Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [4.19] – “We’re So Screwed, Part I: Fetal Attraction”

Today, on Farscape

“You nearly killed me.”
“No I didn’t…….. But I did kill others. By my actions, I have taken innocent lives.”
“Welcome to Moya.”

Moya and crew take their first step into Scarran space to track down and rescue Aeryn, only to find her ready and waiting for them. Along with bunches of guards, Charrids, an automated security system than kills anyone carrying a weapon, a Scarran, and a plague of their own making.


This is one of those episodes where they take a great setup, then completely yank the story in another direction, then do it again, then finally wrap it all up with a pretty little bow… which they then strangle a puppy with. Oh how I love it when I don’t have a clue how things will plays out from moment to moment, especially when it all ultimately holds together.

We open with our crew docking Moya into a Scarran-owned base where they’re required to undergo a 5-day period of decontamination before they’re allowed to proceed into Scarran space and to their destination of Katratzi. Yes, our heroes are quietly entering the outer gates of the enemy stronghold, with John once again donning the red leather (but not the accent) of a Peacekeeper and Scorpius, calling himself Wentrask due to the likelihood of their coms being tapped, standing firm in the position of Captain. Yes, Scorpius as the head man of the boat. *shivers*

The station is operated by the Kalish, Sikozu’s people, who were conquered long ago by the Scarrans and turned into a servant race. There isn’t much exploration of this as they stand quite assertively against a Scarran who wants to break through their protocol, but given that the protocol was likely written by Scarrans, I guess I can understand it. Considering we’re suddenly seeing a station full of Sikozu’s people, I’m a little surprised we don’t see much of their unique physiology come into play. No precision memory techniques. No confusion from people unable to use translator microbes when the man claiming to be a Sebacean is speaking English. No architecture specifically designed for a race that can casually alter its gravitational balance. No limb reattachment (imagine a bomb going off and people trying to sort out which limbs are theirs). Nothing is really made of these people at all aside from their leader being a typical clueless bureaucrat and Sikozu having the hots for a dude – which plays out with Chiana, too – in a relationship that doesn’t go anywhere.

I can’t fault them any of this, though, because that’s not what this episode is about. This isn’t the story of Sikozu’s culture or people. They’re just a tasty little background detail that we’re casually introduced to before moving on to the main event. For you see, our heroes, in their quest to reach Katratzi, have just docked in the very same decontamination station as the Scarran freighter that’s hauling Aeryn to the secret prison. And it’s leaving in HALF AN ARN. So now our story turns into a great conman/heist/prison break film where our heroes scramble to get Aeryn and her baby bump out of enemy hands.

And how do they do this? By having Rygel pretend to be sick, Noranti show up as a doctor who can cure him, and then she turns his fake sickness into a real plague that starts to drop people left and right. Whoops. It’s a wonderful twist as everyone comes up with the perfect plan, and then Noranti does the Noranti thing and creates a mess that nobody is sure they’ll actually end up surviving, let alone use as a ploy. Noranti is her wonderful self, being all crazy with digestive juices and herbs, and Rygel is a hoot as her skin peeling victim, but what really surprises me is the final moment, where we see actual guilt break through the unusual reasoning of our resident witch, actual regret that she took lives and put her friends in danger. And Rygel tells her not to dwell on it while also admitting his distate in the lives he’s taken over the years. It’s a brief scene of bonding between these two that comes out of nowhere when you’d expect them to instead be at each others’ throats.

When John learns Aeryn is on board the docked freighter, he has two ideas to get to her, both of which are totally John. First, he pretends to be horny and tries to seduce Aeryn’s Sebacean caretaker. Which doesn’t work. At all. So he instead lures her with what he claims to be a cure for the Hynerian plague. This also doesn’t work as she needs both doses for herself and her patient, meaning she doesn’t need him, but before he gets knocked out of the picture, he spots Aeryn and clonks the caretaker on the noggin. This still doesn’t work, as he’s quickly captured and heat tortured, so it’s off to Plan B: cut the power of both the freighter and the entire station, and go in with a massive gun blazing. This does work, and the lovers are finally reunited with Aeryn’s baby still in her belly.

