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"Incubator"

Summary

Open on a Command Carrier and a Prowler being returned to the hanger. An excited science team assures a doubtful Lieutenant Braca that this test has to have worked. Right. Try telling that to the pilot who, like the others before him, has been liquefied. Turns out, there was a hidden bit inside the neural chip extracted from John Crichton's brain - a bit that none of them can decipher and Scorpius now thinks may be the key to surviving wormhole reentry. Linfer, apparently one of the big shots on the science team, says nonsense. She is confident that she's fixed the shielding herself and to prove it, gets permission from Scorpius to pilot the next test flight. Meanwhile, Scorpius decides to pursue the hidden data by directly accessing the neural chip. When he does, we meet the John Crichton clone now in Scorpy's head. Well, in the chip at least.

The John clone thinks at first he's the real John Crichton, dead and in hell perhaps. Scorpy explains that some neural spillover in the chip duplicated part of John's psyche and poof! We have a neural clone. Scorpy then cuts right to the chase; he needs John's help (or in this case, the John clone) to access the missing data. His only leverage, persuasion. Scorpy tries appealing to John for help by giving John the movie version of his life story.

But first, a quick check-in with the Moya crew. Picking up after the little interruption in "Losing Time," Crichton is back searching those readings that might, maybe, possibly, be a wormhole. Pilot indulges him only because Moya is enjoying the free flight and frankly, there's nothing else to do. D'Argo is convinced that John is hitting nothing but dead ends and just doesn't see it. Plus, D'Argo does have something else for them to do; shore leave, before Chiana and Jool drive themselves and everyone else crazy. John promises that if this next search proves fruitless, he'll abandon it.

Back in Scorpy's head, after a fast forward flash of childhood that begins with pain and don't seem to incorporate much else, Scorpy begins telling his story at 12 cycles. At that age, a Scarran woman named Tauza more or less took him under her wing. Actually, it was more like a one person boot camp with Scorpy being held prisoner. He was told that he was the product of a Sebacean man raping a Scarran woman and thus began an intense drive to make sure Scorpius hated everything Sebacean. He was a sickly child, between the Sebacean intolerance of heat and Scarran intolerance of cold. Tauza told him he is Scarran or he is nothing, and Scarrans can not be weak. She cranks the heat on him. She makes him crawl for his water then drink it off the floor. She chastises him hard for using a weak word like "please." In short, Tauza is an even worse mother than Xhalax Sun.

While John is getting some much needed sleep, the Moya crew happens upon a Prowler that seems to be out of control. D'Argo and Chiana smell instant trouble but Pilot reports that the occupant is a Relgarian. When D'Argo and Chiana ask, Pilot only responds that it is a species Leviathans and Pilots trust implicitly. Pilot ignores their suspicions and he doesn't hesitate to bring the Prowler aboard. The occupant it turns out, is Linfer. She came looking for John, to update him on Scorpy's activities (starting with the fact that he's still alive [see "Season of Death"]) and to tell him of their findings with wormhole travel; that in most cases, there is a flux phase variance that liquefies the occupant. Disappointed to learn that John's module did not employ any shielding to protect from this, she assumes he simply got lucky and entered one of those rare stable wormholes. When asked what she's doing here, she says simply that she has no doubt once the project is complete, success or failure, Scorpius will kill her. Finally, she offers him the shielding technology - necessary for safe wormhole travel. But in exchange, she wants Moya. John says no deal. But Pilot is the one who seems to be wavering, explaining that Relgarians are a species who use Leviathans for deep space exploration, something he and Moya have always dreamed of.

As his "training" progressed, young Scorpius discovered a unique gift. He could sense energy signatures unique to each species. These signatures changed when the person was lying. For instance, whenever Tauza spoke of the Sebaceans' intentions towards Scarrans, the Sebacean plot to hybridize Scarrans and Sebaceans. This made Scorpius more curious than ever about his true parentage, but to learn anything other than what Tauza was teaching him, he had to escape. He feigned obedience and as a result, Tauza grew careless. Scorpy learned how to get in and out of his cell undetected and gain information about the Scarran Dreadnought he was on. At the next convenient opportunity, he escaped the ship. Unable to learn anything after several cycles on his own, he surrendered to a Peacekeeper Command Carrier. He offers them tidbits of information about the Scarrans in exchange for help in learning of his true parentage. His motive he says is to know where his loyalties should lie. The Captain of the Command Carrier decides Scorpius is telling the truth and says they've already pieced his story together and discovered the true story. A transport full of Sebacean colonists was attacked by Scarrans. One transport pod carrying one couple got away and settled on a nearby planet but the Scarrans soon caught up with it. The man was killed and the woman - Scorpius' mother, Rylani - was raped in a Scarran experiment for hybridization. The transport pod had never been salvaged, so Scorpy went to it, looking for more information. Tauza had gotten to it first though, and had set a trap, recapturing Scorpius. He was tortured for information about the Peacekeepers.

