The Delvian priestess, striving for spiritual purity...
NOTE/SPOILERS: This profile is updated through to events in #10304 "Self Inflicted Wounds, Part 2: Wait for the Wheel".
At one time Zotoh Zhaan, the Delvian Pa'u now aboard Moya, was in love with one of her world's most prominent spiritual counsellors, a man named Bitaal. However, when his tenure was up, rather than yielding control, he and the other conservative Pa'us hired the Peacekeepers for external security, changing Delvia forever. The Peacekeepers sent many Delvians to asteroid camps as part of their oppressive control, and the time came when the other Delvians had enough. One day when Zhaan and Bitaal shared Unity, she chose to avenge the lives he had ruined and the world he put at risk by murdering him. Of course, once you hire the Peacekeepers they are not easy to get rid of, and this action led to her imprisonment aboard the Leviathan prison ship Moya.
During her time in prison, Zhaan decided to become take the journey of the Delvian Seek to become a Pa'u, a Delvian priest. She managed to overcome seventeen cycles of dark impulses that Delvians are vulnerable to during their search for purity, and eventually after many cycles she became a Pa'u of the ninth level.
Many cycles after her original imprisonment, she and her fellow prisoners, Ka D'Argo and Rygel XVI, attempted to escape, with the help of Moya's Pilot. They were scheduled for transfer to a lifers' colony called Terran Raa, when they managed to get free, and after a skirmish with a band of prowlers (small fighter ships) from a Peacekeeper Command Carrier, they managed to break the code of the Leviathan control collar (the instrument that kept their prison ship, Moya, under Peacekeeper control) and starburst away.
This was not before a human, a race unknown to this part of the universe, called John Crichton was brought aboard Moya after suddenly appearing in his primitive ship out of nowhere. Also brought along was a Peacekeeper prowler pilot, Aeryn Sun, who along with John was held captive. However, following a further confrontation with the Command Carrier (captained by Bialar Crais), John and Aeryn helped the prisoners escape, and were allowed to roam freely, thanks to some bargaining on John's part (for more information on these events, see log Premiere).
From these early events, Zhaan and D'Argo held a unique bond, but she also took an interest in the newcomer - John. In his early days aboard Moya, she was the one who chose to help him through his ordeal of being lost, and helped him gain the trust and respect of the other shipmates, by telling him that as the others are warriors, to them actions speak louder than words. Despite not holding Aeryn in high regard at first, due to her being a former Peacekeeper, she eventually grew to love Aeryn like the others.
Indeed, from the very early days Zhaan took on a mothering role aboard the crew of Moya, particularly with regards to her relationship with both Pilot and Rygel. She has a unique relationship with Rygel, and is one of the most tolerant members of Moya's crew toward him. Seeing the good deep down in everyone, she manages on most occasions to look past his exterior and see his redeemable qualities, and she encourages him on many occasions to bring them out, most notably early on when she encourages him to confront his demons when the crew encounters the ship of his former torturer.
Her mothering role could also immediately be seen in her relationship with the young Nebari woman Chiana, who was allowed to stay aboard Moya after she escaped from her people. She originally treated Chiana like a child, although perhaps not without warrant, but soon grew to see that she was much more than just a child.
Being a Delvian also means that Zhaan is a plant, since the Delvian race is flora-evolved. This came as a shocking revelation to John when he first heard it, even though he had seen her previously basking in sunlight. Of course, the rest of Moya's crew already knew this. Being a Pa'u, and so spiritually balanced, meant that Zhaan was one the most passive crewmembers aboard Moya. She had moments in which she lashed out and did regrettable things, but in all she maintained a balance that no-one else aboard Moya could. Being a ninth level Pa'u also embodied her with the ability of sharing other beings' physical pain, something that she was willing to do on many occasions.
During their early journeys through the Uncharted Territories, whilst on a commerce planet, John's spirit was captured by a sorcerer named Maldis, who also brought Crais', the man who was still after Moya's crew and John in particular, to have a fight to the finish. Maldis fed off hatred, and had oppressed the world they were visiting. To save John, Zhaan was forced to expose her darker side and defeat Maldis, but this left a scar on her being.
Soon after, the crew visited a scientist named NamTar, who offered Zhaan, D'Argo and Rygel maps for their home worlds in exchange for some of Pilot's DNA. However, he required one of Pilot's arms for sufficient testing, and because of her drive to return home she participated in the barbaric act of chopping one of the arms off, although she did try and ease Pilot's pain. The maps were fakes though, so like the others she remained stuck on Moya, with heavy guilt over her actions.
