A Snurcher's Guide to Farscape

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Production No. 109

Best Viewed As 1.9

Aired As
1.9 (US & UK)

Original Airdates
18 Jun 1999 (US)
14 Feb 2000 (UK)

1.3 (US)
2.77 (UK)

DNA Mad Scientist
Abbreviations: DNAMS
Alternate Titles: (none)

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

Writer: Tom Blomquist
Director: Andrew Prowse
Adrian Getley..............NamTar (Movement)
Julian Garner..............NamTar (Voice)
Sarah Burns................Kornata
Complete Credits


If lab rats ruled the universe...

The crew visits a scientist who claims he can provide them with maps back to their homeworlds, based on their genetic profiles. In payment, he demands one of Pilot's arms. But, when Aeryn asks him to provide her with directions to a Sebacean colony, she winds up being used as a test subject herself, and only John steps forward to defend her.


Farscape World


Terra Firma


Farscape Fantasy
Farscape World


NamTar had a reputation in the Uncharted Territories, sufficient for Moya and her crew to hear of it, even though they were on the run and presumably trying to keep a low profile.

Fluid in the eye has some characteristic (regardless of the subject's species) that enables NamTar to conduct genetic research at the sub-double-helix level; this cannot be accomplished with a skin scraping.

There are around 11 million species in NamTar's genetic database. The large dataset enables him to pinpoint an individual's point of origin, based on their genetics.

Delvia has at least three moons, according to the image projected by NamTar's equipment.

Pilot's multitasking capabilities may be unique to his species, as NamTar had not been able to locate them elsewhere, in spite of his large database.

There were no human samples in NamTar's database.

Pilot's species has superior healing and regenerative capabilities.

DRDs can be used to cauterize wounds.

Pilot's species is incapable of space flight on their own; becoming a Leviathan's partner is considered by them to be a perfectly equitable arrangement. When they bond to a Leviathan, they give their lives to the service of others -- not just the ship, but those who travel aboard.

Pilot normally has four arms.

Aeryn was born a Peacekeeper soldier, and has never been either alone or on her own.

John has invited Aeryn to go to Earth with him, if he ever finds a way home.

On at least one occasion during their incarceration on Moya, Rygel and D'Argo went without food for nearly two weekens; Rygel may have had a secret stash of food cubes during that period.

There are other Sebacean colonies beyond the known territories.

It was Rygel who bartered for the coordinates to NamTar's asteroid, negotiated with him, and struck the deal.

There are limits on how much data Moya can assimilate in one download. Additionally, she is not immune to sabotage by virus or overload; importing NamTar's map to her data store would have erased the contents of Moya's databanks.

Rygel had hiding places in his cell, that even Peacekeeper scent hounds were unable to detect.

D'Argo claims he was imprisoned by his leaders, not his people.

According to Zhaan, Hynerians are known for being extremely devious.

Hynerians are not body breeders; according to Rygel, they're "not made that way". However, the Hynerian earbrow is apparently an erogenous zone.

NamTar wanted to isolate Pilot's heightened perceptions and multitasking capability because those were traits he didn't have yet. He had apparently already encountered species with strong mental capabilities (the ability to mentally cause pain, exert force against an opponent, or draw an opponent to you against their will), as well as regenerative properties (the ability to heal almost instantly, when half the torso is blown away) and biocontrol (the ability to temporarily alter nerve receptors so that they perceive pain as pleasure.

The assimilation of Pilot DNA by a Sebacean body has profound effects. In stage one, vision becomes blurry, and sensitivity to sound is increased; physical changes begin appearing on the trunk of the body. Progressing into stage two, perception is heightened (Aeryn told Pilot she could sense Moya's power generator, hydraulic fluids, and DRDs, even though she wasn't bonded to the Leviathan as he is), and physical changes increase, spreading to the extremities, and triggering the growth of additional limbs. The individual's own thoughts become difficult to process, in the rush of new input, and multitasking abilities begin to develop. Pilot, in fact, advised Aeryn at this point to stream her thoughts, separating them in her mind. Eventually, the individual becomes completely transformed into a Pilot/Sebacean hybrid. After reversal, lingering aftereffects may include disruption of the tastebuds' normal function.

The original purpose of the lab facility, when Kornata was the project leader, was to research theories of quantum genetics, the origin of intellect, and the essentials of thought itself. The genetic material collected by the lab was sufficient to permit the transformaton of NamTar from lab rat, to a highly evolved (in everything except ethics) individual. While Kornata made the initial alterations to him, he eventually took over that task himself.

Pilot and Moya are equipped with some high-powered laboratory equipment; Kornata brings nothing aboard except her knowledge, yet is still able to develop a sort of antidote to NamTar's genetic tamperings.

