STARGATE UNIVERSE 1.3 Air (and sand)

Lots of air and sand

Well, nobody came down with a case of the warm fuzzies for the third part of STARGATE UNIVERSE’s initial story, “Air.” Everyone still barely tolerates everyone else – at best. To me, this dynamic worked even better this week, because it was believable that nerves would be frayed as the breathable atmosphere was consumed. There was not much support for pulling together for the greater good, and making their last breaths meaningful or noble. Newly sown grudges were maintained, and the appearance of Col. Telford simply added more fuel to the fire.

While Rush and Scott led an expedition to an unknown planet looking for lime to repair the air scrubbers, the rest of the crew remained aboard Destiny and squabbled about what to do. From Earth, Telford and Dr. Mehta switched bodies with Col. Young and Chloe, so Chloe could to tell her mother about her father’s death and Young could report to Gen. O’Neill. Telford used the switch to inspect Destiny. Or rather, try to. Telford was shocked to find Young’s body badly wounded, yet he insisted on pushing the injured body to extremes while stalking about the ship, tearing the trapped crew new ones. What a jerk! I know Telford feels guilty because he was supposed to lead the team through the gate to the ninth chevron location, but he should have vacated Young’s body and switched with someone else. (On another note, maybe the crew lucked out that the taskmaster didn’t get to make the trip!) Props to Lou Diamond Phillips for playing unsympathetic. Bravo to TJ for sedating Telford! And I have to take one tiny issue with Jack’s assertion that no one is “qualified” to go through the gate; as I recall, O’Neill was selected for the original (suicide) mission because he felt he had nothing left to live for after the death of his son. That’s a sort of qualification (although, technically, not specifically for stargate travel. But I digress…).

Meanwhile, the planet Rush, Scott, Eli, Greer, Franklin, Palmer and Curtis visited was so barren it didn’t even have a DHD, but luckily the expedition brought along a portable dialer. The location filming at White Sands, N.M., was very effective in establishing the empty wasteland planet. The empty expanses really felt…well, empty. Even in this inhospitable environment, people kept fighting with each other. Rush was his pompous self, and Greer seemed more short-tempered than usual, which was not a good mix. It’s a tribute to the show that I briefly thought Greer might actually shoot Rush! And my jaw dropped when Rush ordered Greer to shoot Franklin – and he did! The clincher was when Palmer and Curtis decided to strike off on their own and try one of the other addresses. That kind of insubordination would never happen on SG-1 or even STARGATE: ATLANTIS. And there were consequences for their rebellion: Palmer and Curtis were left behind when Destiny returned to light speed.

Although I did not understand the precise mechanism that triggered the memories (hallucination or alien life form?), I enjoyed learning about Scott’s background. His parents died in a car crash when he was 4, and the priest who raised him drank himself to death when Scott was 16. Scott was going to become a priest himself, but he got a girl pregnant and dropped out of seminary. That is not a typical back-story, and I give SGU major points for that. But the show also loses major points for making Mrs. Armstrong a ridiculous cliché: the wealthy, patrician woman who self-medicates with too much booze to compensate for an absent, workaholic husband. How boring! And shockingly lazy on this show.

Still, overall, SGU is anything but lazy. It is challenging to watch, and (so far) not boring.

Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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