Season 2 Episode 17

The Ugly Truth

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Sep 08, 2000 on Syfy
out of 10
User Rating
204 votes

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Episode Summary

When Crais and Talyn rendezvous with Moya, the crew boards Talyn, where Crais presents them with a proposal about the young ship's future. Meanwhile, a ship that Crais intended to purchase weaponry from approaches Talyn, butTalyn fires and destroys it. Crais and Talyn flee, but the crew get captured and are put on trial for for their lives.moreless

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  • Character Insights Galore!

    This is one of those episodes that is better the second time around. The first time you're just trying to figure out what the hell actually happened. The second time, when you know what each character's objective is, you can enjoy the discrepancies in their stories, which provide some fascinating insight into the minds of each character.


    Here's what actually happened:

    Aeryn, John, D'Argo, Zhaan and Stark come aboard Talyn at Crais's request. Crais says that, despite his best efforts, Talyn is growing dangerously aggressive. Crais asks them to help him persuade Talyn to submit to sedation, so that they can remove Talyn's canon. Crais claims that he would like to install a Plokavian dampening net in its place, which would allow him to incapacitate hostile vessels without destroying them. Stark becomes distressed by this news and informs them that the Plokavians are a dangerous and violent race, whose weapons were used to enslave his home world. The others doubt that Crais's intentions are as good as he claims and D'Argo accuses him outright of plotting to install even worse weapons.


    When the Plokavian arms dealers arrive, Stark panics. He reaches for the weapons console to fire on their ship, but John manages to get to the console first and switches it off, which automatically transfers weapons control to Talyn. Talyn blows up the Plokavians anyway, because Moya told him that their ship was carrying novatron gas, a chemical weapon that when inhaled eats biological matter from the inside out. Zhaan and D'Argo did not see John disable the console, so they think that Stark fired the canon.


    A second Plokavian ship appears. Crais orders the others to leave Talyn at gunpoint. They get to their transport pod. When they are clear, Talyn and Crais starburst away. The new Plokavian ship overtakes and captures the transport pod as they try to make their way back to Moya. The Plokavians begin interrogating them one at a time in an effort to identify the one responsible for the destruction of their fellow ship. They threaten to kill everyone if the guilty party is not identified or if they are found to be lying.


    And so the lying game begins:

    The Plokavians start with Aeryn and grill her specifically about whether Talyn or Crais might be guilty, but she defends them, insisting that it was an accident. She admits that Stark moved towards the weapons console, but she claims it was because he wanted to raise the defense screen. She states very clearly that she stopped him. In Aeryn's version of the events people voice their opinions, but look to her to make a final decision (perhaps she sees it this way because she feels responsible of Talyn and therefore more entitled to the call the shots). John and D'Argo are very much against the idea of helping Crais, while Zhaan is indecisive, saying at one point that she may "perhaps even meditate on the subject" and later helplessly declaring that she "doesn't know who to believe" Aeryn is seen rolling her eyes at this. These little Zhaan details are not seen in anyone else's testimony, so it is unlikely that they really happened. This is nonetheless how the tough, militant, decisive Aeryn sees her priestess shipmate.


    Zhaan's testimony is probably my favorite simply because she is such a terrible liar. She tells the Plokavians that they were only meeting with Crais, because Talyn was having some circuitry problems. In her version of the events she is the smart one who realizes that Crais will need theirs and Moya's help if he wants to sedate Talyn. She is also the one to tell her shipmates about the Plokavians, "quite far advanced technologically, strong believers in truth and justice" (What a kiss up! I love it!) Later she praises the design of the Plokavian vessel stating that it is, "sedately pleasing" She claims that it was another circuitry malfunction that caused the canon to fire and blatantly lies when she states that no one was anywhere near the weapons console. At this point she still thinks that Stark fired the canon, but she is careful to portray him as levelheaded. John on the other hand is portrayed as bumbling fool, easily persuaded to switch sides in an argument. Whenever someone says something clever he is impressed and says something like, "good point" I'm still not quite sure what to think of this. Either Zhaan really sees John as an idiot, or she thought she was helping him by painting him as an idiot in the minds of the Plokavians, though I don't see how that was supposed to help. Time and again we've seen her look to John for a decision and trust his word over others, so although the whole dumb-John thing was amusing it didn't really make much sense.


    Stark pins all of the blame on Crais in the hope that they will go after him and leave everyone else alone. In his version of events everyone is distrustful of Crais and very much against the whole idea. Stark tells the Plokavians that Crais became angry when the others would not consent to help him, and that Crais then marched over to the weapons control, and fired the canon.


