Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Episode [4.21] – “We’re So Screwed, Part III: La Bomba”

Today, on Farscape

“You used me.”
“We use each other.”
“You’re better at it.”
“Oh, you’re learning.”

The crew’s initial plan falls through, their escape routes are cut off, and Crichton’s bomb is deactivated. Scorpius claims to have a way out, but it comes with attempting a last ditch blow against the Scarrans…


Oh, yay! I get first dibs on the end of a three-parter!

Okay, uh, let’s see. Once again, there’s a lot going on here, so let’s just go down a mental checklist that I put together in no particular order.

We ended with Scorpius and his potential status as a Scarran spy last episode, so may as well start with him. So, at least by all appearances, it looks like Scorpy’s motives are still what we’ve always known them to be – he wants the Scarrans taken down. His “spy” status with the Emperor appears to have been a long con to survive and buy him time until he could find what he needed to strike against them. It’s a con that may not have been entirely one-sided, either; I don’t think he’s particularly loyal to the Peacekeepers aside from them giving him the means to do his research. It’s entirely possible (and, if he’s been holding up as a spy this long, probable) that he has been giving at least semi-useful information to the Scarrans, at least enough to convince them that he is still working for them.

We also learn more about what his actual plans were. Wormholes were a long term goal for him, and something that he still seems to want as extra leverage against him, but more important to him has been a much more direct means of damaging the Scarran race, namely the means to eradicate their food source that’s more than just a food source (more on that later). It was the entire reason he was holding Stark in the first place way back in Season One (who, coincidentally, apparently worked for the Scarrans prior to that, although quite possibly against his will).

So yeah, Stark. So it turns out he didn’t quite sell his soul to the Scarrans for a chance at getting back at Scorpy, the Stark from last episode was a Bioloid, and the entire bit where Scorpius was being tortured by him was a ploy by the Emperor to fool Ahkna. Uh… that works, I guess. Later they wake up the real Stark, rescuing him from the replicator, and he rejoins Moya by the end, although he doesn’t play a particularly large role in the end, despite Scorpius’ claims that they’ll need him. And… I guess he’s just okay with Scorpius being around and part of the Moya crew? We do still have one episode left in the series, so there’s time to explore his feelings on the matter, I guess, but for him to just be back and part of the crew and apparently cool with everything without any conflict at all seems odd. Then again, this episode was already pretty full, and I’m not sure where there’d be room to really have something more in depth with him that wouldn’t have felt rushed anyways. Still, we spent last episode being reminded that Stark does have major issues with the guy, so I’d feel weird not giving it a mention that… it doesn’t seem to get a mention. Oh well. Not a huge deal, all in all, I guess.

It also turns out that Harvey was lying about transferring data from John’s brain to Scorpius. Which does make sense, since as was mentioned a few episodes back, I’m not sure how Scorpius would have had the resources to make that kind of adjustment and why he wouldn’t have just made it a normal feature if he could do that anyways. It also raises the question of whether or not Harvey can ever really be gotten rid of. Scorpius did actually put him “to sleep”, so to speak, and the only reason he was reactivated at all was as a fail-safe should John try to betray Scorpy. We get an interesting little Harvey brain-scene (yay!) where John gets the entire moral issue flipped around on him. He’s intent on accusing Scorpius of stabbing them all in the back (something that, as it turns out by the end, may not even have really been true anyways), but Harvey points out that John was already set to screw Scorpius over himself, and that his betrayal isn’t any less screwy than what he’s accusing Scorpy of.

Grayza gets more to do in this episode, and we see her finally cave to the crumbling situation and very nearly throw away the lives of the entire Command Carrier in an attempt to become a martyr. She’s been working very hard towards a goal of peace (a misguided and twisted version of it, to be fair), and she’s been watching her work become totally undone over the last handful of episodes. Her career within the Peacekeepers is almost certainly over, but more than that, assuming that her mind-control boob sweat gland thing was something she took on for her plans also, she’s effectively shortened her life considerably for nothing. It would be kind of tragic, if not for how creepy her methods had been and how disastrous her version of “peace” would probably have ended up if she’d won (it’s also interesting that she’s the second Peacekeeper “Big Bad” of the series, after Crais, to lose her top villain status to Scarrans rather abruptly, if you count Scorpius at least partially as such). Braca finally tips his hand, invoking Peacekeeper protocol to remove her from command once it’s clear she wants to take her entire ship down with her. I’m curious as to how exactly Braca has been overriding her mind-control powers, as it’s apparently something the others on the ship are able to get around also, considering they refuse to kill Braca when commanded to.

