Recap / Farscape S 02 E 18 A Clockwork Nebari

John and Chiana return to the ship to find Aeryn and Rygel behaving strangely. It is revealed that a couple of Nebari in a damaged vessel have come aboard Moya. The ship is quickly taken and the crew is temporarily mind-cleansed in turn. The last is Crichton, since the temporary version won't work on Chiana or Pilot, and that's when things get interesting. Brain!Scorpius manages to overcome the brainwash drug, freeing Crichton, who manages to enlist Chiana, pilot, and Rygel (whose fast metabolism drains drugs quickly) to free Moya. Chiana's brother Nerri is discovered to be alive and leading a resistance movement against the Nebari Establishment.

Tropes present in this episode include:

  • Bittersweet Ending: Varla is dead, but Meelak honors Nerri's request and refuses to take Chiana with him to the resistance. Crichton says the most she can get out of this is the knowledge her brother is alive.
  • Brainwashed: Most of the crew receive implants that dose them with mind-cleansing drugs. As it turns out, Harvey somehow interferes so that it doesn't work on Crichton, and Rygel manages to burn his dose off because the Nebari failed to account for his rapid metabolism.
  • Call-Back: Part of the plot centers around Chiana's brother Neri, who she thought was dead.
  • The Cameo: Both Crais and Harvey appear briefly, although they were a trick and hallucination, respectively.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Like AIDS/HIV, the Contagion spreads through sexual contact and is latent for many years, helping its spread through the population.
  • Eye Scream: The Nebari mind-cleansing drug is administered via the nerve stems of the eyes. OUCH.
  • Faking the Dead: Nerri did not actually die as Chiana had thought. He faked it so he could be in the resistance.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: After electrocuting Aeryn & D'Argo, Crichton says "Bitchin'", and just before the screen goes to black, Rygel repeats him!
  • La Résistance: Lead by Chiana's brother, who is not dead after all.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: This gem from Rygel:
    Rygel: I'm nobody's puppet!
  • Life Isn't Fair: On not being able to see Nerri right now.
    Chiana: I wanna go to him.
    Crichton: I know, but since when do people like us get what we want?
  • Long Game: It's revealed that the Nebari Establishment has been running one of these for the last twenty years. Basically, they've been infecting deviants and rebels like Chiana with a highly communicable disease, then allowing said rebels to escape Nebari Prime, allowing the infectees to spread the Contagion to any species they encounter. To ensure that the Contagion spreads as far as possible and maintains a low profile in the process, it's been programmed to remain dormant and invisible until the Establishment are ready - for decades if necessary. Once the designated day arrives, the Contagion activates, crippling entire civilizations and ensuring minimal resistance to Nebari invasion.
  • The Mole: Meelak, the Nebari Dragon.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The mind-cleansed Aeryn kept smiling, which Crichton admits should've tipped them off something was wrong.
  • Pet the Dog: Crichton gives Chiana a much needed hug at the end of the episode.
  • Restraining Bolt: In the form of Shock Collars. The whole crew gets them as a precaution, despite all of them being Brainwashed save for Chiana and Pilot (who are incompatible with the brainwashing). The Nebari use this to shock them into submission whenever they resist (particularly poor Pilot).
  • The Reveal: The first sign that John and Chiana have that The Dragon is on their side is when he casually hands Crichton a weapon without explanation after discovering Crichton had dodged his brainwashing.
  • Sadistic Choice: Meelak can either continue to let Varla do as she pleases or step in to help the crew. He hangs back as long as he can, but when Varla goes too far, he shoots her.
  • Shock and Awe: How Rygel takes down D'Argo and Aeryn, dropping a pair of live electrical cables in a puddle of amnexus fluid at Crichtons prompting (Crichton had just climbed up out of the fluid, and Rygel, as always, was floating in his chair.)
  • Skewed Priorities: Goes both ways. Meelak passes along Nerri's message, but he refuses to actively help against Varla. Crichton asks why Nerri would go to the trouble of letting Chiana know he's alive but leave her to rot. Meelak shoots back that he has information crucial to the resistance and that many lives are counting on him not being outed as a mole.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • The big reason Varla sought out Chiana is because the thought dead Nerri was positively identified during an attack ten days ago.
    • Varla had a much bigger team, but they were killed in an off-screen fight with the Peacekeepers. This gives Crichton the idea to fake a Peacekeeper attack.
    • Varla would've succeeded if not for Harvey. He undoes Crichton's mind-cleansing, which leads to working out a plan with Pilot and Rygel.
  • The Stoner: Crichton invokes a combination of this and Surfer Dude to fool the Nebari into thinking the cleansing actually worked.