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Coup By Clam

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Farscape episode
“Coup By Clam”
Episode no. Season 4
Episode 10
Guest star(s) Raelee Hill (Sikozu); Melissa Jaffer (Noranti); Barry Otto (Dr. Tumii); David Field (Ho'Ock); Chris Mayer (Mekken); Sara Groen (Mujombre); Kelly Butler (Selva); Susan Prior (Kiryah)
Writer(s) Emily Skopov
Director Ian Watson
Production no. 10410
Original airdate August 16, 2002 (US); December 2, 2002 (UK)
Episode chronology
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"A Prefect Murder" "Unrealized Reality"

When the crew visit the paranoid, politically unstable planet of Khurtanan, an opportunistic doctor poisons and blackmails them. Things get even more complicated when the planet's resistance gets involved.


Most of the crew are sitting, eating on Moya. Noranti comments that it's highly abnormal when Sikozu goes for her fifth helping. Apparently it's an advantage of only eating ten times a cycle. Suddenly, D'Argo and Noranti get a visible purple flush in their faces.Pilot comms Ka D'Argo, ready to relay a message from Moya, but D'Argo cuts him off having heard it before, saying they know he thinks this planet is a pit, an outpost of nothing. "Their food's overcooked, undercooked and not worth cooking! Makes Noranti's food seem edible," Rygel comments. Rygel and Aeryn get a green flush in their faces. Pilot tells Aeryn Sun on request that without filtration the electrostatic impulses from surrounding radiation sources will drive Moya mad. Moya hasn't had a peaceful rest since they entered Tormented Space. D'Argo adds that this is the only planet they've found whose mechanics are aware of Leviathans; they can get the job done. Pilot asks when, and Sikozu answers, "When their doctor can certify that none of us have space madness."

The doctor, Tumii, is preparing some device, when John brings in Scorpius. Tumii says that Scorpius has already certified free of the dementia, but his Scarran ancestry disqualifies him from visiting the planet. John asks if Tumii is sure Pilot told them Moya's hull protects from radiation. The doctor tells him that it's so feared that there are no exceptions – everyone is tested. He carries out the test, as he sticks an implement up John's nose, promises it won't hurt a bit, yet John screams out in pain, he's whole skull lighting up from within like a Jack-o'-lantern.

Chiana comments that all the food is dren, and even Rygel agrees. John walks in and D'Argo tells him if he'd held his scream off one more microt he'd have won the pool. "Anything edible?" John asks, and receives a "no" from Chiana and Aeryn in unison. Sikozu and John both eat some spaghetti-like yellow food, and both have a visible flush of yellow through their faces. D'Argo then sneezes and, almost immediately, so does Noranti, again with a pink flush. Tumii comes in and says it was a pleasure meeting them all, and on the mention of food says that perhaps they'll find better nourishment down on the planet. D'Argo says they won't be visiting the planet – as soon as the mechanic fixes the ship they'll be leaving. D'Argo sneezes again, and similarly Noranti does the same. "I risk to differ, Captain," Tumii says, "Oh, did I forget to mention not to share the Qatal mollusks? They're to be eaten whole. Should the flesh be divided among different stomachs, the food poisoning that results is fatal." Everyone gags and spits out what they can on the spot; and D'Argo, Aeryn, and John whip out their guns. "What did you do?" Aeryn asks. "Initiated the first half of our business arrangement. Bring one quarter million currency pledges, each, to my office, and I will cure you..."

D'Argo suggests just shooting Tumii, but while it sounds like a good idea, Tumii reminds him he is the only one who can cure them. He then adds that their weapons will only cause the mechanics to resist making the modifications Moya requires. When Rygel suggests telling the mechanic what he did, Tumii lets him know that the mechanic will not believe them, and he will double his price. "Care to call my bluff?" he asks. The crew put their weapons away, and Tumii tells them not to delay payment, as their symptoms will eventually looks similar to those of space madness, a disease they shoot on site for! The mechanic and a guard enter, the latter smirks at everyone and asks the doctor for his report. Tumii states that they're all free from effective illness - at the moment! D'Argo and Noranti sneeze again, Rygel farts and Aeryn feels it, and John's stomach plays up and Sikozu feels it, but Chiana is fine. She greets the guard, saying they're all a little excited by it all. D'Argo takes her aside and asks if she ate any mollusks, which she didn't, so he tells her to put the mechanic to work but stay with him at all times. She leads them away, and Aeryn asks the others what's going on here. "Every time Rygel vents, I... vent," she says, looking like she's in some pain. As Sikozu is digesting her meal, John is feeling it too. Noranti says that she and D'Argo both ate the purple mollusks, and every time he sneezes she feels it. Rygel and Aeryn both had the green one. D'Argo says they'll go down to the planet and have a chat with the doctor. He tells Noranti to analyze the food and comm them if she finds a cure, so she needs bodily samples...

