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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:

  • Annoying Patient: Rygel. Apparently, the reason Zhaan ended up in the apothecary's shop in the first place was because Rygel had come down with his species' equivalent of the 'flu and demanded that somebody find him a remedy.
  • Bittersweet Ending
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Type 2 utilised when Crichton actually tries to punch Maldis in the head, only to almost break his fist on the wall behind him. Also, in a much later episode, it's revealed that Zhaan and Crichton's apparent takedown of Maldis was a Type 1. In spite of being dispersed, Maldis was eventually able to put himself back together again.
  • The Dark Side: Zhaan unleashes her edition of this throughout the episode; the warm-up exercise alone involves inflicting psychic pain on a Trelkez, then on Rygel.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Once he's made tangible, Maldis is put down with a literal punch to the face.
  • Dramatic Dislocation: During one of their later brawls, Crais manages to dislocate Crichton's shoulder with a chain; with nobody willing to help him in range, Crichton "pops" it back into place by slamming himself against a wall. Maldis also notes that Crichton did the same thing many years ago, following a motorcycle crash.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Liko (along with several of the background characters) is, by all appearances, a red-skinned Delvian with dark red hair (note the similar earlobe design, for instance). All other Delvians that appear later in the show are blue and usually bald or have white hair.
  • Emotion Eater: Maldis
  • Evil Is Hammy: Applies very much to Maldis.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Maldis
  • Gratuitous Iambic Pentameter: Haloth speaks in Iambic Pentameter.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Liko gives up all of his energy to help Zhaan destroy Maldis.
  • Hope Spot: As mentioned, there's a point where Crichton looks as though he might be able to convince Crais of his innocence, only for Maldis to show up and get Crais angry all over again.
    • Aeryn and D'Argo attempt to break into Maldis' palace, only to find that their weapons can't penetrate the magical forcefield around the front gate. They're on the verge of giving up when Aeryn hits upon the idea of overloading the pulse chamber on her rifle, which might be able to break down the entire wall; there's a moment of hope as she prepares to overload the gun- only for Maldis to telekinetically rip the gun out of her hands and trap her and D'Argo in a force field.
    • There's yet another moment when Crais apparently decides to join forces with Crichton against Maldis; of course, it was just a ruse to get close enough to attack.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Liko, who used to be the High Priest of his people before Maldis defeated him and reduced him to an impoverished shopkeeper in the lowest regions of the conquered planet.
  • If You Die I Call Your Stuff: When Crichton is brought up to Moya for safekeeping, Rygel eventually takes the opportunity to perform the Hynerian Ceremony of Passage and claim all his possessions. He's barely gotten the other boot off before Crichton wakes up.
  • Incoming Ham: Maldis starts hamming it up fairly early after assuming his true form.
    Crichton: Why are you doing this? We had a deal!
    Maldis: (In Haloth's voice) My services have found a better price! (In his own voice) I'm playing for bigger stakes now, John. You can still 'talk to Crais... JUST DON'T EXPECT HIM TO LISTEN! (Evil Laugh)
  • Intangible Man: Maldis.
  • Kick the Dog: Liko making Zhaan torture the Trelkez.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Liko making Zhaan torture Rygel.
  • Master of Disguise / Voluntary Shapeshifting: Again, Maldis, who takes on three different personas within the story.
  • Multiple Head Case: The Trelkez, which are bred to have at least two heads- if not more- as the brains are considered the tastiest part.
  • Neck Snap: By Crais on Teeg.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The episode was designed to subvert it. Crichton actually gets to clear up that the death of Crais' brother was a freak accident, but by the end of the episode Crais has another reason to hunt him.
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: Maldis gloats that thanks to his actions, Crais will never return to Peacekeeper home territory and only carry on deeper into the Uncharted Territories. As the next two seasons show, Crais did exactly this, ultimately dying in the Uncharted Territories.
  • Red-Skinned Space Guy: Liko
  • The Scully: Aeryn.
  • Teach Him Anger: Liko has to do this to Zhaan in order to properly prepare her for the showdown with Maldis.
  • Violence Really Is the Answer
  • Voice Changeling: Maldis, who uses the voices of both Igg and Haloth while in his "true" form.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Liko
  • Whole Plot Reference: notable similarities to the Blake's 7 episode "Duel".

Farscape S 01 E 07 PK Tech GirlRecap/FarscapeFarscape S 01 E 09 DNA Mad Scientist

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