Farscape Rewatch! — “DNA Mad Scientist,” “They’ve Got a Secret”

WEEK FIVE
[Permanent Archive Here]

Well, that was a fun little accidental break. You guys are still reading, right? It doesn’t really matter to me. I’m gonna write this crap no matter what, so there’s that. But it would be nice to know. Anyway, apparently I lose all will to write when I visit my mother. All I did was read, eat, go to the movies (Avatar, three times for instance), and watch DVRed episodes of Cold Case and Law & Order: SVU with my sister, who is obsessed. Anyway, in the future I plan to take two week breaks in between each season and that should be it. Hopefully. (I’m also trying to work out a way to make the episode summaries shorter; we’ll see how that goes. Do you guys like reading my cracked out recaps or not? And I’m especially sorry for the length of this week’s writing, but I just couldn’t seem to help myself. Things needed to be said.)

So on to Farscape. This week we’re in for not one, but two, excellent episodes, which makes for a nice change. At this point, the show is really starting to figure out what kind of stories it wants to tell, and “DNA Mad Scientist” is a huge step in that direction. In fact, if you listen to the commentary, you can hear the creators tell the story about how this episode single-handedly saved the show from premature cancellation. Thank God. And of course, “They’ve Got a Secret” introduces a plot element that will be around until the end of the series.

1X09 — “DNA MAD SCIENTIST”

A needle penetrates Crichton’s eye. That’s not a metaphor. The Moyans have made their way to Namtar, a genetic scientist who is reputed to have the ability to locate a person’s genetic place of origin simply by taking a DNA sample. So, the Moyans who are lost in the Uncharted Territories, might then find a way home, avoiding Peacekeeper territories. But it turns out the price he asks for them to pay — a genetic sample from Pilot, for his research — is a steep one. He doesn’t just want blood or eye DNA. Nope, Bat-Lizard-Goat-Man wants a whole arm. (Don’t worry, they grow back.)

A little later, Crichton and Aeryn are being contemplative in a bar. Crichton is assuaging his depression over Namtar’s failure at locating Earth (there isn’t a single human among the eleven billion samples) by taking strange and unidentifiable shots of alcohol, and Aeryn is resigned. She points out to Crichton that while he and the others are attempting to find their way home, she is doing the opposite. She can never go home again. Crichton thinks it doesn’t matter anyway, there’s no way that Pilot would ever volunteer one of his arms. Aeryn’s like, bitch, what makes you think they’re even going to ask? Aaaand, up on Moya, the others are forcibly restraining Pilot, imploring him to give them ONE OF HIS FUCKING ARMS. “Think about somebody else for a change!” says Hypocrite Rygel. Zhaan is begging, rationalizing it away — she’ll help him with the pain, it’ll grow back . . . meanwhile they don’t even know this Namtar guy from beans! He could be Santa Claus for all they know. D’Argo stands by quietly, presumably not agreeing with the others, until Zhaan shouts, “Now!” and he takes his Qalta blade and CHOPS OFF PILOT’S FUCKING ARM. I am going to say it in caps all the time because it is his FUCKING ARM, for all that is good and holy and are you guys for fucking real!?

While John talks to Pilot, Aeryn confronts D’Argo and Zhaan, who attempt to defend their actions. They just end up making Aeryn angry, who then has a heart to heart with a drunk Crichton. He tells her that if he ever finds his way home, she can come with him, but the idea doesn’t seem to appeal to her (yet). And then the crew starts breaking apart, fighting about who to take home first. Meanwhile, down on the planet Namtar is having a hissy fit when his creepy research isn’t going right, when Aeryn interrupts him. She says she wants Namtar to try and find colonies of Sebaceans that might have broken away from the Peacekeepers. But when she sits down in the chair, instead of collecting fluid from her eye like he said he would, he injects some of his vile experimental goo. Meanwhile, up on Moya, Namtar’s fraudulent nature is also revealed to the others when the coordinates he gave them turn out to be useless. So basically they fractured themselves as a unit, behaved like assholes, and cut off ONE OF PILOT’S ARMS for nothing. Well, actually that’s not true, there is simply too much data for Moya to process, so they can only access one of the maps, and only by deleting the other two. That’s going to end well.

