A Snurcher's Guide to Farscape

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Production No. 104

Best Viewed As 1.4

Aired As
1.4 (US)
1.2 (UK)

Original Airdates
09 Apr 1999 (US)
06 Dec 1999 (UK)

1.1 (US)
3.64 (UK)

Throne for a Loss
Abbreviations: TFAL
Alternate Titles: (none)

Wassup? · Backstory · Reactions · Annotations · Microbes · Quotes · Cast & Crew

Writer: Richard Manning
Director: Pino Amenta
John Adam..................Bekhesh
Jeremiah Tickell...........Kyr
Zoe Dimakis................Hontovek
Api Bavardra...............Nonk
Complete Credits


The Ransom of Red Chief...er, Rygel

The crew's plan to earn a little credit goes awry when Rygel is kidnapped for ransom. Now they need to get him back, not because they particularly want him, but because he's taken a vital component that Moya needs in order to maintain orbit. Complicating matters, the local thugs are pharmaceutically enhanced -- and our crew isn't exactly immune to the drug's effects.


Farscape World


Terra Firma


Farscape Fantasy
Farscape World


The fugitives must be starting to run low on resources if they are proactively looking for a way to generate income, and willing to contract with the strangers to haul an unknown cargo.

Only a few episodes into his Farscape adventures, John is still in negotiation mode at this point: while Aeryn refuses to go unarmed to their meeting with their Tavlek employers, he suggests the Kung Fu ("never carried a gun"), rather than John Wayne ("the Big Guy, True Grit" etc.) approach.

Rygel obtained stale food cubes on Porzin Two to keep the crew from starving.

D'Argo can't get the gauntlet to work when he first puts it on, although it immediately injects him. However, it almost immediately turns him overly aggressive, and he soon is able to fire it instinctively. It also gives him sufficient strength to throw a barrel across the bay and smash a shelf.

The Tavleks support themselves by kidnapping wealthy and/or powerful individuals and holding them for ransom; they come to Moya for the express purpose of kidnapping Rygel, believing he is still in control of the Hynerian Empire.

The Tavlek prisoner says the drug is a "stimulant" that increases strength. The only way to remove the gauntlet is if the wearer is unconscious (or the drug reservoir runs dry). It takes time to sleep off the effects of the drug once the gauntlet is removed; long term usage will lead to more severe withdrawal symptoms.

The concept of a "tractor beam" is not generally familiar to those in the Uncharted Territories, despite the existence of Moya's docking web. The docking web also seems to have a very limited range, given how quickly the Tavlek shuttle was able to get out of range.

Moya is experiencing system malfunctions, and has lost all propulsion control. Evidently, this requires Pilot to manually vent her excess supercoolants in order to avoid a dangerous pressure buildup.

Moya's synaptic processors (control circuits) are composed of trillions of silicon neurons, suspended in a semi-organic crystalline matrix. This gives them the appearance of jewels.

Chloroferric compounds in vegetation will block Moya's sensors.

If you overload the pulse chamber, you will blow up a pulse rifle.

It has been over 100 cycles since Rygel was deposed.

Zhaan "bleeds" a milky white substance. This fluid can be used medicinally, to ease withdrawal symptoms from the Tavlek stimulant.

D'Argo's Qualta Blade is not only a sword, but also a rifle. It also retains its charge amazingly well; even after eight cycles since its last recharge, it packs a powerful punch.

John is still easily distracted by alien species; he calls Jotheb a "critter".

Luxans initially bleed dark red or black; this is toxic. The wound isn't cleansed until the blood runs clear, which requires that the injury site be stimulated so that the blood flows freely.

John compares the guantlet to the Green Lantern's ring -- it works by willpower. The stimulant takes effect almost immediately, with a feeling of mild euphoria.

Zhaan is stronger than she looks, able to overcome the prisoner with no difficulty whatsoever. She also easily crumples his drug injection device with her bare hand.

The Tavleks have an interesting code of ethics. The prisoner is mystified by the fact that Zhaan is trying to help him, and Bekhesh says it's been so long since he heard the truth, he no longer recognizes it. Yet Bekhesh releases Rygel without consequences once he realizes there's no profit in holding him. Despite the aggressive effects of the gauntlet's drug, they seem to be rationally mercenary, motivated strictly by profit, without need for retribution or revenge when things don't work out as planned.



  1. What was Rygel thinking? He plans to welcome the Tavleks to his "yacht" at the same time as he's trying to complete a deal to haul cargo on the same vessel -- it's not like him to overlook the blatant inconsistencies in this story.
  2. How exactly did Jotheb resuscitate Rygel? We heard a soft hissing sort of sound; was he providing some sort of tentacle-to-mouth breathing?


