Deconstructing Moya

A Farscape Re-watch Project

Tessa’s take on Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars

Today, on Farscape

“Your father and I want you to have a name that means courage and strength.  So we have chosen D’Argo Sun Crichton.”

“Little D, we don’t know what life has in store for you, but whatever it is, you’ll figure something out.”

“But you will never walk alone.”

“And God willing, you’ll never know war.  Instead… Come here.  Your mother was right.”

“Your mother is always right.”

“Get used to that.  You ready?  This is your playground.”


Oh man.  I remember now why we ran into so much trouble working out how to tackle this thing, there’s just SO MUCH packed into it that I’m frankly a little overwhelmed.  I made two separate attempts to get this write-up going prior to this and discarded both because I was just getting lost trying to get through everything and it was winding up a jumbled mess.  Thankfully Noel has done a fantastic summarized write-up already that digs into the details, and he very kindly agreed to let me bounce off of that so that I can just put out my overall thoughts on things (which works out anyways since you guys don’t need two bit-by-bit summaries of this).

Okay, first off, have to agree that there are bits that just feel off about the characters.  Some of the makeup looks a bit wonky.  Not actually BAD, the jobs themselves are still great, but some of them don’t seem quite right.  But well, there was a pretty huge amount of time in between the series and this mini, so it’s totally forgivable that the footing’s a bit shaky there.

Also totally agree that Pilot’s voice is a bit harder to ignore.  He just sounds so weird, and the majority of the time sounds much closer to Crais than Pilot.  It was really distracting and hard to get past at first, although it was also something I was able to get over.

I’ve got mixed feelings about the setup of the “Rygel ate the baby” sub-plot.  We’re just supposed to kind of swallow both that the bit of crystallization that the baby was contained in somehow just de-crystallized in his stomach (which conveniently must have just been its own separate crystal and didn’t take any of Aeryn’s organs with her), and that Rygel somehow has the means to sustain a rapidly developing fetus in there, both being able to get it whatever nutrients it needs along with not accidentally digesting it in the process.  I guess it could be that Aeryn’s entire womb got transplanted into him (which still doesn’t quite make sense), but that’s not what we’re told, Aeryn’s not suffering any ill effects of having a body part ripped from her and they really only say that the baby is missing, and nothing else (if I recall correctly the Diagnosian says there’s nothing wrong with Aeryn anyways, so that probably isn’t it).

The more I think about it, the more I really don’t like the crystallization/decrystallization thing in general.  Aside from the cheap “oh they’re dead wait no they aren’t” thing going on, there’s no clear rules set up for how the whole thing works.  Why wasn’t the wedding ring crystallized also?  It’s not a case of the crystallization only affecting organic matter, because the rest of their clothing and their guns were part of that too.  I guess it could have been another case of Rygel magically decrystallizing something in his stomach, but the way he talks about it makes it pretty clear that he found it intact and was holding back on giving it over on purpose.  Aside from that, the crystallization weapon/beam/whatever thing seems like a hell of a defensive weapon for the Eidolons to have at their disposal, so… why don’t we see any evidence of them using it to defend themselves when the Scarrans show up?  They use it at the drop of a hat to disintegrate two intruders who may or may not be hostile, but an army of very-definitely-going-to-kill you lizard people are off-limits for it?  I’d have even taken an off-hand mention of some kind of handwave like the beam not working on Scarran physiology or some bullcrap like that, but the mini seems to completely forget about the whole thing entirely once John and Aeryn are put back together.

Still, the pregnant Rygel sub-plot does set up a lot of fun comedic moments with our favorite Dominar, as he’s suddenly turned into the MacGuffin that the crew needs to keep safe for the first half of the mini.  You’d expect for him to take advantage of the fact that he’s suddenly become so important to the crew (and he does try to get a bit of gloating in only for Aeryn to very pointedly shut him down), but the situation is so uncomfortable for him that it keeps him in check.  The overall sub-plot hits so many fun moments both during and after Rygel carrying the child that I’m willing to let them hand-wave the premise.

I didn’t realize how much I missed watching Wayne Pygram’s antics on screen until I got to see him at work again.  Partially as Scorpius, but mostly as Harvey.  I had completely forgotten that Harvey made a return at the end of Season 4, and I literally squealed when we hop into John’s mind and see him done up as Albert Einstein channeling Doctor Strangelove.  Overall I just ate up every bit of him we got in this, between the mad scientist, the crash test dummy, the building foreman, and finally the 2001 homage.  I still just love the contrast between the ever-serious Scorpius and what the entity that started out as more or less an exact copy of him morphed into over time.  Pygram acts the hell out of both and it’s a testament to his ability that the two characters that look more or less identical (most of the time, anyways) can be so different and yet both feel so right.

