A Farscape Community
Syfy (ended 2004)
Up front, a confession. When SciFi channel first put out Farscape I had no clue it existed. Not sure why – I grew up making funny mouth noises and “Beaming” myself places, had every toy phaser, blaster, plasma rifle, and cereal box toy ever created for a Sci-Fi show. Actually – there was a period I talked grade school friends into role playing Space 1999 and actually made those cool upside down “U” shaped laser guns out of cardboard. I was Tony and the girl I crushed on was Maya. So… it could be said I am in the upper echelon of the Geek Order. I watched SciFi, but only sporadically since the content wasn’t original. Then, with Farscape, it WAS original. But I missed it…until this episode. "DNA Mad Scientist" was my foray into the world of Farscape. And to quote Crichton from the Premiere, “What is WRONG with you people!” I sat there witnessing a show that went against EVERYTHING I knew from a Science Fiction adventure. The good guys, the ones I am supposed to root for, are chopping off limbs from a beloved character because they are selfish and unapologetic. WUT? The feeling that even the hero, Crichton, would do the same if it helped him get home, was pervasive. My science fiction heroes don’t act like this! From Star trek to Star Wars, the characters I root for might have a dark moment or two, but in the end they redeem themselves and don’t follow through on the evil plan. As I watched "DNA Mad Scientist," the story kind of blurred while I came to grips with seeing characters behave in a way that felt more real than in any show I had ever seen. If I were lost, being hunted, been imprisoned – tortured and abused… would I NOT do anything possible to get home again? Even if I threw those accompanying me totally under the bus? Well, I don’t really know. I doubt most of us have any idea how we would react in that situation. But my God, did it feel right. When it is down to You and Me – my guess is I would choose ME. These are a lot of words to simply say – this first exposure to Farscape made me go back and watch it all. I had to see how the “cute scifi show with muppets” could be so harshly REAL in the way people would behave. Needless to say – the rest is history. Farscape became my favorite show on TV to this day. But enough about me. Let’s look into "DNA Mad Scientist"...

How is this for a cold open?


Moya is in orbit around an asteroid, where the lab of a renowned scientist is based.

Namtar…

…and his assistant Komata.


Namtar is known throughout the galaxy for his cutting edge research in genetics. But another little trick the crew of Moya became privy to was his ability to pinpoint the world of origin for any species with a particular genetic sample. As seen above – Namtar works beyond the double helix level and needs the sample from the eye. From this sample, he can construct a map that bypasses Peacekeeper influence through the Uncharted Territories to that world of origin. D’Argo, Zhann, Rygel, and Crichton are all up for it. Unfortunately – no data of Earth exists as it is far from this galaxy. But Namtar can produce stellar maps for Rygel, Zhaan, and D’Argo. As Zhaan looks on to the images produced…




...she is so mesmerized she is willing to pay any price. But Namtar’s price is substantial.


In order for him to upload the stellar cartography to a crystal Moya can download, he requires one of Pilot’s arms so he can continue his genetic research. Oddly enough – there is little protest.

*****

Aeryn has no interest in Namtar’s work – she is running from her home, not trying to find it. Crichton has no stake in it either since earth is beyond the database’s reach. It is no great surprise both share a righteous indignation over the price demanded of Namtar for his maps.


Even in my early exposure to this show, it all felt wrong. Which was the intention. As D’Argo would later say, Crichton would have offered his own Minvoks for a way home. I really think he is right. Of course, it is quite different to make a sacrifice yourself then to physically restrain and take it from another of your “family".




And the three of them, do indeed, chop off Pilot's arm. Rationalizing that his physiology allows it to grow back.

*****

Back at the lab, Namtar is not getting the expected results of late. As we look around the Lab, his research has resulted in terrible mutated results:



*****



Crichton is baffled by Pilot’s attitude toward what was done to him. We get a nice backstory on the species that make Pilots for Leviathans. Their race does not have the technology for space travel so they rely on being recruited to be one with a Leviathan in order to see the stars.


Pilots believe that the Leviathan comes first, those onboard second, and his/her own needs last. They are conditioned to be of service. It dissuades Crichton none as to his anger over what was done to him.

Aeryn is pissed as well.


She asks D’Argo, considering Pilot is one of us, would you do the same to any of us if it suited his needs? We see where D’Argo’s mind is at early in the seriesas his response is, "Of course". Wow.


John and Aeryn have a nice talk on the state of things. Aeryn has never been alone. Always the part of the military and Unit, she never had to worry about going about life by herself.


Crichton assures her that if he did find a way to earth, she would be welcome to come with her. Her response is enlightening as to how she still views Crichton.


*****

As the 3 await their map data on a crystal, the arguments begin. Who will go home first? I am amazed on how accurately Farscape captures the selfishness of our culture within the framework of alien races. Zhaan is the Priest. She values life over anything – yet you see her emotions surface as she believes that maybe she can return home and regain a normal life. D’Argo and Rygel – you can see them become cynical and petty making their points on how they deserve to go home more than the other. But to see Zhaan sucked into this is really heartbreaking. She was the one we could count on for the moral voice of reason, no? No. She is acting even as a saint may act when their way of life is being determined. Zhaan is only thinking of herself.


Big D disagrees with her plan. And we haven't even mentioned how Rygel will feel.

*****

Aeryn cannot bear the thought of going it alone on Moya after everyone gets home. Personally – I think she is even more concerned living the rest of her life partnered with Crichton (oh how things change!).


She goes down to Namtar to see if a DNA sample can find her an out-of-the-way PK colony. Namtar samples her DNA. Or does he? It appears that he injected something instead of taking something.

*****

Back on Moya, the data crystal arrives.


Pilot informs them that the data is too large for Moya to process.

