Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [4.20] – “We’re So Screwed, Part II: Hot To Katratzi”

Today, on Farscape

“What am I offered for all the powers of the universe?”

In which the Moyans once again penetrate a hostile base to suppress the use of wormhole technology. This time, they’re dropping in uninvited, and the security measure is rather more… extreme.


Weston

This episode starts strong and stays there. Scorpius is in Akhna’s tender talons under constant torture, and Lo’La is riding to the rescue. The Crichton Plan is to stride into Katratzi, wave the potential sale of his wormhole technology under the Emperor’s nose, start a riot between rival factions within the Empire, and escape in the confusion. The key to this ridiculous plan? Crichton built a pocket-sized nuclear bomb, and is wearing it like a fashion accessory.

Repeating that: Crichton’s wearing a nuke. One rigged with multiple redundant deadman switches – if any of a dozen parameters are exceeded, the bomb will detonate. John Crichton goes out with a bang, as does Aeryn, most of a hidden Scarran base, and hopefully Grayza. Though it would be really nice if the bomb didn’t go off at all.

Negotiations are underway between Emperor Staleek of the Scarrans and Commandant Grayza of the Peacekeepers. One has the overwhelming force necessary to utterly crush the opposition, and the other is playing out a bluff for all she’s worth in the hopes that by the time the truth is revealed it won’t be a bluff anymore. Grayza’s got a killer poker face, but that won’t help her at all when it’s time to show the cards. Then Crichton crashes in, dances on tables, and turns her negotiations into a bidding war. Now her plan to stall for time has to incorporate a way to prevent Crichton from just handing the tech that she needs over to the Scarrans. Hell, if she can get it in the process, shortcut her own path to wormhole weapons, that’s not a bad outcome.

Granted, she could have had wormhole weapons a cycle ago if she hadn’t been so keen on shooting Scorpius in the back. Whoops.

The only concession that Crichton grants her during that first meeting in the conference room is maintaining the fiction that Peacekeepers already have the weapons. He recognizes that threat as the only thing keeping Scarrans out of Peacekeeper space for the moment, and prematurely revealing the truth would be… bad. Among other things, Crichton’s statuesque daughter is directly between these two forces.

Each member of the team, now acting as a cohesive unit, has their area of responsibility. Chiana and Noranti are on recon, scouting the base for Scorpius and possible escape routes. Sikozu is assigned to infiltrate and influence the Kalish, as D’Argo and Rygel do the same with the Charrids. Crichton is waving his Fat Man around with Aeryn running bodyguard.

Chiana gets the chance to confront Jennek, the Scarran from the border post. It’s brief, and painfully unsatisfying for her. Apparently Scarrans are as invulnerable in their vulnerables as they are everywhere else.

D’Argo gets to drinking with the Charrids before bringing Rygel in to engage in negotiations. The Dominar is at his best here, charming and swaying a general from a genocidal species that he hates with every bone in his tiny body. The seeds that he plants bloom fantastically.

Sikozu… man, that was unexpected. D’Argo has to schmooze his way into the Charrid’s den. Sikozu just walks up, identifies a member of the Kalish resistance movement against the Scarrans, flashes her ID at him by spinning her eye around (what.), and outs herself as a bioloid. So wow, that’s three things we didn’t know about her in about four seconds. Explains why she couldn’t accept translator microbes – she doesn’t have a colonizable brain stem. In less than a minute, she lays everything out for the resistance member she found in the Kalish command structure and lets him do the heavy lifting on the riot. He influences his boss, hands over the code for the elevator to the flower room, and kickstarts the riot. It’s refreshingly nice to have friends in high places.

That elevator. Nobody ever figured Scarrans for hippiemancers, but the highest security area on the base is a cavern filled with red flowers. Flowers that Staleek calls a delicacy when offering them to Crichton. Flowers that Crichton insultingly identifies as hummingbird feeder. Flowers whose precise importance to the Scarrans is unknown to their thrall races. Flowers that we have actually seen before.

Emperor Staleek gives orders to disable the car alarm on Lo’La to access the starcharts and logs. That could be bad.

Crichton gives Staleek the coordinates for a wormhole – the partly unstable one that leads into the network. That could be extremely bad.

I’ve actually lost track of the number of twists in this episode. Next on my list: Stark’s back! Working for the Scarrans! Interrogating Scorpius! And intending to use his Stykera ability to absorb Scorpius’ knowledge when he dies. Suddenly awkward. Guessing he didn’t find Zhaan.