  1. The footage of Rygel and his airborne thronesled in the docking bay was very nicely done. The clip where he knocks himself out cold by flying into the wall was particularly enjoyable. ;-)
  2. The score is more primal than usual in this episode; it suited the story well.
  3. Gotta love the blue plant effects on the Tavleks' planet; anyone know how it was done?

Bloopers (none)


Farscape World
Farscape Fantasy
AV Club
Tourist's Guide


Farscape World
Terra Firma


John: "We do know that they'll pay us to haul cargo, which they're not gonna do if you go in there doing your John Wayne impression."
Aeryn: "John Wayne. Who's that? A relative?"
John: "John Wayne? No. The big guy. TRUE GRIT, THE SEARCHERS, THE COWBOYS, GENGHIS KHAN. No, look, forget about GENGHIS KHAN. Everybody makes a bad movie..."

Sterling examples of how a mediocre actor can make some of the best films in the Western genre. Henry Hathaway's TRUE GRIT, Mark Rydell's THE COWBOYS, and especially John Ford's THE SEARCHERS are classic Westerns. THE SEARCHERS, in particular, is considered by many to be one of the best Westerns ever made.

As for that last one, well, actually, this is an error. Crichton is mixing up the film title with the character. In what is generally considered the worst piece of casting in movie history, Wayne plays Temujin in THE CONQUEROR, directed by actor Dick Powell. The film is also notorious for being the death (literally) of a large number of its cast and crew: it was filmed in the desert near the sites of the atom bomb tests, and the bulk of the cast and crew (including Powell, Wayne, Susan Hayward, and Agnes Moorhead) ended up dying from cancer.

John: "Kung Fu. Kung Fu never carried a gun."

Once again, he's mixing up the character with the title. What he's referring to is Kwai Chang Caine, hero of the 1970s TV series KUNG FU.

John: "Pilot, get a tractor beam on that shuttle."
Pilot: "Tractor beam? What's that?"

The first of many references to STAR TREK.

Tractor beams actually pre-date Star Trek (E. E. 'Doc' Smith's Lensman novels from around 1950, for instance, feature both tractor and pressor beams), though Star Trek popularized the concept. Then again, John might have been thinking of Star Wars.

John: "Good night, sweet prince."

Quote from Shakespeare's HAMLET, Act V, Scene 2:

Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

John: "That's your plan? Wile E. Coyote would come up with a better plan than that!"

Wile E. Coyote (Canis Nervous Rex) is, of course, the Warner Bros. cartoon character created by Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese. Despite being a self-styled Super Genius, his overly elaborate plans to catch the Road Runner for dinner always went awry.

John: "Willpower. Like the Green Lantern's ring."

Green Lantern is a DC Comics superhero. There have been various incarnations of the character, but the best known is Hal Jordan, a test pilot recruited by the Guardians of the Universe to be a member of their interstellar police force, the Green Lantern Corps. Green Lantern's "weapon" was his ring, powered by his willpower, which enabled him to create energy constructs in the form of whatever his imagination conjured up. For everything you could want to know about the Green Lanterns, go to http://www.glcorps.org/ or http://www.emeraldwarriors.com/

John: "I'm sorry...I don't feel anything. In fact, I feel pretty good. I feel real good. Oh, right. It's working."

This probably isn't an intentional allusion, but it reminds me of an exchange between Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) and Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) in John Carpenter's BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. After they and their companions drink a mystical potion prior to descending into the villain's lair, Burton says: "Feel pretty good. I mean I'm not...uh...I'm not scared at all. I just feel kind of...I feel kind of invincible."