When Moya came across a colony of Delvians, Zhaan was called by their leader, a fellow Pa'u named Tahleen, to help them. She and John spent time on what the Delvians had named the "new moon of Delvia", where she revealed to him her past actions against Bitaal. The Delvians were after her ability to suppress her dark impulses, since during their training to become Pa'us they were beginning to succumb to the madness. Zhaan was one of the few Delvians that managed to avoid this. Since Zhaan was reluctant to give them this knowledge, Tahleen ripped it from her during Unity, which made Zhaan succumb to the madness. With John's help, and through sharing Unity with him, she managed to overcome this once again, and defeated Tahleen so the other Delvians could continue on a the path of good. However, sharing Unity with Tahleen made Zhaan a Pa'u of the tenth level, with the ability to protect, but the experience led Zhaan to abandon the Seek until she once again found her spiritual centre.
Zhaan did eventually return to the Seek. Following the John's torture by new nemesis Scorpius, the crew came up with a plan to escape from his Command Carrier. John and D'Argo left in transport, which they sent crashing into a moon, igniting its oil surface and so destroying Scorpius' Gammak Base. However, Crais escaped with Moya's gunship offspring Talyn, and Aeryn could not pick up John and D'Argo from space in time, so Moya was left to starburst away carrying only Zhaan, Rygel, Chiana and of course Pilot.
About twenty solar days later, Zhaan and the others' search for John, Aeryn and D'Argo led them to one final planet – Litigara. 90% of the planet’s population were Lawyers and, being an outsider, Zhaan was drawn into an elaborate plot by the planet's ruling law firm and implicated for murder. This almost threw Zhaan over the edge, but in seeing one-by-one visions of the lost crewmembers, and particularly followed by D'Argo's encouragement (in a vision), Zhaan returned to the Seek to once again become a Pa'u. Rygel and Chiana represented her and eventually managed to get all charges against her dropped. They continued on their search for the rest of the crew and Talyn, and shortly found them all, although Crais once again escaped with Talyn.
Eventually Maldis returned from his dispersal at Zhaan's hands, by attacking the crew one by one through a mysterious painting to get to her, wanting revenge for his dispersal. Zhaan soon recognised Maldis' plot, and managed to lead the crew to believe she was extremely scared so she could take Maldis by surprise, and eventually destroy him in a display of great physical and spiritual strength, although she revealed to John that she really was scared.
After about forty days of going with little food, the crew began to suffer from starvation. Due to this, Zhaan started to bud and release spores, which threatened Moya's life. It also affected the crew, although they visited a place where Chiana had once stayed and after numerous troubles, managed to get Zhaan some much-needed meat to cure her problem.
When John was entwined into marrying a princess whilst visiting a planet, Zhaan was left alone on Moya. Moya was recalled by the "builders", her "gods" that created her. They were ready to decommission Moya because she gave birth to a gunship. This would have also led to Pilot's death, so Zhaan confronted the builder who was to pass judgment, Kahaynu, and managed to persuade them to allow Zhaan to be Moya's protector, and in a touching moment Zhaan also became the first and only crewmember to have heard Moya's voice.
When Stark, the Banik slave who was imprisoned on Scorpius' Gammak Base with John, returned to Moya, he and Zhaan grew close and began to bond, both being highly spiritual individuals. It was she and Stark who were forced to combine strength to save Aeryn and John when they had been caught in a time distortion and ended up on a planet for sixty cycles. Stark and Zhaan's combined mental powers were able to send the crew back to the time before they entered the distortion, but only the two of them retained memory of the situation.
Zhaan was left distraught when Crais and Talyn destroyed a ship, whose race soon returned to gain vengeance. Unable to convince them of what really happened, Stark gave his life to allow the others to survive. He was dispersed, which again led to Zhaan almost breaking down. She did manage to stay strong, and was soon seeing Stark's image in his mask calling her to take Moya to a certain place. Despite the crews objections, she continued, and just when they were about to turn back against her wishes, they found Stark who had somehow reformed following dispersal and had a plan to save D'Argo's son, Jothee by robbing a shadow depository.
Zhaan played a pivotal role in the plan. She posed as an outlaw making a deposit – her deposit being a container in which Rygel hid so he could steal the money. Despite problems with the plan, namely Scorpius turning up and apparently having a history with the depository's administrator, the crew escaped with the money for Jothee. Unfortunately, the money turned out to be Karack Metalites, creatures that looked like money. Following the revelation that Scorpius had already bought Jothee, some of the crew went to recruit some former enemies to help them in exchange for a cut of whatever goods they could steal. But the Metalites ate away at Moya, and left Zhaan with no choice than to get rid of them. Sadly there was only one way to do that – set them on fire, burning Moya in the process. She, supported by Stark, helped ease Pilot and Moya's pain, but clearly the flames had a lasting effect. Eventually the crew managed to get Jothee back, and an immense battle followed on the Depository to rescue John after he turned himself in to Scorpius in exchange for Jothee. Despite escaping, with all the death and pain, Zhaan could not enjoy the crew's newfound riches, and she was left feeling very upset, although she did have Stark to comfort her.
