Welcome to STARGATE UNIVERSE’s version of a breathless action episode: One that features a planet-wide manhunt, gun battles, deaths, anguish and recriminations. Lots of death and recriminations, in fact. Including the death of one well-liked recurring character, and a newbie who was growing on us.
Thanks to this week’s episode, we know what happens when a body is killed while its mind is swapped out using the Ancient communication stones: Both people die. Rush (Robert Carlyle) found Ginn’s (Julie McNiven) body after she had been killed by Simeon (Robert Knepper), the loose cannon of the Lucian Alliance. (I never trusted that guy – especially since he was played by Knepper.) Ginn had swapped with Dr. Amanda Perry (Kathleen Munroe), who was reported dead back on Earth.
Ginn’s and Perry’s deaths set Rush and Eli (David Blue) over the edge, because they each lost someone they cared about at the same time. Eli actually demanded that Col. Young (Louis Ferreira) give him a gun, but Young managed to talk him out of it. “Killing someone, no matter how much they deserve it, is gonna change you,” Young scolded Eli. Young knows this fact intimately, as his guilt over euthanizing Riley after the shuttle crash is slowly destroying him. But Eli is not the killer type. So Eli turned his anger and frustration inward, giving Blue a chance to really emote without going over the top. Blue hunched over, as if his rage was contracting him into a knot of pain. He snapped at people, but he seemed to keep his anger under control. Carlyle, on the other hand, chose to make Rush’s anguish more theatrical: He screamed and punched walls before transforming into the cold and calculating revenge-seeker; the kind of guy who can look his quarry in the eye and shoot him in the face.
And Simeon was the kind of dirtbag who deserved to get what was coming to him. He went on a deadly random shooting spree, then took Dr. Park (Julia Spence) hostage and fled through the stargate. The manhunt was complicated by the fact that Ginn had told Homeworld Command that Simeon knew details of an impending attack on Earth: names, places and dates – so HC wanted him brought back alive. This seriously hampered the hunt for Simeon. Once the gang made planetfall, the episode followed the template of an old Western, with Simeon attempting to elude a posse. Rush even managed to include a variation on the ol’ cattle stampede. At first, I thought Rush wanted to use the alien beasts as a shield of plausible deniability: It was the beasts that killed Simeon, not Rush. Except that Rush then walked up and delivered the killing blow himself.
I think my favorite scene came on the planet, when the seemingly stoic Rush finally cracked. He was marching along, zombielike, until he started blubbering over Mandy, and just stopped walking. My second-favorite scene was Young trying to comfort T.J. (Alaina Huffman) as she wept over not being able to save all of Simeon’s victims. It was nice to see that Rush really does care – make that cared – about Amanda. He had only just reached the point where he could put his late wife, Gloria, out of his mind far enough to get romantic with Mandy. Scott counseled that revenge won’t bring her back, or make her death any easier to live with. In a nice little bit, Scott called for peace between the factions aboard Destiny. Viewers could tell that Rush was all for any agreement that would allow him to pursue Destiny’s mission… but not right now. Not when there was revenge on the table.
And Simeon seemed to have something of a death wish. Or maybe he was just trying to intimidate Rush with bravado when he baited the distraught scientist by trying to analyze his motivation for chasing the Alliance soldier across a barren planet. “I understand revenge,” Simeon drawled, before warning Rush he would be killed unless he gives up the pursuit. Simeon was crafty and ruthless, but an absolutely terrible shot! His body count would have been so much higher if he was better with weapons. But he was plenty ruthless. Strapping that bomb to Park’s back was complete overkill (no pun intended)…
The episode ended on an ominous note: Scott hoping that Simeon was lying about having the strategic information. It is entirely possible – I would argue probably – that Ginn lied to Homeworld Command. She could have been doing her job and providing misinformation, just like the Lucian Alliance directed. Let us not forget that just being pretty did not make Ginn a good person. And she was most probably playing Eli. Think back to the way she so shamelessly flirted with him. Ingratiating herself with Eli was a sure route into Destiny’s command-and-control system. Ginn was a member of a terrorist organization; just hooking up with a character viewers like did not transform her into an angel. Sure, she may have had some good qualities, but what a great way to become a trusted agent, and thus bolster her credibility with HC, and enhance her ability to plant misinformation.
Or maybe she was just being sincere.