Welcome to the Uncharted Territories!
In 2017, the Dope Fiends Comics and Legend of the Adorbs amigurumi are proud to bring you a whole new brochet fandom in honor of another one of our all-time favorite sci-fi TV shows - Farscape!
"Huh, what's Fire Escape?" <- If you've ever heard this, you know the pain we 'Scapers' face when trying to explain THE BEST 'Lost in Space' show since "Lost In Space" to someone. Farscape is a brilliantly designed and written series by Rockne S. O'Bannon and Brian Henson that features the work of Jim Henson's studios and has a heavy practical effects base built on their wonderful, photo-realistic alien creatures.
The show ran for four seasons from 1999-2003 with a 2-part miniseries follow up on SyFy channel in 2004. Although there has been alot of noise about a new series/web series for the show, it hasn't happened yet and the fans out there still want more...
What do we do at the Dope Fiends Comics when we want more? We DO IT OURSELVES! Therefore it is with the greatest pride in our skills and love of Farscape that we proudly present, the WeebieScape!
Commander John Crichton
"Don't move, or I'll fill you full of... little yellow bolts of light..."
As the main protagonist on Farscape, Crichton serves as the entry point for the viewer. His experience becomes our experience as he is swallowed by a wormhole while conducting an experiment for the fictional I.A.S.A. (INTER-national aeronautics and space administration.) The "Farscape Maneuver" uses a planet's gravitational pull to accelerate a spacecraft to previously unrecorded speeds. However, when coupled with unusual solar flare activity, a wormhole could be accessed, and travel to distant points in space made available.
When this accidentally happens to Crichton, he finds himself emerging in the middle of a firefight, between the Peacekeeper armada, and an escaping Leviathan prison transport. Due to a series of misunderstandings, close calls and intergalactic faux-pas, Crichton joins the escaped prisoners on Moya (the living ship which is itself enslaved and used as a prison,) and so begins the most awesome and creative story ever broadcast about an Earthling in space.
Unlike many other science fiction shows about space adventures, Farscape is unique in that Crichton connects us to fabulous alien people and places in a contemporary sense. He is from an Earth we recognize, not from 'A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...' Nor is he from 'the not too distant future...' The technology he exhibits, and best of all, his pop-culture references where perfectly on par with the show's air dates. Although they may become dated as time moves ever forward, what gives Farscape it's charm is that viewers identify and empathize with Crichton as the best humanity has to offer, and are glad he represents us as the ambassador to the Uncharted Territories.
When brocheting the Weebie Crichton, I chose to go with a later, more assimilated version of his wardrobe. Not only are the peacekeeper duds more fashionably exciting, but I felt that they represented a moment in his character arc, where Crichton stops being confused by what has happened to him, and commits his humanity to surviving as an integrated part of his new surroundings. If anything says human, it is our ability to adapt and conform with things that our minds previously thought impossible... plus then I could also brochet Wynona, Crichton's favorite pulse pistol!
Officer Aeryn Sun
Ka D'Argo: "I thought I would live much longer."
Officer Aeryn Sun: "I never thought I'd live this long."
Aeryn Sun is another excellent example of character growth. She has the ostensibly obvious role of being a familiar face to John Crichton in an unfamiliar place, as her species, Sebacean is a distant offshoot of humanity. Her character arc begins with Aeryn being a mindless drone in the Peacekeeper's military armada. As just one of many soldiers, Aeryn is taken prisoner aboard the escaped prison transport Moya, where she meets Crichton and his new friends.
Throughout the course of the show, Aeryn is an important character, not because of her role as Crichton's love interest and grounding point in the Uncharted Territories, (super male-dominated, fails the Bechdel test) but instead because she serves as a touchpoint for the audience over the course of the show. As Crichton becomes more and more comfortable with the alien nature of his circumstances, Aeryn becomes more and more human as she interacts with him. Her growth is special due to the irony of her commanding officer, Commander Crais, declaring her "irrevocably contaminated" by contact with an unknown alien life form. At first the audience sympathizes with her in this unfair judgement, but by the end of the series, we come to see that he was right all along.
Despite her newfound humanity, Aeryn embodies the best aspects of an alien race. She is a badass warrior, and her perspective on how humans live and think is an excellent foray into the imagination of what a civilized culture of alien life could be like. When Crichton first meets her and is forced to explain compassion to her, Aeryn admits, "Yes, I know that feeling. I hate it." Yet, she learns to eventually embrace compassion without compromising her own cultural mores and personal beliefs.