Of course, emotional turmoil ensued when John began turning into Scorpius, being overcome by a neural clone which had been implanted by Scorpius, and gradually driving him mad for months. Under the clone's influence, John killed Aeryn. Zhaan suffered greatly, having watched Aeryn grow from a brutal Peacekeeper into a kind and compassionate being, and she suitably performed the funeral ceremony. Whilst John was being operated on to remove the neural clone, Zhaan was aboard Moya, who was now regenerating thanks to the help of the doctor who was operating on John. At this time, everyone was deciding how to move on, but Zhaan revealed to Stark that she would stay with Moya and Pilot, to protect them and help them through this tough time. It was then that Stark revealed just how much he cared for her, asking her if he could take the journey with her.
Following Scorpius' attack on the doctor, which led to John being left on the operating table, Zhaan was forced to share Unity with him to see what state of mind he was in. She discovered that not only did the Scorpius clone still reside in him, but he also wished to die because of what happened with Aeryn. Zhaan was tempted to mercy-kill him herself, but was restrained and sent out of the operating theatre. It was then that she came across Aeryn's body, stored in a cryo-chamber, and thought that she may be reachable. She knocked Stark unconscious and focused his energy on Aeryn to strengthen her own. Zhaan entered her subconscious, trying to reach her. She shared Unity with Aeryn, and brought her back, despite Aeryn's objection, citing not only her love for Aeryn, but more importantly John's love for Aeryn as the reason she should survive. But this came with a price – in the selfless act she had actually given of herself for Aeryn, and she was now dying.
As their journeys continued, her death became more imminent, and the only way to save her would be to find a planet where she could be placed in soil to regenerate. When they were a few arns away from one such planet, a wormhole opened almost on top of Moya and when a ship collided with her they were joined. It became clear to Zhaan that her time would almost be up, as she continued to deteriorate and they were now stuck in the wormhole. The other ship was populated by an advanced race, who knew that the only way to separate the ships was to sacrifice one of them. Naturally, the aliens wanted to sacrifice Moya, but Zhaan, and most of the others refused to abandon Pilot and Moya. Eventually, the aliens were all killed following their plot to damage Moya to the point where the others would be forced to leave her, and Zhaan again was forced to show her true character. By this time she had shared a special moment with each of the crewmembers. She visited Pilot while he was unconscious, she helped talk Rygel out of attempting to murder John, during which Rygel told her how much he appreciated her counsel. She told D'Argo, whom she called her protector, that she originally wanted the savage Luxan to kill her when she was brought aboard Moya, but has since grown to care for him, and she comforted Chiana when she was torn by her feelings for Moya and wanting to survive. When Aeryn told her that her life for Zhaan's was a bad trade, Zhaan refuted this and encouraged her not to underestimate herself, and she linked mentally with Stark, asking him to guide her, for she was about to make the ultimate sacrifice. Someone had to trigger the generator to separate the ships, and she saw herself as the obvious choice. The noble act meant she would be on the ship that would be sucked into the wormhole and probably be destroyed, whilst Moya escaped the wormhole. After saying a heart-felt goodbye to the rest of the crew, and that she knew she would finally meet her goddess, she triggered the generator, and as she linked with Stark one last time so he could guide her to the next life, the ships separated and when the ship was destroyed, she was killed. It was the epitome of character, as she gave her life for those of the ones she loved – her family.
We have a special music video created in remembrance of Zhaan on Farscape World – the Zhaan Musical Tribute (Music: "Here With Me" by Dido).
Written by Dani Moure exclusively for this site, with help from Mary Wood.
Exodus from Genesis
Throne for a Loss
That Old Black Magic
DNA Mad Scientist
Rhapsody in Blue
A Bug's Life
Dream a Little Dream / Re: Union
Mind the Baby
Home on the Remains
Liars, Guns and Money, Part 1: A Not So Simple Plan
Liars, Guns and Money, Part 2: With Friends Like These...
Season of Death
Self Inflicted Wounds, Part 1: Could'a, Would'a, Should'a
Self Inflicted Wounds, Part 2: Wait for the Wheel
About Virginia Hey
Virginia Hey was born in 1962 in Sydney, New South Wales (Australia). She is on of the most well-known and established Australian actresses, having starred in numerous feature films, including "Mad Max 2" with Mel Gibson, the James Bond film "The Living Daylights", "Norman Loves Rose", "Castaway" (1987), "Pathos", "Signal One" and most recently "Game Room". Hey also starred in the TV mini-series "Mussolini: The Untold Story", and the made for TV movies "Crazy Like a Fox", the BBC's "Big Deal", HBO's "Timeslip" and "Vietnam". Virginia Hey has a long history of roles on televisions series, including Australia's "Prisoner: Cell Block H", "Pacific Drive", "Home and Away" and "Neighbours". In the US, she's starred in "Dolphin Cove", "Roar", "Flipper", and "Mission: Impossible", and also "Flesh and Blood" in the UK.
Click here to see all the information on Virginia Hey on the Internet Movie Database.