…yup, gushing over Scorpius and Harvey, right back to where I was with this whole thing all along.

I like the Eidolons as a concept, although I agree with Noel that their development feels a bit rushed.  Out of necessity, admittedly, with everything they were trying to cram in here.  But a race of… uh… what’s the opposite of empaths?  Exopaths?  I dunno.  But a race of aliens who can influence peace through psychic influence being revealed to be the originator of the Peacekeepers as their law-enforcing muscle is a really cool idea and I wish we’d been able to explore it more.  I really like the concept that the Peacekeepers were developed to do a specific job and then were effectively ditched as their peace-influencing bosses went into stasis, and so reached their over-militaristic current state not through malevolence or power-hunger but simply as a struggle to keep doing their job after the means to have the hard part magicked away disappeared.  It’s an awesome bit of fleshing out to the species (along with a potential link back to humanity teased in there), and I’m a little bummed that there’s only time for a few passing lines to be dedicated to it before we just move along.  Overall the miniseries leaves me just wondering what we could have gotten with a full season to explore all of these concepts completely.

Noel pointed out Harvey attempting to get John to commit suicide during the crash test scene, but it’s worth pointing out the context – it’s while Staleek is in the module with him.  He’s not trying to get John to kill himself, necessarily, he’s trying to get him to kill the Scarran emperor.  Of course, at the cost of his own life in the bargain, but Harvey seems to find that worthwhile.  It’s a small difference, but I feel like it’s worth clarifying, it’s not a case of Harvey being out to kill John here.

I’m not sure how I feel about Maryk as the Peacekeeper Grand Chancellor.  He’s kind of played off as being almost completely incompetent, as he bumbles from battle to battle, consistently losing each one to the Scarrans.  It’s probably not entirely his fault, as he points out just how long the Scarrans have been planning this war and just waiting for an excuse to pull the trigger, but we don’t see much of anything go right for him.  His assassination is very nearly of enormous importance, when Yondalao manages to convince Staleek to broker peace under the guise of demanding surrender, Scorpius notes that Maryk is smart enough to take it, and assumedly Grayza would be significantly less inclined to accept the deal in his place.  I kind of thought briefly that she would be the wrench in the works, and my stomach dropped at hearing Scorpius’ words knowing what had happened, but Ahkna ruins the plan anyways long before there’s even a chance for Grayza’s seizing of control to have any consequence to the overall plot, so the whole thing kind of felt a little pointless since although I feel like we should be worried about her being back in charge, they don’t actually do anything with it and her role by the end is really just for her to be there.  It ups the stakes in a way but doesn’t really affect our heroes much at all.

D’Argo and Chiana’s fake death is fake.  Woo.  I’m not exactly sure how we’re supposed to believe they survived the explosion completely unscathed or how Chiana survives hanging out in open space for as long as she does, buuuuut yeah.  Nothing new, but it still bugs me significantly that they still leaned hard on that plot device even here.  D’Argo’s actual death (I won’t lie, I cried pretty hard) later is impactful as hell, but I can’t help feeling like it might have felt even more impactful had they not pulled the rug out from under us yet again at the halfway point.

I wasn’t really surprised at all when Sikozu wound up being the actual spy.  Grunchlk was just too blindingly obvious a decoy for it, and Ahkna being so vague about who her spy was was basically a huge red flag that the culprit wasn’t who we were being led to believe.

I can’t just give the offhand mention to D’Argo’s death (for reals this time) that I did above and let that be it.  His last moments hurt like hell, with Chiana frantically insisting they save him and getting more and more hysterical as the rest of the crew realizes that there’s not much of anything they can do to save him.  As much as I’ve been on the series’ case for abusing the hell out of the concept of killing off it’s characters, this scene just felt right as soon as it hit home that D’Argo’s wound wasn’t something he was going to be able to shake off.  His final moments with each of the crew members speaks volumes about the relationship and respect he’s earned from all of them.  Looking way back at season one, at his bickering with John and their conversation about how they’ll never be friends, and comparing it to his final pained conversation with him, as Crichton tells him he’s the best friend he’s ever had with desperation in his voice is just massively powerful.  As much as Farscape has been about anything else (and it’s been about a lot), it’s been a story of a young Luxan growing up and taking charge of his life in the name of protecting the family he stumbled into having, and this is a magnificent cap off to that story and a fitting send-off to his character.