D'Argo has not only the skills to build a shilquen, but also to play it.

According to Pilot, Luxans are not given to apologies.



  1. Why, once NamTar was returned to his natural state, did the crew not draw on Kornata's skills to extract useable cartographic information from the genetic database?


  1. "NamTar" is "Rat Man" spelled backwards. Additionally, "Namtar" is also a minor Sumerian god, associated with disease and pestilence. "It is fate, destiny in its evil aspect, pictured as a demon of the underworld." - Pantheon.org
  2. The character studies in this storyline were darker and harsher than we had previously seen. Not only does Zhaan participate in the attack on Pilot, she tells Aeryn later that she doesn't regret her actions. D'Argo offers only an oblique apology to Pilot by playing the shilquen for him, while still asserting that he would not change any of his actions, if presented with such a situation again. Both Zhaan and D'Argo resort to subterfuge in their attempts to recover the crystal from Rygel (Zhaan via a sexual approach, and D'Argo by offering military support) after they agree that he is now designated as an enemy.
  3. Aeryn is beginning to show more of the pain she feels at being declared irreversibly contaminated. She expresses some of this to John, then seeks out NamTar in hopes of finding a Sebacean world where she could settle. Her need to belong, which she so flatly rejected in Exodus from Genesis, is stronger than she can suppress as her transformation progresses, and she directly expresses her fear to John and Pilot -- something she would not previously have done.
  4. Pilot is remarkably calm in the aftermath of his attack. He seems to bear the crew no serious ill-will, although it is only John and Aeryn to whom he gives assistance "without hesitation"; he seems skilled at separating forgiveness from trust.
  5. The ringing sound of Crichton's head meeting the pipe when NamTar knocks him out was a nice touch. So to speak.
  6. This episode was filled with both gorgeous CGI and nice makeup/costuming. On the CGI side, NamTar's cartographic projector was particularly impressive. Towards the end of the episode, as the cartographic crystal shatters, the "falling like sand" effect on it's fading projection was also nice. The prosthetics were substantial this time out, as well -- NamTar, Kornata (particularly her right hand), and Aeryn's transformation were all well done.
  7. The cartographic crystal looks vaguely like a giant glass golf tee.
  8. Horrific as the consequences were, there was a certain poetic justice in the lab animal exchanging roles with the scientist.
  9. The reversion of NamTar to lab rat is reminiscent of Salacious Crumb (from "Return of the Jedi").

Bloopers (none)


Farscape World
Farscape Fantasy
AV Club
Tourist's Guide


Farscape World
Terra Firma


"NamTar" is "Rat Man" spelled backwards. Additionally, "Namtar" was the name of a minor Sumerian god associated with disease and pestilence. "It is fate, destiny in its evil aspect, pictured as a demon of the underworld."

John: "The map thing? NamTar's magic crystal? Well, Larry, Curly, and Moe just found out that they can only use one of the maps. Two of them ain't going nowhere. I tell you, it's a regular FAMILY FEUD up there."

Two references for the price of one. Larry [Fine], Curly [Howard], and Moe [Howard] are the classic Three Stooges. Which of the Stooges maps to which of D'Argo, Zhaan, and Rygel is left as an exercise for the reader.

FAMILY FEUD is the inexplicably popular American (former) game show hosted by ex-Hogan's Hero Richard Dawson.

John: "No, believe it or not, we've had men like you on my planet. Educated men. Men of science and medicine. Men who were searching for some self-described ideal, and willing to maim and murder untold thousands to find it. There was one...his name was Mengele. To him, anyone was fair game as a subject of his experiments: the weak, the handicapped, men, women, children..."

Crichton is referring to Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi doctor. Known primarily for comitting atrocities at the Auschwitz concentration camp during WWII, Mengele was referred to as "the Angel of Death".

John: "It's a happy face."
Aeryn: "They're food cubes."
John: "No, see, the pattern forms a...never mind."

Apparently, the Uncharted Territories have not yet discovered the ubiquitous yellow smiley face.

