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1.08 - That Old Black Magic

By Dennis Matheson - aka tanstaafl

[Cast/Credits]  [Overview]  [Quotes]  [Summary]  [References]  [Questions]  [Commentary]

Cast and Credits:

Original US Air Date: June 11, 1999

Regular Cast:
Ben Browder...................John Crichton
Claudia Black.................Aeryn Sun
Virginia Hey..................Zotoh Zhaan
Anthony Simcoe................Ka D'Argo
Jonathan Hardy................Dominar Rygel XVI (Voice)
Lani Tupu.....................Pilot (Voice)

Guest Cast:
Lani Tupu.....................Bialar Crais
Chris Haywood.................Maldis, Igg, Haloth
Grant Bowler..................Liko
Christine Stephen-Daly........Lt. Teeg
Jake Blundell.................Lt. Orn
Wadih Dona....................Tauvo Crais
Vic Rooney....................Admiral Josbek
Errol Henderson...............PK Doctor

Writer........................Richard Manning
Director......................Brendan Maher


While stopped at a commerce planet to get medical supplies, Crichton is psychically captured by the entity Maldis and forced into a fight to the death with Crais. The rest of the crew try to rescue him and Zhaan is forced to awaken a part of herself she would prefer to remain buried.


Wait, you can smell Crichton in all of this? - Aeryn Sun
Yes, his odor is even stronger than yours. - Ka D'Argo
I don't have an odor! - Aeryn Sun

What are you waiting for? - Aeryn Sun
A third choice, though I know there are only two. - Zhaan

Only one of you has to die. - Maldis
Oh, yeah? And what's the other one get? A free trip to Bermuda? - John Crichton


Rygel has come down with the Klendian Flu and the crew has stopped at a bazaar on a commerce planet to look for a remedy. They are having no luck until they are approached by Liko who says he has "jikset root" as well as other items. Zhaan thanks him and enters his shop.

John has wandered off on his own to a large building near the end of the bazaar when he is approached by a jester-like person. The jester tells him that someone named Haloth can solve his problems. John starts to leave when the jester reveals that he knows John's name, that he wants to get home to Earth and that he is being chased by the Peacekeepers. John says he could have learned those things from the others and the jester reveals that he knows even more; that his mother's maiden name was MacDougal, that he skipped third grade and that he lost his virginity to Karen Shaw. Things that no one else could have known.

Zhaan is still looking through Liko's goods. She is impressed by the quality of his goods and he says he is pleased to be complimented by a 12th level Delvian Pa'u. Zhaan accepts the compliment but tells him she is only a 9th level, which Liko tells her is impressive enough.

The jester offers Haloth's help to John one last time and John accepts. There is a swirl of red smoke and John finds himself inside a large, medieval looking hall. He is approached by a bent old man who identifies himself as Haloth. John wants to know how he got there but Haloth tells him the concept cannot be translated. He says he cannot send John to Earth but he does know that John is being hunted by Crais, who blames John for the death of his brother.

John says that what happened was an accident and that he wishes he could just explain that to Crais. Haloth agrees that if Crais knew the truth then he would call off his chase. He says that he can arrange a meeting between John and Crais and then disappears.

On Crais' Command Carrier, Lt. Orn approaches and tells Crais that all of the Marauders have returned from their search. Crais orders them to refuel and start out again. Orn expresses concern because the Marauders have been on continuous patrols and their crews are getting dangerously tired. Crais reminds him that disobeying a direct order would be even more dangerous and the officer backs down.

Lt. Teeg enters the bridge and tells Crais that there is a priority message from High Command. The two of them go to Crais' quarters where they play the message. High Command orders Crais' to break off his pursuit of Moya and leave the Uncharted Territories. He is to return to them and explain why he failed.

Crais points out to Teeg that she was supposed to hear the message so that she would know to take over from him if he refused to follow orders. She agrees but adds that her first loyalty is to her captain and Crais adds that his is to the Council. He asks Teeg if there are any other records of the transmission and she tells him there are not. He says he will contact High Command and negotiate for more time and she leaves. Crais destroys the recording.