As an amigurumi, Aeyrn is interesting because her pulse rifle was the first prop to be brocheted, and set the tone for the rest of the series of WeebieScapes. Her wardrobe in the show is almost entirely black, so it was easy to create her clothes. Perhaps a future update may highlight one of the few dresses she wore (mostly in Crichton's imagination) and if I can swing it... a princess crown?
General Ka D'Argo
"Warrior to warrior, I vow - one day, I WILL kill you."
Who has two thumbs, tankas and answers to "Big D?" - This guy right here! D'Argo is another wonderful example of the type of good character development Farscape encompasses. As a large and mighty alien specimen, he is seemingly ferocious and violent when Crichton first meets him, but we learn throughout the series that D'Argo is one of the most pensive and introspective members of Moya's crew. His growth is evident as he learns to trust and eventually revere Crichton's judgement and company.
A Luxan warrior with has a highly developed sense of honor and moral value system, D'Argo also embodies the youthful and comedic aspects of soldier turned leader. Although he is eventually elected Captain of Moya, he at first has many power struggles with Crichton (who he sees as competition for the Alpha male spot.) This is resolved as their friendship develops with the use of roshambo. There is a wonderful moment of boredom where D'Argo is shown playing Paper/Rock/Scissors against himself.
The biggest challenge when it came to brocheting D'Argo was actually his qualta blade, which is actually fully articulatable.
Dominar Rygel XVI
" I never run away. I... strategically maneuver."
Politics. You can't get away from them. Even in space, politics insinuate themselves into every decision made. Take Rygel XVI for example, he's a two foot tall space frog that once ruled over 600 billion subjects, until he was deposed from his throne like an ABC in Alphabet City song by his cousin, and sold into slavery on Moya.
Although he doesn't have much in the way of imposing stature, Rygel is an integral member of Moya's crew because of those pesky politics. His formal education and pedigree make him something of an elitist and this helps out on numerous occasions when Moya's adventures call for a bit of bluffing and maneuvering. Rygel always looks out for number one, and will gladly help you, if he judges it to be in his own best interests. Although he sells out his shipmates several times, he is a master strategist and is often revealed to betray the betrayers. He does show a sense of loyalty and growth throughout the show, but on a much lesser humanizing scale than Aeryn.
Rygel is one of my favorite characters on Farscape because he pays true homage to the roots of the Jim Henson studios, as a completely practical effects styled PHYSICAL muppet! Part of me will always see a little green frog when I look at him, regardless of his true Hynerian nature. As a puppeteer and animator I understand the possibilities of combining practical and digital effects, and will always applaud Farscape in it's use of both types of storytelling aides. Having Rygel be a physical puppet makes the show better for so many reasons, the most important of which is that he is an actual member of the crew that the actors can react to, and act with.
When I sat to brochet Rygel as a Weebie, I wanted to indicate his stature in scale, and that meant also creating his throne sled. I think I had the most fun animating Rygel and his floating chair because it gave me more opportunities to play with Adobe Character Animator's dragger feature, timing Rygel's arm, and then synching the throne sled's joystick to that motion.
Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan
"For the longest time I feared physical demise because my spiritual essence was suspect. But now I know I'm worthy. Now I know the transgressions have melted from my soul. Now I know I shall meet my goddess and be accepted to her bosom."
Religion is one of the more fascinating aspects of the entire science fiction genre. If God, exists, where - and in what form? As human beings, we often find it hard to agree on this, so what types of gods or goddesses would be worshipped in alien cultures? Farscape delivers on the religion front, representing the ideals of several cultures, but none more so than the Delvians.
Zotoh Zhaan is a Pa'u (or priestess) who has been imprisoned by the peacekeepers for inciting anarchy among her people in a political revolution. During her incarceration, Zhaan meets her goddess and converts to the Delvian Seek (religion.) During her tenure as priestess, Zhaan gains spiritual powers that serve her practically as she finds the crew of Moya relying on her as doctor, lab technician, scientist, confidant, and all around room mother. Despite her sensitive and introspective nature however, the anarchist lurks just below the surface.
In my opinion, Zhaan is one of the best characters on the show, because she is at once centered and self possessed, and at the same time, a total badass. You know that when Zhaan starts losing her cool on the show, you feel some pity for whoever pissed her off.