Translator Microbe Report

Cartographic crystal data storage medium, where map information is recorded on a clear crystal
Cyyto-batch data test Kornata requested while working on a cure for Aeryn
Earbrow particularly sensitive (and apparently erogenous) area of Hynerian anatomy
Expanded graph matches test Kornata requested while working on a cure for Aeryn
Filgran vegatation on Delvia which blooms
Frell vulgar for copulate; used as both an expletive ("frell you!") and an intensifier ("frelling idiot")
Frodank D'Argo complains of having listened to Zhaan's "frodank of an idea"
Mellet possibly a food item analogous to liver, apparently served chopped, and not considered of high value: "What am I, chopped mellet?"
Pedrark, Festival of Luxan celebration
PMS abbreviation for pre-menstrual syndrome, deliberately misdefined for Aeryn by John, as "Peacekeeper Military Sh--"
Pneuma portion of Zhaan's anatomy she would have given up for NamTar's maps
Scent Hounds variety of animal used by Peacekeepers in search assignments
Spectral Analysis test Kornata requested while working on a cure for Aeryn
Titus Scan test Kornata requested while working on a cure for Aeryn
Weekens unit of time (possibly analogous to a week)


"Are you all right, John?"
"Yeah, sure, no problem, happens all the time, needle in the eye, no sweat..."
- Zhaan, John Crichton

"I will never understand you people. How can you not be angry? Insanely angry?"
"When one of my species is bonded to a Leviathan, we give our lives to the service of others: ship first, then those who travel aboard her."
- John Crichton, Pilot

"How could you? Pilot is defenseless."
"Compassion? From a Peacekeeper?"
"For a comrade. You attacked one of your own. Would you do the same to the rest of us?"
"Of course."
- D'Argo, Aeryn Sun

"And then it's just you and me."
"Look, you know, I'm not entirely useless here, you know. I happen to be learning. [pause] Aeryn? What's the matter?"
"They are going home, and someday, you will, too."
"Yeah, sure...I mean, if I ever find a way home. Yeah."
"I was born a Peacekeeper soldier. I've always been one among many, a member of a division, a platoon, a unit, a team. I've never been on my own, John, never been alone. Ever."
"When I find a way home, if I find a way home, I'll, I'll take you with me."
"Me, on a planet full of billions of you?"
- John Crichton, Aeryn Sun

"What am I, chopped mellet?"
"Of course not. I can stomach chopped mellet."
"Blue-assed bitch."
"What did you call me?"
"A blue-assed bitch!"
- Rygel, Zhaan

"It appears your crystal is useless. Lucky for you, you didn't trade anything of real value to get it."
- Pilot

"Ask NamTar for further help? What will he demand of us then?"
"If he should ask for it, what body part of you willing to offer, your Eminence?"
- D'Argo, Pilot

"Well, Larry, Curly and Moe just figured out they can only use one of the maps. Two of 'em ain't going nowhere. I'm telling you, it's like a regular family feud up there."
- John Crichton

"Well, gotta give me a clue here, Aeryn. Is this something new, or is this just your usual PMS, Peacekeeper military sh--"
"Frell you."
- John Crichton, Aeryn Sun

"The crystal is well-hidden, and will remain so until you and Zhaan are ready to listen to reason."
"'Reason' being that we return you to Hyneria."
"That's the very definition of reason."
- Rygel, D'Argo

"If you return to Hyneria, you will want to wrest your throne from your cousin."
"And I will."
"But your cousin is in control of your armies. He himself is probably heavily guarded."
"My palace sentries are inferior to none."
"HIS palace sentries."
- D'Argo, Rygel

"My leaders imprisoned me, not my people."
- D'Argo

"Stay in there with your crystal as long as you wish, until you starve."
"You think I'm not prepared for such eventualities?"
"You forget, your Rectal Eminence, you've been doing some housekeeping"
- D'Argo

"I have temporarily turned my nerve receptors from pain to pleasure."
"This is not what you did to the others."
"What have you done to me?"
"Please, push harder!"
- NamTar, Aeryn Sun

"I wanted him to find me a place where I could belong. I didn't want to get left behind. I'm so scared."
- Aeryn Sun

"I believe talk is very overrated, as a means of connection between two consenting beings."
- Zhaan

"You honestly believe that I could find you appealing? I mean, you're so...so...BLUE!"
- Rygel

"I'm losing it, John. I'm completely losing it."
"Answers coming up. Come on."
- Aeryn Sun, John Crichton

"You felt we had a deal? A deal connotes reaching some point of equality. I'm afraid there's never been anything equal about us."
- NamTar

"All of these physical affectations are superfluous. I assume, though, that you are also developing the heightened perception and multitasking capability."
- NamTar

"He did not hear our offer, and I hereby rescind it."
- D'Argo

"You are in no way being diminished. You are being given a gift. You are experiencing a level of intellectual processing few beings ever approach."
"I feel what you describe, but I am slipping away. I feel that, too."
"You must be willing to push off from the riskless shore in order to reach heady new lands."
- NamTar, Aeryn Sun

"Pilot, we don't have a lot of time. In fact, we have no time. We need your assistance."
"Without hesitation."
- John Crichton, Pilot