Haloth suddenly appears in Crais' quarters. Before he can react, both of them disappear in a cloud of red smoke and reappear in Haloth's home. Crais attempts to attack Haloth but he simply disappears when Crais reaches him. He reappears and tells Crais that he can deliver to Crais "the one you have sworn to kill."

An image of John appears and Crais snarls. "Crichton!"

Aeryn and D'Argo have noticed that John is missing and are looking for him. D'Argo is tracking him by scent and Aeryn is amazed that he can do so with all of the odors in the bazaar.
"His odor is even stronger than yours." D'Argo tells her and heads off.
Aeryn is insulted. "I don't have an odor!" she yells after him and follows.

They reach the large building at the end of the bazaar and find John lying on the sand, unconscious. Aeryn yells for D'Argo to go get Zhaan.

Back in Haloth's home, Haloth appears before John and tells him he has bad news. John thinks he means he didn't find Crais. Haloth suddenly changes appearance, morphing from the wizened old man into a taller more massive figure in black clothing. Before John can recover Crais enters the room. Seeing John, he moves forward with obvious intent.

Aeryn, Zhaan and Liko are in Liko's shop and examining John but they cannot find anything wrong with him. Aeryn speculates that he may have been poisoned. D'Argo suddenly enters dragging a girl and insists that she saw John with someone. She equally insists that she didn't when Liko steps up to her and asks if it was Maldis. Aeryn asks who Maldis is.

Crais is still advancing on John who continues to back away. John is trying to figure out what is happening and asks if Crais is really there.
"I am here, Crichton!" Crais assures him.
"To talk?" John asks, hopefully.
"To kill you." Crais tells him.

Crais grabs a spear from one of the statues in the room and advances on John. John grabs one himself and tries to defend himself from Crais but he gets cut across the back of his hand, forcing him to drop his spear. He scrambles away and runs off.

Maldis yells after him. "I'm playing for bigger stakes now, John. You can still talk to Crais. Just don't expect him to listen!" He laughs as John and Crais disappear deeper into the building.

In the bazzar, Zhaan notices that John now has a cut on his hand which had not been there before. Liko tells her that John is as good as dead, as are the rest of them. He says that John has been taken by Maldis, a being who has "transcended corporeal form" and has the ability to pull a person's spirit from their body. Maldis feeds upon life energy released by pain and death and has subjugated the planet. When he arrived he killed half their population and they have been his prisoners ever since.

D'Argo asks what would happen if they left the planet. Liko says that Maldis will not let them leave and that once John is dead he will come after the rest of them no matter how far away they are.

Aeryn scoffs at the thought of one person subjugating an entire planet and asks why they didn't fight back. Liko says they did, that he was once a high priest himself but that his powers were insufficient to stop Maldis. Aeryn remains unconvinced and she and D'Argo head back to Moya to collect some weapons, saying that Maldis may be able to terrorize primitive people but not a pair of soldiers.

In Maldis' maze, John is hiding and bandaging the wound on his hand. Maldis appears to him and introduces himself to John. John is angry that he brought Crais here to kill him but Maldis appears delighted by the idea. John throws a punch at Maldis but he disappears before the blow lands and John hits the wall instead.

John's body has been taken to Moya and Aeryn and D'Argo ask Rygel to watch him in case any more wounds appear on him. Rygel is unhappy about it and about the fact that no one is trying to help his flu. D'Argo smears an ointment on his face then he and Aeryn leave to get their weaponry.

John is wandering through a maze when he comes across Maldis again. Maldis taunts him and Crais enters. He and John fight but John manages to get the spear away from him. Crais is on the floor and John has the tip of the spear pointed at his throat.
"It was an accident!" he tells Crais through clenched teeth.
John throws the spear away and leaves the room. Maldis calls after him. "Too slow! You missed your chance!"

