Season 1 Episode 8

That Old Black Magic

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Jun 11, 1999 on Syfy
out of 10
User Rating
270 votes

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Episode Summary

Crichton is put into a head-to-head battle with Crais by a magical being named Maldis who feeds off the emotions of others and makes himself stronger by absorbing all of the negative energy and anger from Crichton and Crais.

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  • This is the first really bad Farscape episode - not bad for the series, as it is the 8th episode. B5 aside, mixing magic with SF is a bad idea.

    It seems like every SF series sooner or later feels a need to mix in some sort of Evil Sorcerer and/or Vampire mythology into their story. The good ones explain the SF reality behind the Fantasy mythology - taking the "magic" at face value is always a bad idea.

    There are important elements to this episode for long term character arcs, especially Krais' and Zhaan's. But this could have been done without bringing in a character who has abilities that exceed the more powerful races in the region - and only uses it to sit on a little planet and only suborns people light years away to torture those who land on his planet. Not to mention, one that the dominant military powers have no knowledge of, and make no effort to exploit.

    Krais should have been smarter than to kill his loyal 2nd - and we should know that the moment she did not relieve him of his command, he would be as guilty as he is, a coconspirator. More, someone rising to a command rank from a young age, in a warrior culture that we've seen time and time again has no tolerance for weakness, should *not*, no matter how angry, be unable to best an Earth IASA scientist in hand to hand in short order.

    Oh well. I guess even Farscape couldn't be awesome all the time.moreless
  • Finally we know whats going on in Crais' head...

    This I like because it’s a new baddy which is not peacekeeper related. It’s also very revealing in ways of the characters of Zhaan and Captain Crais.

    There had been hints of a darker side of Zhaan for a while, but in this we see it more fully then before. She can inflect pain as well as heal it – and she’s not so sure she can stop hurting people now she has let her dark side through.

    Crais, we finally see why he is so obsessed by Crichton’s accidental killing of his brother. We see now that Crais is definitely not leaving our screens for a while, and is almost definitely mad in his revenge.

    Meanwhile D’Argo and Aeryn are doing there usual all out warrior style though finding themselves sadly lacking to deal with a situation full of magic. Rygel as usual though, is complaining, whinging and otherwise arrogant and taking any opportunity to steal.

    A good episode, one to watch and enjoy.

  • When Crichton is captured by an evil wizard, the crew must work together to rescue him.

    When Crichton is captured by an evil wizard, the crew must work together to rescue him.

    I had actually seen parts of this episode previously. But this time, watching it in its proper place in the series, it made much more sense.

    Three main elements came from this episode.

    One, D'Argo and Aeryn are shown another example of how the "brute force" warrior mentality will not always work.

    Two, we gain more information on Zhaan. She must confront her "savage" side in order to rescue Crichton. Although, her soul is tainted by this action and it will be interesting to see how that effects her as the season progresses.

    Three, we get some new information on Crais. About why he joined the Peacekeepers. About why he is so insistent about killing Crichton. And we also learn that he is ignoring orders from Peacekeeper Central.moreless
  • The evil alien sorcerer

    Another series classic, just perfectly done and very creative.

    The farscapers arrive to a world where there’s a sorcerer who keeps hi victims and caused pain on them for his own personal gain and it make shim stronger.

    There are just so many good things about this episode, the captain peacekeeper finally gets some development and I finally understand why he wants to kill John, I still don’t like him that much though but I feel sort of bad for the loss of his brother.

    Zhaan was already my favourite character but this episode increased my love for her, first of all we learn that she hasn’t always been a goody but in fact once was a murderer and now can’t force herself to cause pain, which I don’t get. Sure not on innocents but that guy was evil and bad, I don’t see why she didn’t want to harm him, but anyway she did and made him corporeal and John could kill him that way.

    The evil sorcerer was awesome, he was creepy, funny and just how villains should be. Also Rygel was funny as always.

    My big love goes to Zhaan, she and that red guy were awesome together and I felt bad for her having to loose him.

    Once again Farscape goes all the way and make an awesome episode like this, it’s my favourite so far.

  • ok episode

    “That Old Black Magic” see’s Crichton have his soul stole by an evil wizard. The wizard also steals Crais’s soul and then pits them against each other in a fight to the death. This is an ok episode, with some nice concepts. We find out a few stupid things about Crichton. (His mums maiden name, Who- Where and When he lost his virginity, and also how he trashed a motorbike and dislocated his shoulder) None of these things are important but they add to his character. Zhaan embraces her dark side to save the day, and we see her battle with this through out an episode. We also get a good background story on Crais, we see his father, his brother, and how they became Peacekeepers. Overall this is an ok episode, with quite a bit of character development.moreless
Chris Haywood

Chris Haywood

Maldis / Igg / Haloth

Guest Star

Gerry Day

Gerry Day

Crais' father

Guest Star

Duane Johnson

Duane Johnson

Young Bialar Crais

Guest Star

Lani Tupu

Lani Tupu

Captain Bialar Crais

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • Crichton tapes another voice log at the end of the episode, but unlike the other entries, this one was addressed to DK, rather than his father.

    • This is the first time we hear about Crichton losing his virginity to Karen Shaw.

    • Having raised her darker impulses to deal with Maldis, Zhaan is now having trouble controlling them.

    • In this episode we finally see something that can make a Luxan warrior worried and scared- the supernatural magic of Maldis.

    • Crais wasn't chosen for Peacekeeper duty, but he and his brother were taken from their homes by the Peacekeepers.

