Farscape Encyclopedia Project
Farscape Encyclopedia Project
Farscape episode
“That Old Black Magic”
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 8
Guest star(s) Chris Haywood (Maldis, Igg, Haloth); Lani Tupu (Captain Bialar Crais), Grant Bowler (Liko), Christine Stephen-Daly (Lt. Fenra Teeg), Jake Blundell (Lt. Orn), Wadih Dona (Tauvo Crais), Vic Rooney (Admiral Tav Josbek), Gerry Day (Elann Crais)
Writer(s) Richard Manning
Director Brendan Maher
Production no. 10108
Original airdate June 11, 1999 (US); January 31, 2000 (UK)
Episode chronology
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"PK Tech Girl" "DNA Mad Scientist"

A malevolent entity pits Crichton and Crais against one another in a battle to the death.


The crew are visiting a commerce planet looking for supplies, including a cure for Rygel's flu. A merchant named Liko tells Zhaan he has what he needs, so she goes to speak to him. A jester looking man approaches Crichton saying he knows a lot of things about John Crichton – including that he's looking for a way back to Earth and he's being hunted by Peacekeepers. He says if he wants to meet Haloth, he should follow him. Crichton is intrigued, and is transported to a room by Haloth, who says he simply wished him here.

Liko tells Zhaan that he's honoured by the presence of a Delvian Pa'u. Crichton asks Haloth what else he can do, but he says he can't send him home or even point him in the right direction, but he talks of Crais – the man who wants revenge. Haloth says he can let Crichton talk to Crais, and if he tells Crais face-to-face that his brother's death was an accident then Crais will be discerned.

Crais receives a communiqué from Peacekeeper High Command, containing orders for him to cease pursuit of the escaped Leviathan, leave the Uncharted Territories and return to Peacekeeper First Command for new orders. Lieutenant Teeg confirms that she was ordered to observe the message in case Crais attempts to disobey, upon which she should remove him from command but states that until that time her loyalty is to her captain. Crais states he may be able to bide time from High Command, however it is clear when she leaves he is too growing tired of the chase. Haloth appears and brings Crais to his chamber, where he shows him Crichton, and says Crais can have him at a price.

Ka D'Argo and Aeryn Sun find Crichton unconscious, and she tells him to get Zhaan. Haloth tells Crichton that he has bad news, transforms into Maldis, and brings Crais to him. D'Argo has found a girl who saw Crichton with someone, and Liko knows that it was Maldis. Crais tells Crichton he's here to kill him, and gets a skewer to fight him with. Crais manages to graze his hand, and in reality Zhaan finds Crichton with a new graze on his hand. Liko says Maldis is an evil sorcerer that feeds off pain and death; he taps in to others' life energy. He invaded this planet and killed half its population, subjugating the rest. He says Maldis is invincible, and before Maldis came he was a High Priest, but his powers weren't strong enough to defeat him. Even from afar he can rip your soul out. Zhaan asks him to guide her to use abilities to hurt Maldis. He says to do so she must have the intent to hurt him, maybe even kill him. She says it is possible.

Maldis tells Crichton that Crais offered him bigger stakes than Crichton could, now Crais is here so he must deal with him. Crais attacks him, but he says he didn't murder his brother. He turns the attack round on him, and has Crais where he could kill him, but insists it was an accident.

Zhaan forces herself to hurt a beast, but she can't finish it off. She says she's evolved past the hatred to hurt others. Liko says she merely suppressed the feelings, and she's just scared of them. She says the thought that she can destroy Maldis terrifies her.

Crichton explains to Crais what really happened, and he says Crais knows his pod is inferior to a prowler. Crais says he charged it, but he says that's not the truth. Maldis appears and shows Crais his father, who calls Bialar and Tauvo to him, because the "recruiter" is here to pick them up. He tells Bialar to stay close to Tauvo and protect him. Bialar promises to, before the Peacekeepers take him away. Crichton realises that Crais and his brother didn't choose to be Peacekeepers, but were forcibly conscripted as children and taken from their home and family. Crais insists that being chosen for Peacekeeper duty was a great honor but is clearly hurt by the memory. Another vision shows Tauvo saying that it's an honour for him to serve with his brother. Crichton wants Maldis to stop this, but he shows Tauvo dead and blames Crichton for it. This fuels Crais' desire to kill him, and the chase is back on.