"You know of my...origins?"
"What I didn't understand then, is all species are seeking perfection. That's what evolution is...the road towards perfection. How many generations of your species have lived and died to lead to you? How many will die after you? All in the name of achieving a state of perfection."
- NamTar, John Crichton

"It's a happy face."
"They're food cubes."
"No, see, the pattern forms a...never mind."
- John Crichton, Aeryn Sun

"I've always thought of myself in terms of survival, life and death, keeping the body alive. But what NamTar did to me... It wa--...it was me. Inside. The real me."
"You would have fit in on Earth, just fine."
- Aeryn Sun, John Crichton

"You understand why I did what I did?"
"Your motivations were perfectly clear."
"Then you understand that if I was faced with the same choice again, I would do exactly the same."
"I have no doubt whatsoever. I also know that Luxans are not given to apologies."
- D'Argo, Pilot

Comments from Cast & Crew

Rockne O'Bannon, June 24, 1999

  • Moderator: <kitsah> to <Moderator>: For Rockne: DNAMS had such an emotional reaction for everyone. Are there darker times ahead (not giving away any secrets of course!)

    Rockne: I'm hoping there will always be an edge to the series...
    Rockne: Series television, and their characters, get homogenized out so quickly...
    Rockne: I'm hoping to keep the fugitives aboard Moya true to their disparate natures as long as we can.

Claudia Black ("ChickwithGun") & Anthony Simcoe ("Ploppy"), July 28, 1999

  • Moderator: I'll repeat that last question: <Sparrowhwk>: which episode did both of you enjoy making or was just your personal favorite?

    ChickwithGun: Favourite Episode: 13 Got to kiss Ben Browder Whoooohoooo!!!!! Oooooooh Baby
    ChickwithGun: Seriously, fav. ep so far was Back and Back to the Future, PK Tech Girl, and DNA

    Ploppy: My favourite episodes are 5, 9, 16 and 21. I had the most time in ten because D'Argo went through and incredible journey
    Ploppy: Most "fun" time in 10 that should have been

  • Ploppy: I thought that the
    Ploppy: Namtar animatronic was an awsome piece of work - Dave Elsy is a genius

  • Moderator: <BudFrogs>: Claudia and Anthony. What is one thing you would like to have included on one of the shows?

    ChickwithGun: another episode where I get to wear Dave Elsey's incredible prosthetics and appear as another character hidden under all the make up

  • Moderator: <agentgonzo-dw-m>: Anthony: fess up, was DNA yours & Virginia's secret revenge on Claudia for getting to look normal?

    Ploppy: Claudia handled her make-up ordeal in ep 9 with professionalism and good humour - top effort!!

    ChickwithGun: bless

Ben Browder, July 29, 1999

  • baby789_99: I was just curious as to what your favorite episode is and why?

    Browder: My favorite episodes come in batches...of the first third of the season Back and Back and Back to the Future. Of the middle third...DNA Mad Scientist. Of the latter third... A Human Reaction and Nerve.

Virginia Hey, August 19, 1999

  • Moderator: <Solanio> to <Moderator>: Given that you'd played Zhaan as being compassionate and spiritual heretofore - was the darker aspects in DNA Mad Scientist hard for you to portray?

    VirginiaHey: Yes, it was very hard for me to portray. At first, it really did break my heart and they were real tears. I can't bear any form of cruelty whatsoever in my own life, and it was very difficult for me to portray cruelty as an actress.
    VirginiaHey: But the dark side of Zhaan that came out in first in episode 8 (That Old Black Magic) was a stroke of genius from Rockne, David and Richard, and it continued through from there into the episode you mentioned and beyond.
    VirginiaHey: Zhaan's dark side, I feel, adds dimension and depth to her. She has struggled away from her dark nature and moved toward the light. That's more admirable than a fundementally pure person extending their range, so to speak.

  • Moderator: <Ricks8> to <Moderator>: What are your favorite episodes?

    VirginiaHey: That Old Black Magic, DNA Mad Scientist, Rhapsody In Blue...
    VirginiaHey: Back and Back and Back to the Future.
    VirginiaHey: They've Got A Secret.
    VirginiaHey: ...it's so hard to chose because I'm in love with every single episode.
    VirginiaHey: Through the Looking Glass is brilliant, watch out for that one coming up.

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

  • Moderator: <WolfOfTheMist> : I loved namtar. He seemed to be very complex in his movent movements. Was he harder to make that the other puppets?

    SeanMasterson: As for movement, he had a person inside on a pair of stitlts. It was diificult for Adrian, but not for me, I just operated the face

Richard Manning & Andrew Prowse, January 6, 2000

  • Moderator: <Gmmas> to <Moderator>: Andrew: can you tell us any good stories about directing DNAMS, about Namtar, dearming Pilot, or the food cubes?