    • Terms: -A Dekka is a level, directional vector, or area designation; Crais gives orders to "widen the search to dekka three, deeper into the Uncharted Territories."
      -The Docking Bay is a hangar area on a Command Carrier, where Prowlers and Marauders are kept.
      -Gavork is an aromatic herb, stored in dried form.
      -Jikset Root is a medicinal herb.
      -Klendian Flu is an illness characterized by excessive phlegm and respiratory difficulty.
      -Ointment of Yuvok is a topical preparation to help clear breathing passages.
      -Trellon Oil is a sensual stimulant which enriches the conjugal experience.
      -First Command is presumably, the headquarters for Peacekeeper High Command.
      -High Command is the authority which issues orders to Peacekeeper assets in the field.
      -Hynerian Ceremony of Passage is a litany recited for a dead comrade.
      -Trat, possibly vulgar, is an unpleasant-smelling substance; Rygel says the yuvok ointment "smells like trat."
      -A Trelkez is a multi-headed, bird-like creature; because their raw brains are considered a delicacy, their value goes up according to the number of heads they have.

  • QUOTES (16)

    • Liko: You cultivated your power to help others. Can you use it as a weapon?
      Zhaan: I can try, if you guide me.
      Liko: Can you be guided? It's not just a matter of skill, it's intent. You must want to do harm, cause pain, even kill. You are a ninth level Pa'u. You simply aren't capable of that.
      Zhaan: I once was.

    • Zhaan: I am a Delvian Pa'u. Nothing can frighten me if I do not wish it.
      Liko: You can't wish your fear away. Face it, admit what it is you're scared of. Are you afraid of Maldis? You can destroy him!
      Zhaan: That's what terrifies me.

    • Crais: I am here, Crichton...
      Crichton: To talk.
      Crais: To kill you.

    • Aeryn: Wait, you can smell Crichton in all of this?
      D'Argo: Yes. His odor's even stronger than yours.
      Aeryn: I don't have an odor.

    • Rygel: Shouldn't Zhaan be doing that?
      D'Argo: She says that she is busy.
      Aeryn: She's helping by applying some Delvian mysticism to the situation.

    • Maldis: What's the matter with you, Crichton? Are all the species on your planet this dim? It's kill or be killed.

    • Aeryn: Zhaan, I feel I must apologize to you for mocking your courage. I see now that you're more of a warrior than I ever thought. (Zhaan walks away) What is the matter with her?
      D'Argo: You called her a warrior. You could not have cut her more deeply.

    • Rygel: (to a comatose Crichton) I don't know your customs for these situations--not that I care! So I'll give you the Hynerian Ceremony of Passage and be done with it! John Crichton, valued friend...no, wait a minute. Valued friend is a bit of a stretch. John Crichton, unwelcome shipmate, may you have safe transport to the Hallowed Realm. Actually, not OUR Hallowed Realm--no, that's for Hynerians! Go find your own Hallowed Realm! With the Ceremony of Passage complete, I declare you officially dead, and claim all your possessions for myself!

    • Aeryn: If I overload this pulse rifle, then the resulting explosion should be enough to take out this entire wall.
      D'Argo: It won't work.
      Maldis: (observing them without their knowing) It might work...can't have that.

    • Aeryn: (outside Maldis' stronghold) What are you waiting for?
      Zhaan: A third choice, even though I know there are only two: let that evil flourish, or unleash another evil against it. How would you choose?
      D'Argo: I suppose I would choose the lesser evil.
      Zhaan: (making her decision) Well then, there's no reason to delay, is there?

    • Maldis: You know what I think John? You can talk until your tongue falls out! He's gonna kill you regardless!

    • Crichton: You think I attacked your brother? Yeah, I popped into the middle of giant space battle and decided to go one-on-one with a total stranger in a far superior ship. Does that make any sense?
      Crais: You rammed his Prowler!
      Crichton: He ran into me!
      Crais: You killed him!
      Crichton: It was an accident! Why do you keep blaming me? I did everything I could to avoid it!

    • Crichton: (about Crais) What'd he offer you?
      Maldis: Much bigger stakes than you can, and the bidding's closed. Here you are, here he is...now deal with it.

    • Crichton: This is a scam, right? Right? Yeah, you must have heard Zhaan or D'Argo telling someone all this, right?
      Igg: How could I have overheard this? Your mother's maiden name was MacDougall, you skipped third grade, and you lost your virginity to Karen Shaw in the back of a minivan!
      Crichton: No, it wasn't a minivan, it was a four-by...

    • Rygel: I'm very sick...I'm dying!
      Zhaan: You only have a touch of Klendian Flu, it's not fatal.
      D'Argo: We only wish it were.

    • Maldis: I admit it, I feed on death. But don't we all? Some eat plants, some meat. I consume the life essence itself. Preferably medium rare!
      Crichton: So why not just kill us? Why all the foreplay?
      Maldis: Death is the main course. All this is the appetizer.

  • NOTES (6)

    • Maldis' name cropped up in many story meetings after this episode. O'Bannon stated "The joke in later episodes was that whenever we were plotting a story and couldn't get past some problem, we'd just say, 'this is all a Maldis fabrication anyway.' " He felt that they had created a character like Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

    • Lani Tupu and Anthony Simcoe both felt the episode was important for their characters. For Tupu, the episode allowed him to show that Crais was able to deal with his childhood conscription by defying authority. Simcoe felt he was able to show the spirituality of Luxans and how they are scared by the supernatural and magic.

    • Virginia Hey lists this episode amongst her favorites.

    • International Airdates:

      -This episode aired in Canada on November 3, 1999 on YTV.
      -This episode aired in the UK on January 31, 2000 on BBC-2.
      -This episode aired in Australia on September 15, 2000 on Nine.

    • Lani Tupu is credited as voicing Pilot in this episode, but Pilot plays no part in it. Lani's also listed in the credits in the role of Crais, and does perform as that character.

    • Much of the fire on the set had to be added digitally, since the real fire couldn't have been that big and stay safe.