. And were waiting until the perfect moment to swap her.
  • …I just gave myself chills.


That hat. Lord, how I love that hat. I totally want a codpiece of that hat that I can wear everywhere I go just so I can give myself a false reason for why I’ll never get laid. Or I’ll just wait for the day I can purchase my own black market bioloid… of Makeover Noranti… with Weston’s beard…… oh, yeah, that’s daddy’s happy thought…

So, the episode. As has been said, there a hell of a lot going on here, but the others have also pretty much said everything that can be said, so let’s see what I can find to say…

  • This being an all girls show does feel a bit more forced than the last one being an all boys show, but I like how they acknowledge the gimmick by putting them back to back. It’s also a nice way to shake up the cast a little. We’ve seen all those boys play together – with the exception of some of their interactions with Scorpius – but we haven’t had many scenes where it’s just Aeryn and Sikozu or just Chiana and Noranti. Some interesting dynamics come into play, especially in that second pair, which is a shipping couple I never thought of until now, and am suddenly all for.
  • Kevin, I don’t think Sikozu is revealing anything by speaking Scarran, since she doesn’t do so until D’Argo prompts her. I get the sense his scowl afterwards is more from his distrust of what she said than the fact she can say it. And Weston, as Tessa pointed out, Sikozu is from Scarran territories, so it makes perfect sense that she’d know what their vessels sound like.
  • The look of the entire series often reminds me of schlock masterpiece Alien from L.A., but this episode more than any other. I bet it’s the feathered eyebrows. And Chiana has always sounded a bit like Kathy Ireland.
  • I love the two little mohawks on the side of the dude’s head. I keep imagining his head lifting up off of his body and flying away.
  • I love that John almost has to psych himself up in his confrontation of Not Aeryn by literally forcing himself into a bit of his trademark madness, going off on gibberish swaps of baby and beacon, and challenging her with the alphabet. Real Aeryn would have kept up with him, but all Not Aeryn can do is stare.

I… really don’t have anything else to say. The others nailed it. I love the subterfuge, the way the team works together while at each others’ throats, the way a mundane back alley scum plot takes on epic proportions as an unexpected deal suddenly goes down, Francesca Buller playing her fourth – and longest running – character, Scorpius scrambling to get the distorter in place, Braca trying not to be killed by the side he’s on while trying to avoid betraying his allegiances to the side he’s pretending to be on, and Grayza being Grayza. It’s a fantastic episode and a great way to start kicking things into the final arc.

Episode [4.15] – Mental As Anything || Episode [4.17] – A Constellation of Doubt

One ResponseLeave one →

  1. EdWoody

     /  October 25, 2012

    There’s a actually a very good reason why the boys went last week and the girls went this week. It’s because Scorpius set it up that way. It’s stated – albeit very quickly and off-handedly – that both missions were Scorpius’s idea.

    You think it’s convenient that Macton just happened to show up at the dojo at the same time as D’Argo? Nothing is a coincidence – Scorpius invited him (through undetectable back channels, presumably). He is the one who gave D’Argo the information on where to find Macton in “Lambs to the Slaughter,” so it would be child’s play for him to arrange it for Macton to know where D’Argo is.

    Likewise, Scorpius knows about Rygel’s issues with Charrids from their conversation in “I Yensch You Yensch.” And he shows later that he has contacts among the Scarren Imperium. So again, child’s play to arrange a Charrid’s presence at the dojo.

    So that’s D’Argo and Rygel kept occupied, leaving Scorpius to have some alone time with John. “Do me a favour – increase his training.” He wants no distractions.

    Ah, but then the whole thing is one big distraction from the REAL plan, which is to send the girls on their shopping trip.

    You think it’s a coincidence that Aeryn and Sikozu just happen to be on the same dead Leviathan colony as a secret Peacekeeper-Scarren summit? Of course it’s not – Braca told Scorpius all about this meeting in “Kansas.” So without John to throw his usual pull-it-out-0f-his-ass victory into the mess, Aeryn will undoubtedly try to do something to disrupt the meeting (perhaps over loyalty to D’Argo). But what are one ex-PK and a few reprobates against however many Scarrens, Charrids and PKs? So Aeryn gets captured.

    And voila – Scorpius has leverage over Crichton. He knows full well Aeryn is the key, he’s known all along, drug-fueled foolishness or not. And now John will offer him anything – even the key to wormholes – to help get Aeryn back.

    “You set me up.” – John Crichton, A Constellation of Doubt.


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