Chiana asks the mechanic how long the job will take. "A couple of arns at the most." Chiana stares at the mechanic, who notices. When asked why, Chiana says, "Maybe I think you're cute." She says she just wants to see that the mechanic doesn't hurt Moya. Chiana calls Pilot to cut off power to this cluster, and Sikozu attempts to help him. "I do not need your help," Pilot insists angrily.

John, D'Argo, and Aeryn take a transport pod down to the planet. They sit and wait, while the receptionist tells them Tumii will be back shortly. John complains about the heat, wondering where Sikozu is, while Aeryn is suffering from the effects of Rygel's three over-filled stomachs.

Noranti's doing her 'experiments', drinks something that resembles urine, and starts to hiccup, causing D'Argo to retch and do the same. Tumii comes out of his room, and tells the receptionist that's it for the day, and invites the crew into his room. Again the guns come out, and Tumii points out that killing him kills them. He asks to speak, but John responds, "No. Cure first, speak later." Tumii adds that he can't be forced to cure them, and that he devised it, so they won't find a cure elsewhere. He explains that each mollusk contains one colony of neurally linked bacteria, and each colony acts as a single organism. So if the mollusk is halved, each half transmits each of its sensations to the other half. "Who cares?" D'Argo asks. "Just take the money, cure us," John says. The doctor continues, saying that now the bacteria has colonized their bodies, they're communicating their emotional states to force them to merge, the problem is they're not mollusks, and can never merge, so their symptoms worsen and the strain eventually kills them. D'Argo threatens to break Tumii's neck if he doesn't cure them now, but the doctor explains that he is down to his last mollusk, and the cure requires the same type ingested. More are being delivered, but for now he can only cure whoever ate the purple mollusk. "I hate you!" John and Aeryn say to D'Argo in unison, since it was he and Noranti who ate the purple variety. On Moya, Noranti drinks some more, and dances around, then gets somewhat aroused. Tumii explains that they must orally ingest the urine of the person they're linked with, "Imbibe, digest, urinate, imbibe" he chants impishly. D'Argo's disgusted protest ("I ain't drinkin' no old woman's urine") is cut off by his... arousal. Noranti, and so D'Argo, orgasms - so D'Argo goes and headbutts something to knock her out. Tumii continues to explain the cure, and says that after ingesting the other's urine you and the linked one must touch bare flesh, so the bacteria can migrate. D'Argo is not impressed and asks how much bare flesh exactly, he's relieved hands will suffice. "One more word of techno-babble and I'm gonna cut your tongue out!" John interrupts. D'Argo leaves to go and try out the cure, while Aeryn assures Tumii that if it doesn't work, he's dead.

The guard is with Scorpius, asking how he can travel in something alive, filthy with all the bacteria. Scorpius says that Moya is self-disinfectant; while the guard is surprised that Moya is female. Scorpius assures him she is controlled by Pilot - a male, of course. Scorpius says that there has never been a case of space madness on this ship, while the guard says they're lucky, they had three cases in the last six months alone.

Back on the planet, the mollusks have just arrived, but as Tumii goes outside to pick them up, he is shot at by what appears to be a mysterious figure cloaked all in black. Aeryn didn't catch the face of the shooter but is pretty certain she was female. Lying injured on the floor, the doctor wonders about his assassin, then says "Oh dear, I believe we're all in serious difficulty" then, "I'm afraid, I can't cure you." On hearing this the crew all start loosing their cool, then demand some explanations.

Noranti pees in a bucket, and scoops up a full cup of urine, handing it to D'Argo. He hesitates with a snarl, but when Rygel prods him he reminds Noranti they have to be touching too. She prepares to take her top off, but he stops her ensuring less skin – hands – is just fine. They gulp down each other's urine, and both of their faces have a purple flush. "Did it work?" Sikozu asks, "Test it!" D'Argo complies, and punches Noranti, not feeling anything himself. In response, Noranti pinches him down below, but just gets a fright; she too didn't feel anything. D'Argo lets John know that the cure is working, and the doctor tells him to ensure they maintain contact until they feel an oily sensation, to signal that all the bacteria have precipitated out; it should only take a few arns. If they break contact however, the bacteria will re-colonize in their bodies and the symptoms recur, eventually they will die. Aeryn tells Rygel and Sikozu to get down to the planet quickly. As they leave an excited Noranti begins, "Do you know, I've been looking for this opportunity for so long, I've wanted to get you alone. There are so many things I don't know about you..."