They can access one file, but the other two will be deleted. If the argument on who goes home 1st was intense – this argument will be catastrophic. As his is nature, Rygel scoots off with the crystal so he has the leverage to dictate terms.

*****

Meanwhile, Aeryn is having severe hearing problems.


She is undergoing changes she does not understand.

She tells Pilot that she can actually sense Moya’s systems and the data coming in is overwhelming. Pilot sees she is experiencing much what an embedded Pilot would sense.

Aeryn goes down to the ‘roid to confront Namtar.

She pins his arm behind his back, demanding answers;



Cool trick. Namtar is genetically enhanced enough he can control how his brain perceives pleasure and pain. He switches the perceptions and purrs with euphoria as Aeryn bends his arm to the point of breaking, Thinking of all the times I have stubbed my toe – how cool would THAT be?

Aeryn’s changes are accelerating.



No surprise, Namtar is thrilled with the changes.

*****

Back on Moya, D’Argo and Zhaan are making attempts to pry the crystal from Rygel. He became an expert at hiding things in (and escaping from) his cell – as he was a prisoner there for many Cycles. Zhaan’s approach is the most effective. She uses plain seduction:



And due to Zhaan’s total “blueness” it goes nowhere. Plus as Rygel says – he is NOT a body breeder”. LOL. It is interesting Zhaan even got that far with him considering his resolve for possessions – especially one that would bring him home. Don’t sweat it Ryg! Virginia Hey would make me weak at the knees too! But D’Argo and Zhaan see themselves as the rightful owner of the crystal and they go to Rygel’s cell to simply take it. And Rygel, cunning as ever, lures them in to the cell…and locks them in.


*****

Crichton goes down to try to free Aeryn, when he met with quite the surprise:


Aeryn is now a captive of Namtar. He has some type of psychic control over her due to the genetic changes she is experiencing. Igor/Komata is as appalled as Crichton, but there is nothing she can do.

*****

Back on the ranch…

Zhaan has really broken down and no hint of the Priest she was, remains. She even chides D’Argo on claiming to be a great warrior yet allowing Rygel to fool him with a simple ruse. I really can’t even process Zhaan’s profound personality change when she is confronted with a chance to go home. For 8 episodes, she has had the moral high ground. Not today. And you know what? She just became an infinitely more interesting character.

*****


Komata tells John that once upon a time – she was the project leader doing advanced genetic experiments. Namtar was a lab subject injected with the capacity for great intelligence. From there he took hold of the lab and used Komata and her staff as the subjects in HIS experiments to continue to refine his own genetics. And truth be told, he had no intention of allowing them to leave the asteroid until his “science project” ran its full course. The crystal he gave them would, in effect, erase Moya’s memory banks and leave them crippled in orbit. She agrees to covertly help him find a way to help Aeryn, and in the process, help her. To be sure, Komata is probably no better than Namtar with what she was doing when it was her lab. But an ally is an ally.

*****

Ryg is attempting to upload the crystal just as Crichton gets the news from Komata.


Crichton rushes to command and swats the Crystal away just as D’Argo and Zhaan escape the cell and come to command.



Now Aeryn. Poor Crichton. That dude always has 10 fires to put out. He and Komata use Moya’s resources to formulate a formula that will revert the DNA to its original state. The problem is… how to get it to Aeryn when Namtar is powerful enough to send them across the room with a wave of his hand. Crichton provided the distraction while Komata sneaks in close.


The Plan: revert Namtar to HIS original state. The distraction: Crichton engages Namtar’s intellect by talking about the men on Earth who used human subjects to further a scientific agenda. He was talking about Mengele. Komata sees her chance and injects Namtar with the reversal formula…

…and he reverts to his original state before the experiments began.


But Aeryn is still a mess

Komata applies the “cure” to Aeryn’s eye (of course!) and the damage is undone.

*****
As we move toward the end, Moya breaks orbit around the asteroid...


...and John and Aeryn have one of those amazing conversations that define the show.


Crichton wonders aloud what the worst part of her transformation was. Aeryn’s explanation hit home. I have a friend with MS and she explains perfectly what I have been told it is like: to be you inside while everything around you changes and becomes unfamiliar and uncontrollable. Aeryn, however, is cured. But that feeling of helplessness will stay with her. As an afterthought, Crichton assures her that she would have fit in just fine if she came home to Earth with him. The bond between the two is solidified.

And as the show closes, D’Argo enters the Pilot’s Den.


As Pilot notes, Luxans do not apologize (the Fonz must have been Luxan). And Big D doesn’t dispute it. But what he does do is pull out a hand made object – one Pilot assumed was a weapon. But it is not. It is a musical instrument. And as we fade out, D’Argo offers his apology by playing for Pilot as we pan back.


**********

I pretty much gave you all the reasons "DNA Mad Scientist" is near and dear to my heart, in my opening. Taking a trait like selfishness and applying it to otherworldly characters just feels REAL. To turn convention on its head and show that no matter what our preconceived notions are for the “heroes of the story” – those characters only become real when we see them acting exactly like we may act given the circumstances. There was no “pewpew” Qualta blade blasts or pulse pistol shots. No ‘splosions. This episode was a study in a characteristic I believe ALL living beings have the capacity to exhibit depending on the circumstances. That is the “me FIRST” way of survival. Seeing this episode, I had to see the rest. I knew there was no way I could depend on regular TV tropes with this show. And you know what? I was exactly right.

Hope you enjoyed our 5th watchback of Farscape! Manoj has the next episode, “They’ve Got a Secret”, which will pop up in a few arns! You never know about which articles are promoted to the front page, so make sure you look for it later on Saturday (US Time). Take care, gang! See you next for Almost Human on Monday or in my next article on Farscape’s “Til the Blood Runs Clear.” C Ya! Be good.

Edshrinker

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