Upon returning to Moya, Aeryn begins to feel ill. Soon — while everything else is going to shit, with phony alliances and crystal stealing and devious blue bitches scheming around  — she finds herself growing a new skin. A slimy, grey one. She confronts Namtar about it, and the creep reveals his creepiness (that whole turning his pain sensors to pleasure thing — GUH), telling her she’s in phase one. Back on Moya, Aeryn has officially sprouted Pilot suction cups and appendages. She shows Pilot and Crichton, freaking the hell out of all of them. She says she did it because she didn’t want to be left behind. It’s the most vulnerable we’ve ever seen her. Also, Zhaan tries to seduce Rygel to get him to give up the crystal. I mean, WHAT. Crichton takes Aeryn back to the planetoid — she calls him “John” and leans on him — but Namtar refuses to help them. He basically implies that he’s using Aeryn as a guinea pig to test out how well the Pilot multi-tasking ability integrates; he tells them that it is his goal to scientifically achieve “perfection,” which basically means being as powerful and beautiful as possible, apparently. She blasts his side out with her pulse rifle, but even that doesn’t stop him; he just regenerates.  Crichton soon learns from Namtar’s “research assistant,” that Namtar himself is a mixture of the genetic traits of others, and that the research assistant, Kornata, used to be the researcher. Her experiments in “quantum genetics,” isolating intelligence, etc, got out of control and her creation turned on her. P.S. Aeryn has a full-on Pilot arm now.

Kornata comes to Moya to gain the assistance of Pilot in formulating an antidote for Aeryn, but before he can go save Aeryn, John has to stop Rygel from uploading the map to Moya’s system. Kornata has told him it was designed to erase everything it comes in to contact with, including Moya’s data stores, so that the Moyans couldn’t leave even if they wanted to. He manages to break the crystal by shoving it out of a bitting and spitting Rygel’s hands, pissing D’Argo, Zhaan, and Rygel off in the process and then basically smacking them with their own idiocy. It never would have worked in the first place, you ARM HACKING FOOLS. Crichton travels down to the planetoid with Kornata, ostensibly to see Aeryn one last time, while Kornata secretly places the antidote in the final formula that Namtar plans on giving Aeryn, who is now fully deformed. John is horrified when he sees her, but not because she’s ugly. Anyway, SHABAM! Kornata sticks Namtar with the antidote, reducing him to his primary form — an ugly rat with legs — and then John has to give it to Aeryn, his hands shaking, straight into her eyeball. Later, when she’s “better,” he brings her a plate full of food cubes arranged in a happy face. She tells him that she understands now that she is a person, that there is a “real” her inside that isn’t a body or a soldier or an idea. In Pilot’s den, D’Argo doesn’t apologize. He simply shows Pilot a device he’s been making, but it’s not a weapon. It’s a musical instrument, and that’s real nice, D’Argo, but guess what? YOU CUT OFF HIS ARM.

Trivia

  • This is the first mention we ever hear of the Sebacean Breakaway Colonies, though they are not specifically named as of yet. These are Sebaceans that fled the Peacekeepers in favor of a less militaristic lifestyle.
  • D’Argo completes the device we first saw he was working on in “Back and Back and Back to the Future.” It is a “shilo’quin,” a musical instrument (which Pilot mistakes for some sort of weapon).
  • NamTar is “Rat Man” backwards.
  • The NamTar creation was partly animatronic, including his whole head. Not only that, but Adrian Getley was on stilts for the entire time the episode was filming. The suit was so complex that they had to cut a hole out of it so he could urinate.
  • This episode was originally entitled “Apogee.”
  • David Kemper came up with the idea for this episode when he first saw the Pilot puppet. He asked Matt Carroll if they could cut off an arm in a story, so Pilot would re-grow it later, and, stunned when Carroll replied, “Yeah,” the story was born.

Metaphorically Speaking

This is a complicated episode. It can’t simply be split into A, B, and C stories. Instead, it has layers, like an onion. Or parfait. But seriously: on the surface level we’ve got three characters who want so badly to go home that they will mutilate a comrade, two people who no longer have homes to go to, and a crazy scientist who manipulates the shit out of all of them. The next layer down we’ve got bodies (it’s always about bodies on Farscape): Pilot’s body, Aeryn’s body, Namtar’s body. The layer after that we’ve got dreams and goals and metaphors: Pilot’s, Rygel’s, Zhaan’s, D’Argo’s, John’s, Aeryn’s . .  even Namtar’s. And after that it becomes too complicated to unravel, but I think it’s something about identity (isn’t it always?). I mean, who ARE these people?

Let’s start with Pilot. We won’t learn very much more about him until season two, but here we do learn two things: that Pilots are not naturally bonded to Leviathans and that Pilot had to sacrifice a certain amount of his freedom in order to fly with Moya. He says, “My species is incapable of spaceflight on our own. If we wish to journey beyond our home planet, this is the tradeoff we make for the chance to see the galaxy. I consider it a perfectly equitable arrangement.” Aside from being fantastically existentialist (freedom is an illusion, etc.), this tells us a couple of things. Pilot essentially gave up all sense of self and ownership of his body in service of an idea, to become part of something larger than himself. To travel beyond his own trappings. In exchange, he had to give up the right to his own body and even his sense of self as an independent individual. His body is literally linked with Moya’s, and what she feels, he feels. If she were to die, he would die also. This is why Aeryn and Pilot have such a special relationship, I think, because they both inherently understand the idea of “service” and what it means to willingly admit that you are only a small cog in a large machine.