Just as powerful is Chiana’s increasingly erratic reaction to the whole thing.  By the time the rest of the crew does escape and get back to Moya, she’s in full-on breakdown mode, shoving D’Argo’s Qualta Blade halfway through a table and throwing herself on John, clinging and begging in a way that sounds half-deranged for him to use the wormhole weapon he now has access to and understands how to use to wreak vengeance on the people responsible for the death of her beloved.

Which leads to the mini climaxing in a gigantic game of chicken as John does activate the weapon, which turns out to be way, WAY more big of a deal than even the people seeing it as the ultimate weapon ever realized it was.  It’s a reality-ending level nuke, and John essentially threatens to end the universe (at least, that’s the implication) if the war doesn’t immediately come to a halt and both sides don’t agree on a meaningful and lasting truce.  That ironic moment where Scorpius tells John that what he’s just done is insane and John bursts into laughter before reminding everyone that this was what they were pushing him so hard to do just caps off the entire arc so well for me.  Like John said, the weapon doesn’t even make war, it simply devours everything.  Despite his claims to the contrary, though, the weapon does inevitably make peace in the way they were hoping, but not in the hands of the Peacekeepers, or the Scarrans.  It’s in the hands of a bunch of fugitives on an otherwise weaponless living ship that the weapon could actually bring an end to the conflict.

I really like the ending.  Yeah, it’s a bit cheesy and happy for Farscape, and everything seems to be wrapped up pretty neatly (with some threads left over to pull on for future mediums), but the final shot of baby D’Argo looking up into the stars is just gorgeous.  And with everything John and Aeryn have been through, they’ve earned their happy ending.

I realize my write-up probably looks a little more whiney than praise-y, and I don’t want to give the impression that I didn’t like the mini.  I really, really did.  I have nitpicky issues here and there with it, but overall I had a lot of fun watching it.  Part of it is that Noel covered so much of the great stuff that I don’t want to echo too much of, so its been boiled down to my reactions on specific things.

I’m really bad at ending things like this.  It’s been a hell of a ride (even though we went off the rails for a good two years at the end of it all), and it’s had some downs, but mostly I’ve loved the frell out of this series.  It’s been awesome getting to share my thoughts on it here with everyone.  Super thanks go out to Kevin for getting me into the series in the first place and then pulling me in to getting involved with the project, as well as Noel and Weston, who I had bunches of fun discussing things with and got to know better through this project.  Thanks also to everyone who followed the project and hopefully were at least mildly entertained by the gibberish I spewed throughout (and who patiently waited for us to actually get off our butts and finish the damn thing already).  It’s been fun, guys.

This is Tessa Jerz, somewhere in the universe.

7 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. NoelCT

     /  June 2, 2014

    Yeah, the whole crystallization/decrystallization, and how it leads to Rygel getting pregnant, doesn’t make sense in any way, and it seemed like they’d written themselves in a corner, and tried to handwave it away by distracting us with an amusing consequence. It is an amusing consequence and otherwise plays well in the story, but yeah, it’s completely bullshit the way they get the baby in there, and you’re right that it would have been neat to break out the crystallization weapon again during the climactic battle.

    Just imagine the full episode we could have had exploring the origins of the Eidelons and Peacekeepers. >.< You're right, I did miss pointing out the motives of Harvey in the module. I mostly didn't get the necessity of the moment as it felt a bit out of character for him, though he is largely just echoing conflicts probably going through John's head. I'm glad you brought up Maryk, because I had so little to say about him. A completely unnecessary character just there to give Grayza some drama to deal with, and as you point out, the story compression makes his murder pretty pointless. Would swapping Braca into his position have worked better? Given it some more weight and given him a richer arc and poignant end? D'Argo and Chiana surviving space would've worked so much better had they just never shown them in space. Linger after the explosion, then have them wake up on Jothee's ship as they're revived, never telling us how long they were out there. Great piece, Tessa. Oh how I've missed doing this project with you all!

  2. JPhil

     /  November 17, 2014

    Well, it looks like I started reading this about the time y’all were finishing up, which is kind of trippy. I was about halfway through season 2, at the time, and finally caught up to where I was watching at the mini-series. I enjoyed the recap you all gave, but more the connections you each saw between episodes, much of which completely unnoticed by me. Anyhow, thanks.