The big twist is that they have to leave Scorpius behind, which nobody but Sikozu particularly cares about in a moment that’s sure to cement her future relationship with the rest of the crew. And the big twist’s big twist? Harvey’s back! And stronger than ever! Well, no, he’s still buffoonish and can’t put up a fight against John, but he’s been lingering in the shadows of John’s mind this entire time, livestreaming everything he’s found there straight into Scorpius’ head. Meaning Scorpius already knew about John and Aeryn. Meaning Scoripus already knows John has no interest in rescuing him. Meaning he’s just given John the motivation to do so because he already knows everything he needs to about wormhole technology.

Welcome to the kickstarter of Season 4’s final arc, an episode so jam packed with twists and drama and humor and pew pew splodey guns that it alone would have made for an incredible season finale. But there’s still three more to go before this volume of the saga comes to a close, and I’m eager to be reminded of whether or not they live up to the example set here. The broader season sure as hell hasn’t.

Some additional thoughts:

  • Between Rygel, Noranti, Scorpius, and the plague victims, there’s a whole lot of spewing going on in this episode. At least none of it looks like semen this time around.
  • The visual effects of Moya enterting the station are absolutely stunning.
  • Chiana and D’Argo seem back on track for a second go at a relationship, what with their quiet little forehead kiss and all.
  • Man, Aeryn is absolutely broken by this episode. The last time we saw her, she was determined to deal with whoever she had to to keep her baby alive, and now she’s unable to speak and lost between her dreams and reality…… But how is it that, when we see her in the last coule of scenes, she has no marks or holes in her dress from the four nasty things that speared into her abdomen?
  • I should echo the opening episode quote with “You should have killed him.” “My body count’s already too high.”


It’s worth noting that the title for this three-episode arc, “We’re So Screwed”, was added after the series was cancelled. Yes, the producers managed to slip their feelings on the cancellation right up front.

Noranti is on the ball in this one. The boys need a plague, so she reactivates a dormant virus in Rygel. Now Rygel’s sick, so she cures him. The plague can also kill Sebaceans, so she starts whipping up a cure for them… but is nabbed by the Charrids. This, unfortunately, is where things go south. She’s still adapting and improvising as quickly as only someone with three hundred years of experience can, but things are spiraling out of her control. The way she chains from one “oh crap” moment to the next is intense. Eventually the best she can do is delay until rescue arrives – which it does, and right in the nick of time.

She’s previously stated that she has no problem with killing, and has demonstrated that she has the resolve. It’s unfortunate when it’s necessary, but nothing to shirk from. Killing innocent bystanders, though? People who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Those who didn’t deserve a swift and terrible death by skin sloughing? That’s an issue. One that Noranti is going to be doing penance for.

Sikozu also has some significant development going on. She remains an outsider on the crew; someone with the Moyans, but not of them. She’s pulling her weight, but the distrust that Chiana and D’Argo show towards her keeps her separate. Her methods are far more thought out than Noranti’s, but she does a similar job of keeping up with developments. Noranti throws things out to see what works; Sikozu has a whiteboard flowchart containing five viable plans of action (including two separate methods of escape).

Strange, isn’t it, that despite her strong survival instinct Sikozu expresses no concern at possible instant death from the Derma Follica outbreak. And how she can’t use translator microbes, but the Kalish on the station have no trouble understanding English. And what’s that odd glow that Sikozu uses to fuse the controls? Hmmm.

I love the handprint food dispenser. One panel for five-fingered humanoids, one panel for giant hands with claws, and one for… butterflies? What is that, an Elcor hoofprint?

(*checks “Mass Effect reference” off the things to do*)

Rygel just gets hammered here. He self-induces projectile vomiting, comes down with The Plague, and his eyebrows slough off. Man, his poor eyebrows. They’ve been getting it all season. Okay, twice now, but the point stands. No wonder he spends so much time grooming them, they grow almost an inch a day.

This episode has one of my favorite Scorpius lines: “You are remarkably perceptive.” It’s second only to “To what purpose?” from season two.

Scorpy has fully committed to this plan. From start to finish, he’s working hard to ensure that Aeryn is rescued. Once Sikozu discovers that she’s at the quarantine station, he recognizes that it represents their best possible chance to get her back. He insinuates himself into the company of Captain Jennek using Scarran verification codes. Of course Scorpius knows Scarran codes. I wonder what would happen if he was forced into an unfamiliar situation. Besides “be magnificently badass”.

Crichton hatches a hare-brained scheme to get aboard the ore freighter that works amazingly well. He switches it up when he spots Aeryn, but that damnable Charrid catches him, and it’s heat probe interrogation time. Crichton’s method of resistance actually works – maybe Katoya’s hotbox paid off. Telling a series of incomplete yet believable truths is fairly awesome.