Akhna is brutal and effective. Her disbelief in the strength of her enemies is a remarkably strong asset, from Grayza’s wormhole weapons to Crichton’s bomb. Her interrogation of Scorpius, her bringing in Stark to interrogate Scorpius, her use of the heat probe on Crichton after being specifically told that it would trigger the bomb… she’s dangerous. I can see why Scorpy likes her.

Scorpius has been working as a spy for Staleek for ten cycles. Could explain how he knows Scarran spy codes. The Emperor releases him into Crichton’s custody as a gesture of good faith, believing that Scorpius will get him what he wants. During the escape, that turns out to have been an effective gamble.

The confrontation between Crichton and Scorpius is really something. These two have been at each other’s throats for three years. Scorpius is in a position of weakness, and Crichton has one goal: Prevent wormhole knowledge from falling into Scarran hands. Well, two, if you count escaping alive. But the first is easily accomplished by killing Scorpius. As interrogation techniques go, it’s quick.

The riot and subsequent escape attempt is fairly awesome. Kalish climbing the walls, Charrids knocking them back off. D’Argo and Sikozu using the same trick multiple times to get within punching range of guards. Noranti testing out her powder on a Scarran. Braca popping a Charrid in the back to enable Scorpius’ escape. Everything seems to be going according to plan… until Scorpius punches Aeryn in the face and tackles Crichton. Is he doing this for Staleek? Does he still have Crichton’s best interests in mind?

And as the screen freezes on Crichton’s enraged face, the rapid beeping of the bomb carries us to the closing credits.


Tessa

This is another one of those episodes that’s just jam-packed with things. We get a few questions answered, and a lot more raised, and everything is about to come to a head in a big way.

So first off, we finally get our answer as to just who Sikozu was all this time. She’s a bioloid, but apart from that, she’s part of a resistance group against the Scarrans. This does explain both why translator microbes wouldn’t work on her and her ability to learn languages at an alarmingly fast rate, as well as being able to re-attach lost limbs, traits that normal Kalish don’t appear to share (the ability to walk on walls, however, does appear to be a normal Kalish trait, as we finally see them do it in this episode). It also goes a ways to explaining why she was so interested in striking up a closer alliance with Scorpius, as they shared the exact same goals.

Or… did they? The reveal that Scorpius actually has been a Scarran spy the entire time took me completely by surprise, and I find myself really hesitant to buy into anything in particular just yet. Obviously, Scorpius has been working as a spy for the Emperor based on their conversation, but his motives could still be just about anywhere at this point. Was his backstory a fabrication (either in part or in total), and was he using Peacekeeper resources to research wormholes not to use against the Scarrans but to deliver to them? Or is he playing a double agent to both sides, and is only trying to save face? Were the Red Flowers we’ve seen in his quarters before now some sort of payment or perk to the deal from them, or did he just manage to get his own from somewhere? If he really is loyal to the Scarrans over the Peacekeepers, then why doesn’t he hand over what he knows about wormholes? For that matter, does he really even have any of that knowledge, or was Harvey’s claim that he beamed the information straight to his brain a total lie to get Crichton to head after him?

There are so many angles to come at this with, and all of them seem totally plausible. I’m really excited to get a resolution on this.

On the flip side of the coin, Grayza kind of faded into the background for me in this episode. Obviously the real action is going on with the Scarran side of the debate, since Grayza isn’t the one that has what the crew is trying to get, but something just bugged me about her role in the whole thing. I think part of it is that my mind is still sort of boggling at her doing a total 180 on the wormhole angle without batting an eye, when she took active steps to ensure than the research project was shut down. It could just be total denial from someone who is very sensitive to her reputation about the fact that she made a rather massive misstep, although there’s a tiny little potential stray plot thread floating around that maybe she knew (or suspected) the truth (whether it does turn out to be true or false) about Scorpius’ ties to the Scarrans, and was looking to shut him down rather than the actual idea of looking into wormhole tech.

It’s a stretch, maybe, but it’s possible, and seems to fit the least awkwardly for me, because otherwise the whole thing is just a really big “Oops” moment for her.

Also, Stark’s back! With hair!

It might seem a little weird that he’d defect to the Scarrans just because they give him a shot at revenge against Scorpy (since he really should know what it is he’s actually agreeing to hand over to them and why it’s a bad idea), but then again, this is the man who totally slaughtered his people on a whim. It kinda makes sense that Stark has just a little bit of a lapse of judgement when it involves Scorpius. I have to wonder what he thinks of John by now if he knows that Scorpius has been hanging out on Moya.

Oh, and those Red Flowers. What exactly is it that’s so important about them to the Scarrans that they need to be locked away under high security? Are they just that enthusiastic about snacking, or are these the kinds of things that turn cute little bunny rabbit people into raging monsters?


“Huzzah!”


Kevin

The middle of any trilogy is always a precarious position. It often ends up the weaker point due to storyline limitations or necessary exposition, or it can completely knock it out of the frelling park due to genius use of narrative flow. I’m not quite certain where I’d put “Hot To Katratzi” just yet, but by sheer usage of narrative causality I’m leaning towards the latter.

Let’s recap. Act One, we put our guy up a tree. They rescued Aeryn, there were complications and Scarrans along the way, but they got her and The Baby – who I will hereafter refer to as Skippy as that was my parents’ catch-all name for all four of us before we were born and had names decided upon – out of the Mobile Eugenics Platform and, more importantly, rescued Aeryn from that hideous yellowish jumpsuit. (If there’s one thing that Scarrans have to answer for, it’s that horrendous crime of fashion.)

Act Two, we set the tree on fire.


Didn’t I see this scene once before?

There are a couple points that Weston and Tessa brought up that I’d like to explore a bit further, here, because while there’s quite a lot to talk about in this episode, these were the things that stuck out to me the most.

First off: Sikozu Shamwow Shibata Sommerset you know the joke I’m trying to make here. We’ve learned that she’s a bioloid, yes, but what does that mean? The last bioloid we encountered was of Scarran manufacture, so either there are more organizations out there with this technology, or the Scarrans are playing the really, really, really long con. It explains a lot about her, such as why she only eats once a fortnight, but it also raises a lot more questions than it answers. For example: Does this mean there’s a Sikozu out there, hidden in some Scarran cage, who doesn’t know anyone on Moya at all? (Or, more likely, is that Sikozu dead? It’s been at least a full cycle since we met her, and a year in Scarran captivity…) Or – and here’s a scarier thought – was “Sikozu” created from the ground up to serve a specific purpose? What purpose is that, anyway? Is that why she was a Scarran spy in that Unrealized Reality? Is that also why her hair is so supernaturally amazing?

Of course, if we allow the variable ScarranSpy to be declared value=TRUE, then what does that mean for the apparent Kalish Infiltration? We’re led to speculate that the bioloid incursion is meant to destabilize either the Kalish’s dependence on the Scarrans, or a coup-d’├ętat on the Scarrans altogether? Or is it something else entirely? We haven’t been given nearly enough to make an informed guess, and the series is winding down to the close. Perhaps, like the Nebari, it’s an unanswered question… but then again, we have an entire miniseries, and Sikozu’s on the cover of my DVD case.

I could speculate all day, with diagrams and flowcharts and Sweet Bro And Hella Jeff references, but the main point is, it’s mysterious. We don’t know. We’re not meant to know. We’re meant to have an ominous unsettling feeling, especially considering her close ties to Scorpius.

Speaking of Scorpius… I’m on the fence here, and here’s why: Throughout the series, we’ve been shown that Scorpius Does Not Lie. He misleads, he tricks, he cajoles and flatters and dances around merrily but he never lies, because he knows that the truth is that much scarier. The truth can cut deeper than any lie. From his initial appearance, he has been a tall, dark, mysterious and absolute magnificent son of a frellnik.

Except, he said he’d remove the neural clone. That was a lie. Except, he said his name was Captain Whatsis when arriving at the check-in station. Very much a lie. Two little clues that Scorpius might not be devoid of untruths as we previously suspected.

Still, it was one of the best episodes of the series where we went back and found out why he hated Scarrans so much. I said then and will say again now, it is far more credible that this is the truth, because he presents it in such a way that doesn’t paint him in a flattering light. Yes, he was an abortive experiment gone wrong. Yes, he did horrible things. And yes, he went back and killed his creche-mother not out of justice, but revenge, and gave Scarran secrets to the Peacekeepers.

Now it’s been revealed that he’s a Scarran spy. How long ago did those events take place? Was it ten cycles, or longer? The timeline isn’t clear, but it just doesn’t add up with what we know about him. Again, unless Scorpius has been playing the really, really, really long con, it’s far more likely that he’s a triple-quadruple agent on the rocks with a side of fries.

Regardless, there’s one part left in this three-parter, and the tree’s a-blazin’.

