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The Ugly Truth

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Farscape episode
“The Ugly Truth”
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 17
Guest star(s) Lani Tupu (Captain Bialar Crais), Paul Goddard (Stark), Peter Carroll (Gahv), Linda Cropper (Fento)
Writer(s) Gabrielle Stanton and Harry Werksman, Jr.
Director Tony Tilse
Production no. 10216
Original airdate September 8, 2000 (US); November 13, 2000 (UK)
Episode chronology
← Previous Next →
"The Locket" "A Clockwork Nebari"

A meeting with Crais goes badly and the crew of Moya are put on trial to determine who was responsible for the disaster. The punishment? Execution.


Aeryn Sun arrives on Talyn, unarmed as he requested, with the others waiting in the transport pod. Crais removes his neural transponder so he is defenceless as well. On Moya, Pilot tells Rygel and Chiana that Talyn has grown and he is telling Moya that he's happy and Crais is not mistreating him. John Crichton enters with Ka D'Argo, Zhaan, and Stark following. Crais says that he's called a truce. He recalls Stark from their encounter on the Gammak Base and says that Talyn is becoming more aggressive and Moya's crew must help him disarm the ship. Meanwhile, Rygel asks Chiana what they must be talking about since they've been gone ages. Pilot detects another vessel approaching fast, a Plokavian ship which he says is bad news. Chiana and Rygel watch as Talyn fires his main cannon and destroys it! He's stopped talking to Moya and another Plokavian ship is approaching. The others are returning in the pod, as Talyn starbursts away. The second ship gets hold of the pod and draws it in and everyone aboard is knocked unconscious...

The crew awake in a dark chamber with only one raised platform in the center, but Aeryn is missing. D'Argo grabs Stark by the throat, saying it's all his fault, but Crichton says to cut it out.

Aeryn's storyEdit

Aeryn is being interrogated and telling the Plokavians that no one is responsible. Talyn couldn't have fired alone as the overrides were in place. Crais was nowhere near the console. She says that if she wanted to blame Crais it would be easy to, since he fled. They think that she is lying to protect them and they want her to tell the story, without lies, from when the others entered...

Testimony: Crais is surprised to see Stark, remembering him from the Gammak Base. He asks for help in disarming Talyn, as he plans to trade weapons for a non-lethal dampening net that will simply immobilize ships. He plans to acquire it from the Plokavians who Stark calls a dangerous race that build weapons. D'Argo thinks that it's a lie, but Aeryn says to hear him out. Crichton tells her to leave D'Argo alone, but Zhaan agrees that Crais has a point. Aeryn says that they'll have to oversee the installation and thinks that Talyn will agree if she says it's OK. Crais needs their help and Moya's to convince Talyn, but D'Argo says that he won't be a part of it and Crichton also has a problem with it. Crais says that it's a simple transaction, but Zhaan says she is not so sure and will have to think it over, maybe by meditating. D'Argo says enough thinking; he wants to kill Crais. Crichton agrees, but Aeryn says that it won't help. Crais agrees and says that he can't even convince Talyn to only use weapons as a last resort. Aeryn says that she'll link up with Talyn for a direct conversation. Crichton and D'Argo don't want to trust Crais, but he says that he's only ever used Talyn's power in self-defense. Zhaan says that was the case with the encounter with the Halosians, but Crichton still doesn't believe, D'Argo thinks it's dren, and Zhaan doesn't know who to believe. Crais detects the Plokavian ship and tells them that privacy mode is engaged. Aeryn comments that they're heavily armed and Stark suggests raising the defense screen. Aeryn stops him, saying that it may be interpreted as an act of aggression. A Plokavian asks Crais if there's a problem and he says no, but he wants to discuss the terms of their agreement. Talyn's gun suddenly fires and destroys the Plokavian vessel. Crais asks who did it and Aeryn says nobody. Crais says that Talyn will find out and pulls out another transponder as Talyn aims his gun at the group. Crais screams at them to leave and despite Aeryn's objections they drag her away.

Aeryn then tells the Plokavian interrogators that she would have removed Crais transponder herself and forced Talyn to stay, but the others wouldn't let her.