Things get worse when Jennek decides to transplant Aeryn’s fetus into Chiana. The Charrids take a transport pod over to Moya, nab her, and are gone before anyone’s the wiser, though she does put up a fantastic fight before being disabled. This forces the rescue plan to be expedited. Sikozu disables the station power so that Crichton can pull a one-man-army with a long-barreled pulse rifle. He kills two Charrids, but leaves the stationmaster alive. The return to Moya exploits station security, D’Argo grabs the windshield stickers, all the ships are released and recovered, and the team gets away clean.

Mostly. Scorpius can’t get away from Jennek subtly, and attempts melee combat against a vastly superior foe. That… ends about as well as you might expect. Nobody beats a Scarran in hand-to-hand.

Still, Moya gets away. The only person remotely concerned about Scorpius is Sikozu, and she’s overruled by Chiana’s fist. Crichton’s just happy to have Aeryn back, and has no problem abandoning Scorpy to the tender mercies of the Scarrans. All told, this is a remarkably successful outcome for a group that seems to have disaster following them. The girl is rescued, everyone’s alive and healthy (mostly), Scorpius is no longer a problem, it looks like they can just sail off an-

(bad Transylvanian accent) “Scorpius, he upgrade me to Harvey 2.0.”

“Vun! Vun plot tvist! Ah ah ah!”

In which – oh, frell.

Harvey’s back. And he’s been feeding Scorpius the contents of Crichton’s mind.

Scorpius, who is now on his way to Katratzi.

With John’s wormhole tech.



Okay, so, uh, I said last week that I wanted the final arc to just pick up and move already, and oh boy did it. Woo!

There’s a vague but interesting parallel between this arc (or, at least the beginning of it) and the final arc to the first season going on here. In both, the crew has to go straight into the enemy’s territory undercover in order to try to save Aeryn. The first time around, of course, it was the Peacekeepers, and here it’s the Scarrans, but it’s a similar set-up. Interestingly enough, the antagonist from the first who is the one that captured a major member of that effort is the one in this one who gets captured himself. I don’t know if this was set up this way intentionally, but I thought it was a neat little comparison.

I love what’s being teased with Sikozu here. From the beginning of this season, there were these constant hints that there was something more to her than she was letting on. The possibility of her being a spy for the Scarrans has been kind of lingering in the background the entire time, and even though she’s come through an awful lot for the crew, they still don’t seem to be entirely trusting of her.

For the first time here, we get to see others of her species. And, as Noel pointed out, there appear to be contradictions in their actions and abilities compared to Sikozu’s. It is possible that they simply aren’t showing it, or that it’s something that was just sort of missed in the writing (Farscape has been known to basically forget its own rules regarding language and translator microbes on more than one occasion in the past), but what if it isn’t an oversight? What does it mean if Sikozu simply has unique abilities that nobody else of her species appears to carry? Adding to that the fact that, as Weston pointed out, she doesn’t seem concerned about contracting the disease at all, and also that we see her use an eerily familiar looking heat beam at the tail end of the episode (something she’s never used before and obviously wouldn’t have used here had the situation not been desperate) and things start getting fishy.

But what exactly does that mean? The possibility of her being a Scarran spy is still there, but if that’s what’s going on, why go to the lengths that she does to help them escape, when she could sabotage the entire thing rather easily and just hand them over. We know from last episode that the Scarrans run grotesque breeding programs with other species they have in their control to try to strengthen and cultivate extra abilities in them in the hopes of then cross-breeding them into Scarran genetics themselves. What if Sikozu is the result of one of those programs? In that case, is she more Scarran than Kalish, which gives her immunity from the plague, or is she some mash-up of even more than that?

We saw in one of the unrealized realities a version of Sikozu that was using the full extent of her abilities against the Peacekeepers for the Scarrans. Was she created with the intention of being a weapon to use against them, and our Sikozu decided she didn’t like that idea and escaped? Or, here’s a scary thought, what if she’s still a weapon waiting to be triggered that the Scarrans are just waiting for the right time to “activate” (given the mental screwery they’re capable of, a conditioned mind-controlled agent wouldn’t seem impossible)?

These are an awful lot of what-ifs and assumptions that I’m making here regarding her, but I feel like we’re very close to a payoff to the mystery that Sikozu has been, and it’s fun to guess.