Aeryn, even before her experience in growing Pilot appendages, is the first to be concerned about Pilot: “What do you want from him?” she asks the others. And, oh, it’s only an arm. And later, after they go through with it, she is absolutely disgusted. Confronting them, she says: “For a comrade. You attacked one of your own. Would you do the same to the rest of us?” D’Argo replies, “Of course.” But Aeryn isn’t just sickened because they cut off an appendage; it goes deeper than that. Aeryn has always been part of a team, a larger group, a larger whole. It’s how she defines herself, it’s how she’s lived her life. So her so-called “comrades” turning on one another is just about the worst things she can imagine. Kindness and generosity and love and compassion, these are alien to her, but loyalty, honor . . . that is how she defines herself. And that is exactly what Zhaan, D’Argo, and Rygel destroy when they chop off Pilot’s arm in service of their own goals. Because Aeryn’s sense of self is based upon her place withing a larger whole, in a very real sense, when they attack the idea of the group (or, themselves as a unit), they are also attacking Aeryn’s sense of self, her identity. Most people, and certainly everyone else on board the ship (with the important exception of Moya and Pilot) define themselves in relation only to themselves. They are individuals with ties to their families and species, yes, but outside of those groups their senses of self are rooted on the idea that a person is an individual, whole in itself. Aeryn doesn’t understand this yet (although she will by the end of the episode). Aeryn has always been part of a team, and now she’s on her own. She’s not used to dealing with individuals.

It’s important in terms of the story that both John and Aeryn remain outside of Namtar’s jurisdiction, John because Namtar has no record of human DNA, and Aeryn because it’s not that she doesn’t know where she came from, but that she is no longer welcome there. That’s very sad when you think about, and not just on the surface level. Of course it sucks that she can’t go home, as home is a very important concept, but if we’re accepting the idea that her sense of identity is based on her relation to her place within a group (in this case, the Peacekeepers), then her exile is an exile in every sense of the word. Not only is she cut off from her people, then, she is also cut off from herself. On the other hand, cut off from all of that, she now has the chance to rethink her place in relation to the rest of the universe and maybe to discover some things that she never would have had a chance in her previous life. Aeryn experiences something that she probably never would have with the prospect of “home” available to her. She might very well have been as much of an asshole as D’Argo, Zhaan, or Rygel in this episode, perhaps worse, given the chance. We know she is gifted in the ways of violence. Cut off from everyone (John included, because he still has a home to return to) and forced into a mutating Pilot body, all that is left of Aeryn is . . . Aeryn. Not her body, not her muscles, not her fellow Peacekeepers. Just Aeryn, who remains the same in spirit despite inhabiting a body that isn’t even her own on a molecular level. “It was me. Inside. The real me,” she says.

There is a huge irony in D’Argo, Zhaan and Rygel participating in PK-like activity, while Aeryn is the dissenter. This is the show opening up to larger issues. “Peacekeeper” doesn’t mean evil, evil is within us all. In fact, if Aeryn is to be believed, not even the Peacekeepers would stoop so low. Thank God for Crichton. They aren’t setting a very good example for Aeryn. This episode also gives us another instance of somebody putting something into John’s body, a theme which has been hinted at previously, but which will become much more important later on when his body basically becomes the focus of every evil in the universe. It’s also significant that D’Argo is the one to apologize (albeit in actions rather than words), and Zhaan doesn’t (we don’t expect it from Rygel). I guess what it boils down to is that this is an episode about the idea of home and how it pulls them apart. “Home” is a very individual concept for them at this point, they all have places to return to. It’s a battle between the Individual and the Collective, a battle which is concentrated in the bodies of Pilot and Aeryn. When will these people learn to work together? I forget, when do they realize they’re a family?

Trash Bin

How does Aeryn keep getting back and forth between the planetoid and Moya? While sick? The magic of TV, I guess. And why didn’t she kick Namtar’s face in when he attacked her? Bitch has mad skillz. Other than that, I’ve got no complaints. This episode holds up really, really well.

– – –

1X10 — “THEY’VE GOT A SECRET”

We open with Aeryn sitting on Crichton’s shoulders, but it’s not what you think. It seems Pilot has ordered the crew to track down and remove any remaining Peacekeeper technology so that Moya will be safe from any future PK-related dangers (like the Pulse Beacon from “I, E.T.“). Nobody seems to be happy about it; D’Argo whines to Pilot that he’s basically too good for this crap. BTW, Pilot’s arm seems to have grown back, so shut up, D’Argo. He stops complaining long enough to crawl through a tiny hole, where he finds a PK control panel, but Pilot’s instructions to remove it aren’t heard as the comms signal gives out. So what does D’Argo do? He just rips, and is thus propelled down a very, very long tube that kind of looks like a vagina (which is actually very fitting and I’m sure is no coincidence). Whilst trying to climb back up Moya’s vagina, he finds another PK panel and instead of being intelligent, he just kicks it right off and then all this golden crap comes out, flushing D’Argo right out of the vagina and into the cold, black vacuum of space. Happy Birthday!