Zhaan tells Aeryn and D'Argo that she can stop Maldis, but she desires another option even though she knows there isn't one. She is distraught that she will have to use her evil to destroy another evil, but she knows she has no other choice, so she leaves to start. Crichton meanwhile tells Crais that Maldis is feeding off them, that he thrives of Crais desire for his death. Crichton asks him to listen, and says he understands that Crais is torturing himself because he should have protected Tauvo, but it was an accident. Crais says it doesn't matter, that Tauvo must be avenged, and swears Crichton will die in his hands. Maldis admits he feeds off the life force of others, and death is like the main course.

Zhaan apologises to Liko, and when Rygel complains over the comm. about his remedy, they join and cause Rygel pain together. Zhaan says that part of her enjoyed it. Crichton is still trying to reason with Crais, saying he won't be satisfied if Maldis kills him, and suggests a truce, and that they work together. Crais pretends to agree, but then attack him again. Rygel performs the Hynerian Ceremony of Passage on Crichton's body, and declares him dead, claiming his possessions.

Maldis is getting low on energy, and tries to get Crichton to kill Crais, saying if he does he'll let Crichton go. He says he agrees, he's done talking to Crais and will kill him. Maldis leads Crais to Crichton, and they begin to fight. Zhaan and Liko start their ritual, but as Crichton holds Crais ready for the kill, Maldis sends him back to his command carrier. He says he finally got Crichton to do what he wanted; the carrier will bring carnage on a massive scale. He wanted Crais to continue his pursuit until the Carrier is within reach, because he was considering turning back but now he won't. Maldis goes to kill Crichton, but Zhaan appears to stop the magic, saying she made him tangible, and Crichton punches him to dust.

Crichton wakes up on Moya, with Rygel, who says he saved his life. Crichton kisses him out of happiness to be back. Liko is dying from helping Zhaan, but before he passes he thanks her for helping the greater good.

Crais tells his doctor that he wants no more scans, and to omit this incident from his logs. He asks Teeg if they had any other communication with High Command, and when she confirms that no-one else knows he has been recalled he kills her, breaking her neck with ease, and orders them to go deeper in to the Uncharted Territories.

Zhaan tells the crew that she merely dispersed Maldis, and he will be back together someday. Aeryn apologises for mocking her courage and she says Zhaan's more of a warrior than she ever thought. This disturbs Zhaan, and she hastily leaves. Aeryn asks D'Argo what's wrong with her, and he says she called her a warrior – she could not have cut her more deeply.

Crichton makes a recording for DK, saying he though he could convince Crais of the truth if they spoke face-to-face, but now he doesn't think Crais will stop until one of them dies. Zhaan tells Crichton that before she became a priest she was a savage, and he's never seen that part of her before, she thought she'd never have to resurrect it again. He says that she did so once to defeat Maldis, but she can once again suppress it. She says she doesn't think she can, and in a disturbing tone tells him none of them can help her...

Memorable quotes[]

Aeryn: Where's Crichton? He keeps wandering off.
D'Argo: He's over this way - I can smell him.
Aeryn:Wait, you can smell Crichton in all of this?
D'Argo:Yes, his odor is even stronger than yours.
Aeryn:I don't have an odor!
Liko: You cultivated your power to help others. Can you use it as a weapon?
Zhaan: I can try, if you guide me.
Liko: Can you be guided? It's not just a matter of skill, it's intent. You must want to do harm, cause pain, even kill. You are a ninth level Pa'u. You simply aren't capable of that.
Zhaan: I once was.
Zhaan: I am a Delvian Pa'u. Nothing can frighten me if I do not wish it.
Liko: You can't wish your fear away. Face it, admit what it is you're scared of. Are you afraid of Maldis? You can destroy him!
Zhaan: That's what terrifies me.
Rygel: I don't know your customs for these situations, not that I care. So, I'll give you the Hynerian Ceremony of Passage and be done with it. John Crichton, valued friend...now wait a minute, valued friend is a bit of a stretch. John Crichton, unwelcome shipmate, may you have safe transport to the hallowed realm. Actually, not our hallowed realm. No, that's for Hynerians. Go find your own hallowed realm. With the Ceremony of Passage complete, I declare you officially dead, and claim all your possessions for myself.
Aeryn: Zhaan, I feel I must apologize to you for mocking your courage. I see now that you're more of a warrior than I ever thought. (Beat) What is the matter with her?
D'Argo: You called her a warrior. You could not have cut her more deeply.