  3. Fraser

     /  April 18, 2015

    I original found this re-watch project after I had started watching all of Farscape with my daughter. As I live in Australia it was impossible to watch it when it was originally broadcast 🙁

    I was a couple of episodes in and my daughter wandered through the room and got interested so I went back to episode one. It took us at least 6 months or so, but oh so worth it. I realised that I had seen pretty much all of the first two seasons and some of season three but none at all of season four. The best thing even though it was ten years down the track I still didn’t know what had happened during the Peacekeeper Wars so everything past early season three was entirely new for me!

    When I first watched it when it was new, I thought that it was offbeat but special and (re)watching everything made me fall in love with it all over again. It stands up really well.

    I found this project when we watching season four and enjoyed reading along, albeit somewhat time shifted and I am glad I checked back to find that you have wrapped it all up. Thanks to the whole team for sharing your thought with your readers.

    Just revisiting the project and writing this comment tempts me to pull out the DVDs again.

  4. Amy

     /  October 2, 2020

    Thank you.

    (⌒-⌒; )

  5. Mark

     /  March 9, 2022

    OK, I’ve finished my lightning re-watch tied into Comet bringing the syndicated re-runs back. Premiere through Peacekeeper Wars from the first of the year to March 8.

    The short form of my reaction to PK Wars is the same as I remember from the 2000s – and also happens to be remarkably similar to my view of the movie Serenity. It’s good. I liked it. But it had a good, full season of story arc stuffed into a MUCH shorter running, so you get significantly less of the character stuff that had been the thing in the series that I loved the most. Interestingly, on this re-watch (like a lot of the series, I remembered the basic shape of the of things but forgot the vast majority of the moment-to-moment details), it did feel like the character moments were not quite as few and far between as I had remembered them being. Maybe that’s because the first time keeping up with the pace of the plot overwhelmed a bit more. Or, maybe it’s because this time the full series re-watch was more recent – so character moments that were callbacks, or followed some of their interaction patterns from along the way, were more obvious to me.

    One great example of the latter was John & D’Argo’s last laugh together. The whole “No, John. Go away. I want to talk to Chiana.” followed by them looking at each other and sharing a really hearty laugh. It echoed a few exchanges that they had had in grim circumstances over the course of the series. I thought that it was great that they let them maintain that dynamic between them when it actually was their last moment together, instead of allowing them to laugh only when the writers knew that they would get out of the dire straits alive. But, while my memory is very fuzzy about a lot of details from the original watch, that moment being part of that kind of pattern felt more like a discovery than an “Oh, yeah” refreshing of my memory.

    One thing about Aeryn giving birth while wearing leather pants:
    When John handed her the knife, he did tell her that it was for cutting off her clothes (and the for the cord). Of course, that does raise the question of where they would have gotten the replacement intact pair that she was wearing through the rest of the battle and escape. But, I guess that I can give them that one under the requirements of TV broadcast – like some of the stuff that translator microbes leave in alien form (I’m totally on board with the explanation that curse words don’t actually mean anything in particular, but there were plenty of times when those words were used in their literal, dictionary-definition sense and that explanation shouldn’t apply in those cases. 😉 )

    • Mark

       /  March 9, 2022

      A couple other quick notes:

      First, an observation: Apparently when the rest of group got out to the rowboat, they managed to rock / tip it enough to dump (at least) some of the John & Aeryn gravel out into the water. Bad Timing ended with a close-up of the ring standing up in the gravel in the boat. So, if Rygel had to recover the ring from the bottom then it had to have been spilled from teh boat after the fact. I mean, it seems unlikely that Rygel would be a position to take it and swallow it without anyone objecting during the collection of the dry pieces on the surface.

      Second, a bit of curious speculation: I’ve seen / heard rumors that the Nebari would have figured into season 5, at least a little. They are the group that we had seen who had designs on dominating a significant chunk of the galaxy. In a full season 5, I wonder whether they would have ended up as another side in the final mutual wormhole annihilation at the end. Just a thought.

      • NoelCT

         /  May 16, 2022

        Hey Mark, been dusting off the blog this week and just saw that you’ve been sharing your thoughts during your own rewatch. Thanks! I just started a fresh re-rewatch of my own, which you’ll gradually find on the old posts, so I’m looking forward to seeing your take as I catch up.


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