Liko and Zhaan are in Liko's shop and looking at a two-headed bird. Liko tells her she must learn to inflict pain if she is to defeat Maldis. She starts to but cannot continue. She says she has evolved beyond cruelty but Liko mocks her and says that she has only repressed all her emotions and made herself cold. He continues to press her and she starts to break down. He says that she should not be afraid of Maldis because she can destory him.
Zhaan nods weakly. "That's what terrifies me."

John is still running through the maze and looking for an exit when he comes to a room with a large open pit in the center. Crais enters and John grabs a tall candleholder to defend himself. When he waves it over the pit it suddenly burst into flame and Crais flinches back from it because of his sensitivity to heat.

John tries to get Crais to listen to him. He points out that his Farscape module is extremely primitive compared to a Prowler. He tells Crais that he came from a primitive planet by being sucked accidentally through a wormhole and that he never tried to attack his brother. Crais continues to accuse John of killing his brother and John continues to tell him that he did everything he could to avoid the collision but that it was an accident.

Maldis suddenly appears and tells John that he "almost sounds sincere." John gets angry, telling him that he is sincere. Maldis says he will show why Crais is so angry.

Another man appears in the room and Crais recognizes him as his father. Crais is angry at Maldis for bringing him here but Maldis assures him that it is only an image.

Two young boys enter and Crais' father addresses them as Bialar and Tauvo. He tells them that they have been selected for the Peacekeepers and the recruiter was there to take them away. He does, and the last his father does is tell Crais to look after his brother.

The scene fades and Tauvo appears in his pilot's uniform. Maldis then causes Tauvo to burst into flames and burn to ash. "And Crichton did that to him!" he yells.

Crais yells and jumps over the burning pit. John dodges and runs away while Maldis laughs.

Aeryn and D'Argo have returned to the outside of Maldis' compound. She has her pulse rifle and he his Qualta Blade. They fire at the doorway but it has no effect.

Zhaan arrives and Aeryn tells her they cannot get in. Zhaan says that their weapons cannot hurt Maldis; only she can. Aeryn tells her to go ahead but Zhaan still hesitates. Aeryn asks her what she is waiting for.
"A third choice." says Zhaan. "Though I know there are only two."

She says she does not know if she should let one evil continue or release another evil to fight it. She asks D'Argo his advice and D'Argo says he would choose the lesser of the two evils.

John is back in the maze. He suddenly sees Crais through a small gap and calls to him. He tells Crais that he knows that he is beating himself up because he was supposed to protect his brother but failed. He also tells Crais that he really did try to avoid his brother, that it was an accident, and that he is sorry.

Crais says that it doesn't matter. His brother is dead at the hands of an inferior primitive and he will kill John to avenge him.

John tries to continue to reason with Crais. He points out that Maldis is their real enemy and that Maldis seems to be feeding on their energy when they fight. Crais says that he doesn't care and leaves.

Maldis suddenly appears and confronts John. He says that he is impressed that John figured him out and admits that John is right; he feeds on death. John calls him a vampire and leaves.

Zhaan returns to Liko's shop and apologizes. Liko immediately tries to get her to inflict pain again but is interrupted by a call from Rygel. Liko decides this is a better test. He will lend his energy to Zhaan and they will cause Rygel pain. They do, and Rygel screams in pain for a moment before they cut off.
"Part of me enjoyed that." says Zhaan.
Liko smiles. "We are nearly ready."

There is a brief scene back on Crais' Command Carrier. Crais is unconscious and they cannot awaken him. Lt. Orn is telling Lt. Teeg that she needs to take command but she refuses. She orders that there be no communication off the ship.

Aeryn and D'Argo are still trying to get into the compound. Aeryn decides to try overloading her pulse rifle to see if the explosion will breach the wall. Maldis hears this somehow and her rifle suddenly starts glowing red and flies out of her hand. She and D'Argo look at it in shock.

