Wed
Apr 18 2012 2:00pm

Farscape Rewatch: “They’ve Got A Secret”

“They’ve Got A Secret”
Written by Sally Lapiduss, Directed by Ian Watson
Season 1, Episode 10

1st US Transmission Date: 25 June 1999
1st UK Transmission Date: 21 February 2000
1st Australian Transmission: 22 September 2000

Synopsis: The crew are sweeping Moya for leftover PK devices when D’Argo falls into a shaft and finds a PK-installed hatch. He kicks it loose and releases a stream of particles. He is blasted out into space and collected by Aeryn in her Prowler. Moya begins to malfunction, systems go down, the DRDs turn hostile and Pilot passes out. John believes the particles are a PK virus that is destroying Moya, but eventually they realise Moya herself is causing the crisis. They conclude that Moya is trying to kill them for some unknown reason.

They are able to switch off the DRDs and decide to sever the neural connections to Moya’s higher functions to protect themselves. John goes down the shaft to investigate the hatch and finds a huge chamber with a Leviathan foetus inside – Moya is pregnant. By rupturing the hatch, D’Argo released the particles which caused conception. Aeryn stops cutting Moya’s higher functions just in time, they switch on the DRDs (which the baby needs to survive), and John convinces Moya that they are not a threat to the child. The ship returns to normal and Pilot revives.

Meanwhile D’Argo is suffering mental confusion as a result of his exposure to space, and his secrets are revealed.

Buck Rogers Redux: John is still staggered by the level of science he’s encountering and is in awe of the Peacekeepers’ eradication of all diseases, wishing it could be like that back on Earth. But when Aeryn asks him why he wants to return to a world with so much disease and suffering he plaintively replies ‘you guys don’t have chocolate’. You might expect it to be Zhaan’s idea, but it seems to be John’s brainwave to break D’Argo out of his reverie with a  bit off therapeutic roleplay.

You Can Be More: Aeryn takes over for the unconscious Pilot with ease, using the controls without difficulty. John thinks that some of Pilot’s knowledge and skill has remained with her after her augmentation in ‘DNA Mad Scientist’. Aeryn goes out of her way to comfort D’Argo at the end, and swears to keep Jothee’s existence a secret; it’s her most explicit act of unecessary compassion so far.

I Was A Teenage Luxan: D’Argo was married to a Sebacean, Lo’Laan, and they had a son, Jothee. They fled to a new world but they were still reviled as outsiders. Lo’Lann’s brother, a Peacekeeper named Macton, was disgusted by the marriage and killed Lo’Laan. Then, with his sister’s dried blood still on his hands, he arrested D’Argo for the murder. Before being put on trial, D’Argo was able to take Jothee to a secret place where he would be safe, but he’s tormented by not knowing whether his son remained safe, or is even still alive. So his true crime, which was referred to in ‘Back and Back and Back to the Future’, is revealed. He keeps a hologram of his wife and son in an open wound on his chest.

While hallucinating, he believes Zhaan is his wife and Rygel his son. He is revealed to be a total softie – all puppy eyed love for Lo’Laan, and piggyback rides and tickling for Jothee. Now that his constant bad temper and his habit of reacting to everything with violence has been put into context, it makes him more a person and less a ‘noble warrior’ stereotype. It also retrospectively kind of explains why he was so willing to slice and dice Pilot last week — he’s got something depserately urgent to get back to — his abandoned son. It doesn’t perhaps excuse his complicity in Pilot’s disarming, but it does provide context.

In The Driving Seat: Pilot’s arm has grown back already, so either he’s a really fast healer or quite some time has passed between episodes. His tendrils run all the way throughout the ship.

The Insane Military Commander: Aeryn mentions that Crais ‘is determined to follow us no matter where we go’ but she’s not seen him at all since ’Premiere’ and he’s only appeared when brought into the arena by Maldis (‘That Old Black Magic’), so either they have had some off-screen encounters or it’s just the writer reminding us of Crais, because for the big nemesis of the series he’s not exactly cropping up every week, is he!?

A Ship, A Living Ship: ‘Our beloved ship may be trying to kill us!’ Moya can control the DRDs directly, see through them and hear through them too. She also appears able to understand John when he tells her, through a DRD, that they won’t harm the child. Moya has a Bio-Polymer structure and can function without Pilot, although life-support and other such functions are controlled by Pilot since Moya doesn’t need them – they’re only there for the convenience of passengers. Moya takes some serious damage from Aeryn cutting into her connectors; she must be very resilient indeed because you’d expect at least partial brain damage if the connection is partially cut, wouldn’t you? Pilot explains the system malfunctions: ‘To nourish the foetus through the very tenuous period right after conception, Moya needed to re-route a few resources.’ Pilot has no idea at all what to expect from the pregnancy or what course it will take. The DRDs are vital to help nurture the foetus.

Alien Encounters: Aeryn reveals that Peacekeepers go in for racial purity: ‘it’s ingrained in Peacekeepers from birth that we must keep the bloodlines pure.’ Unlike humans, Delvian bodies contain no bacteria — another hint of Zhaan’s as-yet-unrevealed true nature. Luxans can survive for about a ¼ arn in space as long as they are revived quickly, but leave them too long and they die of interna-thermia. Zhaan refers to D’Argo’s ‘pulses’, so he has more than one heart. Peacekeepers are ‘born and bred on ships. We’re in a totally controlled environment until we’re sent on our first Peacekeeper mission.’ They are given inoculations against diseases and as soon as a new one is discovered, their scientists neutralise it – they’re entirely disease free.