Aeryn rescues D’Argo in her Prowler and John is all YOU GUYS! He was in space for HALF AN HOUR. He is TOTALLY DEAD. But it turns out that Luxans can survive in space for around fifteen minutes, and after Zhaan takes his pulse in his legs (weird! alien!), he wakes up. The first thing he says is “Lo’Laan.” Important things to remember about this scene: D’Argo remembers nothing, there are weird fragments of debris on his clothes, and Moya is going all wonky on them and Pilot doesn’t know why. And then Pilot starts to go wonky as well, and the DRDs aren’t responding. What up. While searching the ship, John and Aeryn are attacked by a tiny DRD, who squirts yucky purple fluid at Aeryn which turns out to be incredibly adhesive, gluing Aeryn to the floor. Aside from leading to some yummy scenes involving Crichton rescuing Aeryn from the floor and washing her hand off, this is pretty weird. Since when do DRDs attack? Meanwhile Zhaan is attempting to identify the debris found on D’Argo’s clothes. Guesses include pieces of Moya herself and a bio-mechanoid virus left behind by the Peacekeepers (both wrong). Zhaan brings D’Argo to his quarters, but he’s completely delusional and thinks she’s “Lo’Laan.” She plays along, probably because she’s curious, but he comes to in the middle of it. When Zhaan asks him who this Lo’Laan is, he starts to cry.

Aeryn and Crichton are discussing interstellar disease when they are interrupted by Pilot, who is overcome by something mysterious. Aeryn can’t revive him, but soon discovers that due to her special DNA bond with him, she is able to sufficiently gain control over Moya’s systems. Annnd, here comes Rygel for the first time this episode, and no surprise to anyone, he’s taking advantage of D’Argo’s unconscious state to rifle through his things. But D’Argo wakes up and Rygel is supremely confused when he starts calling the little green turd “Jothee” and “boy” and reprimanding him for going through his things. The best thing is when D’Argo picks him up like a baby and starts squeezing him (hands on the puppet!). In his delusion, D’Argo spills to a clueless Rygel (who still thinks it’s all about him) and we can determine that D’Argo has been hallucinating his wife and child, and that he married a non-Luxan, which is surprising to say the least. While Aeryn figures out that Pilot is being nutrient starved, Zhaan determines that the debris is actually made up of Moya’s genetic material. Crichton goes to find D’Argo in order to figure out what happened to cause the explosion, but D’Argo is still confused and calls him “Macton,” becoming angry (Macton being Lo’Laan’s brother, Lo’Laan being D’Argos dead wife).

Crichton goes searching for the shield that D’Argo punctured and comes across hordes of DRDs which seem to have made a nest and are protecting it voraciously. Zhaan, Crichton, and Aeryn soon determine that it’s Moya ordering the DRDs to do . . . whatever it is they are doing, and Crichton begins to form a plan. D’Argo totes Rygel up to command and pretty soon he’s making out with Zhaan (who he still thinks he is Lo’Laan). The best part about this is that Zhaan doesn’t even care or act surprised. She just kisses him back, the horndog. And then there’s this weird thing where they all roleplay and it kind of bores me, so, moving on. And then: “D’Argo, you have to remember.” D’Argo: “I don’t want to.” Anyway, we get to the good part now which is the revelation that D’Argo was married to a Sebacean and that she was killed by her disapproving brother, Macton, and D’Argo took all the blame. “He still had her blood on his hands when he arrested me for the murder.” Finally he snaps out of it and takes the others to where this all started, kicking in the shield that the DRDs had covered the hole with. John climbs into the vagina.

Down, down, down he goes, while Aeryn is about to sever Moya’s higher functions so that they can take control over life support systems. Not a decision they made lightly. Further down the tube, Crichton finds an opening and climbs inside. He finds a tiny leviathan hooked up to systems and realizes what’s happening: Moya’s pregnant, and the shield that D’Argo kicked in had been preventing such a thing from happening. Crichton gets the DRDs turned on so he can speak to Moya and tell her that her actions in making her baby are killing them (and also because not having the DRDs was killing the baby). Moya appears to hear him as life support comes back on and the DRDs stop trying to kill him. And then it’s time to wonder what ELSE they can be expecting with this weird beyond weird pregnancy. Later in D’Argo’s quarters, Aeryn makes it clear that she will never betray D’Argo’s son to anyone, which is progress, to say the least. I also think it shows moral fiber on all of their parts not to tell D’Argo how flipping ugly his son is. Eegads.