Sikozu finally tells the others the full story about her, revealing that she’s a Psycho Soldier Bioloid designed specifically to kill Scarrans, and wipes out an entire group of them in one go. That’s, uh, wow. She has to spend the rest of the episode recovering after that, but still. Also her relationship with Scorpius goes from being hinted at subtext to flat out text.

And finally, those Red Flowers. They did turn out to be something special (not surprising, given how badly the Scarrans freaked out when they found out someone was in the cavern). Apparently they need a constant supply of them, as they act as some kind of evolutionary catalyst for them, increasing their intellect and basically making it possible for them to be an influential power in the universe in the first place. According to Harvey, Scarran physiology seems to be so adverse to this state that if they’re cut off from the plants, they’ll start regressing at least in their mental capacities, until, in his words “your dog could beat them at Checkers”. We don’t know how big the Katratzi supply is compared to any of the other places the Scarrans might be growing them, but Scorpius seems to believe that destroying this particular supply would set them back hundreds of cycles. At the very least, it’s stated that the Scarrans have an extremely difficult time holding influence except in places where they have easy access to the plant, so knocking out the garden on Katratzi would effectively force them to give up territory surrounding it, or at least weaken their hold on it considerably. It’s enough for Scorpius to trade away the possibility of obtaining wormhole knowledge for it, so Crichton dropping a nuke on it has to be a fairly significant blow to the race as a whole.

In the end, Moya and crew have effectively obliterated yet another enemy base, skyrocketed their kill count yet again, thwarted both Grayza and Ahnka’s ambitions totally, and may have killed off the Scarran emperor (although as pragmatic as he seemed to be, I would be surprised if that actually turned out to be the case, and I fully expect that he managed to hop off the base in time after Crichton and friends burrowed up through his conference room), all while managing to keep themselves alive in the end. John now owes nothing to Scorpius, the Scarrans have been hit hard, and the second Peacekeeper to hunt them down across the universe has been taken out of power. Crichton is exhausted, and his conscience is damaged beyond repair, but all things considered he might be… safe?

Oh, right, there was that thing where he told the Scarran emperor flat out that Earth has tons of the super plants that the Scarrans need to stay in power growing naturally. But I’m sure that won’t have any consequences at all.


I’m wavering a bit here, though it’s only on a couple points. Again, there’s still one episode plus a miniseries left, so the questions I have might be answered next week, or next month, or they might not be answered at all!

Alright, let’s break it down, and it’s somewhat difficult to split it up by plot threads because they’re so tightly meshed together, but we’ll go with the Crichton/Scorpius/Flower thread as the A-Plot, because that’s the most driving of the conflicts this episode.

Scorpius is a double agent. Scorpius is a triple agent. Scorpius is… completely straight-forward and telling the truth again, we’re led to believe, and after all that, Crichton takes him at face value. Which… I was all prepared to gripe about, even up to and including writing this paragraph, but here’s the thing; it’s bigger than that. It’s bigger than personal betrayals and perceived betrayals and yes, even wormholes, as Scorpius barely even hesitates to admit. It’s all about the Scarrans, about their threat to the universe, and though Crichton confronts Scorpius early on, Our Boy Scorpius is able to turn it right back around and point out that no, actually, he was doing all he could to help and that Crichton was the one to stab him in the back and leave him there.

The moment of that confrontation, actually, is especially gripping, and I’m going to have to watch it over and over and over again, because even now I can’t decipher it. Is Scorpius actually surprised to find out Crichton actually was just going to leave him there? Though I’m absolutely certain that Scorpius wouldn’t have expected Crichton and company to storm Katratzi for his sake, there must have been some thought process when he did see Crichton there. Was it that Crichton was as annoyingly good of a guy as he kept saying he was? I honestly can’t tell, and the more I write about it, the more I subconsciously try to project my own opinions onto it, so I’ll save it for further study.

But that’s just the thing, and I love that not only can I not tell what that moment is actually about, but it’s the final turning point in Crichton and Scorpius’s relationship. They may have even upgraded to full kismesis status, though probably no longer as violent as all that. It is here, too, that we finally see confirmation of what we knew all along; that Scorpius and Crichton’s evil masterminding and penchant for Xanatos Speed Chess rival only each other’s, and that they are far more alike than either of them are probably willing to admit openly.

