Written by David Kemper, directed by Peter Andrew Prowse
Season 3, Episode 16
1st US Transmission Date: 10 August 2001
1st UK Transmission Date: 17 December 2001
Guest Cast: Jool (Tammy MacIntosh)
This episode features the crew of Moya.
Synopsis: D’Argo is practicing in the D’Argomobile when the self-destruct engages. He believes it is John’s fault and loses his temper, pushing him into a pile of crates. John is knocked unconscious. While he lies in a coma, near death, Harvey tries to give him a reason to live—revenge. John turns to imaginary versions of his friends to ask their advice—Pilot recommends flight, Jool advises talking, and Chi suggests outsmarting D’Argo. In an imaginary Looney Tunes world, D’Argo chases John but always comes off worst, playing Wile. E. Coyote to John’s Road Runner. Eventually John takes fantasy revenge on D’Argo. He dies anyway, but the thought of his love for Aeryn gives him reason to live, and he recovers.
The D’Argomobile sends out an energy pulse that cripples Moya and traps the crew aboard as it counts down to self-destruct. D’Argo furiously throws his Qualta blade from Pilot’s Den into the depths of the ship. He later discovers that the ship responds to ancient Luxan and the self-destruct can be cancelled if the ship is given, you guessed it, a Qualta Blade. Jool admits to D’Argo that it was she who caused the problem with the ship, but she somewhat makes up for it by wading through a sea of bat crap and finding the sword just in time. The ship is unlocked and now responds to D’Argo’s commands.
Green T: John’s list of reasons to live: ‘Earth, dad, pizza, sex, cold beer, fast cars, sex, Aeryn, love.’ Marty Goldstein stole John’s bike when he was seven so John went round to his house and gave him a bloody nose. He forgives D’Argo, in part because he doesn’t even know why they’re fighting, but also because ‘there is nothing that would ever make me take revenge on you.’ After his near death experience he goes to get some space—literally, by sitting outside the ship in a pressure suit.
I Was A Teenage Luxan: ‘I have nothing. Nothing! I have no wife, no son, no home, nothing! I have been forced to manufacture distractions in order to live.’ D’Argo has been spending more and more time alone in the D’Argomobile, working out its control by trial and error, and has managed to lift off the Maintenance Bay floor four times. But it’s just a distraction to keep him from going nuts, and when he believes John, who’s winding him up anyway, has triggered the self-destruct he draws his Qualta Blade on him and succumbs to hyper-rage. He throws the sword away in disgust at his own actions and later apologises to John: ‘Somehow saying I’m sorry seems so inadequate. I’ve so much rage inside, so many things. Sometimes I just need to control it better. It’s a curse, John, a warrior heritage, my instincts.’
He finds Jool’s hair in the controls of the ship so he realises it’s her fault before she tells him, but he doesn’t confront her till she admits her mistake—he is touched by her attempt to make friends with him. He is the son of Laytun, grandson of Reksa, and the great-grandson of Ka D’Argo Traytal. Luxans have a code that ‘aggression against an ally entitles retribution.’
Everyone’s Favourite Little Tralk: Chiana has another premonition and warns Jool about a piece of falling metal before D’Argo dislodges it. She hates Jool with a passion and has started to think of her as a child, but she still warns Jool not to admit her mistake to D’Argo in case he kills her. She suggests shooting the D’Argomobile to try and stop the countdown and she kisses and hugs D’Argo when the ship eventually acquiesces. John thinks she is the ‘sultana of survival.’
Jool In the Crown: ‘I know that I can be difficult, that no one wants to spend time with me.’ Jool takes good care of John and even kisses him on the forehead as he lies in a coma, betraying how much a part of the crew she’s become. She and Chiana argue all the time. Her culture passes on its history and languages at school, and she’s disgusted that Luxans don’t: ‘It’s savage. I’ll wager there are no artists or chefs there either.’ Despite this, it’s D’Argo she wants to make friends with. She tells him she likes him and she tried to learn about his ship to give them both something to talk about. She and D’Argo actually make friends, and he promises to give her the first ride in his ship when he’s worked out how to fly it. This is the first episode where she’s really likeable and John is obviously warming to her, because in his imagination she’s the one who recommends talking to D’Argo and considers that ‘conflict is for barbarians.’
In The Driving Seat: Pilot accepts that he and Moya will probably die when the D’Argomobile self-destructs, but advises the crew on ways of surviving the explosion. Jool is upset at leaving him, and he and Moya later thank Jool for saving the ship. So Jool has two friends on board, at least.
Hi, Harvey: ‘Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to pay our final respects and to say farewell to our dear friend, Commander John Crichton—a schmuck. Mule-headed, reckless, and probably brain-dead before I met him.’ Harvey tries to keep John alive because his death means Harvey’s death too—what a contrast to ‘Season of Death,’ when Harvey wanted to kill John to be free. Revenge is the one ruling emotion of Scorpius’ life, and Harvey has inherited that monomania, believing that revenge is the only emotion strong enough to keep a person alive through sheer force of will. Although he eventually rejects Harvey’s advice, John thanks him for it in a friendly manner, seemingly accepting that they are now allies.