    D'Argo clearly sees himself as the hero and the leader of the pack. In his version everyone looks to him for a decision and John is his blind follower a sort of yes-man sidekick. Literally all John does is agree with D'Argo: "I think you are right," "I am down with that," and even "yeah" D'Argo paints Stark as a weak emotional being with an irrational hatred for Plokavians and claims that he tried to stop Stark, but could not get to the weapons console fast enough to prevent him from firing the canon.


    For the most part John is truthful in his testimony. He says that he managed to disable the weapons console before Stark could fire the canon; but he does not tell them that in doing so he transferred control back to Talyn. Instead he insists that it was a malfunction. Also, since John thinks they're called Plakavoids, everyone in his testimony calls them that too.


    Although this episode didn't do much (if anything) to move the season arc story along, it was an fascinating chance to study the characters to step inside their heads and see the world as they see it. I thought it was interesting that everyone felt that John was on their side, except Aeryn, which says something about the state of their relationship. At the end of the episode John even confronts Aeryn about whether she was just defending Talyn, or Crais too. Something D'Argo also noted in his testimony.moreless
  • Who's telling the truth?

    ‘The Ugly Truth’ is a fantastic episode with character depth, great storytelling and writing.

    It features Talyn and Crias, the entire Moya crew goes into the ship except for Rygel and Chiana. When a ship that had a deal to change Tylon’s dangerous weaponry, Tylon shoots and makes it explode. Crais force everyone to go back but they get captured and begin to have on their own turn an investigation.

    First Aeryn who claims that everything went smoothly and that it was accidentally. Zhaan as second whose story looks a lot alike except she tries to make Stark the goodguy very badly. When it’s Stark’s turn is when it changes completely, he blames Crais for everything that happened.

    D’Argo doesn’t seem to respect Stark much and he doesn’t like him at all and attacks him and makes him almost loose his mask. He testifies against Stark making him the bad guy. Then it’s up to Crichton to make the final decision and he tells the truth, none of them really shot it and it’s none of them’s fault.

    Those creatures do not believe them and promise to kill them all until they tell the truth so Stark comes up for them and says that he was the one who did it and he gives his mask to Zhaan and goes inside and he gets destroyed.

    Back on the ship John says that Stark didn’t shoot because it was off, Tylon was the one who shot. D’Argo feels bad for having misjudged Stark and they hope that he is still alive but they don’t think so, neither does Zhaan.

Peter Carroll

Peter Carroll


Guest Star

Linda Cropper

Linda Cropper


Guest Star

Paul Goddard

Paul Goddard


Recurring Role

Lani Tupu

Lani Tupu

Voice of Pilot/Captain Bialar Crais

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • We learn the nature of the second of the six cargoes forbidden to Leviathans: Novatrin Gas, a weapon that destroys flesh from the inside out. The first to be revealed was Clorium, which can be used as a painkiller by Leviathans, in the episode "I, E.T.".

    • In Crichton's version of the story everyone uses the wrong name (Plokavoids) for the alien race, the Plokavians. In everyone else's version, only Crichton gets it wrong.

    • Stark was supposedly "executed" via dispersion in this episode, however it's possible he could return, because knowing what was coming he transferred part of himself into another realm before dispersion, and that could be enough to allow him to reconstitute himself.

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Crichton: (as D'Argo paces their in prison) Watch your step, it's a long way down.
      D'Argo: Keep bothering me, and I'll test that theory by throwing you over it!

    • Crichton: Sooner or later, one of us is going to have to find a bathroom.
      D'Argo: (laughing hysterically, then dead serious) I really wish you hadn't said that.

    • D'Argo: Where the Hezmana are we?
      Crichton: Some kind of floating hubcap.
      D'Argo: Hoob cap? (shakes his head) Where's Aeryn?
      Crichton: Good question.
      D'Argo: Bad answer.

    • Rygel: Pilot, has Talyn grown bigger since last we saw him?
      Chiana: (staring with breathless fascination) Ahh, his cannon sure looks bigger!

    • Crichton: This is the weirdest hoosegow I've ever been in- slammer, clink, jail, prison.
      Aeryn: Just how many have you been in?!
      Crichton: Just what are you implying?

    • Crichton: Oh, God! I missed you so much! I was so worried about you! (whispering) Play along.
      Aeryn: (flatly) I missed you too John. Hold me.

  • NOTES (3)


    • Crichton: Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.

      A common children's oath of unknown origin to indicate that the truth is being told.

    • Rashomon:
      This episode is a clear homage to the famous Japanese film Rashomon, which depicts the same story about a crime told over and over, but each time it's told from a different character's point of view, with slightly different details.