On Moya, Chiana finds Rygel looking for food. He's supposed to be negotiating with the Plokavians, but apparently they won't talk. Moya decides that their presence will not change the current situation and leaves to search for Talyn.

Aeryn is returned and Crichton asks where she's been. Aeryn says she was questioned, all of them will be eventually and they shouldn't lie as it will get them all executed. Crichton hugs Aeryn, telling her to play along as Zhaan is called. Aeryn tells Crichton that she said no one was responsible – it's the only story she had, but Zhaan is gone before they can relay it.

Zhaan's testimonyEdit

Crais recognizes Stark from the Gammak Base then talks about the dampening net and acquiring it from the Plokavians. Zhaan tells Stark that they're technologically advanced and strong believers of justice. D'Argo says that Crais must want to exchange the dampening net for Talyn's main cannon which Crais admits since the cannon has been malfunctioning lately. Crichton says he doesn't trust him and Crais says that it pains him that he hasn't forgiven him for his past misdeeds and offers to let him supervise the installation himself. Zhaan says that he'll need their help and Moya's to sedate Talyn for the modifications, but Crichton says that he hadn't thought that Talyn might not want to give up his cannon. Aeryn says that's why Crais should do it and the Plokavians ask Zhaan if anybody had a problem with Crais' plan. Zhaan says that they did, and that's when D'Argo lost his temper and went in to hyper-rage. Back in the flashback, D'Argo doesn't want Crais to make the exchange and Crichton thinks D'Argo makes a good point. Stark says that a dampening net is just what Talyn needs and D'Argo tells Crais that if he's lying he'll break his neck. Crais says that he just wants to help Talyn, and it's been hard to talk him into using weapons only in defense. Aeryn says that she'll teach him to behave, but Crais says to trust him; he's only used Talyn's weapons in self-defence. Zhaan brings up the encounter with the Halosians which Crais says demonstrates his good intentions. The Plokavians arrive and speak to Crais as Zhaan and Stark talk about the beauty of their ship. Talyn raises his cannon and Aeryn says that the weapons console malfunctioned. Crichton goes to disarm it, but Aeryn stops him, saying that he might set it off. The cannon fires, destroying the Plokavian ship. Zhaan says that Talyn and Crais should be here when the authorities arrive, but he pulls out another transponder and forces them to leave.

Zhaan tells the Plokavians that they could do nothing, so they boarded the transport and were then captured. Zhaan is returned and says to the others that she told the Plokavians what she saw then D'Argo tells Stark that if he doesn't do the same then they'll all die. Stark is called and says that he didn't believe Crais only wanted the dampening net and that the reformed Crais is just an act – he's power mad and Crichton didn't believe his story either.

Stark's testimonyEdit

Crais says that Talyn is not listening to him and Aeryn says good for Talyn. Zhaan says that his control isn't as absolute as he thought. D'Argo says to just give the word and he'll break Crais' neck. Crais then says that Talyn needs him and chose him, but Aeryn says perhaps they should override that choice. Crais says that he's not misused Talyn's power; he's only fired in self-defense. Zhaan brings up the Halosian encounter and Crais says they attacked and he spared them; he's not a killer. Crichton says that they won't help, but Crais says they'll regret it. The Plokavians arrive, but Crais tells them the deal is off and fires, destroying the ship.

Stark tells the Plokavians that they're covering for Crais to protect Talyn; he doesn't care for Talyn as much as the others.

On Moya, Chiana and Rygel are concerned since they can't find Talyn and Pilot gets annoyed at them for questioning Moya's decision to pursue him.

D'Argo's storyEdit

D'Argo is pacing and Crichton tries to cheer him up as Stark is returned. The Plokavians say that the testimonies do not correspond and unless they hear the truth all of them will be executed. D'Argo attacks Stark, knocking his mask off and revealing the energy it covers which Zhaan just manages to keep from falling. She returns it and Aeryn tells D'Argo that that didn't help matters. D'Argo is called and says he will tell the Plokavians what he saw.