I… may be a Crichton/Scorpius slash shipper. Don’t tell anyone. Shhhhhh.

The A-plot comes to a head with the dropping of the bomb, this is undeniably true, but Crichton began that thought process when he saw Scorpius, for the absolute first time ever, go absolutely apeshit. This has never happened before. Ever. Even during his rage-fight with Crais, Scorpius remained perfectly in control of his Scarran berserker nature, and was able to force it back on his own when it no longer suited his needs. When confronted with the very objective he had sought for years – toppling the Scarran Empire, destroying their dependence on Flower Power – and there is a force field he cannot take down? He loses it. Absolutely gone. He shoots at it. He stalks over and starts punching the frell out of it.

“I. Do not. LOSE!”

It’s the most candid that Crichton has ever seen Scorpius, and it’s quite possibly what tips him finally over to helping him not out of necessity, but on his own judgement. This is what Scorpius wanted the wormholes for. This is worth ten Harveys and all the effort from the past however many years combined.

The whole scene is extremely powerful, and it’s the culmination of everything we’ve ever seen from Scorpius, from the very beginning.

The B-plot (I’m arbitrarily selecting the Scarran politics and double-dealings and Emperor Red Dude for this) and the C-plot (The Fall Of Grayza And How Awesome Is Braca Anyway, He Is Pretty Awesome) are far more interconnected with each other and don’t really stand out all that well on their own without the primary thread, but there’s still a lot involved with that. The points I’m wavering on are what Tessa has already pointed out; Stark, for the most part, actually, and his true feelings on Scorpius being one of the for lack of a better term Good Guys.

I’m starting to lose my focus here, and that’s definitely a sign to pass the torch.


I really dug this episode, but I have a few problems with it and want to get them out of the way first.

Grayza. As Tessa mentioned, yeah, what the hell happened to her magic boobs? Visibly, they’re still there for all to see, but why has she completely given up using the sweet gland/mind control thing? She doesn’t try using it on John during their confrontation. We haven’t seen her use it on Braca in a long time. Did she milk herself dry? Is it starting to lose effectiveness as the early sign that her system is starting to shut down and she’s near death? What’s going on?

Katratzi. Why use your most highly guarded and secretive base for a conference containing members of factions that are your enemies? Secret’s out! And why keep the key stock of your mother plant, the thing you need to make your brains work, inside the secret base you’ve just invited all your enemies to?

Sikozu. In the last episode, she revealed she’s a bioroid, despite us never seeing the electronic components or milky fluid of a bioroid whenever she’s lost a limb. Here, they reveal she’s “special”. That she’s a genetically modified being created by the Kalish resistance. Okay. But then why did she say she’s a bioroid? And she has the superpower of floating up into the air and emitting a super charged radiation that shorts out Scarran heat glands. Which somehow kills them instantly… despite us having met a Scarran who survived the glands being surgically removed. And which doesn’t affect Scorpius at all, who’s cooling suit suggests he still has the heat gland… despite us having met a Scarran who survived them being surgically removed. And I don’t care what it’s intended to target, you can’t pump out that much radiation without it also having some kind of effect on the other people around you, especially the woman with the fetus in her belly. Them getting through with no issues because they looked away is pure bullshit.

Stark. I’m sorry, but the story is actually more compelling if the real Stark had been the one torturing Scorpius, because it’s totally in line with their past and it’s not like we haven’t seen him go deranged before. Putting it all on a random bioroid robs the previous episode of its dramatic impact. And I want you to tell me how the bioroid copy is capable of doing Stark’s eye energy superpower against Scorpius’s soul. Seriously. I’m waiting. Go ahead and tell me.

Wormholes and unrealized realities. Okay, this didn’t have anything to do with the episode, I just wanted to mention it again to piss off Kevin. 😛

One not only gets a sense from the entirety of the season that the writing staff really was just making it up as they went along, but we get that from this 3 part story itself. They set up things that they then directly contradict in the payoff. They do a big twist, then seem wary of the full implications of said twist (Sikozu is a robot copy, Stark’s gone to the dark side) and instead try to handwave their way around it to make it more heroic. If you decide to do a story, go with it. Don’t double back an episode later and try to sweep it under the rug. So much of this stuff was unnecessary. Let Stark be lost in his rage. Let Sikozu be a robot copy who brings with her identity issues. Let Grayza use her mind control abilities, which makes her ultimate failure to control her pawns all the more biting. And don’t write yourself out of a corner with a magical microwave sunlight girl!


That said, I really dug this episode. Tension is running throughout. The factions are turning against one another. The Scarrans and Peacekeepers are forced into a standoff. One Scarran plots a coup against another. One Peacekeeper succeeds in a coup against another (Go Braca!). Everyone is running around doing backstabs and deals and shooting things. And then there’s the bomb. The glorious Chekov’s gun that’s hanging off John’s belt for 1 and 3/4 episodes just waiting for its opportunity to go off. And go off it does. My favorite shot is the distant view of the planet with these glowing blue bursts going off like multiple Coyotes just fell a very long way before impacting with bamfs. Best of all is John reminding us of what makes him John as he mourns the use of the weapon afterwards, the action that he was pushed into by his enemies. John isn’t John because he does crazy badass things. He’s John because he does crazy badass things… then regrets it later. He doesn’t like being the one wearing a nuclear bomb in a field of flowers. He doesn’t like being the one killing dozens, if not hundreds of people in one fell swoop. He doesn’t like the possibility that he’s killed so many that, one of these times, it may be some hapless innocent for whom it can’t be justified.

The absolute heart of this episode is definitely John and Scorpius. These two have been so deeply opposed to one another that, no, I wouldn’t say they failed to recognize how similar they are so much as I’d say they’ve made each other into themselves. John has forced Scorpius to ditch plans and dive into things head first, and how being open and honest about something sometimes gets you better results than duplicity. Scorpius has forced John to drench his head with machinations, playing enemies off of one another instead of trying to run from them all, and stabbing people in the back when the opportune time comes to do so. Here, they confront the level of one another they’ve become, and both go through their own breakdowns, showing just how far they’ve strayed from their intended paths.

And I’m with Kevin in hoping they’ll frell, at least once, if only to get it out of their system.


Agenda items: Points addressed by fellow reviewers.

Bioloid, I think, may be a fairly generic term for synthetic humanoids. They’re like replicants, not easily distinguishable from ordinary members of a species. Sikozu’s a custom job, specifically built for infiltration and assassination. Likewise Zukash – he wouldn’t have been able to fool the Scarran scans for as long as he did if he wasn’t picture perfect. The Aeryn clone had issues; maybe it was a blank and had to use the default hardware rather than properly customizing the internal organs, perhaps the brain copy would have been better if Akhna had enough time to do a proper job. It looks like there are definitely differences between the Scarran bioloids (Aeryn and Stark) and the Kalish models (Sikozu and Zukash) – could be the Kalish created the technology and only gave their evil overlords the basic model.

Scarrans are totally Mimigas. Without the flowers, they’re peabrained lizards. With them, they’re hulking atomic death machines. The Crystherium plants only grow under extremely limited circumstances, though, and Scarran refrigeration technology has not developed to the point where they can transport them long distances. Must be all the heat glands. Scarrans apparently need regular infusions of the flower petals, or they revert to their weaker state. It’s the only explanation for why they can’t expand to points in space that don’t have the Crystherium, and might explain Naj Gil’s unusual coloring – perhaps he was going through withdrawl. All told, it’s a weakness, and one that Scorpius is all too happy to exploit.

Scorpius/Crichton. Squick. Literally. Eyebrow waggle.

On to new business:

The original plan was doomed to fail. Not from anyone’s intervention, but because Scarran security was just that good. Every member of the group was picked up, and the Scarran emperor himself arrived at Lo’La moments after Crichton and company. Scorpius called it, unfortunately, and everyone now finds themselves working on plans B through E in an attempt to successfully escape. Noranti and Rygel recover the original Stark (M’Stark?), but not in time to get anything useful before everything goes to hell. Crichton attempts to hitch a ride with Grayza, but the Scarrans are ready to open fire if they so much as flip on a turn signal. D’Argo checks the locks on Lo’La and finds that the Scarrans used a slimjim to get in – he’ll need three hours to verify that everything is where it should be.

Now, desperate, our heroes trust Scorpius. Not because he can get them out, but because he might be able to create a big enough mess to disrupt the Scarrans to the point that they’ll be able to escape. Sikozu does manage to get what they need, at the cost of the life of the Kalish resistance member. Once in the Crystherium chamber, Scorpius has his breakdown – decades of planning, magnificent last-minute improvisation, he’s only meters away from his goal… and there’s nothing he can do. No tool can pierce that shield, no local override can shut it down, no power conduit can disable it. Everything he ever wanted is right in front of him, and he can’t seize it. It’s the farthest he’s fallen since escaping from the Dreadnaught all those cycles ago.