Translator Microbe Report

Chloroferric Compounds a substance in vegetation which blocks Moya's sensors
Consortium of Trao a galactic nation-state, to which Jotheb is the heir; possibly also his race, which has tentacles and four larynxes, and an ability to reanimate the odd Hynerian or two
Corvinium substance with varying levels of purity (at least as high as 9), which is apparently of some value as the Tavleks demand it as ransom payment for Rygel
Creosh derogatory name, possibly vulgar; while in the Tavlek cell, Rygel demands to speak to the creosh in charge
Delta directional vector used in triangulation
Directional Vector Moya's sensors use a triangulation method of coordinates (Zhaan gives a location as "delta six, premno nine, lerg eight")
Docking Web mechanism used to pull smaller vessels aboard Moya
Fire snakes one of the hazards Aeryn lists during the mission to rescue Rygel
Garanta's Brax idiomatic equivalent of rat's ass: "As if I give a garanta's brax!"
Gauntlet weapon worn on the forearm, which injects the wearer with an addictive stimulant; capabilities include firing, blocking incoming fire, and increased physical strength (Tavlek)
Hynerian Navy the military space force of Hyneria
Lerg directional vector used in triangulation
Maintenance Bay an area of Moya roughly equivalent to a garage; it includes a lab section
Maxzillian Pilater Day Parade presumably, a Luxan holiday celebration
Morlian Death Spider one of the hazards Aeryn lists during the mission to rescue Rygel; presumably, a dangerous arachnid
Occulars high-tech version of binocculars, which feeds visual input directly into the brain (Peacekeeper)
Pantak Jab Peacekeeper hand-to-hand fighting move used to knock out an opponent
Pa'u Delvia, Kolmot gorr tibnol what the closed-captioners thought Zhaan said, when told by Pilot that Crichton has a plan
Plok Zhaan is told that her Tavlek prisoner is sick of hearing her plok
Porzin Two presumably, a commerce planet (D'argo comments to Rygel that on Porzin Two, all he obtained were stale food cubes)
Premno directional vector used in triangulation
Pulse Chamber part of a pulse weapon; if overloaded, the weapon will explode
Razor grass one of the hazards Aeryn lists during the mission to rescue Rygel
Silico-neurons what Moya's synaptic processors are composed of
Sleep Mist anaesthetic formulated by Zhaan, delivered in a form similar to a water balloon
Solar Day a measure of time (analogous to an Earth day)
Synaptic processors Moya's control circuits: trillions of silico-neurons suspended in a semi-organic crystalline matrix
Tavleks species which supports itself by kidnapping wealthy and/or powerful individuals for ransom
Tavloids Crichton's persistent mispronounciation of Tavleks
Transport [Pod] Moya's shuttlecraft


- John Crichton, everyone else

"Our 'supreme emminence' has been bagged."
- John Crichton

"A stimulant? It's a little more than cappuccino, pal, our friend just tried to kill us!"
- John Crichton

"Soft, yes. Weak, no."
- Zhaan

"That's your plan? Wile E. Coyote would come up with a better plan than that!"
- John Crichton

"You hit me!"
"Hit...I...no, a pantak jab. You were more susceptible than most."
"Next time you hit me, make sure that I don't wake up."
"Tch, aww."
"Oh, don't tch me. This is not over with. And when it is, you and I are going to sit down and have a serious talk."
"Sure. When this is over, you and I will probably be dead."
- John Crichton, Aeryn Sun

"You shanghai my ass down here...now you want me to lead? Give me one good reason!"
"Lots of reasons: land mines, fire snakes, razor grass, night vision snipers, Morlian death spiders..."
- John Crichton, Aeryn Sun

"Enjoying yourself?"
"Oh, yeah...marching through a smelly, bug-infested jungle. If this is your idea of a good time, I bet you don't get a lot of second dates."
- Aeryn Sun, John Crichton

"Oh, what happened? Wait...where's the rifle?"
"It's all over the place. Am I bleeding?"
- Aeryn Sun, John Crichton

"Nice blanket you got there, D'Argo."
"A lumpy blanket. Get her off."
- John Crichton, D'Argo

"Jotheb, a little help?"
"Help? Of what sort?"
"Pull! [grunting] Ohhh, puuull! [slightly strangled] Maybe around the throat isn't a good idea..."
- Rygel, Jotheb

"If the gauntlet brings out the real you -- both of you -- think long and hard about therapy. I'm gonna go check things out. Play nice while I'm gone."
- John Crichton

"Hey, check out the critter!"
- John Crichton, Jotheb, D'Argo

"It's a fine weapon."
"I request...that you bury me with it."
- Aeryn Sun, D'Argo

"Rygel is an obnoxious gasbag, and who's gonna shell out for that?"
"He's right. I'm unloved, unwanted, unpopular...[Bekhesh kicks him]...unconscious..."
- John Crichton, Rygel

"Perhaps I like to offer choices."
- Zhaan

"Did you swallow it?"
"Swallow it? Yes, yes! Which means you're going to have to take me back as I am, or disembowel me here."
"Don't you tempt me, Fluffy."
- John Crichton, Rygel

"Well? Am I to live or die?"
"Die...but not today."
- D'Argo, Aeryn Sun

Comments from Cast & Crew

  • David Kemper (& Ben Browder), September 23, 1999

    • Moderator: <Cush> to <Moderator> Did you have the story arc pre-planned to last a few seasons? Or are you going season by season

      DavidKemper: Rock began the series with a rough idea of where we were going, but that ran out during episode #4, so we're now making it up as we go along. :)

  • Sean Masterson & Tim Mieville (Farscape Puppeteers), December 20, 1999

    • Moderator: <Gmmas> : Sean and Tim: do you do any of the other non-humanoid creatures on Farscape? Can we expect to see more non-humanoid characters?