As a Delvian, Zhaan is a plant based organism, and the make up on the show often reflected this. At different times over the course of several seasons, Zhaan can be seen to change color slightly and develop flowery colored markings, just as the life cycle of a flowering plant wanes and ebbs in size, shape and color. This, I decided was a challenge to replicate in crochet, and I will admit to taking the easy way out, and just leaving her a base blue color.
Although I considered the use of embroidery thread similar to my Nightweebie Ohnaka's tattoos, but then I got stuck on the question of which part of Zhaan life cycle to represent, the yellows, the red? That time she got really hungry and started budding spores? I figure if I am ever inclined to animate her more, this will be a good starting point and I can add any variation of color as I go along. ;)
Here's a young AP with Virginia Hey, the actress who played Zhaan. She was every bit as lovely as the character she brought to life.
Stark: "What about me?"
Aeyrn Sun: "How best can you help?"
Stark: "I can stay out of your way."
Stark is by far my favorite Farscape character. His gentle nature coupled with his bifurcated mind makes for an interesting and compelling story arc. Stark is a Stykera, a mystic member of the Banik slave race, who has the ability to ease emotions, and guide the soul across the threshold into a peaceful death.
Stark: "My side! Your side! My side! Your side!"
When Crichton first meets Stark, in a prison cell on Scorpius' Gammek base, Stark is raving mad, a combination of the effects of the Aurora chair, and his own attempts to disguise his true level of lucidity from Scorpius in order to hide in his mind, the location of a paradise he visited once. When Moya escapes, Stark is on board and eventually joins her crew. He ultimately falls in love with Zhaan, and ends up on Talon after she dies.
As far as characters go, Stark has the most interesting backstory of any of Moya's crew. His race (species) is Banik, who are slaves? Some rare Banik are also Stykera (mystics?) It turns out that Stark reveals that he is an energetic being residing mostly in another dimension! He is able to coalesce his energy into the bodily form Crichton meets, but has a massive dimensional rift for [half] a face, underneath his mask. The mask he claims, helps him to focus and control those dimensional energies, which is why he has the ability to help others cross over in moments of death. This frank exploration of the afterlife, in context with the alien religion motif and the sci-fi adventure theme is a bold statement by the makers of the show that once more draws the audience into the world of the Uncharted Territories through the universally recognized and ultimately inevitable experience of death.
I knew that Stark was going to be fun to animate, because of the dimensional rift under his mask. What the video doesn't quite demonstrate however, is that the brocheted part of the rift, was done with black light reactive yarn, so it glows!
Chiana: "I went shopping."
Crichton: "Shopping? No, no you don't have any money."
Chiana: "Lifting. Shoplifting."
Another reason that Farscape is such a unique and groundbreaking show is the way that alien sexuality is explored through the character of Chiana. A member of the Nebari species, Chiana is the ultimate space-punk femme fatale, in that she discovers that Nebari youth have been purposefully infected with a sexually transmitted virus that will - in effect, allow the Nebari government to shut down the nervous system of anyone infected on command. This is only one of the Nebari's sinister schemes to spread their influence across the universe (they also practice mind control.) By virtue of their rebellion against the rigid standards of sexual propriety, the Nebari youth are in fact serving their government by disseminating the virus as effectively as possible.
What is most interesting about this clandestine sexual scheme are the implications surrounding cultural mores and alien sexuality. We have plenty of precedent when it comes to alien sex - thanks to ladies man, and poster boy for alien STD's, James T. Kirk. What Farscape introduces to the genre is the idea that the Nebari, who stigmatize sexual relations and impropriety in order to employ reverse psychology to encourage the sexual activity of their youth in order to spread their biological warfare; themselves are eventually stunned when they learn of the stigmas and hangups that humans have about and around sex. To the Nebari, sex is natural although the expression of it is rigidly controlled (which suggests that Chiana's transgressions are pretty kinky) and Chiana expresses both confusion and frustration at Crichton's human attitudes and constructions.
As a character Chiana also has an impressive growth arc. When she joins the other escaped prisoners on Moya, Chiana is immature and a liability. By the end of the series, she has become one of the most trusted and valuable members of Moya's crew. Her antics often get her shipmates into situations, but those situations tend to lead to bonding experiences where her true character is revealed and she more often than not, demonstrates the compassion and empathy that are hidden behind her self-centered and coquettish facade.
As far as brochet notes on Chiana and her sexuality go, all I have to say for myself is, crochet boobs pretty much come in one size at this scale.
