The Ninjabot

Retro Review: Farscape, “The Ugly Truth”

Posted on August 24, 2013 at 5:09 pm by Will Wells

First things first.  Stark.

Now that's an unpleasant looking birthmark!

Stark was introduced in the multipart Farscape season 1 finale, along with Scorpius.  Crichton freed Stark from imprisonment by Scorpius, and at the end of the season, Stark was last seen leaving Moya on a transport pod.

Stark returned to Moya in the previous episode, “The Locket,” to inform D’Argo about his son’s enslavement and his upcoming sale.  This not only sets up the multipart season 2 closer, but brings Stark back into the cast for this episode, “The Ugly Truth.”

“The Ugly Truth” begins with Crichton, Aeryn, D’Argo, Zhaan, and Stark boarding Talyn to meet Crais.  We don’t get to see the conversation yet – instead we see Chiana and Rigel on Moya monitoring the situation.  While they are doing so, a Plokavian arms dealer shows up and Talyn activates his weapons and blows the Plokavian ship up.

Talyn gonna shoot you down!

Talyn then starbursts away while Moya’s crew flies back towards her on a transport pod.  A second ship of Plokavians shows up and captures the pod.  Roll opening credits.

“The Ugly Truth” then proceeds to go through the same scene onboard Talyn five different ways – as told to the Plokavians by Aeryn, Zhaan, Stark, D’Argo, and finally Crichton.  This – and the Plokavians’ threats to kill them all if they lie (which they all do) make up pretty much the entire episode.

What makes all this interesting (aside from the hanging Sword of Damocles) is the lies, both large and small, that each person tells.

Settle in folks - you're gonna be seeing this frame a lot.

In Aeryn’s version, Crichton is portrayed as particularly aggressive – almost more so than D’Argo – while Zhaan is flighty and indecisive.  Zhaan even announces to the room that she need to meditate on the issue of replacing Talyn’s main cannon with non-lethal armaments (hence the meeting with the arms dealer).  Aeryn maintains that no one fired the weapon – it was a malfunction.

Next up is Zhaan.  Zhaan is nervous, so she keeps complimenting the Plokavians on their ship design and honorable nature.  In her version, no one argues – they discuss – and everyone is very sedate and thoughtful.  Crichton, in particular, is portrayed as indecisive and keeps switching sides in the discussion.  Finally, whereas most of the other characters’ testimonies is filmed with wide shots, Zhaan’s is made up mostly of close-ups, as if she is paying very close attention to everyone’s mouths as they speak.  It is an interesting take on the way Zhaan thinks and remembers.

Sadly, this was the best pic Google Images could provide of the Zhaan close-ups.

See what I mean about the close-ups?

Third is Stark.  Stark has an angry rant about Plokovians and Peacekeepers alike.  In his version, even Zhaan is against Crais.  Furthermore, it is Crais – in a moment of insanity, one must assume – who fires the weapons on the Plokovian ship.

Fourth is D’Argo.  Like Stark, he doesn’t like Crais or the Plokovians.  However, in his version, it is Stark who is the insane loon who fired the weapons.  However, that isn’t the highlight of D’Argo’s testimony.  This time, Crichton is portrayed as D’Argo’s yes-man, instantly agreeing with anything D’Argo says, and with little to say himself.  Many of John’s lines are instead given to D’Argo.  At one point, D’Argo, Aeryn, Crichton, and Zhaan do a sort of glamour pose to show how awesome they all are in D’Argo’s memory.

Check out Stark's eye peeking out there in the background.

I love how John is nervously tucked in behind D’Argo’s right shoulder.
Ah D’Argo, you don’t have an inferiority complex, do you?

We finish with Crichton.  After being confronted with the conflicts in testimony from the others, John promises to give it to the Plackavoids straight up – no lies or evasions.  And, no, that’s not a typo – John sometimes has trouble pronouncing alien names, so he calls them the Plackavoids in the more honest previous flashbacks.  In his memory, everyone calls them Plackavoids.  While John claims to give the real truth – and his admission that he deactivated the weapon controls before Stark could activate them certainly seems to be the truth – he unintentionally lies elsewhere.  While Aeryn tends to trust Crais – she certainly did in her own testimony, and in everyone else’s apart from D’Argo’s – Crichton portrays her as mistrustful of him as John himself.  D’Argo and Zhaan’s roles both get downplayed in John’s memory, probably because he wasn’t paying attention to them.  While John is telling the truth, it is just as clearly not the “actual” truth.

The Plackavoids threaten to kill everyone for lying, but Stark (upon hearing the method of execution) immediately confesses and is executed by dispersion.  Stark believes he might be able to survive dispersion because… reasons.

Te he.  I've started calling them Plackavoid like John does!  It's a subversive joke!  Laugh at my meta-humor!  ....  I said Laugh, dammit!

A Plackavoid.

The others are released and discuss the matter back on Moya.  D’Argo honestly believed that Stark fired the shot.  Zhaan did too, but she lied to cover it up.  John tells them about deactivating the weapon controls – which turned weapon controls over to Talyn.  Pilot adds that Moya and Talyn scanned the Plackavoid’s ship and detected the weapons there, including Leviathan-killing poison.  Talyn destroyed the Plackavoids because he thought they were attacking Moya, and John gave him weapon control to do so while preventing Stark from firing himself.

Rating: B

Breakdown: For what amounts to a cheap filler episode, “The Ugly Truth” does a damn fine job of getting into our character’s minds and exploring the idea of truth itself.  Who, after all, is guilty?  Talyn couldn’t have fired if John didn’t deactivate the control.  John wouldn’t have deactivated them if Stark hadn’t tried to use the weapons.  So then, is Stark actually guilty?  Or is Talyn?  I would have gone higher, but I’m going to be reviewing “Liars, Guns, and Money” soon, and I need to keep my Farscape curve in mind.

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