The color of this episode is blue.
<Crichton eyes blue clip>
Not yet, tiger.
Blue, not blonde. Of course, they have to cast Crichton’s ex-girlfriend as blonde, what a cliché.
<Rygel hail prince clip>
Fortunately, this episode doesn’t descend too far into gender stereotypes.
<D’Argo dreamt to Zhaan masculine memories clip>
Although sometimes women are better at telling it like it is.
We fortunately get swiftly to the point.
< Pilot receiving transmission clip>
Yes, deceit. If the color if this episode is blue, its theme is deceit. Its secondary theme is madness. This is the first of Farscape’s celebrated mind frell episodes. <hooray>
Tahleen is deliberately frelling with everyone, leading the effort among her people to psychically implant false visions in the minds of our heroes. It’s a thoroughly overused trope in science fiction, but as usual, Farscape does something interesting with it.
The episode’s themes are deceit and madness, and the episode’s subject is Zhaan. Previous episodes explored the deeper feelings of Rygel, Aeryn, and D’Argo. Now it’s Zhaan who has to go through a crisis of identity and purpose. That’s because Zhaan is the target of Tahleen’s scheme.
< Why did you lure us here? clip >
Tahleen wants to force Zhaan to remember a very unpleasant past because she wants something Zhaan possesses.
< Tahleen our cause clip >
We learned in the first episode that Zhaan was imprisoned.
< leading anarchist >
Now we learn exactly why she was imprisoned.
< clip from Zhaan video >
This is a stunning revelation. Unlike D’Argo who was falsely accused of murder and imprisoned, Zhaan did murder someone. She is guilty.
Crichton is too simple, but he is justified in being horrified.
< Crichton you killed the guy clip … do it again >
Yes, Zhaan is a murderer, but one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter. We learn that Zhaan, who we have come to see as a peaceful carer, was a reluctant killer.
< conversation clip (leave out the Peacekeeper bit until later) … and these people … >
Regain power? With what army? Unclear, but forgivable for the sake of the plot and the budget probably could only cover four actors to play Delvians. Though the Delvian psychic ability can be weaponized.
< Tahleen: their minds are weak … clip >
This is where the blonde comes in.
<why aren’t you in your lab clip >
This goes on for some time. I’ll skip over the various scenes of our heroes being frelled by Tahleen’s henchpeople and concentrate on the main plot.
< And I respect your choice… of murder victims. clip >
Zhaan got caught up in political intrigue, and now it’s trying to drag her back into it.
< When the darkness rises clip >
Here is our first glimpse of a central theme of Farscape’s grand story arc. To do good, how much evil must one do? It is a deep ethical dilemma, one that Zhaan is forced to answer. It is a dilemma our heroes will have to answer many times in the cycles to come and Farscape is impressive in how openly, honestly, and intelligently it deals with the incredibly difficult question of when violence is justified.
In this episode, Zhaan gives the wrong answer.
< Zhaan what are you doing? clip >
< Crichton madness? clip >
Crichton, of course, has to save everyone, though he is correct in seeing through Tahleen’s delusions.
< There are over a billion Delvians clip >
It is about power, it usually is. We learn from a conversation between Tahleen and Tuzak that these people are political refugees and that Tuzak may still be able to gather a following if he returned to Delvia. Unfortunately for Tuzak, Tahleen wants that power and following for herself.
< Tahleen: You’re quite lucid today father. clip >
Crichton does save the day, but not without the considerable help of Tahleen’s two henchpeople.
< I release you from what is not true and Please, I have restored your memories. >
The attacks called off, Crichton can retrieve Zhaan.
< unity clip >
Well meaning but a little corny, but not as corny as
< I will destroy your useless mind clip to able to protect >
High school Dungeons & Dragons memories aside, Zhaan leaves us with a gem of wisdom.
< We all visit the precipice clip >
What We Learn in This Episode
We get a glimpse into Delvian society and spiritual beliefs, but only a fragmented one. We meet only four Delvians in this episode, a ragtag band of exiles. We don’t learn as much as we’d like about what being a Pa’u means much less the various levels.
Most significant is learning that Zhaan is a murderer. Not an anarchist but an activist who committed a political assassination of a tyrant. Whatever the circumstances of her act, that she committed it separates her from the others on Moya. D’Argo, Rygel, Crichton, and Aeryn are all guiltless, while Zhaan was deservedly on Moya which, remember was a prison ship.
Learning about Zhaan’s activism gives us our first hint at the malevolent corruption of the Peacekeepers.
< Zhaan and Crichton Peacekeeper clip >
We knew from Crais and the commandos in “Exodus from Genesis” that the Peacekeepers are a military society. Now we learn that they are thugs for hire, mercenaries willing to prop up a dictatorship.
How did Tahleen find Zhaan? That’s never explained, but if the Delvian seek empowers them to find someone and exert psychic manipulation at the distance of many lightyears, they would be an almost unbeatable force.
D’Argo indicates that this psychic ability is well known. < D’Argo: I sense Delvian trickery here, Rygel. We must leave this place.> But again, at extreme distances?
Delvia is the second political system we encounter after the Peacekeepers, and both are totalitarian states. This sets a strange tone repeated throughout the original series. Add in that Rygel is called “Dominar,” not “president” or anything suggestive of a non-totalitarian regime. Farscape doesn’t paint a very nice picture of freedom throughout the galaxy. No idea why.
We get our first mention of homosexuality.
< share unity and why choose unity with me clips >
Kinda woke to portray homosexuality as perfectly normal.
There’s a scene in which the Delvians mind frell Aeryn into believing her pulse rifle has fallen apart. Okay fine, but a Peacekeeper weapon has wires inside it? The show could have done better than whatever toy gun they used as a prop in that scene.
Finally, there is this intriguing comment from Zhaan.
< Zhaan: You were always the most clever one on Moya. >
Crichton the most clever person on Moya?
< humans are superior clip >
Get used to that.