Farscape Encyclopedia Project
Farscape episode
“Back and Back and Back to the Future”
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 5
Guest star(s) John Clayton (Verell), Lisa Hensley (Matala)
Writer(s) Babs Greyhosky
Director Rowan Woods
Production no. 10105
Original airdate March 26, 1999 (US); December 13, 1999 (UK)
Episode chronology
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"Throne For a Loss" "Thank God It's Friday... Again"

Ka D'Argo loses his head over a woman and John Crichton gets déjà vu all over again.


D'Argo, Zhaan and Rygel witness a ship slowly disintegrating. Rygel demands they leave the area immediately and surprisingly D'Argo agrees. Zhaan wonders if anything can be done to help but as a curious John enters Command they receive a transmission from a shuttle escaping the wreckage. Moya's viewscreen shows a female alien, similar to D'Argo in looks and D'Argo abruptly changes his mind, telling Pilot to bring the shuttle aboard. John and D'Argo rescue a male and female alien from the shuttle. But when John rechecks the shuttle for others, he gets a shock from an open hatch, confusing him into hallucinating that he is hearing D'Argo repeatedly saying there is no one else on board.

Zhaan logs the rendezvous co-ordinates. Rygel wants to talk fees but D'Argo won't hear of it. The guests are Ilanics, he says, genetic cousins and blood allies to the Luxans. Pilot announces that Moya will reach the co-ordinates in 12 arns. Matala is pleased. D'Argo apologizes to Matala for Rygel's manners and asks if she and her colleague need anything to eat or drink. She says nothing for her but wants her colleague, Verell to eat something and asks D'Argo to go with her.

Verell is curious about Moya's crew, but as D'Argo wasn't imprisoned for treason then he's not interested in D'Argo's crime. He says he and Matala owe D'Argo their lives and D'Argo's exile from his own people is atonement enough. Verell learns that as D'Argo has been imprisoned for 8 'cycles' then he doesn't know the Ilanic Sector is at war. "The Scorvians" D'Argo correctly guesses. Verell says the Luxans have been more than generous with arms and aid and if D'Argo can get Verell to the rendezvous point then it will help the war effort more than he will know. Meanwhile, in the shuttle, Aeryn Sun scans for broken power conduits when Matala appears and takes exception to Aeryn being there. They have a slight disagreement and both suddenly adopt defensive postures, ready to fight, but D'Argo arrives. He sides with Matala and orders Aeryn to leave.

A little later and Aeryn is voicing her suspicions to Zhaan and John that two people were alone in deep space, doing 'research' when John gets another erotic vision involving Matala, which makes him flinch and groan. Aeryn thinks Matala is effecting D'Argo and John but John tries to shrug it off just as he gets yet another erotic vision. It is over quickly and John apologizes to Zhaan and Aeryn, excusing himself from the room by saying he needs air.

Verell is in a maintenance bay, studying his data as D'Argo arrives. They discuss Matala briefly and Verell infers D'Argo's attraction to Matala, adding that Matala is obviously attracted to D'Argo. Matala enters and compliments D'Argo on a musical instrument he is making. D'Argo seems lost for words. Crichton arrives and asks D'Argo if he can have a word with him. Outside, Crichton asks D'Argo if Ilanic women have special powers for attracting males but when he confesses to the erotic 'flashes', D'Argo takes exception and orders John to remove Matala from his thoughts then leaves.

John is annoyed. D'Argo isn't listening but right then gets another vision, only this time its Aeryn, asking where D'Argo is and is he still acting like Verell and Matala's personal servant? When John doesn't answer she waves a hand in front of his face and with a flash, John is back where he was. Confused. Aeryn appears, asking John where D'Argo is and is he still acting like Verell and Matala's personal servant? John looks blankly at Aeryn who asks if he heard her. "Twice", John says uneasily. Aeryn says he is odd and leaves John thinking he is seeing the future. Matala wanders past sensuously, making John feel even more unnerved. He retreats to his quarters and has another vision. He is looking at a dead Verell in the maintenance bay as D'Argo enters. But as D'Argo investigates, Matala appears, attacking and killing them both. Suddenly John is back in his quarters hearing an unearthly voice laughing at him.

John finds D'Argo outside the maintenance bay and warns him that Matala is dangerous but D'Argo won't listen. He thinks this is a ruse by John to get Matala for himself. John feels frustrated but just then the maintenance bay door swings open and Verell appears. John asks him where Matala is and he says she just left with Aeryn. D'Argo says to Verell that he was bringing him some tea and the two of them enter the bay with D'Argo throwing a disgusted look at Crichton. John wanders off even more confused and uneasy.

