“When you look at me, what do you see?”
“They’ve Got a Secret” is structured as two interlocking mysteries. In one, Moya’s systems are shutting down for unknown reasons; in another, D’Argo wakes up after being spaced believing that the crew of Moya are people from his past.
The neat trick of the episode is that the crew has to solve the mystery of D’Argo’s past in order to solve the mystery of Moya’s deterioration. D’Argo was spaced when he destroyed a retaining shield somewhere inside Moya, and that destroyed shield is the source of Moya’s troubles. But only D’Argo knows where the shield is—and he currently doesn’t know where he is. To gheal D’Argo and find the shield, John and Zhaan have to figure out enough about his past to break through to him.
The reveal of what’s wrong with Moya happens more-or-less all at once, but information about D’Argo’s past is parceled out in bits. In D’Argo’s confused state, Zhaan becomes his dead wife, Lo’Laan; John becomes Lo’Laan’s treacherous brother, Macton, who disapproved of their marriage; and Rygel becomes Jothee, their son. With each new person, a new layer of D’Argo’s past is revealed: first, that he was married, then that he has a son, then that the marriage was disapproved of, for some reason, and finally, as John and Zhaan confront him, that Lo’Laan was Sebacean, and that Macton, a Peacekeeper, murdered her and arrested D’Argo for the crime.
We’ve had hints about D’Argo’s past before—in “Back and Back and Back to the Future,” John learns he lied about the crime he was arrested for—but this is by far the most information we’ve ever gotten about him. It is, in fact, the most information we’ve gotten about any character other than John. And it immediately gives D’Argo a sense of texture and motivation. With both a stronger sense of history and a stronger motivating drive locked in, this becomes the episode where D’Argo really blooms as a character. Why is he so desperate to find his way home that he would cut off Pilot’s arm? Because somewhere out in the galaxy, his son is waiting for him.
In particular, the fact that D’Argo has been in love with a Sebacean woman—married to one—opens up new angles on his character. D’Argo has always been the character most actively antagonistic towards the Peacekeepers, which makes sense with both his history of imprisonment and his generally aggressive attitude. But he’s also curiously open, able to connect with Aeryn after very little time together, often more hostile towards John than he is towards the actual Peacekeeper on the ship. Knowing that he has a deep personal history with a Sebacean woman—and that he was betrayed by a Sebacean man—paints both of those relationships in a new light.
And in fact, it is not Zhaan or even John, with whom D’Argo has shared major scenes in the episode, who talks to him in the closing scene. Instead it’s Aeryn. A Peacekeeper like Macton, a Sebacean woman like Lo’Laan, threading the needle between those two aspects to tell D’Argo that although she has an ingrained cultural aversion to his mixed-race son, she will never tell anyone about him.
As for Moya’s secret, it’s that she’s pregnant. Although Moya’s pregnancy is a good reveal and a great plot development, the story to get there is a little lackluster. It’s mostly John and Zhaan debating different possible causes for Moya’s malfunctions, and Aeryn at the helm in place of an unconscious Pilot. (Granted, Aeryn displaying vestigial Pilot abilities is really cool.) Ultimately, the plot resolves via communication, with John explaining to Moya (via DRD) that they don’t want to hurt her baby, but that they need things like air to live.
It’s always nice to see resolution via communication, but this is a case where it feels a little undercooked. You mean they could’ve just picked up a DRD at any point and asked Moya nicely to stop? Why didn’t they try that before?
On the other hand, Moya’s pregnancy, the actions she takes to protect her baby, and the one-on-one communication between her and John serves to make Moya feel more real, more like a person, than she ever has before. It’s always been a fact that Moya is a living ship, but the show largely hasn’t taken advantage of that. In this episode, Moya has clear thoughts, feelings, and motivations. She has a relationship with the rest of the cast.
And perhaps the crew are fully realizing that for the first time as well. Maybe that’s why they didn’t try talking to Moya until the end—because it wasn’t until the end that it really occurred to them that Moya was a person who could be talked to.
Ultimately, this is an episode about taking D’Argo and Moya and turning them into real, full people. Maybe not the most exciting television—but vital as we move forward in the series.
- I glossed over it a little in the review, but the final scene between Aeryn and D’Argo is really magnificent. I feel like I say that a lot. Farscape is good at endings!
- John and Aeryn spend a lot of time in this episode just sort of chatting about their different cultural norms and backgrounds. There’s not a ton of thematic or narrative purpose to it that I can see, but they’re all really interesting conversations, and very emblematic of what Farscape is about.
- Love that John is smart and acclimated enough now to help solve mysteries about Moya’s internal functioning, but still new enough to the world that he tries to perform CPR on D’Argo, to Zhaan and Aeryn’s horror.
- Black space suits make no damn sense. This is my single biggest issue with Farscape. Black space suits make no damn sense.
- The incredible nerve of John to tell Moya, “We would never hurt you or your baby,” ten seconds after stopping Aeryn from lobotomizing her.
- Alien biology alert: Zhaan’s body “carries no bacteria.” Freaky.
- “Hasn’t he suffered enough?”
- “You love what you enslave?”
- “Happy place, Aeryn. Go to your happy place.”
- “The more I know you, the more I love you… the less I understand.”
- “D’Argo, no matter what happens to us, I will never tell anyone about your son.”
None, I think!
Zhaan having no bacteria is a hint about her being a plant, I’m pretty sure, but plants can definitely carry bacteria.
Please remember to tag spoilers for future episodes in comments.
Next Monday, the crew sees the light, in 1×11, “Til the Blood Runs Clear.”