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DNA Mad Scientist

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Farscape episode
“DNA Mad Scientist”
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 9
Guest star(s) Adrian Getley (NamTar), Sarah Burns (Kornata), Julian Garner (Voice of NamTar)
Writer(s) Tom Blomquist
Director Andrew Prowse
Production no. 10109
Original airdate June 18, 1999 (US), February 18, 2000 (UK)
Episode chronology
← Previous Next →
"That Old Black Magic" "They've Got a Secret"

A scientist's promise to help the crew find their homes may come with too high a price, for Aeryn in particular.


An alien scientist called NamTar is taking DNA from the crew with needle to the eye. He will enter their genetic data into his database so he can give them data on the location of their home worlds - a genetic map that can also show the boundaries of Peacekeeper territory so they can avoid it. As well as their DNA though, he wants a genetic sample from Pilot as payment. But a DNA sample won't do, he requires one of Pilot's arms...

Aeryn Sun and John Crichton are drinking in a bar a little later, as he is consoling himself on the fact that NamTar doesn't have Earth in his database of over eleven million species. Aeryn reminds him that whilst they are all trying to get home, she can never go home. Crichton says that if Pilot doesn’t volunteer an arm, they'll all be blasting out of here within an arn. She says he saw the look on the other's faces, and who says they'll wait for him to volunteer...

Sure enough, whilst Zhaan and Rygel restrain him, Ka D'Argo brutally slices off one of Pilot's arms with his Qualta Blade. They give it to NamTar, who says he'll give them their navigation crystal soon, so they leave. He then mentions that an experiment is not working, and we see some Pilot-like concoction hanging off the wall.

Crichton cannot believe that they cut off Pilot's arm without his agreement, even if it will regenerate soon. Pilot says when joined his first duty is to the Leviathan, then to its crew. Aeryn asks them how they could attack one of their own who is so defenceless. D'Argo says he would have done the same to any of them, and says he'll make sure Pilot will cooperate. Zhaan asks Aeryn not to deny them their chances to return home just because she can never do so.

Crichton asks Aeryn to drink with him, since when the others go soon it will be just the two of them. She's troubled because not only are they going, but one day he will too. She's always been a Peacekeeper, one of many, never alone. Ever. He says if he does find his way home, he'll take her too. Meanwhile Zhaan says she is surprised by Crichton's reaction, although she expected the sort from Aeryn. D'Argo says if it had been Crichton he'd have given his mivonks to go home. He asks what she would have given, and she replies she'd have given her neema. D'Argo says he's surprised no one's ever tried to use NamTar's data as a weapon, and if he had the chance he most certainly would. He is still feeling a little pain from the needle, but Zhaan says it'll soon be forgotten once they're on their way home. They quarrel over which course to take first, so Zhaan suggests a compromise.

NamTar is angry that his experiment is not going well, when Aeryn comes in to see him. She says she's changed her mind and now wants NamTar to take a sample from her so he can find a Sebacean colony outside normal territories. He goes to take a sample from her eye, but instead injects some kind of fluid...

Rygel says he will go home first, but Zhaan says she and D'Argo decided earlier that whoever's home is closest would be visited first. D'Argo says that Moya is receiving the data from the crystal, but Pilot says she's not – there's too much data on the crystal for her to process – it's useless. Zhaan suggests that one map could be used, but the other two must be destroyed. Rygel says they could go and get two other individual ones from NamTar, but D'Argo asks what he will demand then. Rygel grabs the crystal and makes a quick escape, so D'Argo goes after him. He's already hidden the crystal in his cell though, so D'Argo asks him to side with him.

Aeryn returns to Moya, but is clearly not well, so she returns to NamTar and notices something growing on her chest. She grabs him and asks what he did to her, and he says she's in the latter stages of phase one, but he'd rather not ruin the surprise. Aeryn soon returns to Moya and goes to see Pilot, saying she senses all the DRDs and ships functions, just like he does. He says that's impossible, so she shows him what's growing on her. Crichton enters and she shows him that she has a Pilot's arm growing from her chest – NamTar has injected her with some of Pilot's DNA! She says she only returned to him because she was so scared.