Tumii tells Aeryn and John that to cure them he needs more Qatal Mollusks, and he can no longer get them. On this planet, females are oppressed, and there is a resistance movement planning a coup to seize power. "Girl power, so what?" John asks. Tumii explains that they possess the only Qatal Mollusks on this planet; they employ them to eliminate certain males in power. They use them for secrecy, as the symptoms are not known on this planet, they are mistaken for space madness. During an autopsy on one of the victims he discovered the real cause of death and who had caused it, and made a deal – his silence for some of the mollusks. He assumes their takeover attempt must be imminent, and that's why they're after him; they're perhaps afraid he'll expose them. He says he'll refund two thirds of their money, but Aeryn disagrees. He will tell her where the females are.

On Moya, Chiana grabs the mechanic up against the wall, and realizes what she suspected – the mechanic is a female disguised as a man. She tells Chiana not to tell the guard or he'll kill her. Chiana gets violent, saying she thinks the mechanic is here to spy on them and ensure they eat the mollusks. The mechanic doesn't know what she's talking about, and insists she's here to help by fixing their Leviathan. She explains that women on her world aren't allowed to do this sort of work, and convinces Chiana she's telling the truth. Meanwhile, Noranti has fallen asleep against D'Argo, who wants a drink that is just out of reach.

Tumii tells Aeryn and John that the club the females run is popular among the highly placed officials, and while they're there the mollusks are served. "Instant coup!" Sikozu and Rygel bring currency, while Aeryn tells Sikozu to come, as they have a mission to do. "I'm happy to go," John points out. "Jirl power," Aeryn replies. "Girl! Girl power. Would you quit speakin' English!" John adds. John ties up and gags Tumii, when a man enters looking for Doctor Tumii. "He's tied up right now," John says, telling him to take a seat. Rygel comes out posing as the doctor, with his contraption on his head, asking "What seems to be the problem?" He tells the man to take off his clothes, here, for some preventive bloodletting. Shaking an odd instrument as him. "Everyone can benefit from the removal of one excess bodily fluid or another," Rygel mentions. Rygel goes to take a closer look, and the man walks away somewhat suspiciously.

Sikozu and Aeryn enter the club, where they're met by a woman who asks if they're looking for work. "We'd like to talk to Selva," Aeryn says. "Who?" the woman asks. "Your boss." Sikozu says they don't know her, but they have heard she's trying to improve conditions on this planet for females, and they think it's a worthy cause. But, it's a cause that requires much funding. So we'd like to discuss a business deal, says Aeryn. The woman says they're not interested, as more women arrive and surround them. When Aeryn says they'd rather hear the answer from Selva, they are attacked from behind. Rygel and John feel the pain and are equally knocked about. "I think the girls are in trouble!" Rygel exclaims.

Sikozu and Aeryn are tied up back-to-back, and they speak to Selva. After agreeing that they are not friends, Aeryn says that she and Sikozu are here to buy something at whatever the price. Selva and another woman discuss whether they're telling the truth, but either way they agree Sikozu and Aeryn must die, but killing them will only cure who they're linked with, but if they keep them alive their partners will be drawn here, where they can all be killed or die at once.

Rygel has a plan and brings John a purple dress and tells him to put it on, but John's not impressed and doesn't want to wear it. "The elite male clientele are all known, and know one another. Therefore, we can't go as males," Rygel points out. John then objects to the color of the dress, because it's not a slimming color. "If it were black, then maybe" adds John. "I wear that color all the time!" Rygel says, disgruntled. He tells John he can stay here and die from the mollusks then; he'll just go alone.