Testimony: D'Argo asks who the Plokavians are and Stark says that they're barbarians, murderers, builders of horrific weapons, and that they're savages. D'Argo then tells the Plokavians that Aeryn stepped in to defend Crais... Aeryn tells D'Argo that Crais only wants the dampening net, but D'Argo says that he thinks Crais wants to equip Talyn with more deadly weapons. Crichton agrees and the others all stand behind D'Argo (in D'Argo's version all the crew seem to regard him as the leader). Crais denies it and Stark calls for them to leave. Crais says that they can't because he needs their help. D'Argo says that they won't be a party to this and Stark says they must stop the Plokavians – they're evil and help enslave worlds including his. Crais says that this will help Talyn, but D'Argo says that he'll help by breaking Crais' neck. Crichton agrees, but Zhaan says that violence won't solve the problem. Crais says that Talyn needs his guidance, D'Argo says control, but Aeryn says she can help if they let her. D'Argo says that Crais wants to use the power for himself, but he says he only used it in self-defense. Zhaan mentions that he did stop Talyn in the Halosian encounter when the Plokavians arrive. Stark is adamant they shouldn't deal with them and D'Argo and Zhaan examine the cargo analysis of their ship – it's novatrin gas which will eat you alive from the inside out. Stark says that they must stop them and hits a button, firing Talyn's cannon. Everyone says that Stark frelled Crais and he won't get the transponder, but D'Argo notices he has another.

D'Argo says that Stark did fire the cannon, but he won't mourn the death of someone dealing in novatrin gas. He says that they shouldn't all be punished for Stark's doing.

Stark tells Zhaan that D'Argo's testimony will get him executed and says that she has to believe that he didn't fire.

Meanwhile on Moya, Chiana apologizes to Pilot, who says that the chances of finding Talyn are miniscule, but Moya feels guilty out of responsibility. Chiana persuades him to ask Moya, who agrees with her concerns, so they set a return course.

Crichton's storyEdit

D'Argo is returned to the platform and Crichton is called. He tells the Plokavians that no one fired; it must have been a malfunction. The Plokavians show D'Argo testifying that Stark fired and Crichton says that D'Argo was confused; Stark wouldn't know how to fire, so they show Aeryn saying that Stark offered to raise the defense screen. Crichton says that D'Argo must've seen Stark at the console and assumed it was Stark. The Plokavians show Zhaan saying that no one ever approached the weapons console, it must've malfunctioned and that Crichton started towards it but Aeryn stopped him. The Plokavians says that he must have done it, but he says that everyone's story will be different because no one sees things the same way. They says that they do, but Crichton says there will be inconsistencies and the Plokavians show Stark saying that Crais fired from the weapons console. The Plokavians say they're all lying – executions will begin immediately.

They say that they will execute him first, but Crichton thinks that they're looking for a scapegoat not the truth. They say they want justice and Crichton says they are lying; he will give it to them straight – he doesn't know who it was, he can only say what he saw. They tell him to go on...

Testimony: Stark says that the Plakavoids (everyone mispronounces in Crichton's story) are an evil race who produce weapons like scatter grenades, seismic disruptors, and novatrin gas. Crais says that he only wants the dampening net, but D'Argo thinks he wants to install deadlier weapons. Crais says that they can supervise the installation themselves. He'll need their help as Talyn won't part with the cannon willingly. D'Argo says they can't be a party to this and Stark repeats that the Plakavoids are evil; their weapons have helped enslave many races including his own. Crais says that this weapon will help Talyn, but D'Argo says they can help Talyn by breaking Crais' neck. Crais says that Talyn would be more destructive without guidance which Zhaan calls control. Crais says that he can't convince Talyn that weapons should only be used as a last resort, and Aeryn suggests that she may have more success. Crais says that he has only ever fired in self-defense and Zhaan backs his claim by bringing up the Halosian incident. Crais explains that they attacked and it was all he could do without finishing them off. Crais tells Crichton that he has changed – Talyn's aggression is his only concern. The Plakavoids arrive, but Stark says they shouldn't deal with them. Crichton asks if they agree are the Plakavoids the right people to deal with. Stark goes over to the weapons console to fire, but Crichton sees and Stark says they have to strike first. The two struggle over the control and the cannon goes off.

Crichton says that Crais then ordered them to leave. He adds that Stark only touched the console after he shut it down and with the safety on Stark couldn't have fired. Nobody did.

