Honestly, I dreaded the approach of this week’s episode of STARGATE UNIVERSE because the previews made it look like the silly old “alien makes you face your worst fear” cliché was in full effect. Sooner or later every show gets around to this hoary chestnut, and I figured SGU better just get it out of its system. To make it seem even worse, the fears glimpsed looked to be standard-issue dull; I mean, claustrophobia? Really? Why can’t some alien force somebody to face the terror of…speaking in public? Supposedly most people dread that more than dying!
Happily, the actual episode proved to be much more enjoyable than anticipated. Not stunningly original, but at least well-executed. As usual, the excellent cast stepped up with some terrific performances (special kudos to Elyse Levesque for her conflicted Chloe), and the direction kept the story moving at a good enough pace that the audience did not have time to linger over the overly familiar plot points.
I’m guessing that there’s one aspect of this week’s STARGATE UNIVERSE episode that will be garnering the most opinions, and that is Ming-Na’s portrayal of a quadriplegic person. I am going to avoid the political aspects of the storyline – there are many people much better equipped to address those issues – except to say that I think the episode reflected positively on the differently-abled community.
The story saw Camile Wray (Ming-Na) used the long-range communication stones to swap bodies with hyperdrive expert Amanda Perry (Kathleen Munroe) after one of Destiny’s FTL drive units was destroyed by sabotage. Perry is a quadriplegic person who uses a wheelchair, and in her body Camile insisted on going home, where her partner, Sharon (Reiko Aylesworth) could lovingly care for her. (“You’re here,” Sharon said, patiently. “That’s all that matters.”) I thought Ming-Na was very subtle and sensitive in her portrayal. When I interviewed her about it last fall, she explained how she took the time to research the details (not all quadriplegic people have the exact same abilities) and come up with a portrayal that is true-to-life. And it shows. My impression was that she played the role wonderfully. I had the honor to meet Christopher Reeve several times, and based on that experience, I think Ming-Na captured the essence of someone in that situation. Her breathless speaking style was very similar to the late Mr. Reeve. (I bring him up not to drop names, but because he is the only quadriplegic person I have met in real life.) And there is another aspect to Ming-Na’s work in this episode: the brief snippet in which she portrayed Amanda in Camile’s body, and called Eli “Math Boy.” I thought she captured Amanda’s almost childlike thrill and bubbliness perfectly – a contrast her otherwise restrained work in the rest of the episode.
“To put it bluntly, we’ve taken the ship.”
TJ, Camile and Chloe
With those civilized yet ominous words, STARGATE UNIVERSE’s Camile Wray basically declared war on the military contingent aboard Destiny, igniting a conflict that has been simmering since the first episode.
Camile (Ming-Na) and the “science/civilian” faction plotted to isolate the Stargate personnel from most of ship so she could seize power by controlling the ship’s functions and the stargate. However, the execution did not go as planned, and Col. Young (Louis Ferreira) was left in control of life-support functions, giving him a bargaining chip for negotiations. Not that he really needed it, since Young swiftly took action to regain command of the ship.
Am I blue?
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.