Zhaan goes and tries to convince Rygel to side with her by basically offering herself to him, but he doesn't buy it. Meanwhile Crichton takes Aeryn back to the planet, but on seeing Kornata (NamTar's assistant) she screams, prompting NamTar to enter the room. He says Aeryn should be near the end of phase two, and calls Aeryn over to him, saying she's progressing nicely. Aeryn shoots him but he simply regenerates. He knocks Crichton down and takes Aeryn away.

D'Argo and Zhaan go to Rygel and say that they give him their oaths that they will take him home first, but they get no answer. They enter his cell and he appears behind them, locking them in the cell. He says he has some trip planning to do, and leaves.

Kornata tells Crichton that NamTar will do anything to keep Aeryn, because he wants to add Pilot's multi-tasking capabilities to himself. She reveals that she was the one who set up the lab, with the others here as her employees, and they researched quantum genetics – trying to take out various abilities from life forms to use in others. NamTar was a test subject but after various tests he started improving himself and took over. Crichton takes her to Pilot, and they work together on a cure for Aeryn. Pilot mentions that Rygel has nearly finished with the crystal, when Kornata reveals that if it is imported into Moya's data store, all her memory will be erased. Crichton goes after him, as Zhaan and D'Argo escape. Crichton manages to knock the crystal out of Rygel's hands and it hits the floor, shattering. He tells them all that it was never meant to work.

Kornata goes with Crichton to Nam Tar, but he says he doesn't have the time to fight Crichton again – he'd just kill him this time. He says Aeryn is not here, and shows him what she has become – a hybrid Pilot/Sebacean-like creature! Crichton argues with NamTar about his reasoning for subjecting people to this, and NamTar says that he has realised that all species strive for perfection - that is what evolution is! Crichton explains there were madmen on his planet like him too, and Kornata blindsides NamTar, injecting him with something that causes him to revert to his true form. Crichton injects the antidote into Aeryn's eye, and Kornata said he's saved Aeryn's life.

Back on Moya, Aeryn has virtually recovered, and Crichton asks what the worst part was. She says what Nam Tar did to her was like her inside, the real her, and Crichton says she'll fit in great back on Earth. Meanwhile, D'Argo has gone to Pilot and says if the same situation arose, he'd do the same again. Pilot says Luxans aren't readily given to apologise so he understands, and D'Argo shows him something he had been working on. Pilot asks what the new weapon is, but D'Argo answers with a surprise - it's not a weapon but a Shilquen, a musical instrument that he then plays to soothe Pilot's suffering...

Memorable quotesEdit

Aeryn: How could you? Pilot is defenseless.
D'Argo: Compassion? From a Peacekeeper?
Aeryn: For a comrade. You attacked one of your own. Would you do the same to the rest of us?
D'Argo: Of course.
Aeryn: I was born a Peacekeeper soldier. I've always been one among many, a member of a division, a platoon, a unit, a team. I've never been on my own, John, never been alone. Ever.
John: When I find a way home, if I find a way home, I'll, I'll take you with me.
Aeryn: Me, on a planet full of billions of you?
Rygel: What am I, chopped mellet?"
Zhaan: Of course not. I can stomach chopped mellet."
Rygel: Blue-assed bitch."
Zhaan: What did you call me?"
Rygel: A blue-assed bitch!
Pilot: It appears your crystal is useless. Lucky for you, you didn't trade anything of real value to get it.
D'Argo: Ask NamTar for further help? What will he demand of us then?
Pilot: If he should ask for it, what body part are you willing to offer, your Eminence?
John: Well, gotta give me a clue here, Aeryn. Is this something new, or is this just your usual PMS, Peacekeeper military sh-
Aeryn: Frell you.
Rygel: The crystal is well-hidden, and will remain so until you and Zhaan are ready to listen to reason.
D'Argo: 'Reason' being that we return you to Hyneria.
Rygel: That's the very definition of reason.
NamTar: I have temporarily turned my nerve receptors from pain to pleasure.
Aeryn: This is not what you did to the others.
NamTar: Oops.
Aeryn: What have you done to me?
NamTar: Please, push harder!
Aeryn: I wanted him to find me a place where I could belong. I didn't want to get left behind. I'm so scared.
Rygel: You honestly believe that I could find you appealing? I mean, you're so.. .so... BLUE!
NamTar: You felt we had a deal? A deal connotes reaching some point of equality. I'm afraid there's never been anything equal about us.
John: Pilot, we don't have a lot of time. In fact, we have no time. We need your assistance.
Pilot: Without hesitation.
Aeryn: I've always thought of myself in terms of survival, life and death, keeping the body alive. But what NamTar did to me... It was me. Inside. The real me.
John: You would have fit in on Earth, just fine.
D'Argo: You understand why I did what I did?
Pilot: Your motivations were perfectly clear.
D'Argo: Then you understand that if I was faced with the same choice again, I would do exactly the same.
Pilot: I have no doubt whatsoever. I also know that Luxans are not given to apologies.