Final judgementEdit

Stark believes he'll be executed and wonders how. Aeryn says that they mentioned dispersion to her and Stark says that there's a remote chance he could survive dispersion. If he's prepared he could transfer enough of himself to another realm to survive. He then adds, after looking at Aeryn that he doesn't believe it would work either. Crichton is returned and the Plokavians say that they have no choice but to put them all to death. Stark confesses and everyone is knocked to the floor. They say that he was the prime suspect and he removes his mask, revealing that the energy is no longer glowing, and hands it to Zhaan. He thanks them for their friendship and is then dispersed.

On the transport pod, D'Argo says that he misjudged Stark; he shouldn't have died for his crime – he was trying to save them. Crichton and Aeryn say that he committed no crime, but D'Argo says he saw Stark fire and Zhaan adds that she did too (revealing that she had lied in her testimony). Crichton tells them that he shut down the weapons console before fire, knowing it would return control to Talyn. D'Argo asks why Talyn would fire and Pilot chimes in to say that when Talyn scanned the Plokavian ship's cargo, he asked Moya what it was. When she said novatrin gas, one of the six forbidden cargoes for Leviathans... it was Talyn who destroyed the ship, thinking he was protecting Moya.

Back on MoyaEdit

Later, on Moya, Chiana goes to D'Argo and sees a picture of his son and tells D'Argo that he'll find him. D'Argo replies that will only be because Stark told him where he was, and wonders why he did that. He says that he has become so distrustful even of people trying to help, what does that say of him?

Crichton asks Aeryn why she didn't implicate Crais and she says she was protecting Talyn. She asks if he thinks it's possible that Stark survived. Crichton says that he's seen a lot of impossible things, but Aeryn says Zhaan thinks it could be done. Crichton adds that she says she does, but he doesn't think she believes it. On an image of Zhaan weeping and stroking Stark's mask, we fade out...

Memorable quotesEdit

Crichton: "And that's how I saw it. Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye."

Background informationEdit

  • This episode was inspired by the Japanese film Rashomon. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v2.3)
  • The way each line was to be delivered depended on who was narrating and was clearly marked in the script to ensure that the actors knew which "version" they were working on. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v2.3)
  • According to Claudia Black, the production was not helped by the fact that most of the cast and crew had seen Galaxy Quest the weekend before shooting began. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v2.3)
  • In the interrogation scenes, the cast really was above a tank of water on the studio floor. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v2.3)
  • Dave Elsey's Plokavian makeup was inspired by the creations seen in The Incredible Melting Man. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v2.3)
  • Tony Tilse's direction to designer Tim Ferrier harkened back to Russell Mulcahy's designs for a 1970s video by The Tubes, "Mondo Bondage". ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v2.3)
  • Many of the images for the season 3 title sequence were derived from setups for this episode. ("Cool Farscape Facts" - Starburst Edition DVD v2.3)
  • Tilse remembers that "there was more of a discussion in the backstory about what was going on. We discussed motivations of characters as we were going on and talked with the writing department. Sometimes things would change from first draft to second draft. In the first draft, we explored a lot of backstory, then in the second draft, they'd take it back. But as a director, you've already subconsciously absorbed this backstory and it's great for motivations even though it's never revealed in the story." ("Farscape Chronicles" - Starburst Edition DVD v2.3)
  • Tilse also liked the chance he was given for the subtle revelations about the crew's feelings for each other. "At times this was a tough one, but I look back at it and I love it because there's some lovely subtle performances. With everyone's story, you get a hint of what they think of each other, and how everyone felt that Crichton was with them rather than the others. It was good to see who was a good liar. Aeryn was a very good liar. Zhaan was such a terrible liar." ("Farscape Chronicles" - Starburst Edition DVD v2.3)

Links and referencesEdit


Guest starsEdit


Voice artistsEdit


arn; Banik; Command; "Cross my heart"; dampening net; defense screen; dispersal; docking web; dren; fahrbot; fender bender; forbidden cargo; frell; Gammak Base; Halosian; hezmana; hubcap; hyper-rage; Ka Jothee; Luxan; Maldis; mivonks; Moya; neural transponder; novatrin gas; Pa'u; Plefik; Plokavian; Plovakian ship; Scorpius; seismic disruptor; shag carpet; scatter grenade; Skizak; sonic ascendancy cannon; Sparky; starburst; Talyn; transport pod

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