John and Rygel enter the club; both dressed as women. John in the slinky purple velvet number he objected to, and a brunette shoulder length wig waved over one eye seductively 'a la Jessica Rabbit'. In full make-up, he looks surprisingly more convincing than expected, if a little too staunch. Flaunting a frilly pouffey matronly thing, 'Grand Dame Rygella' is a floating vision in white, with a bejewelled crown (as befitting his station) and flowing veil, beard and all. Said veil hardly hiding his chin whiskers, amusingly. Rygel reminds John they need to blend in, then they strengthen their resolve and attempt to mingle. As John struts in a man immediately comes over and caresses his behind. John turns to him, "You put your hand on my ass once again, and I will kill you," he says with authority. As Scorpius and the guard walk through Moya, below deck just beneath them, they overhear Chiana and the mechanic talk about how difficult it is to pretend to be a man. (It looks as though Scorpius might've lead the guard there on purpose, to expose the mechanic's deception.) But she's confident that sooner or later women will take power and defeat their oppressors. The guard steps down a ladder and confronts them, then orders the mechanic to strip or he'll shoot. Chiana stands in front of her and tells him to leave her alone. Suddenly Scorpius slides down the ladder, wraps his legs around the guard's shoulders and breaks his neck. / (So, it seems Scorpy's objective was a sycophantic one, to 'play the hero' - first ratting out, then playing saviour - as an attempt to winning over the crew.)

A man approaches John in the club, wanting to dance. "Well, darling, I don't dance," John says, playing shy. "Well, I do," the man replies, and drags him to the dance floor.

Pilot tells Scorpius John's comms isn't responding; it may be turned off. Scorpius says he could be incapacitated by the mollusks, and Pilot suggests maybe contacting the planet's authorities. Scorpius says no, so reluctantly Pilot asks him what he thinks they should do? Scorpius smugly retorts "You, Pilot, can do nothing."

As Rygel sneaks around looking for the mollusks, a woman asks Selva if their partners have arrived. She says they can't tell, so to give her 50 microts then cut off one of their fingers, that should give their partners away. John dances with the pawing man, who flirts in his ear that with the right partner he could do it all night. John desperately tries to convince him he's not that right partner for him. Rygel finds a room that looks promising, and indeed it's the room with the mollusks. The woman picks Aeryn's hand, but Sikozu shouts "Not her!" Aeryn kicks the knife out of the woman's hand, but they are soon suppressed. John feels the pain as he dances, arousing the suspicions of the man he's with. Sikozu says she volunteers, and despite Aeryn's vocal objections, the woman cuts off Sikozu's finger. Despite John feeling the immense pain, he grabs on to the man more tightly as they dance and manages not to be noticed by the females scanning the dance floor.

John says he could use a drink, so the man takes him to the bar. The women reports that it either didn't work or they're not there yet; and while the man gets the drinks, John comms Rygel, who tells him he has the mollusks but can't find the girls. He says he's leaving, as he's overwhelmed with dread – the mollusks are also taking their toll. A woman suggests trying Aeryn's finger, but another says she's in the final stages, and she and her partner will soon die. Rygel leaves the rest to John, manages to escape, and rushes back to the doctor.

Scorpius has the mollusks and is thinking of an alternative, while Pilot tells him consuming the mollusks is a risky plan. Scorpius is quite confident that once he's consumed the mollusks and joined with the others he can endure their deterioration. Pilot says he's tried contacting them one last time, but again got no response. Meanwhile, Noranti is still lying asleep on a still thirsty D'Argo, who with chin pressed to her forehead is attempting to reach for a cup nearby, cursing under his breath.

The mechanic finishes repairing Moya, and Pilot restores power, adding that it feels much more quiet – the filter works perfectly. Pilot is most impressed and thanks the mechanic. Chiana asks her if she'll be OK, and she says she'll get a name and identity change, and she'll be all right.

The man tells John he thinks his face is beautiful, and has from the moment he saw him in the doctor's office. (Busted!) John attempts to say he lost a bet, but the man says there's no need to lie; if John does what he wants he might not even arrest him. "So what, dressing up is not a crime" John shrugs, but the man insists that dressing up is a crime, and impersonating a doctor is even worse. He asks who John's off-world friend is, and where he is.

Tumii tells Rygel the cure won't help without his linked partner, so why doesn't Rygel just set him free. "Shut up!" Rygel responds, and continues to menace him. The man pins John to the couch and tells him that there's one thing he likes even better than dancing – interrogations! "Looong, HARD, interrogations" he adds suggestively. "Eeew,God..." squirms John, and attempts to move from under him.