Aeryn and Matala are going for some physical combat training when they meet Crichton in a corridor. Matala takes John's hand, asking how he feels, and strokes it suggestively before Aeryn leads her off to the cargo bay. Zhaan enters the central chamber where Rygel is gorging himself and asks if he senses anything unusual with Moya's rhythms. Rygel doesn't. Zhaan is still unsure. Aeryn and Matala spar, trading a few insults, and after Aeryn has knocked Matala down a couple of times. Matala rallies with an unusual strike that leaves Aeryn unconscious. She thanks Aeryn then leaves, only to meet Zhaan who quizzes Matala about why her ship destabilized. Matala is evasive and steers the topic round to Crichton but Zhaan states Crichton is too complex to explain in the short time that Matala will be on board.

Verell suggests to Zhaan that Moya's 'phase imbalance' is probably a sensor synapse out of calibration. Meanwhile, John tells Rygel he needs to stop people seeing each other. Rygel says he is gibbering. John gets another vision. The maintenance bay again. D'Argo enters as before but this time John blocks Matala's deadly strike. She knees him in the groin and John flashes back to the Central Chamber, collapsing across Rygel as Zhaan enters. She asks John what the matter is and the bewildered human says, "this is going to take a lot of explaining" then hurriedly exits. Meanwhile, Verell confides in D'Argo that he and Matala were testing a new weapon and he needs to perfect its containment system. D'Argo is persuaded to help keep it a secret from the others.

In Zhaan's quarters she listens to John's theory about what is happening and suggests that he try to alter the outcome. John thought of staying in his quarters but that wouldn't stop Matala from killing Verell and D'Argo. Frustrated, John drops a glasslike mask he was holding and it breaks. He apologizes to Zhaan but she takes no offence. Crichton supports Zhaan's belief that Verell is being evasive and he wants to know the truth. He goes to confront Verell, but finds Matala instead and grabs a wooden block to keep her away from him. As D'Argo arrives, Matala falls as if attacked by John, lying to D'Argo that Crichton threatened to tell the others about the weapon if she didn't pleasure him. D'Argo fumes, draws his Qualta Blade and skewers John, but Matala is suddenly on her feet again and strikes at Verell as he arrives then D'Argo, killing them both. Crichton is suddenly back in Zhaan's quarters. The glass mask reassembles in his hand and Zhaan is suggesting he try to alter the future. John says he did but made things worse.

Agitated, John accidentally drops the mask again and explains what happened. Zhaan looks perplexed. Aeryn appears, revealing that Matala fights like a Scorvian, so must have been surgically altered to look Ilanic but Crichton already knows about the neural stroke firsthand. Aeryn asks how and John explains about seeing the future and being certain that D'Argo knows what Verell is hiding. Aeryn wants to question D'Argo but John says no, that D'Argo thinks too highly of Verell. Zhaan says to separate them but Pilot interrupts with news that Moya's phase imbalance is worsening. Zhaan comms D'Argo, asking him to meet her in Command. John bets he won't be alone and guesses Verell will stay behind to guard his research.

John heads to the maintenance bay, hiding as he hears D'Argo and Matala talking in a corridor. Matala is trying to seduce D'Argo into joining the Ilanic war. D'Argo says his crime will prevent him from joining, although no one on Moya knows his real crime but Matala says that it doesn't matter. War doesn't recognize multiple loyalties.

John grabs his chance to see Verell, demanding to know what his 'research' is and exposing Matala as a Scorvian spy. He tells Verell that since getting zapped on the shuttle, he has been experiencing 'future flashes'. Verell scans John then says it is temporal dislocation, admitting that Crichton must have been exposed to a quantum singularity. John is horrified to learn there is a particle of a black hole on the Ilanic shuttle and that they plan to use it as a weapon! But Matala overhears their conversation as she enters with D'Argo and, using the moment to confuse Verell, she strikes D'Argo dead and seizes his Qualta Blade. John dives for cover as she fires then Matala turns on Verell and shoots him, grabs his research and heads for the Ilanic shuttle. Aeryn arrives and takes out the shuttle with one shot. The shuttle implodes, taking Moya with it.

But John is suddenly back in Zhaan's quarters, listening to Zhaan suggest he try and alter the future. John deliberately places the mask on the floor and crushes it under foot. Zhaan looks shocked. Aeryn marches in but Crichton knows what she's going to say. He flies through the various incarnations he has experienced as the others stare at him in disbelief. Crichton now knows D'Argo is the key. They have to separate him from Matala and try something new.

Zhaan approaches D'Argo in the maintenance bay, asking him to speak to Rygel, who has drawn up a bill for the Ilanic's rescue. D'Argo growls and accompanies Zhaan to Command but only John and Aeryn are there. He demands to know where Rygel is. Meanwhile, Verell solves a problem with the weapon's containment field and asks Matala how long until their rendezvous. She says sooner than he thinks.