Background information[]

  • Haloth spoke in iambic pentameter, a style of verse which appears in many of William Shakespeare's plays. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.2)
  • Rockne S. O'Bannon said that this episode was a deliberate attempt to do something different. He explained, "In the early days of any show you're hunting and surfing around to get the tone of the show and find out what you want it to be. You need to see how far you're willing to go in certain directions." ("Farscape Chronicles" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.2)
  • The producers were concerned about the credibility of their main characters, which is what led to Crais not appearing after "Premiere" until this episode. "We didn't want him to be like the character of Lt. Gerard in The Fugitive TV series or the Javert character from Les Miserables who's on the trail of our hero. If he keeps missing our people every week, it diminishes him as a threat, but if he catches them, or our people escape, or for some reason he decides to let our people go, then it doesn't make him much of a villain." ("Farscape Chronicles" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.2)
  • Lani Tupu and Anthony Simcoe both felt the episode was important for their characters. For Tupu, the episode allowed him to show that Crais was able to deal with his childhood conscription by defying authority. Simcoe felt he was able to show the spirituality of Luxans and how they are scared by the supernatural and magic. (Farscape: The Illustrated Companion)
  • The visual-effects department was responsible for the magic effects in the episode. Paul Butterworth remembers that "a lot of ideas were bounced around for that, because there were lots of different energy fields and auras, and no one really knew what they should be like." (Farscape: The Illustrated Companion)
  • Ricky Eyres explained that "there was a bit of a Ken Adam homage" in the episode. Adam was a set designer for the James Bond films, and Maldis' realm was built in a similar style. (Farscape: The Illustrated Companion, "Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.2))
  • This episode has the first mention of Karen Shaw, the girl to whom Crichton lost his virginity at age 16.
  • Brian Henson noted that this episode "explores one of the show's main themes: The choices we make and how the consequences of those choices define us and the universe around us." He went on to point out that while Crichton and Crais had choices to make, "the most difficult choice of all falls to Zhaan. To save a friend, she must decide to allow the darkness of an evil that once nearly consumed her back into her soul." (Farscape Minisodes)
  • Virginia Hey counts this episode among her favorites. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.2)
  • Brian Norris, the stunt coordinator, spent two hours choreographing the fight between Crais and Crichton before cameras could begin rolling. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.2)
  • There were early discussions about Crais' fate at the end of this episode, including one that would have transported him away at the last minute to return him to his life as a farmer. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.2)
  • Maldis' name cropped up in many story meetings after this episode. O'Bannon stated "The joke in later episodes was that whenever we were plotting a story and couldn't get past some problem, we'd just say, 'this is all a Maldis fabrication anyway.' " He felt that they had created a character like Q from Star Trek. ("Farscape Chronicles" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.2)
  • There was a subtle, unscripted joke from the jester character when he says "I'll get you by the mivonks." O'Bannon pointed out that "he's got a magic stick with two balls on a rope. He loops them over the stick, simulating a penis and testicles. It wasn't in the script, and it's very subtle and funny." ("Farscape Chronicles" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.2)
  • Pilot does not appear in this episode.

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Guest stars[]

Guest cast[]



Voice artists[]

Uncredited co-stars[]


Aunt Em; Bermuda; Command carrier; Commerce Planet; defense shield; dekka; Delvian; DK; Earth; gavork; Goddess of the Delvian Seek; Hynerian; Hynerian Ceremony of Passage; Jixit root; Kansas; Klendian flu; Leviathan; Marauder; McDougall, Leslie; metra; Moya; ointment of yuvok; Olivier, Lawrence; Pa'u; Peacekeeper; Peacekeeper First Command; Peacekeeper High Command; Peacekeeper High Council; prowler; pulse rifle; Sebacean; Shaw, Karen; The Wizard of Oz; Toto; Transport pod; trat; trelkez; trellan oil; Uncharted Territories; wormhole;

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