There are three Farscape episodes that I actively dislike. “That Old Black Magic” is in third place of my least liked episodes. The problem is Maldis. The actor Chris Haywood is clearly skilled in his craft, but what a silly cardboard character.
<silly Maldis clip>
It’s a typical Star Trek trope, the powerful ultra-dimensional being who frells with the hero. Maybe Maldis should have a cat in his lap. Different genre, sorry.
The only redeeming features of this cliché-ridden episode are one, several humorous scenes with Rygel
And two, the insights into Crais. Maldis is the deus ex machina to bring Crais and Crichton into direct conflict. It’s by-the-numbers action, oops, wrong TV show, but we do learn something very interesting about Crais.
What we learn in this episode
< Crais’s past clip>
This doesn’t make Crais warm and cuddly, but it shows that he is scarred from the trauma of being ripped from his childhood home.
That does not excuse him in committing murder.
<Crais kills Teeg clip>
Crais killed Lt. Teeg to pursue his revenge against Crichton, but Crichton was willing to kill Crais.
<I had him clip>
It’s all rather contrived and not entertaining unless you like wild-eyed, blood-thirsty dandies.
The revelation that Peacekeepers recruit children and covert them into soldiers deepens the impression of them as near fascists. We have, from the beginning. seen Crais as an insane military commander consumed with anger. Has this episode shown us a reason for Crais’s anger? Is Crais a victim of the Peacekeeper war machine that made him what he is?
It opens the philosophical question of what spurs people to evil. It is a big question and Farscape has only begun to explore it. Crais looks like the stereotypical villain. Is he? Maldis is a cartoon villain, not a real person but something for children. That’s not evil, not really. We’ll find out if Crais is evil.
Speaking of evil, Farscape shows us a possible example when it returns to quality in the next episode.