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"Incubator" Summary/Review (Relatively Spoiler-Free)
by Mary Wood - Tuesday, July 17th 2001

Category: Old News

SPOILER ALERT... There may be spoilers in this post, so take note of the subject and beware!


"Incubator" is somewhat split between the much promised and long awaited Scorpius backstory and some checking in with the Moya crew. The two arcs end up tied together with a small but solid common string. On the Moya side, John is back chasing possible wormhole readings after "Losing Time." On the Scorpius side, we get the movie version of his life story. He appeals to John without really appealing to John. And most of all, we get to see that Scorpius really is more than meets the eye.



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. There was even a rather poignant moment of sentiment at the end that you really don't expect to see from this character, but by the end of the episode, it suits him wonderfully.

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. 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 has so far 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.

Score: 3 (out of 5)

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