Still in the maze, John has come to a room will a large, rotating spiral sculpture or machine in the middle of it. Crais enters and picks up a length of chain. John keeps circling the room to keep the device between him and Crais and tries once again to reason with him. He suggests that they work together just long enough to get away from Maldis. Crais agrees and gives his oath as a Peacekeeper but when John drops his guard he attacks. He tangles John with the chain and manages to dislocate his shoulder but John gets the chain away from him and Crais flees. Maldis appears and reminds John that he once dislocated his shoulder on his motorcycle. John does what he did then and manages to pop his shoulder back into place.

On Moya, Rygel is getting tired of watching John. He decides that John is dead, gives him a brief eulogy, and then proceeds to try to pull John's boot off.

John talks to Maldis and says he is finally through talking. Maldis tells him that only one of them will die, the other will be sent back to his ship. John agrees to face Crais a last time.

Zhaan and Liko place their hands on each other's shoulders. Liko says that when they breach Maldis' defenses that Zhaan should show no mercy and she agrees. She enters a trance and her eyes turn blue.

Maldis leads John to a room and Crais enters. This time they simply fight and John manages to get the upper hand. He is choking Crais to death when Crais suddenly vanishes. John is upset and asks what has happened.

Maldis says that Crais had actually been considering dropping the hunt for John but now he will never give up and continue to take his Command Carrier deeper into the Uncharted Territories. Maldis wants to take control of the Command Carrier himself so that he can create death on a massive scale, so he needs Crais to bring it to him.

He also reminds John that he promised that one person would be returned to his ship and the other would die. He has returned Crais to his ship, so John is the one who will die. John gets a knife but Maldis holds up his hand and John collapses as his life energy begins to be drained.

Zhaan and Liko suddenly collapse. Zhaan appears in Maldis' home behind Maldis and places her hands near his head. An energy field appears between them and she yells for John. John grabs Maldis and hits him in the face. Maldis shatters into a cloud of red dust. A moment later, both John and Zhaan collapse onto the floor.

Rygel is still trying to pull off John's boot when John suddenly awakens. Rygel tries to cover himself, saying that he was the only one who believed John was still alive while the others were planning to abandon him, but John is too happy to have survived to listen much.
"It's not Kansas, and you're way too homely to be Auntie Em." he says, laughing. "Come here, Toto!" He grabs and kisses Rygel, much to Rygel's discomfort.

Back on the planet, Zhaan is kneeling over Liko who is lying on the floor. Zhaan tries to help him but Liko says that there is nothing she can do. He is simply grateful that Maldis is gone. He dies.

On Crais' Command Carrier, Crais dismisses the doctor. He says if the doctor leaves the incident out of his log he will not report the doctor for failing to determine what was wrong with him. The doctor leaves.

Lt. Teeg tells Crais that Lt. Orn wanted him replaced but she refused. Crais asks her if anyone else knows of the earlier communication ordering them out of the Uncharted Territories. She says no and Crais suddenly breaks her neck. As she falls, Crais orders the ship deeper into the Uncharted Territories.

On Moya, John is talking into is tape recorder. He is saying that he thought he could work things out with Crais simply by explaining things to him but that didn't work. He now knows that Crais will follow him until one or the other of them are dead.

Zhaan enters and John thanks her for destroying Maldis. She says that Maldis could not be destroyed, only dispersed, and that he will be back someday.

She still looks upset and John asks what is bothering her. She reminds him that before she became a priest she was a violent savage. She thought she had erased that part of herself but now it has returned and she is not sure she can erase it again. John offers to help and reaches out a hand to her but she glares at him, causing him pain. He snatches back his wounded hand and stares at her in a mixture of shock and fear.

"No one can help me." she tells him. "I... I'm sorry." She runs from the room, leaving a shocked John behind.


Of course, Crichton arrives, Crais' brother is killed and Crais begins his chase of our fugitives in the Premiere episode.

Zhaan's eyes turn blue when she is helping Moya in I, ET.

Sebaceans sensitivity to heat is covered in Exodus from Genesis.

Unanswered Questions:

How long before Maldis is back again?