Trivia

  • The arm that was cut off of Pilot in the previous episode “DNA Mad Scientist” appears to have regenerated fully.
  • Sebaceans apparently don’t have a very good sense of smell. Aeryn only detects that the food is spoiled after tasting it, while Crichton detects the smell of spoiled food immediately upon opening the refrigeration unit. This is hinted at again in “Home on the Remains”, in which Aeryn is the least affected by Zhaan’s spores. This is most likely deliberate so Peacekeeper soldiers can withstand harsh environments.
  • We learn that Luxans can generally survive for up to a quarter of an arn (about fifteen minutes) in the vacuum of space. In this case, D’Argo managed to survive twice as long, about a half of an hour before being revived.
  • The revelation that Moya is pregnant was originally written in to the very first version of the “Premiere” script, which Rockne O’Bannon used to try and sell the series to Fox.
  • Moya’s set is made up of ten pieces, including one junction, which are all on wheels and make up every version of the corridors we see.
  • Producer Matt Carroll assigned Ian Watson as this script’s director because he is known as the “performance” director, whereas the other three regulars (Tony Tilse, Andrew Prowse and Rowan Woods) are more action-oriented.
  • The title of the episode comes from the long-running American game show I’ve Got a Secret which ran from 1952 into the 1970s.
  • This episode is Anthony Simcoe’s favorite from the first season.

Metaphorically Speaking

This episode is split in two, the two halves joined by the secrets of the bodies keeping them: D’Argo and Moya. In the process, the episode semi-skillfully explores issues of ownership, slavery, and control as well as prejudice, bigotry, and love. Some of the points meet and hit really hard, others fall short. I want to start with D’Argo because I think his is the simpler of the two. We learn a lot about our tentacled friend in this episode, including the real crime that he was imprisoned for (the supposed murder of his Sebacean wife, Lo’Laan). Because of the situation the episode puts him in — being out of his mind with space fever or whatever — we have no reason to question the veracity of the things that D’Argo tells us. D’Argo married a Sebacean woman and had a child, both being acts of unthinkable evil according to Peacekeeper custom. “The destruction of the the bloodlines” and all that other NAZI crap. And they were both punished for it. Lo’Laan’s murder by her brother, Macton, was blamed on D’Argo (a very easy lie to believe, Luxans being raging savages and all), but obviously what he’s really being punished for is daring to love and claim for his own that most holy and pure creature: the Sebacean woman. So it’s the hierarchy thing again, people having power over other people, considering themselves superior. So what’s really interesting to me about this episode in terms of D’Argo is what happens at the end between he and Aeryn.

Aeryn is a former Peacekeeper, and as she tells D’Argo, she was born into a system that teaches its children from birth that any desiccation of the bloodlines is evil. She uses that word, “evil.” D’Argo simply asks her, does she think his son is evil? And the answer she gives is very nice: No, she says, because she sees D’Argo in his eyes. That could be a really cheesy line, but both Aeryn and Claudia Black believe it. Aeryn is learning to distinguish between individuals and their groups. D’Argo is not a Luxan to her at this point (a group which she probably still feels prejudice towards), he is simply D’Argo. She does not wish for D’Argo or his family to come to harm, and so she will disregard everything she has been told about such miscegenation. It’s a big step for her.

The other half of the episode is a little harder to pin down, which makes it vastly more interesting to me. The basis for it lies in Moya. I don’t know about you guys, but as a well-trained viewer of sci-fi and space opera, I tend to take the ship for granted. Sure on Farscape we’re reminded often that Moya is a “living ship”; hell, they say it every week in the opening credits, but I never really stop to think about what that means. It’s such an original idea for a TV show that I have a hard time wrapping my head around it. It’s alien, and I’m pretty sure that’s the idea. She’s ALIVE. But what does that mean? Can we even conceive of what her consciousness must be like? What does she think about? The show makes this problem most clear, I think, when Crichton and Aeryn are discussing the taming of beasts of burden. John compares Moya to Earth’s horses but he makes a distinction, carefully adding in, “But we love them.” Aeryn then kicks his logic in the face with the following exchange:

Aeryn: “You love what you enslave?”
Crichton: “We don’t enslave them . . . Fine, we enslave them.”

That kills me. We and Crichton are in the same boat on this one. We tell ourselves that taming and breeding and holding horses captive is okay to such an extent that we don’t even question the ethics behind it. As Crichton points out, yes, we do take care of animals and love them and shelter them, but as Aeryn’s perspective tells us, there’s something a little crazy about it all. I LOVE YOU so I’m going to keep you in a CAGE! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should go out right now and set all the horses free or something, but I am saying that we should think about it. From the outside,  some of the shit that we get up to as humans is pretty damn weird.

