After weaving a pretty interesting story out of last week’s nirvana cliché, this week STARGATE UNIVERSE busied itself telling a pretty compelling tale around the apocalyptic vision cliché. You know the trope: someone repeatedly foresees a future that ends in disaster no matter what measures are taken to head it off.
The basic scenario had an overwhelming force of blue aliens arrive and demand that Destiny turn over Chloe (Elyse Levesque). No matter which course of action Col. Young (Louis Ferreira) took – fighting, powering shields or placidly surrendering Chloe – the blues end up destroying Destiny. Most of the impact of the disaster comes from the repetition of the doom, with each detonation amplifying the hopelessness of the situation. But I give SGU major credit the first time around, because the scene of Scott (Brian J. Smith) getting blown out of the observation deck made me shout, “Holy frak!” at my TV – before I realized what was going on, of course. (BTW, the effect looked really thrilling, with Scott tumbling amid shattered glass…)
The biggest problem with this scenario we are left with is, precisely how much of what we saw was part of the war gaming? Is Scott’s blood back to normal? Did Emily really demand a divorce? Did Young really sign off on it in another man’s body? I think it’s safe to assume that everything before the recurring call from Brody “counts” as having “really” happened, but we cannot be absolutely sure.
My favorite sequences involved Eli (David Blue) getting to know recently transplanted Lucian Alliance techie Ginn (Julie McNiven). As the two hesitantly flirted, Sergeant Greer (Jamil Walker Smith) looked like he wanted to shoot himself out of discomfort. Ginn worked Eli with the practiced ease of a pretty woman; touching his hand nearly sent him into paroxysms of joy. (Uh, Chloe who?) He was especially fragile given his mother’s recent medical problems. She revealed that she was familiar with his theories; however it was unclear to me how Eli’s papers were published. (Perhaps Telford obtained copies in his capacity as a spy in Homeworld Command.) But is Ginn just playing Eli? Eli is still my favorite character, and I am very glad to see him get a few moments of contentment, especially in light of last week’s devastating revelation that Chloe would rather die than turn to him. And, hey, who would’ve thought there would be more than one hot redhead aboard an Ancient ship?
Interesting that Young seems to be spinning out of control and turning to alcohol in the wake of Emily seeking a divorce. Boozing and spinning his wedding ring on a table reminded me of Col. Tigh losing his grip on BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. Young has always seemed to be a haunted, driven man, so clearly the last thing he needs is more issues that he cannot control weighing on his mind! He went to Wray (Ming-Na) and explained his visions because he feared he was going insane. Of course she was skeptical – even though they are on a millenia-old starship billions upon billions of light years from Earth. As they talked, Wray suggested that he may simply be resisting the idea of giving up Chloe as a sign of defeat. She suggested he visit Chloe and talk to her. Chloe, it turned out, was dealing with the isolation the best she could – especially considering that most of the rest of the crew was frightened of her. “I’m afraid of me,” she admitted. In a splendid little bit, Chloe and Young both acknowledged – without stating it – the likelihood that Young is going to have to drop her off on a random planet at some point before she changes completely. And he is already haunted enough about smothering the fatally injured Riley with his bare hands; he did not want to have to execute another crew member.
T.J. (Alaina Huffman) told Young what she perceived as having happened to their baby and the obelisk planet, but of course but he wouldn’t believe her. (And that really upset her!) T.J. noted that she can tell “where” Young is headed (a black hole of despair, no doubt) because she almost went there herself, and she was afraid that he would not be able to come back.
Rush (Robert Carlyle) and the others figured out that Destiny was running battle simulations – and why: The ship itself seemed to be doubting whether Young is fit for command, so it tested him, and found him wanting. So did Wray and Rush, who pushed for Lieutenant Scott to seize command. But Scott preferred to try to talk some sense into Young. “You are the commanding officer; you don’t get to feel sorry for yourself!” he barked. When Young explained about ending Riley’s suffering – “I suffocated him with my own hands” – Scott insisted that Young’s pain is precisely what makes him fit for lead. He feels the burden of command, and “It adds up.” Scott said they need Young because he feels the burden. Rush wouldn’t feel it, which would make him a terrible, aloof leader. “You are a good commander,” Scott averred.
But Destiny did not agree. Although the engines reignited when Young sobered up and returned to work, that was because Rush figured out how to bypass the system and jump back to FTL. “Ultimately, I control this ship,” Rush boasted to the vision of Franklin (Mark Burgess). How will Destiny react to being so manipulated by Rush?