Things to note this episode:

  • Aeryn and Crichton are in perfect synergy now. They’ve been together four years (give or take), been through absolute hell for each other, and it’s only made them stronger. It shows, it absolutely does, how much the trust has evolved. Sure, the whole trust thing was a minor wibbly bit of plot-related jumble back and forth this season, but Aeryn was abducted by Scarrans. Taken on an untraceable ore freighter, deep into enemy territory, on its way to a secret base that nobody had ever even heard of, let alone knew where to find it. She was, for all intents and purposes, already dead. She kept herself sane by believing that Crichton would come for her, something that had never happened for any of the Scarrans’ other prisoners before, something that was statistically impossible within the reality of this universe. And he came for her.
  • I will repeat that. John Crichton, backwards monkey-man from Rocksville, Earth, on the complete ass-end of the galaxy, who had zero understanding of the way the universe worked when she first met him, bent reality and violated the laws of time and space to find her. It may have been a bit of major plot contrivance that got Noel and Tessa up into a frothing rage, but it happened.
  • “Hey, Stark, where’ve you been this entire time?” “Oh, over there, remember?”
  • OHGOD EYES
  • When Scorpius started frothing at the mouth and spitting viscous clear-white fluid, Tessa and I looked at each other, and in that moment, we knew exactly what Noel was going to write about this week.

Noel

Nah, ever since the blood pact between John and Scorpius revealed that the milky substance Scorpius has repeatedly gagged up over the course of the series is merely his own blood, a lot of the fun and mystery of the sploogerific imagery has faded away. That said, he’s drooling out the stuff like he just deep throated a rod that built up a few days worth of the baby making juice before popping off all over his tonsils.

And speaking of cock, and I the only one who thought the Emperor looked like a giant rooster with his bright red armor of feathery spikes? Don’t get me wrong, he’s awesome and a genuine threat, but he did have the look of a chanticleer eagerly pacing the roof of the hen house, making sure his flock was all in order before giving a bit of a doodle-do as the full situation dawned on him.

Let’s see what bits of the everything already covered by the others I can weasel a few extra observations out of…

Kevin, I have no issue with the idea of Crichton breaking reality to go after the woman he loves. Just with the way in which it was executed, and I’m not wrong for disagreeing with you on that. But I’ve said that say and the episode is in the past. I agree with you here that the two, now that they’re together and have fully and openly accepted their togetherness, harmonize like a Shintari jingle for Jell-O Pops. Their synchronicity, the way they bounce ideas off one another, the way one is constantly at the other’s back. Even when they seem to be arguing over Scorpius’ fate, there’s a unity to their banter that almost gives them away. And when they have their moments of peace between manipulations and tense standoffs, they slow dance in an elevator, then unbuckle trou and start doing It in the sacred Scarran garden of acquired tastes. They’re beautiful together.

Speaking of the manipulations, I love the way John and Co. force their way into enemy territory, then pull a Red Harvest/Yojimbo/Fistfull of Dollars/Last Man Standing/Sukiyaki Western Django/(insert all ripoffs of the above) by siding with various factions and gradually turning them against one another, so the villains will do the dirty work of cutting through the bad guys themselves, and the heroes can just waltz through the devastation. And Sikozu (eye-yi-yi, Zordon) reveals to us that factions are already at work within the factions to destabilize factions and the factions that oppose the factions, so all one needed to do was pull a few strands and, whammo, a huge mutha-faction riot.

Stark is back! Unexplained, yes, but done properly this time. At least we saw him leave and the mystery of where he’s been lingers instead of being brushed off. I kept thinking to myself, “Gee, I hope someone clues him in that Scorpius is working with John.” Then I realized he wouldn’t care. The opportunity to tear apart the soul of the man who tore apart his mind is just too juicy of a temptation to ignore.

And Scorpius. Oh, Scorpius. Don’t you all know by now that Scorpius serves neither the Peacekeepers nor the Scarrans? No, he only serves Scorpius, and he’s such a meticulous planner that he’d of course have connections and angles on both sides that he can manipulate whenever they become useful to benefit him. I don’t think he wants either side to have the wormhole weapons. He wants them so he’ll finally have the power to stake out his own side and do away with any and all threats as he so pleases.

I have nothing further to add. Except to once again use the word “cock”.

(snicker)


Episode [4.19] – We’re So Screwed, Part I: Fetal Attraction || Episode [4.21] – We’re So Screwed Part III: La Bomba

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  1. Schmacky

     /  March 16, 2012

    “The middle of any trilogy is always a precarious position.”

    Even though it is technically the 2nd part of a trilogy, I don’t consider it a trilogy. It’s a two-parter. Fetal Attraction was more of it’s own episode. Definitely more self-contained than Hot to Katrazi and La Bomba. And I think that helped in making this episode so damn fantastic. There isn’t anything I don’t dislike about the last few episodes of this season.

    Well, except Sikozu being a bioloid. That’s kinda a big thing, but oh well.

    Reply

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