Moya, as a Leviathan, is also a member of an enslaved race of beings, beasts of burden, only in her case, it’s she that takes care of and shelters the humans who live inside her, and that certainly gives her a level of control that no other beast of burden will ever possess. At one point, John starts likening the crew to microbes, saying things like, “We don’t know something’s wrong in our bodies until we start showing symptoms, ” so how could Moya possibly know that her actions are killing them? The human crew aboard Moya is simultaneously, then, like a disease and her master.  I mean, this whole thing started with the Peacekeepers, who took it upon themselves to enslave Moya and to prevent her from naturally reproducing. That’s what masters do. So while it’s just a ship to the crew (although it will become Home), it’s Moya’s body, and she very often doesn’t have control over it. When we realize that Moya is pregnant (her secret), a whole bunch of weird worms come popping out of the can. And then they all start talking about disease and death and suffering, which leads to Crichton’s realization that the Peacekeepers essentially have no disease. This falls in line perfectly; they control everything else, so why not their own bodies? This raises all sorts of fun questions that I don’t have answers to: To what extent do we have control over our own bodies? Should we? Crichton is genuinely earnest when he tells Aeryn that this is one thing the Peacekeepers have right.

Trash Bin

D’Argo’s delusions are too literal. His confession would have played better had it not been so earnest. I mentioned earlier that the D’Argo half of the episode was the weaker, and this is why. It comes off false. On a show where the bizarre happens frequently, it’s important for the characters to act in a true manner or else we literally have no base upon which to stand in terms of the story. D’Argo’s mind trip: his mind is protecting him. He doesn’t want to come back to reality. So fine, I get it. Parts were even very moving, but it was just too much. The whole thing would have played much better if he would have snapped out of it sooner and made the confession in his right mind. The Crichton as Macton and Zhaan as Lo’Laan roleplaying at the end was just redonkulous.

– – –

Crichtonisms

  • Crichton: “Is this new or is this your usual PMS thing? Peacekeeper Military Shi–”
    Aeryn: “Frell you.”
  • “Happy place, Aeryn. Goooooo to your happy place.”
  • “So you guys just zip around the galaxy, hoping you don’t pick up some STD? Space transmitted disease?”
  • Aeryn: “But you say you want to go back to this place, Earth. A place that you tell me has so much disease and suffering.”
    John: “Well, you guys don’t have chocolate.”

PuppetWatch!

  • Namtar isn’t really a puppet, I suppose, but I’m gonna count him for those disgustingly thrice bent goat legs of his. Blech and ugh (but in the good way).
  • Similarly, Kornata’s GIANT HAND was weird. I’m not sure if I totally buy it, but it’s so just THERE that I kind have to, I think.
  • Aeryn as Pilot . . . I don’t like Claudia Black’s face to be covered up. I guess I’m weird that way. However, with that said, it did look eerily like Pilot and did not in any way impede the performance. That woman could have a paper bag over her head and I would buy whatever she was selling me.

– – –

“Crackers Don’t Matter!”

  • A Farscape Glossary: A “weekens” is a unit of time possibly analogous to a week. A “mellet” is possibly a food item analogous to liver, apparently served chopped, and not considered of high value; “What am I, chopped mellet?”
  • Interstellar Swearing: “Frell” is vulgar for “copulate” (more commonly known as “fuck!”); used as both an expletive (“frell you!”) and an intensifier (“frelling idiot”). “Frodank” means wonky; stupid; ridiculous, as in “your frodank idea.”
  • I highly recommend reading Jacob’s recap of “DNA Mad Scientist” at Television Without Pity. It is wonderful. His recap of “They’ve Got a Secret” is pretty awesome as well.
  • It is revealed in “DNA Mad Scientist” that Pilots and Leviathans are bonded together and that Leviathans are the only way Pilots can travel through space.
  • “DNA Mad Scientist” also marks the first time that we hear Rygel calling Zhaan some variation of “Big Blue Bitch.” Sometimes he also throws “ass” in there for good measure.
  • This “planet full of Crichtons” that Aeryn keeps talking about sounds AWESOME and when can I go? Seriously.
  • “They’ve Got a Secret” marks the first mention and appearance of Jothee and Lo’Laan. They appear as holograms in stored in a tiny holo-emitter kept by D’Argo.
  • Let me just take a moment to admire John Crichton’s arms in his tiny grey t-shirts. Mmmm.

– – –

Classic Moments in Farscape, #5

[The mess; Crichton strides over to Aeryn, bearing a tray full of food cubes arranged in a happy face. He kneels in front of her. She gives him The Eye and he smirks.]
Crichton: It’s a happy face.
Aeryn: They’re food cubes.
Crichton: No, see the pattern . . . it forms a  . . . nevermind.
[Aeryn takes a bite; doesn’t enjoy.]
Crichton: Food still taste funny? [She doesn’t say anything.] What was the worst part? [She still doesn’t say anything, although it looks like she wants to. John prods her.] Aeryn . . .
Aeryn: I’ve always thought of myself in terms of survival, life and death, keeping the body alive. But what Namtar did to me . . . it was . . . [Sighs, gathers her thoughts.] It was me. Inside. The real me.
Crichton: [Smiles and touches her arm.] You would have fit in on Earth just fine.