D'Argo doesn't believe Crichton's premonitions and they argue, so Crichton asks the others to leave them alone. He tells D'Argo of the overheard future conversation with Matala, adding that D'Argo will tell Matala that his real crime, not the one he told Moya's crew, will prevent him from joining her. Matala is the real enemy. Poor D'Argo is truly shocked. Just then Zhaan and Aeryn return with Aeryn saying there is a vessel approaching. John instinctively knows it's the Ilanic cruiser and Pilot confirms it. Aeryn thinks it might be a disguised Scorvian ship. John wants to starburst but they can't outrun the ship. Aeryn offers to pilot Moya to avoid a weapons lock and D'Argo adds that Scorvians look nothing like Ilanics so if they refuse to make visual contact then "you have your answer". He storms off to confront Matala with John in hot pursuit just as an audio signal is received from the other vessel, apologising for a communications problem. Aeryn takes control of Moya and swerves out of range.

D'Argo and Crichton confront Matala, demanding to know who she really is. She pulls a knife and threatens Verell's life if D'Argo doesn't drop his weapon. Begrudgingly D'Argo obeys but kicks the Qualta Blade out of Matala's reach. Matala stabs Verell and as John dives for D'Argo's weapon, Matala attacks him, kicks D'Argo in the chest and makes a dash for the shuttle. D'Argo grabs his Qualta Blade and charges after Matala but John holds him back, saying D'Argo has to trust him. Verell rallies enough to collapse the shuttle's containment field by remote control, then dies, and the shuttle begins destabilizing. Crichton calls for immediate Starburst and as Moya escapes, Matala and the disguised Scorvian vessel implode.

Later, as Crichton gets something to eat, D'Argo enters. Crichton starts a conversation but D'Argo thinks John is mocking him. John says he mocks them all. He tries to ask about D'Argo's true crime but D'Argo refuses to discuss it. D'Argo leaves but stops at the door and quietly tells John that females don't usually distract him in a crisis, but that it has been so long. John understands. Man! Does he understand!

Memorable quotes[]

John: I'm just gonna get some air.
Aeryn: We have air in here. What is the matter with him?
Zhaan: He is Crichton.
Matala: I'm curious about Crichton.
Zhaan: Far too complex, I'm afraid, for you to know in the short time that you'll be here. I suggest you shouldn't try.
Zhaan: He says he is experiencing the future.
Aeryn: The future? He can barely function in the present.
John: Hey, how you doin'?
D'Argo: I will recover.
John: [laughs] Yeah, when?
D'Argo: Do you mock me?
John: D'Argo, I mock all of us.
D'Argo: Crichton, I am normally unaffected by females during a crisis... it is just... it has been so long...
John: Now that, I understand. Man, do I understand.

Background information[]

  • The title is derived from the Michael J. Fox film, Back to the Future, and was also intended to emphasize the number of premonitions in the story. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.1)
  • The Peacekeeper logo is taken from the Russian Constructivist painting "Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge" by El Lissitzky. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.1)
  • Ben Browder called this episode "a classic 'Kirk's Brain' episode," and considered it one of his early favourites. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.1)
  • The original scene with Matala and Crichton having sex was written as a titillation scene, but Rowan Woods, the episode's director, said to Ben Browder, "I think it's kind of like a dark sexual fantasy." (Farscape: The Illustrated Companion)
  • The gravity warping effects of the black hole and explosions posed some problems for the visual effects department. "We used a lot of off-the-shelf explosions and elements to try and get that sense of scale." (Farscape: The Illustrated Companion)
  • Brian Henson noted that with this episode, "Farscape started exploring darker themes. Even the love scenes here are a little creepy. We were feeling our way into a a visceral and twisted tone that would become signature territory for the series, making this episode one of the most important of season 1." (Farscape Minisodes)
  • The titles for the first season were never meant to be seen by anyone outside of the production offices, and Rockne S. O'Bannon said that "if [he] had known there were going to be titles, [he] would have done them differently, but [he] wasn't looking long term, and was trying to figure out everything else." ("Farscape Chronicles" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.1)

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arn; black hole; cargo bay; Command; comms; Contala tea; cycle; docking web; DRD; food cube; Hynerian; Ilanic; Ilanic cruiser; Ilanic shuttle; jibber; Leviathan; Luxan; Luxan Chase; maintenance bay; mivonks; Moya; neural stroke; Peacekeeper; phase coupler; power conduit; pulse rifle; Qualta Blade; quantum singularity; Scorvian; sensor synapse; shilquen; Spanish Fly; starburst; temporal dislocation; Uncharted Territories;

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