    Andrew: I don't think anybody has walked on stilts like that before on film and it damn nearly killed him.
    Andrew: De-arming Pilot created a huge debate amongst us as well.
    Andrew: Namtar - tried really hard to make him real, likable, as human as we could

  • Moderator: <Gmmas> to <Moderator>: Richard: was it hard as a writer to tap into Zhaan's dark side in TOBM? Impressive and scary, that part of her.

    Ricky: It WAS hard, in a sense, as I'm such a fan of Zhaan's character...
    Ricky: When you're fond of a character, it can take some effort to "darken" that character (that was part of the debate we all had about the Pilot arm-chopping)...
    Ricky: But we (Virginia Hey AND the writers) always thought of Zhaan having many, many levels.
    Ricky: It's rewarding to push ALL our characters further than you thought they might go.
    Ricky: And I hope we can continue to do so without pushing anyone completely over the edge.
    Ricky: I mean, even Rygel has his moments...

  • Moderator: <PhantomComputer> to <Moderator>: To both of our guests...Were any of your favorite scenes in Farscape cut from the final version?

    Andrew: yu should have seen the feature length version of DNA MAd Scientist

Anthony Simcoe, January 27, 2000

  • Question: What is your favorite episode so far?

    Anthony Simcoe: In Series 1 my favorite episodes are 9, 21 and 22.

Dominar Rygel XVI, February 17, 2000

  • 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

  • Moderator: <Gmmas> to <Moderator>: Rygel: you told Zhann during the DNAMS adventure that you were not a body-breeder; recently you bragged to Chiana about all your progeny. Can you explain the remarks to Zhaan please?

    Rygel: i dont bear the litter
    Rygel: i like the females

  • Moderator: <truthseekr> to <Moderator>: Your eminence, just how sensitive are your earbrows?

    Rygel: i have heard the work
    Rygel: i mean word
    Rygel: org ism
    Rygel: and believe it equates

Virginia Hey, April 27, 2000

  • Moderator: <Grackene> to <Moderator> what was it like trying to seduce a pupet (Rygel)?

    Virginia: Frustrating
    Virginia: Funnily it never seems to get you anywhere.. Ha Ha Ha
    Virginia: Because of the genius of the puppetiers, Rygel looks so real during a scene that it is hard not to relate to him as a living being. They make it really easy for me. Bless them. XXXX

Pilot, with Sean Masterson (Puppeteer) & Lani Tupu (Voice of Pilot), July 13, 2000

  • Moderator: <LittleLeviathan> to <Moderator>: This question goes to Pilot, we love you!! How did you ever find it within yourself to forgive the crew of Moya for cutting off your arm?

    * Pilot sighs *
    Pilot: It wasn't particularly easy...
    Pilot: I knew, however, how badly they wanted to get home...
    Pilot: I also felt responsible for getting us so lost in the Uncharted Territories to begin with.
    Pilot: If I'd been paying more attention, perhaps Moya's Starburst would not have taken us so far afield.

  • Moderator: <Angie> to <Moderator>: A question for Pilot...how tall are you and how many arms do you have? Did the arm that got cut off ever grow back?

    Pilot: Angie, Crichton estimates my "height" is around seven or eight "foots", but that's merely the part of me that is visible to him.
    Pilot: I have four arms, and the one that has grown back now feels exactly the same as the others.

Ben Browder, Mat McCoy (w/Fiona Gentle and Tim Mieville), Lily Taylor, & Richard Manning, July 12, 2001

  • Moderator: <Fyndra> to <Moderator>: Waaay back in DNA Mad Scientist, how did they make Pilot's arm detachable? Do they all come off for easy storage or something?

    Puppeteering Team: trade secret.

Dave Elsey, July 19, 2001

  • Moderator: <Thinkum> to <Moderator>: Dave, what's the weirdest thing you've ever been asked to do, for Farscape?

    DaveE: The weirdest thing I've ever been asked to do for Farscape, that's a good one...
    DaveE: Pretty much everything David Kemper ever asks me to do is weird!!
    DaveE: And often, I'm able to top his ideas with my own weirdness!
    DaveE: When we were designing Namtar, they were concerned, as it was the early days of Farscape, that we were going too far.
    DaveE: At one point somebody said 'Look, it can just be a man in a lab-coat, and we'll be happy'
    DaveE: In other words, it was suggested that I not try so hard to impress.
    DaveE: That was pretty weird and I think that that idea has now gone away!
    DaveE: Hee-hee!