On Moya, Scorpius is on his knees, concentrating, eating both green & yellow mollusks, as Sikozu and Aeryn continue to worsen. As Scorpius, riddled with pain, begins to withstand the effects of the mollusks, everyone feels it and slowly improve. Tumii tries to take advantage of the distraction by grabbing a nearby sharp implement, but before he can do anything Rygel recovers enough to pounce on him, then bites his nose right off. Meanwhile everyone else seems to recover and regain their strength. The man, still groping John on the couch, tells him not to be shy; but John now having had quite enough, slaps him - then knocks him out cold. As the women check to see whether Aeryn and Sikozu are actually dead, the two lure them in close and then strike, knocking them out. Aeryn asks why Sikozu volunteered her finger. "Do your appendages reattach?" Sikozu asks in reply.

Selva orders her guards to tell her of anything suspicious at all. Aeryn, Sikozu and John group together, and John says they need to get out of here. Aeryn, puzzled but amused at the state of 'Johnette', says the exits are all guarded; so to distract them John climbs atop a table and provocatively starts rolling up his skirt, shouting "Excuse me ladies, do any one of you have one of these under your skirt?" Suddenly, in a flash of suspender belts, he reaches under, pulls out his pulse pistol and starts firing. "Yeah, girl power!" he shouts as he shoots his way out. Back on Moya Rygel is gleefully torturing a gagging doctor, force feeding him a huge bowl of mollusk, and threatening to leave the rest in the garbage for anything to come along and eat. Tumii begs for mercy, terrified at what he might be sharing his last moments of pain with - a multitude of vermin?!

Back on Moya, Noranti and D'Argo have purple gunk all over their hands and D'Argo tells the others that the cure works. Noranti is fascinated with the goo and rushes off to go analyse it. John asks how long it took after they've all swigged each other's urine. D'Argo says forever, while Noranti says not long at all – only three arns. Rygel wants to eat, but Aeryn unhappy to be stuck holding his hand assures him he won't be eating anything until they're cured. Rygel brings up that Scorpius ate the mollusks, and Sikozu adds it was to temporarily link with them to override their symptoms, without him they'd be dead by now. Scorpius is seen up in his quarters convulsing and vomiting up multicoloured mollusk mush.

Memorable quotesEdit

John: Well, it's the first thing I've had in a while that doesn't taste like chicken. Kinda reminds me of a big bowl of Alpo I once ate.
Aeryn: Jirl Power!
John: Girl! Girl Power! Would you stop speakin' English?
Dr. Tumii: The problem is you are not mollusks.
D'Argo: It's never been a problem for us before.
D'Argo: Noraaaaaantiiiii. I'm really thiirrrrrstyyyy.
John: (dressed as a woman) Over here, keep your head down.
Rygel: We need to blend in.
John: Blend in? Hell, we got here the clock stopped. We couldn't blend in on butt-ugly night.

Background informationEdit

  • Tumii's facial design was inspired by Robert Helpmann's appearance in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v4.2)
  • The club scenes were shot at a suitable dive in the Darlinghurst area Sydney. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v4.2)
  • Ben Browder was whistled at as he walked from the trailers to the set when dressed as a woman. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v4.2)
  • The script did not have Rygel biting off Tumii's nose. Fiona Gentle took the nose and put it on her mantle at home after the scene was shot. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v4.2)
  • The scenes in the nightclub with Crichton and Rygel were a homage to the classic movie Some Like It Hot. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v4.2)
  • The script originally called for Crichton to "flash", and Browder later questioned what Jim Henson's Creature Shop would have provided for the makeup. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v4.2)
  • This was Ian Watson's final directing job on Farscape, and used the "Dutch angle" for every shot to emphasize the effect of the clams. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v4.2)
  • Browder was the one that suggested that Noranti have three colors of urine, all at the same time. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v4.2)
  • The Creature Shop supplied colored KY jelly for Dr. Tumii's constantly dripping nose. One staff member was on hand at all times to refill between shots. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v4.2)
  • This is the last episode before returning Crichton to the (real) Earth.

Links and referencesEdit


Guest starsEdit

Guest castEdit


Voice artistsEdit


air conditioning; Alpo; arn; baseball; chicken; comms; currency pledge; cycle; Day-Glo; dog; Domino's; dren; drozil fly; flibisk; frell; girl power; Hodian trill-bat; Holmes, Sherlock; Khurtanan; Leviathan; Maid Marian; microt; Moya; Nebari Prime; pulse pistol; Qatal mollusk; rabies; Robin Hood; sauna; Scarran; Space Invaders; space madness; Spice Girls; Sputnik; technobabble; Tormented Space; transport pod; zergenbob; zyntian filtration

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