Sikozu pulls off her full scale radiation trick when the elevator returns, killing all four Scarrans but weakening both her and Scorpius. Plan E hasn’t gone anywhere, so now they’re on to Plan F: Get to Lo’La and flee. D’Argo drives a rabrokator about as well as he does a police car, unfortunately, and winds up putting them in the conference room. There, trapped and outgunned, they’re out of plans. No way out. No effective weapons. No options but surrender or suici- wait, why is Crichton opening the floor?

John Crichton, master of the third option. He even uses that desperate measure to resolve his debt to Scorpius. The bomb detonates in Jennek’s hands, destroying the Crystherium chamber and gutting the Scarran base. That buys them the distraction necessary to escape in Lo’La.

Chiana and D’Argo get back together, as they’ve been building up to all season. Maybe they haven’t completely reconciled, but relief at surviving Katratzi goes a long way. Sikozu and Scorpius are officially a couple. Her line in that scene is why I objected to Sikozu/Zerbat a while back. Crichton and Aeryn… man, there’s nothing I can say about that scene. They’re comfortable as a couple. Complementary. He talks because he has to, and she doesn’t because there’s nothing to say. It’s a perfect moment, the culmination of four years of character development and relationship building.

Stark and Noranti on the same ship. This can only end in tears.

Braca’s awesome moment of crowning is truly awesome. Remember when he was just a flunky? Crais’ number three man? He’s come so far, and I love how he’s finally taking control. This is the moment that secures him in my mind as a great character.

In contrast, Grayza has fallen so far. From the time she boarded Scorpius’ Carrier with Moya in tow, she’s had iron control. Not just with the rohypnosweat, but the authority granted her by Peacekeeper Command. The former, she abused with cruel abandon. The latter, she lost when she ordered a suicidal attack against a superior foe. To die in combat is one thing, but dying pointlessly? She discovers honor just in time to sacrifice it in a vain attempt to pursue the greater good. The only thing she could accomplish at this point is starting the war she worked so hard to delay. Crichton’s turnabout has shattered her composure, and she has no backup plans. Scorpius, she is not.

Akhna continues to be disturbingly competent. Crichton quotes Macbeth at her while Aeryn runs interference. She would be a truly scary nemesis.

Harvey uses the phrase “Your side, my side!” while jabbering at Crichton. It’s a great callback.

Everyone caught the Scarran elevator fart joke, right? Very important.

Episode [4.20] – We’re So Screwed, Part II: Hot To Katratzi || Episode [4.22] – Bad Timing

2 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. EdWoody

     /  October 30, 2012

    I too am disappointed by the Stark-was-a-bioloid thing, given that his characterisation in “Hot to Katratzi” made perfect sense. But there’s a throwaway line here in “La Bomba” that, while not really being a decent explanation, does intrigue me…

    Scorpius says, “The real Stark would never torture me.”

    Why not? It made perfect sense last week, so why wouldn’t he? And the explanation I came up with… is that Stark has a Harvey of his own. A failsafe to stop Scorpius coming to harm, ever since the Gammak base and the Aurora chair. If Scorpius would use that technique to get wormhole knowledge from Crichton, why wouldn’t he use it to get Katratzi knowledge from Stark, if it was as important as he claims? It would be one explanation for why Stark has always been so unstable and schizophrenic.

    As for how Stark has that knowledge at all, well, haven’t Baniks always been described as a “slave race”? Now we know who they were slaves of. It also helps to explain how Sikozu/Stark from bizarro-Moya might have “loved” a Scarren to be able to pass them over and get the knowledge of Katratzi herself.

    And as for how bioloid-Stark had the Stykera powers… well, I guess the explanation has to be that he didn’t. He just put on a good light show and Scorpius acted the hell out of it.

  2. LovesAeryn

     /  September 2, 2014

    ” And I want you to tell me how the bioroid copy is capable of doing Stark’s eye energy superpower against Scorpius’s soul. Seriously. I’m waiting. Go ahead and tell me.”

    Good point and I thought about this before reading the reviews here. This is what I came up with: It was a put on for Akhna’s sake. Scorpius was only pretending to be tortured. Staleek was in on it. But of course, I have a hard time reconciling this with the fact that the real Stark was being hidden from Akhna and that she didn’t know what was going on right under her nose. Still, until something better comes along, that’s my story.


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