And then there’s the other season-long mystery having its payoff. Harvey’s back! That sucks for John, but I have to admit that I’m thrilled to see him back in all of his wacky, warped glory. Scorpius didn’t destroy him, he just hid him from John, after reprogramming total loyalty into him and giving him the ability to upload the contents of John’s mind directly to him (not entirely sure how that works, or why if he could do that anyways that the original Harvey didn’t have that ability, but I can go with it). Interestingly enough, despite these “upgrades”, Harvey is still seemingly his own entity. For some reason, Scorpius didn’t reset him to the identical neural clone that he was when he first showed up in John’s brain, he remains a bizarre cross between Scorpius and John in his personality, and starts right off the bat with his return playing Nosferatu and being about as goofy as he can be while still menacing Crichton. I’m not sure why that is (although I’m very glad it’s the case), unless Scorpius somehow either didn’t have the means to actually “fix” him completely (given his limited resources on Moya, that’s actually likely), or thought he would be more effective as he was anyways.

Scorpius’ ultimate plans aren’t totally clear, still, but we know more about the means with which he was trying to pull them off. It wouldn’t have mattered whether or not John came to him willingly with wormhole tech, since Harvey would ensure that it got beamed straight into his head anyways. It also makes the “Aeryn and John have fake relationship issues” plot even more wallbangingly pointless.

And yet, Scorpius still holds his end of the deal with John in attempting to get Aeryn back, even though we now know that he really didn’t need to. It’s not a half-assed attempt to save face, either, at least as far as we can tell, since he does seem to go all in with it, and is the one to get himself captured in the end and nearly left behind. Of course, Harvey’s going to make sure that doesn’t actually happen, although it’ll be interesting to see John try to convince the others to turn around and go back.

On a note that’s totally unrelated to anything else, the Kalish leader reminded me of another character from somewhere, but I can’t for the life of me figure out who. It was driving me nuts the entire time I was watching the episode.


By this point, pretty much everyone has learned how to play Xanatos Speed Chess, and it’s quite possibly the most magnificent example they’ve done yet. Crichton especially, as Weston points out. In fact, it all goes so well that for the first and only time, they are able to do exactly what they needed to do, without losing anyone.

Well, nobody they care about.

Well, nobody anyone but Sikozu cares about.

Story structure is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? As I’ve mentioned before, one of the best ways I’ve ever heard it described was as follows: “Act One, you put the hero in a tree. Act Two, you set the tree on fire. Act Three, you get him down.” We’re still in the setup for this three-parter, which means that the characters are up a tree. Sure, they just rescued Aeryn and the bouncing half-human fetus from Scarran clutches. Sure, they got away pretty much scot-free. Sure, they only caused about half of the fatalities they usually do in these sort of things.

But then Harvey. Harvey Harvey Harvey, not only have we missed you, but we’ve missed you being an actual threat. Of course Scorpius wouldn’t actually get rid of something that might prove to be useful to him in the long run; this is a man who keeps a gun in his head.

I will repeat that. Scorpius keeps a gun in his head. Just in case he finds himself in a situation he can’t talk or menace or manipulate his way out of. And Crichton, someone who has been defined over nearly three seasons as “Not Trusting Scorpius Guy” just let him stick a needle in his brain and trusted him?

Now, as I’ve said, I don’t recall how this plays out, but it’s a bit ambiguous what Harvey’s role actually is. If Scorpius couldn’t create a mind chip that he could download remotely at his super high-tech base, how could he do so on Moya? With a box of scraps? Crichton doesn’t think it’s possible, but the entire season-and-a-half has been about how Scarrans Should Not Get Wormholes. Scarrans getting wormholes would be bad. If there’s even a chance that Harvey is telling the truth about that, no matter how ridiculously small it might be, the galaxy is frelled. Not just frelled, but mega-duplo-super-ultra frelled with a side of fried parents. To ignore this threat would be to doom the universe to Scarran rule, something that Einstein was very clear would be of the very not good.

Regardless, the flames are catching, and the tree is starting to smell like smoke.

Episode [4.18] – Prayer || Episode [4.20] – We’re So Screwed Part II: Hot to Katratzi

One ResponseLeave one →

  1. EdWoody

     /  October 29, 2012

    The reason the head Kalish looks familiar is that he’s played by the same actor as Kaarvok from “Eat Me.”


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