In the pilot episode of Farscape, it's established that translator microbes help different alien races to communicate with one another. However, in the very next episode "I, ET" the inhabitants of a supposedly technologically inferior planet are able to understand Crichton, Pilot and D`Argo perfectly.

Is this a plot hole, or did I miss something very basic?

  • 2
    I am re-watching the series with my young son and it's the first question he asked, seeing how I had to explain him the scene with microbes just a couple of hours ago. I can't believe I didn't catch this myself when I originally watched Farscape :) Could be because Sci-Fi messed with the episode order, I guess.
    – Chahk
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 19:51
  • I just assumed they were a lost colony; tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LostColony That would explain how they could be so close to inhabited space but not know about aliens, their visual similarity to subaceans, their possession of translator microbes, etc
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 21:38
  • @richard didn't seen like it, since they didn't know about other species at all.
    – Chahk
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 21:39
  • Hence lost colony, rather than just plain old colony
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 21:41

2 Answers 2


It's a plot hole

I've gone through the transcript and I can't find any explanation. The writers in Farscape usually call out translator logic pretty clearly, so its absence seems like an oversight.

A talk conversation on the Farscape fandom site agrees:

The beings in "I E.T." either had no TMs and the writers screwed up because it was such an early episode, or they too had TMs left brought to the planet by aliens long ago, causing the TMs to spread throughout the general population up tot the point that they were so used of understanding everyone around them that it never occured to them that it was pretty weird they could instantly understand the alien Crichton.

However considering that this is not only a planet without advanced technology - but that this is a first contact scenario, coming up with a plausible in-universe explanation is probably pure speculation. At the basics it would seem like either they either had TM's as the fandom page suggests, or some kind of technology which mirrors the TM's in functionality.

The normal wiki episode page also notes the plot hole:

Despite not having translator microbes in their body the native population of the planet in this episode can understand Crichton and the rest of the Moya crew.

And the best explanation is indeed that is was an early episode:

O'Bannon admits that while the episode suffered in execution because it was filmed so early in the series, he stands by the script since it keeps John down-to-earth and serves as a touchstone for all the episodes that follow.

  • 1
    Thanks for the quote. Now off to explain what a "plot hole" is to my son :)
    – Chahk
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 20:09
  • Yeah I just finished the series recently and vaguely remember that episode as a question mark for this. Especially since there are whole pages devoted to explaining it in other situations.
    – joshbirk
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 20:12

Has anyone ruled out that this particular species has a unique ability to be able to understand all forms of communication? Or that their species is born with the microbes (or similar microbes) already in their system? Remember they're already using some advanced technology needed by Moya as table salt so why not?

I know we have to rule out that earlier generations had the microbes and then passed them down through birth because D'Argo asked why John wasn't injected at birth but maybe this species evolved or developed a mutation that did pass them down?

Plot holes can usually be explained by any number of things as long as there is nothing in the 'verse which actively contradicts it.

  • 1
    Their table salt is not an advanced technology, it's a naturally occurring element. It's just forbidden because of the effect it has on Leviathans
    – Izkata
    Commented Feb 28, 2015 at 3:26
  • I know, I'm rewatching the series (again) as we speak so I don't know why I worded it like that. The point is that they don't know about all of its uses beyond how they use it so it's possible they actually do inject themselves with the microbes at birth but for another purpose. There are many possibilities so I no longer consider this a plot hole as it can be explained by a multitude of things.
    – ElleStack
    Commented Mar 1, 2015 at 12:16

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