Now that she has given in to them, will Zhaan be able to control her darker impulses?

Crais is now openly defying orders from Peacekeeper High Command. How will this affect him in the future?

Why did Crais kill Lt. Teeg? She was completely loyal and supportive of him in this episode and would probably have supported his continued chase of Crichton, certainly more so than Lt. Orn who will probably replace her. It doesn't make sense. Has Crais completely lost it?

Was Liko a Delvian or related to the Delvians? Liko resembled Zhaan in many ways. His coloration was different but his ears especially resembled hers. His abilities as a priest also seemed similar to hers, or at least were complementary.

The jester and Haloth were both Maldis. Was Liko also Maldis? His taunting of Zhaan and his wanting her to learn to inflict pain certainly sounds like something Maldis would do. He would know that he would return after being dispersed and awakening Zhaan's violent nature would cause more death and suffering in the Uncharted Territories; his stated reason for luring Crais' Command Carrier further in. Liko also died when Maldis was dispersed though he may have simply given all his energy to Zhaan.


The best way to approach this episode is by discussing what it is not. And what it is not is Star Trek.

Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Trek. But in many ways Farscape is the "anti-Trek" and this episode clearly shows that.

Consider... Non-corporeal beings who feed off of life energy and emotion are almost a standard on Trek. Everyone since Kirk has run across them at least once and if Archer hasn't met one yet he will by the end of the season. But think of how this episode would have played out on Star Trek.

Kirk would have talked to Crais but he would have won him over. Crais would have realized that his vendetta was wrong. By this point Spock would have mind-melded with the unconscious Kirk and entered Maldis' realm. He would have realized that Maldis was feeding on their negative energies and he, Kirk and Crais would have forced good spirits, causing Maldis flee. After a final scene in which he apologized for his actions Crais would have left in peace.

Of course, this being Farscape we get the exact opposite. Even when faced with the truth Crais refuses to change his course, becoming even more determined to kill the man who he blames for the death of his brother. Zhaan, till now the mother and protector of our crew, has to release her darker emotions and may not be able to get them back under control again. Maldis is gone, but only temporarily, and the one person who helped Zhaan and John defeat him is dead.

Starting from the same point both shows would have gone in completely opposite directions. Trek tries for the good, high route while Farscape heads for the darkness every time.

Our crew is starting to come together and this episode shows this in several ways. When John is taken by Maldis everyone tries to help him instead of simply abandoning him. True, part of their motivation was that Maldis would have come after them next but the possibility of abandoning John was never discussed. Aeryn and D'Argo work together to try to get into Maldis' compound and Zhaan opens herself up to her darker nature in order to defeat him. Again, part of this was because they wanted to stop Maldis from taking them next but a large chunk of it was to help John. Compare this to what happened when Rygel was kidnapped in Throne for a Loss or even how he is treated in this episode.

Crais, on the other hand, is now completely over the edge. We now know a bit more of his story and now can understand somewhat why he is so determined to get John. He failed his brother, failed his promise to his father, and nothing can erase that except getting John. And, his (probably pointless) killing of Lt. Teeg shows that he is now so obsessed with getting John that he will let nothing get in his way. The Peacekeeper High Command is already trying to get him back and even those on his own ship are starting to question him, as evidenced by Lt. Orn. His obsession is slowly destroying him. We have seen how Aeryn has reacted to losing her life with the Peacekeepers. If Crais loses his command and his career in his hunt for John, it may only make him a more ruthless opponent. There is nothing more dangerous than someone who has nothing left to lose.

There were some nice things here. The character development for both Zhaan and Crais is especially good at filling them in a bit more. Crais is now more understandable and Zhaan has more depth to her character. Aeryn and D'Argo are apparently now treating each other as equals and seem to respect each other as one soldier to another but we also see how they come to the aid of John when he needs them. Of course, Rygel is still Rygel but overall this is an above average episode.

Dennis Matheson -
Farscape and all related characters and elements are © & ™ The Jim Henson Co. Ltd. All rights reserved.

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