The memories prove too difficult though and Scorpy wakes up in the present to take a break. When he does, he learns that his science team can't find Linfer and she seems to have taken some critical data with her.

On Moya, the crew is discussing whether or not to take Linfer up on her offer. Actually, John is discussing it and the others think he's crazy. He says that with the wormhole technology, they can all go home or anywhere else they want. They say it's too long a shot that it will even work. D'Argo also coldly notes that it is this same attitude of John's that got Zhaan killed. As they argue, Jool brings Linfer some food, but discovers that Linfer's tissue is starting to liquefy. Turns out, her shielding only delayed the process. When she asks for a final favor, Jool and Pilot don't hesitate to help her by letting her go. She flies the Prowler to a safe distance and destroys it and herself. Most notably, this was done with no input from John or even letting him in on it. John is angry, but then again, it's good for him to be reminded once in a while that he's not the captain of this boat.

Scorpy goes back under to access the chip, telling Nurse Froy that she is not to bring him back against his will no matter how bad he gets. Froy is reluctant but Braca stays on to make sure Scorpy's orders are carried out. The John clone seems vaguely sympathetic that Scorpy has had a hard life, but doesn't see that as justification to help him hurt anyone else. Scorpy replies by finishing the tale. As he's being tortured for information, Tauza admits that he was lied to, in order to secure his loyalties and make him hate Sebaceans. She shows him the rape of his mother, her point being to show how pathetic she was in begging for her life, how the rape destroyed her psyche and in weakness, she died in childbirth. He was the first such offspring in 90 attempts to survive. The point of the experiments were to test Sebaceans as breeding stock. But with Scorpius considered a failure, the Scarrans have decided Sebaceans have no value whatsoever and will be eradicated. Their first mistake though was not to upgrade their security after Scorpy escaped the first time, and to underestimate Scorpius. Scorpy killed Tauza and escaped again. He sent a signal to the Peacekeepers from the Scarran Dreadnought, allowing them to find and destroy it. Having proved his loyalty to the Sebaceans, the Peacekeepers waive the racial impurity guidelines and allow Scorpius to join up. He quickly advanced in rank and developed a task force to study wormhole technology.

He explains to the John clone that all this is to illustrate that the Scarrans will just keep on destroying species after species, starting with Sebaceans and eventually getting around to Humans if they get their hands on wormhole technology. This is why the Peacekeepers must get the technology first. The John clone seems to muse on this for a moment before repeating what the Ancients told him: If you're not smart enough to discover how to use the technology on your own, you're not smart enough to use it wisely. Scorpius is getting desperate and Nurse Froy is getting concerned. She tries to bring him out of it and remove the chip despite Braca's instance that she leave him alone. Braca wins the argument when he effectively punches her out. In the chip, the John clone sarcastically promises to give his regards to Scorpy's mother, then dissolves himself. The stress nearly kills Scorpius, but Braca manages to remove the chip and get a new cooling rod in Scorpy's head.

In lieu of all the bickering that's gone on, D'Argo tries to have a civil conversation with John. They agree they've been on Moya way too long, but so far all the other alternatives have been worse. John also notes that Scorpius is further along in wormhole technology than he is, and if Linfer could find Moya, so can Scorpy.

On Scorpy's Command Carrier, Scorpy gives the science team all the information he can recall, but can retrieve no more as the neural chip was destroyed. As the team gets to work on the new calculations, Scorpy commends Braca for making the right choice in letting him stay under the chip. When Braca leaves, Scorpy takes a moment to collect his thoughts while observing a flower in his quarters - a flower taken from the planet outside the transport pod his mother had sought refuge in.


Review

Dani will be tempted to fire me for saying this, but I must say it again; I've just never been able to bring myself to get all excited about the character of Scorpius. With "Incubator" though, my interest is growing. Now Dani, don't start saying "I told you so" just yet. I still think Scorpius is a rather stock villain. But starting now, I'm no longer dreading Scorpy-heavy episodes quite so much.

