Recap: Farscape S 01 E 08 That Old Black Magic
Season 1, Episode 8
That Old Black Magic
On a routine shopping trip to an alien marketplace
, Crichton manages to get himself separated from the others and happens to bump into a Igg, a street-corner jester who claims to represent a man named Haloth who can solve all of Crichton's problems. Crichton is skeptical about this, but then Igg identifies him by name, and reveals that he knows where he came from, that he's a fugitive; just to prove that he hasn't been eavesdropping on any conversations between his shipmates, Igg goes on to mention a few more details about Crichton's life- including that he lost his virginity to Karen Shaw in the back of a 4-by. His curiosity thoroughly piqued, Crichton decides to humour the jester for a while and follow him towards the end of the alleyway- whereupon he vanishes and reappears in the palatial home of Haloth, a benevolent old wizard.
As Zhaan flirts with a red-skinned apothecary and Aeryn and D'Argo try to find Crichton, Haloth informs Crichton that while he cannot return him to earth or point him in the right direction, he can
give him a chance to resolve the feud between him and Captain Crais. Crichton agrees to this suggestion, and Haloth vanishes to "summon the powers needed for this task," leaving his guest with even more questions than before.
Meanwhile, many light-years away, Crais is growing increasingly unstable as his search for Crichton goes on, and his command is beginning to suffer as a result: the scouting teams are tired, the officers are beginning to question his sanity, and a message from Peacekeeper First Command has arrived, demanding that he return to home territory and explain himself. Crais makes sure that only he and Lieutenant Teeg are present to watch this message, however, and once she leaves his quarters, he destroys it. Then Haloth appears, knocks him out with a wave of his hand and teleports him back to his home; after a futile attempt to kill the old magician, Crais is informed that Crichton is in the building and that he can have him... for a price.
Seconds later, Haloth returns to Crichton with Crais in tow, before promptly transforming into a yellow-eyed being named Maldis and revealing that this whole thing was a setup to a duel between the two of them
Back in the marketplace, Crichton's body has been found; though alive, he's comatose. The apothecary, Liko, informs Moya's crew that they have been singled out as victims by the self-styled ruler of the planet, Maldis, a sorcerer who has learned how to transcend corporeal existence and feed upon the life force of others. Having conquered the planet some time ago and reduced its people to slaves and playthings, he's found Crichton to be an interesting diversion, and has torn his spirit from his body to wander his palace. With Maldis being beyond Aeryn and D'Argo's weaponry, Zhaan decides to use her spiritual powers against him, but to do that, she'll have to unleash the negative impulses she's worked so hard to keep in check; even with Liko acting as a tutor and a source of additional power, she's extremely reluctant to do so. No surprise given that his training mostly involves trying to break her inhibitions about causing pain by magically torturing cute little animals, (and eventually Rygel, which she understandably finds more enjoyable).
Meanwhile, the duel between Crichton and Crais continues from one end of Maldis' lair to the next; Crichton is always on the defensive and always trying vainly to convince Crais that the death of his brother Tauvo was an accident, while Crais is always on the attack and refusing to listen. At one point, however, when a flaming bottomless pit temporarily ends the duel, Crichton tries again and actually appears to be getting through to Crais; however, Maldis appears and shows Crais a series of illusions designed to get him angry all over again- the first, a memory of his father ordering him to keep Tauvo safe; the second, Tauvo in full uniform, looking pretty happy to see Crais; finally, Tauvo's flaming corpse.
After managing to escape from the enraged Crais, Crichton finally realises that Maldis is actually feeding on their rage and fear; Maldis confirms this, and also informs him of the fact that the life of one of the two combatants will form the main course. To that end, he offers him a deal; if one of them were to die, the other would be returned to his ship, safe and sound.
So, Crichton and Crais fight one last time, with neither one holding back; just when Crichton is about to win, though, Crais vanishes. Maldis gleefully informs him that the whole contest has been to get Crais riled up enough to bring his Command Carrier within Maldis' reach, so he can take it over and unleash carnage on a galactic scale. Crichton, meanwhile, will have his soul eaten- after all, one of the participants has been returned to his ship.
Just as Maldis is about to tuck in, Zhaan succeeds in projecting herself into the lair and rendering Maldis tangible enough for Crichton to kill with a single punch. Unfortunately, it's taken all of Liko's power to do this, and shortly after Zhaan's spirit returns to her body, she finds Liko dying.
In the epilogue, Crais finds that his ever-faithful Lieutenant Teeg has made sure that nobody tried to seize control while he was unconscious; knowing that she is the only one aboard who knows of the message from high command, Crais strokes her cheek fondly... and snaps her neck
. He then orders the carrier to continue deeper in the uncharted territories. Meanwhile, aboard Moya, Crichton is dispirited that all his attempts at negotiation have failed, and Zhaan is struggling to control the negative impulses she unleashed...
Tropes present in this episode include: