Varro and Greer

STARGATE UNIVERSE went old school with an action-packed monster mash of a sort that probably delighted sourpuss fans of the previous STARGATE franchises with the kind of space adventure that a lot of folks claim they wish SGU did more often, rather than tell more realistic stories about deeply flawed people. But this episode still packed that trademark SGU darkness, so a bunch of people died, and those who survived knew they were in a fight (yet again).

The main story involved a visit to a planet where Sgt. Greer (Jamil Walker Smith) and Scott (Brian J. Smith) got the idea to hunt some local animals for meat. Which was quite a coincidence, because one of the planet’s native predators got the idea to hunt some humans for meat. The unseen creature attacked with savage ferocity, and dragged T.J. (Alaina Huffman) and Cpl. Reynolds (Greyston Holt) back to its cave to eat later. Reynolds suffered a broken leg, so of course Johansen stayed to protect him. This episode was originally planned to include more of T.J.’s back-story, but all the flashbacks were eliminated for time because the episode ran long, so T.J.’s characterization suffered this week. She came across as short-tempered and a little bitchy without much explanation. She is usually much more compassionate, so I wonder what was in the flashback story… Still, she was as resourceful and adaptable as ever, managing to repair Reynolds’ broken walkie and summon help.

Back on board Destiny, Eli (David Blue), Brody (Peter Kelamis) and Rush (Robert Carlyle) were exploring uncharted sections of the ship when they unsealed a chamber holding stasis pods. When Eli insisted on investigating the pods against Rush’s orders, Brody became trapped in one. Rush (who was secretly manipulating the pod from the bridge) radioed Eli, leading to a hilarious bit in which Blue imitated Kelamis’ Brody in a bid to keep Rush from “discovering” that Brody was trapped. Eli refused to ask Rush for help, so he appealed to Chloe (Elyse Levesque) to dredge up some of her residual alien knowledge and get the frozen Brody out of his cell. After relishing Eli’s squirming, Rush eventually released Brody, telling Volker (Patrick Gilmore) that he had just finished “a thorough diagnostic of one of the stasis pods.” Apparently, he was using Brody as a guinea pig to test the viability of the pods. How like Rush to put someone else’s life at risk in the pursuit of greater scientific knowledge!

As for Volker, his flirtation with Park (Jennifer Spence) continued, and even seemed to progress. Chloe tried to nudge it along, and even Rush picked up on Volker’s infatuation, but he admonished Volker as “not the romantic type”; in fact, he’s the “trusted friend” type. Rush found it amusing, but it was really quite cruel. But was he wrong? Apparently, no. Later Volker spied Park and Greer holding hands. It was actually quite an intimate-looking scene; certainly there was more romantic intensity than the puppy love apparent when she was with Volker. All of which actually colored my view of Park; I see her as a lot more mean now. Back in the first season, she behaved like quite a slut, bedding a succession of men (including Greer!) in a bid to dull the pain of being trapped aboard Destiny, but she mellowed over time and seemed to be more sedate and focused on her work. Spence gave her a sense of earnestness and vulnerability that was very likable. But now it appears she was just leading Volker on, and that’s just plain mean. Gilmore plays Volker as earnest and somewhat ham-fisted, which makes him feel like a relatable guy, so I didn’t like seeing him crushed.

A rescue team was dispatched to the planet to find Johansen and Reynolds, but Col. Young (Louis Ferreira), Greer, James (Julia Benson) and Marsden (Ryan Booth) were not up to the task, so Varro (Mike Dopud) volunteered his Lucian Alliance cohorts, who were experienced hunters. Tasia (Kyra Zagorsky) was able to track the spoor of the beast with ease. Too much ease, as it turned out, because the creature actually led them into a trap. “All the time we’ve been hunting it, it’s been hunting us,” Varro snarled at Greer after the creature tore the rescue team to shreds.

James and Greer

Greer was having a crisis of conscience all his own. Earlier, he hesitated to pull the trigger on a vegetarian, deer-like creature. Turns out his reticence to kill stemmed from his experiences after donating a kidney to Volker. He woke up from the anesthesia scared, which was a new experience for him. He woke up in darkness; he couldn’t move and couldn’t see. James explained that his brain probably recovered from the anesthesia first, before the paralyzing effect wore off his body, but Greer was convinced that he had experienced death. “I don’t want to go back” to that darkness, he confided to her. This was a new experience for viewers, seeing Greer uneasy; he usually has the courage of his convictions, right or wrong. But here he was tentative. And his timidity arguably cost lives, so I look forward to more angst from Greer.

The resolution to the cave monster plot was foreshadowed early in the episode, when Greer talked about how he wanted to see a clear demonstration of intelligence to convince him not to kill any of the indigenous species. Well, when the Great Beast returned to the cave, it realized that T.J. had built a fire, and recognized that as a sign of intelligence in his food, so the beast decided not to kill them. Greer showed up just then, and T.J. urged him not to shoot the beast. In a great bit, Greer brandished his weapon in the animal’s face, signaling that although he had the ability to kill, he decided not to do it. Then the creature did the same thing, baring its fangs in Greer’s face; he could have bitten the sergeant’s face off, but he decided not to do it.

SGU returned to its usual fare in the concluding scenes, when Young walked in on T.J. just as she was preparing to thank Varro with a kiss for risking his life for her. Young dispatched Varro (who is now the last surviving member of the Alliance) to other duties, but the wounded look on Young’s face indicated how wounded he was. That went along with his injuries from the planet. And we all know that a wounded animal is the most dangerous kind of animal…

Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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