Farscape likes to deal in grays, not black and white. The bad guys usually have at least an ounce of good reason behind their motives or are simply victims of their own environment. The good guys are by no means entirely good. Up until now, Scorpius has been almost entirely evil, so it's about time we saw some reason to be sympathetic towards him. One thing I have always liked about the character is that he doesn't come off as just plain evil for evil's sake. He won't kill you without a reason. It might not be a very good reason in your opinion, but it makes good, logical business sense from Scorpius' point of view. The same goes for his wormhole quest. Kill the Scarrans before the Scarrans kill the Sebaceans. Revenge is a delightful side benefit. In Scorpius' eyes, it's a perfectly logical, even noble cause and through this episode, we can see his point of view and even start to agree with it.

Of course, we can see the other side of the coin too, that the Sebaceans are nearly as racist and xenophobic as the Scarrans. It's like choosing the lesser of two evils.

"Incubator" manages to generate sympathy for young Scorpius and his harsh upbringing, even if it is in a highly predictable way. I can't say I have much room to complain though since I personally haven't come up with a better storyline. The portrayal of young Scorpius not being held together or climate controlled by his suit was well thought out and well directed. We do get a real sense of him being the picked-on sickly kid who grows up to be rich and powerful and proceeds to step on anyone and anything that was remotely connected to his painful childhood. I must say also that I loved the touch with the flower that he found near his mother's transport pod and now has the same flower in his quarters.

On the Moya side, poor John-Green just doesn't have much going for him. John-Black got most of his stuff … and how's this John going to feel when he finds out about John-Black and Aeryn? I'm really looking forward to seeing how the writers handle that reunion! But meanwhile, John-Green is looking pretty frustrated and lonely. And now, to boot, he knows that Scorpius is alive and in hot pursuit of more wormhole technology. John-Green and D'Argo get into it a few times, with D'Argo being somewhat concerned about John's obsession with wormholes that probably aren't there. I'm seeing a lot of fans come down on D'Argo for this, noting that John was sympathetic to D'Argo about his search for his son. Well, to that I'd note that in the end, D'Argo had to force the crew - including John - to go ahead with a plan they didn't think would work or was worth the risk. John's wormhole search, at least until now, has held way less promise of working and at least once, has endangered the crew (see "Self-Inflicted Wounds"). We get a few droplets of this tension, but only a few.

Unfortunately, that's about it as far as the Moya crew goes. I was really hoping for some more follow-up to "Losing Time," especially some follow-up with Chiana's character and the ESP teaser at the end of "Losing Time." Farscape is usually so good at making sure characters are genuinely affected by harsh events, I was disappointed not to see more of that in "Incubator." I'm beginning to agree with the Chiana fans that she is really not being utilized to her full extent. I wonder if there's a Virginia Hey thing going on there, if the long hours of makeup in addition to an already long shooting schedule is starting to prove prohibitive to Gigi's screen time.

On the upside of the Moya characters, Jool is quietly emerging as more than the spoiled brat she came on board as. They tried to push the character too far, too quickly in "Losing Time," but in "Incubator," I like the subtlety with which we see her sympathetic side. I think it's going to be interesting to see where this character is a season and a half from now, and even more interesting to go back to these early Jool episodes to see how far she's come.

It's not that I expect every episode of Farscape to be this wildly deep character piece, but I know they are capable of slipping more character expansion into the Moya bits than they did here. It's kind of like someone said, "Well, we're doing all this backstory on Scorpius, we can just kind of have the Moya crew there as filler." As long as the Moya crew is going to act as filler, let's at least see some more 3-d interaction between them all. Even the tag scene with John and D'Argo felt somehow stagnant where I know Farscape is capable of much more. It wasn't bad, it just could have been a little more.




Agree? Disagree? Comments? Questions? Email me! Written by Mary Wood.

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Fun Factoids
Best line:
Jool: "It's funny how you support Pilot only when you both want the same thing."
John: "That's crap Jool."
Jool: "Truth is never crap."


Click here to read Dani Moure's review for this episode.

Click here to read Dani Moure's synopsis for this episode.

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Episode Credits
Season 3, Episode 11 - "Incubator"
Writer: Richard Manning
Director: Ian Watson
Production number: 10311
First UK Transmission: 12th Nov 2001
First US Transmission: 13th Jul 2001
Guest Stars:
Tammy MacIntosh (Jool); David Franklin (Lt. Braca); Evan Sheaves (Child Scorpius); Johanna Kerrigan (Linfer); Danny Adcock (Co-Kura Strappa); Amy Salas (Tauza); Stephanie Jacobson (Nurse Froy); Paul Shedlowich (Plint); Thomas Holesgrove (Wolesh); Sam Healy (Rylani Jeema); Nicholas Bishop (Ghebb Dellos); William Zappa (Cpt. Molayne)
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