Disney On Acid: When the DRDs look at John, he describes it as ‘like the cave scene in a Yosemite Sam cartoon.’

Get Frelled: Leviathans don’t frell — they appear able to asexually reproduce without the contribution of another member of their species.

Seen It All Before: Star Trek – The Next Generation had a similar idea in their final season episode ‘Emergence’ when the Enterprise gave birth, despite being only a machine and not a creature, like Moya.

Stats: The DRDs, which are wholly mechanical, can fire laser bolts that look potentially fatal and squirt purple glue. Does John really say that he’s using a ‘urine solvent’ to dissolve it?

Backstage: Moya’s pregnancy was revealed in the original pilot script which was used to sell the series, but was removed from the final draft and saved for later. The second of Sally Lapiduss’ two Farscape scripts (the first was ’I, ET’). The first of Ian Watson’s 15 Farscape episodes.

Blooper: If you watch the door behind Aeryn when she comes to comfort D’Argo at the end it bashes shut and bounces partly open again.

The Verdict: Bottle shows – episodes set entirely on standing sets and using only the regular cast – are often the best episodes of any series because they force writers to deal with the characters rather than rely on SFX and big battles. They’re good money savers, too! This is one of the best, but it seems to promise little when it begins, after all the ‘alien virus infects the ship’ story has been done to death. However, that’s a double bluff, and when the real reason for the situation is revealed, it’s one of Farscape’s masterstrokes, and introduces another ongoing storyline. Also, following the redefinition of Zhaan’s character in the last two episodes, it’s D’Argo’s turn – this development promises layers and depths of character that will be most welcome. A low-key highlight that starts slowly, but builds to a real humdinger of a climax.

Verdict Redux: If the last episode marked the point at which the crew of Moya reached their lowest ebb, acting selfishly, cruely, totally disunited, simply a collection of individuals all out for their own ends, then this episode marks the point where we begin the gradual crawl upwards. The combination of D’Argo’s sudden vulnerability and their collective responsibility for Moya’s baby begin to forge the bonds that will turn them into a crew. It needed some catalyst to begin that process, something to unite them and make them band together to protect something or someone; a cause, if you will. Moya’s baby provides that. Time hasn’t dulled my appreciation for what a clever idea the pregnancy is, but it’s increased my appreciation of the narrative arc of the season and how the introduction of this plot twist fits in what now seems to be a very well considered throughline and evolution of the team’s relationships to each other and their ship.

Plus, the idea of Rygel as D’Argo’s son is hilarious, and we get another one of those ’only on Farscape’ moments, to whit: on what other show would the plot begin with one character essentially kicking off another character’s contraceptive cap!?


Scott K. Andrews has written episode guides, magazine articles, film and book reviews, comics, audio plays for Big Finish, far too many blogs, some poems you will never read, and three novels for Abaddon. He is, patently, absurd.

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7 comments
Keith DeCandido
1. krad
To be ruthlessly self-aggrandizing for a moment, I did a comic book miniseries called D'Argo's Trial, which dramatizes what we learned about D'Argo in this episode. It has some lovely art by Caleb Cleveland, and even includes the real-world equivalents of what D'Argo hallucinated in this here episode.

And yes, Moya being pregnant was a masterstroke.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Scott K. Andrews
2. ScottKAndrews
Oh go on then, I'll allow you to blow your own trumpet, but only coz it's your birthday!

Also: Happy Birthday ;-)
George Brell
3. gbrell
Leviathans may "frell." All we know from this episode is that Peacekeepers artificially inseminated Moya.

***Spoilers***

Indeed, given how Talyn turns out, the Peacekeepers had to introduce some dramatic changes somewhere in the system.

I will say, however, that given the comments by Kahaynu in "Look at the Princess" ("Moya can produce gunships"), it would seem that the changes were to Moya's "systems" rather than the "male" analogue, so the self-reproduction theory remains viable.

And, oh yeah, excellent episode.
politeruin
4. politeruin
It's like you can see the writers working through a list of well worn trek plots and seeing which one they can subvert next, that's what weaned me off trek and onto farscape's teet. Deserves rewatching though and seeing how early the most enduring storylines started. I miss you, talyn, you crazy mixed-up hybrid gunship.

D'Argo throwing rygel around like he's jothee is genuinely very funny.
politeruin
5. Tony Lazarus
Another belter, this one. The revelations about D'Argo's past are funny, wistful and tragic. And the thought about a universe without chocolate really brought home to me how hellish is Crichton's plight. But I'll insist till the day I die that the scutters (or whatever they're called on 'Scape) were nicked. The Dwarf did it first, usually, if not necessarily best.
Kristen Templet
6. SF_Fangirl
If you think about it, John rapelled and then walked into Moya's uterus. Thinking about it that way is gross, but highlights that they're living INSIDE a living being like "Jonah and the whale." They're the tiny "bacteria."

Logical fallacy though ... "Moya's not trying to kill us; she's pregnant." Uhhh, that's not necessarily an either or proposition. Given their limited knowledge of Levithans, that's a bad assumption becuase perhaps Leviathan's have to be passenger free to reproduce. Lucky for them they're not frelled.

I continue to be surprised how well plotted Farscape was. I was shocked to find Moya's pregnancy began in season 1. I expected it later in the series.

D'Argo's revelation does add a lot off depth because given his (now understandable) hatred for Peacekeeper's it's still surprising that he fell in love with a Sebacean.
Sanne Jense
7. Cassanne
I do have to suspend a lot of disbelief that Sebaceans and Luxans can have viable offspring. Especially with the two hearts and the weird blood. But maybe it gets explained later? (This is my first watch)

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