      SeanMasterson: Yes we do any of the animatronic characters

      TimMieville: I was lucky enough to be inside Jothev in Four

      SeanMasterson: Yes and there are new aliens coming up this season.

  • Richard Manning & Andrew Prowse, January 6, 2000

    • Moderator: <truthseekr> to <Moderator>: You've scripted some of Farscape's finest bad guys (the stimulant enhanced Tavleks, the mono-maniac Crais), what experience or research goes into creating a truly EVIL BAD GUY?

      Ricky: I'm so glad you asked me that. (twirls mustache)
      Ricky: The research is grueling, but it's the sacrifice I make.

      Andrew: his therapy bills are enornmous!

      Ricky: And I didn't think the Tavleks were really BAD guys... did you?
      Ricky: And Crais is a sweetie at heart.
      Ricky: If he could just get over the dead brother thing, he just might turn out to be a decent bloke.
      Ricky: Albeit a decent Peacekeeper bloke.

  • Rockne S. O'Bannon, January 13, 2000

    • Moderator: <Rehanna> to <Moderator>: Is there anything that happened first season you weren't completely happy with how it turned out? Or anything that we took other than how it was ment?

      Rockne: There was some rough going in the first few episodes....
      Rockne: We started out trying to film two episodes at the same time. For example, one director directed "I, ET" and "Throne for a Loss"....
      Rockne: It just became impossible for the director, cast, everybody to work on two very disparate storylines at the same time....
      Rockne: By "PK Tech Girl" we went to shooting linearly....
      Rockne: ...and notice how much stronger the eps got after that....

  • Dominar Rygel XVI, February 17, 2000

    • Moderator: <TracicarT> to <Moderator>: Your Eminence, I humbly request a moment of your time so that I might ask a question of you. In a recent photo, depicting you with your unworthy cellmates at about the time those horrid Tavleks abducted you, I noticed one of your loyal subjects hiding behind your barrel. Could this be your loyal (former) server known as John Eccelston?

      Rygel: if so
      Rygel: he was certainly cowering
      Rygel: i must say
      Rygel: i have always felt he was beneath me

    • Moderator: <riddley> to <Moderator>: Are you as easily fooled and gulible as you have been in the past? Or have you learned from your past mistakes i.e. Namtar, the Tavleks, Crais, etc...

      Rygel: excuse me riddley
      Rygel: do you own a television
      Rygel: i was not fooled
      Rygel: i am not listened to
      Rygel: if the other would only do as i say
      Rygel: things would go smoother

  • David Kemper, with Richard Manning & Ben Browder ("Bruno"), August 17, 2000

    • Moderator: <Solanio> to <Moderator>: I really enjoyed the episode "Out of Their Minds" for the simple reasons that it seemed to have a different "feel" to it. Then I discovered that a freelance writer had contributed this piece. Do you intend to bring in other writers to occasionally stir things up and change the dynamics of your universe with new ideas and directions?

      Kemper: Freelancers often provide a "bed" upon which

      FrooniumRicky: which?

      Kemper: we then take a script "inside" and do a fair amount of work.

      FrooniumRicky: oh, that was my second guess

      Kemper: The freelancer in this case was my very good friend, Michael Cassutt, and
      Kemper: he has written in a column on the web already that we
      Kemper: remodled the script.
      Kemper: If you like the deep insanity of OOTM, then all hail the great Monj!
      Kemper: More fodder for your websites.

      FrooniumRicky: I would just add here
      FrooniumRicky: that today's freelancer can be tomorrow's staffer
      FrooniumRicky: MY first script for Farscape was a freelance.
      FrooniumRicky: Guess they liked it.

  • Anthony Simcoe, May 01, 2001

    • vacush: In the commentary for TFAL, Ben and Claudia mentioned you got chems in your eyes. Have there been any long term effects?

      Anthony_Simcoe: No, I have had 2 major disasters on Farscape.
      Anthony_Simcoe: One was the chemical in my eyes, and 2 was I was rushed to the hospital during shooting of season 2.

  • Farscape Wrap Day Extravaganza, July 26, 2001

    • Moderator: <MrZonk> to <Moderator>: Deb: what do you think was the best dress-up you ever did on a picture/scene?

      DebPeart: Farscape certainly has an established "look" so its great fun when we get to play with that. I particularly enjoy changing the color of trees and skies etc to make landscapes look more alien. We do this in conjunction with our amazing DOP, Russell Bacon!