Written by Justin Monjo, directed by Catherine Millar
Season 3, Episode 9
1st US Transmission Date: 29 July 2001
1st UK Transmission Date: 29 October 2001
Guest Cast: Jool (Tammy Macintosh), Lt Braca (David Franklin), Linfer (Jo Kerrigan), Co-Kura Strappa (Danny Adcock), PK Scientist Drillic (Ian Bliss), PK Pilot Rinon (Tux Akindoyeni)
This episode features the crew of Moya.
Synopsis: While passing through an energy cluster Moya is boarded by two Energy Riders, beings that inhabit and possess host bodies. One stays hidden inside a crew member while the other, Tallip, takes over Pilot. Tallip informs the crew that the Energy Rider he is chasing is young and diseased and will harm the host if it remains inside too long. They try to identify which person the Rider is in but Tallip has to ‘taste’ them in turn to be sure. When he tastes Jool it’s inconclusive and nearly kills her.
Moya leads John to her StarBurst chamber, which contains no sensors and is thus hidden from Pilot/Tallip. Chiana is revealed to be the host. The Energy Rider protests that Tallip wants to kill it, that it is not diseased, and that Tallip is dangerous. John and D’Argo tell Tallip that if he takes Moya back to the Cluster they will give him Chiana and the two Riders can leave and sort out their differences. Tallip rejects this plan and tastes D’Argo. Jool fetches Chi at gunpoint, revealing the Energy Rider to Tallip, who absorbs it and kills it.
Tallip refuses to leave Pilot, intending to remain in control of Moya. John convinces him that Pilot is dying and Tallip leaves Pilot, intending to inhabit Moya. As he leaves Chiana triggers a StarBurst pulse, which kills the creature.
Meanwhile on the Command Carrier, Scorpius has found a wormhole. Unmanned Prowlers can enter and exit easily but when they are manned the PK pilot is liquidised upon exit.
Green T: John has been dragging Moya around in search of wormholes for 10 solar days and finally his shipmates have had enough. Seems to me that, now he thinks he’s lost Aeryn for good he’s more desperate to get home than ever. When he is tasted by the Energy Rider he bleeds, a lot, but it’s never explained why none of the others do. Pilot suggests it may be because of his doubling (‘Eat Me’), and he worries that he is the copy and Black T is the original; Jool posits that it’s because he’s ‘an irritating and inferior species.’ John had a dog called Hubble.
I Was A Teenage Luxan: ‘Actually, now that you mention it, I’ve been feeling a little angry.’ D’Argo is played for laughs as he fails to sensibly interrogate Chiana, bemoans the hopelessness of their plans and generally looks pissed off and resigned to weirdness. It’s a trend that will continue, especially in ‘Scratch n Sniff,’ and it makes him an even better foil for the increasingly frustrated Green T John.
Everyone’s Favourite Little Tralk: Chi isn’t Chi for the majority of the episode. She survives being possessed but at the end she is aware of D’Argo’s presence before he enters the room—the implication being that her possession has left her with some form of psychic power, or has improved the abilities already hinted at. The crew still don’t know if Chi killed Salis (‘Durka Returns’). The Energy Rider implies that Chiana fancies John, but how trustworthy is a space parasite?
Jool In the Crown: ‘I feel like I had a spiritual enema.’ Nice new costume, very Arabian Nights. Jool reveals that she found a Noatian Gem Mine and was captured by the guards and sold to Grunchlk; her cousins were waiting for her in a village, got sick, and were similarly sold. This is not the tale Jool originally told everyone, but it would explain why she didn’t die as soon as she was defrosted. She takes matters into her own hands for the first time, and instead of cowering and crying she grabs a gun and takes the Energy Rider in Chiana hostage. When the creature leaves Chi stunned, Jool’s surprisingly tender with her—heart of gold under there?
In The Driving Seat: You take a Pilot’s pulse behind the neck, between the vertebrae.
Nosferatu in Rubber: Scorpius is plugging a strange device into his head and having nightmares where John taunts him for not solving the wormhole problem. His medical regime expands, as we discover he regularly injects himself in the throat. Finally we get an explanation of why he wants the wormhole technology so badly, and it makes perfect sense both in terms of the wider political scene and his own personal issues. The Scarrans were preparing to attack PK space, but they held back because PK Command convinced them that they have wormhole weapons. The Scarrans are beginning to realise they’ve been duped and are massing an army to invade; they outnumber PK soldiers ten to one, and without a wormhole weapon the Sebaceans and the Peacekeepers will be defeated. Scorpius worries that a Scarran victory may already be impossible to avert.
A Ship, A Living Ship!: John talks to Moya through a DRD and Moya talks back by blinking its eye lights once for yes and twice for no. She has a chamber beneath Pilot’s den in which the StarBurst energy is gathered; there are no sensors in this room. The energy for StarBurst can be directed through Pilot’s Den.
Alien Encounters: Energy Riders live in clusters. Their first law, according to Tallip, is to never harm their host body. They get stronger as they age, and only a child could easily possess a lower life form like Chiana without killing it; adults need something as complex as Pilot to host them. The longer a host is inhabited the more psychological damage is done until eventually all that is left is desire and despair.
Disney On Acid: John tells the DRD that they’ll communicate the Star Trek way and calls it DRD Pike. This refers to the Star Trek two-parter ‘Menagerie’ when the Enterprise’s crippled first captain, Christopher Pike, gives evidence at a trial from a wheelchair with lights that blink, allowing him to answer questions. Poor old DRD Pike gets fried in the StarBurst blast. ‘If I’m Linda Blair why am I telling you guys anything’; John riffs on The Exorcist. John calls Tallip ‘Casper,’ after the friendly ghost.
Get Frelled: D’Argo lost his virginity when he was seven. John restates that he lost his to Karen Shaw in the back of a truck (‘That Old Black Magic’). The Energy Rider in Chi can zap John with a huge sexual buzz that leaves him gasping and amazed.
Seen It All Before: This episode has a similar premise to ‘A Bug’s Life.’
What Does This Do? When forced to watch John for signs of bleeding, Chiana bluntly demands to know what happens if she wants to piss. D’Argo replies they will all ‘urinate together.’ I don’t even want to think about Chiana’s response: ‘you promise?’ I could say that Jool’s familiarity with the concept of an enema tells us stuff about her biology, but I don’t want to go there to be honest.
Logic Leaps: It’s implied that Scorpius and Co. just found the wormhole they are experimenting on, and in ‘Incubator’ Linfer will confirm that it was discovered not created. This is a bit of a leap given that Furlow said no-one had ever found one before (‘Till the Blood Runs Clear’). They cannot stabilise it.
Guest Stars: Ian Bliss can be seen in Scary Movie and AntiTrust prior to which he played Mr Bell on Heartbreak High. Danny Adcock played T’raltixx in ‘Crackers Don’t Matter.’
The Verdict: Not original enough to be truly memorable, this episode is mostly distinguished by Gigi Edgley’s work as possessed Chiana and the interplay between the characters. Jool is becoming more likeable, D’Argo is funnier and Green T is getting more and more grumpy. It’s interesting that Scorpius is a sufficiently important character to get his own storyline, albeit one that we know started with, and will end with, John.
Verdict redux: Not nearly as interesting as the previous episode, and it raises a problem—if the episodes on Talyn have a stronger recurring storyline, it potentially leaves the Moya episodes as unnecessary filler we all have to sit through to get to the good stuff. It will be interesting to see how the writers try to avoid this problem…
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.