Background informationEdit

  • According to David Kemper, the inspiration for the episode came when he first saw the Pilot prop. "We're standing there, and I asked, 'Can we cut one of his arms off?'" Matt Carroll thought that Kemper was suggesting that the puppet only have three arms, but some quick clarification on Kemper's part led to the germination of the episode. (Farscape: The Illustrated Companion)
  • The animatronic head piece for NamTar had exaggerated versions Adrian Getley's characteristics according to Terry Ryan. The metal calipers, hinges, and bolts on the outfit were used "because he's tricking around with people's DNA, he's sort of like a cosmetic surgeon who, when something worked on someone else, tried it on himself," stated Ryan. Sean Masterson, the main puppeteer for Pilot, controlled NamTar's face. (Farscape: The Illustrated Companion, "Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.2)
  • Dave Elsey named NamTar as one of the weirdest creatures he had ever come up with and said that he'd turned down ideas that NamTar could simply be a man in a lab coat. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.2)
  • Getley had some issues with temperature inside the NamTar suit, stating, when he was sweating and told to drink water, "I can't. I can't go to the toilet; I have to wait until I'm out of costume!" Virginia Hey remembers telling the costume designer, Terry Ryan, and Ryan cut "a little escape hatch." (Farscape: The Illustrated Companion)
  • Paul Butterworth, the visual effects director, had some clear ideas about what he wanted to do with the episode, stating, "we created a lot of 3D clouds which hadn't been seen on TV at that point in time. We developed a cloudy nebular look and combined that with the outside of the asteroid with a crocodile skin/burning exterior." ("Farscape Chronicles" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.2)
  • In hindsight, Rockne S. O'Bannon felt that this episode was required. "It was an important jolt halfway through the first season, and it allowed us to keep that edge through the rest of the season. It made "Family Ties" that much more potent with all the good-byes, because Farscape hadn't been a lovefest for 22 episodes. There really had been some rough stuff going on." ("Farscape Chronicles" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.2)
  • Andrew Prowse agreed with O'Bannon, stating, "Once we'd shown that to the crew and we realized that we could make strong dramatic episodes that were not just exhibitions of gags and cute moments, we could take off in a new direction." He also noted that, "a lot of people on the web responded strongly to that one. I think that episode represents a solidification of the group of people. After that we went forward more strongly..." ("Farscape Chronicles" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.2)
  • Ben Browder took the moral of this episode to be "never trust the easy answers, especially when they come from a creepy geneticist who is really a tiny lab rat." (Farscape Minisodes)
  • The chief villain from this episode, NamTar, was named from reversing "Rat Man." Namtar also happens to be the name of a Sumerian god of disease and pestilence. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.2)
  • It is revealed here that Pilots and Leviathans are bonded together and that Leviathans are the only way Pilots can travel through space. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.2)

Links and referencesEdit


Guest castEdit



Voice artistsEdit


arn; Bishan; Curly; cycle; data spool; Delvia; DRD; Earth; Family Feud; Festival of Pedrark; filgran; food cube; frell; frodank; heat delirium; hezmana; Hyneria; Hynerian; Larry; Leviathan; Luxan; Luxan Territories; mellet; Mengele, Joseph; mivonks; Moe; Moya; navigation crystal; nerve receptor; Pa'u; Peacekeeper; pneuma; pulse pistol; Qualta Blade; scent hound; Sebacean; servicer; shilquen; Three Stooges; Uncharted Territories; weeken; yotz

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