– – –

Coming up on the Farscape Rewatch: “Till the Blood Runs Clear,” “Rhapsody in Blue”

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10 Responses to “Farscape Rewatch! — “DNA Mad Scientist,” “They’ve Got a Secret””
  1. Kat says:

    I haven’t even read this yet, but I need to say. YES! We’re reading and we think you’re great and longer posts and more, more, more.

    OK, I did read to the bit where you wrote “CHOPS OFF PILOT’S FUCKING ARM” and stopped to giggle insanely.

    • Ashley says:

      Well, come back and comment when you do!

      • Kat says:

        I enjoyed your theorizing on Aeryn learning what it means to be an individual, and how DNA Mad Scientist takes us a step in that direction. The first time I watched I was so horrified by them CUTTING OFF HIS DAMN ARM that I really wasn’t paying much attention to Aeryn’s emotions. (It was kinda hard to escape the horror of her in that other body, yes, that was actually what I was paying attention to.)

        Regardless, without Crichton there, there is no way that Aeryn would be made to vocalize how she’s feeling, even though we are watching her learn and we are understanding the process intrinsically. I’ll admit to sometimes feeling like “oh, c’mon, another John/Aeryn scene in which John tries to get her to talk”, but reading your rewatch is making me more sensitive to the considerable efforts the writers take in giving us opportunities to both see and hear this growth (for both J and A).

        And, now, if you’ll permit me, a little story. I was at a holiday party, having just finished Farscape. I was talking to a coworker about it– the concept of the show, how it got so much better over time, how heartbroken I was when it was over. I mentioned that I had tweeted some things about Farscape and for kicks I tweeted “Ben Browder is a hot patootie” just to see if I would get any commentary. Nothing, of course, since there are far too few fans of this show. My coworker laughed and asked if I regretted posting that. “Heck no”, I says, “It’s obvious it’s not a subjective analysis.” It pays to have a scientific mind, you see.

        Boring story aside, I’m loving reading these, and I’ll keep saying it until you stop saying no one’s reading or commenting.

  2. vahid says:

    This is a great recap!

    (Don’t kill yourself, Ashley! Don’t do it!)

  3. Dan says:

    “DNA Mad Scientist” may be my favorite episode of the first season. And, it’s fitting that it sort of acts as a lead-in for one of my favorite episodes of season two. It’s also one of the episodes I’ve seen the most, since it was part of a Farscape Primer marathon that Sci-Fi ran (I think) before the final four episodes of season two, which I recorded on good ol’ fashioned VHS.

    Anyway…love this episode.

    I agree with you that the D’Argo half of “They’ve Got a Secret” is the weakest of the two. And, I still remember what it felt like when I realized that “Holy shit, oh my god, the SHIP is pregnant!”

  4. Jen says:

    OMG, they CUT OFF Pilot’s ARM! Mean!!! Totally shocking! How can they continue to trust each other after that (as much as they actually do…)? Excellent expression of horror on the puppet’s face.

    This episode prompted mike and I to have a discussion regarding the storage of data on crystals (which makes sense, given the properties of crystals and the way the atoms are arranged and blah blah blah – it is used often in other shows), but why would you just carry around a data crystal in its naked, unprotected form? Because the fact that your data storage system would shatter upon impact allows for better Sci-Fi TV drama? We likened it to using a hard drive without the outer casing that protects the spinning disk. Wouldn’t last long!

    Zhaan trying to seduce Rygel was a little creepy. Stroking his “earbrow”…ew. Oomox, anyone?

    Also, I found it ironic that Aeryn accuses humans of enslaving horses when she was basically a Space Nazi up until recently. Glass houses and all that. I also don’t think that comparison violates Godwin’s law. They talk about keeping the bloodlines pure and they are a military society.

    Also did I miss where they explained HOW Moya got pregnant??? I’m assuming she didn’t get it on with another Leviathan.

    Since when do the DRDs have little tiny adorable DEADLY PROJECTILES?

    I really enjoyed these episodes. I do agree with you that D’Argo’s story would have been more impactful if he had been in his right mind when he told it. I feel like they took advantage of his addled state.

    • Ashley says:

      1. They don’t really trust each other for a while.
      2. The “science” on this show isn’t really that important. It’s the least science fictiony science fiction show I’ve ever watched.
      3. Hynerian earbrows are erogenous. I love it. Who is Oomox?
      4. Godwin’s law? Too many terms I don’t know and am too lazy to Google.
      5. Leviathans don’t really mate, I don’t think. D’Argo kicked out the barrier which released Leviathan reproductive goodies, and started the pregnancy. Again . . . don’t think about it too much.
      6. The DRDs only get more awesome.