A Ship, A Living Ship!: All of Moya’s systems are frelled by the energy pulse that signifies the start of the self-destruct countdown. Moya is host to ‘a panoply of harmless parasites, many serving symbiotic functions.’ Amongst these are swarms of Hodian Trill-Bats whose copious dren lies in a huge lake at the bottom of Moya and spreads along her inner hull, helping seal small cracks. The pressure hatchway on Tier 16’s treblin side can be pressurised and detached, acting as a lifeboat if Moya is destroyed.
The Ballad Of Aeryn And John: John’s love for Aeryn is the thing that keeps him alive. He imagines her in lingerie, then as Jessica Rabbit, Marilyn Monroe, Cleopatra, Dorothy (from The Wizard of Oz), Madonna, Pamela Anderson and Hilary Rodham-Clinton. He’s trying not to think about what she and Black T are up to on Talyn.
The Ballad of Chiana And D’Argo: D’Argo tells Chi he does not like to lose and she retorts: ‘well, then why’d you let go of me,’ conveniently forgetting that she wanted him to.
Disney On Acid: Where to begin… the animated sequences are a lengthy homage to the animated work of Chuck Jones, who died February 2002, especially his Road Runner cartoons. In the animated sequences you can see the Starship Enterprise, the space station from 2001, the Mir space station, a flying toaster, McDonald’s arches and, in a cunning tribute both to Looney Tunes and Australia, all of animated D’Argo’s toys are made by the Ozme company. Captain Kirk is still his touchstone, but not, perhaps, William Shatner.
John gives Harvey the Letterman List of reasons to live, taken from the top ten list on The David Letterman Show. There are mentions for Forrest Gump, The ABC Afterschool Special, Basic Instinct, Natural Born Killers, and there are probably a few I missed.
Stats: The D’Argomobile is ancient Luxan and can be operated only with the use of a Qualta Blade, a Freedom text or an Orican’s prayer amulet. It is voice activated and has two panels at the front of the ship which can turn clear to allow forward vision. The ship’s systems include: power systems, telemetry functions, deception shroud, sonic accelerator, particulisation field, weapons cascade, and communications array.
Seen It All Before: Every time a Road Runner cartoon comes on television.
Logic Leaps: What are the chances that D’Argo’s ship turns out to be ancient Luxan? And what was it doing floating free near the space station in the first place?
WHAT did you just say?: Now we have an explanation of why sometimes D’Argo’s curses are heard as Luxan rather than translated through the microbes—the microbes have to be programmed with a specific language and ancient Luxan, which is the language D’Argo swears in even though he cannot actually speak it, is not in the microbes’ program. Supplemental programs can be created, and Pilot compiles one from scraps of Ancient Luxan in Moya’s database.
Backstage: David Kemper, Executive Producer and Head Writer, speaking in Starburst 279: ‘I said “we’re going to do a cartoon episode,” and all of a sudden people started throwing stuff at me, telling me what they’d like to do and how they’d like to do it. Nobody wanted to do the cartoon episode. No one apart from Andrew Prowse… a lot of people stepped away from that one. Other people got on board, but none of the powers wanted it done because it was a huge risk, a huge financial risk.’
David Kemper again, speaking in Dreamwatch 90: ‘And then when it started to take shape and became what it turned out to be, we had a lot of people who had been saying “This is a stupid idea, let’s not do it,” saying “Isn’t this great? It’s wonderful!” I’m really, really proud of it…’
The Verdict: Just when you thought ‘Scratch ‘N’ Sniff’ had convinced you that Farscape couldn’t get any more out there, they follow up Black T’s heartbreaking death scene with an all out animated comedy episode in which the other John dies too, although happily not permanently. The Moya episodes are dark as hell, but extremely funny to offset the deep, dark character grimness happening on board Talyn. The animation is acceptable and the music fits so perfectly that Guy Gross, the composer, won the Australian Guild of Screen Composers ‘Best Music For An Animation’ Screen Music Award. This is the riskiest Farscape episode yet, and any show that can pull it off is truly special. That’s all folks!
Verdict Redux: In the U.K. we’d call this Marmite episode, which means you’ll either love it or hate it, but hardly anybody’s going to be ‘meh.’ I don’t think it’s as great as I did first time around, when I was still regularly amazed by how bonkers Farscape is. I’m not really convinced by the deterioration in D’Argo and John’s relationship, and the theme of revenge doesn’t seem to fit their interactions. And Jool likes D’Argo…!? In short, I think the ambition of the episode if amazing, and it’s a lot of fun, but, oddly for a David Kemper episode, some of the character work feels slightly off to me.
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.