Scorpius: "Kill her. Then we'll have pizza and margarita shooters."
Seriously, one of the best villains EVER. Scorpius was a must-have addition to both my Weebies collection, and the crew of Moya. As the leader of the secret peacekeeper gammak base, Scorpius is obsessed with learning the secrets of wormhole transportation. This turns out to be a big problem for Crichton, as Scorpius begins a hunt for the information that is locked in his mind that lasts the entire show! Scorpius demonstrates his ruthlessness relentlessly as he follows Moya and her crew into the uncharted territories and ultimately ends up joining the crew of Moya. He never really gains Crichton's trust, but he does eventually succeed in goading John into building a doomsday wormhole device that he instantly regrets.
Part of the reason that Scorpius is so compelling as a villain, is that his backstory supplies an interesting and sympathetic perspective. Over the duration of the show, we learn that Scorpius is a sebacean-scarran hybrid. His arch-enemies the scarran's bred him as an experiment in alien biology. His sebacean mother was raped by a scarran warrior in an effort to produce an offspring that could be farmed as a soldier with the best attributes of both races. However the sebacean race lacks a critical gland that help their bodies to regulate heat, while a scarran body actually produces higher than normal heat. Scorpius' own body is the greatest challenge he has ever overcome, and his wardrobe is actually a functional suit designed to lower his core body temperature to a tolerable level. The need for cooling rods inserted directly into the head, that help to moderate Scorpius' "quest for thermic constancy" is his only real weakness.
Scorpius' motivations are actually quite honest however. As a viewer you expect him to be duplicitous, with some kind of ulterior motive. The whole time that Crichton is resisting him, he fears that Scorpius will use wormhole technology to conquer and spread peacekeeper influence, but Scorpius genuinely only wants to stop the scarran empire from doing just that. He knows that they are a militarily superior force, and that the peacekeeper armada needs a WMD to be able to balance the terms. The fact that he will use any means necessary to achieve his goals is what makes you really believe in his cause. For instance...
No conversation about Scorpius would be complete without a mention of Harvey, the digital clone of himself that Scorpius plants in Crichton's head to discover the wormhole info. Another one of the reasons that Scorpius is such an awesome villain is the familiarity that he breeds with Crichton. A major theme of Farscape is the pure alien nature of Crichton's experience. Harvey however allows Crichton to communicate and explore these experiences from a common point of view with the audience. Having Scorpius (played by brilliant actor Wayne Pygram) discover and explore Crichton's psyche through Harvey is one of the best parts of the show, and John and Harvey's interactions are always comedy gold.
When it came to brocheting and animating Scorpy, I knew that I wanted to do the coolant rods. I started with some glow sticks, and then used a rotating frame by frame cycle layers animation to bring it in and out of his head.
Zhaan: "Pilot, does Moya know where we are?"
Pilot: "Yes, of course! We're someplace else... I'll get back to you on the specifics."
Of all of the beings on the escaped prison transport Moya, perhaps the most interesting concept explored is... the escaped prison transport Moya. As previously mentioned, the spaceship itself is alive which has some rather phenomenal implications. For instance, the crew is often times subjected to the ship's whim. Without a peacekeeper installed control collar, there is no guarantee that a Leviathan will follow a crews commands. This is why a totally separate species known only as Pilots are integrated physically within the ship to increase control and communication. The Pilot is bonded to it's Leviathan when it's literal innards are grafted into the central nervous system of the ship. The Pilot resides in a Command chamber where the ship grows a set of consoles that serve as access points to ship functions like acceleration/deceleration, life support, and communications. Pilots are able to monitor their ship holographically through the use of DRDs (Diagnostic Repair Drones) and are only capable of travel through space when bonded to a Leviathan.
Although we know quite a bit about Moya, and the life cycle of a Leviathan, experiencing a Leviathan birth in the first season alone - the opposite is true of Pilot. For instance, this poor guy goes four seasons being referred to as "Pilot." Apparently his species doesn't have any kind of individual nomenclature? According to the show however, his species is an incredibly advanced one, capable of both cellular regeneration, and nonlinear thought. One sound is Pilot's language can express multiple lines of thoughts and emotions. You'd think one of those tangents would be to differentiate one Pilot from another.
Pilot was a fun challenge to brochet because of the unique forms and patterns which dominate his physical form. Choosing different colors of yarn and stitch patterns made this amigurumi an incredibly satisfying experiment.