STARGATE UNIVERSE returned to our screens with a taut, action- and emotion-filled episode that revealed Dr. Rush’s surprising fate — and the torment experienced by Col. Young over marooning the scientist on a wasteland planet.
TJ (Alaina Huffman) tried to get Young (Louis Ferreira) to talk about what happened, but the commanding officer was understandably hesitant to expound on his feelings. Young claimed that Rush (Robert Carlyle) was killed in a rock slide, but the truth is Young beat Rush unconscious and abandoned him in the midseason cliff-hanger. Two points made this scene significant: It demonstrated that Young felt remorse, and showed the Young/TJ relationship ran pretty deep. We know it was not just a sexual fling; the pair clearly care for each other.
The plot got under way quickly, as Young tried to use the communication stones to report back to Earth, but was instead redirected into a totally alien body in a nearby vessel. (Rush later uses the alien telepathic link to learn the creature handled a communication stone). These stones need to be explored much further. Caine, who is on “stone duty,” realizes something is wrong and pulls the rock, returning Young to Destiny, and the alien to its own ship. Camile (Ming-Na) — who already suspected foul play in Rush’s “death,” is skeptical of Young’s claim that he was in an alien body. But that’s the problem with lying: Once you start, it spirals, and pretty soon everything starts becoming suspect. And Camile is not a good enemy to piss off; she is already fomenting dissent among the scientists (notably Volker and Brody) against the military contingent. But the truth of Young’s story is soon evident, when an alien ship parks off the prow of Destiny — and then attacks. Destiny repels the invaders, but not before Chloe (Elyse Levesque) is kidnapped and dumped into a water-filled tank for study.
Young realizes that the fastest way to get on the alien ship is to use the communication device, so he “stones” (can I coin that phrase? Please?) over in search of his lost crew member. And he finds one, all right: Dr. Nicholas Rush! There was a great moment in which I wondered if Young would repeat his mistake and abandon Rush again. But no, he could not leave even Rush to the horrible fate of a lab rat. I figure the aliens took Chloe because they wanted another sample after becoming intrigued by Rush, whom they plucked off the planet when he accidentally triggered a distress beacon in the wrecked ship.
Can I take a moment to talk about those aliens! I love, love, love that the new species is only vaguely humanoid — and clearly not portrayed by men in rubber masks. Bravo for spending the money on CGI — and making the most of the expense by designing truly alien-looking aliens, with translucent blue skin and spindly limbs. I further love that humans are physically stronger than the aliens. I am so sick of alien species that are stronger than humans. And, at last, we know whose ship had been attached to Destiny before the humans arrived, and was seen departing at the end of Air Part 3. Rush claimed the aliens want to learn the secrets of Destiny. But that did not stop them from attacking, and giving Destiny its first space battle!
Speaking of secrets, Rush and Young conspire to keep secret what really happened on the planet “for the sake of the crew.” But Rush still fears that Young will try to kill him again: “It’s not like we were ever friends.” Later, Rush throws in with Camile.
Amidst all the slam-bang action, the episode also contained two scenes featuring that great soap opera trope, the Overhead Conversation. The first came when Caine overheard James express her infatuation with him via kino. The other was even more classic, the You Only Heard Half of the Conversation: Young caught walked up on Caine discussing James with TJ, but Young assumed that Caine was talking about TJ, and slinked away, apparently bereft.
In my book, this moody, atmospheric and evocative episode (called “Space”) bridged the gap in SGU fandom between folks who want more SG-1 inspired bombast, and those (like myself) who are intrigued by the character interplay. This “little bit of everything” story would make a great template for future episodes.