      • Jen says:

        2. I think the science is accurate, but on any show, they never protect the data crystals. It just seems unlikely that they would be that way. I guess the medium is just more attractive in pure crystal form.

        3. The earlobes of the ferengi are also erogenous. Oomox is the practice of, ahem, stimulating the lobes, as in “look at those hands, I bet she gives great oomox.”

        4. Godwin’s law – the likening of your opponent to a Nazi invalidates your argument. The first person to bring up the Nazis loses by virtue of this law. Also states that, as an argument on the internet goes on for a long time, the likelihood of someone being compared to a Nazi approaches 1.

        5. But I like thinking about things! Hehe, the thought of 2 ships mating made me laugh, even though I knew that wasn’t the way.

  5. Larry says:

    DNA Mad Scientist:

    About the cutting off Pilot’s arm… yeah, it’s pretty brutal and a really drastic measure, but here’s the thing. They were all prisoners for YEARS. They’re no longer “nice people”. They’ve been imprisoned in individual cells and tortured the entire time. They’ve all contemplated doing heinous crimes to their Peacekeeper wardens for a chance at freedom. If pushed, threatened, or given hope, they are desperate enough to do anything to regain their lives. So when it is revealed that Pilot has the one thing that will let them regain their lives, you damn well better believe they’ll take it. This episode reveals how very broken D’Argo, Zhaan, and Rygel are, reverting to a simple dominate-or-be-dominated mentality. Rygel is, if anything, simply the most vocal and honest about it.

    I’ve seen this episode a few times, after watching the series through, and I don’t think it would have occurred to D’Argo to apologize to Pilot for what he did. By the Luxan code, a warrior does what is necessary. Actions in the heat of the moment should not be judged. Zhaan on the other hand is still reeling from reviving her darker, murderous side to defeat Maldis, so she’s still dealing with that shit.

    And there is a caste system in place in the Multiverse: everyone accepts that Pilots and Leviathans are there to serve others. Even Pilot waxes philosophical about it; what just happened is a brutal reminder of his caste. Thankfully he can regenerate limbs. This episode also reveals that while we play at being nice to each other, when push comes to shove, a lot of our polite societal conventions go out the window, and a lot of old, inbred and selfish ideas come to the fore.

    Also, they don’t have a cohesive sense of belonging. The escapees don’t see themselves as a unit. They still see themselves as a ragtag collection of individuals thrown together by the circumstance of being imprisoned on the same Leviathan and escaping together. Each still yearns for their old separate life, and would ditch the others as soon as possible. They only work together only as need requires. Aeryn is coming at it from the other side, where her life has been about nothing BUT discipline, being part of a group, and obeying the conventions of civilization. John has to reconcile it all.

    Also, needles in eyes. Nghngnghnnghnngnghghnngnghghngh. This show likes to do things to eyes waaaaaay too much. :: shudder ::

    They’ve Got A Secret:

    I was lukewarm to this one. It sets in motion some important story points (Moya can have babies; Luxans can survive being in outer space for a short while; D’Argo has a far more interesting past than he let on), but the character interaction was a bit meh. Three of the characters (D’Argo, Pilot, and Moya) are out of it, leaving the others to do their meager best to care for them.

    Although I love the fact that Zhaan is the group’s go-to for advanced biology//genetics/alchemy. She may be a peaceloving hippy plant, but she’s got mad science/magic skills.

    Also, I don’t quite go for the whole argument about love and slavery – “I love you, I’m going to cage you”. It’s not about love or outright slavery. It’s about utility and dominance. We breed, raise and train animals like horses because someone realized, way in the past, that horses allow us to carry more faster and further than we could do ourselves. It’s easier to deal with when you don’t know what your beast of burden thinks about the entire enterprise, but when you have a living ship that can communicate with you via Pilots, things get cagier.

    Which I think is where the whole caste system from the previous episode comes up. If you think of all beings as equals, that means you can’t just expect an equal to do what you want. Your need has to be negotiated in fairness to all parties. That takes time and consideration and thoughtfulness… yeah right, who can take the time to do that well, all the time? No species is immune to superiority and inferiority, dominance and subservience. The Peacekeepers haven’t maintained militant peace over Known Space by being the UN, after all. At least not without the considerable influence of the beings that show up during The Peacekeeper Wars.

    It’s an interesting thought experiment, but in the end, the Multiverse in Farscape is just as brutal and violent as anyplace on a map we once labeled “Here Be Dragons.” Don’t go out and free the horses; but recognize that they save you a lot of backbreaking work, so it’s in your own best interests to treat them well.

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